Author Archive

Talking With Martha Stewart About Bygone Crafting Skills

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Martha Stewart's Favorite Crafts for KidsI’m a big fan of Martha Stewart and I like to think she’s my crafty kindred spirit. Not only do we both love to bake and make DIY projects, but we’re both also alumnas of Barnard College. When I was offered the opportunity to interview her over the phone about her latest how-to book, “Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids,” I was really excited! I found Martha to be a funny and engaging person — and she spoke openly about some bygone handcrafting skills that are slowly disappearing.

Some of these skills include sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidering, hemming, measuring hats, setting collars, making the back of shirts, gathering a ruffle, and tatting. Even though I consider myself crafty with other little-known skills like quilling and heat embossing, I could check off only two of the skills she mentioned (sewing and and knitting), but even they’re basic at best (I never mastered a sewing machine). And I had no clue what tatting was (turns out, it’s the process of making lace by hand using loops and knots…not the process of making tattoos). While knitting has seen a revival in the past decade and sites like Etsy.com and Folksy.com show there are communities focused on artisanal products, most handcrafting skills are not commonly used. While I can certainly learn these skills in short-term group classes, they often come with a hefty price tag.

Skills that are fading away can be more than ones related to handcrafting — they can be any specific ones that were once popular or common but have now disappeared (or are in the process of disappearing). An article in the February issue of Parents magazine (“Skills of Tomorrow“) focused on how old-school educational skills (cursive writing, library research, and analog time-telling) are now being replaced by new-school skills (keyboarding, online research, and digital time-telling).

I’m a millennial, which means I’m part of the generation that relies heavily on technology (smartphones, computers, tablets) to communicate and to make life easier (like buying an embroidered pillow rather than making one). As technology keeps changing and expanding and our lifestyles keep getting faster and faster, there is certainly less focus on slowing down and taking time to create and make things with our hands. So all this got me thinking: What other skills are we losing or have we lost? Share with me your thoughts below!

Read More About Martha Stewart on Parents.com:

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Introducing Harley Rotbart’s Developmental Milestones of Parenting

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Stones and pebbles in feet shapeEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

Volumes have been written about kids’ developmental progress—when they first roll from front to back, sit, walk, utter their first words, and countless other baby benchmarks. But often lost in the glow of babies’ accomplishments are the parallel milestones parents achieve after their kids are born. Similarly to how the age of a child’s first steps and first words can be roughly predicted, I’ve identified 14 reliable markers you can anticipate along your developmental path as a parent. So, published here for the first time are Harley Rotbart’s Developmental Milestones of Parenting.

The Womb: Nurture, Nest, and Nausea

The parenting adventure hasn’t even started yet, but there are great expectations mixed with apprehension and mystery. How is it possible that each edition of Heidi Murkoff’s wonderful What to Expect When You’re Expecting gets thicker and more intense than the previous edition? How can there be so much to learn and prepare? What did expectant parents do before books?

Birth to 1 month: Fear, Shock, and Awe

Everything about your first newborn is, well, new! You can’t even begin to know how much you don’t know, but you’re sure there’s a lot. How did your parents ever do this? How did the neighbors? Add to that sense of ignorance a creeping sense of panic, and a sense of responsibility like nothing you’ve ever felt before—not with a new car, a new house, or a new job. Nothing puts more weight on your shoulders than an 8-pound baby.

1 month to 3 months: Warmth and Wide-Eyed Wonder

Now we’re finally getting somewhere. Eye contact, babbling, and smiling all reassure you that there may be a little person hidden in this bundle of blankets and diapers. This is the developmental phase, when intense bonding takes place because the interactions with your baby are now more consistently two-way. If he’s smiling, you must be doing something right.

3 months to 7 months: Vaudeville and Variety Show Performer

Parents now go through what appears to the rest of the world to be a developmental regression: speaking baby talk, making goofy noises and silly faces, dancing daffy dances, singing senseless songs, and peek-a-boo-ing endlessly. Doing whatever it takes for your baby to give you one of those belly laughs that turns your insides to goo.

