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Kick Your Child’s Screen-Time Addiction With 10 Fun Activities!

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Why does screen-time matter?

Screen-time consists of watching television, using a computer, tablet, cell phone or video game. In our technologically-advanced society, it’s popular to use one or more of these gadgets daily. Let’s be real, some of us use several at the same time! But I digress.

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This Week In Parenting News: Flu Epidemic, Slavery Baby Bibs, Free Range Parenting and Teen Sleep

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Flu Epidemic Mimics Colds

Now that at least 30 U.S. children have died of the flu – many of them going from seemingly 100% healthy to total organ failure within 24 to 72 hours – it is a good idea to take a look at several news stories that discuss how this new flu can often mimic a cold. My own five-year-old had the flu, and yes, it can look and feels like a mild cold. No doubt. He never got the “hit by a truck” aches and pains. Even so, he passed out at the dinner table and the exhaustion was our first clue. His fever – 104.5 degrees – presented by 1 a.m. and by 9 a.m. we were at the pedi’s office and given Tamiflu.

The 12-year-old child who just died in Florida is a good example of how the flu might present as a cold. Per NBC News: “Dylan Winnik had sniffles and was exhausted, symptoms his family initially thought were a cold. Now, they believe it was flu.”

This Nightly News With Lester Holt segment does a good job of explaining what to look for and how to fight it.

Other signs of flu:

1. Diarrhea. For real. Diarrhea all by itself. Your kids doesn’t need to have a fever to be suspected of having the flu.
2. Aches and pains
3. Headache
4. Sore throat
5. Runny or stuffy nose
6. A cough
7. Vomiting
8. High fever
9. Everything else that you know is a certified sign of the flu.

And now you know why everyone is in a panic.

Seemingly everything that happens to you or your kid could be a sign of the flu. The good news is that the flu test is quick and requires just a sample from your nostrils. The bad news is that we aren’t even close to the end of flu season. Best advice we’ve heard is to wash hands, get plenty sleep, eat well and get some sun (or some cod liver oil.) Also, lots of doctors say to get the flu shot because even if it’s not 100% effective (and no shots are 100% effective) it will decrease flu symptoms if you should catch one of the many viruses that are out there.

Trust your parental intuition.

Also, as John Torres for NBC News suggests, if your child seems to get better but then immediately gets worse? Go straight to the hospital. Right. Now.

The Truth About the Flu Shot

Lots of parents are on the fence about the flu shot. People who have never had the flu swear that they don’t need the protection. People who have had the flu swear they need the protection. And news reports stating that the flu killed a bunch of people in Australia is absolutely no help to anyone at all, and is quite depressing. California has been hit bad with this illness. Illinois has been hit bad. Florida just reported the death of a child. And yet the flu shot is either – depending upon who you listen to – 10% or 30% effective.

But here’s the deal: If you come into contact with the strains covered by the flu shot, it will help protect you. If you come into contact with the strains not covered by the shot, it will still help your immune system react in a better way. There are several strains of flu floating around, but right now only one strain – A – is making the news. But, according to local doctors in Illinois at least, Influenza B is just now starting to rise. Influenza B is covered by the flu shot.

And the CDC is reporting that 90% of the pediatric deaths by flu come from children who were not vaccinated. Those are 2013 figures, but still. Ouch. For the 2016-2017 year, at least 101 children died from the flu.

Take a look at this dataset created by the CDC. It lets you know how frequently the various strains of flu have been identified.

CDC data on the current flu season.

The flu shot will not give you the flu, but it might make you feel a little sickly. Or it might not. (For me, in terms of shots that pack a punch, that tetanus shot is my nemesis. I feel completely awful and like someone slugged a baseball bat at my chest when I get it. Then I can’t raise my arm for days. Awful but necessary, especially since I stepped on a nail when I visited Senegal. That shot came in handy.)

In the end, it makes no sense to shame parents for getting the shot – or for not getting the shot. I know plenty people with the shot who got the flu. I know plenty who did not get the flu.

If you do decide to get the shot, know that it takes two weeks to kick in. Flu season won’t end until May or June. You do the math and/or take the vitamins or stop visiting museums or stop going to birthday parties. Or not.

