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Member Musings: From Pressure to Presence

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
The community where I live with my family, Palo Alto, CA, has experienced a crisis of high school student suicides in the past few years. The Atlantic ran a front page story called Silicon Valley Suicides in November, a few days after the one year anniversary

date of the suicide of one of our community’s rising stars, Cameron Lee, who was a junior at Gunn High School when he took his life.

Of course, as a parent of two young girls who are living in the Gunn High School area, my personal interest in addressing the crisis of pressurized parenting in Silicon Valley and beyond is real and important.

I, too, was raised with pressurized parenting. My father was an immigrant from India, an engineer and Ph.D. in Materials Science, who imposed a very strong external ideal of success onto myself and my siblings from a young age. When I reflect on several interactions with my father over my lifetime, I realize how different it would have been to have been parented with presence rather than pressure.

When I was 11 and brought home the sub-par grade in my father’s eyes of 88% on a math test, I was scolded and told I had better not bring home anything less than a 98% if I wanted to get into the Ivy League. Had my father chosen to parent with presence and connection, he would have responded with questions like: “How do you feel about your math score? Did you do your best? What did you do well? What can you do better on the next one? What did you learn? What’s your goal for your next exam? Do you need any support from me to reach your goal?”

At 14, when I began asking my father about college majors and careers, instead of insistently telling me to become an engineer because of job security, he could have been present with my curiosity, interests, strengths and passions. He could have asked me what I loved, what I was good at, what I thought a career’s purpose was — and gotten a full picture of the kind of life I wanted to lead and the kind of person I wanted to be and how a career fits in to facilitate one’s larger life goals.

Parenting with presence asks parents to let go of the pressures and realities they faced as children, and perhaps even ones they left behind in order to seek new opportunities for the next generation.

Parenting with presence asks parents to engage with their child and see the exam scores and college choices through the child’s eyes rather than through parents’ eyes — fearful of the unknown or from a parent’s egoic need for a certain type of children’s success.

Most of us haven’t been parented this more attuned and authentic way.

Living in Palo Alto and/or any affluent community with a teen suicide problem, we parents are compelled to offer this type of attunement, collaboration, presence and empathy to our kids.

I’ve learned to parent from presence rather than pressure, though the internal conditioning of my own upbringing takes mindfulness to undo and re-wire on a daily basis. I emphasize asking good questions, listening, attuning to emotional states, spending special time, offering curiosity and exploration of my child’s true desires, empathy with challenging emotions, playing physically and being present in all that I do with my kids.

No parent is perfect, but I know that these moments and interactions based in presence, curiosity, connection, compassion and mindfulness are what make the parent-child relationship strong, build trust and rudder authentic selves’ most satisfying lives.

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

Kiran Gaind of The Connected Family works with parents who are overwhelmed by their responsibilities and exhausted by the demands of parenting to feel overjoyed by their lives and being parents again.

Tags:  family 

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Member Musing: We Feel What We Wear

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
I was at a networking event last week and was asked “What’s your why?” and “Why do you do what you do?” So I am going to give you a great example of my why and why I do exactly what I do.

What I wear impacts how I feel.

It can make or break my day. If I am not feeling that outfit, it simply won’t work. I know that might sound pretty deep, but it’s me being honest. And it’s probably a big part of how I became so savvy at versatility, at tweaking my outfits to make them work.

I don’t think everyone thinks the same way, and that’s ok — this is MY WHY.

A group of researchers from the University of Queensland are currently researching how we use clothes to improve or mask emotion. Lead researcher Dr. Alastair Tombs says, “We demand many things from clothing. Quite a few people talked about using clothes to change their mood. If they get up and aren’t feeling great, they would put on something that would brighten them up. “On other occasions they use clothes to mask their emotions. It didn’t brighten their mood, but it would give them the appearance of being bright and airy, even if that is not how they actually feel.” Dr. Tombs says an example of this is when a woman puts something on and they’ve been complimented on it in the past, and they will re-wear it because of the emotional connection and the known feel-good-effect it will have. Despite relying on clothes to boost our sense of wellbeing, we also blame certain garments when something goes wrong.

