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‘It’s what ladies do’, New Zealand PM mic-drop

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced Friday she was pregnant!

She made the announcement on live television while being grilled by reporters about her intention to remain in her position. One reporter even asked how she managed to set up a government while experiencing morning sickness. Ardern’s response? “It’s what ladies do.”

Insert mic-drop here.

Ardern’s husband will be acting as a stay at home dad after the birth of her first child. She went on to tell the press that women get pregnant while they are working all the time, and this is no different. Her off-the-shoulder behaviour towards this news is refreshing. The questions from the reporters — not so much?

A woman’s capability to do her job has nothing to do with whether or not she is pregnant, or a mother.  To ask the question makes that correlation. In a Facebook post, Ardern makes it clear she knows more questions about her pregnancy will be coming.

Instead of asking how she is going to run a government or country, why not simply just offer your congratulations!

 

How to manage your child’s development in a digital world

How much TV is too much TV ? While this answer can vary for adults who indulge in binge-watching sessions of their favorite show, the same should never apply to children.  Many parents often seek the advice of pediatricians on how early to expose your children to the lights and sounds of the readily-available electronic babysitter.

There are television shows, You-Tube videos, and even apps on your phone that can be used to keep a toddler or infant at bay. However, children under two years old should not be exposed to screen-time, including “educational apps” or Face Time. This long standing recommendation comes from the Canadian Paediatric Society. In June of this year, the CPS released new guidelines on screen-time for young children after finding that too many children under the age of four are sedentary —something that is often caused by excessive screen time.

Children between two and five are should only be online less than one hour a day, and this is with the proper supervision of the parent or caretaker. This means parents shouldn’t simply hand the device over to their child and walk away. Many parents of young children choose not to expose their children to television or any of these digital devices over fears of what the child may absorb from the media.

Children’s minds need to be enriched, but this can be done through proper family time, meaning parents should put down  their own devices and focus their time on the child. Time spent reading and doing interactive physical activities, like building blocks and flash cards, will be more beneficial than an electronic device, which is more distracting.

Michelle Ponti, is a London, Ontario pediatrician who is a part of the team that wrote the new Canadian guidelines and concluded from the study that screen-time does nothing for infants and toddlers.

” The youngest children cannot learn from screens. They are not developmentally ready to transfer what they see on a screen to real life.” Ponti said.

While studies have shown that high quality educational shows, for instance Sesame Street, can be good for a pre- schooler’s educational learning ability, the concern comes from how much time is spent in front of the screen. These electronic platforms cause the loss of one-on-one contact with children, resulting in loss of proper eye contact, hyper activity, distracted tendencies and other learning issues. Most of the negative observations arose after children watched more than two hours of television.

These small changes can have an impact on future behaviour and development of your child. Indeed, some situations may seem overwhelming, but parents should keep in mind that handing off a screen to your child has no educational benefit.

The CPS guidelines are a bit different from those across the border in the US. The American Academy of Pediatrics made a special exception for cases including Skype or Face-Time, which doctors may not necessarily categorize as screen-time.

Nevertheless, both US and Canadian pediatricians agree that parents today need to consider more than 10 years ago, when screen-time from electronic devices were limited or almost non-existent. You should also consider how your own parents may have practiced learning activities with you. This often included learning blocks, books or bouncy chairs.

Remember to minimize screen-time and be a healthy model for your child as they develop in a digital world.

What are your thoughts ? Comment below

TV hosts, mompreneurs Vanessa and Melissa share lifestyle tips

Meet Vanessa Rempel and Melissa Shad, television hosts on the Rogers network and self-proclaimed mompreneurs, believe health and fitness are very important aspect in any woman’s life, especially parents.  In our Q&A interview, they share their parenthood and lifestyle tips, as well as their new parenting show/brand Vanessa & Melissa:

Q: As busy TV hosts, mompreneurs. and social media influencers how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a big priority for both of us, but with six kids and a business it can be challenging. We often workout early mornings when the kids are still sleeping, or late at night. We both actually prefer clean eating, so when it comes to food choices we are always on the same page. That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy some wine and treats here and there, as well, but all in moderation. But, let’s be honest, some weeks we kill it and some weeks we totally fail, but we’re always trying to make good choices when we can.

Tell us how you began working together as a duo and your new Vanessa + Melissa new venture?

We both previously moonlighted as correspondents for an entertainment show on Rogers TV, and simultaneously we were both pitching the idea of a parenting show. A producer set us up on a blind date and we’ve literally been working together ever since.

Our show was originally called Diapers & Lipgloss, which is our business name, but we’ve evolved into solelyVanessa+Melissa on all our platforms, because we also cover lifestyle topics beyond motherhood.

How are you making a difference doing what you do in addressing parenthood to women’s lifestyle?