On to yet more gnarly news…

Racists in the Amazon and Walmart Marketplace

Folks are really doing the most when it comes to making clothing for children or adornment for children’s bedrooms. The racists who made a onesie and a t-shirt series proclaiming that “slavery gets shit done” deserve a dragging. Those went on sale on Amazon and were promptly removed, according to Reuters and the New York Post.


It’s an epidemic. Not only did H&M make a major mistake with their “Coolest Monkey In the Jungle” advertisement a few weeks ago, but late last year, Walmart sold wall art for the “playroom” that depicted Japanese-American internment camps during WW2.  There is nothing cute about putting people in internment camps. And if you don’t know much about how the U.S. treated Japanese-Americans during the war, read this.

 

 

Quick Hits —

Free-Range Parenting Pass

Utah officials decided that it’s time to stop penalizing parents for letting their kids grow up the old-school way: by freely exploring without hovering parents. The Utah senate still has to vote on the measure, but it would not penalize parents for allowing their kids to go to the park by themselves or walk home from school solo.

Later School Start Times Are Better For Teens

High schools that start at 7 a.m. are not as good as schools that start later. Or at least that’s the opinion of a writer who penned a column for USA Today on the heavy topic of school start times and teen sleep. Per the column:

The policy part of this equation revolves around school start times. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other major medical organizations recommend that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Earlier start times risk depriving students of the sleep their adolescent bodies and minds demand.

That said, getting kids to sleep on time is part policy and part parenting. As opinion writer Wendy Troxel accurately points out in her column, parents have to model good sleep habits in order for their kids to follow suit.

* Thanks for reading This Week in Parenting News. Just so you know, the writer who pulls this together is a trained, old-school journalist who vets every story to be sure that it is true and not fake news. All facts are corroborated by several sources and linked so you can do your own research.

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7 Reasons People Favor One Child Over The Other

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We were on a routine trip to the grocery store when I realized how my 20-month-old noticed how much more his younger sister was favored. When people would look their way, instead of his bashful “hi” like he would sometimes say before his baby sister, his greeting became, “Baby cute?”, “Sissy ad-o-ble!”. People usually only complimented her, and he had conformed to this new routine…and adopted their script.

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Why I Don’t Teach My Kids Santa Claus

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The Christmas season is in full force! Everywhere I look I see red velvet bows, decorative houses bright with lights, the classic Salvation Army rep spreading cheer and ringing bells at our local grocer entrance, and one of my favorites, the Holiday seasonal drinks from Starbucks!

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Halloween Lessons Learned

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Wiped Out: BrownBaby#1 trick-or-treated himself into a passed out stupor on Halloween. Time to break out the wine! Image copyrighted by Adrienne Gibbs. Permission required for all reprints.

I’ve been doing Halloween my entire life, but now that I have two kids it’s taken on a whole new angle. When I had one kid, and he was a toddler, Halloween was simply dressing him up and answering the door. Maybe we went by the neighbors to introduce him to the idea of saying “trick or treat.” When that Brown Baby 1 turned four, it got more serious. We were invited to go trick or treating with a bunch of other kids, and that was my first experience with the mom wagon, the beers, the drinks, the parents passing out flasks of wine and stopping at Starbucks to use the bathroom and regroup.

But now I have two and BrownBaby2 is just about two and not quite old enough to be out and about in a 27-degree Halloween situation. My oldest is five. I live in Chicago. Trick or treating ends at 7 p.m., per the laws of my particular South Side neighborhood. Last year we only were able to trick or treat for about 45 minutes because of the location I drove to and because I went to work and had to fight traffic to get back home in time. So this year I got hip. I took the day off of work so I could do all the Halloween things and you know what? I STILL ran out of time!

I’m also exhausted.

Hopefully you all aren’t wiped out like I am. But if you are, here are my newly-learned Halloween-with-two-kids-under-six Halloween lessons, or tips.

