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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!

Tags:  best of the forum 

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Support PAMP by Shopping on Amazon Smile!

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Getting ready to do your Holiday Shopping? Did you know that simply by shopping online you can support PAMP? Amazon Smile is a program that runs where a small percentage of every purchase made is donated to a charity of the buyer’s choice. This is a great program that gives everyone the chance to support their favorite charity while shopping.

All you have to do is use the “” site instead of the normal “” site. Your account is the same, all of your amazon history is there and all of the same products are available. To support PAMP, simply click here and you will be taken to the Amazon Smile site and asked to confirm that you want to support PAMP.

Tags:  spotlight 

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PAMP Playdates – Mixed Ages Offer Something for Everyone

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 5, 2016
In a split second, peaceful play at the McKenzie Park sandbox turned into tug-of-war. Of course, my son Jax, is in the middle of the brawl – what two and half year old boy is going to ignore the temptation to seize someone else’s brand new shiny bulldozer toy?

When it seemed a toddler pileup was inevitable, I jumped into conflict resolution: “Jax, let’s try to find something to offer in exchange – maybe a dump truck to trade for some time with the bulldozer?”

After a few minutes of tense back and forth deal-making, we made an agreement. Everyone returned back to playing peacefully. With a sigh of relief, I gave the kids some space hoping that someday soon, my children will have the ability to share with others without needing my intervention. Well, as the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.”

That’s one of the wonderful benefits of our mixed age playgroup – regular opportunities for the children to sharpen their social acumen while interacting with kids of varying ages and stages of development. In particular, it is a special opportunity for parents like me who have multiple children of different ages to find a social environment for all of their children at the same time with just the right amount of interest and surprise.

Andrea, a Los Altos mother to two boys, describes the charm of the mixed age environment precisely. “With ages always varying, each play date is unique and that keeps it fun and interesting,” she says.

In addition, there is always the refreshing opportunity for the grown-ups to have an exchange of ideas, neighborhood news and stimulating adult conversation. Nina finds the grown up exchanges useful. “It is great to get advice from those with older kids, as well as help out those with younger kids than my own,” she says.

Nina, a local mother of three energetic boys, started the PAMP North Los Altos Playgroup in 2011 so that her oldest (and then only) son would have regular organized playdates to attend within walking distance of their Los Altos home. When Nina reached out for someone to take over the group coordinator role, I wasn’t immediately compelled. I was pregnant with my second child at the time and my first had just started walking – I knew that life for me was about to get busy, but I decided to go for it! I know now that I made the right decision. My children and I have met and made so many wonderful friends through the group.

The PAMP North Los Altos Playgroup membership consists of over a hundred moms and dads in the Bay Area. The group, formerly on Yahoo, now stays connected about playdates, local events and child rearing advice using Facebook’s group platform. Helen, a newcomer to the Bay Area describes the group platform. “I really like the new Facebook platform. I check Facebook on a daily basis and I find the UI very user friendly when it comes to organizing and accepting events and engaging with other members of the group,” she says.

There is also the occasional Mom’s Night Out, typically every other month, where the grown-ups can gather at a local restaurant after the kids are put to bed to have lighthearted discussions over a glass of wine. Lisa, a mother of two in Palo Alto, describes the advantage of having an occasional grown-up’s night out. “I like how there are opportunities to come together with our kids and without them. It’s refreshing to go out on a weeknight without a diaper bag,” she says.

These days, Jax will prepare a stash of toys prior to every playdate. The bag of toys grows larger week after week. I asked Jax the other day, “This is a large bag of toys – why do you choose to bring all of these toys?” Without skipping a beat, Jax responded, “I want to share them… with my friends!”

Maybe the day of sharing will come sooner than I had hoped!

Ginny Badros is the group coordinator for the PAMP North Los Altos Playgroup. She left her occupation as an insurance geek to be the full time Chief Operating Officer of the Badros household. Her primary responsibilities include managing the expectations of some hard-to-please customers – 3 year old Jax and 1 ½ year old AJ. You can often spot Ginny, Jax, and AJ enjoying a stroll to the Los Altos Library or watching Little League baseball at the Hillview Community Center.

For more information about the PAMP North Los Altos Playgroup and play dates, contact Ginny.

Tags:  child development  spotlight 

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Membership Tips – How to Volunteer with PAMP

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Have you ever considered volunteering for PAMP, but are not sure how? Then this membership tips article is for you!

PAMP is dedicated to being the premier parents’ club in the peninsula area. We strive to offer fun and informative events, active and valuable online forums, special interest workshops and many other opportunities for our families to connect.

To make these programs a success, PAMP counts on the volunteer contributions from you — our member base! We recognize that each one of you brings unique skills and knowledge to PAMP.

