Kristy’s Greatest Role, Kristy Van Meter

~Kristy-juggle-WEB-116

Photos by Marie Thomas

Kristy (Cobb) Van Meter always loved acting, participating in school plays from the third grade on and, later, majoring in Drama at Furman University in South Carolina. Little did she realize back then that her life would eventually take on an unusual drama of its own.

Let’s set the stage for what has become a life filled with surprises, joy, humor, and a little craziness; it’s a family drama that’s taken more than a few twists and turns (but the ending’s a happy one).

Kristy and her younger sister, Holly, grew up in Reidsville, N.C. “I have special memories of Sunday dinners at my house, and at my aunt’s and grandma’s houses. All of our extended family living in the area would get together after church. It was always so much fun to be with everyone,” she says.

Then life changed somewhat. When Kristy was in high school, the family moved to Morristown, Tenn. for her father’s job. Kristy remembers that this was a tough move for her and her sister, but “it really strengthened our relationship. We just had each other; we didn’t know anyone else for a while, so we grew much closer.”

Dreaming as little girls do, Kristy remembers picturing herself married and the mother of four children, “two girls and two boys,” she says with a laugh. Her career visions back then were to be a veterinarian, a geologist, or an actress.

Clay and Kristy (center) with their children. Standing, from left, identical twins Tyler and Ford; on floor, from left, Truitt, Kate and Jackson (kneeling).

Well, the acting aspiration won out. Following high school, Kristy headed back to the Carolinas, this time to S.C., where she attended Furman University. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Drama with a concentration in Psychology, she moved to Ga., attending grad school at the Psychological Studies Institute and Georgia State University and receiving her master’s in Community Counseling with a certificate in Christian Counseling. These college studies would prove to be “so” essential for her later in life.

Following graduation, Kristy counseled at a therapeutic boarding school for adolescents in Dahlonega for three years. During that time she dated and fell in love with a longtime friend, Clay Van Meter. After marrying in 1997, they moved to Senoia in 2000 so Clay could open his insurance business in Peachtree City. Kristy continued working as an in-home counselor for families in crisis.

Then came the first real surprise: shortly after they moved, they found out that Kristy was pregnant with fraternal twins. Kristy carried babies Jackson and Truitt up to 33½ weeks, giving birth by caesarean on December 22, 2000. The babies were fine, but Kristy had developed toxemia and a blood disease, Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP), which put her in intensive care following the delivery. “The nurses gave Clay one-on-one instructions on how to care for the babies, since I wouldn’t be able to do much when we took them home,” she says. “So that was a good thing, and he did a great job.”

The triplets at 3 months old. From left: Tyler, Kate and Ford.

She and the babies came home on Christmas Day. “Boy, did our lives change,” she recalls. “We were overwhelmed, but we got a lot of help.”

Out of necessity, Kristy and Clay established a routine for caring for the twins. “We have friends who have twins, and one thing they told us was to get them on a schedule. Feed them at the same time, otherwise they would be waking us up all night. So if one woke up to eat, we would wake up the other one to eat as well,” Kristy explains.

Even with all the support from family and church and great advice, it was sometimes overwhelming to be a stay-at-home mom of twins; there was definitely a learning curve. Once, Kristy took her babies with her to stock up on a diaper sale at the supermarket. “I was carrying one in a sling, and then I carried the car seat into the store for the other one. Well, the car seat wouldn’t even fit in the shopping cart, so here I had one baby I was holding, and carrying the other one in his seat in my other hand, and then I was trying to get a big box of diapers…” She trails off and laughs. “You know, it’s trying to figure out the logistics of it all.”

Tyler, Kate, Jackson, Ford and Truitt at their Uncle Steve and Aunt Dana’s house. The triplets were 5 months old and the twins 3 and half.

Once they were mobile, the twins sometimes got into a little mischief together, playing off of each other’s curiosity and adventurousness. But Kristy and Clay remained patient and loving, and soon they began to consider welcoming another child into their family.

The Van Meters consulted with their doctor to see if it was advisable, considering the health complications that had come from Kristy’s pregnancy with the twins. The doctor said that complications were more likely to occur with multiples and first pregnancies, so he thought that chances of complications would decrease with Kristy’s second pregnancy. “He felt it was probably fine to get pregnant again,” Kristy says.

It wasn’t long before Kristy did get pregnant a second time; the couple was thrilled and excited. “I remember thinking, ‘This must be what it is like to have a single pregnancy.’” She pauses and laughs. “Little did we know! During our first ultrasound I immediately saw two sacs, and I uttered a little too loudly, ‘Are we having twins again?’ The doctor replied gently, ‘Right now there are three babies in there.’ Clay got white and real quiet. I started laughing and crying at the same time. Clay kept patting me and saying, ‘Everything’s going to be fine, everything’s going to be fine.’ We were so shocked!”

Clay and Kristy are not only great partners but also best friends!

This, too, was a risky pregnancy. The doctors were very watchful and cautioned Clay and Kristy that they could lose one, two or even all three. “Although we didn’t plan for triplets, once we saw all three heartbeats on the ultrasound screen, we were pulling for each one,” Kristy says.

Kristy, a petite woman, was on bed rest prior to the birth of their identical twin sons, Tyler and Ford, and a daughter, Kate, on January 20, 2004. Again Kristy was in ICU for four days after the triplets’ delivery. This time a heart condition—cardio myopathy, resulting from the way her heart had enlarged during the pregnancy—nearly took her life.

“I almost died after delivery,” she says matter-of-factly, adding lightly, “Clay was very happy I didn’t leave him with all those kids.”

Once more friends, church members and family rallied around this sudden family of seven with support, food, attention. Because Kristy was still healing from her heart issues and couldn’t get out of bed, friends and family contributed time and money, hiring night-sitters and enlisting church members to help stay through the night with the infants. “We were very blessed by that,” Kristy says emphatically.

After she’d healed, Kristy began scaling a new learning curve—this time as the mother of two sets of multiples. For a while when the babies were little, Kristy recalls, she and Clay “just did what we had to do, dealing with whatever was needed at the moment… it was like triage.” And when the babies grew into toddlers, the couple found that the challenges of parenting them evolved, too.

The Van Meters’ 2012 Christmas card photo taken at Starr’s Mill. Back from left: Ford, Kate & Tyler. Front: Truitt and Jackson

“When the triplets came, we actually turned our dining room into a play room, and we gated it off. Well, they would climb the gate. They would even climb over each other to get over the gate,” laughs Kristy. “And we had them in a nursery together—two cribs foot to head, a changing table next to it, and a third crib on the other side of the room. Well, they learned how to climb from crib to crib, and they would use the changing table as a bridge to get into each other’s beds. It was a little crazy.” Kristy and Clay solved that problem by installing crib tents, and later turning the tents backward once the babies figured out how to open them. “You have to get a little creative,” she says with a laugh.

