The great screen time debate

When I was a child, my mother used to tell me that TV would rot my brain. Of course, it didn’t…children did!

 

Today, we still have the same concerns about screen time. The difference is, today our screens can follow us everywhere we go.

 

So, the question remains, how much screen time is too much?

 

A recent article in Fortune ascertains that “what kids are doing on screens is much more important than how much time they spend with screens.”

 

The truth is, there hasn’t been a lot of research into the effects of screen time. The National Institutes of Health is planning a multi-year, $300 million study of 11,000 children, but we won’t know the results for quite some time yet.

 

What we already know, is that there is a link between higher screen times and obesity and depression. What we don’t know, is which one led to the other. Are obese and depressed children just more likely to stay indoors and focus on screens? Or, do the screens lead to obesity and depression?

 

Regardless of the study’s outcome, I think that the issue of screen time limits is something that needs to be set individually based of the child and the family situation.

 

In my opinion, screen time shouldn’t be interfering with school work, family time, or outdoor play time. Screens should also be limited around bed time, especially on school nights, to allow children to decompress and prepare for a good night’s rest.

 

The reality is that screens are here to stay. We need to learn to balance screen time with physical play time for our children, and our selves. Eliminating screen time for your child isn’t going to do them any favors either, and it may ultimately lead them to fall behind.

 

Just like the thousands of other things that come along in our lives as parents, we need to be the masters of our own domain. We need to pay attention to our children’s behaviors and adjust accordingly.

 

So, when the question arises about screen time, and how much is too much, the answer is simple…it depends on the kid, and the day, and content.

Co-Sleeping works for me

To co-sleep or not to co-sleep, that is the question.

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As I have stated in previous articles, I breastfed both of my babies. I also co-slept with both of my babies. For me, breastfeeding and co-sleeping went hand-in-hand.

 

I started out with my first born sleeping in a bassinet for the first week or so, but it was extremely hard to get up and down with my cesarean wound. Getting adequate sleep was also a factor. It is very likely that I would have given up breastfeeding without co-sleeping. It was just too hard.

 

Despite the fact that I felt very comfortable co-sleeping and that it allowed me to overcome some of the difficulties that I was experiencing as a new mother, I felt down right scared to reveal that my baby and I were co-sleeping.

 

The stigma in our culture around co-sleeping was like a weight around my neck. I felt like everywhere I turned, someone was wagging their finger at co-sleeping parents, siting false information about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

 

IMG_2675.JPGThe truth about co-sleeping is that research around it reveals a much different story. According to “Why babies should never sleepalone: A review of the co-sleeping controversy in relation to SIDS, bedsharingand breast feeding,” an article published by James J. McKenna and Thomas McDade in the Paediatric Respiratory Reviews, “mother–infant co-sleeping represents the most biologically appropriate sleeping arrangement for humans and is both ancient and ubiquitous simply because breast feeding is not possible, nor as easily managed, without it.”

 

The article goes on to point out that in the time frame when co-sleeping fell out of favor with the masses, the 1950s, doctors were recommending cow’s milk over human breast milk. Something which we would consider crazy today.

 

Not to mention, the original reason for recommending against co-sleeping was to help resume a healthy sex life between married couples. Male doctors, telling new mothers that co-sleeping was bad for their marriage.

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McKenna and McDade point out the obvious fact that, “while recent cultural implements such as cribs, mattresses and bedding did not evolve to protect and feed infants throughout the night, protective maternal behaviours including bodily contact between the mother and infant during co-sleeping most certainly did.”

 

While I don’t think that co-sleeping is right for everyone, for me it is. My maternal instinct doesn’t allow me to sleep without my baby being near me. I need to feel her close to me, to know that she is safe, and to attend to her needs as quickly as possible. Just like I did for her very independent big brother.

 

The decision about whether to co-sleep or not is for you, the parents to make. If you are a heavy sleeper, if you take medication or drugs that inhibit your ability to easily wake up, if you sleep with 25 pillows and 5 blankets, guess what, co-sleeping is probably not for you.

 

However, if you are an exhausted breastfeeding mother who falls asleep while laying with her baby, don’t fret. Mothers have been doing this since the beginning, and for some of us, it is the best way to support our babies as they transition into independent toddlers.

7 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

When I found out that I was pregnant with my first child, I knew right away that I wanted to breastfeed him. Not because of some holistic belief, but because we were poor and breast milk is essentially free.