According to a study from the University of Hertfordshire, women wear the following items when happy:

1. HATS – Twice as many women wear a hat when happy versus when depressed.
2. SHOES – Women are five times more likely to wear their favourite shoes when happy.
3.DRESSES – On a happy day women will be ten times more likely to wear their favourite dress.
4. HAPPY CLOTHES – ‘Happy clothes’ were found to be items that are well-cut, figure enhancing and made of bright and beautiful fabrics.


1. JEANS – Only one third of women say they wear jeans when happy.
2. BAGGY TOPS – 57 per cent of women likely to wear a baggy top when feeling down.

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

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

Tags:  fashion 

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Member Musings: Eclipsing

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Sunday night is our get-ready-for-the-week night, usually. But on this night, we had a chance to share something wonderful with the rest of the planet, and our neighbors. It strikes me that while we live in “neighborhoods” often the aspect of “community” can get lost. Not on purpose, but because life has a lot going on. And depending upon your actual neighbors you may or may not want to commune with them.

The lunar eclipse and the blood moon were rare opportunities for community tonight. Driving home from a family dinner we found our neighbor outside trying to see the blood moon and lunar eclipse. We too were going to show our girls – who love, love the moon – but a thin layer of clouds graced the sky. So we chatted a bit and went inside.

As we finished putting the oldest to bed my husband said, “I can hear Ana saying she can see it.” So we ran outside, only to find her husband excitedly walking up the path to our front door to let us know. We stood for a bit looking at the glowing sky, watching the eclipse and then quickly got our daughter up to see it.

As our neighbors’ sons and our daughter ran around in pajamas, another neighbor from down the street came walking by with his dog. All of us stood staring into the night sky, which was now clear, and facilitated animated discussion. Standing there chatting we found out that our next door neighbor and the man with the dog didn’t know each other, yet they’ve lived on this street just a few houses a way for a good many years.

Our days and nights go by so fast. It was a heartening experience tonight to enjoy a few moments, let go of the rules for bedtime, and just be with our neighbors watching such a rare occurrence. In our own way, we had our own eclipse — of community.

To see when the next lunar eclipses for 2016 are expected, check the schedule.

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

Kelsey Combellick is a career-loving parent who is passionate about travel, food, wine and her family. Email her at

Tags:  activities 

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Parent’s Guide to Preschool Child-Visits

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

It may not be officially back to school season but rest assured, you’re not alone if you’re one of the many parents with anxiety over an upcoming preschool visit. For those of you who spent last fall applying to schools (likely after weeks of diligent research!), child visit, classroom visit or an observation can feel equally stressful.

Here is a quick primer to help you prepare and ease some of that stress.

So what exactly is a child visit?
A child visit – also known as a child observation, classroom visit, or play date – is a short visit (typically 30-45 minutes but can extend up to 2 hours) where parents bring their child to visit the school and/or classroom that they are considering. The child visit often includes other children (a mix of applying and current students) as well as the teacher or director. It usually includes typical preschool activities (free play, circle time, etc.) in addition to one-on-one time with the teacher. Essentially, a child visit is very much like a typical playdate – just at school!

What is the school looking for?
Child visits can seem intimidating, but the truth is that the school really just wants to get to know you – and your child – better than they can on a piece of paper. Directors like to observe how the children play together as well as to plan classrooms accordingly to best suit each child’s needs. They also need to assess their school readiness and identify anything that may need to be addressed at home prior to starting school. They also want to make sure that your family will fit into the community of the school – the goal here is to make sure everyone is excited about the transition to preschool and prepared to make that transition as smooth as possible. And don’t worry – they are NOT looking for your child to behave perfectly or for a certain type of temperament. This is less of a test and more of an assessment.

What should I look for?
In the same way that the Director will look to make sure your child feels comfortable around the other children and in the school environment, you should watch for that, too. You know your child’s cues better than anyone, so pay attention to how he/she reacts. You’ll learn a lot about which program might be right for your family by how these visits go – and you’ll be better prepared to deal with any separation anxiety that might occur when they do start school.

How should I prepare?
-Choose a time that works for you – some schools have set visit times and won’t offer you choices, but if they do, choose a time of day when your child is typically awake and alert to avoid any nap-time crankiness.
-Don’t overdress your child – remember, this is essentially a playdate so dress your child in whatever they would typically wear to preschool once they’ve started.
-Don’t prep or “coach” them – the child visit is truly meant to be an assessment for both you and the school and is meant to be casual. Trying to prep your child will only heighten the anxiety and make them more likely to react badly. Prep by doing what you normally do to socialize your child – visit the playground, schedule playdates, and keep any class appointments you might have.
-Bring both parents, if possible – as with a tour, it can be helpful to have both parents on site during a visit. One of you can address any questions from the school while the other keeps an eye on your child and you’ll both be able to assess your child’s reaction.

We know this can be a stressful time, but remember that everyone involved is looking for a good fit between your family and the school – and that there are many programs out there. If one isn’t the right fit, there is certain to be another option for you and your child.

Susan Mees loves to travel and cook and spend time with her husband. She’s helping build community through KidAdmit, a website that lets parents search for and compare preschool programs in their area for free.

Tags:  education 

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Considering the ‘Burbs? Here’s What You Need to Know

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Countless families consider making a move to the San Francisco ‘burbs each year. With young kids, skyrocketing rents in the city and a craving for a little more space, the pull is natural — but the Bay Area suburbs come with their own unique considerations when it comes to actually making the move. From balancing costs to considering communities to pulling your family’s own lifestyle into the mix, there is a lot to weigh if suburbia’s on your mind. Besides the basics, here’s what area families should be thinking about when they think, “It’s time to go…”

Can you afford to keep renting?
Bay Area and Silicon Valley housing prices are high right now — no one can dispute that. The average Palo Alto tear down is fetching close to $2 million, which doesn’t take into account the cost to actually build a house to live in afterward. But, at the same time, rents continue to increase year after year — and that means many renters are getting priced out of the market, too.

A good solution? While you might not be able to afford THE house right now, consider a first, or “starter,” home or just to get your feet wet and get your family into the Bay Area market. Not only will you begin building equity, but you’ll dodge the rent hikes and establish a jumping off point for a potentially bigger purchase down the road.

Remember, it’s about more than just the home price
When home prices are high, it can sometimes be hard to see past the dollars and cents. But remember, this is a long-term purchase and it’s important that you and your family focus on the town’s lifestyle, too. Certain that Los Altos, Palo Alto or Menlo Park, for example, are the perfect spots? You might even find different personalities within neighborhoods, believe it or not. Maybe one is more walkable or bike-friendly than another, or has a different personality or reputation. Or maybe one corner of the community tends to send their kids to a local private school versus the area public school, or has a higher concentration of stay-at-home versus working moms. It’s important to navigate individual communities and, through hands-on exploration, engage with locals for a more authentic experience, so that you can learn what a town is really like. Weigh it all and make sure you aren’t just picking for price but, instead, for the community experience as a whole.

Dig into the schools
Just like a town can have a variety of personalities from area to area, one school district can have even dozens of schools feeding in, each with a distinct vibe. Before jumping into a home purchase, take a look at the schools your kids will attend and see if they align with your family’s needs and expectations. Are test scores important? API scores? Would seeing CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress) reports be helpful? Do you want a school with top scores, or is the culture of the school more important? What is the likelihood of getting into a charter or choice/lottery school with a Spanish or Mandarin immersion program? Or are you heading the private school route? You can look online, contact the school district or talk with local experts who can help you understand school populations, test scores or specializations. And remember, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to your school priorities — but it is important that where you decide to settle down aligns.

The upside to all of this? The Bay Area and Silicon Valley are incredible places to live. The weather is fantastic — even warmer and sunnier than San Francisco. You’re a few hours from Lake Tahoe if you want to hit the slopes. And, from a business perspective, you’re never far from many major corporations like Google, Facebook and venture capital firms on Sand Hill Road (no more taking the company commuter bus!), plus Stanford University, among other elite institutions. The schools — both public and private — are strong, and there are countless cultural offerings right around the corner. What’s not to love?

Alison Bernstein is the founder of The Suburban Jungle Realty Group, a real estate firm exclusively focused on buyers leaving the city for the suburbs. When she’s not helping families in their suburban explorations, Alison enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and four children.

Tags:  finances 

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What Do You Know About Identity Theft?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Have you ever received an email from a “friend” urging you to send them money since they are traveling in a faraway country and they are now stranded? Their story recounts how they’ve been robbed and how they desperately need your help –and of course, that “help” is in the form of a wire transfer, right away.