“Creative” also included using duct tape to fasten diapers after the babies figured out how to pull them off, as well as painting one of the twins’ toenails with blue polish to be able to tell him apart from his identical brother.

Despite the challenges, though, having twins before triplets had its advantages. “When you have two kids, you can go man-to-man defense, but when you have more than two, you have to go zone,” Clay jokes. “I think having the twins prepared us to ‘go zone’ with the triplets.”

Parenting two sets of multiples came with other unique challenges, such as managing the individual needs of each child; early on, Kristy recognized that each child must be parented differently. “All of our children are very spirited.” She laughs and adds, “That’s more positive than saying they are strong-willed.” She and Clay balance being strict with being loving and flexible. “Most of our rules fall under respect—respect people, respect property. Show people you value them.”

It’s been nearly a decade since those sometimes-chaotic first years, and life has calmed down; the twins are now 12 years old, and the triplets are nine. “It still requires a lot from us, but the things we need to do are different,” Kristy says, also pointing out that like any other mother, she learns as she goes.

“In grad school I was a nanny for two families, so I thought I knew something about parenting,” she says with a wry smile. “But it is so different when they’re your own children. I thought I’d be a better disciplinarian, and I thought I’d have more energy. Like many families, we have great philosophies behind everything we do for our children, but I often wonder how good we are at implementing them. Parenting is so humbling. I think it is a huge refinement process for me.”

The days are busy but rewarding for Kristy.

And of course, like all moms, Kristy has her moments. “God gives me the strength for each day and that all sounds very noble,” she says, “but when I’m in the trenches of the day, that is not always my mindset.” When she begins to feel stressed, she might take a personal “timeout” and go to her room, walk outside and take a deep breath, phone a friend, or simply pray.

Although Kristy claims that she’s not as organized as she’d like, her children have an effective routine in place: a designated place for all of their school papers; the routine of having an after-school snack, followed by homework; the habit of having clothes laid out the night before school; and a chore chart that designates each child’s duties to help make the house run smoothly.

However, she says, “Keeping an orderly house is one of my struggles. For a long time, I’d beat myself up if I didn’t have a clean house or felt I wasn’t organized enough. But I’ve learned to say, ‘That’s okay.’ There are just some things I can’t pull off.”

And having an intimate understanding of the struggle to find balance as a mom has given her a unique perspective. “I know that it’s important that I give grace to people because I require so much of it,” Kristy says. “As women and mothers we need to give ourselves a lot of grace and extend it to other women. We can’t do it all.”

Despite her busy life, Kristy still makes the time to reach out and help others; just as she gives so generously to her family, she extends that giving to others outside her home.

Both Carolyn Mayo and Joanne Harman, Kristy’s close friends, can’t say enough about her big-hearted spirit. “Her giving always starts with deep insights into the person and their needs,” says Joanne. “She is always thinking and giving outside of herself.”

Carolyn adds, “She will rearrange her life to help someone and I’ve seen her do it. I think her counseling background has a lot to do with it. People will call her when life is hard. They know she can be trusted.”

“Many of us have good intentions,” Carolyn continues, “but she follows through. She shows up with a box of cupcakes or puts a gift on your doorstep. She is amazing.”

Kristy and Clay at Watersound Beach, summer 2012, with their family and with Kristy’s parents, Ken and Patsy Cobb, her sister and brother-in-law, Holly and Jonathan Lucenary and their daughters. Kristy and Clay’s extended family on both sides are very important to them.

Kristy’s younger sister, Holly Lucenay, agrees that Kristy does a lot for her and others. “She is always looking to the needs of others. She has a heart for everybody and anybody.”

Kristy modestly shrugs it off when asked about her giving spirit. She simply says, “That’s the way we were raised. Our parents were always very generous in serving other people and I think I picked that up from them.”

And then, even more unassumingly, she adds, “Sometimes I think my giving is kind of selfish on my part because it brings me so much joy. It is kind of a break for me. It is something I can do outside of my daily routine.”

With a life filled with family, what in the world does Kristy like to do if she has a rare moment to herself? “I love to read, and I often stay up later than I should reading after everyone else has gone to bed,” she admits.

She also enjoys taking photos of her half-dozen, camera-ready family members in action, capturing precious moments and memories. And, reaffirming her love for others, she says she likes to invest time in her close relationships. “That is very important to me,” Kristy says, “and I want to show people more hospitality by having them to my home—even if it isn’t perfect.”

What does Kristy see in the future for her personally? Eyes twinkling, she quickly notes that sometimes things don’t always go according to plan. That said, she envisions using her acting skills in community theater. In addition, when her children are older, she would like to use her counseling background and minister to others. And, she quickly adds, “I’d like to write. My dream is to write fiction, but I don’t know if that will ever come to fruition.”

Whatever the future holds, Kristy’s starring role in her family’s story keeps her life full and happy, and she’ll continue to teach her five understudies how to perform and attain their own places on life’s stages. And by her side is her husband, who never misses an opportunity to give her an ovation.

“No matter how long the day gets, no matter how many sick children she has at one time, no matter how loud the house gets, she remains the loving, genuine, wise, edifying, humble woman she has always been,” says Clay. “I know that other people have even questioned if she is too good to be true… and I am grateful to know and say that she is as ‘real’ and genuine as any person can be.”

 

The Whirlwind of Extracurricular Activities

child painting

by Rachel Jones

 

New moms, it happens faster than you think: all of a sudden your child is old enough for music classes and swimming lessons. Then in another year, he’ll be old enough for gymnastics, tee-ball, and karate. Not to leave out Boy Scouts, basketball and church youth group. I am caught in the spiral that is extracurricular activities, and my child is only 16 months old.

At this point, it is pretty simple. I have one kid. He is happy participating in just about anything. We have been enjoying a music class together, but we have to rush out of Bible study to get there. Totally doable because…I have one kid. As I plan for summer, I would love for my child to be comfortable in the pool. So, swimming lessons it is. But will that interfere with Bible study or music class? I hope not. Our plate is getting pretty full! At some point baby #2 (that is still just a twinkle in my eye) will enter the picture. I am all for baby wearing, but can I wear baby #2 while still participating in music class with #1? Probably. …but this is getting complicated!

Eventually, the child is going to have an opinion of his own. Forget that Dad thinks soccer is silly. Maybe kiddo thinks kicking a ball is awesome. What if the extracurricular activities our children prefer are not the ones we would choose for them? Of course we want our son to play basketball like daddy, but what if he just isn’t gifted in that area? My husband took piano lessons as a kid but stopped when it wasn’t ‘cool’ anymore. Now, whenever he sees a piano, he talks about how he wishes he could sit down and play something. Therefore, he insists that our children WILL take piano lessons….until he says they can stop. We’ll see how that goes.

