Tag Archives: parenting

A Busy Mom’s Guide to Exercising

Getting Them Involved Makes You Both Happier


As the mother of a 4-year-old boy, I know how challenging it is finding time to exercise. Not long after bringing him home, I learned the easiest way is often to get him involved.


Babies love to be held; it’s great for bonding and helps them feel secure. As an infant, my son loved riding in a baby carrier as I shopping, walked or engaged in household tasks. While he cried when I tried to do one of my exercise DVDs, he giggled and lit up when I engaged in workout moves similar to these exercises from SheKnows.com. Even though he weighs a lot more nowadays, I still sometimes lie on my back and do “baby presses” with him, as he shrieks in delight.

Another activity started then was taking walks around our neighborhood, pushing him in the stroller. I’ve found this to be a great way to coax him into taking a nap, especially on a warm summer day. Of course, for babies too young for sunscreen, you’ll want to be sure to use a hat and clothing to protect against harmful rays. I found a sun shade that would attach to our stroller, which provided additional protection. A friend of mine, an amateur athlete, bought a jogging stroller and has even participated in a 5K with her little guy!

Toddlers & Preschoolers

As my son became more mobile, our options increased. I rented several kids’ exercise videos to find the ones he liked best. Our favorites are now a permanent part of our routine and a fun way to exercise together. I’ll ask my son if he wants to “have a party,” and we’ll groove to “Sesame Street Get Up and Dance” or “Curious Buddies: Let’s Move.” Thanks to that video, my son grew interested in yoga, so we got the Gaiam video, “YogaKids 3: Silly to Calm.”

Any activity that involves movement is great for you both. In addition to dancing, we go to a park and kick or throw a ball; play tag; or go swimming. He loves playing hide and seek, happily racing around the house for a half an hour or more, trying out new hiding spaces or searching for me. Remember: even though playing may not be as intense as an aerobic workout, movement of any kind helps you burn calories and helps your little one to tone muscle and improve coordination.

originally published in 2005 on Yahoo! Contributor Network

Halloween for Your Child with Diabetes

Halloween on Harrison Court
“Halloween on Harrison Court” by Kevin Dooley from Flickr

Today, I’m happy to share a very timely guest post by Amy Patterson.

Halloween poses some unique challenges for kids with diabetes. Halloween is about many things: costumes, ghost stories, jack-o-lanterns, and late-night fun with friends. It’s also about candy. Lots of candy. Kids, costumes, and candy. If your child is diabetic, that last item will pose a problem.

If your child has diabetes, you’re likely familiar with the hazards of candy. Pure sugar with nothing else to balance it out. Halloween is probably the most intense celebration of candy in the United States these days. Halloween is also a wonderful night for children, giving them a chance to get outside in the night with friends, dress up in wild costumes, and generally celebrate their imagination.

So what’s a parent to do? You don’t want your kid to miss out on a special night with friends. You don’t want your kid to be alienated by the neighborhood kids. You don’t want your kid to feel like diabetes makes her feel like an outsider. You do, though, want your kid to learn to manage diabetes at an early age. Here are some basic tips that you, as a parent, can take to ensure your child’s Halloween is safe AND fun this year.

Communicate Ahead of Time

Speak with your child about his condition ahead of time. Speak clearly about proper diabetes care, stressing the concrete dangers of hyperglycemia. He’ll understand your concern, learn self-dependence, and be thrilled to earn your respect by getting the opportunity to take care of himself. Plan ahead. If you’re comfortable with this, tell him he can bring home anything he wants, as long as he waits until coming home to eat. This will ensure you can observe what exactly he eats on Halloween. Also, this plan will allow your child to have a normal, fun Halloween with the neighborhood kids.

Trick or Treat With Your Kid

If you would rather have a hands-on Halloween experience with your child, go along for the ride! This will allow you to observe your child as she has safe, spooky fun. You can build memories, speak about pedestrian safety, and get an interesting perspective on her imagination. You’ll have fun and get to make sure you see what your kid eats. Remember that diabetic care be difficult for a child, both intellectually—it can be difficult to understand what the proper care actually consists of—and as a matter of willpower. Throwing off her blood sugar may make it more difficult to treat her; and improper use of diabetes meds is a common reason for emergency room visits. Your presence as a parent can help her with understanding as well as keeping her on task.

Ration the Night’s Find

After you’ve gathered the sweet, precious hoard, gather it up and organize portions. As a parent of a child with diabetes, you’re aware of your kid’s blood sugar and eating patterns. Diabetic children can, of course, eat sweets. But diabetic children, even more than other children, need to be careful. Rationing candy can help your child keep track of her sweets. This will also allow her to eventually eat all of that good candy WITHOUT overindulging. Wrapped candy can last a long time, after all. You could even make your Halloween harvest the entire year’s candy ration, doling it out in small doses when the occasion calls for it.