7 months to 12 months: Biographer and Curator

Although your baby’s first smile and laugh are unforgettable events during the earlier stages of parenthood, the “firsts” now come fast and furiously. The first time your baby sits, pulls to a stand, cruises, takes steps, and utters a word are the firsts you’ll remember most, the ones that you’ll write down and film for posterity. More photographs are taken per minute during this phase of parenting than any other.

1 year to 2 years: Secret Service Agent

Parents are now in full bodyguard and gatekeeper mode, from the time their toddler wakes up until the time he’s asleep for the night (if you’re lucky enough that he’s asleep for the night!). Your tot’s mobility and curiosity are soaring, and the dangers surrounding him are becoming your constant obsession. You feel as though you always have to be one step ahead of your little adventurer.

2 years to 3 years: Designated Bad Guy (stage 1)

This is the stage when parents teach boundaries and rules to their kids, and in so doing they learn to live with being the bad guy. Parents of toddlers say “no” more than any other word, which is excellent practice for having teenagers (when you enter Designated Bad Guy stage 2). Although experts extol the virtues of setting limits and structure for kids, that doesn’t help with the guilt you feel as the constant naysayer.

3 years to 5 years: Best Friend

This is the age when your kids are beginning to form their lifelong memories—and just in time because they’re now able to do so many more memorable activities. Your child is now a tricycler, climber, artist, and actor. Now is also when all their questions start: Whyyyy, Mommy? Howwww, Daddy? Better get your answers ready, because this is the parenting stage when you should become your kids’ best friend forever. This is when they learn to come to you not only with constant questions but also with problems you may see as exaggerated, but your kids see as front-page news. If you handle this bonding time right, they’ll keep sharing issues with you when they’re older and their problems are bigger.

5 years to 7 years: Separation (stage 1)

Some parents are jubilant about their child’s first day of kindergarten; others, not so much. In describing grief, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross noted five distinct stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Just sayin’.

7 years to 10 years: Chauffeur, Choreographer, and Cruise Director

Your kids’ calendar is now filled up, and the tires on your car are worn down. Juggling your kids’ schedules with your own commitments could be a full-time job for a party planner or White House Chief of Staff. But since you can’t afford to hire either, this is when you had better master parental organization.

10 years to 12 years: Life Coach

The so-called tween years of your kids’ lives are also tween years in yours. You’re now transitioning from a period of reasonable control over your kids’ lives (7 to 10 years) to the next phase (12 to 15 years), when you lack all sense of control over anything. Your crisis and stress management skills will be tested in a gentler and kinder way now than they will be in few years, so this is the time to establish healthy parental coping patterns in preparation for what’s to come. This is also when you become your kids’ life coach—anticipating the challenges they will have as teens, you may now feel an uncontrollable urge to tell them everything they’ll ever need to know in their whole lives. That’s okay, but check periodically to see whether they’re still listening or if they’ve put their ear buds back in.

12 years to 15 years: Designated Bad Guy (stage 2)

This is when you catch yourself sounding like your own parents, something you promised you’d never do. The word no returns to your vocabulary with a vengeance.  The early teen years force you to answer the question “Am I my kids’ parent or their best friend?” And the answer that most helps you get through the challenges of these parenting years should be “yes.” Kids need law and order now more than ever, but they also need your friendship and love more than ever—a tricky balancing act.

15 years to 18 years: Separation (stage 2)

Now is the time for parents to develop nerves of steel; nothing else will get you through your child’s getting a driver’s license. Driving is your child’s first launch into independence. Although their most dramatic declaration of independence will occur as you say goodbye at their dorm room a few years from now, driving is nature’s way of easing parents into the idea of their kids leaving home. No longer needed to chauffeur or accompany, you now face the challenge of adjusting to the new reality of having near-grown kids. You’ll go to bed before they do, so remember to ask them to wake you when they’re home for the night.

18 years and Beyond: Long Distance

For many parents, college means empty bedrooms at home. Parenting isn’t over, it’s just more remote. Read my NYTimes.com blog post 8 Tips for Keeping Adult Children Close for some tips.