Breastfeeding my 2nd child was much easier.
Later, I found out that breastfed babies are statistically less prone to ear infections than formula fed babies. Since my ex-husband and I both suffered from chronic ear infections as babies, to the point where I had been rendered deaf and required surgical intervention to restore my hearing, this was amazing news.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know anyone who had breast fed their children. I had no first had knowledge of the process, or the negatives. No one spoke to me about the hardships of breast feeding. The consultant who came to my room in the hospital, after I had just suffered through an extremely painful and scary emergency cesarean, chastised me for supplementing my new baby with formula.
She didn’t care that I was trying to recover from a major surgery and that I needed to rest after having been through an extremely traumatic event. She spoke to me as if I had been giving my newborn son poison, which set the tone for the rest of my time as a breastfeeding new mother.
That woman was wrong to treat me that way. Additionally, by not explaining the hardships that my family would face with an exclusively breastfed baby, she was downright negligent in her duties as a breastfeeding advocate.
Please, allow me to pass on to you the knowledge that I gained from exclusively breastfeeding two babies.
Breastfeeding is a huge personal commitment.
When you choose to breastfeed, you choose to take on almost all of the feedings. If you work, you will need to pump during the day or risk becoming painfully engorged and losing your milk supply.
Your breasts will leak.
You will need to wear breast pads in your bra to keep your shirts from getting soaked. You will also need to wear a bra all the time. As you might image, by the end of a day at work, if you haven’t changed your breast pads, they smell.
Mastitis is a thing.
I had no idea what mastitis was, until I was in the ER with a 104-degree fever. Your milk ducts can get clogged and infected, which can then result in a serious fever and, in my case, a brief hospital stay. As a symptom, I also had a red blotchy spot on the infected breast.
Breastfed babies eat more often than formula fed babies.
This means about twice as many nighttime feedings, or half the sleep. No one told me this, and I thought something was wrong with my son because he ate so often throughout the night as compared to my friend’s kids who slept for hours at a time.
My right breast produced much more milk than
the left. Ultimately, the left stopped altogether.
Feedings can be painful.
In the beginning, your nipples may crack and bleed. There are creams to help, but it can be painful. Pumping is also painful for many women.
You DO NOT have to breastfeed.
Formula is not poison. You are not a bad mom. Even if you started breastfeeding, if you want to stop, for any reason, it is OK to do that.
Not all women can do it.
For some women, breastfeeding is just not possible. This is also OK.
Breastfeeding my son was incredibly difficult. I was tired and depressed. Pumping was uncomfortable for me and my ex-husband was not very supportive. Despite this, I did choose to breast feed my daughter. Only this time, I was much more prepared for the hard times and sleepless nights.
This time, I have a husband who supports me and tries to help take some of the burden off of my shoulders. In the early days, when our daughter would eat and poop several times a night, I would feed her, then he would change her. It may seem small, but that extra few minutes of rest made a world of difference.
No matter what you choose to do, don’t let anyone make you feed bad about it. Love your baby, embrace the chaos and the exhaustion and do what you can to remind yourself that it is only a small amount of time in a big life.

Why I bribe my kids

I, like most moms, strive to raise well behaved, balanced, and healthy children.

Dog washing and other chores are rewarded
As part of this, I like to read different parenting and early childhood development articles.

Recently, I came across this in Psychology Today, “Why“Bribing” Your Child With Treats Doesn’t Work,” by Suzanne Gelb Ph.D., JD.

I have to admit, I read this article with a bit of a smirk on my face. The author’s claim is that we should not reward our children for behaviors that are basically expected of them. No cupcake for your child as a reward for doing his or her chores.

She states:
“Think of it this way: you don’t receive a bonus or a raise just for showing up to work on time, right? So, don’t instill that kind of expectation in your child.”

It’s true that I don’t get a bonus for simply doing my job, but I do get a paycheck…which is sort of like a reward, right?
Who wouldn’t pay
to NOT do the dishes
Here is the way I see things, whether it is right or wrong is really up to you to decide, after all they are YOUR children and it is YOUR household to run.

When my children do their chores, they are completing their “work.” When they complete their work, they get paid their allowance. If they don’t complete their work, they don’t get paid. If they run out of money because they didn’t budget properly, they can come to me or my husband and ask if they can work some over-time, i.e. do some extra chores around the house.

My official credentials are basically that I have a few kids, drive a minivan, and volunteer as an assistance soccer coach. That being said, I believe that my reward/bribery of my children actually goes a long way toward teaching them a thing or two about life after Mom & Dad Co.

Multi-tasking Moms vs. Dads, why Mom wins (and loses)

One of the biggest complaints that I hear from the women in my life is that their husbands can only do one thing at a time.

Usually, this doesn’t become an issue until there are kids in the household. It seems as though, if Dad is watching the kids, then that is all he is doing. There is no cleaning up, throwing a load of laundry in the washer, or making calls. The honey-do-list becomes seemingly invisible when Dad has the kids.

