Author Archives: Kirsten Chapman

If you are looking for the perfect non-toxic, heirloom-quality American made baby gift, this is it! Kleynimals Baby Flatware Set.

This is NOT a paid or sponsored post; there are just a handful of items that I absolutely LOVE to gift to the babies in my life – and this is one of them!

This is one of my favorite products out there and, if you have been reading my blog for a while you know I don’t give this kind of praise lightly. The quality and design of this baby flatware set is excellent, and I trust this brand 100%. [Full XRF test results are below if you are interested!] When I first learned of Kleynimals’ products I approached them (not the other way around) and asked them to sponsor my website — because I thought their products and their company were amazing, and something I could wholly endorse!

Kirsten, the owner of Kleynimals, was able to support my advocacy work and website by becoming a sponsor in May of 2019. [Sadly, Kleynimals is currently no longer able to financially support my advocacy work (in large part due to the impacts of the pandemic) — but I STILL LOVE THEIR PRODUCTS!] Now, during these wild times we are all in – I want to return the favor and make sure to share with my readers about how much I love these products and hopefully encourage y’all to purchase one or two or five!!!! – one for each of the babies in your life! [I just sent the flatware pictured here to my favorite cousin in Germany who has a baby – I am excited to see what he (the baby!) thinks of them!]

Did you know that many antique silver baby spoons may have unsafe levels of Lead?

The Kleynimals baby flatware set is a must-have alternative to some of the antique silver baby spoons you may have in your life — because a lot of those antique silver baby spoons actually have unsafe levels of Lead! You can read more about that here on this link:

If you do buy one of Kirsten’s products (and the baby flatware is just one of the very thoughtful, non-toxic, stainless steel baby things she makes and sells), you are not only buying something saferfor the babies in your life, but you are also supporting a small, woman-owned business during a very difficult time – a business that is also committed to making products right here at home in the United States. If you are a mom, or an auntie with a bunch of older kids in your life (like me!) and expect to be a grandma or great-aunt soon – please consider helping to keep Kleynimals in business in 2021 by buying multiple sets of their baby flatware (and rattles too!), so you can set them aside and have them on hand to give to each of the new babies when they are born in to your family!

I love their products because, not only are they high quality stainless steel, they are very well made, sturdy and truly heirloom quality products (and let’s not forget cute, super cute!) If you buy them for your grandkids now, I expect they will be handed down for generations.

For more information from Tamara Rubin, child health advocate and environmental activist, please look at her website: tamararubin.com

5 Simple Ways to Make Life Easier for Your Sensitive Kid

Sensory smart parenting made easy.

Jayden, an active preschooler, loves the playground. After a few minutes, he’s so revved up that he starts running around, bulldozes over other children in his path, and then digs into the sandbox, spraying his little sister, Jenny, nearby. Jenny starts crying because she hates sand on her skin, and it’s sticking more than usual because she refused to let you properly rub in sunblock. She can’t stand that either. You manage to calm both kids down and head to the supermarket because you forgot to buy frozen spinach cakes, the only vegetable they’ll eat. You bribe them with cookies to behave and grab another brand of spinach cakes because they’re out of the usual one. Maybe they won’t notice? Fortunately, your spouse bathes the kids so you can make dinner, turning up the music to tune out the complaints:

“The bath is too hot!”
“You’re pulling my hair!”
“My pajamas hurt!”
“That music is too LOUD!”

Then you serve dinner. The kids are pleased with the mac n’ cheese at exactly the temperature they like but … the spinach cakes are WRONG. Jenny starts to wail and Jayden calls her a baby. And the nighttime battles begin.

Quirks vs. Sensory Issues?

Do your child’s likes and dislikes make you feel like you’re catering to a cute but impossible dictator? All of us have preferences and intolerances. But there’s a big difference between the endearing quirks that all kids have and sensory issues that make living with children SO very difficult at times.

We all learn through our senses, both the familiar ones—touch, sight, sound, taste and smell—and some that are less well known: vestibular (our sense of movement), proprioception (our internal body awareness), and interoception (our sense of physiological well-being or distress). Sensory processing refers to how we transform all of these sensory messages into useful information so we know what’s going on in the world and with our bodies so we can respond proportionately.

Some of our kids, and some of us, are wired differently. When people have sensory processing issues, their brains do not interpret sensory information accurately and reliably, so their responses may be out of proportion. They may overreact to certain sensory experiences that don’t seem to bother anyone else. They might be hypersensitive, feeling things too intensely and thus overreacting to a tiny scratch or to getting messy with glue or paint. The hypersensitive child might be fussy about clothing or food textures. A child can also be hyposensitive (underreactive), needing a lot of input for it to register in his brain—stuffing his mouth with food to feel it in there, sprawling on the floor during circle time to feel the floor beneath him, or playing too roughly at recess. Many kids have sensory meltdowns when there is too much input to process, as can happen in a busy classroom or crowded store. Fortunately there are “sensory smart” parenting hacks you can use to minimize the effect of these sensitivities.

