I have been a teacher for the deaf and hard-of-hearing for 9 years now. A common question I got was if I would teach my child sign language. I always replied with a hearty, “Of course.” I wanted to pass my love for the visual language down to my offspring.
Nevertheless, I didn’t want to just teach my kids sign language because I happened to make a career out of it. There are many benefits to teaching children to sign from a young age. Hopefully, after reading these reasons, you’ll want to reap the same rewards from American Sign Language (ASL) as well.
1. Sign language is another way to make connections
Babies and toddlers are growing up in a very stimulating world. They have a lot coming at them every day. Bright lights. Loud sounds. Fast-paced action. Sign language is another way for them to make connections to language.
When my son and I read a book, I point to a picture, say the word, and sign it. When I talk, I sign key words (MORE, PLEASE, MILK, WATER, etc). When we spell out words with his little magnet letters, I say and sign the word as well. When we are out and about and see everyday things, I point, say, and sign what it is. In all, he’s getting the spoken, written, picture or real-life representation, and ASL version of a word. Sometimes all at once. Sometimes not, but either way it’s one more way for a young child to begin forming word recognition and connections. Low-hanging fruit.
2. Sign language helps with communication
Research has shown that too much screen time can cause speech delays in children, but sometimes screen time can be unavoidable in a technology driven world. Sign Language can help. Studies have found that sign language taught at an early age can help progress speech development faster. In addition, sign language aids in easing frustrations. Oftentimes, toddlers don’t have the words to produce what they want, but they are able to sign what they want. Does it eliminate all whining and tantrums? No, but sign language prevents unnecessary prolonged crying.
For example, instead of whining and leaving my guessing what he wants, my son can sign when he wants to drink milk, eat food, go to sleep, get more to eat, and be all done eating. He brings me a toy he wants opened or turned on by signing please.
On the other hand, we can sign when something is “hot, no touch,” and he can repeat back by saying, “hot” and backing away. He also can find his toy animals when we sign what they are. We can see that he is reasoning in his mind that he understands what we just signed, and he is trying to put the pieces again. Then, the lightbulb goes off, and he finds the object.
Overall, ASL combined with speech touches upon visual, auditory, and kinesthetic processing and helps store more pathways in the brain; therefore,memory becomes stronger. Again, another easy way to help in your children’s development.
3. Sign language can be discreet.
All parents have had those moments where we are out in public and our child is causing a disturbance. We hiss under our breaths, “Stop it,” but our child can’t hear us. We want more than anything for the earth to swallow us whole. However, with sign language, I can sign STOP, NO, WAIT, HOLD without raising my voice and attracting all kinds of unwanted attention. It doesn’t work every time, but it is setting my son up for success in that I am teaching my son another way to control his behavior.
On other occasions, I can sign something to my son without causing a break in the conversation. At dinner, and I notice my son needs to take a drink? I sign WATER. My son wants me to do something? I can casually rub my upper chest for PLEASE to let him know that he needs to say that first. Hopefully, in the future he can let me know when he has to go to the bathroom without shouting, “Poo poo or pee pee,” in a setting like church (although that would be funny). However, sign language lets you have those conversations you don’t want the world knowing.
4. Sign language is fun.
Lastly, sign language is just fun. Little kids love hand movements and gestures, and sign language is exactly that. With it, parents and children can sign songs, nursery rhymes, and books. ASL is another fun element added on top of learning experiences. YouTube has tons of videos parents can search and what better way to spend some time with the kids.
Sign language is another resource to have in a parent’s toolkit. I can see the light in my son’s eyes when he makes a connection. I can see his frustrations melt away when I quickly recognize what he is trying to communicate. I can see my shoulders visibly relax when I avoid a public meltdown with just one sign. I see the joy he gets when I make silly faces and songs. I can see him learning and growing. And that’s why I am teaching him sign language.
I’ll be honest. I thoroughly enjoyed breastfeeding, but I never expected to one day be sitting on the grimy floor of a supermarket bathroom squirting milk out of my overly full breasts. That would have been a hard pass for me in the Places To Pump Department, and I had already found myself pumping on the sweaty seats of a high school bus at a cross country meet as the bus driver blocked teenagers from climbing aboard. But if you are like me, you’ve had to or will be away from your breastfed child because of travel for work or pleasure. And also like me, the idea of pumping and traveling might be daunting to you, but I have lived and survived pumping on the go, even when I was pumping on the floor of a bathroom, and I am here to tell you what you need to know.
