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Staying Healthy During The Flu Season

flu lollipops Recently, I have found myself becoming a “paranoid parent” with regard to my children’s health.  All the constant flooding of the news about the Swine Flu or H1N1 Flu has really got me worried.  It is especially worrisome to me because our son, who has Type 1 Diabetes, is at a greater risk of complications should he contract one of these viruses. 

So, last night, I sat down and had a long talk with God.  There are only so many things we as parents can do to protect our children, from the flu or anything for that matter, and I really needed to get my thoughts into perspective.  After my prayer time, I felt much more at peace and decided that I would be proactive and do what I could, but also have to trust God for His protection.

Here are some things you can do to help protect your kids from the seasonal flu and H1N1:

Wash Your Hands – We all know the importance of washing our hands to prevent spreading illness.  The Centers for Disease Control emphasize washing with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol based hand-sanitizers are also a great weapon in the flu fight!

Avoid Touching Your Eyes and Mouth – Your eyes and mouth are great germ transmitters, so avoid biting your fingernails or playing with your eyelashes!

Cough or Sneeze Into Tissue – Coughing or sneezing into a tissue and throwing it away is the best way to get rid of your germs.  Make sure to wash your hands afterward.  If a tissue is not readily available, it is suggested that you cough or sneeze into your sleeve and NOT your hand.

Avoid Sick People – This seems like an easy one, right?  But reality is that we are exposed to sick people everyday at the grocery store, post office, or even at church.  Encourage your friends NOT to bring their kids over even if they “just have a runny nose, but no fever”.  Also, if one of your children gets sick, try to keep the others from playing with them until they have been fever free for at least 24 hours.

Sanitize Your Toys – I am guilty of not doing this as often as I should, but it’s great practice to take out the toys and sanitize them often, especially after a child is ill.  This will help prevent the spreading of “old germs” and possibly new ones. 

Get Vaccinated – Everyone in your family should get their annual flu shot.  It’s the best way to prevent contracting the flu.  If you are sensitive to the vaccine or agents in it, talk to your doctor or your child’s doctor about your options.  If your pediatrician’s office isn’t offering the flu vaccine or has run out (like mine did!), CVS and Walgreens walk-in clinics provide flu shots to children 18 months and older.  Contact your local one to see if they have the vaccine in stock before heading out. 

Pray – Let’s face it, we can do all of the things listed above and someone is still bound to get sick, so the best way to keep your sanity during this crazy time is to pray and trust God for His protection and health.  If nothing else, it’s a great way to to find peace!

For more information about the seasonal flu or the H1N1 virus, check out the CDC website or the government’s special flu website

What have you done to safeguard your family during this flu season? 

Photo Courtesy of itsv

Cry It Out or Co-Sleeping, Is One Way Really the Best?

by Amanda on October 20, 2009
category: 0 – 1 year (baby)

1sleepingboy I have mentioned before in various blog posts that my 7 month old baby boy is still waking up 3 or 4 times a night. At the 6 month baby check up my Pediatrician recommended that we try to eliminate the 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. feeding. I don’t remember her telling me how to do that. I do remember that she told me that if he can put himself to sleep at 7:00 p.m. with no crying, then he should be able to put himself back to sleep at 3:00 a.m. with no crying. It makes sense to me. That week I tried letting my baby cry it out (CIO). I finally gave up after an hour and went to nurse him. When I nursed him, he was pissed. He kicked and pinched me. Then he continued to cry even after nursing. After that night I was reluctant to try CIO again.

In the next few weeks I did everything else I could think to try. I started with his naps and created a more structured nap time. He responded very well to the schedule and was sleeping better in the day time, but no change in the night time. I tried feeding him more solid food. I even stuffed him with solids until he wouldn’t eat another bite at dinner time. Still no change. He wakes up around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. and I had my husband try to give him formula. He wouldn’t drink from the bottle. We tried that because my husband gave him formula one morning during one of my long runs and he slept longer than usual after drinking the formula.

This past week we went back to the CIO method. After he cried for a while I was reluctant to go in and breastfeed for fear that I would get beat up again. I thought it was best to let him finish crying on his own. He was mad, but I really felt like he was alright. (He had just nursed 2 hours before he woke up again.) It seems to be working, because each night it seems to be getting better. Last night he only woke up once.

