SMART SOLUTIONS ABOUT ALMOST
EVERYTHING FOR MOMS, FROM MOMS
Created by hundreds of contributing mothers from the MomCentral.com community and Stacy DeBroff, The Mom Book features lists, tips, stories, and defining principles for everything from hiring a nanny to setting up a home office to surviving a rainy day at home. Here are answers to on-the-spot questions about fussy eaters, tantrums, starting school, work-family balance, and the thousand and one other skills needed to thrive as a mom. After all, who better than experienced mothers to share insider parenting advice?
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About the Author
Stacy M. DeBroff is President and Founder of Mom Central and co-author of Mom Central: The Ultimate Family Organizer. Prior to becoming a parenting author, she founded the Office of Public Interest Advising at Harvard Law School and directed it from 1990 to 1998. She has been nationally recognized for her contributions as a lawyer by such media as The American Lawyer, The National Law Journal, and National Public Radio. The mother of two, she lives in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
Read an Excerpt
From Chapter 3: Medical Concerns, Childproofing, & Safety
Selecting a Pediatrician
Though this chapter refers to finding a pediatrician, your choices also include a family physician, doctor and nurse practitioner team, or a pediatric nurse practitioner to take care of your child.
Make a list of possible pediatricians, based on recommendations by:
- Friends with young children
- Family members
- Colleagues at work
- Lactation consultant
- Health plan
To shorten your list, call the office of each recommended provider and ask basic make-or-break questions, such as:
Is the pediatrician accepting new patients?
Does the practice have convenient office hours, such as Saturdays, evenings, or first thing in the morning?
Is the office located somewhere convenient for you?
What are the fees, and how much is covered by your insurance?
Ask about each pediatrician's educational background, training, board certifications, and experience.
Check out both large and small practices. Though a small practice may feel more hands-on, a large practice with plenty of staff may afford your doctor and her co-workers more time to attend to you and your child.
Meet with your top two choices. Some pediatricians will charge for this introductory visit, and insurance rarely pays for it, but it's worth it to find the right person.
Is the doctor part of a larger practice? If so, under what circumstances would other doctors in the practice see your child?
What is the role of the nursing staff?
How far in advance do you have to schedule a well-child visit?
How does the practice manage calls outside of office hours? Will you talk to a doctor or a nurse first? Who returns calls and answers follow-up questions?
How many people are in the waiting room when you arrive?
Are there toys for the kids?
How do the receptionist and staff treat you?
How long has she been practicing?
Where did she attend medical school and do her residency?
Does she have any specialized training?
Does she teach pediatric medicine? (Pediatricians who teach have to stay current with the latest research and treatments.)
Is she a parent herself?
How are sick visits scheduled?
What is the typical length of time before a parent's after-hours call is returned?
Who responds to telephone calls during the day?
How does she handle referrals to pediatric specialists?
In an emergency will she meet you at the hospital?
With which hospital is the practice affiliated?
How does the doctor conduct exams? Can your baby or toddler stay in your lap for the duration?
Will the doctor come to see your baby in the hospital in which you will be giving birth? When should she be contacted after the birth?
Will she be present for the birth at your request?
Who will examine the baby after the delivery?
Is she attentive, respectful, and helpful?
Do you feel comfortable talking with her?
Does she take plenty of time to answer your questions? Do you feel rushed?
Does her philosophy of treating your child match your needs? Would you prefer someone who gives you options and asks your opinion when choosing treatment for your child, or would you rather have a more decisive, authoritative doctor?
Does the doctor's child-rearing philosophy match yours? How does she feel about issues important to you, such as breastfeeding, toilet training, vegetarianism, the use of antibiotics, or alternative medicine? How supportive is she of working moms, if you are one?
Does the pediatrician have the kind of temperament to which you respond best?
Does the pediatrician have in-depth knowledge of the local medical community and the ability to recommend excellent pediatric specialists?
Schedule well-child visits far in advance so you can pick the times most convenient for you and your child.
Ask for the first appointment of the morning or the first one after lunch, as at these times your doctor will most likely run on time.
