Are you sleep deprived? Some tips

Posted by Lorain County Moms

Most moms are reluctant members of a club: The sleep-deprived club. We don’t have a special handshake, but we do have a password of sorts. It goes like this:

Mom to a colleague (also a mom): How are you?

Colleague: Tired.

I’m one of the perpetually tired. Even if I get to sleep at a reasonable hour, I wake up two, three or sometimes four times a night. I joke that the last time I got any real REM sleep was in 1997.

But being sleep-deprived isn’t a laughing matter. It makes us moms cranky, as our families can attest. A story in today’s newspaper talks about how the use of sleeping pills is on the rise. I don’t think I would ever go down that road. But when I have a cold, I get just a little too excited about taking Nyquil (the good stuff that you have to get from the pharmacist).

Here are some tips on fighting insomnia:

1. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine close to bedtime.

2. When awake at night, don’t look at the clock; it can heighten anxiety about losing sleep.

3. Exercise regularly, though not within a few hours of bedtime.

4. Try to get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, to establish a regular sleep schedule.

5. Rather than toss and turn, get up and do something relaxing, such as reading.

6. Don’t return to bed until you feel quite sleepy.

7. Use cognitive-behavior techniques, such as changing your negative thoughts about sleep loss to be less catastrophic. For instance, instead of thinking, “I’ll be a mess tomorrow if I don’t sleep,” try to think, “I’ve functioned OK before with minimal sleep. I can do it again if I have to.”

8.Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Ideally, it should be warm but not hot, dark and quiet.

9. Don’t try too hard to sleep. It can make things worse.

10. See your doctor if your insomnia doesn’t get better.

—By Lisa Cianci,  OrlandoSentinel.com/momsatwork


Baseball: Fun for the whole family

Posted by Lorain County Moms

Major League Baseball is back. Last season, I admit that I fell off the baseball radar. My daughter was born in late April — and well, I’m sure you know the rest of that story.

But this year I’m thrilled to get back into “my” sport. And as it so happens, I have a little girl that I think is ready to be introduced to the game — if only to learn the words “ball,” “bat” and “CUBS WIN!”

Here are nine reasons why baseball is the perfect family sport:

1. It teaches patience. Boredom peeks after three hours of a scoreless game. But what bigger payoff than a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th inning?

2. It teaches loyalty. Yankees’ fans defend their players, coaches and payroll to a fault. As we saw last year, Rays’ fans might be few, but they are fighters. And Cubs’ fans? Let’s just say it takes an especially loyal person to have hope in a World Series title for a franchise that hasn’t won in more than 100 years.

3. It’s complicated. Explaining why there are three strikes, four balls, three outs, nine innings, a bullpen of pitchers and what a “balk” is to a child can be difficult. But when they “get it” and start explaining the rules of the game to a friend, you’ll have one more reason to be proud.

4. It provides memories that only a ballpark can create. Even in today’s economy, bleacher or lawn seats are an affordable way to see a game up close. There’s something about the crack of a bat, just as the sun is setting and casting long shadows over the outfield, that can’t be captured any other way than in person.

5. The personalities. Watching the “benches clear” after a star slugger gets hit by a pitch can be exhilarating — oh yeah, and as a parent, it can also provide the perfect opportunity to explain why yelling and fighting is the fast-track to being ejected, suspended or fined.

6. “Take Me Out to The Ballgame.” Yeah, you’re already singing it. Good, clean, obnoxious fun — for the whole family!

7. It teaches diversity. Baseball players come in all shapes and sizes. They are from farms in Iowa, villages in Central America and high rises in Japan. No matter where they came from, the nine players on the field win, and lose, as one team.

(I deliberately avoided the steroid scandal, which does not involve the majority of major league players.)

8. It gives kids something to believe in. Kids can be the toughest critics — finding faults in just about everything. But it’s hard to debate the magic in a diving catch on the warning track, where the player does three somersaults before popping up to show the crowd that the ball is still in his mitt.

9. Family bonding, over a sport that’s been passed down from generation to generation and is truly America’s pastime. I can’t wait to tell my daughter about taking the subway to Wrigley Field and catching a home-run ball in the left-field bleachers.

—By Katie Powalski, OrlandoSentinel.com/momsatwork


Kids and food: 10 tips for your picky eaters

Posted by besttech

As soon as we walked through the door last night, my daughter asked for a banana. Then a glass of juice. Of course I obliged, because it kept her from screaming and trying to fling herself onto the hot stove while I was cooking dinner.

However, when it came time for everyone to enjoy the evening meal, she wasn’t interested. (Especially because the said meal didn’t contain, chicken, cheese, nuts or ketchup — her four basic food groups.)

Why is everything a battle these days? Why won’t my child just eat?

Well, because I’m doing everything wrong, according to MayoClinic.com.