1. Know Before You Go
Even before the plane takes off, there is a lot of work to be done to ensure that things go smoothly once you arrive at your destination.
First, make sure that whoever is watching your child has enough of a milk supply to feed your baby. If your little one is like my son and you have a diva on your hands, then you know your bougie baby spits out anything other than breastmilk. My son did this until he was about 9 months. This means that you have to have a well-stocked freezer with a supply of breastfeed, which means that you have to do double duty for a few weeks leading up to it if you don’t already have an ample amount. You should have 25-30 ounces per day for your baby. Probably more. Of course, you can always ship your milk back home, but when I looked into it, I found it was way too expensive for me. In addition, you can have the childcare provider mix breastmilk with a little bit of formula to make the supply last longer. Or finally, you can buy breast milk from someone, which is what I had to do for one trip because I just couldn’t find the extra time to pump on top of my normal pumping and breastfeeding. I found a trusted person and bought her breast milk. It worked, and I wasn’t so stressed!
Second, pack your supplies. You want to make sure you have everything you need before you jet out of town. What you should take with you is the following:
I know all the prepping can be overwhelming, but when done, it makes the trip a lot less stressful when you are prepared.
2. Manage Expectations
Whether you are traveling alone or in a group, you need to let yourself know and everyone with you what the expectations are. Be clear and firm that you have to pump when you have to pump. When traveling in San Francisco, I had to excuse myself from a wedding to pump and also while we were in the middle of sightseeing. On another occasion, we had to delay going to dinner because I had to pump. You do not have to feel guilty about this. You do not have to feel rushed. You do not have to apologize. If you are upfront about your need to excuse yourself to pump with all parties involved in your travel, then that is the best you can do, and if someone gets annoyed or irritated, that is on them, not you, because you laid out your expectations.
Also, go easy on yourself. Pumping isn’t going to be like it is when you are following your normal routine. You might go a little longer between pumping sessions because you got caught up in the travel. You might have to pump more since you don’t have a child hungrily draining your whole milk supply. You might have to pump in strange places. You might even have to, God forbid - don’t say it, gasp, throw away some milk because you underestimated how much storage containers you needed. Take a deep breath. It’s okay. Give yourself grace.
3. Have a sense of humor
Things will go wrong. Sometimes disastrously wrong. Like you might find yourself and your engorged breasts squatting over a toilet in a stall at Starbucks with a line out the door furiously trying to squeeze milk out of your tendered breasts. It happens. All you can do is laugh and learn for next time.
Pumping while traveling wasn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. Know before you go, manage expectations, and have a sense of humor even if you find yourself on the dirty floor of a supermarket. You got this, Mama!
Original posted on The Mighty.
Hello there, Moms.
I see you out there, doing your thing and being all confident and owning motherhood like a straight up b-o-double-s BOSS. Then, it comes along and steals your joy. It creeps up on you, slaps you on the face, and leaves you wretched with remorse, shame, and despair. That’s right. I am talking about “Mom Guilt.” There is already a laundry list of things for you to feel guilty about. I am not here to tack on a few more. I am here, instead, to remove some.These are five feelings that you should absolutely not let “Mom Guilt” rule over anymore.
1. Parental decisions.
This is a given, but it doesn’t hurt to restate it. Moms, you should not feel guilty about a parental decision if it works for you and your family. If you choose formula over breastfeeding or breastfeeding over formula or breastfeeding and formula or whatever combination, do not feel guilty. If you choose to work and not stay home or if you choose to stay at home and not work, do not feel guilty. If you choose daycare, a nanny, or family to watch your child, do not feel guilty. If you choose to keep your child on a schedule or not to keep your child on a schedule, do not feel guilty. If it is working for your family and causing nobody any harm, do not feel guilty!
I am someone who likes a schedule. I get it honestly, just ask my mom, and I am a teacher. Teachers live for schedules. I try to flexible and not rigid, but oftentimes I rearrange my day and schedule events with friends and family based upon my son’s napping. I used to feel guilty and like I was being crazy, but I don’t anymore because it works for us.
So, Moms, relax, and stop questioning your parenting decisions. No one knows more than you do about your child.