Don't bring your child to the doctor during his normal nap times.
A pediatrician's busiest stretch generally falls after school, which makes this the worst time for you to call with routine questions or to schedule an appointment.
To prepare for a well-child visit:
Bring a pad of paper and pencil to the visit to jot down instructions or information.
Ask about giving your child Tylenol before he receives immunization shots to lessen the reaction.
Dress your child in clothing that's easy to get on and off.
Bring small toys, crayons, and paper to keep your child occupied during what could be a long wait.
Bring crayons into the examining room: your child can color the paper on the examining table or his paper robe. Have your child draw a picture to surprise the doctor.
If your child is very fearful, bring a doll to the doctor's office and ask the doctor to do some of the procedures first on the doll and then on your child. Suggest something your child can look forward to afterward, like a snack or an outing.
Do not try to squeeze a question about a second child into one child's visit. You run the risk of their both receiving rushed and inadequate care.
For babies, wait until the doctor arrives to fully undress your baby, instead of waiting with a shivering and fussing infant. Bring a waterproof pad for yourself, as you may find yourself holding your naked baby for most of the visit.
Remind the receptionist when you are visiting the doctor with a sick child. If your child has something highly infectious, like chicken pox, ask if they prefer you use another entrance.
When scheduling a sick-child visit, ask to meet with your pediatrician, as opposed to another doctor in the practice, for continuity and relationship building.
Ask your pediatrician if she can call a prescription into your pharmacy (bring the number with you) instead of writing it out, so you do not have to wait in the store while your prescription is filled.
Trust your instincts. Do not feel afraid to call the doctor's office if your child's illness worries you.
Pull out your medical records so you have your child's medical history, as well as a record of drugs he has taken in the past, adverse reactions, and what your child seemed to respond to best. When you do have to call your doctor late at night or after hours, you'll get faster, more accurate care if you have basic medical information about your child on hand.
Remind the physician on call of recent sickness, injuries, or shots.
Know if your child has a fever and what his temperature reads.
Have ready the number of an all-night pharmacy where your doctor can call in prescriptions.
Do not get off the phone until you and your doctor have arrived at a plan that makes sense to you. This may mean taking your child in for treatment, calling in a prescription, scheduling an appointment, or monitoring him at home for the next day or two.
Keep a record of your child's health handy in case you have a medical emergency or you see a specialist who is unfamiliar with your child. Include in it:
Names and addresses of all doctors and specialists your child sees
Immunization records, along with your child's current height and weight
Major illnesses and injuries, treatment, complications, and healing time
Allergies to food or medication
Medication your child is taking or has taken recently, duration, strength, and his reaction to it
Family medical history, including allergies and illnesses, cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, or osteoporosis. Include the causes of death for your parents or grandparents
Your pregnancy history, including medication you took, illness you had while pregnant, or difficulties at birth
When to find a new doctor:
If you feel your pediatrician has become patronizing, acts impatient, resists your questions, or belittles you or your child.
After multiple visits she fails to establish a rapport with your child.
She fails to fully inform you about possible side effects of medications prescribed.
You experience tremendous delays in getting after-hours calls returned or in scheduling a sick-child visit.
You spend inordinate amounts of time waiting to be seen every time you bring your child to the office for a scheduled appointment.
Your sick child isn't getting better, yet your pediatrician does not change her plan of action.
You do not feel comfortable about your relationship, and you do not agree with or trust her advice.
Copyright © 2002 by Mom Central, Inc.
Table of Contents
CLEAN, CLOTHED, & WELL RESTED
10 Defining Principles
The Basics Keeping Your Squirmer Entertained Dealing with Diaper Rash Protection Against Nighttime Leaks Keeping Diapers on Your Child Saving Money
Getting Underway On the Road At Night
Buying Clothes Shoes Pajamas Making It Easy for Your Toddler to Dress Himself Ending Clothing Battles Dressing for School Patching, Buttons, & Repairs Outgrown Clothes
Bathing & Grooming
Sponge Bathing Your Newborn Baby Bath When Your Child Dislikes Baths Make Yourself Comfortable & Productive Get Creative Splashing Getting out of the Tub Summer Bath Bath Safety Nails Hair
Care of Baby Teeth Teething Relief Brushing Flossing
Bedtime Routine Night Owls & Early Risers When Your Child Refuses Naps Nighttime Fears Family Bed
FEEDING YOUR CHILD
10 Defining Principles
Breastfeeding, Bottlefeeding, & Weaning Breastfeeding
Advantages Getting Started Latching onto the Breast When Your Baby Refuses to Nurse Prevention of & Relief for Sore Nipples Cost-Saving Nursing Pads and Bras Pumping Breastfeeding & Travel for Work
Advantages Formula Nipples Feeding Your Baby Her Bottle Warming Bottles Nighttime Bottles
Weaning from the Breast Weaning to a Cup Weaning off a Pacifier
Signs Your Baby Is Ready for More Textured Food Getting Started Spoon Feeding Order of Introduction Allergens Baby Food High Chair Bibs Finger Food Choking Teaching Your Toddler to Pour Her Own Drinks Cleaning Up
Feeding Your Fussy Eater
Eating Well Making Food More Fun Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables & Fruit Not Hungry at Mealtimes If Your Child Refuses to Eat Breakfast School Lunch Ideas
Feeding Your Overeater
In the Kitchen Tips
How to Make Dinner Without Going Crazy Meal Planning Cooking Ahead for Meals Using Your Freezer Time Savers Family Dinners
MEDICAL CONCERNS, CHILDPROOFING, & SAFETY
10 Defining Principles
Selecting a Pediatrician Ongoing Care Calling After Hours Keeping Medical Records When to Change Pediatricians
Emergencies & Hospitalization
Emergency Room Visits Hospitalization
Home Medical Care
Giving Your Child Medicine Cold & Flu Season Comforting Your Sick Child Booboos Bites, Stings, & Insects Nosebleeds Rashes, Chicken Pox, & Poison Ivy Protection from the Sun Allergy-Proofing
Childproofing & Safety
Utilities & Appliances Doors Windows Stairways Furniture & Knickknacks Baby Equipment Toys Bathroom Kitchen Decks, Porches, & Balconies Backyard Garage Car Bicycle Accidental Poisoning Lead Poisoning
Fire Safety Water Safety Disaster Survival Kit Preventing Abduction
SOCIALIZING YOUR CHILD
10 Defining Principles
Alternatives to Saying No Time-Outs
Tantrums & Bad Moods Interruptions Thumb Sucking Aggression & Biting Lying Whining
Siblings & a New Baby Getting Along
Playgroups Playdates & Friends Sleepovers
Getting Started Table Manners Thank-You Notes
10 Defining Principles
Organizing Your Home
A Place for Everything Getting Rid of Clutter & Junk Your Child's Bedroom Toys Artwork & School Projects Kitchen Emergency Telephone Sheet Bathroom Closets Storage Backyard & Garden
Prioritizing & Keeping Track
Weekly To-Do List Calendar
Mail Working Files for Daily Use Family Filing System Household Warranties
Establishing Family Routines
Mastering the Morning Launch Family Meetings Family Goal Setting
Personal Time & Relationships
Time for Self Time with Your Partner Logistics Around Divorce Keeping in Touch
Moving with Kids
Making the Transition Easier Gathering Information About Your New Community What to Open, Close, Return, Retrieve, & Transfer Packing It Up Saying Goodbye Getting Acclimated
Surviving a Home Renovation with Kids Underfoot
Your Will Nominating a Guardian for Your Child
HOME CARE & HOUSEKEEPING
10 Defining Principles
Engaging Your Partner's Help
How to Involve Your Child
Starting Your Child on Chores Chores for Your Toddler Chores for Your Older Child Using a Chore Chart Inspiration Along the Way Allowance & Pay for Extra Chores
Housekeeping & Cleaning
General Cleaning Tips Kitchen Stain Removal & Damage Repairs Around the House Laundry Hiring Housecleaning Help
Running Errands & Shopping
Pets & Your Child
WORK & FAMILY BALANCE
10 Defining Principles
Negotiating Maternity Leave
Announcing You're Pregnant Your Office's Policy How Much Leave to Take Arranging for Coverage During Your Leave Weeks Leading up to Your Leave When to Start Your Leave While on Leave Returning to Work
Revising Your Work Schedule
Evaluate Your Situation Work Structure Options Working at Home: Telecommuting Making Your Request to Your Employer Negotiating Your Salary Leave Room for Change