1.Keep a journal to help you predict and prepare for sensory-related problems.

Write out where the problem happened, what preceded it, the problematic behavior and what seemed to help.

2. Create a visual or written list of the day’s events so your child knows what to expect.

Children (and many adults) feel more confident and capable when they know what’s ahead. If a disliked activity is planned, collaborate on ways to make it more tolerable such as downloading favorite music on your smartphone for your child to hear while she’s sitting in the doctor’s office.

3. Bring a bag of tricks to help your child stay on an even keel.

If you know your child gets fidgety when waiting in line, keep a supply of calming items: an unbreakable snow globe, a container of putty, chewing gum and so on. If your child is sensitive to noise, bring sound-reducing earmuffs, noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs.

4. Get them moving! Kids need to move, some more than others.

If your child is bouncing off the walls when it’s time to sit down for dinner, plan ahead and have him get intense movement before dinner such as climbing a few sets of stairs, jumping on a mini-trampoline with a safety bar (or a mat on the floor), running laps and so on. If your kid loves screens, put on a gonoodle.com or other online activity that encourages movement. Exercise keeps kids healthy and also generates those feel-good chemicals that keep kids happy too.

5. Take breaks and don’t over-schedule.

We’re all overworked and overbooked these days. We mighy be used to it, and lots of kids thrive on being busy, but sensitive kids need downtime. Keeping it together at school all day among active kids and all of those academic, social and behavioral demands is a lot to ask of a sensitive child. Taking a short restorative break in a quiet, softly lit room or taking a peaceful walk in a park after school can make all the difference!

When to Get Help

Some kids, teens and adults have sensory challenges so significant that they interfere with learning, playing, working—and the ability to parent confidently. Somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of children have what’s called sensory processing disorder (SPD), including those diagnosed with autism and attention deficits, as well as kids who do not have any other developmental issues. The Sensory Checklist in Raising a Sensory Smart Child, which you can also download from sensorysmarts.com, will help you better understand your child’s sensitivities. A pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in sensory challenges can help you create more sensory-friendly environments and routines while, even more importantly, building your child’s ability to better process everyday sensory experiences.


Lindsey Biel, M.A., OTR/L, is an occupational therapist with a private practice in New York City. She is co-author of the award-winning book, Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues.

Written by Lindsey Biel for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

5 Fast and Healthy Finger Foods Your Toddler Will Actually Eat

It’s been a long time since I had to worry about this since my boys are now 12 and 15, but I do remember these days! I also admit that it wasn’t just when they were toddlers that they were picky… they still prefer an all carb meal when given the chance. I hope you find these recipes helpful! ~Kirsten

These tasty meals can be enjoyed by the whole family.

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Working Mother

The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook Photo: amazon.com

Cooking one meal for a family is hard enough for a working mom. It gets worse when you also have to make something separate for younger kids who are either too little or too picky to have what everybody else is eating. But it doesn't have to be this way! There are plenty of easy and tasty recipes that can be enjoyed by toddlers and the rest of the family.

The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook: Your Baby Learns to Eat Solid Foods, You Enjoy the Convenience of One Meal for Everyone by Gill Rapley, Ph.D., and Tracey Murkett contains 99 dishes that will please even the fussiest kids. The recipes are a great way to introduce children to solid foods while eliminating all of the extra cooking.

Here are some quick and easy finger foods that your whole family will love:

These soft, sticky discs of sweet potato are excellent served warm as a side or cold as a salad. They go very well with roasted meats and casseroles and take just minutes to prepare before roasting.

Serves a family of four to six.

Ingredients

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed orange
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F (180 ̊C). Slice the sweet potatoes crosswise into chunky rounds, about 1⁄2 inch (1.5cm) thick. Lay the rounds on a large baking sheet.

  2. Mix together the orange zest and juice, the oil and thyme leaves and pour over the potato rounds. Turn them over so that they are coated on all sides.

  3. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.

  4. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 5 to 15 minutes, until the sweet potato is very tender and the sauce has reduced and become sticky. Serve warm or cold.

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Working Mother

Banana Pita Pockets Photo: Ruth Jenkinson

Recipe from The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

One of the easiest breakfasts ever, this recipe includes a couple of simple textures for your baby to explore. Don’t be surprised if she squishes the banana out to play with before eating it!