As you notice your children’s growth and development, be conscious of yours as well. Enjoy each stage of parenting for what it is: another leg in the unique journey of your life.

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: Two traces of feet made of pebble stones via Shutterstock.

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

“What Makes a Baby” by Cory Silverberg: A Unique Picture Book About Where Babies Come From

Friday, June 28th, 2013

What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg“Where do babies come from?” is a question that most parents may not feel equipped to answer on the spot. Thankfully, “What Makes a Baby” by Cory Silverberg recently came across my desk, and the picture book immediately grabbed my attention (and the attention of several colleagues) with its bright colors.

The book starts with the basics of conception by introducing an egg and a sperm and explaining how both are needed to create a baby. In a smart move, the story avoids elaborating on the physical ways babies are made (i.e. through sex, IVF, and surrogates) and focuses instead on the behind-the-scenes biological process. Short and breezy sentences explain the fertilization of the egg and sperm (“When an egg and a sperm meet, they swirl together in a special kind of dance. As they dance, they talk to each other.”), the baby’s gestation period in the uterus, and the baby’s eventual birth. While it may feel odd to read and say words like egg, sperm, uterus, and vagina out loud to your kids, the book presents these natural terms in a matter-of-fact way to temper any squeamishness and embarrassment.

Silverberg, a sex educator, started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the book and  to cover the cost of illustrations and the printing. Good thing he surpassed his goal since the drawings by Fiona Smyth really give the book an extra special zing. Even though there are drawings of a uterus and two birth scenes (vaginal and C-section) that may also seem jarring at first, the round cartoon shapes and the neon colors give the book a fun, happy, and modern feel. The book is appropriate for ages 4-8, and you can find it on Amazon.com and BN.com.

Now parents can have easy-going, straightforward, and (hopefully) painless discussions with kids about the miracle of birth!

More Related Features on Parents.com

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Going “From Frazzled to Focused” for Father’s Day

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Busy dad's plannerEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

As a dad and a pediatrician who has worked with families of all types and sizes for more than 30 years, I want to tell you about a great book written for moms that dads should read, too. After all, why should moms be the only ones who know the secrets for turning chaos to calm?

From Frazzled to Focused: The Ultimate Guide for Moms Who Want to Reclaim Their Time, Their Sanity, and Their Lives is written by Rivka Caroline, a Florida-based time management and organization expert who juggles seven kids, a speaking and consulting career, and graduate school. I discovered this book when the author asked me to review it for a possible endorsement because of my own time management book, No Regrets Parenting.

I loved Caroline’s book, and endorsed it with this quote: “From Frazzled to Focused is a brilliant blueprint for recapturing minutes, hours, and days otherwise lost to inefficiency and disorganization. This book will change your life.” Yes, it’s that good. But notice nowhere in that endorsement do I mention moms — or, for that matter, dads. This is a really wonderful book for moms and dads because efficiency, effectiveness, prioritization, and systemization are gender-neutral goals. This is not a book full of platitudes and bumper stickers. Instead, it’s a concise, organized, and focused 180-page playbook with an action plan for achieving, de-cluttering, and systemizing your work and home life.

Whether at home or at work, these From Frazzled to Focused guiding principles and recommendations apply to all parents:

  • Switch from doing it all to doing most of it (and know that’s okay)
  • Lack of time is actually a lack of priorities
  • 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of your time and effort
  • Work expands to fill the time available for its completion
  • Create a “to don’t” list
  • Streamline your home and your head
  • Avoid decision overload

You’ll learn when to “do,” to “delegate,” and to “delete.” And deleting some of the items crowding your thoughts and your desk may be the most important paradigm of all for many of us. You’ll come to recognize that “practice makes good enough,” that perfection isn’t the be-all and end-all. This realization is really liberating.