2. Missing your old life.
Ladies, it’s OK to wistfully reminisce about your old life when you could lie around watching TV, or devouring books all day one weekend and then the next going out to some bar until the crack of dawn. Missing that freedom does not mean you love your children any less. It doesn’t make you a bad mom. It makes you normal. I miss the carefree days of being a child and running around outside with the neighbors when social media wasn’t a distraction and I had no real responsibility. That said, I wouldn’t want to go back. I miss the days when my friends and I would walk the hallways of high school, go to football games on Friday, and hang out on each other’s porches on lazy summer days. But, nope, don’t take me back. I miss the days of cross country and track practices and spending hours in the cafeteria and then the nights walking arm and arm with my friends to the main street during those college years. However, I wouldn’t trade anything to go back. Finally, I miss the days on the couch with just my husband and me and spontaneously deciding to take a trip. That’s over though. My life with my child is so much better, but sometimes I miss what was. And that’s OK.
3. Neglecting an area of your life.
Just because you are now a mom it doesn’t mean the other parts of you disappear. There is still the Working You. Friend You. Spouse You. Domestic You. Hobbies and Exercise You. It’s all still there, but sometimes one of those areas gets neglected for a certain period of time. Maybe you don’t spend as much time talking on the phone and texting back your friends as you used to. Don’t sweat it. On the other hand, maybe your house is a mess and take out slowly becomes the norm. Don’t worry about it. Maybe you and your spouse skip date night for the second month in a row. Give yourself a break. For me, I find that I don’t spend as much time on my teaching career as I used to. I often leave school the minute we can. My weekends rarely consist of lesson planning anymore. Where my students once occupied my thoughts in the evening hours, my son has replaced them. I felt guilty that a lot of my focus shifted away from my career, and my friends would get texts back from me a whole day later, but I soon began to realize that this is just a season of my life. My other selves will get nourished again one day, and for now I am content on growing my Mom Self.
4. Not picking up your child right away.
I think we can all admit that we have done this one. Work ends or a doctor’s appointment finishes up, and instead of driving right away to fetch your child from daycare or to head home, you give yourself a few minutes (OK, more like an hour) to just do something you want to do. Linger in Target. Sit in your car and scroll through social media. Take a nap. Read a book. Squeeze in a run. Because of this, you are not a bad mom. I repeat. You are not a bad mom!
5. Letting little things bother you sometimes
In the mad house that is motherhood, little things start to bother you sometimes (key word being sometimes, not always). You know it’s completely insane, but you can’t quite let it go. I’m here to give you permission to carry on, Mama!It’s 10 minutes past my child’s bedtime, and we (see I) are cleaning up his toys. I can’t find Tiger in his set of five animal finger puppets. Rational me would let it go. But, in this moment, I can’t. It is my life’s mission to find Tiger, so he can be reunited with Monkey, Elephant, Giraffe, and Zebra. I scour the living room. My son grows increasingly frustrated. I know I should let it go, but…I need to find Tiger, so he can sleep with his other pals. If I don’t rescue him now, we might forget about him, and he’ll be lost forever. I’m looking under couches, throwing pillows, tearing apart drawers until I snap back to reality (oh there goes gravity) and come crashing back to earth. I abandon my search, shake my head, grab my son to head upstairs, and question my sanity.
I should feel guilty about my momentary lapse of judgment, but I don’t. Motherhood demands a lot, and if sometimes we act a little silly, so be it.
What are some things you don’t feel guilty about anymore?
Tell us in the comments.
To my childhood, high school, and college friends. To my new, old, near, and far friends. To my work friends. To my neighborhood friends. To the friends that came into my life for a little bit, served their purpose, and now are gone. To my friends who will be there forever. I am thankful for you.
To my friends, I care about your lives, your jobs, your kids, and all the little things that go on in your day.
We don’t get to see each other as much as we used to. We don’t even get to talk on the phone that often. And sometimes it takes a day to even respond to a text because of Mom Brain and how easily I get distracted now.
But I delight in your Instagram posts. I love seeing your travels and how much your kids are growing. I want you to continue posting.
I smile at the texts you send me. The one where you bring up an old story of something that happened back in the day or a simple picture of you living life. Keep sending them to me.
I relish in the rare phone calls where we can talk or Zoom and update each other on our lives and maybe just laugh as we reminisce about our high school and college days. As the precious minutes tick down, I wish we could talk for longer. Continue to call even if I can’t answer. One of the days, we will get it right.
I dance for joy when we get to see each other in person even if it is talking to each other from the porch 6 feet apart or a quick 20 minute chat because we are both just passing through. It will never be an inconvenience or a waste of time for me to see.
I squeal with delight when we get to do a friend’s trip maybe once every 5 years. The ones where we drink wine and talk for hours and laugh until our sides hurt. Let's never stop planning these even if it takes an act of God to align our schedules.
