The Babysitter Checklist

Everything a sitter needs in case a not-going-to-happen emergency actually happens. ? @preciouspoppets

paint-kid-dogYou’ve scored a sitter, a hard to get 7:30 p.m. reservation, and shimmied your way into your pre-baby jeans. Things are looking up for Saturday night.

Head into the evening completely worry-free by completing this babysitter checklist: Everything a sitter needs in case a not-going-to-happen emergency actually happens.

After going over all of the info with our sitter, we  like to leave ours on the front hall table or the fridge, for easy access.

Kids INFO

  • Full name, age, date of birth, + current weight of each child.
  • Medicines + allergies for each child.

Contact US

  • Home address + phone
  • Your cell + partner’s cell (we always ask to make sure they are both programmed in their phone before we leave)
  • Where you are going (name) + number

Emergency HELP

  • Neighbor name + address + number
  • Pediatrician name + number
  • Local emergency numbers in case 911 doesn’t work with sitter’s cell phone provider

House RULES

  • Bedtime for each child + lights out routine
  • Food + snack instructions
  • Wi-fi password

Print It, Fill It Out, & Put It On The Fridge

Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Explained

An expert on getting your vagina get back to its former, er, pre-baby self, in terms of tightness – or in case that sounds too porny – the ability to not pee your pants.

The first time we heard a friend casually mention vagina therapy, our minds went all over the place. Is that like a hoo-ha facelift? Does it involve asking your vagina how it really feels? And of course the biggie: Oh God should I be doing that, whatever that is? Turns out it’s a casual term for pelvic floor rehabilitation, which can help your vagina get back to its former, er, self, in terms of tightness – or in case that sounds too porny – the ability to not pee your pants.

So meet our experts: Niva Herzig, the founder of Core Dynamics Physical Therapy in Englewood, New Jersey and her associate Jennifer Byers. They’re basically the pelvic floor fairy godmothers, and withstood our burning (and slightly embarrassing) questions in the interest of a clear, open, and no-secrets guide to something so many women are too shy to ask about. Here’s the deal…

1. How Do I Know If I Need Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation?

If you’re experiencing one or more of the following – treatable! – symptoms: Peeing when you sneeze, pain from a C-section scar or episiotomy, pain (or loss of sensation) during sex, any sort of groin pain that results in difficulty walking, lower back pain, prolapse (when an internal organ drops down from its original place), or similar issues.

2. Am I Being A Diva About My Vagina If I Want To Go?

A LOT of women treat issues like occasional incontinence, aches and pains, or difficulty with sex as just part of their new life as a mom. But that’s not the norm! It’s common, yes, but it’s not how you have to live. There is help!

3. Won’t These Issues Just Get Better With Time?

Sorry to say but the opposite is true. The longer you let pelvic issues go on, the longer you don’t work on any symptoms or treatments, the harder it is to get rid of them. Things become chronic, which makes them more difficult to reverse.

4. Isn’t It Kind Of Embarrassing To Do This?

Niva and Jen hear their patients say over and over: Am I the only one with this problem? Hardly. The fact that pelvic floor clinics exist are proof enough! You’re not alone and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

5. OK, So, What Exactly Goes On In Pelvic Floor Rehab?

If you’re dealing with peeing your pants all the time… they’ll use techniques to increase your muscle strength and endurance via pelvic exercises (think: holding and resting for specific amounts of time.) They may also use biofeedback, which measures your muscle activity via an internal sensor (think: a smaller version of an ultrasound wand that goes inside you) or surface electrodes – that then reflect what’s going on through a graph on a computer screen. While you might be able to cheat during kegels on your own, you can’t cheat with biofeedback – you see (or hear) when you’re contracting or relaxing. There will also be “homework” exercises like wall squats and step-ups to help coordinate your pelvic floor muscles during daily life.
If you’re dealing with vaginismus (i.e. involuntary tightness during sex)… There will be manual therapy – like stretching and soft-tissue massage down there – to increase pelvic floor muscle flexibility. They also may introduce a dilator, which is exactly what it sounds like – and is used to desensitize via treatment with a gradually increased size as you progress. (Sexy, right?) Biofeedback will also be at play here – you’ll be able to see on the screen what happens while the dilator is inserted. And yes, they will show you sex positions that are best for your pelvic floor. (Think: A personalized, wellness-focused Kama Sutra.) And of course, at-home stretches for your inner thighs and lower back, as well as additional dilator work.