Serves one adult and one baby

Ingredients

-1 large pita
– 1 large ripe banana, mashed

Method

  1. Warm the pita under the broiler (it will puff up slightly), then tear or slice it open around the edge.

  2. Spread the mashed banana over the inside, then fold the pita back together and cut it into fingers. Serve while still warm.

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Working Mother

Carrot & Pineapple Muffins Photo: Ruth Jenkinson

Recipe from The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

These delicious, lightly spiced muffins are naturally sweet, with all the sweetness coming from the pineapple, carrots and apple. They can also be made as mini muffins, which are perfect to take out and about as a snack. They freeze well, too, defrosting in four to six hours at room temperature.

Makes 12 standard-sized muffins or 20 mini muffins

Ingredients

  • A little oil or unsalted butter, for greasing
  • ½ cup (100ml) sunflower or canola oil
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250g) self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ¼ cups (150g) peeled and grated carrots
  • ¾ packed cup (135g) drained crushed pineapple
  • ½ cup (75g) golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (100g) sugar-free applesauce (preferably homemade)
    -Finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed orange

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F (180 ̊C) and grease 12 large or 20 small holes of a silicone muffin pan (or line the holes with paper liners).

  2. Put the oil, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and whisk.

  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl. Add the carrots, pineapple, raisins, applesauce and orange zest and stir. Pour in the oil, egg and vanilla mixture and stir gently (or fold) until the flour is just combined (avoid overmixing, which will make the muffins tough).

  4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (14 to 18 minutes for mini muffins), until the muffins are risen and a rich golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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Working Mother

Mini Quiches Photo: Ruth Jenkinson

Recipe from The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

These crustless individual quiches, made in a muffin tin, make an excellent breakfast, lunch or snack and are very quick to prepare. They keep well in the fridge for three to five days and freeze well, too.

Makes 12 quiches

Ingredients

  • A little oil or unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2/3 cup (75g) grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (25g) unsalted butter, melted

Optional fillings – 1 2/3 cups (50g) shredded fresh spinach leaves
– 1/3 cup (50g) sweet corn kernels (no added salt)
– 1/3 cup (50g) cherry tomatoes, chopped
– 1/3 cup (50g) frozen peas
– 1/3 cup (50g) chopped red, yellow or orange bell pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 ̊F (200 ̊C) and grease a 12-hole silicone muffin pan (or line a metal muffin pan with paper liners).

  2. Put the eggs, milk, cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Stir in your chosen filling (if any), then pour the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole to around two-thirds full.

  3. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the quiches are a rich golden brown and are nicely risen.

  4. Leave the quiches in the pan for at least 20 minutes (they will sink a little) before turning them out to finish cooling.

Tip

Silicone muffin pans are generally easier to use and clean than metal ones, especially for this recipe. If you don’t have a silicone pan, line your metal pan with paper liners. The quiches will be easier to turn out.

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Working Mother

Sweet Corn Fritters Photo: Ruth Jenkinson

Recipe from The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

These fritters make a quick savory breakfast. They’re delicious on their own, but when served with sour cream or guacamole they’re a great way to give your baby some practice at dipping.

Makes eight fritters–enough for one adult, one child and one baby

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (50g) self-rising flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Half a 15.25-ounce (432g) can sweet corn (no added salt or sugar), drained and rinsed
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons oil, for frying

Method

  1. Put the flour in a mixing bowl. Add the egg and whisk well to form a thick batter. Stir in the drained sweet corn kernels and black pepper (if using). Mix well.

  2. If you want a smoother texture, pour the batter into a food processor and whizz for a minute or two to crush the kernels.

  3. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium to high heat. When the pan is hot, pour 1 tablespoon of batter into the pan for each fritter. It should be possible to cook around four fritters at a time. Let them cook for around 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown, then remove them from the pan. Add a little more oil and cook the remaining batter in two or three batches.

To serve

Serve warm or cold, perhaps with some sour cream or simple guacamole with the fritters cut into halves or quarters for your baby.

Written by Joseph Barberio for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

This Tale of Baby Sign Language Gone Wrong Has Us Cracking Up

Be careful what you teach your tot!

Sign language is a smart way to communicate with babies before they’re verbal—so long as they’re using the correct signs. One mom discovered, in the most mortifying way possible, she’d taught her daughter some very incorrect signs.

Thankfully, she took to Reddit to share the hilarious story with all of us. Prepare to laugh.

The funny mom began her tale by saying she’d decided to start teaching her little one American Sign Language after seeing other babies using it in her weekly mommy and me class. (To be clear, this is not her scene. She received a membership as a “gift” from her mother-in-law, because “she doesn’t think I am socializing her grandchild enough and this was her way of passive-aggressively correcting my parenting.”)

One day, while her husband was out of town and she didn’t feel like cooking, she took her daughter to a local burger joint. All seems to be going well, she says, as her daughter uses her newly learned sign language to signal what she wants.