Dads can particularly benefit from Ms. Caroline’s advice for systemizing, and her supermarket analogy is spot-on: When you go grocery shopping, you put more than one item in your cart at once so you’re not constantly driving back and forth to the store. Get ahead by always thinking, “What can I do now that will make things easier later on?” Batch your tasks, and block out chunks of time for doing them — returning phone calls and e-mails, paying bills, and filing should be done in batches, not piecemeal as the e-mails or bills arrive. Although the second half of the book is devoted to specific spaces in your home, taking control of those spaces isn’t just mom’s work; dads live in those spaces, too. Both Mom and Dad can use the principles in this book for equally effective rethinking of the workplace and the work mentality.

So, with Father’s Day approaching fast and the usual panic setting in about buying yet another necktie, take this message from Caroline’s book to heart: “Last-minute problems are a lot easier to take care of when they aren’t actually happening at the last minute.” Get this book for Dad. Do it now, while you’re thinking about it, so you don’t have a last-minute problem on June 16.

Happy Father’s Day!

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: A busy daily schedule book via Shutterstock.

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Summer Reading Lists-Activity Guides, from Lego Duplo and the ALSC

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Lego Duplo Read Build PlayLego Duplo’s “Read! Build! Play!” initiative strives to develop early literacy and strengthen learning through their Read and Build series of simple story books paired with easy construction activities.

Last year, Lego Duplo and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) partnered to create resources that combined reading and play. “Through play, young children learn about their world. With this knowledge, they can understand books and stories once they begin to read,” says Starr Latronica, Vice President/President-Elect of the Association for Library Service to Children.

This summer, Lego and ALSC have created the first Summer Reading Lists/Activity Guides for toddlers and preschoolers. Two free guides (one for Ages 1-3, one for Ages 3-5) pairs 10 already-published books with Lego projects designed specifically for each one. The books, easily available at local libraries, were chosen by ALSC’s Early Childhood Programs and Services committee.  A Parent Activity Guide is also available for free, to explain the importance of play and to offer advice on how to interact with kids.

Parents can preview a list of the chosen books below and click on the jump to see a photo of the suggested activity for Meeow and the Pots and Pans by Sebastian Braun. Visit ReadBuildPlay.com to download the entire activity guides (which includes the full lists of Lego projects with instructions, plus coloring pages).

Ages 1-3

Ages 3-5

(more…)

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Why Angelina Jolie Is a Breast Cancer Previvor and a Hero

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Angelia JolieEditor’s Note: This guest post was written by Dina Roth Port, mom of two children and frequent contributor to Parents. She is also the author of Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions.

You might not like some of her movies. You might think she’s a little out there (at least during those Billy Bob Thornton years.) You might be a little peeved that she can take care of six kids and still look poised and breathtakingly beautiful all the time.

Whether you like her or not, one thing is for sure: Angelina Jolie is a hero. She’s using her celebrity for good by telling women with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer that they are not alone. Some may fear dealing with tough decisions alone, not realizing there are thousands upon thousands of other women who completely understand what they’re going through.

In today’s issue of The New York Times, Jolie publicly shared her very personal decision to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. As she says in her op-ed piece, “I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.”

Jolie’s letting women around the world know that they no longer have to live in fear of breast cancer. They have options. They can determine cancer risk by testing for a BRCA mutation and taking charge of their health in ways that previous generations never could. Jolie knows this all too well. When she tested positive for a BRCA1 gene, she knew she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer. She knew she was a previvor — someone who has not had cancer but who has a high risk for developing it. Since her mom died of ovarian cancer just six years ago, Jolie knew that it was a major red flag that there might be a BRCA mutation in the family. After finding out that she did inherit the mutation, she decided to do something about it.

Of course, there are naysayers: “I can’t relate to Angelina Jolie. She’s a celebrity with endless resources. Her life is nothing like mine.” But getting a double mastectomy is a very difficult, personal decision for any woman, as I learned interviewing the five women featured in my book, Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions, all of whom had to make choices — some had surgery, some did not — just like Jolie. Sure, she may be a famous, multimillionaire engaged to Brad Pitt, but Jolie’s still a woman taking steps that can potentially save her life. And, as a mother, Jolie decided she would do what she needed to do to protect her children (just like any mother would). She is showing women that, after surgery, it is still possible to look and feel feminine and whole. She is also showing women that it’s possible to make tough decisions and still have the support of a loving partner.