I am not sure what the alternative is to the CIO method. Is it just pushing through with the many night time feedings with hopes that it won’t last much longer? Attachment Parenting International recommends Co-Sleeping. My son did sleep in my room in a bassinet or pack-n-play for the first 5 months. Then we thought moving him out of our room would help his night time waking. I believe Co-Sleeping may be great for some families, but I am just not wired that way.

I think a mother’s personality will likely determine whatever method they choose to use. Each child and mother is different. We have to trust our instincts and make the wisest choices we can for our families. We shouldn’t judge how another family chooses to help their children sleep. Both the CIO and Co-Sleeping methods have different pros and cons. Each one has various research studies saying why the other method is stupid and theirs is the best.

Seriously, I just read a blog post speaking out against the CIO method and the comments make me feel like the worst mother on the planet. Am I a selfish parent for wanting to sleep more than 4 straight hours? I know I am the mother and I should care and love my children, meet their needs, and help them feel secure. Sometimes I am at a loss on how to do that exactly. Especially with both sides of the fence attacking the other.

What it comes down to in almost every parenting decision is what is right for that child, that mother, and that family. Each situation is different. No two children are alike, therefore one method isn’t going to solve each and every child’s sleep issues.

What do you think? Have you tried the CIO method? Do you practice Attachment Parenting? Is one better than the other?

-photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Making My Children’s Sleep a Priority

sleepingbaby My husband and I are saying “no” to a lot of invitations lately. A few months after my first daughter was born I read “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Dr. Weissbluth and the book recommends maintaining a consistent bedtime every night. For the most part we do keep bedtime consistent. She goes to bed within 30 minutes of the same time every night. Then along came baby number two.

I love how newborns sleep through practically anything and sleep anywhere. Of course, I don’t love their short erratic sleep schedule. Eventually newborns establish a bedtime on their own as they get older. Now at 7 months my boy starts giving sleep cues just before 7:00 p.m. and he is done for the day. He is ready to be nursed and laid down.

Maintaining a routine and a consistent bedtime has become even more important for us now that we have two kids. We realized this when we kept them up a little later than usual at a friend’s house. My 2 year old could be entertained while at the house, but once we got home she fought being washed in the bath and cried a lot before she fell asleep. She was a bear the next day and tired at Mother’s Day Out. That same evening I was holding and bouncing my son to keep him content. He kept bobbing his head on my boob to nurse. Then he screamed in the car on the way home. My children were put to bed 1.5 hours after their usual bedtime. My husband and I definitely agreed that the cost of keeping our children up late wasn’t worth the price.

Now in the evenings only one of us will go out at a time. We could hire a babysitter, but that isn’t practical all the time. It is certainly a special treat for both my husband and I to be out together past 7:00 p.m. Many times we have to say no to events that start at 7:00 p.m. It is just the phase of life we are in. I know it won’t be this way forever.

On the other hand, we love the early bed time. We have a great time hanging together around the house and creating date nights at home. I appreciate the break from my children. I also love that my children are well rested and behave better the next day. Our whole family is better for them getting their sleep.

How about you? Do you notice a difference in your child’s behavior if they have a consistent bedtime? Have you had to turn down invitations, because they are past your child’s bedtime?

*P.S. That is my boy in the photo. He fell asleep eating his teething biscuit at dinner! Maybe he wasn’t that well rested that day. LOL.

Loving and Not Loving Breastfeeding at the Same Time

by Amanda on September 29, 2009
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),Feeding

Piknikas My baby boy is almost 7 months old and he is still exclusively breastfed. However, I am not loving breastfeeding as much as I did with my first child. With my first child I had planned on weaning her at a year, but I wasn’t ready and ended up nursing her for 14 months. (I wrote about my decision to continue breastfeeding here.) I stopped at 14 months, because I started throwing up every day with morning, noon, and night sickness with my second pregnancy. I think the fact that I have been either pregnant or nursing for the last 3 years is taking a toll on me.

All the reasons why I want my body back are completely selfish. I can’t leave for extended periods of time. My baby is still waking up 3 times a night to nurse. Because he has been waking up around 10:30 p.m., I can’t even go out after bedtime. My nipples still get raw and sore sometimes. Logically I know these reasons are not a big deal.