In true ‘type A’ fashion, I’ve already thought about a plan to implement for when my children are old enough for multiple extracurricular activities. First, they will be allowed to participate in one sport and one other extracurricular at a time (or two non-sport activities, if sports aren’t their thing). Second, they have to continue each activity for the whole season or session. In other words, no quitting because they are no longer interested, or because their new best friend isn’t on the same team, etc. Third, they can participate in whatever activities they want, even if I am totally freaked out about (my) children playing football. Last (and this one is important), we will always eat dinner as a family, even if it has to happen at 8:30.

This plan isn’t going to keep me from feeling like I spend all day as a chauffeur. That’s part of the deal. And to be honest, I am looking forward to it. I enjoy wearing the many hats that motherhood has given me. I hope that by being supportive of my children’s interests and involved in their activities, they will let me be an active part of their lives.

I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, I am going to enjoy music class with my son and seek out a good place for him to take swimming lessons. Karate, Boy Scouts, and piano lessons can wait until next year.

 

 

Georgia’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2012

baby crawl

The Social Security Administration today announced the most popular baby names in Georgia for 2012.  Emma and William topped the list.

The top five boys and girls names in Georgia for 2012 are:

Boys:

1)  William

2)  Mason

3)  Jacob

4)  Michael

5)  Jayden

 

Girls:

1)   Emma

2)   Ava

3)   Isabella

4)   Madison

5)   Olivia

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced last week that Sophia and Jacob were the most popular baby names in the U.S.  How does Georgia compare to the rest of the country?  Check out Social Security’s website — www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/babynames — to see the top baby names for 2012.

While having fun with baby names on www.socialsecurity.gov, people may want to create a my Social Security account; a personalized online account that people can use beginning in their working years and continuing throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits.

More than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients can now access their payment history, benefit verification letter, and earnings record instantly using their online account.  Social Security beneficiaries also can change their address and start or change direct deposit information. People age 18 and older who are not receiving benefits can sign up for a my Social Security account to get a personalized online Social Security Statement. Social Security’s online services continually rank among the highest rated for websites in the United States.

In addition to each state’s top baby names, Social Security’s website has a list of the 1,000 most popular boys’ and girls’ names for 2012 and offers lists of baby names for each year since 1880.

To read about this year’s winner for the biggest jump in popularity and to see how pop culture affects baby names, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/babynames2012-pr.html.

10 Ways to Say “Thank You” on Mother’s Day

moms day flowers

“Look, Ma—Successful Adult!”:  Ten Thank-Yous Your Mother Should Hear

Nothing makes mothers happier than to know that they’ve raised fulfilled, healthy, successful, and self-aware kids. On Mother’s Day, let your mom know exactly what she did to turn you into the adult you are today and how her influence still shapes your life. Be specific! From Todd Patkin, here are ten suggestions to get you started.

• First and foremost, thank you for always telling me how proud you were of me and pointing out all of the ways in which I was (and am!) special. Because of you, I know how important it is to love yourself.

• Thank you for insisting that I always be on time. I may have dragged my feet a lot as a kid, but now I know that punctuality shows respect for other people.

• Thank you for showing me how to conduct a civil disagreement with others. While I don’t enjoy confrontation, I am comfortable sharing and defending my views.

• Thank you for being a stickler about completing chores. I may never love to vacuum and do laundry, but I know how to keep myself and my house clean.

• Thank you for teaching me that people do judge a book by its cover. I may not always be a walking fashion plate, but I do take pride in my appearance. And I know to iron my shirt and pants before important occasions!

• Thank you for forcing me to eat asparagus and Brussels sprouts when all I wanted was chicken fingers and potato chips. Now I’m a healthy eater who loves the produce aisle!

• Thank you for encouraging me to keep trying and practicing after I was cut from the soccer team. You taught me how to be determined and resilient, and that persistence usually pays off. (I made the team the following year!)

• Thank you for teaching me how to be polite and courteous to everyone I meet. I have gotten to know so many interesting people because I simply smiled and said hello!

• Thank you for reading bedtime stories to me for years. You introduced me to so many new ideas, and you helped to make me a creative and imaginative person.

• Thank you for drilling me on my spelling words before my quiz each week. You taught me how valuable it is to put your best effort into whatever job you happen to be doing. You were right when you told me that careful preparation usually helps you to get results you can be proud of!

 

 

About the Author: Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In, Twelve Weeks to Finding Happiness: Boot Camp for Building Happier People, and The Sunny Days Secret: A Guide for Finding Happiness (coming 2014), grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy. Todd lives with his wonderful wife, Yadira, their amazing son, Josh, and two great dogs, Tucker and Hunter.

About the Books: Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-9658261-9-8, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and at www.findinghappinessthebook.com.

Mother of the Bride Dress Dilemmas, Solved

mother of bride

Shopping for the perfect mother of the bride (or groom) dress isn’t easy. The mother of the bride is expected to pick a dress that is beautiful, graceful, distinct and understated just enough not to draw attention away from the bride. Choosing the right dress can be challenging, but armed with the following tips, you’ll find a dress that ticks off all those boxes and then some.

The days of the dowdy mother of the bride are long gone, along with the matronly loose-fitting sacks that went along with them. The modern mother of the bride has a wide range of choices available to her, from simple to sophisticated. There are no hard and fast rules of fashion in searching for a mother of the bride dress, but your aim should be to dress in a manner consistent with the overall style of the wedding.

Your first order of business should be consulting with the bride so she can share her vision (color, theme, style) of the wedding. It’s also a good idea to talk to the mother of the groom as well. You do not want to match — or clash — with her. As soon as the bride has made a decision on her dress as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses, it’s time to start shopping. Bridal stores usually stock a limited number of sizes and colors in a particular style, so you probably will have to special-order your dress. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to find a dress you love.

When deciding on a color, choose one that looks good with your skin tone and complements the overall wedding colors. While some dictate that the mother of the bride should stay away from white dresses, ivory or cream ones are perfectly suitable. Black used to be considered off limits, but it is now a popular choice (and slimming as well!). Try to avoid colors that clash with the bride’s gown or that of the bridal party. For instance, if the bridesmaids are wearing pastels, you should not wear jewel tones – or black for that matter. You want to be different, but not garishly so. Ivory would be a better choice in this instance. You don’t want to look out of place in the wedding photos. Again, the guiding principle is to avoid matching or clashing.

It is also a good idea to follow the wedding party as far as the length of the dress. If the bridesmaids are wearing knee length dresses, then avoid wearing a mother of the bride dress that is floor length. Something that falls just below the knees would be perfect in this situation. On the other hand, if everyone in the wedding party will be dressed in floor-length dresses, then the mother of the bride’s dress should be as well.

As far as style goes, a wedding is not the time to choose something daring or too flashy. A fully-sequined dress or one that is ornately beaded is probably not the best choice. The mother of the bride should look good, but it’s important to remember that the focus should be on the bride. A good choice might be an elegant straight dress in a soft fabric with a matching jacket. For a little extra sparkle, look for something that is lined or trimmed with small rhinestones or beads.

As in all fashion, remember to wear what you love, what feels comfortable, and what looks best on you. The last thing you want is to feel self-conscious in your dress. Above all else, allow yourself the time to carefully select something that both flatters you and fits in seamlessly with the rest of the wedding party.

Cell Phone Safety for Kids and Teens

cell phone safety

Can you hear me now? According to research, 22 percent of young children own a cell phone (ages 6-9), 60 percent of tweens (ages 10-14), and 84 percent of teens.

Many parents make the decision to buy their kids new cell phones and smartphones. Parents generally say they do so for safety reasons; they want to be able to reach the child anytime. Cost is also a factor. Cell phone industry experts say phones and family plans are both becoming more affordable. Also, as adults swap out their old devices for newer smart phones, it is easier to pass down a used phone.

But for children, it is all about social life. A Pew study found that half of 12- to 17-year-olds sent at least 50 text messages a day and texted their friends more than they talked to them on the phone or even face to face.

Of course, owning a cell phone comes with possible outside threats. Here are 10 tips from SafetyWeb (www.safetyweb.com) to help keep your kid safe while using a cell phone:

1. Get Educated and Prepared. Talk to your kids about the dangers and consequences associated with inappropriate cell phone use. Discuss topics of concern, including sexting and texting while driving. Make sure you get caught up on the lingo of popular acronyms and initialisms. Ask your kids to save any abusive or problem messages to show an adult.

2. Select Appropriate Phone Features. If your child is under 10, they probably don’t need a phone with unlimited social networking or email capabilities. Likewise, the actual phone itself doesn’t need built-in features like a web browser or video messaging. For a young child, look for basic phones. Review all pre-programmed apps and phone capabilities beforehand.

3. Use Parental Controls. If your child’s cell phone has access to the internet, find out if your service provider offers some sort of parental control feature to which you can subscribe.

4. Limit Usage. Designate time slots for talking — perhaps after homework and chores are completed, or before dinner. Don’t let constant calls interrupt family time. It’s easy for a chatty teen to cuddle up to a phone at bedtime, so check periodically.

5. Consider Monitoring Services. Perhaps your child is older, but you’re still not comfortable with him or her texting and emailing unmonitored. SafetyWeb provides parents with comprehensive alerts and reports on their child’s cell phone calls and text message activity. This allows you to keep track of when they are using the phone (during school hours or late at night), and who they are communicating with most frequently.

6. Wait Before Answering. Instruct your child not to answer calls or text messages from numbers they don’t recognize. If it is important, the caller will leave a message and then he can decide how to respond. Explain how to block calls from unwanted numbers.

7. Pre-program numbers. To help keep your kids safe, make sure their cell phones have all important phone numbers preprogrammed into it so they can always get a hold of someone if they’re in trouble.

8. Stay Organized. Always keep your child’s cell phone charger in the same place. It’s best to find a central location — like maybe the kitchen counter, or a table by the door. Mark the end of the monthly billing cycle on a calendar to remind her how long those dwindling minutes have to last.

9. Practice Privacy. Tell your teen to use caution when giving out a phone number. Make sure they don’t publicize their number on the internet or social sites like Facebook.

10. Be Careful of Download Overload. Fun ringtones, games, and backgrounds — oh my! But be careful — these additional features can come with potential bugs or hidden fees.

10 Family Travel Tips

family trip

Spring is almost here, and summer is right around the corner! This means increased family travel and fun with the kids. Here are 10 family travel tips:

  1. Pack light – this might not sound easy when we are used to overflowing diaper bags, but with the Babee Covee, a new baby blanket and cover that is six uses in one, you can save a ton of space but have all what you need with a little one in tow. Not to mention the time you will save from packing or turning back to the house when you forgot something.
  2. Always have wipes – use them for everything…from cleaning the usual suspects of diapers to hands and the unexpected mess on you, on them or in the car. I don’t leave home without them.
  3. Bring snacks – for the fussy child or the adult, it’s always better to have a snack to stay on track. Hungry people get cranky; snacks will help avoid this.
  4. Have a box of “tricks” – before going on any travel whether by car or plane, I always head to the $1 store to grab a whole bunch of stuff. So, when necessary, I can give the kids something new and exciting. When you arrive at your destination pack the tricks away so on the return home the toys will be exciting still!
  5. Layer up – you can never predict the weather so it’s always good to have a few layers to take you from morning until night. It’s much easier to take off than to not have enough. Being cold is not fun for anyone.
  6. Charge up – when all else fails, hand your child your phone. Be sure to have a backup battery or charger. There are a ton of smart phone apps that kids can play with too depending on their age.
  7. Use GPS – especially when traveling far, it’s best to know where you are going than to guess. Kids can’t wait to arrive so avoid lengthening the trip by not getting lost.
  8. Bring a friend — the more the merrier so if you can plan a trip with others, do so. Then, you can create lasting family memories together.
  9. Be comfortable – you’re traveling not going on an interview!
  10. Have fun! You are with your family, enjoy them! Life is too precious.

To interview Alma Moussa, Co-Inventor of the trendy must have baby item, Babee Covee, please contact Tasha Mayberry at media@babeecovee.com or call 207.317.6099.

Your Post-Baby Bloom: 9 Resolutions for Renewal

mom and baby

Your Post-Baby Bloom: Nine Spring Resolutions for Renewing and Refreshing Yourself

If the winter winds have been howling outside (while your baby is howling inside), you might be experiencing a touch of the winter blues. After several weeks or months of caring for your new arrival, it’s easy to become stuck in a rut of wearing warm, baggy clothes and staying indoors. And as you contemplate the coming arrival of spring (it’s just around the corner!), you may feel like you are coming out of hibernation, a little sluggish and sleepy-eyed, wondering how to get into the swing of things again.

Princess Ivana Pignatelli Aragona Cortes knows how you feel. Realizing that you exist as an individual can come as a shock as you gradually emerge from “newborn fog,” and focusing on personal renewal as you move into life as a mom can feel like a bridge too far.

“As you spend so much of your time and energy taking care of a baby—and possibly other children—the idea of starting a new phase for yourself can feel overwhelming,” acknowledges Ivana, who is a featured blogger at Modern Mom, founder of Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, and coauthor of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year. “Don’t get hung up on the idea of major overhaul; take small steps instead. Little changes can make a surprisingly big impact. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s important to feel good about yourself, because that’s what will make you the best mother.”