We’re talking about subjects that people are often too scared or embarrassed to talk about. Topics that have previously been deemed taboo or were just swept under the rug. We want moms, and women, to feel safe, comfortable and accepted no matter what is going on in their lives. To know they’re not alone and we’re all in this together.

You both lead active lifestyles and practice “what you preach”, how does it make you both feel you are inspiring others or making a difference?

To be honest, it’s everything to us. It’s actually the best part of what we do. We get so many messages from women around the world asking us for advice and thanking us for covering a certain topic and almost every message we receive ends with ‘please keep doing what we’re doing’.

What are some tips to work out safely during pregnancy and after post-baby?

 Don’t stop working out!  It is so beneficial to you and babe.

If you are new to working out though, work with a personal trainer to make sure you are using proper and safe form.

Make sure that you do not raise your heart rate over 140.

Stay away from heavy squats and stop running if you experience round ligament pain.

Make sure to have fun, and enjoy your workouts.  Never feel pressure to workout, or workout if your body is telling you to relax!

What is next for you?

We plan to continue to grow our parenting/ lifestyle brand , Vanessa+Melissa globally, in many new ways, through all our social channels. We also have lots of projects & ideas in the works, so stay tuned!! 

 

www.runwithit.ca

Twitter: @christineruns

Run With It on YouTube Channel

Speak up parents and stop being passive-aggressive!

One of the more difficult aspects of having school-age children is making friends with other parents. If you are the right age, with the right job and the right haircut, perhaps it is fairly easy, but if you live by the beat of your own drum, it can be difficult to mesh with other ‘more traditional’ and occasionally passive-aggressive parents.

There is nothing like bonding with other parents or watching as your children make friends and attend play dates. The test is what happens when your children’s relationships go sideways. For example, how do parents react when one child gets into a fight with another? What if you have a different parenting style?

As a mom, I’ve noticed that instead of confronting parents directly, they opt to avoid speaking with one another and try to avoid the awkwardness of confrontation. This ultimately leads to a lot of confusion and frustration.

I don’t think that mothers are aggressively protective over their children, and therefore will be prone to violent behaviour if another parent brings an issue to their attention. And yet, what I am seeing first-hand is parents shying away from confrontation all together and opting for a more passive-aggressive approach. Have you ever tried to plan a playdate and the other parent is suddenly ‘too busy’? Or the other child is sick all the time out of the blue? Don’t kid yourself, you and your child are being ditched. It appears we haven’t left high school after all.

As mature adults, it is no longer heart-breaking to learn someone doesn’t want to be your friend. Over the years, we all learn to accept that some people like us and some don’t. The issue with the passive-aggressive approach in dealing with other parents is what it is teaching our kids. In school, children are traditionally taught to confront their issues and solve problems in a fair and respectful manner. When parents don’t treat each other the same way, this causes confusion for children and can even extend to bullying on the playground between the two children whose parents don’t get along.

Canadians are known for being polite almost to a fault. We simply don’t thrive off unnecessary confrontation and will go lengths to avoid it. There are certain times though, when a discussion is absolutely necessary and avoiding confrontation is more disrespectful than dealing with a problem. When it comes to our kids, we need to speak up in a courteous and controlled way and teach kids to manage their issues instead of avoiding them.

Another potential factor for avoiding issues between parents could be the pressure of trying to be a part of a community in a large city. It is difficult to connect with others when living in a large metropolis and thriving in a school community becomes a lifeline for many parents. That’s where they find family friends. Perhaps there is a ‘cool’ factor to not being confrontational, but the reality is avoiding issues altogether will have more long-term damaging effects on kids and parents in tight-knit urban communities.

It is time to SPEAK UP PARENTS! By breaking through the false glass ceiling of fake compliments and passive-aggressive avoidance, perhaps issues will actually be solved and children will really learn how to treat one another. Being polite only goes so far, and telling the truth is almost always better than the alternative. As parents, we need to practice what we preach and treat each other as kids are expected to be with each other.

It is time to be truthful and ditch being ditched. As a mom I’m ready for this change, are you?

How should parents deal with child bullying?

Parenting challenges you in unexpected ways. Recently, my daughter confessed to me that a boy is bullying her at school for being vegan. This little kindergartener is a constant source of sorrow for the other kids, teasing and kicking other children at will. My daughter has mostly managed to escape his abuse, but not since he discovered she was vegan.

As a parent, how do I deal with this little bully? I can’t directly confront the child myself as I would if someone was teasing or kicking me, but I also cannot just let it go. Bullying is one of the most devastating things kids can go through in school, and it can have traumatizing effects if not dealt with properly. It does fall to parents to manage it and ensure that all the appropriate parties are aware they have a bully in their midst.