Chances are, you’ve received this frantic message from a friend and have considered sending the money. But, then your better judgement kicks in and you realize it’s probably a scam — an effort to gather your personal information in order to steal your identity. Unfortunately, some people don’t realize this until it’s too late.

IRS Scams
Be on the alert. A phone call (or email) from someone impersonating an IRS employee is becoming more commonplace. These calls usually involve threats of arrest and financial penalties, followed by a request for payment to avoid charges. For the record, the IRS never contacts taxpayers on the telephone or by email, only via regular mail with a letter. If you are the target of one of these calls, you should report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or call the TIGTA hotline at 1 (800) 366-4484.

Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud
These steps can make it more difficult for thieves to steal your information:

1) Place a freeze on your credit. Each of the four consumer credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Innovis) allows you to place a freeze on your credit. This means that if someone attempts to open a line of credit, bank account or any account that requires your Social Security number, they are blocked. This actually also includes you, which some might consider a blessing as you’re standing in Banana Republic, trying to decide whether or not to open that new credit card. In the event that you do need to open a new account, you must contact the credit agencies and unfreeze your credit for a specified amount of time. Each agency charges a fee to freeze and unfreeze your credit (typically $10 each time). However, peace of mind and protection from fraud are well worth any inconvenience or associated fee.

2) Request a copy of your credit report. Annually, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). The website to obtain this free copy is You may also request a copy by phone at (877) 322-8228.

3) Guard your SSN. Do not give out your Social Security number unless absolutely required and do not carry your Social Security Card in your wallet.

4) Sign up for credit monitoring & identity restoration. LifeLock and similar services help detect identity-related incidents, alert their members to suspicious activity and address fraud-related issues on behalf of victims. They will also help you restore your identity should it ever be compromised.

5) Use a token for online financial passwords. Financial institutions sometimes offer a token (a small device that creates a unique six digit number each login) that serves as an additional password every time you log in to view your account. 

6) Request a tax return PIN. While none of the above steps will prevent thieves from filing a tax return fraudulently in your name, these actions may reduce its likelihood. To prevent a fraudulent tax return, you would need to contact the IRS and request a tax return PIN. The IRS does not approve all PIN requests, particularly if you have not previously experienced fraudulent activity. You should consult with your CPA or tax preparer for more details on requesting a PIN from the IRS.

One Final Recommendation
While on vacation, either here or abroad, do not log in to any public computers or use unsecured wireless hotspots. Scammers are just waiting for you to go online and show them your personal information.

Kaleb Paddock
 is an Associate Advisor at Stanford Investment Group. Kaleb specializes in helping young families make smart financial decisions, typically involving questions about their equity compensation. He and his wife enjoy jogging along Stevens Creek Trail with their one year old son and serving others in their local church.

Tags:  finances 

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Best of the Forum – Part Time Job?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
I just got a full time job offer, but I really want a part time job. I have been a SAHM for a long time. Since both of my kids are at school this year, I started to look for a job. It sounds great, but it’s a start up company with not much flexibility and probably long hours.

I would love to start working again but was hoping for a more flexible or part time arrangement. Does anyone have any words of wisdom for how I could ask for a part time job? Or is this just not an option?

Congrats on the job offer! Going back to work is a big adjustment. Going right into a full time demanding job would probably feel like a huge change for you and your kids. Doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it’ll just be very different. If you are committed to finding part-time, let this company know (ex. “I really want to work here/ I’m jazzed about X element of coming here/ please help me make this possible… I can work X hours per week max”) and see how they respond. It could happen! They liked you enough to make you an offer, and it’s up to you to negotiate the offer that works for you. I’ve worked part time in “real” roles for 3 different companies since my kids. It can happen!

You might be pleasantly surprised if you ask for part time work that it’s a job that can be broken into logical parts. I work part time for two companies and it works out great for everyone. Both companies use me on an as needed basis & pay me hourly. You probably wouldn’t get benefits (health insurance, holidays & vacation) as a part time employee which would save the company a lot of money. I think the key would be to make yourself available as much as possible and to be flexible. Some weeks I have no work from either company. Other weeks, I have a lot of projects but I adjust my work schedule to meet deadlines for both companies.

I feel your pain! It is unfortunate that we are often in this situation where we feel we have to choose full-time work when we might be much better served to have part-time or flexible or scalable. Working with a start up may well give you some options as they can be as flexible as they want. (they are making up their own values, cultures and rules as they go) Here are some ideas for you as you creatively approach matching what they need to the value you are delivering to them.

1) think about what you know so far in terms of their needs to evaluate if there is room for flexibility
2) what is your ideal situation in terms of part-time/flexibility? Could you work the hours they need if spread over different schedule? (ie. work around kids schedules) Do you want to have built-in flexibility during the days for illness, school events? Do you want a three full day and two day off schedule?
3) If you believe that you could help them at this stage without having to go full-time have an open conversation with the hiring mgr. You have something they could use right now and they very well may be open to some innovative solutions.

I have found that if you focus on RESULTS instead of HOURS, it brings the conversation back to the value that you bring to them. It has to be a win-win. This is a time where talent is hard to find and we have the opportunity to innovate and change the way work fits into our lives! I hope more people will question the status quo. My prediction is that we will look back at this either/or thinking and wonder why we accepted that!

Just wanted to suggest that if you are able to negotiate part-time work that you be sure to get paid on an hourly basis and not a salary. What often happens in this situation is that you may find you’re working “full-time” hours for part-time pay.

Another option is to take something full-time and then transition to part-time later. It’s a bit of a gamble, but I’ve had success transitioning from FT to PT in my last two roles. In both cases I was going through significant life changes (birth of my first child, etc) and I was able to make a case for a flexible part-time schedule. I’m currently working about 20 hours a week and get full benefits. It’s been a really nice balance for our family.

Tags:  best of the forum 

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Make a Fresh Start this New Year

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

originally posted January 1, 2016

We’re several days into the New Year, and many of us are still basking in the glow of a fresh start.

Every year, January brings renewed optimism for change, for a better life, for a better you. And that’s a wonderful thing.

It’s wonderful, because this fresh start gives us a chance to reinvent our lives and ourselves. It allows us to reinvigorate ourselves, to shed the baggage of the previous year and do anything. Anything is possible!

That is a gift, my friends, and I suggest we make the most of this gift. Not just by creating and sticking to resolutions, but by reinventing the way we live.

Here’s how.

1. Let go.
Many times we are held back by the tangled web of previous failures, commitments, emotions, barriers. We cannot change careers because we’re used to what we’re doing and it’s too hard to change. We cannot find time to get healthy and fit because we have all these other things to do. We cannot find time for our loved ones because we have too many commitments.

This is all old baggage. A fresh start demands a clean slate. Let everything from the past go (easier said than done, I know). Clear your plate and your palate.

Let go of attachments to what you’ve been doing for the past year, or years. Let go of failures. Let go of fears you’ve built up. Let go of reluctance. Let go of your ideas about what your life has to be like, because that’s the way it’s evolved so far. Let go of long-held beliefs and habits.

You have a fresh start. Let go of last year, and start anew.

2. Decide what matters most today.
Forget about your goals for all of this year. Instead, decide: what do you want to do today?

What matters most to you, to your life? What are you most passionate about, right now? What excites and invigorates you? What would give you the most fulfillment?

Often the answer is in creating something, making something new, helping other people, becoming a better person, working on a project that will be an accomplishment to be proud of. But whatever your answer, have it clear in your mind at the beginning of the day.

This might be something you work on all year, or it might just last a month, or it might last a week or a few days, or just today. It doesn’t matter. What matters is today — that you’re going to work on this with all your heart, today. Tomorrow … we’ll decide on that tomorrow.

3. Clear away distractions and focus.
Clear away email and Facebook and Twitter and your favorite blogs and news websites and social forums, clear away the iPhone or Blackberry or Android or cell phone, clear away all the little nagging work and chores and errands that pull at your attention, clear away the clutter that surrounds you (sweep it off to the side to deal with later).

In fact, if you can, shut off the Internet for awhile. You can come back to it when you take a break.

Now, find focus. Even if only for 15 or 20 minutes at first, but preferably for 30-60 minutes. You can take a break and check your email or whatever after you’ve focused. Focus on the thing that matters most. Do it for as long as you can, until you’re done if possible. Feel free to take breaks, but always return to your focus.

When you’re done, focus on the next thing that matters most, and so on.

4. Find happiness now.
Don’t look at happiness as something that will come when you’re done with this goal, or when you’ve attained a certain accomplishment or certain amount of wealth or material goods. Don’t look at happiness as a destination, something that you’ll get later.

Happiness is possible right now. Always remember that. When you push it back until later, it’ll never come. When you learn to be happy now, it’ll always be here.

When you’re doing whatever you’re passionate about, whatever matters most, whatever you decide is worthy of your time and heart and focus … be happy! You’re doing what you love. And that is truly a gift.

5. Reinvent yourself, every day.
Every day, you are reborn. Reinvent yourself and your life, every day. Do what matters most to you, that day.

It might be the same thing that mattered most yesterday, or it might not be. That isn’t important. What’s important is today — right now. Be passionate, be happy, right now.

You’ll have a fresh start every single day — not just on January 1. And that, my friends, is the best thing ever.

Reprinted with permission from (public domain).

Leo Babauta is the creator and writer for Zen Habits. He’s married with six kids and lives in San Francisco (previously on Guam). Leo is a writer and a runner and a vegan

Tags:  health 

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Is Your Smartphone Putting Your Toddler at Risk?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Updated: Friday, April 8, 2016

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about distracted drivers and the impact cell phones are having on our road skills. Unfortunately, our love of technology and handheld devices also affect our family’s health in ways we can’t have imagined. As parents, it is important to understand the ways mobile phone exposure can affect a child's wellness.

Listed below are ten ways our Smartphone use might be putting our children at risk:

Distracted parenting can hinder a child’s vocabulary, which affects their future education. Researchers have conducted several studies on young children and what factors impact their I.Q. levels and performance in school. The largest determining factor that caught the eye of the experts was the amount of words young children heard. As early as the age of three, researchers found a strong correlation between higher I.Q. scores and the number of words young children heard. The study concluded that the more words parents spoke to their children, the faster the child’s vocabularies grew which impacted intelligence later in life.

Young children need interaction and contact to bond. Researchers are adamant about the importance of forming a solid parental attachment. Children with secure attachments are able to regulate their emotions, self-esteem, and self-control better. They also perform better in school and have a better ability to get along better with others. Infants and toddlers may miss out on this bonding if we are focused on our Smartphones.

There is a strong correlation between our love of social media, Facebook envy, and growing narcissism in children. Our children witness perfectly groomed social media pages and our need to project a perfect image into the digital world. We are sending the message that it is alright to be self-absorbed. This can lead to feelings of entitlement and an increased sense of importance. Our behaviors are setting up our children to feel inadequate with reality, which can lead them to experience depression or self-harm behaviors.

Smartphones can cause feelings of jealousy in our children. A study conducted by Catherine Steiner-Adair, author and psychologist at Harvard, noticed that all children had feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and anger when they have technology to compete with for their parent’s attention. This study likened these feelings to the jealousness of sibling rivalry.

Analyzed data shows that technology affects the way our brain processes information. The fast paced world of digital technology has the potential to rewire the brain to affect memory skills and attention spans. A lot of research has shown this to be true in adults, but because children’s brains are still forming it is assumed the changes could impact the brain’s development in ways not seen before.

Reliance on our Smartphones can expose our youth to a sedentary lifestyle. If a child’s parents are not active the chances are high that the child will also be sedentary. A less active lifestyle increases the chances a child will become obese or develop diabetes. Parents need to make a conscious effort to keep our children moving and healthy.

Data reveals that small children and fetuses absorb radiation from wireless devices two times the rate of adults. There is a long held debate about whether there is a link between cancer and cell phones. Whether or not that is the case, consider the fact that almost all manufacturers have guidelines that recommend distances devices should be kept away from a body. It is always better to be safe than suffer from regret later- look for handsfree options and be aware of where you store your cell phone while pregnant.

Smartphones can limit quality family time. Whether we are distracted by work emails or cute YouTube videos, Smartphones can steal precious moments away from the family. Set aside certain hours each day to power down and connect with your family.

Children learn through play and interacting with their environment. If we are preoccupied with our Smartphones or our children just want to play a few rounds of Flappy Bird, they could be missing out on important play time. Many educators believe that powerful learning takes place during play and parents need to make sure our devices aren’t getting in the way of this development.

Smartphones might lead to our children being addicted to the Internet. Think of a Smartphone as a gateway device to the world of fast paced social media and games. In 2013, “Internet Use Disorder” was registered in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. To be included as a true addiction, there had to be evidence that digital activity can change the chemistry of the brain and produce dopamine similar to what occurs in the brain of alcoholics and drug addicts.

Smartphones have many positive attributes, but they can also impair our family life. Parents need monitor their use in our homes and be aware of how our love of technology is impacting our children. After all, we ultimately want the best for our children and moderation can help us find the right balance of Smartphone use while parenting.

Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.

Tags:  child development  technology 

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Best of the Forum: What Does Me Time Look Like?

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 8, 2016

Maybe I’m totally off my rocker hoping for this, but does anyone have a good routine going where they are able to find/make time to be creative? I have hobbies like sewing or journaling and writing that I want to explore. Not to mention I’d love to make time for meditating and exercise. I know I could cut out tv altogether and probably find the time to do some of this. But I’m just so tired–vegging out in front of the tv is so easy at the end of the day!

So–for those of you who actually squeeze in some creative/healthy “me time” into your day or week, can you tell me how you do it? What have you given up? What times of the day do you find best for getting stuff done? (waking up early, doing it after kids go down, both). How do you motivate yourself to prioritize this stuff?

My husband and I have a routine where he takes the kids on Saturday mornings and I go for a run. I take the kids on Sunday mornings and he plays soccer. It’s only once a week, but at least it’s something as far as exercise.

Being able to fit in me-time pretty much depended on what my kids’ sleeping schedule was. With my first son, I was lucky that he would sleep in so I would wake up before everyone and do a workout or go run. I also tried to take advantage of nap-time to get things done. Now with two, it’s a bit more complicated, but when the baby sleeps, I try to do some yoga and my 3 year old has learned that he can either join me or keep busy with something (I try to set him up with some activity or books). I have to take advantage of me-time early in the day because by evening I’m too tired, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t end up getting much done. I just try to do better the next day. Motivation isn’t so much the key as discipline, but what usually motivates me is to remember how much better I will feel doing an activity for me vs. wasting time on the internet (which is my vice).


It’s a hard problem! I find the only time I can be sure to get me time is before my kids wake up or after they are in bed. So, I get up at 5am to exercise and I spend time sewing at 9.30pm or so in the evening. It’s hard to motivate myself some days to sew, but once I get started I am always glad I did that instead of watching TV.

The key for me is to line things up so that it’s really easy to do these things. For example, I have my running clothes all lined up ready so that I just have to get out of bed and put them on. For sewing, I trace out my patterns on the weekend while my kids are doing art projects so that when the evening rolls around I can get onto the more fun parts.

I also find that following creative people/groups on
facebook/pintrest/blogs inspires me and motivates me to make the time to sew or do other projects.

The other thing that people keep reminding me is that this is pretty temporary, as the kids get older and more independent it’s much easier to sneak in time here or there even if it is between driving them from place to place.

Currently, my me time is. . . work! The good part is I get a chance to think about and do things other than housework, family social planning, meal planning, cooking, grocery shopping, etc. The challenge is that when I’m not at work, I want to spend every free second with my daughter, which means I dont prioritize exercise, hobbies, etc. And when her Dad takes her somewhere for their special time, I always start doing stuff on my “to do” list instead of taking a break.

I think it’s a mindset challenge most of all!

I’m so glad you posted this question and look forward to hearing how other parents manage this.

Sometimes I think I should have caffeine in the afternoon to try to have enough energy for the things I want to do for myself in the evening. But then I worry about not sleeping right…

My me time is a Starbucks run with my husband. We take the baby there but usually I feed her first and then she is happy sitting in the infant car seat watching people while we are sipping coffee.

During naps (he currently take two) I’ll spend one cleaning up a bit and taking a quick shower, the other reading a book or watching a show. Also after he goes to bed at 6:30/7pm my husband and I usually have dinner together, then read our iPads for a bit and then watch a show. I go on a 45-60 min walk with my son in the stroller everyday (well not lately, I broke my knee and had surgery last week) and I have a nanny or my mom who comes three times a week for a few hours so I usually do an exercise class or meet a friend for coffee/run errands.

If you can afford a babysitter a couple days a week that helps a ton! If not, and depending on how old your child is, maybe you could trade off with another mom and drop your child off for two hours and get down free time in exchange for giving her the same relief another day of the week?

Also lots of exercise studios offer childcare so I’ve done that, too.

Good luck!

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