“The server brings a little styrofoam cup with a lid and a straw filled with water for my daughter, and I set it out of her reach so she doesn’t hulk smash the styrofoam and make a mess. So of course every time she wants some, she signs ‘drink.’ And every time she wants my attention, she signs ‘dad’ because apparently the slightly different sign for ‘mom’ isn’t as fun for her. Ok, whatever.”

But then the mom notices a couple of women nearby “who are also signing to each other but they’re looking over at us and snickering.” She confesses she just quickly looked up the signs online, so she may have botched them, but on their way out the door, the two women kindly let her know just how badly she botched them. And it’s priceless.

“They stop by our table and one of them lays her iPhone down with a message typed out for me to read. It says something to the effect of ‘she’s calling you "dumb” and telling you she wants to drink alcohol.’”

Yep. As it turns out, there are two different signs, one for requesting a non-alcoholic beverage, and one for requesting alcohol. She’d taught her daughter the latter. And since her daughter was balling up her first up instead of using a flat hand at her forehead, she was calling her mom "dumb" instead of "dad.”

Oops.

She clarified that the two women who set her straight were very friendly. “Please understand that the conversation that took place with the deaf women was totally lighthearted; they were not correcting our signing to be rude or in thinking that I was trying to teach my child proper ASL. They thought my baby was cute and struck up conversation, and it was funny and welcome!”

The mom posted her story in the appropriately-titled subreddit TIFU, or Today I F*cked Up, and commenters jumped in to share their own sign language snafus. The entire thread is well worth reading if you need a laugh.

“I can only imagine what the Pinterest moms would’ve done had I shown up next week with my kid asking to drink liquor,” the mom quips.

Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Can Yelling Be a Part of Healthy Parenting?

Every parent is guilty of yelling at their children at least once or twice. But why do parents yell at their kids? There are many different reasons, but the most common two are:

  • Having the feeling of powerlessness or not being able to control the kids. When you feel your kids are disobedient or hard-headed, you may lose your temper to get their attention
  • When you think you’re protecting the kids from any perceived threat, like when a toddler runs to the poolside and attempts to jump off

Regardless of the reason and whether it was on purpose or not, yelling at your child can leave serious long-term effects on them, ones which they may carry with them into adulthood. I know kids can get on our nerves sometimes, but before you lose your temper, consider this.

Yelling Worsens Behavior Problems in Children

Research shows that yelling could create more behavior problems rather than correcting them. HVD or "harsh verbal discipline", especially on adolescents, can cause an increase in behaviors like lying and stealing, which can turn into petty crimes and depressive symptoms later on.

Yelling Alters Proper Development of the Child's Brain

A study showed that children who are exposed to parental verbal aggression like being yelled or cursed at are likely to develop mood and anxiety disorders. These disorders are known as forms of psychopathology, which slows down normal brain development. When this occurs, auditory and language processing in the child is negatively affected. Being quiet, aloof and anti-social are the most common characteristic shown in children with mood and anxiety disorders.

Yelling Can Lead to Depression

HVD or "harsh verbal discipline", like shouting, cursing, insults, humiliation or calling the child names can make the child feel neglected and unloved, thus making them believe they are useless, worthless and inferior. This treatment can also increase chances of the child becoming overly self-critical and deficient in self-esteem. The child usually shows inactivity and low performance on tasks assigned to him especially at home and school.

Stress may also trigger certain illnesses, psychological imbalances and abnormalities in the brain pathways that involve emotional regulation, movement and habit formation. These conditions can include trichotillomania–excessive hair pulling, which is often observed in a stressed child who has lost their ability to control their impulses. Take a trichotillomania test for diagnosis and proper treatment.

Yelling Can Cause Chronic Pain

A study showed a link between negative childhood experiences, verbal and other forms of abuse and the further development of painful chronic conditions, which may include arthritis, severe headache, back and neck problems and other chronic pains. As the child becomes emotionally and psychologically depressed, appetite and other healthcare protocols may be forgotten or not prioritized, making the body susceptible to illness.

Yelling Should Never Be a First Resort

Words are powerful, especially when delivered in anger or frustration. Sometimes negative words are much easily absorbed by the brain and the heart than positive words. So choose your words especially when dealing with children because what you say to them is how they will see themselves in the future.

Written by Guest Author for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Could You Be Experiencing Parenting Burnout?

If you're a parent, you've probably at some point experienced parenting burnout. Your weekends away from work may be filled with activities for your kids from sports games, to play dates, and even Sunday school. Between all that there can be standoffs you have with a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum, and negotiations on how to get your kids to bed.

