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In Sync Rather than Sinking: How to Deal with Change

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 14, 2016

If you are like most Bay Area parents, you have researched your options when it comes to preschools and schools. You have chosen a program that fits your lifestyle values, the family schedule and seems like a great fit for your child’s personality. Friends and family have reassured your choices and you are optimistic about your child’s ability to adapt to inherent changes.

If you are caught by surprise with your child’s behavior when going back to or starting school, join the club of parents around the world are baffled by the cute and not-so-cute things that children do when they are facing unexpected change. While the change is inevitable, here are some tips for dealing with the disruptions and eruptions that may help you stay in sync with your child, your parenting values and the flow of change.

1. While setting the bar high, keep the big picture in mind.

We all want our children to have opportunities and hopefully enjoy their daily activities. Sometimes we can get carried away in having our kids “measure up “ to other kids at a young age.  Sometimes we get carried away when there are so many great activities, groups and lessons for our kids. Keep in mind that kids develop at their own rates. All kids need down time to explore, process and assimilate information and express emotions. Does your child have enough unstructured play time everyday? Try to build in some unstructured family time if you don’t already have that.

2. Let your child share their experience when they are ready -- don’t grill them.

As parents and caregivers, we are curious about what happens when we are away from our child. A habit can form of picking up the child and immediately request they tell us about the day. When I ask a child, “What happened today?” or “What did you learn?”, I mostly get “I don’t know…nothing”. Instead of asking about your child’s day in a way that an adult might be able to respond to, greet them let them know with your actions that nothing has changed since they last saw you. Perhaps even share a bit about your day. Maybe talk about ideas for the after school plan and then give them some free air space, leaving time for your child to open up at their own rate.

3. Expect some chaos to ensue: tears, tantrums, sleep schedule delays -- prepare for the worst.

When kids are thrown into a new routine with new people, new toys and a new environment,  they might feel challenged. We all communicate through our behavior, and this is even more true for kids under five. If your child unexpectedly thrashes, screams and throws their shoes when you answer your phone or pick up another child, remember they are going through a lot of changes. Whatever your disciplinary style is, take into account that it takes time for children to adjust. They are likely tired and overwhelmed even if Mary Poppins turns out to be their teacher.

4. Commiserate with your child and the difficulty of being around new people, new activities, strange places and constant stimulation.

If your child is having a hard time and is expressing it behaviorally or verbally, acknowledge that what they are going through is tough. Help them work through the changes by validating difficult feelings and fear they may be experiencing. Stay away from reassuring them. Contrary to popular belief, it often backfires and does not help your child to feel safer or understood. It rather complicates those feelings.

5. Inform your child of some of the changes, and prepare them as much as possible.

As changes occur, continue to remind your child of what to expect. Acknowledge it is difficult and remind them of the people they can go to for help. Tell them who is going to drop them off or pick them up and answer their questions as they emerge.

Adjusting to preschool or school is one of those times when our imagination can get ahead of us and set both parents and kids up for disappointment. While it may certainly take some time for parents and kids to adjust, it is possible to go with the flow by expecting difficulty, keeping the big picture in mind and building in down-time.

Remember this whole playgroup and school thing is about raising healthy children. Part of creating health is coping with challenge and change from an honest, realistic and supportive place.

I hope these tips will help you ease the pressure as parents. Always remember that parents set the pace. This is a great opportunity to be more in sync with your child and support their growth in a way that will support them far beyond their younger years.

Find out more about 
Esther Krohner here.

Tags:  education  parenting 

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5 Secrets to Make Kid's Screen Time Work for You

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"Just one more minute."

"Let me finish this one thing!"

"Can we watch this, Mom, puhleezze?"

"Why can't I play that app/game? Everybody else does!"

As parenting pioneers in the "digital age," we've heard all this and more.

  • Screen time = stress.

  • Screen time = a battlefield.

  • Screen time = crossing your fingers and hoping it doesn't go too far off the rails.

But why does it have to be that way? For our parents, books didn't feel like landmines. They weren't suspicious of paper and crayons. Catching a glimpse of "Kids" shows didn't give our parents a coronary attack.  

But today, the combination of wildly varying children's programs and the jarring things our kids can stumble upon in commercials, in-app ads or site links create an ever-increasing sense of screen time angst for parents.

Still, as screen proliferation hits an estimated 6+ connected devices in each home (forecasted to more than 60% over the next 5 years - source: The NPD Group), we realize screens are here to stay. Our opportunity lies in converting screen time angst into screen time power.

5 Tips to Make Screen Time Work

1. Set up a family contract around screen time "Rules of Engagement".
Screen time tension can spread beyond parents and kids and creep in between parents. Like everything from diet to bed time, the sooner parents synch up on screen time guidelines, the better the family dynamic becomes. Wherever you are in your child's life cycle, envision 1, 3, 5 years ahead and work through how you can shape your family parameters around screens. As you hone in one your priorities, consider a "Contract" with your kids. Check out numerous resources for boilerplate ones in the resources below.

Some core contract elements are:

1) People matter more than screens. Look up and speak to anyone who walks in the room when you have a screen in play.

2) Don't do anything on a screen you wouldn't want the whole wide world to see - because - they can and often will.

3) The content on the device must meet our family priorities. Which leads us to...

2. Surface - and stock up on - content they'll love and you'll approve.
Seems so obvious: It's not the screens we battle - it's the content coming through them. What if we could customize loads of inspiring content - movies, shows, apps and books - our kids would love and we would approve?

Parents know what their kids like. Parents look to support schoolwork. And parents have values and character traits they hope to impart to their kids. Why can't parents - and anyone hoping to shape kids' perspectives - curate media that meets their priorities?

Whatever kids' media resource you use to customize content (e.g. Common Sense Media,, Balefire Labs, Greater Good in Action), get in front of the question "Can I...?" by storing an inspiring list of movies, shows, apps and books that meet your family priorities and appeal to your kids.

3. Pick Key Titles to Play and Watch with Your Kids.
I wrote this piece alongside our eldest child - a 10-year old. When I asked him what his top tips would be, he read my draft and said, "Remember -  parents should play and watch stuff with their kids". Of course.

Often kids' screen time is on so we can be off - doing something else. But, take time to invest and discover movies and shows you approve of. Sometimes we like to sit alongside the kids a la family movie night or to watch a quick show before bedtime. At least half the apps we load, my husband plays alongside our kids and encourages them to play "with each other" screen to screen. Although our son loves "candy time," playing Madden 15 or Racing apps, he remembers playing The Room or Where's My Water with his dad.

4. Agree to time windows - and a timer - your kids can set and manage.
No matter how inspiring the content, time limits support media balance. What parent wants to negotiate every 90 seconds until shut down? Some of our favorite time management platforms that sit over your kids' screens include KoalaSafe and  But, you can also do what we do: our kids set their device timers (with loud alarms) and agree to shut down when they hear the bell. It only takes a few "I forgot = no screen time tomorrow" to keep the timer strategy strong.

5. Share what works with your community and parenting partners.
Weigh in on public forums and with your spending. Our best parenting resources are each other. We trade more tips, solutions and watch-outs in carpool lines, school hallways and sports sidelines than any amount of "expert" reading can deliver.

Find what works for your family and share solutions - share titles and great playlists with friends, kids' friends' parents, sitters, kids' teachers and family.

The more we all "vote" with our media spending for good stuff, the more great content creators will make. Who would have guessed - even 5 years ago -  McDonalds and Safeway would re-engineer their menus and shelves to stock nutritionally better family food? Lo and behold McDonalds launched an organic burger and Safeway developed a private label brand for organic food.

Your parent vote matters. You can make it count every time you spend on more inspiring media.

Mom of three, Linsly Donnelly is the CEO and founder of SmartFeed. SmartFeed makes it easy to find inspiring media your kids will love and you’ll approve. She and the SmartFeed team thrive on using the power of media as a positive force for our kids. Linsly is a start up veteran (,,, YogaLoftMB), a
published author (Happy Go Local: Smart Mom’s Guide to Living the Good and Sustainable Life), a family advocate and wanna be writer. She and her family split time in Mill Valley, Ca and Park City, Utah.

Tags:  technology 

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Embracing Turning 40

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It’s what we’ve been led to think for years…….. that once we reach 40, it’s all downhill. This summer, I turned 40 and I definitely had my moment.


Let me take you back a few weeks. I was driving on the 101 in heavy traffic, passenger seat stacked with errands, my impatient 4 year old co-pilot in the back. For some reason my fingers landed on my chin. I thought a stray hair from my head must have attached itself to my chin -- but NO, it was a CHIN WHISKER! And that’s not all, it was pretty long, so obviously been growing for quite some time. 


According to Google, this is due to an increase in male hormones and decrease in female hormones. Well, isn’t that just what I DON”T want to hear!