6. Can’t I Just DIY Fix This With A Bunch Of Kegels?

Everyone says to practice Kegels by stopping the flow of urine, but you can achieve that by squeezing lots of other things in your body. You have to learn to isolate the pelvic floor appropriately. So yes, there’s a chance you’re doing them wrong. Also, it’s quality over quantity. So many people are overdoing their Kegels because they think the more the better, but they’re often fatiguing their muscles and making things worse. As Niva says – I would never do 100 kegels – I mean, would you do 100 sit-ups a day?

7. So… How Long Til I Can Sneeze Without Paranoia? (Or Get My Old Sex Life Back)?

You know it’s going to be different for everyone, but Jen and Niva have seen that patients typically see a change in about 6-8 visits – and that they tend to treat patients over the course of 3-6 months.

8. And How Much $$ Are We Talking?

While costs will fluctuate depending on where you live, these appointments will generally run in the $100-$300 family. And yes, as you suspected, they’re always one-on-one. Depending on your insurance situation, a pelvic floor clinic may offer a sliding pay scale or, even if they are out-of-network, be willing to accept assignment on certain insurance plans. If you’ve already met your deductible, some insurances will start to reimburse you for your sessions (usually at 50-100%) under your physical therapy benefits.

9. How Come Nobody Talks About This?

Mom groups talk about the best organic formula, what to do to stop the crying, but it’s not so much about taking care of themselves. We take newborn classes on how to diaper and swaddle, but no one talks about keeping your body healthy, functioning, and pain-free. In an ideal world, women would come in to a pelvic floor clinic at least once during pregnancy and again postpartum, and insurance would cover it all.

Acing The Big Kid Bed Transition

All the necessary tools to get the process right – or course correct, if needed.

toddler-sleepMany parents live in fear of the big kid bed transition. Why take that crazy baby out of their cozy little jail so they can terrorize you with face slaps, eyelid pulls, and “mamamama” deep into your ear at all hours? But reconsider: A true, well-done big kid bed upgrade is all about positive sleep habits – and boundaries. And it’s completely within reach.

We spoke with Kira Ryan, a mom of three and co-founder of Dream Team, a Manhattan-based Sleep Consultation (she also co-wrote their book, The Dream Sleeper). “Children don’t want to want you,” Kira explains. “They want to feel independent.” Add in the fact that sleep is an enormous part of your little’s emotional and physical development, and it’s a no-brainer to use this transition as a chance to set good habits in motion. Here, she shares all the necessary tools to get the process RIGHT – or course correct, if needed.

Before You Start…

DO Aim to start the transition around 2.5.

Ultimately you know your child best, but 2.5 seems to be the ideal age, based on all the clients we’ve worked with. Before then, even with the most emotionally-intelligent child, it’s still sort of a crapshoot because they’re still pretty impulsive at that age.

DON’T time the switch to baby #2.

Unfortunately this is pretty common to try and get an older kid out of the crib so it’s ready for the new baby, but it’s truly not the best reason to move – and you don’t want her to feel kicked out. Buy a safe but cheap crib for the interim and then wait to do the switch at the right time. Which means…

DO wait until they’re in a good place during the day.

If your kid is listening to you during the day, that’s going to make it much easier for him to respond to your nighttime parenting. But if you say “put that hammer down!” and he starts pounding it on the TV, it’s highly unlikely he’s going to listen and oblige “stay in your bed!”

DON’T make too big of a deal over it.

Your little will take cues from you, so it’s important to be positive and consistent. But not too excited.

DO include him in the transition.

“You’re turning into such a big boy and we’re so proud of all the things you’re learning, so next week it’s time to move into a big boy bed.” Make it a reward for positive behavior and take him with you to pick out a bed or sheets.

DO start with pretend play.

Create a situation with dolls or action figures and a shoebox as the “big kid bed.” Pretend the doll is going to sleep in there, show him what you want to happen at night so he can see what you expect before he experiences it himself. Keep it light and don’t feel like you have to do this for hours!

DO be safe.

Do a thorough check of your child’s room for potentially dangerous pieces. If there’s a bookshelf that hasn’t been secured to the wall, get on it! And Kira recommends an inflatable bed-rail to go under the fitted sheet and keep her from falling down. You want her to feel safe – not worried about falling off.

Now once you actually START the process…

DON’T “ease in.”

It is definitely better to set rules and stick to them from the beginning. Your toddler will look to you to say what’s possible and what’s not, and if she suspects a crack in there, she will take the opportunity! Kira tells clients to be strong but kind.