If you work throughout the week, it may seem like you're never getting a moment to switch your brain off from work, and if you're a stay at home mom, it could feel as if you're working on call 24/7. At some point, the buildup of parenting responsibilities can make us hit a wall. Many parents now have this internal pressure to be a superhero and to do it all. Be a boss and a parent at the same time while cooking every meal throughout the week and staying social in the evenings. All of this pressure and responsibilities can make you feel like you're losing your mind.

Parenting burnout is real, but so are the solutions to help you find your balance. To help you cope with the stress that comes from parenting, I've outline the signs that you could be experiencing burnout, and how to fix them.

  • Losing your ability to concentrate: Specifically on work tasks like you used to.  When you’re experiencing burnout – this can turn into chronic stress which can lead to a lack of mental clarity and other cognitive issues.
  • Losing control: Feeling as if you have zero control of any outcome, and almost as if you never have a say in what is happening in your day to day life.
  • Feeling as if you’re never doing enough : Between your own parenting instincts and everything you read in articles, you may feel like there’s always some new form of parenting that you aren’t quite getting right.
  • Lack of feeling accomplished: Feeling as if you aren’t making any progress with your own life’s goals outside of being a parent.
  • A loss of energy: Feeling as if you never have any energy to socialize, or rarely experiencing energy at all. Constant exhaustion is an extremely clear sign of burnout- and it can be a blend of physical, mental and emotional fatigue.
  • Never feeling rewarded: Parenting can be a thankless job. This could leave you feeling like you’re being taken for granted or that all of your efforts are not recognized.
  • No room for self-care: Not making self-care or “me” time a priority.
  • Irritability and frustration: Feeling extra irritable and experiencing a short temper with your kids and spouse.

Steps you can take to reverse your burnout:

  • Don’t strive for perfection: Trying to be perfect at everything is self-destructive and sets yourself up for failure. You may always feel like you’re never doing things the right way, and that’s OK. A lot of us put such a focus on being perfect because we are afraid to fail as parents. Instead, focus on doing your best
  • Prioritize your mental and physical wellbeing:  Make sure you create non-negotiables throughout the day such as making time to work out, eat nutrient dense meals, and get enough sleep. Also taking breaks throughout the work day to take walks around the block, or standing up to stretch your legs.
  • Take a break : Typically when you are experiencing burnout – you are overworked, overstimulated, and reaching your mental capacity. It might sound scary to take a break when there seems to be never ending parental duties, but the results can make a significant impact on reversing your feelings of burnout. Taking time for yourself for a quick yoga class to reset your mind, detach from responsibilities can help you come back to your parenting mindset with more confidence and clarity. This could also be the ideal time to rediscover your passions and creativity. Have your partner watch the kids while you break free for a class or even hire a babysitter if you want to connect with your spouse on a date night.
  • Listen to your body: When you are feeling mentally or physically fatigued, take a break. Don’t try to power through and work through these signals your body is giving you. If you are experiencing frequent headaches or stomachaches, these could be manifestations from stress.
  • Get organized: By putting some time management and project management systems in place, your day can become more structured which can lead to less feelings of constant stress. I know it can be hard to follow routines when kids have consistent needs throughout the day that can change suddenly, but having some sort of guidance can help you feel more put together.

With these tips you can better understand how to recognize when you're experiencing parenting burnout, and how to reverse it! What can you do today to reset your mind and bring more balance to your life?

About the author: Dr. Tenisha White

Dr. Tenisha White is a Clinical Psychologist at ClarityChi.com. In 2005 she earned her first Master's degree in mental health counseling at Loyola University New Orleans. In 2010 Dr. White returned back home to Chicago to pursue her doctorate degree at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology where she obtained a second Master's degree in Clinical Psychology and Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology in 2016.

Dr. White has experience in providing individual, family, couples and group therapy for a wide range of individuals with diverse backgrounds. Dr. White's areas of clinical focus include adjustment issues, mood and anxiety disorders, academic issues, family issues, relationship issues and behavior issues. She has a dedication to being involved in the community and has provided workshops for community programs and employers, which include stress management, conflict resolution, improving communication skills, understanding depression and developing effective coping skills.

Written by Dr. Tenisha White for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Talented Dad’s Comics Show the Sweet and Funny Sides of Parenting

They are so right about why being a parent is totally worth it.

As a father, John Kovaleski knows parenting comes with a lot of hard work. But it’s the little moments that make it all worth it.

In his new comic strip, Daddy Daze, the Pennsylvania dad and cartoonist is illustrating the humorous moments that come along with being a parent. The comic follows the life of a single dad named Paul as he balances working from home and raising his young son Angus. According to Kovaleski, the strip is inspired by his own life and experiences as a father.