Ivana points out that spring, which is naturally a time of growth, change, and renewal, is a wonderful time to start freshening yourself up.

“Start to plan some spring resolutions,” she recommends. “For me, they make more sense than New Year’s resolutions because springtime is what really feels like the new year. With more hours of sunlight, warmer weather, and vibrant colors to brighten your days, you’ll naturally feel more energized and motivated to refresh yourself and re-enter the world, baby in tow.”

Here are nine of Ivana’s spring resolutions that will help make your winter doldrums a thing of the past while you begin to blossom as a mom:

Take a step (or two, or three, or more!) toward change. If you’re disappointed to see that last spring’s wardrobe doesn’t quite fit the way you want, don’t worry: You’re normal. Most of us tend to put on winter weight in general. (Did you know that you actually need more calories to keep warm in colder weather?) And with a new baby, your body was bound to change shape regardless of the temperature.

“Instead of vowing to start a huge new exercise routine, which, of course, you don’t have time for, I suggest developing a new attitude instead,” Ivana shares. “First, accentuate the positives! Look into the mirror and say, ‘Hey, you’re looking pretty good for the end of the winter.’ Then, start burning calories in baby steps. Promise yourself a ten-minute routine in the mornings; maybe a simple, fun dance DVD that gets you moving for the day. As you build up stamina, you may want to lengthen your routine. And if time is in short supply, remember, a ten-minute workout is better than none.

“You might also try to find ways to work out with your kids,” she continues. “With warmer weather and sunny days ahead, load up the stroller and hit the local park or walking trail. Find a mommy-and-me yoga class, or have older and more mobile little ones do the dance DVD with you. Whatever you choose, take plenty of moments to honor your progress with a big ‘Way to go!’”

Spring clean your closet. (And be sure to include a dose of color therapy!) If you’ve recently had a baby, then you may be living in wardrobe limbo. The clothes from last spring don’t fit the way they should (and might not be suited to nursing anyway!), but you’re sick of wearing the drapey, frumpy winter clothes that have been hiding the leftover baby weight. What better time than now to “spring clean” your closet? Take an inventory of what you have, what doesn’t work for you anymore, and what you’d like to purchase. Clean out any pieces that you know you won’t wear anymore, even after you’ve reached a goal weight—like that skimpy number you wore on your honeymoon five years ago. Start thinking about ways to reinvent the pieces you keep.

“It’s perfectly okay to go out and buy some new pieces that actually fit you now,” Ivana assures. “Don’t spend the entire spring and summer season in clothes that don’t fit or don’t make you feel good just because you are ‘waiting to lose the weight.’ Invest in some fun new accessories and shoes to spice up existing basics. Trust me; when your clothes fit and you feel put together, you’ll feel more energized and refreshed.

“As you’re punching up your wardrobe with new pieces, bear in mind that colors affect our moods,” Ivana adds. “Whether we had babies or not, most of us have spent the past several months covered up head-to-toe in heavy grays, blacks, and browns. Chances are, you’re more than ready to turn to vibrant high-energy colors like pinks, greens, yellows, oranges, and blues for an instant boost. So try out a new color that makes you pop. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Go for a simple t-shirt, new lip color, or nail polish.”

Get outside and play. Admit it: After short days, cold temperatures, and the need for your schedule to revolve around a newborn, you’re more than ready to leave your house. As soon as possible, take advantage of the warmer weather and longer daylight hours to reconnect with your body.

“Go for walks,” Ivana urges. “Spend more time at the playground with your children. Act like French moms, who have their own playtime on the benches talking with each other, while their kids run wild and are forced to fend for themselves. Amazingly, this works! (For more on laissez-faire parenting, see my blog at http://www.modernmom.com/blogs/princess-ivana-pignatelli/laissez-faire-parenting.) And remember, in addition to the benefits of getting your body moving, you’ll also be absorbing more vitamin D from the sun. It can help regulate your immune system, boost your mood, and more.”

Try something new you’ve always wanted to do. Whether it’s trying out a dance class or yoga, exploring a new park, or just giving yourself permission to do something you want to do (like hiring a sitter and getting a massage!), put your own desires first every once in awhile. “If you try something new and don’t like it, drop it and find something that’s more your speed,” Ivana comments. “Enjoyment—of life, of yourself, of your surroundings—is the key to springtime renewal.”

Eat more fresh foods. With a new baby at home (and all the work, irregular hours, and exhaustion that entails), you’ve probably been in survival mode this winter. While there’s nothing wrong with eating take-out and casseroles brought over by family and friends as you adjust to the new normal, now’s a great time to freshen up your diet with healthier choices. Remember, good nutrition affects mood, energy, and beauty.

“Take advantage of the spring harvest with delicious beauty foods like asparagus, strawberries, and cherries,” Ivana recommends. “Asparagus is known as the ultimate detox vegetable. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, which produces collagen and prevents wrinkles. Cherries are considered both a brain and beauty food, with some of the highest levels of antioxidants of all fruits.

“In general, you might consider planting a small herb container garden so that you’ll have fresh seasonings all summer long,” Ivana says. “Spend a Saturday morning enjoying the spring weather with your new little family as you stroll through a local farmers’ market. And remember, becoming healthier doesn’t have to mean a total diet overhaul. Integrating new, fresh ingredients a little at a time can make a big difference!”

Laugh and reconnect. If you’ve been cooped up all winter with a newborn at home (and/or stuck inside with kids as you try to avoid cold and flu season!), then it may be time to reconnect with friends. Try to make a weekly or monthly date with your girlfriends—and keep it.

“We moms tend to be overly obligatory to responsibility, and under-obligatory to fun,” Ivana observes. “But without a good dose of fun and laughter, life gets dull, and so do we. Moms, we owe it to ourselves to book fun into our busy schedules.”

Make regular dates for mama maintenance. With a newborn at home or little ones taking up most of your schedule, it’s easy to let your own needs fall by the wayside—and before you know it, you wake up one day and hardly recognize the frazzled, frumpy woman staring back at you in the mirror!

“Take some time to catch up on appointments for yourself,” Ivana suggests. “It doesn’t have to be an all-out spa day. (Although if that falls within the limits of your time and budget, I say go for it!) Get your hair trimmed and your color touched up. Get a manicure and pedicure. Schedule a facial or a massage. Even a trip to the dentist for your bi-annual cleaning can work wonders when it comes to feeling refreshed, energized, and more like you again.”

Renew your vow to drink more water. If you’ve traded your daily water intake for coffee and caffeine (and who can blame you?), then it may be time to make a conscious effort to work water back into your daily routine. H2O is good for your skin, muscles, and energy levels, and it can even marginally help your weight-loss efforts. (Of course, the real benefits come from replacing sugary beverages with water.) And if you’re breastfeeding, it’s worth noting that staying hydrated is a great way to maintain or even increase your supply of milk.