Managing Your Work at the Office
Structuring Your Work Time Using the Wizard of Oz Technique Minimizing Interruptions Fielding Overtime & Off-Hour Requests Forming a Network of Working Moms
Travel for Work
Pacing Your Travel Coordinating with Your Partner Managing Your Household While You Travel Sharing Information with Your Child Keeping in Touch Taking Your Child Along Explaining to Your Child Why She Can't Join You Bringing Back Surprises
Managing the Home Front
Using Breaks at Work for Errands Staying Connected to Your Child Sharing with Your Child What You Do at Work Arriving Home in an Upbeat Mood Unwinding After Work
Working from Home
The Mom-trepreneur: Running a Home-Based Business Setting Up Your Home Office & Work Schedule Telecommuting Dealing with Clients Fielding Interruptions Combating Loneliness
Becoming a Full-Time Mom
Deciding to Stay at Home Financial Planning Leaving Your Job Culture Shock & Self-Esteem Finding Other Stay-at-Home Moms Returning to the Work Force
Managing Volunteer & Outside Commitments
10 Defining Principles
Hiring a Nanny or Au Pair
Finding a Nanny The Hiring Process Arriving at a Written Agreement
Family Day Care & Day-Care Center
Family Day Care Day-Care Center Selecting a Provider
A Relative or Friend as Your Child-Care Provider
Factors to Evaluate in Making a Decision
Managing the Ongoing Relationship
Orienting Your Nanny or Au Pair Dealing with Separation Anxiety Communication & Showing Appreciation Assessing How Well a Situation Is Working Ending a Relationship Arranging Backup Child-Care Coverage
f0 Part-time, Evening, & Weekend Baby-sitting
Finding a Baby-sitter Orienting Your Baby-sitter Forming Baby-sitting Co-operatives or Swapping with Friends
SCHOOL & EDUCATION
10 Defining Principles
Choosing a Preschool
Investigating Schools Paying a Visit References
Beginning in a New School Before School Starts Getting to School The First Day of School
Getting Your Child to Talk About His Day
Being Involved in Your Child's School
Set a Regular Time Designate a Homework Place & Eliminate Distractions Help Your Child Structure Work Habits Your Involvement Dealing with Struggling or Mistakes
Communicating with Your Child's School
Parent-Teacher Conferences Advocating for Your Special Needs Child
Showing Appreciation to Teachers
Celebrating the End of the School Year
OUTINGS & ACTIVITIES
10 Defining Principles
Outings, Day Trips, & Excursions
Advance Planning Things You Need Diaper Bag: Newborn to Five Months Six Months & Older, Add to the Bag Keeping Your Baby Happy in the Car Outdoor Excursions Indoor Excursions Museum or Historical Sites The Theatre Athletic Events
Dining Out as a Family
Choosing a Restaurant Seating Ordering Food Entertainment While Waiting
Arts & Crafts Creative Games Reading Growing Seeds & Indoor Plants
Beating the Rainy or Snowy Day Blues Backyard & Sidewalk Activities Outdoor Gardening Evening Activities
Classes, Sports, & Structured Activities
Choosing Classes or Activities Picking a Sport Summer Camp
TV, Computers, & Electronic Games
TV Management Computer & Electronic Games
MEMORIES & CELEBRATIONS
10 Defining Principles
Ways to Make the Day Special Your Birthday Party Budget Timing of the Party Invitations Party at Home Having the Party Outside of Your Home Cake Ideas & Alternatives Photography Tips Siblings Gifts Party Manners Party Favors Celebrations at Day Care or School Attending Birthday Parties
Start Your Own Holiday Traditions Hosting a Holiday Meal Advanced Preparation for the Holidays Gifts & Holiday Cards Involve Your Child in the Spirit of Giving Chanukah Christmas Storing Holiday Decorations New Year's Eve Valentine's Day Halloween
Photographs Videotaping Your Kids Other Ways to Preserve Memories
Family Rituals & Traditions
A typical day in my home office: The kids come in from school, and my son Brooks heads straight for the couch, hoping to watch TV. I plant myself between him and the set, cajoling him to confide a morsel or two of information about first grade, and reviewing options of things to do besides watch TV. An hour before her soccer practice, Kyle walks in holding her stomach. It's the third day in a row she's been complaining of a stomachache, so I call the pediatrician's office. The nurse tells me what I fear: I should bring Kyle in immediately. But I'm in the middle of honing the Defining Principles for the first chapter of this book, and I'm on an editorial roll. It comes down to Pediatrician vs. Book, and the pediatrician wins, hands down. Kyle, it turns out, has strep throat.