Daddy Daze is a loosely based portrayal of my experiences with fatherhood, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it. Being a parent is a crazy job—the hours are terrible, the pay is nonexistent, but the benefits outweigh it all,” he said in a press release.

Daddy Daze is available in newspapers nationwide and can also be read on the strip’s website and social media pages. Here are some that truly nail what it’s like to be a working parent:

Being a Parent Pays Off

Thinking Outside the Box

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Working Mother

Probably a good idea to keep it “inside the box” for now. Photo: Daddy Daze

Better Get Comfy

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Working Mother

This could take a while. Photo: Daddy Daze

Safety First

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Working Mother

I like the way this kid thinks. Photo: Daddy Daze

Better Check Twice

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Working Mother

You can never be too careful. Photo: Daddy Daze

Close Enough

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Working Mother

It’s the thought that counts. Photo: Daddy Daze

Changed in a Moment’s Notice

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Working Mother

“Is it mom’s turn yet?” Photo: Daddy Daze

Recipe For Sticky Floors

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Working Mother

Clean up on aisle three. Photo: Daddy Daze

Sleep Training

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Working Mother

He should probably work on sleeping through the entire night before asking for a curfew. Photo: Daddy Daze

An Enviable To-Do List

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Working Mother

Sounds like a busy day. Photo: Daddy Daze

Written by Joseph Barberio for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Dear Companies: Don’t Talk So Much About Productivity. Focus Instead on Supporting Parents This School Year

COVID-19 has turned every kind of working mom arrangement there was completely on its head, and it is urgent that organizations find new ways—impactful ways—to support their working moms and working women as school starts.

While every woman’s situation is unique, there are some commonalities across us upon which organizations can mobilize, for the purpose of easing employees’ everyday lives. The first step is to stop asking, over and over again, “How do we ensure our workforce is being as productive as possible working from home?” It borders on an insult to the women who have advanced the concept of “multitasking” to spellbinding performance art. Focus instead on how to ease their situation, which of course means that organization policymakers must first understand it.

The key issue in organizations is that, with so few women in the C-suite, or even the executive leadership ranks, CEOs are not likely to understand the intense pressure put specifically on women during this work-from-home pandemic. The CEO and the working women in the organization simply don’t share the same household income and range of choices of how to organize and assign work at home. Here’s what they’re likely to miss:

  • Women were already working harder to be seen, heard and rewarded for their performance before COVID-19.
  • With COVID-19, there are more meetings, and the days are longer, more intense and more exhausting for everyone.
  • The pleasure that once was found in the inherently social nature of work—the casual conversations, the connections with colleagues during the day—is gone.
  • For working parents, the rhythm of having part of their day separate from their kids, who were at school, daycare or home, and rejoining them at the end of it is gone. It’s all family, 24/7, all the time, every day.

For many, but certainly not all, women, research tells us they do a disproportionately larger share of the household chores in heterosexual households—two-plus hours more every day. And somehow, the new job in every house with children—that of the home tutor—has fallen to the female in the majority of those households. My women clients tell me they’re dealing with emails at 6 a.m., and then family and work in an all-out effort until 9 or 10 p.m. Just after they stop for the day, their boss sends out that after-hours email.

So, how can managers support women and homeschooling parents this September?

The strategy is simply this: Ease the lives of the mothers in your workforce.

  1. Immediately include benefits for virtual tutoring for the kids. Provide the funds necessary across the economic spectrum of your working population for tutors to do the teaching at the end of the classroom day.
  2. Host a live speaker series for the men in the organization focused on how they can step up at home and be an equal partner in the entire scope of house and family work. Don’t worry if it’s not “masculine.” (A recent survey found men in the US were not taking reusable shopping bags to the market because they felt it was unmanly). Teach men how all that “unseen” work gets done for home and children, and encourage them to take on their fair share.
  3. Provide anywhere from two days to one week off on a rolling basis across the workforce so people have time to recover and deal with other things. The companies doing this are trying to synch up cross-functional teams for time off so that the group’s workstream is preserved. They find productivity increases with this adjustment.
  4. Host a Virtual Hacks night. Showcase the moms and dads who’ve figured out clever solutions to handling the new challenges brought on by the quarantine. Maybe it’s tips on scheduling regimens, or less-known virtual learning tools for kids.
  5. Last, don’t assume that this household-driven help is all women need. With the same passion they have for family, they also want to have career development discussions, talk about compensation, performance and their future. Be proactive in setting up those discussions! They are on the minds of the women and working moms of your organization just as they are on the minds of their male colleagues.

Written by Susan Hodgkinson for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Four Strategies for Disciplining Toddlers That Actually Work

Discipline is never fun, and particularly not when we are all spending so much time at home. I hope you find this helpful! ~Kirsten

Some of these get a bad rap, but they can be surprisingly effective when used correctly.