“Yes, drinking the recommended eight glasses a day is much easier said than done,” Ivana admits. “Again, baby steps are the way to go! You might start by drinking water after every caffeinated beverage, for example. Or gulp a whole glass each time you brush your teeth! Over time, these habits will become hardwired into your routine.”

Spark up a spring fling (with your spouse!). If the last few months have revolved around feeding schedules, diaper duty, and discussions of who got up with the baby last, then it’s likely that the new roles of “mom” and “dad” have put your other roles as “wife,” “husband,” or “partner” on the back burner. Now’s the time to reconnect with your significant other and refresh your love. After all, your romance is the foundation on which your growing family is built, and it’s in everyone’s best interests for your relationship to remain strong, healthy, and exciting.

“If you’re not quite ready to leave your little one with a sitter for date night, set up a candlelight dinner at home, or better yet, take the baby monitor outside for a sunset picnic in the backyard,” Ivana says. “Buy a new dress that makes you feel sexy. Leave your man a love note in his briefcase. More than anything, make a conscious effort to talk about something that doesn’t have to do with the new baby (as hard as that may be!).”

“As the flowers and trees outside your window begin to bloom in the upcoming weeks, make every effort to join them,” Ivana concludes. “When you commit to tackling one small spring resolution at a time, you’ll be well on your way to blooming—both as an individual and as a mom—after welcoming your baby.”

# # #

About Princess Ivana: Ivana is the author of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year, which was cowritten with her mother, Magdalene Smith, and her sister, Marisa Smith. Their blog, Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, is a blend of humor, practical advice, and lifestyle tips on the essentials. Ivana is also a featured blogger on Modern Mom. For more information, please visit www.princessivana.com.

5 Tips to be a Positive Parent

mom playing

by Diane Lang

Being a parent is the hardest job in the world. I have heard that from every parent including my own. Parenting is a learned trait; be patient with yourself and set realistic expectations about parenting. It’s OK to make mistakes. Your kids also learn a lot of their personality traits from you. One of the best ways to be a positive parent is by being a great role model. Make sure to live your best life so your children can follow suit. Here are five other tips to help you be a positive parent and encourage a strong sense of self in your child:

1.  Play is an important part of a child’s life. As adults we need to appreciate the importance of play. Play helps foster creativity, problem-solving, socialization, helps children develop their gross and fine motor skills and much more.

2.  When talking to a child, make sure to have eye contact and touch. Maintain open lines of communication with your child. This will help keep the communication going when they hit adolescence.

3.  Developmental milestones are generalizations. Each child develops at their own pace and each child develops differently. Don’t set yourself and your child up for failure by having unrealistic expectations about developing. Use the milestones as guidelines; they are not set in stone. You know your child the best. You can encourage a child, but never push or criticize them. Here are some ways to encourage your child:

Fine Motor skills:

  • Have your child play with toys that will help develop their fine motor skills such as: dice, spinning tops, marbles, dominoes, ants in the pants, tiddly winks, puzzles and stringing beads. Also any activities that involve using crayons, scissors, play-doh, painting or tracing.

Language and Reading:

  • Engage your child in extended conversations.
  • Have your child tell you stories and describe events. Let your child make up stories/songs.
  • Ask your children lots of questions and let them be creative in answering them.
  • Encourage your child to draw or write about a topic. Have them write their own story.
  • Have your child make a book. They can draw pictures for the book as well.
  • Have your child read out loud. Read stories to your child out loud. After the story, ask them questions about the characters in the story.
  • Set up a writing center with a variety of colored pens, papers, pencils, crayons, markers, etc.

4. Learn to give positive commands instead of negatives. Each positive command will also include an action so it gives your child direction.

Examples:

  • You always leave your shoes in the hall and I trip over them – Negative
  • Please put your shoes in the closest — Positive
  • Stop slamming the door! – Negative
  • Please close the door instead of slamming, I appreciate it — Positive

5. Active and Empathic listening — It’s important to always be a good listener. We teach kids through our actions so if you want your child to listen then you must be the role model and listen well. Active listening includes: summarizing what you heard, no interruptions, taking a few seconds to think about what you’re going to say and asking questions. Empathic listening is just as important. To be an empathic listener, you must imagine putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. This gives you the opportunity to imagine how the other person is feeling. This will stop a lot of misunderstandings and disagreements. If you become both an active and empathic listener you will have better relationships with your kids and everyone else in your life.

ABOUT DIANE LANG  Diane Lang – Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist – is a nationally recognized speaker, author, educator, therapist and media expert. Lang is extremely mediagenic and offers expertise on a variety of health and wellness topics about creating balance and finding happiness through positive living as well as multiple mental health, lifestyle and parenting needs. In addition to holding multiple counseling positions, Diane is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University.  Lang has been interviewed for numerous magazine and newspaper articles and has been a frequent guest on radio and TV shows including “Fox & Friends” on the Fox News Network. Lang is a monthly contributor for “Family Beautiful” magazine, a weekly columnist for MommyTalk.com, a regular featured expert on the “Expat Show” broadcasted weekly on the New York ABC affiliate WTBQ-AM, and a Blogger at www.pazoo.com. Diane is also the author of two books: “Baby Steps: The Path from Motherhood to Career” and “Creating Balance and Finding Happiness.” Click here for more information on Diane Langs’ books or visit www.dlcounseling.com.

Step-by-Step Survival Guide for Mother of the Groom

mother-of-the-groom-books

Loving the kids that made me Mother of the Groom

The older I get, the more I appreciate “experiential vs. intellectual” understanding. Books, blogs, lectures, experts and friends may prepare me for a task or opportunity but it’s not “real” until I live it. This has never been more true for me than last year when my son became engaged. Until that time, the phrase “mother of the groom” evoked vague and misty images of rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, corsages, and well, not much more.

In May of 2012, shortly after I first received the sisterly counsel to “shut up and wear beige,” a gradual concern began to build.  What, exactly, are the responsibilities of this new position? How does the process unfold? Who does what, and when and where does it happen? What, if anything, am I supposed to do? I had a lot of questions. Google and friends gave me lots of answers, but experience, as always, was the best teacher.

When planning this issue, it occurred to me that other future “MOGs” (Mothers of the Groom) may find themselves in similar positions. Consequently, what follows is a blend of “textbook” and “real”, a traditional-meets-contemporary, step-by-step primer for a role that, however ancient, is still new to someone every day. It isn’t comprehensive, but I hope it is helpful to you in the way it would have been for me a year ago.