As life will have it, we grow older, move apart, and forge our own paths with our new families and friends. We get busy. Our kids and jobs demand our attention as they should. It sometimes seems as if our lives don’t have time for one another in it. Missed calls, unanswered texts, broken plans, conflicts in schedules, and distance can all seem like our lives are moving forward like two parallel lines. But the bonds we formed growing up will always exist. Our lives forever intertwined with one another.
Because something as simple as a jogged memory, a death of an old teacher, or needing some advice can send me right back to you, and it’s like we picked up right where we left off, easy, pure, and carefree.
My life has changed. Yours has as well. But I still care. And I always will. After all, you are my friend.
I am a working mom. I teach. I coach. I write. I read. My “me” time is sacred. It’s my opportunity to get things done without a child hanging on to me, which I love by the way, but just not for the full day. When my child naps for a long time, the angels sing a chorus of Hallelujah, and I head right to my desk to dive into a blog or straight to the couch to dig into a book. Or maybe I sleep. Or watch Netflix. Or clean. Whatever. I just want the opportunity to have those options. But before I dive into what I did to blockade car sleep let's look at why I did the insane things I did.
When my son was around 4-5 months old, and we were really perfecting those nap schedules, I really valued putting him to sleep in his crib or pack n play. Why? Because his long naps allowed him to get the restorative sleep that he needed and me to have some “me time.” Moms, we know how important “me time” is. It’s like gold, and I wasn’t going to let a car nap take away my coveted time to myself.
So what happens when your baby falls asleep in the car on your fifteen minute drive home? That catnap, even if it is only 5 minutes long, kills the sleep drive. That car nap sends signals to the brain: Hey, I am not sleepy anymore. That nap satisfied me. Let’s play! Try to put your child to bed after a catnap, and he won’t have it. He’s ready to go! Then, you’re left trying to chase naps all day. It’s exhausting. Unless you want to drive around for an hour and half, so your baby can get his full nap, follow these ways to prevent the dreaded car naps.
My last car had a keyless start, so I would rattle my keys incessantly anytime I saw my son start to drift off. One hand was safely on the wheel and the other shook those keys like my life depended on it. Henry’s head would snap right back up every time. Did I feel cruel? A little. But not enough to warrant me to stop. After all, I was doing this for him, so he could have a nice long nap that left him well-rested and happy. My rapacious rattling had nothing to do with my desire to lie down and read a book. When I got a new car and had to put my keys in the ignition, I banged my keychain against the dashboard as best I could. Not as effective, but it still worked. I highly suggest purchasing one of those jingle bells and keeping it on hand in the car. Want to take it up a notch? Belt Jingle Bells at the top of your lungs until you get home, and then you can sing Silent Night as you creep out of the nursery to enjoy some peace and quiet for a couple hours. 3. Talk in Whale
Yes, I am talking about Whale as in the whale speech in Finding Nemo. Before discovering Whale, I would narrate everything that was happening out loud to keep Henry awake. Yet, adding in the dialect of an orca spices things up and piques Henry’s curiosity, so he’s more apt to hang on to witness Mommy’s newfound craziness. To really get into the role, move your body back and forth like you actually believe you are a whale. Mommy is making a right turn [bob body the right]. The car stops at the red light. Now it turns green and here we go. Vroom Vroom [Contort your body as if you are emerging out of the water to blow water out of your blowhole]. Now we are home, home, home. Time to sleep. You’re whale-come. 4. Activate Scream Mode
This one is very similar to talking in whale, but instead of narrating everything in Fish, you will recount all details of what you’re doing by screaming. To extend this practice, you can see how loud you can scream your child’s name. For example, my son’s head would slowly drop. “HENNNNNNRRRYYYYYYY!” He would snap back up. A short time later, his eyes would grow heavy and start to close. “HENNNNNNRRRRY!” Even louder that time. This headache inducing practice continues until you arrive home, and your child goes down for a nice, long nap, and Mama can kiss that headache goodbye as she kicks her feet up on the couch.
5. Roll Down the Windows
I have a saying, “When Henry’s eyes are no longer brown. It’s time to roll the windows down.” Super cheesy but effective. As soon as those eyelids become heavy, I roll that window all the way down and let the air and noises flood into the car. Henry’s aroused from his short-lived slumber. This strategy works even better when it’s raining, and those droplets can pelt Henry on the face. Then we arrive home and it’s to the windoooowwws to the beds. The sweat stops running down my head. All the mamas can now call their friends.