Your toddler has some pretty big ups and downs—one minute she’s counting to 20 like a genius and the next she’s got her brother in a headlock because he stole a goldfish from her. Sure, she’s figuring out boundaries and “asserting her independence,” but how can you change those lessons from destructive to constructive? Let’s talk about a range of discipline techniques to help you out.

1. Try Timeouts

Because they are a negative form of discipline, timeouts can get a bad rap nowadays. And I certainly wouldn’t recommend them for anything related to the potty, food or tantrums. But timeouts are still a go-to strategy if she’s touching an outlet after repeated warnings, hitting a sibling or not coming to brush her teeth after you’ve asked her ten times. Here are a few keys to success:

  • Nail down the logistics. Pick a boring place near the center of the action (a step works great) and aim for a minute for every year old.
  • Get everyone on the same page. Kids are master manipulators—if they can get away with something under dad’s watch but not mom’s, they’ll work him every time. It’s confusing for kids when consequences aren’t consistent.
  • Debrief after the timeout. Ask her why she got the timeout and what she can do different next time. Keep it short, give her a quick hug and move on. Rather than forcing an apology, try modeling concern for any human or animal victims instead.
  • Avoid the pitfall of too many warnings. Toddlers will tiptoe that line like a ballerina, so just give one warning. Once your toddler knows you’re for real, a countdown becomes quite effective: “If you don’t put that phone down by the count of three, then you’re going to get a timeout. One … two … thank you for listening.”

2. Practice Positive Reinforcement

It can be especially frustrating for us working parents when the interactions we do have with our toddlers feel negative. You don’t want your kid to be in trouble all the time! Enter positive reinforcement, where you set up an incentive before the problem occurs. Let’s look at a few key points:

  • Be very specific. It does not work to say, “If you’re good today, you can watch Curious George.” Focus on one frustrating behavior you want to eliminate. So if your child has been fighting the car seat lately, try this: “We’re going to go get in the car now. I’m bringing Spiderman with me. If you get into car seat right away, then you can have Spiderman! Does that sound like a good idea?”
  • Reward him the right way. When you start, set a low bar for success. He’s smart—once he realizes he has the power to earn things through good behavior, he’ll be more inclined to do it again next time. Keep rewards small. Experiences, such as looking at pictures or listening to a favorite song, are ideal. Sticker charts are a great way to work towards a bigger prize. Take a piece of construction paper and write the grand prize at the bottom. Then draw five blank squares above it and you’re set.

3. Employ “The Circle of Trust”

Dinnertime can be ground zero for your toddler’s bad behavior. Bedtime is in 30 minutes, but she’s feeding mashed potatoes to the dog and shaking milk onto her head. I already told you that timeouts aren’t great for food problems, so what can you do? Let me explain the circle of trust. (Yes, I know I stole it from Robert DeNiro in Meet the Fockers.) When your kiddo repeats the bad behavior you want to discourage, you quickly push her high chair or booster back a couple of feet from the table and go about your eating as if nothing happened. After 30 seconds you ask her if she’s ready to come back to the table and warn her that if she throws food again she’ll be pushed away. Toddlers are quite sensitive to being “out of the circle,” and this is a great low-stress way of changing behavior for the better at mealtime.

4. Make Floor Time

I love floor time. It’s a simple but powerful “backdoor” discipline technique, particularly useful when your toddler is caught in a cycle of seeking negative attention from you. Weekday evenings are a setup for these bad behavior cycles—you have 90 minutes to make dinner, feed your kid, play with him and get him ready for bed. But that fast-paced agenda doesn’t feel so much like attention to him, so he gets it by acting out. Dr. Stanley Greenspan was a child psychiatrist who developed floor time over 40 years ago for kids with autism. But in its simple form it can be a secret weapon for all parents. Try to set aside fifteen minutes several times per week where you are literally down on the floor with your child following his lead. He’s the boss—even if it’s super silly, resist the urge to redirect him. This gives him the attention he craves in a healthier way, and you’re going to have more happy time with your kid. Whichever technique you’re using with your toddler, remember to think firm but loving—be confident in your bond and in the person you’re trying to raise!


Dr. Luke Voytas is the author of Beyond the Checkup from Birth to Age Four: A Pediatrician's Guide to Calm, Confident Parenting. He is a full-time pediatrician at Evergreen Pediatrics in Vancouver, WA. He has also served as the chair of pediatrics at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, the largest hospital in southwest Washington. He is known for his ability to help even the most anxious parents learn to feel confident about what they're doing for their kids. He lives in Portland, OR, with his wife (who is also a pediatrician) and their kids.