I thank Jolie for sharing her story and for encouraging women to learn about the ways they can protect themselves. She is incredibly brave for doing so, particularly since her journey is not over. Thank you, Angelina Jolie, for putting such a public face to the word “previvor.”

More about breast cancer on Parents.com

 

Image: Angelina Jolie in Berlin via Shutterstock.

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

The Wiggles: Introducing Three New Members, Including the First Female

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

The WigglesThe Australian music group, The Wiggles, has been entertaining millions of children around the world for over 20 years. This year, they’re announcing three new cast members, including the first female Wiggle.  Emma Watkins joins as the Yellow Wiggle, Lachlan Gillespie as the Purple Wiggle, and Simon Pryce as the Red Wiggle.  Anthony Field, the founder of the The Wiggles, remains as the Blue Wiggle.

To introduce the new Wiggles, the quartet is on an international tour called “Taking Off!” and they will visit 35 U.S. cities starting in August. In addition to the tour, the group has also released a new CD and DVD.  (To find a concert in your local area, click after the jump for confirmed tour dates.)

Watch a video of the new Wiggles performing “Do the Propeller!”, a song from their CD:

Follow The Wiggles on Twitter (@thewiggles) and Facebook (facebook.com/thewiggles).

(more…)

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Celebrate a New Holiday: Monthly Mother’s Day

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Mother's Day BreakfastEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

First conceived by Julia Ward Howe (the composer of the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”) in 1870, advocated by Anna Jarvis in 1908, and officially established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, Mother’s Day has become a proud American tradition that is now observed in more than 70 countries worldwide. A 2010 study by VIP Communications found that Mother’s Day has the highest phone call traffic of the year, exceeding Valentine’s Day and New Year’s. Another 2010 study, by the Society of American Florists, found that more than one quarter of all floral purchases in the U.S.  each year are for Mother’s Day. Everyone knows everything there is to know about Mother’s Day, and writing about it is a little like writing about love or money or religion: What more can anyone say about it that hasn’t been said? Well, for the first time in the century since it became a national holiday, I think it’s time for a fundamental change to the Mother’s Day ritual. Drum roll, please

From this Mother’s Day forward, I propose that the first Thursday of every month be declared Monthly Mother’s Day. And the third Wednesday of every month shall henceforth be declared Monthly Father’s Day. Every household with a mom gives her special treatment on the first Thursday of the every month, and every household with a dad gives him special treatment on the third Wednesday of every month. Each of these new monthly “‘holidays” gives us 12 additional opportunities to celebrate parenthood with our kids, and 12 times the number of traditions, memories, and family moments.

Why am I not making my new holidays on Sundays? Because weekends are for big traditions, and these are small observances that don’t require a whole day; they can fit into school nights, early bedtimes, and daily routines. These are family traditions that should take little time and no money – they don’t have to involve dinner out, gifts, flowers, or even candy — but they do require a fair amount of thought, something special that isn’t done the other days of the month. One month, give mom the night off after dinner so she can read, take a bath, or watch her favorite show. The next month, cook her favorite dinner. Create a handmade card or hand-painted picture frame for another month. Ditto for dads on their special monthly Wednesdays. Best of all, you still get to celebrate the “real” Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. While we’re at it, why not establish a monthly Kids’ Day, too? Like the second Tuesday of every month. On these days, parents can prepare kids’ favorite meal or dessert, have Scrabble night, or plan a Wii table tennis tournament.

Life is short. The years go by fast. You can never have too many reasons to celebrate each other. And thinking about ways to honor moms, dads, and kids is good for the soul, and good for the whole family. May 12, 2013 may be the “real” Mother’s Day, but the one after that will be coming up soon, so start planning. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: Breakfast for Mother’s Day via Shutterstock.

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog