Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Well, that was awkward!

I just had my first sex (or S-E-X) talk with our oldest, who is nine years old. It came out the other day that kids are talking about it at school (apparently, it's *all* they talk about!), and I thought it's probably time to open a dialogue about it with her. My own parents never said a peep to me about sex, it's a wonder we have four children! I want our kids to know they can talk to us about these things, and I also want them to know it's a healthy part of any loving relationship, and if she's talking about it in the schoolyard, it's time to talk about it at home.

When Maddy first brought up 'S-E-X' the other day, she told me her friends say you have to 'do it' to get married (they're in grade four, people, grade four!). She then told me she knows that's not true because we (her father and I) are married and we have four kids, and we've never done it (!!!). I did what I could to stifle a laugh, our other children were with us at the time (4 and 7), I wanted to discuss it further with Maddy, but alone, not with an audience. She was clearly embarrassed about it, I didn't want her to be anymore uncomfortable than necessary (OK, I lie, I was also trying to minimize my own discomfort too!).

In terms of 'where babies come from', we have always been open with our kids about the science behind baby-making -- from an early age, they've known that a mommy has eggs in her belly, and a daddy has seeds in his penis. Daddy puts the seeds in mommy 'with love', a baby grows for nine months, then the baby comes out of mommy's vagina (or sometimes the baby is cut out of her belly). The only thing I've never known how to broach is the 'how' behind it all (when my kids have asked "How does Daddy put his seeds in you?", I've never managed to come up with a better answer than "With love" because I don't know how to explain the mechanics without blushing!).

If I think back to my own childhood, I can recall my first discussions about S-E-X with my friends, I was in grade five, so I suppose not much older than Maddy is now. I'll admit, I surfed Amazon looking for books yesterday, my first instinct was to order a book and give it to her -- talk about the chicken's way out! However, I suppose throwing a book at her really won't make her feel like opening up about it down the road when she needs someone to talk to. The opportunity presented itself tonight when she was in her room alone, doing her homework. I asked her if she has any questions about sex, and she turned three shades of red, her reply was a quick 'no'. I told her I just wanted her to know it's something that people do when they're in love, and that Daddy and I do it, if we didn't, we wouldn't have four wonderful children. At this point, looking thoroughly disgusted, Maddy exclaimed "I'm glad Daddy had is seeds taken out so you don't have to do it again -- you don't do it anymore, right?". I laughed and said "yes" (at this point, we were both blushing!), and tried to emphasize it's a way two people can show love for each other.

Oh, and didn't the floodgates open up then! No questions? Ha!

"What do you wear when you do it?"

"Where do you do it?"

"What position do you use?" (can you even believe she asked this? Grade four, people! And no, I didn't answer.)

"Have you done it this week? Last week? Last month?"

"Do Gramma and Grandpa do it?" (at this point, I fully sympathized with her, there are some things *I* don't even want to think about!")

Between each question, she hid her face in her pilow, or groaned 'ewwww', and told me it's an inappropriate conversation. She also told me her teacher tells them to 'visualize' things they can't understand, and she doesn't want to visualize anything anymore!

The conversation wasn't exactly flowing, it was definitely awkward for us both, however, I wanted her to know that if she has questions, I'd rather she asks me as opposed to the kids at school. I've heard horror stories from customers who are high school teachers about what happens now (two teachers have confirmed it's not an urban legend!), it would seem times have changes since we were in high school! I have no idea how I went from being the mother of a bouncing bundle of joy just nine short years ago to the mother of a child who talks with her friends about S-E-X, but I certainly don't want to bury my head in the sand and pretend she's never going to grow up! I just hope that as she gets older, and the topic gets more relevent (God, no!), she's comfortable enough to talk to me about it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Babywearing and biking don't mix.

Apparently, some things need to be spelled out for some people. I will preface this by saying I'm an avid babywearer. We have four kids, we have always relied on a collection of various carriers to tote them around. Babywearing is easy, convenient, and when done properly, safe. However, there are instances when you should forgo the baby carrier, and use a little common sense instead.

I recently stumbled across a blog entry in which the auther filmed a trip with her family to a local healthfood store. The family rode two bikes, the mother's bike was behind the father's bike, she was filming his bike ride. The father had a toddler on the back of his bike, strapped into a bike seat, wearing a helmet. He also had an infant who appeared to be less than six months old strapped to his chest, in an Ergo carrier, the infant was not wearing a helmet. I was dumbfounded.