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Why is it that Dad cannot care for the children and do his chores? Are women just inherently better at multi-tasking?

Most women would say yes, many men would tend to agree.

There isn’t much research into this particular claim. One study published in 2013 by Gijsbert Stoet, Daryl B O’Connor, Mark Conner, and Keith R Laws, did find that women out performed men in multi-tasking tests, but there just isn’t enough evidence to say that women are categorically better than men at juggling more than one thing at a time.

In 2017, Nevin Martell wrote an article for the Washington Post that aptly titled, “Believe it or not, dads can multitask, too.

In it, Martell points out that his multi-tasking adaptation was not necessary until he became a father. He also discusses the myth of the 50/50 partnership with his wife, especially in the early stages when she was breastfeeding.

Martell also alludes to, what I believe to be anyway, the root of the issue…the fact that dual income households have only become the norm in recent history.

Think about it. For a majority of us, our mothers were the first generation of women to hold fulltime jobs. Our grandmothers were stay at home mothers, as were our great-grandmothers and so forth.

Women have developed the skills needed to take care of children and chores, and whatever else needs to be done, over thousands of years. For men, this just the beginning of the journey.

Dads, in general, are doing the best they can to catch up with us. So, when you are ready to kill your husband because he is too overwhelmed with 3 tasks to help you with any of your 50, just take a moment to remind yourself that this is new territory for not just him, but his entire gender.

Cut him some slack, and don’t kill him, maybe just wound him a little.

 

How having a baby ruined my life, but it’s OK

In this society, there are things that we are allowed to say, and then there are things that we are forbidden from saying.

I am about to say one of those forbidden things, and I am going to defend my opinion and, hopefully, make you feel better about agreeing with me.

Here it is:

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My baby #1 and baby #2

Having a baby ruined my life.

Now, if you are a mother, you are probably feeling a bit conflicted right now. On one hand, you know I am right. On the other hand, we aren’t allowed to say that.

We can only talk about how much better our lives are since our perfect little angels came into this world.

The truth is, of course I love my children. I love them so much that I don’t even hold it against them that they took away all my hobbies, my free time, my indulgences, and let’s not forget my sleep. I love them more than I loved being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

Before my son came along, I used to live in a small loft apartment. Even as a college student, I had enough money to do what I wanted. I was perusing my dreams and I had plans to become a writer, move to NYC and live the fast-paced party life that I had always seen on TV.

When I found out that I was pregnant, I had to move into an apartment that cost 4 times as much money per month. I finished out by semester at college, earning an Associate’s degree. I eventually gave up my budding career as a journalist for a more lucrative career in Marketing, and ultimately went back to my roots as an IT support person.
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My Husband and I loved being physical
Fast forward 10 years.

am living in a nice house, reasonable monthly payments. My hobbies include Obstacle Course Racing, rock climbing, cross-fit, running, and martial arts. My husband and I spend our nights and weekends doing what we want. We attend so many concerts over the spring, summer, and fall that we have a favorite lot to park in at every local venue.

That is when we find out that we are having a baby.

We break our lease, losing 3 months of rent payments, and move into a new, more expensive, house with an additional bedroom. OCR, cross-fit, martial arts, rock climbing, running, and concerts are all a thing of the past.

My husband and I, now in our late 30s, spend our nights and weekends chasing a tiny tornado around our new home. Bed time has gone from 10PM, 11PM, 12AM, to 8PM. Sometimes, when we are feeling wild, we push it to 9PM. That is not to say that we get any sleep, of course. See, we have one of those babies who despises sleep and fights it with every fiber of her tiny, beautiful, little being.

Trips to the nail salon for mani/pedis are reserved for birthdays or other special occasions. My clothes are generally covered in crusted baby food. My hair is greasy and unruly. My skin is blotchy and unloved. My toned muscles are neglected and saggy.

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You see, the life that I had before my kids came along was completely and utterly destroyed by their arrival. It is OK to acknowledge that. It is even OK to miss that life sometimes.

We make so many sacrifices for our children, and society puts so much pressure on us to ignore the fact that we basically give up who we are and what we love to take care of these tiny, helpless, little strangers.

Perhaps, if we stopped pretending that giving birth is some magical exercise that wipes away any negative thoughts or emotions, we can start being honest about the real life struggles that both new and renewed parents face. Maybe, just maybe, we can chip away at the stigma associated with post-partum depression. Possibly, we can even shed light on the emotional hardships that fathers deal with post baby.

We can’t face reality while being afraid of the truth.