DO have a script.

“This is what I would like to happen. We’re going to bed now, you’re going to stay in here all night, and mommy and daddy will come get you in the morning.” And when he walks into your room in the middle of the night anyway? “It’s time to go to bed, I’m going to walk you back to your room now.”

DON’T engage.

Toddlers LOVE attention, positive or negative. So don’t let him start any side conversations. Fewer words are better. Just say the same script over and over again – you should be as non-reactive and boring as possible.

DON’T be discouraged.

This middle-of-the-night interruption might happen 22 times. Or 100. But if you pay your dues in the first few nights, it will go a long way. In the morning after a rough night, try not to dwell on it, just say “Mommy is really tired. You’re supposed to stay in your bed – that’s what big girls do, that’s how you got a big girl bed.”

DO pay attention to what motivates your little.

It’s different for every kid – some want to be rewarded with stickers or toys, some want to please, some want special time together. Whatever it is – positive reinforcement is a lot better than punishment. Who doesn’t want to be recognized for good behavior? If you really want to sweeten the pot, come up with a “menu” of things that will motivate your little and post it so there’s a visual reminder. If you have any mom-guilt about “bribing” just put it on a shelf and forget about it – this is a very powerful tool in behavior modification.

DO set the right awake time.

Your toddler should get at least 11 hours of sleep, so count that off starting at bedtime and don’t let wake-up time happen any earlier.

DON’T shy away from props.

Like the OK to Wake clock – it keeps kids engaged in the rules. Or pick out a special lovey that’s only for the big-kid bed. It can’t follow him to yours. Let him pick out his own nightlight – anything to make the room feel safe and enjoyable.

DO “schedule” sleepovers in your bed.

If you want to, that is. But you should make it a special thing that everyone is looking forward to, not a kneejerk reaction that has to happen because you’re all so exhausted.

And if you’re already dealing with a tot who’s NOT into her big kid bed…

DO know that there’s help.

No, it’s not going to be a quick fix – there’s so much history leading up to this behavior. Before dealing with difficult nighttime behaviors, spend 2 weeks being hyper-vigilant about following through on what you say. You have to reestablish that you mean what you say so when you start to make changes about nighttime, they already have experience with you following through. And then try the tips discussed above for kids just starting the process.

7 Tips To Ace The Grocery Store With A Kid

Make grocery shopping less something you white knuckle your way through – and more a totally civilized weekly errand you do with your kid. ? @southeasttexaswoman

groceryEver abandoned your shopping cart mid supermarket, grabbed your child, and left the store in tears (either or both of you)?

If not, well, lucky you. If so, we feel you (and have been there). Which is why we compiled this cheat sheet to make your shopping experience less something you white knuckle your way through – and more a totally civilized weekly errand you do with your child.

Park Your Ride

If you drive there, choose a spot not by its proximity to the entrance but to its nearness to the “shopping cart return” so you don’t have to be that person who ditches the empty cart in a totally valid parking spot because you already loaded the kid in the carseat. #SmallWins

Keep Your Child Busy

No, we don’t mean hand over your phone. Grab an onion, preferably one with lots of dry, flakey skin to be peeled. Hand it to your child in the cart. Enjoy the quieting sounds, ignore the trail of onion peelings you will leave around the store (you’re excused).

Very, Very Busy

When the onion fun is over (it lasts a shockingly long time), hit up the “pack your own beans/grains/nuts” section. No, not for the health reasons (who has time to rinse and soak beans overnight?!) – for the twisty ties! Let your child get creative and make shapes, figures, whole scenes (extra points for those!).

Decisions Decisions

What shape pasta should we get, spirals or shells? Red or green grapes? YOU pick! Making decisions goes a surprisingly long way with a toddler.

When All Else Fails…

Distract with food. Not some unhealthy crap you wouldn’t ordinarily buy, but an apple (takes a while to eat) or a baguette (best $2 you can spend) will buy you some time, especially if your little is huuuuungry or just over the whole experience.

Quick Getaway

Did you know all pregnant women and moms with small children get to cut the line at Whole Foods? Yep, that’s a true story. Take advantage. (It is the least they can do when you think about it – a must-read if you haven’t.)

If It’s Time To Call It, Make A Quick Pit Stop

Before you abandon a half-filled cart (and waste that time and energy) in the middle of the store because your child is melting down, drop it at customer service. They’re happy to keep it for you while you deal with your little. If need be, many shops have a cold place to store it (who knew?!).