Written by Luke Voytas M.D. for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

The Best Ways Family-Friendly Companies are Helping Employees with Childcare Right Now

I wish we could all be so lucky to work for companies who are able to make it through COVID successfully, and also be able to help with childcare. Food for thought…

It’s no secret working moms are anxious, overworked and on the verge of quitting their jobs. With just one in seven kids returning to full-time school this fall, and daycares shuttering across the country, many parents are bracing for months more of desperately trying to perform the role of teacher, cook, housekeeper and employee, all at once.

Thankfully, some companies recognize that working parents have been put in an untenable position, with little chance of relief on the horizon. In addition to offering benefits such as flexible and/or reduced schedules and paid leave, many have added or expanded programs meant to help parents cover the cost of childcare.

That’s crucial because high-quality childcare is so difficult to find right now. In California, for example, a quarter of daycares have closed, equaling a loss of 19,000 spots. Experts warn that up to 40 percent of daycares could permanently close across the country if Congress doesn’t provide the industry with more financial aid. And parents who can afford it have snapped up private sitters and tutors, leaving fewer and fewer affordable choices for working parents who could use a reprieve.

Bridget Garsh, the COO and co-founder of NeighborSchools, a site that connects parents with small family childcare providers, said she’s heard from HR leaders from companies both large and small, who are searching for ways to support working parents “because the problem simply can’t be ignored any longer.”

“The majority of companies have historically under-valued and under-appreciated the importance of childcare for their workforce, especially working moms, and they have largely left parents to fend for themselves,” she says, noting that only 19 percent of companies provide childcare benefits, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2019 Employee Benefits Survey. “Of those that have offered childcare benefits, they’ve primarily included corporate centers with limited spots and expensive price points that are simply unaffordable for many families or backup care options which don’t cover parents’ long-term needs. COVID has forced companies to realize that parents simply can’t do their jobs without childcare. They’re less productive, their stress levels are through the roof and sadly many of them are thinking of leaving the workforce because it’s all too much.”

That’s what KPMG LLP learned from the check-in surveys and focus groups it began hosting to keep abreast of how its employees are doing and what additional support or resources they may need. “One of the things we heard loud and clear is that while work-life balance is a challenge for everyone right now, it’s a particularly significant concern for parents and caregivers as the new school year begins amid so much uncertainty,” says Darren H. Burton, their vice chair of HR. “Once we heard this, we went right to work to identify ways we can provide assistance, by enhancing some of our existing benefits programs and introducing new ones.”

The professional services firm quadrupled the number of backup care days available to employees, expanded access to discounted tutoring, academic support and homework assistance and expanded its network of childcare centers to offer discounts at more than 2,000 centers nationwide.

KPMG isn’t alone. Childcare benefits are becoming a big way companies are helping working parents right now. Here are the additional perks other top employers are offering:

Sanofi

The biopharmaceutical company offered 25 days of emergency backup care March through May. In June, Sanofi offered another 25 days of subsidized in-home or center-based backup care for all employees. Employees also have free membership to an online tool that provides access to nannies, sitters, home cleaners, pet caretakers and more.

Boston Scientific

The medical solutions company has increased its backup care and now offers 15 days through Care.com, as well as covering “out of network” caregivers so that working parents have the flexibility to use those subsidized days for caregivers within their personal networks. The company is also launching programs to facilitate learning pods as well as nanny shares for employees who live near each other.

Bank of America

Bank of America might have the most generous backup childcare program available—there’s no limit on the number of days employees can claim while they’re working from home or in the office through year-end. Starting August 16 and running through December 31, the bank’s employees can get daily childcare reimbursements of $75 or $100, depending on their compensation, for children up to and including 12 years of age. For children with special needs, the age requirement is up to 21 years of age. Employees also get priority access to learning hubs for school-age children, which will be offered through a Bright Horizons partnership with Mathnasium and Sylvan, providing the opportunity for children in distance learning to participate in small groups with an in-person educator.

Zoetis

Before COVID-19, the animal health company offered employees whose childcare fell through 10 days a year to send their children to a backup facility run by Bright Horizons. Employees paid $15 a day for one child or $25 daily for two or more kids. Employees who used in-home backup childcare were reimbursed for $6 an hour, but they had to use a caregiver in the Bright Horizons network. The company changed its childcare offerings, and now employees can use whomever they wanted to watch their child—family members, friends, neighbors—and they can receive reimbursement of $100 a day for 40 days. Employees also have free access to Sittercity, an online marketplace for in-home care.

PwC

The professional services firm doubled its backup care reimbursement to $2,000 and is offering discounts on nanny placements, tuition programs and tutoring.

Salesforce

In June, the cloud-based software company increased its global backup childcare offerings through the summer so employees can get reimbursed up to $100 per day for five days each month. In August, the company extended that through the end of January 2021.

Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.