What’s Important?
Emily Post advises remembering the three C’s in wedding planning: consideration, communication, and compromise. I heartily agree. It’s a great plan for any endeavor, but especially one in which everyone’s emotions are so potentially fragile.
Here’s my no-need-to-read further best advice: exercise the three C’s liberally. What you do in this tender time lays a founda-tion for the future, and what really matters is life after the big day. 

There aren't that many references for this job.

First Steps
Traditionally, when the engagement is announced, the groom’s mother is expected to reach out to the bride’s parents and offer congratulations. She may plan a gathering to introduce the two families and begin the “blending” process. Those are the old-fashioned first-things-first duties that I gathered from various sources.

Here’s what actually happened in our real-world, real-time scenario: the summer before our kids became engaged, the bride’s family attended a massive family cookout at our house.
So, “check” for introducing everyone to the bride’s family.
On the day of the proposal, both mothers, and a few hundred other people, secretly knew “what was up.” Many prayers went up before, finally, a flurry of texts, Facebook messages and excited phone calls poured forth the good news and congratulations.
I feel pretty good about saying I successfully completed the first duties. 

Step Two
At this moment, you’re beginning to realize you don’t know what you should be doing. Here’s my suggestion: Get your guest list ready.

You don’t have to know how large or small this event will be to begin compiling the names and addresses of people you most hope to share in this moment with your family. It is a small step you can take immediately and one that will make you feel like you’re accomplishing something right away. And believe me, you are.
This is your list. Your son may have his own list, the bride will have a list, the couple will have an “our friends” list, the bride’s mom, of course, and others will have lists too. Be prepared to cut-to-fit this list mercilessly. That means you begin with the people you can’t imagine not being there and continue through to those less likely to be included.
I had a wonderful experience with my son and daughter-in-law regarding invitations. Very graciously, I was asked how many I needed and then was given what I asked for. My son and his fiance came over one evening and we addressed them together. It was not only a pleasant visit but a great way to get the work done.
Pray that it works this way for you, but be prepared if it doesn’t. I’ve heard a few hair-curling stories about very different scenarios from other MOGs. Seriously different, as in “no” (yes, I do mean “zero”) invitations. I don’t know how to advise you in those cases, except to remember what’s most important: life after the big day. 

Steps Three through 3,000
You’ll need those three C’s in this phase.

Google was a big help

Here’s the tradition: the bride’s family invites guests and hosts the wedding. The groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner. Certain flowers are paid for by her family, others by the groom, who also pays the marriage license fee and the officiant. This is more or less what you’ll find in your research.

I suspect few weddings strictly adhere to these protocols, however. In most cases today, parents on either or both sides may join the couple themselves in sharing many of these responsibilities. Grandparents, siblings, and other family and friends may help out as well. This was certainly true in our situation.
The key here, in my opinion, is to be flexible but practical about your own resources. Take a realistic inventory of your time, energy and finances before diving into these waters.
Then, my best advice is to be available and helpful, but not intrusive. It is an honor to be asked to help. Say yes when you can.
In our case, three months after the engagement commenced, the couple set a date that was three months later. Suddenly, we had 90 every-minute-counts days to get it done. Since I work best with a fast-encroaching deadline, this was good for me. Not stress-free, but good. The bride’s mom, who likes to make color-coded spreadsheets of lists within lists, was in hyperdrive. I learned in this process what a wonderful administrator she is and thank goodness. We needed one.
The rehearsal dinner is officially your territory. Officially. In reality, the bride and groom, the bride’s mom and even other people may want to have a lot of say in this. You’ll have to roll with that.
Thankfully, in my case, it was my baby. I did, however, coordinate it carefully with the overall event. There is only one rule to remember here: never, ever, be grander than the reception. Never. Ever.
And even if it is your party, be sure your future daughter-in-law likes what you’re planning. Tell her what you have in mind. Get her input. Ask your son what he’d like as well. I was careful to include foods I knew he loved for this part of the festivities, and I nixed a menu item the bride said didn’t agree with her.
I relished planning this party as much as anything I’ve ever done in my life. It was pure joy, an utter distraction amid no small amount of chaos. I shopped on Friday evenings for little details, because we all know that’s where the love is. With my husband and step-daughter, over Sunday morning breakfast, I very seriously discussed what sort of filler to use in the hurricane lamps centerpieces. As a result, it was actually my husband who found exactly what we needed. Cracked corn, right there on the shelf at the hardware store. 

Mini-steps that can be missteps
Showers: These are non-negotiable. Unless you or an immediate family member is hospitalized or in the mortuary, attend the ones you’re invited to. Be on time, polite, sincere, courteous, loving, unfailingly gracious… all the things your aunts and mothers taught you.

I was 40 minutes late. Don’t be me. Leave an hour early and know where you’re going. Look at the GPS route before you leave home.
Also, it is appropriate for you to host a shower for your future daughter-in-law if you desire, especially one that includes your family, according to many of the articles I read. In our case, time and geographic challenges made this impossible. Had it been different, I would have enjoyed doing this.
What to Wear: You don’t have to wear beige, but you do need to blend in nicely in the background here. Protocol is to allow the mother of the bride to select her dress first, and then to be sure you wear a different color, at least. Preferably, choose a very different style as well. My advice? Be “less.” Shoot for understated, but elegant.
In real life, for us, the bride’s mom changed her mind about what she was wearing the day of the wedding, or the day before, I’m not really sure which. Thankfully, my color choice was still okay. Whew! 

Last-minute Steps
RSVPs. If you’ve ever invited anyone to anything, you know this is a challenging area. You can be a big help to the bride and her mom by keeping a running list of the guests you know are attending. Consider reaching out to the no-responses on your list to confirm their status as the day draws nearer.

Very Last-minute Steps
This one’s easy: don’t panic. :-)

Whatever you’ve done or not done, the moment is here, the people you love most are here. You be here too, in the “now,” not in your head working through some checklist of to-do’s that don’t matter anymore. 

We danced to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole's version of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'

Dance Steps
Dancing with your son at his wedding is one of those once-in-a-lifetimes. You’ve done your job. Enjoy this moment.

The “manual” says you should help choose a song for this. That didn’t happen for me. I also did not get to practice ahead of time, something I repeatedly asked to do. Not getting to practice, it turns out, was good practice for not being number one anymore. You’ll get your chance to practice this too.
When the moment arrived, I had no idea what the song would be or whether this kid we raised could even lead me.
And it was perfect. Priceless. Unforgettable.
He picked a new version of an old song, one I have loved all my life, and the surprise made it all the more special.
On the dance floor, we talked about the perfect day, his beautiful wife, and how we were going to handle Christmas. And the babies. It was just grand. 

Next Steps
Now that I’m a mother-in-law, my goal is to keep those three C’s handy. And to add a fourth: calendar. A flexible one.