This everyday emergency encapsulates both my life as a working parent (though my stay-at-home friends tell me how much they can relate) and the complexities of parenting. The crises and parenting issues seem to repeat themselves with stunning regularity. Such moments are what truly make this The Mom Book. In between karate practice, sick days, pottery lessons, summer vacation, family vacation, and stolen moments at the gym that I rely on for my sanity, I've written this book. When homework and spelling tests loom, fall weekends beckon, and my babysitting help evaporates, I find myself negotiating, minute by minute, the daylong effort of taking care of my kids' needs and making sure they feel loved and attended to. In the meantime, I'm writing away, interviewing moms, selecting tips moms have e-mailed, and editing chapters.
Once upon a time,when I was in law school, my ambitions ran toward being a senator. Now I'm happy to manage seven hours of sleep and help the kids get their homework done on time. How could I have known that the negotiation over the six sentences Brooks must compose for this week's homework would run longer and more passionately than any debate on the Senate floor? The frightening thing is, my life, though overwhelmingly overbooked at times, is not unusual. In fact, I feel extraordinarily lucky to have found a way to pursue a career and stay home no matter how imperfect the balance may be at times.
Prior to focusing professionally on the issues that consume most moms' lives, I worked at Harvard Law School for nine years. I founded and directed the Office of Public Interest Advising. While there, I counseled thousands of students in their twenties on how best to structure their professional careers and embrace public service work. A substantial portion of our conversations centered on how to find a confluence between professional goals and personal values, accommodate dual careers, have a personal life, and raise a family. For the women I advised, the work-family dilemma was foremost on their minds. And for me, as I aged from twenty-nine to thirty-eight and had two children, my perspective shifted radically.
I started off thinking of balancing work and family as completely doable. Yet as my kids grew older and became more eloquent in their pleas for mom time, and as my husband's career heated up, even my part-time schedule didn't cover the gaps. I found myself in a profound state of angst. How could I reconcile my strong ambition with the needs of my family? How could I find the time to create the sanctuary I wanted our house to be? How could I provide my children with hands-on mothering? I have come to recognize that it's an ongoing struggle to simultaneously be a devoted, attentive mother and embrace a professional drive to excellence.
For the vast majority of working and stay-at-home moms, the challenge of primary parenting responsibility consumes our waking moments. Yet we seldom share with each other the details and logistics of everyday parenting, household, and organizational dilemmas. Often we stumble about, hoping to arrive at a quick answer to our parenting-related problem of the moment, be that getting homework done or changing a squirming child's diaper. In the midst of our hectic and active lives, we look for solutions to practical parenting dilemmas that others discovered long before us. This book comprises the best pragmatic thinking of hundreds of moms and helps you master the logistics of parenting without constantly re-inventing the wheel.
To tackle the ambitious content of this book, I spent hundreds of hours talking with and interviewing moms, gathering their solutions, stories, and reflections. Scores of others shared their expertise and experiences via E-mail and on our Mom Central Web site, www.momcentral.com. What I looked for were smart ideas that make you go, "Aha! I've got to try that," and stories that illuminated the various aspects of raising kids and running a household. The voices of these women are woven into the tapestry of the text, not only as Mom Quotes, but as ideas offered in the individual sections.