Most parents are worried about their children’s eating habits … but shouldn’t be, they say. Are you freaking out, too? Here are 10 tips from the experts to help you avoid mealtime meltdowns:

1. Respect your child’s hunger. Young children tend to eat only when they’re hungry. If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force food on them.

2. Stay calm. If your child senses that you’re unhappy with her eating habits, it may become a battle of wills. Threats only reinforce the power struggle.

3. Watch the clock. Nix juice and snacks for at least one hour before meals. If your child comes to the table hungry, she may be more motivated to eat.

4. Limit liquid calories. If your child fills up on milk or juice, he or she may have no room for meals or snacks.

5. Start small. Offer several foods in small portions. Let your child choose what she eats.

6. Leave taste out of it. Talk about a food’s color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good.

7. Make it fun. Serve broccoli and other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce. Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters.

8. Stick to the routine. Serve meals and snacks at about the same times every day. If the kitchen is closed at other times, your child may be more likely to eat what’s served for meals and snacks.

9. Minimize distractions. Turn off the television during meals, and don’t allow books or toys at the table.

10. Don’t offer dessert as a reward. Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which may only increase your child’s desire for sweets. You might select one or two nights a week as dessert nights, and skip dessert the rest of the week. Or redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy choices.

By Janel Jacobs, OrlandoSentinel.com/momsatwork


Must-haves in my beauty regime

Posted by besttech

So it’s not much of a “regime.” We’re talking 10 minutes max to get the scary reality of me under control. Here are the products I can’t live without:

1. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer (light tint). I skip foundation and simply use this each morning. It evens out my skin tone and protects my face from the sun with an SPF of 30. On “those days,” this is all I wear, and I don’t feel totally naked. (About $12)

2. Revlon creme eyeshadow. It doesn’t get any easier than this: Simply apply with your fingertip. None of the colors are too shimmery, and they blend perfectly. Even the makeup inept like me can put this one without ending up looking like a middle-schooler. I keep sets of browns and pinks on hand at all times. (About $5)

3. Velvet Tuberose perfume from Bath & Body Works. A little bit floral and a little bit spicy (and kinda sexy, too), this scent matches all my moods. One of the best gifts I’ve been given lately. I’m running low, so a trip to the mall is in store for me soon. ($26.50)

4. Fudge Matte Head Texture Paste. Creates definition and texture in my superstraight and fine hair. Great for any short and/or choppy haircut. And it smells like cucumber-melon. (About $16.)

5. Maybelline Great Lash mascara. My little squinty eyes need help to stand out, so curling and mascara are a must. The is simply THE BEST mascara around and rivals expensive department store brands. Don’t just take my word for it: Women consistently name it as their favorite year after year in magazine polls. (About $4. And be sure to look for Maybelline coupons in the newspaper.)

Now, if only there were a product to hide my double chin.

–By Kim Hays, OrlandoSentinel.com/momsatwork


Find more advice for moms at http://orlandosentinel.com/momsatwork



Five tips for balancing work and family

Posted by besttech

With almost 12 years of parenting under my belt, I feel like I have a good routine (most days, anyway). I’m here to tell you new moms out there: You can work and raise healthy, happy children.

Some things I’ve learned:

1. Find a job you love. I know, easier said than done in this lousy economy. Leaving Junior for nine or 10 hours a day is tough; it’s even tougher if you’re leaving him for a job you hate. And if you hate your job, you run the risk of being a clock-watcher — which won’t please the boss. You’ve heard the saying, “If mamma’s not happy, nobody’s happy.” If you go home and complain about how much you hate your job, your children are going to pick up on that, and they’ll resent your job, too.

2. Have a backup plan to your backup plan. Plans fall apart, especially child-care arrangements. If your kid is in day care, find a sitter who can be available on short notice if your child gets sick. Make sure you and your partner have talked about who goes home if your backup plans fall through. Talk to your boss ahead of time to see if working from home in a rare emergency is an option. Word of warning: Don’t suggest this if you have a child under 4 or 5 and especially an infant. There is no “working” from home when you’re caring for a child that young. However, if you have the type of job in which you can catch up on work after the little one goes to bed, that might work.

3. Get your partner involved from Day 1. Don’t be a mommy martyr. Daddy can — and should — pack lunches, make doctors’ appointments and plan for child care just as well as you can. But once you take over all those jobs, you’re going to be stuck doing them for the next 18 years. Trust me on this. It’s too late for me — save yourself!

4. Give up on perfection — and the illusion that you’re in control. Would you rather have a spotless house or an extra hour playing with your child? Go for the kid time. Set priorities every day, and give up what’s truly not important. So you spent hours making homemade cupcakes for the class party, and then your kindergartner accidentally knocked them over? Get over it and move on.