This leads to step number one; telling the teacher and/or daycare. Having open communication with the school and daycare teachers will help the problem. Most times, they simply aren’t aware that a child is being bullied in the first place. If the teacher seems dismissive of the problem, don’t be afraid to go to the principal. Your child matters and putting up a big stink about bullying is necessary to protect kids from harm.

If the bullying continues despite informing teachers or daycare instructors, the next logical thing to do would be contact the child’s parents. This can be difficult to do because parents want to think best of their children, and it is hard to admit when your child isn’t acting appropriately. At girl guides recently, another little girl tried to exclude my daughter from playing in a group of girls and luckily, my daughter held her own and played with another child. I could tell she was upset though and decided to step in after the fact. Being friends with the little girl’s mom, I decided to approach her about it. I made sure to not accuse or blame in any way, and having a friendly rapport with her helped a lot. It is important to build relationships with other parents, so that if there is a problem, it is much easier to speak to the other parent openly and honestly. If this isn’t possible or the parents aren’t receptive to being friendly, contacting them in the most polite and calm way possible is the best way to get the results you want.

Other suggestions include preparing your child against bullies through open communication. After both incidences, my daughter and I had a thorough discussion about how bullying is bad and is often a result of the ‘bully’ being insecure and sad. We also discuss how important it is to walk away from a bully, to be brave, and to tell the teacher. Practicing what to say in case a bully teases her helps her feel more prepared. Now, when someone teases her for being vegan, she knows and understands from our discussions that it is because she is different, but in a good way. Bullies often pick on kids that are vulnerable or different. I try to help her understand that being different is great and she should feel empowered for being known as the token vegan at school.

For younger kids, the book “Have you filled a bucket today? A guide to daily happiness for kids” is a great read that helps promote good behaviour towards others. The story explains that everyone has a bucket and filling other people’s buckets with love and kindness will make you happy. Alternatively, if you are mean and selfish, or you take from people’s buckets, then will be unhappy. It is very simple and helps kids relate better to the abstract explanations of emotions.

Bullying is a common problem that kids and parents are forced to deal with on a regular basis, and being prepared will help. Overall, I try to give my child as many compliments a day as I can to help boost her self-esteem. I try to not stick to compliments solely based on appearance, but compliment her intelligence and skills as well. A child that feels better about themselves can be better armed against bullies, and I want her to feel protected and loved.

What are your solutions to dealing with bullying as a parent? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

“Whip them out”: breastfeeding in public

“Whip them out. I will breastfeed anytime, anywhere, any place,” mother and breastfeeding advocate, Jesse Tallent said.

Despite the fact that breastfeeding is one of the most natural and beautiful acts between a mother and her new-born baby, women often feel insecure and ashamed about feeding their child in public. This is something Tallent correlates to society’s misconstrued beliefs about breasts themselves.

“Breasts are used to sell burgers or cars,” she said. “Women are often shamed for breastfeeding or for being too confident and showing too much skin.”

Too often are women reported on social media for posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding their child. These pictures are then removed for being “pornographic” or too revealing. This is something that Anne Kirkham, a spokesperson for the Le Leche League of Canada, a national organization that promotes breastfeeding and offers resources for new mothers, says is increasingly common.

“We live in a society that sexualizes breasts so much,” said Kirkham. “When you show your body in media, it is so overly sexualized. It may take awhile to come to terms with it in a new way.”

Similarly to many other women, I decided to breastfeed my daughter when she was born. At first, it was a bit painful, and it was a bit difficult to get my newborn to latch on. But, once I got past those awkward stages, breastfeeding became a time of bonding. I genuinely felt empowered, like there was a stronger connection between myself and my daughter.

At the same time, I felt like it was necessary for me to stay home to feed my daughter. Breastfeeding in public made me uncomfortable, but I was beginning to feel a bit isolated at home. I decided to start slow, by finding a community of moms who were nursing and willing to share in that experience.

“Seeing other moms’ breastfeeding is empowering,” said Kirkham. “When you start to recognize other mothers’ breastfeeding, you may feel more comfortable yourself.”

Other mother’s take this shared experience to a larger platform. Tallent regularly posts photos of herself breastfeeding on social media and hosts online support networks. The goal? to help women gain confidence when breastfeeding in public and to help break through sexualized trends attached to breasts itself.

“My advice to other moms is to take to social media and find a local support group like La Leche,” said Tallent. “Mothers being more open-minded about breastfeeding has taken to social media and has started a movement to change body image.”

Forums such as breastfeed without fear, normalize breastfeeding, and boobies are for babies provide safe spaces for mothers to proudly and openly share this new stage in their lives.

Most public areas —like malls or restaurants — offer a designated nursing station or area for mothers who want to feed their babies. But the whole idea that breastfeeding should be equated with a public washroom is questionable. Is the act considered a bodily function needing to be concealed, or are people genuinely as uncomfortable with the sight of a breast as the sight of a sexual organ?