  1. Take the day off work or try to take a half day. Get up early and get ready. No sleeping in.
  2. Prep Halloween dinner two days before the big day or cook Halloween dinner before lunchtime and set it up.
  3. Don’t be like me and wait until Halloween to buy candy. *runs and hides * Thank goodness there’s a Sam’s Club near me.
  4. If you take the kids by your office or your partner’s office, do it early, like at 2 or 3. That way, you can trick-or-treat at 4.
  5. If you do go with a group, try to keep it within walking distance of your own home. I’m no longer going to try to drag little bitty kids to blocks where we have no respite from the cold, no bathroom and nowhere to change a diaper.
  6. If it’s too cold for your baby/toddler, then split duties and have one person stay home and the other go out with the oldest.
  7. Carry band-aids. Whew. All the kids I saw who fell face first on concrete steps was appalling.
  8. You might need help if you want to trick-or-treat and pass out candy at your own home. Enlist a cousin or a babysitter. Several of my neighbors use their nannies for this purpose, plus the nanny watches the smallest kids. I don’t have a nanny, so my husband got off work a half hour early to pass out candy/watch our house.
  9. Bring juice boxes and healthy snacks for your kids to eat and keep said snacks in the wagon that you will inevitably use to cart them back home because they will be pooped.
  10. Go with furry, head-to-toe suits if in a cold weather climate. And stuff the suit with layers of t-shirts and sweatshirts and long underwear. It’s warmer that way.
  11. Always carry a thermos full of hot tea and whiskey or hot tea and rum. Or… coffee and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Again, it’s warmer that way.

Here’s to a bigger better Halloween next year.  Meanwhile, drop your top tips below for things you plan to do differently next year. Only 365 days to go….

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Why Being An Aunt Is More Magical Than Being A Mom!

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I’ve been a mom, like forever. I can hardly even remember when I wasn’t a mom. Don’t get me wrong, parenthood is amazing, stressful, glorious, exhausting, joyous, and infuriating all rolled up in one chaotic ball. But did I mention, it’s amazing? And guess what is doubly amazing….becoming an aunt!

I had no idea that becoming an aunt was something magical that is nothing like motherhood! I recently became the proud aunt of twin boys and I am over the moon! Why didn’t you all tell me it was this awesome? You’ve been holding out on a sista!

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Your Ultimate List of 24 FREE Summer Activities For Kids!

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Now that school is out, are you looking for activities to do with the kids, but don’t want to spend an arm and leg? Summer is a perfect time to visit loved-ones and enjoy activities that we missed during the school year due to hectic schedules and tons of responsibilities. 

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Tiny Tot Tuesdays: Cooking With Kids!

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Put those tots to work in the kitchen!

Cooking with kids…When my kids were toddlers it seemed like they would wait for me to get busy cooking and decide to get into e-ver-y-thing they could think of! Those classic moments of the little ones writing on the walls and covering themselves in Vaseline would happen in my home while I was in the kitchen. 

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Learn When To Say No… “I Cain’t and I Ain’t!”

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No Means NO!

A hard ass lesson I’ve learned since becoming a mom is that I cannot yet operate at the level I did before I was a mom. Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that I will never operate at the highest of the high levels from my previous life- I AIN’T GIVING UP! But right now, I don’t have the f*cking energy to do it all and I am temporarily unwilling to try. Because of that, I have perfected the art of saying no. My favorite ways of saying “NO” are: Nope, Hell to the naw naw,  and F*ck no. In other words…I cain’t and I ain’t!

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Top This! How to Completely FAIL at Summer: a Step-By-Step Guide

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I was doing really good today. Great even. I was momming the crap out of today and earning serious Fun Mommy points. Then it all went to *insert poop emoji.* Literally. Here’s how I managed to accomplish my latest fail. 
Step 1: Fill a storage container with water. 

Do your kids love water play in the summer? Of course they do!! Fill a container and let them splash in it. Give them cups, strainers and floating toys to play with. Then let them climb inside and completely soak their clothes. For best results ensure that at least one kid is in diapers. What’s the big deal anyway? How bad could it get? 

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“Don’t Lose Your Mind Evacuation Plan” For Stressed Moms

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By Nicole Walker

“Y’all gon’ make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here. Y’all gon’ make me go all out. Up in here, up in here. Y’all gon’ make me act a FOOL. Up in here, up in here. Y’all gon’ make me lose my cool. Up in here, up in here” –DMX

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