5. Don’t forget your girlfriends. For a decade, I rarely did any socializing that didn’t include my son. I think a lot of working moms feel guilty about the time they’re missing with their children because of work, so they give up everything else — including that essential time for themselves. No, you won’t go bar-hopping every weekend after you become a parent, but lunch with your best friend every once in a while won’t permanently scar your child. And it shows him that your needs are important, too.

–By Lisa Cianci, OrlandoSentinel.com/momsatwork


Find more advice for moms at http://orlandosentinel.com/momsatwork


Five instant mood boosters

Posted by besttech

Thanks to a chronic sinus infection and a nasty bout of PMS, I’ve been in a foul mood all week. The stacks of papers, excessive conference calls and carpools with my husband aren’t helping matters.

I’m sick of being mad. So, instead of focusing on my empty wallet and idiot co-workers today, I’m getting positive. You can boost your mood too with these five easy tips from Shine (http://shine.yahoo.com/):

1. Clean up. Even a few piles of paperwork can make a busy day feel even more frantic. Sort everything that needs your immediate attention into a file folder and find a home for everything else in drawers, baskets or the trash.

2. Tune in. Put on some mood-lifting music to help you beat the blues. Keep a CD or playlist of pop, jazz, nature sounds or other favorite music nearby to play when your spirit needs a lift.

3. Laugh. Studies show that laughter not only has a big impact on your mood, it also relaxes your body.

4. Focus on color. There’s plenty of research on how color affects your mood. Blue is said to be calming. Red, exciting. If turquoise reminds you of the most relaxing vacation of your life, get a coffee mug in that color as a focal point when you need a boost.

5. Eat, drink and be merry. Being hungry or thirsty can impact your concentration and mood. A healthy snack of granola, dried fruit or oatmeal will fuel your body longer than a big, hunk of chocolate (sorry). And drinking a big glass of water (instead of coffee…sigh) will also perk you up.

–By Janel Jacobs, OrlandoSentinel.com/momsatwork


Find more advice for moms at http://orlandosentinel.com/momsatwork


Things not to do with your stepkids on your weekend

Posted by besttech

Step-parenting is a whole different ball game. I know — I’ve been one now for almost 10 years. I’ve learned a few things in my tenure.

Here’s my list of things NOT do to with your stepkids on your weekend. (Now, my ideas may irritate custodial parents, but at my house we don’t want to waste the few precious hours with the kids on things that aren’t fortifying our relationship):

— Don’t make them clean their room or take out the trash or mow the grass, etc. My reasoning: They don’t LIVE here. Why should they be cleaning up MY mess. We do, however, abide by this simple rule: Clean up after yourself.

— Don’t let everyone do their own thing. This is a tough one at my house. With kids from 17 to 17 months, it’s hard to find something for everyone to do. Sometimes, we just end up all running errands or going out to dinner — just so we can all be together. (Other times, the 12-year-old ends up in front of the TV, the teen on the computer, and me and my husband chasing after the toddlers.)

— Don’t nag about grades or homework or procrastination, etc. (especially if you’re the step-parent). If there’s an issue with grades or boys or honesty or curfews — discuss it in the car on the way to your house and then drop it. Do you really want your child’s 48 hours with you to be filled with a constant barrage of negativity?

Hey, my family isn’t perfect. In fact, we could use a lot of improvement in this realm. And because their weekend is also OUR weekend, we sometimes get so caught up in our to-do list, we forget to stop and enjoy the children. Hopefully this list can help you — and me — get on track.

–Kim Hays, OrlandoSentinel.com/momsatwork


Five ways to reuse coffee grounds

Posted by besttech

By Janel Jacobs OrlandoSentinel.com/momsatwork

I drink a lot of coffee. We all do.

According to reports, more than 50 percent of Americans drink at least three to four cups every day.

That’s a lot of java. And a lot of leftover grounds, too.

So, since I’m always looking for tips to save money, here are five ways I’ve found to get more bang for my coffee buck.

1. Make a body scrub. Mix a couple tablespoons of coffee grounds into your regular shower gel and you’ll have the perfect exfoliator for silky, smooth skin.

2. Give plants a treat. Acid-lovers like azaleas, roses, carrots and radishes will flourish with a bit of joe. Sprinkle the coffee grounds directly around the base of the plants.

3. Clear the air. Put dry coffee grounds into a small paper bag, bundle of cheesecloth or tied piece of fabric. Then, place them in the fridge or a closet to trap musty odors.

4. Wash your hands. The next time you wash your hands add a small amount of coffee grounds and a sprinkle of salt to the soap. The mixture will remove grease, absorb odors (even onions!) and leave your hands baby-soft.

5. Drink more coffee. Dry out the old coffee grounds on a cookie sheet in the oven. Then add half old and half new coffee the next time you brew. The rich flavor will amaze you!


Find more advice for moms at http://orlandosentinel.com/momsatwork