As much as I selfishly want breastfeeding to end, I selfishly want it to keep going. I love not doing dishes. I love that I don’t have to learn a whole new skill of mixing formula and finding which bottle or cup is best. I also really love the bonding time with my son. It is fantastic that my 2 year old daughter sees her brother being fed and knows that breastfeeding is completely normal. I love it when she offers to feed her brother and pulls her shirt up.

I also love that it is the best possible source of nourishment I can give him. To be perfectly honest, I am terrified of formula. I know some women have to use formula and choose to use it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But for me formula is not really an option.  As long as I can produce milk his first year of life, he will get boobie milk.

I have mentioned before that I am marathon training and this adds extra stress to my breastfeeding relationship. On my long runs I am gone from the house for 4 hours. I nurse my baby before I leave in the morning and he wakes up hungry. I don’t have a pump anymore. I would have to increase demand my pumping daily to increase my supply, because I don’t make extra milk.

I contacted Heather at RunFasterMommy.com, because she has trained for a marathon and breastfed at the same time. I asked her about supplementing formula on the days I have long runs. I also asked Heather if it was selfish of me to supplement. She said that it wasn’t and gave me some tips on how to do it. Heather also pointed out that if I gave up my training that I would grow to resent breastfeeding.  I couldn’t agree more. My pediatrician also said I could keep training and to drink tons of water.

With my pediatrician’s help and some full sized samples from her huge stash of formula, my husband now has a tool in his toolbelt if our boy is crying a lot and can’t wait to be nursed.  We have not had to use the supplement yet, but we both feel better knowing that we have something that we can give our baby if I can’t make it home fast enough. I hope that I won’t have to use the supplement.

For now I am going to keep up breastfeeding and enjoy this precious time, but a part of me can’t help but count down until it is over too.

- photo courtesy of c r z

Abiding Monday: Fraught With Worry

momcrowd_abidingmonday2_300x215[1] Worry has been following me around lately.  I know how to combat it – I posted about praying for peace mere weeks ago – yet I am still being pestered with a fear about this or a worry about that.  It is so annoying!  And it’s a domino effect this time around; when one thing is resolved, another issue arises, giving my weary soul minimal rest in between.

At the moment, my worry is for my son.  He’s kinda accident-prone.  He’s a toddler, so saying he trips up on his own feet doesn’t mean that much.  But he does.  Trip up on his own two feet, that is.  Regularly.  This has resulted in some pretty nasty bumps on his head.  (People actually look surprised when they see he is bump-free.)  Last week, he fell on his face again, and the bump is an ugly combo of red, purple, blue and yellow.  I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed over his little head, yet I cannot shake the worry that comes with being his mom.  I seriously break down in sobs whenever he hurts himself.

Max Lucado’s latest book, Fearless, has a chapter about worrying for our kids’ safety.  He says,

We tend to forget this fact, regarding our children as “our” children, as though we have the final say in their health and welfare.  We don’t.  All people are God’s people, including the small people who sit at our tables.  Wise are the parents who regularly give their children back to God (58).

Lucado says we have two choices when faced with our childrens’ struggles (health or otherwise): to despair over what can happen, or to believe in Jesus’ power to love and care for them.  Now, I realize that a bump on my son’s head is small potatoes compared to what else can happen to him – maybe compared to what has happened in your child’s life.  Yet the despair I have felt is very real, and dealing with it is not easy.

As one might expect, prayer is the key remedy.

Prayer is the saucer into which parental fears are poured to cool.  Jesus says so little about parenting, makes no comments about spanking, breast-feeding, sibling rivalry, or schooling.  Yet his actions speak volumes about prayer.  Each time a parent prays, Christ responds.  His big message to moms and dads?  Bring your children to me.  Raise them in a greenhouse of prayer (60).

I believe in this advice, and I have been stubbornly giving my fears about my son’s injuries to Jesus, again and again, each time I feel them.  Even though I wish I could put the boy in a plastic bubble and roll him everywhere in a cocoon of safety, I turn to God to increase my trust in Him.  I involve my kids in this praying, too, saying prayers aloud while Eli plays and inviting both of my children to pray aloud for his head during bedtime prayers.

If my worries are going to persist, my prayers must persist as well.

Jesus, thank you for keeping watch over our children as they come and go.  Thank you for standing beside us as a protective shade.  Thank you for being our help.  We depend on you.  Amen.

What Psalms comfort you during your time of worry (mine was paraphrased above, Psalm 121)?  Is your prayer time proportionate to the time you spend worrying?  How do you work through your fears?

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