Because the book incorporates the collective wisdom of so many moms, the Mom Quotes sometimes express contradictory opinions. What worked perfectly for one person may have proved futile for another. And while this book primarily addresses parenting a child from birth through age eight, much of the practical advice applies all the way through your child's teenage years.
I, along with Jill Martyn, my senior editor at Mom Central, and a handful of energized interns, spent thousands of hours searching the Internet to absorb what moms think about, worry about, need solutions for, and share ideas about. I was amazed and daunted by how much time it took just to wade though hundreds of posted messages. I was also discouraged by having to read through lengthy paragraphs of text in parenting books just to get to the point. So we did the homework for you, enabling you to find the practical answers you seek without having to do hours of extensive research, surfing, or talking with hundreds of moms yourself. I arrived at the bullet format to help you access clever ideas quickly, making the book a tool you can use whenever a parenting dilemma presents itself.
We had many laughs along the way, testing out suggestions offered by moms, from edible peanut butter play-dough (a big hit that inspired artistic creativity) to the frozen pea bag that doubled as an ice pack for a visiting playdate who got a bad bump. Then we had the rejected ideas, like the orange peels we baked to make the house smell more homey, but drove everyone crazy with food cravings.
As I wrote this book, my eight-year-old daughter, Kyle, would pop into my office with dozens of hints of her own. "I've got a Mom Central hint for you!" she would exclaim. Her hints have ranged from telling all of you to buy "no tears" shampoo, to have visiting cousins name their favorite toy so they always feel welcome, and to pack lots of chocolate milk boxes for long car rides. Her chiming in with her own suggestions and reflections has been very much a part of the book's creation for me and captures in many ways the heart of parenting and the fundamental brainstorming process that went into this book. Of course, there was also six-year-old Brooks, who before going to play with his friend Carey after school declared indignantly, "If you weren't working on that book, you would have the time to drop my Gameboy off at his house!" Sometimes as a mom, you just can't win.
Each chapter starts with ten Defining Principles to give you an overview of a topic before delving into the pragmatics. Simply for the purposes of clarity, some chapters use "he" and some "she" when referring to your child. I have also referred to "child" in the singular, while recognizing that you may have a larger family.
I believe that we still face several generations of transition before we will see a dramatic shift in parenting roles, with responsibilities divided more equitably between men and women. In the meantime, as we wait for the generational tide to change, I address this book primarily to moms, though its advice clearly applies to dads as well.
I have chosen to refer to your significant other as your "partner" throughout the book, rather than husband, boyfriend, ex-husband, lover, and so on. I have done so in recognition of today's diverse family configurations, given that many parents no longer raise children within traditional nuclear families. Moreover, "partner" captures the hopeful attitude I believe best for the team effort in running a home and parenting a child. For single moms, I have interspersed suggestions aimed at helping with the significant extra burdens you absorb and struggles you face as a parent. I have used the phrase "working moms" to refer to women who have jobs and work for money simply for purposes of clarification. That all mothers work goes without saying, and I want to emphasize this point.
Some contributing moms have requested that their identities be kept private for personal reasons or to enable them to speak candidly about difficult topics. Still other moms contributed tips electronically, via E-mail or posting on our Mom Central Web site, giving no further contact information. As a result you will read some anonymous quotes sprinkled through the book (you'll also see some quotes from me, indicated by my name). Wherever possible, I have added children's names and ages to personalize each mom's remarks, to help you contextualize the experience of the mom quoted, and as a tribute to all our children, without whom none of us would have anything to say!
Approach the book's text much as you would a cookbook, looking up recipes for solutions to the everyday parenting and household issues you encounter. Refer to the detailed table of contents or the index to zero in on a current concern or problem you need to tackle. Use the thousands of ideas in this book as a springboard for creative solutions of your own, experimenting to discover what works best, given your child's temperament and your unique family situation. I also invite you to come to www.momcentral.com for additional resources and links to parenting resources.
Copyright © 2002 by Mom Central, Inc.