I hope these tips help!
Currently, my skin is a blend of different shades. My face is one color and my neck is a shade lighter with streaks running down the front. That is where I am right now, and I don’t care. It is the time to try new things. Get adventurous. Live life on the edge. The time to try that tanning lotion that has been sitting in your cart for months. The time to explore new trails.
I bought the tanning lotion a couple weeks into the quarantine. “Hey, why not? No one is going to see me,” I reasoned. It came in the mail, and I lathered that stuff all over me. My ankles and shins came out super tan. My feet remained ghostly pale, and my thighs and calves appeared to be mildly darker. I have always wanted to be multi shades of orange, so I went ahead and purchased the tanning face lotion for the cherry on the top.
Meanwhile, I began mapping out new trails to run and walk all over my city. Daily I would hit up these trails with my son in tow in his stroller. We would make sure we covered every inch of the trails no matter the terrain. Flat. Hilly. Paved. Unpaved. Smooth. Rough. Didn’t matter. My son and I would go bouncing on these trails, having the time of his life. He on the edge of his seat, and I running home to track where we went on the map and to find our next
A few days later my face lotion came in. No sooner had I mastered the art of making my legs and arms look evenly tan, I decided to mess around with my face. Sure enough, the next day I woke up looking like Trump with white circles around my eyes. I was that high school girl in the 2000s who couldn’t figure out how to blend her makeup so that her face and neck were not two starkly different colors. Well, except this time, I was the high school teacher with a
two-toned face to girls who have beautiful even skin. “I’ll blame it on the lighting in my house. No one will know over video chats,” I reasoned with myself again.
And no one did notice. My face is also looking quite bronzed and sun-kissed if I may feel so inclined to add. Not to mention, legs and arms are getting buff (my husband would probably laugh at this) from all the trails we have been exploring.
This time for me is all about trying new things. Things that I might have been fearful to do before. Things that I might have tacked on a million reasons why I didn’t have time to do. I’m writing those blogs that I have always wanted to write. I am making that killer website that’s always been on my to-do list. I’m reading those books that have been on my Want to Read lists. I’m taking on a pull-up challenge and then two weeks later quitting it. I’m lying on the floor with my son as we laugh and play games. I’m going into the unknown one tanning lotion and one trail at a time.
How We Transitioned from Room to Nursery
Step 1: Follow @takingcarababies on Instagram or check out her blog.
Cara is amazing! She is a sleep expert and a former nurse. Her tips have helped tremendously.
Step 2: From Birth-4 months we kept our son in our room in a bassinet next to my side of the bed.
This was easy for me to grab him whenever I had to breastfeed.
Step 3: Around 4 months, we got rid of the bassinet and switched to the pack n play portion.
Step 4: Around this same time, we moved our son further from away from me but still on the same side as me.
Step 5: Around 5 months, we moved the pack n play to the opposite side of the room, the farthest away from me.
Step 6: Around 5 months, we also moved the glider to the nursery. Most of the feedings and bedtime routine now took place in the nursery rather than our room.
Step 7: Around 6 months, we tried to do as many naps as possible in the crib in the nursery instead of our room. Make sure it's dark!
Step 8: Around 8 months, we transitioned to the nursery and sleeping in the crib no problem!
How to Survive the Quarantine
1. Get a few pairs of comfy yoga pants.
2. Cute scrunchies to pull back your hair.
3. Check out books from the library.
4. Find good podcasts and TV shows to watch.
Listening to: The Bobby Bones Show and The Office Ladies
Watching: Tiger King, Outer Banks, The Office again, Community, Dead to Me, Curb Your Enthusiasm
5. Going to parks
How to Get Your Toddler to Eat
Step 1: Turn on Calming Music
Step 2: Let him eat what you are eating
Step 3: Let him take control and feed himself
Step 4: When that doesn't work, sing "If You Are Happy and You Know It" over and over and over
Step 5: Shove food into his mouth when he giggles at the song. Do this until he is finished eating.
Step 6: Go insane! Your child will find this funny and then will eat on his own. You're welcome!
How to Shop for a Toddler's Birthday Without Buying Toys
1. Book Club Membership
2. Baby and Mommy/Daddy Yoga Class
3. Children's Museum Pass
4. Toddler Art Class or Art Kit
5. Baby's First Year Memory Keepsake
6. Swim Lessons
7. Baseball Tickets
8. Zoo Membership
9. Train Ride
10. Kids Cooking Class