I have starting noticing a myriad of hormonal issues that have come with getting more mature. As if spending all of my 30’s having babies didn’t plague my body enough. Besides my new friend, whom I have affectionately named Chinny Chin Chin, PMS is hitting me like a tonne of bricks. I mean, I come up with some insane (that sound absolutely sane at the time) thoughts. Bless my husband each month as he treads lightly approaching Day 28.


My passion project is about creating a positive body image, and I know that it sounds like that should make me immune to freaking out at such moments as finding a chin whisker. But alas, no.


I do know that as we get older, we feel so much pressure from our environment and media to look and age a certain way. Women aren't given the same freedom as men to age. Men get rugged, women are told to find a way to get rid of their wrinkles. I’ve come to learn there is not much we can do but change ourselves, and that means embracing yourself in the skin you're in -- chin whisker and terrible PMS and all! 


I know there are much more pressing issues to discuss, but it’s good to take light of things and realize we are all the same. Chinny Chin Chin is very fair and blonde, so it’s hardly noticeable. But it’s good to keep around for those moments when I am in deep thought and stroking my chin!


Melissa Menzies is a Australian Mum to three young ones and lives in Palo Alto. Check out her fashion blog YummoMummo.


Tags:  musings 

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Don't Miss PAMP's Preschool Fair!

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Updated: Monday, October 3, 2016

Be sure to save the date for PAMP's Preschool Fair! It's coming up on Saturday, November 5th in Mountain View. Don’t miss out!

"I really like being able to see so many schools side by side. It helps make some of the differences and similarities really clear," said Sarah.


The event will take place in the Grand Hall of the Computer History Museum. PAMP members are allowed an early entry at 9:00am. There will be a Parent's Workshop and Preschool Meet & Greets. Doors open to the public at 11:00am.

The entire event goes until 1:00pm and is FREE! The Fair is a great place to get all of your questions answered. Meet face to face with 40+ local preschools and sponsors, listen to experts talk about how to select the best school for YOUR child and mingle with other parents who are entering the process as well. 

Remember that we're always looking for volunteers. Join the team and not only help make one of our biggest events successful, but also make new friends in the meantime! Contact us for more information.

Tags:  education 

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Five Tips for a Healthier Today

Posted By Communications Manager, Monday, October 3, 2016
Updated: Monday, October 3, 2016

Today is National Child Health Day! It's a great time to make a few easy changes that can help kids -- and families -- get healthier and stay that way.

Here are five tips for healthy choices you can make today, or any day, to support your family’s best health:

Take a walk together.
Walking is the easiest way to get lasting health benefits. Even a short walk around the block gets your circulation going, gives you a breath of fresh air and offers a little shared time for you and your child to talk—which is incredibly important to your child’s overall well-being. If your kids are up for it, add some skipping for fun, or make it a bike-ride instead.

Trade screen time for face-to-face time.
Limiting total screen time (including computer, hand-held devices, and television) to an hour or less per day is essential to fighting obesity and building good health. But when it’s time to shut down the screen, it’s good to offer alternatives. Have a plan ready, and offer your kids choices they enjoy. Also, don’t hesitate to get personally involved. Encourage them to play a board game with you, join you for a visit to the playground or play with a favorite toy together. It’s also fine to let them figure it out on their own. Boredom is where creativity begins.

Read a book together.
For young children, few things are as delightful as having a parent or caregiver snuggle in to read them a book aloud. Establishing reading time together has a profound impact on children’s health and future learning abilities. It also tells them that they’re important and that it’s meaningful to spend time together. As kids get older, reading side by side continues to be beneficial, and is a great way to relax together.

Serve veggies first at mealtime.
Think of it as an experiment. Before dinner, set out a plate of any sliced vegetables – raw carrot sticks, cucumbers, jicama, zucchini, red bell peppers, sugar snap peas or green beans, maybe with some hummus for dipping—and see how many disappear. Kids are often hungry before mealtime, so it’s a great time to offer the healthiest snacks. They also develop a taste for what they eat first when they’re hungry, so be sure to take advantage of that opportunity.

Skip the soda.
If there’s one item in your child’s diet to eliminate, it’s sugared soda. Every 12-ounce can of soda has about 40 grams of sugar. That’s about a dozen sugar cubes. Being ready with a tasty alternative is important. Offer your kids bubbly water mixed with a splash of juice or a squeeze of fresh citrus. Teach them how to make their own bubbly lemonade and they’ll enjoy it even more.

Creating healthy habits for your kids may take a little planning, but it can also be spontaneous. Be sure to keep it fun and encouraging. The more kids associate healthy choices with feeling good, the more likely they are to make those choices again and again. And since kids learn so much about choices from their parents, the more involved you are, the better.

Here’s to your health!  

Lisa Chamberlain, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, medical director of Stanford's Pediatric Advocacy Program and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Stanford School of Medicine.

Tags:  health 

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Five Questions for a PAMP Board Member

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 26, 2016

There are so many wonderful people working behind the scenes at PAMP, and Jennifer Wang is one of them. Jennifer has been a PAMP member for seven years and on the board of directors for over two years. She started out as Director of Engagement and is now Director of Community Outreach.

“I’ve been on the board of directors for PAMP for two years now, and as a resident of Palo Alto, I have been thinking a lot about how to raise my kids to be good citizens of the earth and of our community, not to mention get involved myself in giving back to this beautiful place we live in.”

To that effect, her job as Director of Community Outreach is to find and work with organizations within the community where PAMP can partner with on meaningful events, causes and services related to families.

“There are so many wonderful community organizations out there. In fact I would love to hear from our membership about other organizations that they are involved with, where some sort of partnership would be of interest to our club.”

And when she says partnership, it could be as simple as just exposure to a great event that the organization is holding to a reciprocal sponsorship of events.

In addition to the specific job of Community Outreach, as a member-at-large on the board of directors of PAMP she meets with the other leaders on a regular basis to discuss and lead programs that encourage members to engage. She is active in helping with all PAMP events and with the online forums as well. Jennifer also represents PAMP to the wider community through active cross-postings to her own circle of friends, her children’s school mailing lists, Facebook and Nextdoor.

“I research and reach out to community organizations to have discussions about possible partnerships. I also receive inquiries from the community or from our membership about PAMP getting involved with them,” Jennifer says. “I do have to vet these requests so that the focus remains on community partnership and not promoting businesses or services.”

At the beginning of her term, she set a goal to partner with 3 organizations this year. At Family Day in July, PAMP partnered with 10 Books a Home, a fabulous non-profit that provides an early-literacy tutoring program to high-poverty preschoolers in East Palo Alto. The second partnership was PAMP participation at California Coastal Cleanup in September.

“I researched and selected a site that would be convenient for my family as well as other PAMP families to join, and then spread the word about this fun event,” Jennifer said. “I really wanted to give my kids an experience to increase their awareness of the environment and instill in them a sense of stewardship of the earth. Our family alone collected 4 bags of recycling and trash from the San Francisquito Creek.”

Jennifer and her husband both work in high-tech software. They met while working together at Netscape Communications Corporation, and she convinced him to move to the Bay Area from England in 2000. They have two children, ages 7 and 5.

“I love PAMP because it’s given me so much support, starting from when I had a newborn,” she says. “My kids are now 5 and 7, and I think our club of parents and families are in a strong position to not only help ourselves, but to help others around us.”

1. What is the last non-kid movie you saw?

Wild - the movie about Cheryl Strayed, who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.

2. Are you a Bay Area native or transplant?

Transplant. I grew up out east in West Virginia, went to college in Chicago and then ended up out here in 1997 to work for Netscape.

3. What’s at the top of your to-do list?

Planning our vacations and travel schedule for the next 6 months - I just booked tickets to Hawaii! Also, I have a big landscape project we are about to embark on.

4. Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?

Big Bird!

5. Why are you a PAMP volunteer?

I’m a people person, and meeting other people in our club enriches my life as a parent and a resident of Palo Alto. I love to spread the word about our great club and have fun while I’m at it. Plus, volunteering for a non-profit helps to round out my life experiences -- it’s a great complement to my work in the corporate world, my work running a household with my husband and my work as a parent.

Each month we train the spotlight on someone who works behind the scenes for PAMP. Interested in hopping on board? Browse our open volunteer positions and join the fun!




Tags:  spotlight 

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Thank YOU for a Wonderful Farm Day!

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 26, 2016

Thank you to everyone for coming out this past weekend! We had yet another amazing adventure at PAMP's Fun Day at the Farm.

"Thanks for organizing this great morning!" gushed Nikki. "Our family had lots of fun at the farm!"

The fall event at the farm included an incredible array of pumpkins to celebrate the season. The day also included a petting zoo, pony rides, hayrides, train rides and a bouncy house.