When my daughter was a bit older and had finished breastfeeding, we were out with a friend who had a newborn baby. He needed to be fed so we went into one of the nursing stations. It was on the other side of the washroom, completely separated by a wall. The sound of the hand dryers was irritating the babies and the washroom smell as difficult to handle. The mothers looked miserable and I will never forgot how ashamed my friend felt as she kept apologizing that we had to be in that space.

Of course, there are nursing stations that are more welcoming and not exclusively attached to the washroom. A private nursing setting can even be helpful for breastfeeding mothers who are more comfortable in an isolated setting.

“I’ve used a nursing room at a mall. It is hard to get him to feed in public because he is so curious. Sometimes you run into other moms too, which is great,” said Tallent.

Another common issue is the general expectation that mothers should cover their babies with a blanket when they feed in public. Kirkham reports this is a common concern for new mothers.

“A lot of mothers complain that their babies get too hot under the blanket or swat at it which distracts the baby and makes the feeding difficult,” she said. “People should think about what it would be like for them to eat under a blanket.”

Tallent was pressured to use a blanket while breastfeeding at her own engagement dinner when her son, Rylan, was two months old. Rylan, she explained, needed to be fed often, but was struggling to latch. A woman she didn’t know approached her and tried to put Rylan’s blanket over his head.

“She was trying to help, but it was inappropriate.” said Tallent. “I had to go into a bathroom to feed him because she wouldn’t leave me alone.”

Most women are unaware that legislation exists protecting mothers and their newborn babies under the Code of Human Rights. According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, “you have rights as a breastfeeding mother, including the right to breastfeed a child in a public area. No one should prevent you from breastfeeding your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to ‘cover up,’ disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more ‘discreet’.”

As a mother who previously breastfed, I am glad these rights are being protected. I can only hope that society becomes more accepting and that people can learn to view breasts less as sexualized objects and more as a means of providing for a new life. That amazing and natural phenomenon is what truly makes breasts sexy. And that is something we should all embrace.

 

Talk to your kids about sex because they know more than you think

Have you heard about the “What Would Your Mother Do?” underwear, a line of T-shirts and boy shorts that features slogan like “Zip It,” “Dream On,” and “Not Tonight”? According to the brand’s creators their “conversation underwear” will “empower” girls to “make good, informed decisions” about sex (although there is no mention of that rather “dangerous” word on the site) that are theirs and theirs alone. The only good and informed choice being not to have sex – of course.

Now while the idea of underwear with cute pro-abstinence slogans preventing teen sex is laughable (as one would assume that by the time young people weighing the option to have sex get down to their underpants it’s game on, right?), the lack of comprehensive sex education for kids who live in a culture steeped in sex and all the pleasures it brings is not. Though Canadians don’t seem to be as intent on the promotion of abstinence-only education as our neighbours to the south (where the funding of abstinence only sex ed programs jumped from $9 million to $176 million between 1997 and 2007), the derailment of the proposed changes to Ontario’s sex ed curriculum in 2010 is indicative of a loud, highly conservative and very vocal minority (I hope) who would support the same kind of focus here. A fact that is worrying, if only to left leaning folks like me.

Hardcore porn has become by default the sex education of today. – Cindy Gallop

A 2009 study by the security firm Symantec found that the fourth most-searched term among kids aged eight to eighteen – after Facebook, YouTube and Google – was SEX. For kids seven and under it was PORN. – Mashable

You see, kids, whether their parents readily admit it or not, are generally very interested in learning about sex and exploring their own sexuality (I know I was when I was a kid). And in the absence of access to clear, comprehensive education about such matters – at school or at home – curious kids will find their own way. Unfortunately from what I remember of my own childhood, as well as what I glean from my limited interactions with young people today, kids are finding their own way often involves perusing porn on the Internet (which overtime may lead to them developing a skewed view of what real life sex is like); seeking advice from their equally ill-informed peers; or worse yet, picking up tips from someone older and “wiser” than they, who may not have the most altruistic agenda – if you know what I mean. So, is it wise for parents, teachers or any other adults else genuinely concerned with the well being of the children in their lives to avoid open dialogue about sex due to embarrassment, awkwardness or fear? I think not.

Instead of telling kids to just say no, deflecting their questions about sex and/or buying them modern-day chastity belts in the form of boy shorts emblazoned with anti-sex messaging, the grown-ups in their lives would do well to provide them with accurate and age-appropriate information about sex when they indicate that they are interested and ready to receive it. Because with or without the help or influence of the adults who care about them most, kids will always find a way to see and learn about sex. Just as most adults, including myself did (long before the advent of the Internet I might add) when they were kids.

This article was previously published on December 14, 2011.

Follow B. A. on Twitter at @BA_Dobson.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.