Amy Patterson is an avid reader on trending topics and a writer in her spare time. On the beautiful coast of North Carolina you will usually find her catching up on the latest news with locals or on the beach. She loves to write pieces on health, fitness, and wellness, but often writes about families and safety.

Mommy Files: The Black Hat

When my son told me that the adjusting band had broken off his beaten-up black Dave & Buster’s baseball hat, I have to admit I was secretly glad. To say the hat had seen better days was a severe understatement.

First, it had first lost the metal button on top. Then, over years of exposure to sun and rain, it faded, growing more and more distressed. Nine months out of the year, he wore the hat nearly every time we stepped outside, a habit encouraged by me in order to protect his fair skin. In winter, I managed to convince him to wear a winter hat, instead, one that covered his ears.

Because of his larger-than-average head, we’d bought him a one-size-fits-all hat, adjusting it for the smallest setting. As a result, its large brim cast a shadow over his face, ruining many outdoor photos.

While I didn’t mind its distressed appearance, lately the hat had begun to go downhill severely, first with a loose thread on the brim, which I clipped. Another thread followed, and soon the entire brim was frayed, with the black plastic of the brim protruding slightly through the cloth that covered it.

But still, the hat was my son’s favorite, and so I kept hand washing it in the sink, clipping off the fringe, and attempting to make it somewhat presentable. Of course, since it was one-size-fits all, little hope existed of him outgrowing it, and I was increasingly more embarrassed sending him out in it. Yet, he loved the hat so much that I had trouble hardening myself and making a huge decision, like refusing to let him wear it.

So when the little voice called from the back seat to say that “something important fell off my hat,” I had to stifle a little cheer. I took a look at it and proclaimed it unwearable but headed off tears by reminding him he had several other hats to choose from (hats I’d bought in the mistaken belief I could entice him into wearing them).

This morning, on his way to school, he consented to wear one: a bright orange and green cap featuring a surfer with the word “California” on the back. At first, he seemed OK with it. After all, the cap contained one of his favorite colors, green. But then, as I’d feared, he dissolved into tears.

I got down at his level and asked him what was wrong. He told me, “I don’t feel like myself without my hat.” I kissed his tears away and reminded him he wears different clothes every day, and he’s still the same person.

By the time we got to the bus stop, he was smiling again, receiving a compliment from his bus friend on the cap.

But between you and me, I’ve covered my bets. Just in case, I’ve ordered a black baseball cap from eBay.

Mommy Files: I’m a Dragon, Rawr!

Playing Carcassonne

KFP plays Carcassonne with his dad.

My son, age 3, first demonstrated his puzzle abilities at Philcon 2012, where he surprised my husband and I by matching up random Carcassonne pieces to form a little city. That Christmas, we gave him his first jigsaw puzzle, and we’ve accumulated more in the year and a half since.

As often as he pulls out Duplo blocks or his wooden train set, he sits down on the tile floor (the best flat surface) and puts together dinosaurs, ducks, and the food-laden illustration from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” I love to see him solving new puzzles: the look of concentration on his face, the exhilaration when he finds a match.

Since my husband is a gamer, he’s also thrilled with our son’s latent abilities. I’m foreseeing a future of family gaming nights and some very special father-son time.

And special mommy time, too. In fact, as soon as I finish posting this, my Kung Fu Panda and I will be playing our version of Carcassonne. Instead of playing competitively, we draw tiles and put them together to form the most interesting little medieval land we can.

He is waiting for me right now, holding up the wooden dragon from one of the expansion sets, declaring, “I’m a dragon, rawr!” He’s also decided it’s a Komodo Dragon, because he learned about them on one of the PBS nature cartoons he likes.

Days like this, I feel like I’m doing something right.

If you haven’t yet voted for my entry in the Baby Steps Competition, please stop at the voting page and click on the box at the upper right of the preview window for my video (the preview shows my son with two puppets). If I win the audience prize for this contest, it will help pay KFP’s preschool tuition this year!

Mommy Files: Resolutions (Sort Of)

Whether it’s from jealousy or just because they make me weary, I tend to look askance at moms who are too enthusiastic about their parenting goals. Lately, though, I’m beginning to understand them better. Now that my son — at 3 1/2 — has reached a stage where he seems to soak in knowledge like a sponge, I’ve found it’s easy to go overboard. Still, I don’t want to become one of those moms who shoves flash cards at their child the minute he wakes up, determined that he’ll be acing the PSAT’s by age 7.

I do, however, resolve to continue some of the practices that have worked for us so far:

1) Use a sticker reward chart to promote positive behaviors and eliminate undesired ones.

2) Use the “Kindergarten Here I Come” calendar to develop fun and educational activities for us to do together on a regular basis.

In addition, I’d like to work on something I’ve been avoiding, in part because, despite the social graces I’ve cultivated over the years, I’m really still an introvert. The beast I’d like to slay, the dreaded playdate.

3) Actively schedule playdates for KFP to interact with friends, both new and old.

In order to follow through on this last one, I believe I’ll have to continue to remind myself that a playdate doesn’t have to mean inviting someone over to our cramped rowhouse. It could, instead, mean scheduling a meet-up at a park, museum, or even the library. I’m going to start by contacting the mother of the preschool classmate my son calls his best friend. Not only do the boys get along extremely well, but I also enjoy talking to her. Bonus!

And that’s it. Simple, sweet and actionable. On top of that, I’m resolving to go easy on myself and on him: remembering that no one is perfect all the time, and having faith that small, persistent, nurturing actions will eventually pay off for us both.

Cheers! Happy New Year!
My little guy toasts the New Year… with his sippy cup.

Mommy Files: Confessions of a Work-at-Home Mom

After getting up late (my Kung Fu Panda let me sleep until 10:30 while he played and looked at books quietly), I spent the morning and early afternoon writing a query letter to Parents magazine. Then, with an air of triumph, I announced we were going for a walk. When KFP asked me where, I told him we were going to mail a letter and then play in the park. I figured we’d have plenty of time to kick a ball around before we needed to head back so I could make dinner.

But every parent knows: You don’t simply walk out the door, just grabbing your purse and keys like in the old days. That’s madness! No, getting out of the house is a complicated process involving filling water bottles; checking the status of KFP’s diaper; packing a small backpack with diaper-changing materials, a change of clothes, and a snack; putting on shoes and hat; checking the weather; and carrying the stroller down the stairs from the porch to the sidewalk (curse the 1920s and their non-ADA-compliant homes). This process takes at least 30 minutes, and that’s if it all goes smoothly.

On the move at last, after handing KFP his water and an apple slice, I felt good. I felt accomplished. Here I was, balancing my writing career and parenting: about to mail a query letter and then enjoy quality time with my boy. He kept up a steady stream of chatter all the way to the post office, remarking on everything we passed: “The stop sign is an octagon! The tree has a shadow!” Sometime in those last three blocks, however, he conked out.

So now I’m sitting under the shade of a sycamore in our favorite little park, watching him sleep and wondering what to do. Waking him would violate my “Don’t wake a sleeping child unless absolutely necessary” rule. However, if I let him sleep, we’ll run out of time for fun, and the last time I did that, skipping the park and wheeling him home while he slept, he cried for a whole hour.

I guess if I let him sleep a little longer, I’ll still have time to cook and eat dinner before starting my night’s transcription work. It will be a little tight, and we may only have 10-15 minutes to kick the ball, but it’s the best I can do.

Compromises and flexibility are the only way to go when you’re a WAHM. Getting up a little earlier probably would have also helped, but there’s no need to go to extremes.

Dodging the Mombie Hordes

This week, while brainstorming a possible name for tired parents, I did an Internet search for the term “mombie.” Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the term already existed and meant something quite a bit different from what I thought was my genius idea. A mombie, according to the collective wisdom of the Internet, is a mother who was once a feminist and is now a pale shadow of her former self, caring only about cooking, cleaning, and caring for baby.

My discovery prompted my entry this past week for the online writing contest, LJ Idol, a humor piece I called Attack of the Mombies, which placed in the Top 5 in votes.

In the piece, I tried to channel Erma Bombeck, who was famously self-deprecating about her own domestic skills. As I was writing it, though, I was highly aware of the fact that few of us live at one extreme or the other. The truth is, I often enjoy cooking, while I’m in the midst of it. But while I like eating the results, it’s simply not something I spend much of my waking time pondering. It’s not that I fault mothers who do enjoy cooking; I simply find my thoughts (and most of my conscious energy) focused elsewhere.

That’s the nagging aspect of this topic that my piece — built around a simple humor device — couldn’t begin to approach. What, exactly, is feminism? And are feminism and housework mutually exclusive? My immediate response is to say no, they’re not; in fact, it’s a preposterous idea. Feminism is about expanding choices, and some women choose to spend the bulk of their time cooking, cleaning, and taking care of other household tasks.

I’d like to hear further thoughts about the feminists v. mombies debate. Where do you categorize yourself? And is it a destructive argument to be having, to begin with?

Looking forward to Belated Mommy? Name your own price for my new special-edition ebook, Now with Kung-Fu Action Grip, featuring writings about pregnancy and my toddler’s first years.