While volunteering is not a requirement of your PAMP membership, we strongly encourage all of our members to contribute in a way that works best for you and your family. Would you like to attend one of our paid events for free and get to know other attendees at the same time? Then you may want to consider being an event host!

Whether it’s a one-time event, such as our recent Financial Planning Workshop, or an ongoing role, such as a PNO (Parent’s Night Out) host, hosting is a fun and easy way to volunteer and mingle with other members at the same time. Our upcoming “Bounce into the New Year” event might be the perfect opportunity for you to volunteer; if you volunteer for one of the event shifts, you and your family get to attend the other shift for free!

Perhaps you would like an opportunity to hone your writing skills. PAMP is always looking for members who would like to contribute to the news articles or blog postings featured on our website.

Do you love planning and organizing? Then perhaps a seat on one of our committees would be for you! From events to engagement to membership and outreach, there are many areas that our committees serve that help shape PAMP’s future direction.

Some of our long-term volunteer positions are even eligible for a discounted membership fee. These roles typically require a few hours of commitment a month in exchange for half off of the regular membership price.

PAMP is truly appreciative of any and all support our members are able to offer. We couldn’t do what we do without your help! You may find volunteer opportunities on our website, and also look for postings and emails from our Volunteer Manager on the PAMP forums. If you are interested in learning more about volunteering, email the Volunteer Manager.

Tags:  member tips 

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Five Questions for a Parents’ Night Out Host

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Nerene Fayers is a part of a group of members who volunteer their time to organise Parents’ Night Out (PNO) events. These adult-only events are held once a month and give PAMP parents the opportunity to meet and socialise with fellow members. “This position allows me to search for new and exciting events to offer our members,” says Nerene.

The role entails working with local businesses to arrange an event. Sometimes this means negotiating pricing, doing a write-up of the event description for publication and then hosting the event. Nerene says, “The day of the event is fun, as I get to meet fellow members while giving my time to help a great non profit.”

Nerene continues, “I love the flexibility I have in the events we can offer. The opportunity to give parents some adult time while pampering themselves or learning something new is definitely rewarding.”

Besides volunteering as a PNO Host, Nerene is also currently filling in as Events Coordinator while Brittany is on maternity leave. As the interim Events Coordinator, Nerene spends her time managing the events program to ensure classes operate as contracted and assist members with event-related matters. Some duties include assisting new sign-ups and training volunteer event hosts, working with community partners to provide new and exciting classes and assisting with communication and marketing for events.

Nerene and her husband are both from Perth, Australia and have been living in California for nine years. They recently moved to San Carlos after spending eight years in Menlo Park. They have a three year old son who puts a smile on their faces everyday. “I am a stay at home mother who is blessed to be a part of a very active mother’s group, as our days are kept busy,” she says.

What is the last non-kid movie you saw? Mad Max: Fury Road.

Are you a Bay Area native or transplant? A transplant from Australia.

What’s at the top of your to-do list? To dust off my bicycle and get back into road biking.

Who is your favorite Sesame Street character? We are more of a Wiggles household.

Why are you a PAMP volunteer? I am a PAMP volunteer because I want to give back to this great organization which provided the platform for me to meet and make a wealth of amazing friends. I also want to give fellow members opportunities to engage with others while continuing to build a network of support and friendship.

Each month we train the spotlight on someone who works behind the scenes for PAMP. Interested in joining the ranks? Browse our open volunteer positions and apply today!

Tags:  spotlight 

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Member Musings: Fashion Pregnancy

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 5, 2016

There was never a time in life that I needed to dig VERY DEEP into my wardrobe than when I was pregnant. It seemed like day by day, my wardrobe was shrinking. Literally.

And I have to confess, hormones with all my three babies, played havoc with my emotions and self-image, so I found this an especially important period to see how clothes truly do have an impact on how we feel. The more effort I put in, the better I felt. Even if it was something as simple as an injection of red lipstick and celeb sunglasses.

So let’s talk about styling that fabulous bump in pregnancy. My wonderful model, Brittany, is in her third trimester in the photos. The key here is to really flaunt that fabulous bump. Visually, wearing all the one color can help you look taller, simply by fooling the eye into seeing one long column of color. Don’t just think of dark colors like black — white can also work wonderfully as well as other neutral colors like grey and navy. Don’t be afraid of adding height, especially a great solid chunky heel or a wedge. It will help to balance out proportions and a little extra leg is always fun!

My final conclusion – find some key pieces that will work with you and allow you to just add your regular wardrobe. Think classic white jeans, black pants, a stretch dress, some uber comfortable sweaters. If you feel comfortable in it and joyful, then you are going to rock it. Go with that.

A stretchy dress is a key piece in your maternity wardrobe. It will slowly expand as your belly does. You can pair it with so many things. Think of a lovely bright scarf (which could double as a breastfeeding cover up), a long cardigan, a moto jacket, or a classic denim jacket. It’s ok to proudly show off that bump, just pair it with a less fitted piece to even it all out.

White jeans – the rules of Memorial/Labor Day are out the window if you ask me. I feel you can pull them into your wardrobe year round. They are an absolute staple. Here I have paired them with a fitted tank and a flowy cardigan, and then a camel sweater. Both tops could go beyond maternity with a denim or black pencil skirt (a more fitted bottom). Black pants – classic! Here they are paired with this summer’s must-have, a kimono. (Watch winter bring in Kimono inspired cardigans). Add some black ballet flats for another closet staple.

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

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.  

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How to Cruise Through Your Kids’ Eating During Vacation

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Vacation. Family adventures, exploring new places, and time away from homework and school projects. What a relief! But for many children and parents, living outside the well-predicted school routine can be profoundly stressful.

When homework, soccer classes and ballet rehearsals fill up family schedules, many parents find it easier to structure other areas in their children’s lives, such as eating well, being physically active and getting enough sleep. But, when kids get out of their routine, these important aspects of healthy living can easily become deregulated. The longer hours together demand more flexibility in eating and sleep habits, but often this flexibility can result in an unbalanced schedule, greater parental concerns, repeated boundary testing, confusion and resentment.

Children are accustomed to having a regular routine and most of them thrive when the expectations are simple and clear. For children’s developing brains, it is quite difficult to differentiate between a “rules included” time and a “no-rules” period. As adults, we often celebrate the opportunity of being less strict and planned with our time. In a vacation context, adults find it easy to detect when they are hungry or full and when they need to go to bed. Children, however, have a lower ability to correctly recognize their bodily situation. Consequently, they are more susceptible to overexertion. Often, a child gradually becomes hungry or tired, but this information is missed when everyone is busy having fun.

Additional social gatherings, trips and spontaneity also call for unregulated behavior and more eating out. Flexibility in bedtime hours can lead children to have fewer sleeping hours than usual. Some parents can be concerned that their children will gain or lose weight or will eat an excessive amount of unhealthy foods.

How can parents make sure their kids eat, exercise and sleep well during vacation? The following ideas may be helpful in balancing the innate freedom of a vacation with children’s developmental need of a well-planned and expected routine.

Figure out what your vision is for the vacation. Is it more important for you to take the kids on trips or to hang out locally with friends and relatives that you do not get to spend time with during the year? How much work and other engagements could you postpone? How many hours of fun physical activity are reasonable? What is most important to you in terms of regular sleeping hours, the nutrients your children receive and the structure of meals? For some parents, for example, 8-10pm are important working hours in which they complete many projects, so keeping the bedtime routine is a must. Other families do not mind the flexibility of eating their dinner while picnicking at the park.

Concentrate on the healthy habits you would like to preserve over the break. For instance, traveling with kids may result in eating more fast food than typical. These situations call for some values to take precedence over others, based on the parents’ standards.

Think ahead of the approaches you intend to use when going on vacation and make sure your parental toolbox of efficient responses is wide enough. Have more easy-to-go food with you, decide on a bedtime, tell the kids how much TV and sweets they are allowed to have each week and help them plan accordingly.

Ahead of time, make sure you know what your plans are and make the necessary arrangements. Many children, for instance, are surprisingly hungry after a short swim in the pool or have a harder time leaving home for an activity when they have been watching TV more than usual.

You had an idea how your day would look and then things went differently than expected. Don’t worry about it! Go with the flow and adapt your plans accordingly. For example, you are planning to meet friends in the park but they are running late, a relative arrives early for a visit, kids request eating something different than what you prepared for them – instead of pushing life to be what you had planned, allow yourself to adapt more easily and quickly to changes.

Many days of our lives we are rushed running to work and school, doing chores and taking our kids to activities. This may cause us to not eat properly or not exercise and sleep enough. Vacation is a wonderful opportunity to recalibrate your schedule to your family needs as well as reevaluate your own routine health-wise.

Being a parent who tries to make healthy choices for your family, you are probably over-burdened and exhausted by the time a vacation approaches. Embrace the privilege of being able to rest, hang out with your family and have stress-free time! Perceive vacation as leisure time that allows your family and yourself to reconnect with your bodies more healthily, to eat better, sleep more, exercise regularly, meditate and just chill out. Enjoying yourself and treating your body as well as your children’s respectfully will promise you a better time once you return to being busy with emails, phone calls and additional assignments.

Living healthily and educating our children to do so themselves is an important value for all parents, however many are unsure of the best ways to accomplish this. Although vacation is too often coined with boundary breaking and lack of structure, it should be perceived as an opening for a healthier family lifestyle and an opportunity to support our children’s adaptation and healthier development.

Dr. Shiri Sadeh-Sharvit and Bianca A. Davoodian are recruiting mothers with a current or past eating disorder to a no-cost parenting program in The Bay Area.

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