From Good to Better Parenting Workshops

moms club

From Good to Better Parenting Series
Presented by: Susanne Pinkley, Ed.S LPC
Combining Principles and Practices of:
Systematic Training for Effective Parenting,
Love and Logic and Boundaries with Kids


Join us for a 6 week series of parenting classes designed in part to:

• Show us the style of parenting we use and its effectiveness
• Teach us the power of encouragement versus praise in parenting
• Help us understand what we can do to nurture the minds and hearts of our children
• Show us the vast difference between discipline and punishment
• Help us teach our children to become wise decision makers in every aspect of their lives
• Teach us how to guide our children into becoming responsible, independent and compassionate adults and citizens

Classes on Thursdays
2/28, 3/7, 3/14, 3/21, 3/28 and 4/11
Evening Sessions from 6-8pm at the Historic Train Depot, Fayetteville, GA
Cost is $65 for one parent/caregiver or $80 for two parents/caregivers
Price covers cost of ALL sessions and ONE set of class materials

Questions and Registration Forms: churchstreetparkproject@gmail.com

Limited Seating and Childcare Spaces still available –don’t delay!

Class hosted by MOMS Club® of Fayetteville. Any proceeds will be going to the renovation of the Church Street Park.

9 Tips for Transitioning Child from Crib to Bed

toddler crib

Child Sleep Expert Amy Lage, Graduate of the Family Sleep Institute and Founder of Well Rested Baby, was recently asked about transitioning a child from crib to toddler bed in her weekly Q&A segment on Hoboken Mommies 24-7. Here is Amy’s expert advice:

Q.  My son recently climbed out of his crib and I am transitioning him to a toddler bed…any advice?

Our first suggestion is to make sure your son is 100% ready for this transition. Safety is our number one priority, so it is our goal to make sure your children’s sleep environment is as safe as possible. So if your child is climbing out of his crib, a change is definitely needed. Our second priority…making sure your child and you get the sleep you need! This transition is a big deal as it affects your child emotionally, physically and mentally. Our advice is to keep your toddler in a crib as long as possible (we recommend waiting until your child is as close to 3 years old as possible). So before you take the leap to a big kid bed, you want to make sure that your child is really ready for this transition. If they are not quite there yet, we want to see if we can safely modify their sleep environment to keep them in their crib until they are ready.

How do you know if your child is ready?

  • They have been consistently climbing out of their crib (and the modifications listed below did not remedy the situation).
  • They understand boundaries and can follow directions.
  • They actually ask for a big kid bed.
  • They are 3 years old!

If your child is not quite ready — check out these three simple changes to see if you can delay the move:

Remove The Bumper — If your child’s crib has a bumper in place, remove the bumper.  If your little monkey is making his great escape by hoisting himself up with the help of his bumper, this usually solves the problem. Without the added height of pushing off the bumper, it will be much harder to climb out.

The Sleep Sack — Put your child to sleep with a sleep sack over their pj’s! This is such an easy modification, yet it is so effective. Most kids cannot climb out of their crib while wearing a sleep sack because it does not allow them to lift up their little legs. You can make it seem like a fun and exciting change to your toddler. Take them shopping and allow them to pick out the color or print themselves. You may need to modify your child’s pajamas to a lighter weight or lower the temperature slightly so they do not become hot in their sleep sack, but these changes are well worth it if the sack safely keeps them in their crib.

Catch Him in the Act — If he is only climbing out at bedtime or at nap-time and you own a video monitor, this tactic is extremely effective.  Position yourself near your child’s bedroom door video monitor in hand.  The very second he starts to attempt to climb out, you quickly open his door and firmly say “NO”.  Without further conversation (you don’t want to give him any added attention as that will just make him want to do it again), you lay him down and leave the room.  For most kids, they are so shocked that they got caught that it just takes this reprimand one time to work.  However, you will want to watch for a few days and repeat as necessary.  If you are 100% consistent with your reaction, the climbing will cease to occur ever again.

If your child cannot stay in their crib safely or you feel that they are ready for the big move, here are nine tips on what you do:

  1. Do Some Prep Work: Get your child involved so they feel in control of the situation and also excited about the new change. If your child is going to stay in their crib converted into a big kid bed, allow them to pick out some new sheets or a new big kid blanket. If they are going to go into a completely new bed, allow your child to be part of picking out the new bed. Pick up a book or two about the transition to help them understand what will happen and to ease any fears. Talk about the transition with them and explain that bedtime will remain the same, they will just be sleeping in new big kid bed.
  2. Keep your current routine in place: By this time you should have a solid bedtime routine in place. Children count on consistency as it makes them feel safe and helps them to understand what to expect. Keep your pre-bedtime routine as consistent as possible as this will just help things go more smoothly.
  3. Implement a Set of Sleep Rules for the New Bed: Before you make the switch, make sure your child understands that they are expected to stay in their bed until the next morning. Expect your child to wander out of their bed the first few nights. Make sure you have a plan in place to deal with this a head of time.
  4. Make Sure their New-found Freedom Doesn’t Spiral Out of Control: With all of this excitement, your child will likely try to get out of their bed during the night at some point in the first few days. When this happens, you need to deal with it quickly and consistently. Every time your child gets out of the bed you will immediately take them by the hand and walk them back to the bed. During this time, you will not acknowledge them by talking or making eye contact. You need to remain completely silent. If you talk to them you are reinforcing the reason why they are getting out of bed in the first place — attention. If there is no communication, the novelty wears off pretty quickly. Our children are quick learners.
  5. Be Firm & Consistent: While it is easy to cave at 3am and allow your little one to crawl into bed with you, be consistent and stick to your plan. With just a few days of absolute consistency, your child will understand the rules and stay in their bed.
  6. Purchase a sleep clock: This is helpful for your child to understand when it is ok to get out of bed in the morning.
  7. If possible, try to make the transition while your child is in a well-rested state.
  8. Make sure your child is not over-tired by allowing for an earlier bedtime if necessary.
  9. Avoid making the switch when there are others changes going on in your toddler’s life — a new baby, potty training, a move etc.

Please visit us at wellrestedbaby.com for further information about infant and toddler sleep.

Amy Lage is a Family Sleep Institute certified Child Sleep Consultant. She is co-owner of Well Rested Baby.  She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions.

The Family Sleep Institute is the very first comprehensive yet affordable child sleep consultant certification program based on 15 years of experience by the leading Child Sleep Expert, Deborah Pedrick. The Family Sleep Institute lives up to its name as it is truly a “family” to all graduates who go through the program.   Deborah Pedrick, founder of www.familysleep.com has been educating families for over 15 years on the importance of establishing and maintaining a healthy foundation for sleep in their children. She is co-founder of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants, www.IACSC.com and Founder/President of the Family Sleep Institute,  www.familysleepinstitute.com, which instructs, mentors and certifies Child S leep Consultants around the world.