The next Fun Day at the Farm will be in the spring -- you won't want to miss it! It's a great way for a family with kids of all ages to spend the day.

Stay tuned for some awesome PAMP events coming up, including Family Movie Night in October and the Preschool Fair in November. 

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You Are Your Child’s Life Coach

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 19, 2016

So many young adults come out of high school and head to college after years  of being overwhelmed by activities, homework and barely sleeping to make the grade. Because of this, Harvard is now offering a new course to incoming freshmen. It’s pretty much life-coaching 101. The university wants them to identify their core values and learn how to make choices in their daily lives which align to their values. They want them to start managing their time as college students in a way that will support them to live their adult lives with balance rather than overwhelm.

I believe, however, that parents are their child's life coach, teaching them values, time alignment and choice-making from a very young age. In fact, the way that parents reflect upon and answer big life questions are what really teach a child of any age the same kinds of lessons this class at Harvard hopes to impart.

Here are 5 ideas to help you be your child's life coach, to support them in living a life of balance, alignment and meaning:

1. Create a Family Mission Statement. Detail core values that you hope to impart in raising your family. When making decisions related to discipline, activities, community building, schooling, hard choices and limit setting, use this Family Mission Statement as a guide to help support clarity and alignment.

2. Slow down and take time for reflection. If you question the job you're in and find yourself in a constant state of stress, it's time to re-examine your own life thoroughly. Making the changes we need in our own lives to decrease stress, increase connection and live with integrity are the best ways we can support and serve our kids to become the types of adults who can do this as well.

3. Engage in the activities and interests that you truly love. Do this for the sake of experiencing joy. When is the last time you played an instrument? Spoke the foreign language you love? Played a game with friends? Made a piece of art or a new invention for the fun of it? Took a cooking class? Learned something new that truly engages your curiosity and desire to experience being alive? If you've sacrificed these elements of your own life, it will be hard to model to your children that joy, curiosity and love of learning are essentials to a life well lived. Get out that class catalogue and sign up today for a learning experience that will help bring you totally alive.

4. Spend time with people who are positive. Spend time with those that prioritize the same values, interests and curiosities that you do. If you find yourself around people who you don't truly resonate with, it's time to do some social reflection. Get out your Family Mission Statement and spend time looking at the people, experiences, traditions and activities that really resonate with who you and your family.

5. Have weekly Family Meetings. Share appreciations, celebrations, scheduling and problem solving. Plan activities and discuss questions together to help build your family culture as one that is balanced, aligned, positive and inspiring -- life coaching at its best!

Kiran Gaind is a life, leadership and parenting coach who owns The Connected Family. Please drop her a line to comment on this article, ask questions and share your ideas for bringing the art of life coaching into your daily parenting role. She can be reached at or by phone at (415) 377-6791.

Tags:  parenting 

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Fun at the Farm Day is Next Weekend!

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"We LOVE Farm Day!" says PAMP member Lori.

Be sure to join the fun next weekend at PAMP's Fun at the Farm Day! The event will be held on Saturday, September 24th from 10am-1pm at Pastorino Farms in Half Moon Bay.

Fun at the Farm Day is typically held twice a year at the Pastorino Farms in Half Moon Bay. This event is ideal for children who are old enough to interact with the animals and enjoy the various activities. Key activities include pony rides, a petting zoo, train rides, hayrides, bouncy houses, a pumpkin patch, flower shop and even a gift shop.

Remember that we provide a selection of snacks (granola bars, applesauce, fruit chews, cookies, crackers and chips) and bottled water. You can always bring your own lunch to enjoy at the farm’s picnic tables, too.

Find more information here, and be sure to register now!

Tags:  activities 

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Preschool Fair!

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 5, 2016

Be sure to save the date for PAMP's Preschool Fair! It's coming up on Saturday, November 5th in Mountain View. Don’t miss out!

The event will take place in the Grand Hall of the Computer History Museum. PAMP members are allowed an early entry at 9:00am. There will be a Parent's Workshop and Preschool Meet & Greets. Doors open to the public at11:00am.

The entire event goes until 1:00pm and is FREE! The Fair is a great place to get all of your questions answered. Meet face to face with 40+ local preschools and sponsors, listen to experts talk about how to select the best school for YOUR child and mingle with other parents who are entering the process as well. 

Remember that we're always looking for volunteers. Join the team and help make one of our biggest events successful! Contact us for more information.

Tags:  activities  education 

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