I left a comment on her blog suggesting that it's not a wise practice, she should reconsider transporting such a baby in that manner. Not only did she disagree ("Safety is always a big concern for us and in our opinion Baby C is in the safest spot given the situation. Whether he’s riding along in a car or any other moving piece of equipment/ animal there are always risks involved. Common sense & following our intuition is how we often “roll”. Just so you know, this isn’t habit and we don’t do it on the daily … usually for a short jaunt or trail ride- when less traffic is involved."), but several other commenters agreed with her, one of whom pointed out that her mother used to do it with her. Um, yeah, OK, you mean like back when infants rode in cars on people's laps? I guess we should do that too, right?

I sent the blogger a private message detailing why riding a bike with an infant is an unsafe practice, even if you only do it occassionally, even if you choose a time of day when there is less traffic, the risk of serious injury to your baby is high if you do get into an accident. There are many reasons you shouldn't wear your baby on a bicycle:
  • your baby is strapped to 100+ lbs of deadweight (yes, I'm talking about you). Ever heard the phrase "the bigger they come, the harder they fall"? Think about it. Since your baby is strapped to you, she will experience the same impact as you, which will be much harder on her tiny body than on yours.
  • you might land on your baby. You know, because she's STRAPPED TO YOU. I have debated this point in a forum with other babywearing vendors, the majority of whom seemed to think that riding a bike while wearing a baby was likely safe (how's that for a ringing endorsement? It's *likely* safe!). One suggested that if a parent falls off a bike while wearing her baby, she will be able to manipulate her body in mid-air to land with the baby on top. Last I checked, we're humans, not cats. If you get turfed from your bike, you'll hit the ground before you know what happened, there won't be time to react.
  • if you fall while you're on a bike, your baby is falling from a taller height and travelling at a faster speed than if you fall while you're walking (for those of you who want to argue that you can also fall while walking and babywearing). You know how bicycles work, right? To stay upright, you have to move the bike at a pace faster than walking. So not only is your baby strapped to 100+ lbs of deadweight, the height and the speed at which she's travelling will make the impact that much worse.

Biking is a great family activity, and babywearing is a wonderful way to include your little one in the things you do, however, they don't go hand-in-hand. The possibility of taking a spill aside, cycling can be a bumpy affair, you and I can tolerate the normal jostling of a bike, however, your infant's neck is not as strong as ours, and if your bike comes to a sudden stop, your little one will not be able to control her head movement (big head + weak neck = not good!).

Even if you're the best cyclist ever to pedal across the earth, to be blunt, shit happens. When I was driving home from work a couple of weeks ago, a wheel broke clean off a car and bounced across the highway in front of my car. It was only by the grace of God that no one was hurt, but if that wheel had bounced *just so*, there would have been nothing I (or anyone else on the road at that time) could have done to avoid it.

Apologies for my preachy tone, but I think it's warranted here. I chatted with several customers in the store about this on Saturday, all of whom admitted to witnessing others babywearing while biking (and inline skating along the canal, and ice skating on the canal!). As parents, it is our responsibility to keep our children out of harm's way. No, we cannot raise our children in a bubble, accidents will happen, however, waiting until a child is old enough to properly tolerate a bike ride, and using the proper gear to minimize risk will reduce the likelihood and severity of injury.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wear your baby on the bus

Without getting into the drama of 'should they or shouldn't they', I'm going to write about how babywearing can make public transportation easier (I'm sure you're on pins and needles, am I right?). I live in Stittsville, I drive to work, so the whole stoller-on-a-bus issue generally doesn't affect my day-to-day life. Prior to having kids, when I worked in an office in downtown Ottawa (back when I wore makeup, did my hair, and shaved my legs on a regular basis... I digress!), I used OC Transpo regularly (I have OC Transpo to thank for my love affair with the Harry Potter series of books!). Since becoming a parent, I have used public transportation with our kids occassionally, and in those rare instances, I have never felt the need to use a stroller. In fact, I would say using a baby carrier instead always made the experience far easier.

So, why wouldn't I want to use a stroller on a bus? For starters, how awkward must it be to get on and off a bus with a stroller? I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest very awkward. Babywearing makes things like stairs and narrow spaces easy to negotiate. Easy on, easy off!

What about when the bus is packed full, how do you think your little one feels with people pressed up against his stroller? From their perspective, it must be a little scary to be surrounded by lots of strangers in cramped quarters (like a forest of legs!). When you're carrying your baby, you're always close by, he just has to look up and he can easily see your face for reassurance.

Slings make breastfeeding on the go much easier. Babies get hungry everywhere. If I had junior strapped into a stroller, and he decided he wanted to eat, like, five minutes ago already, it would be a struggle to get him out and latch him on on a crowded bus. When your baby is in a carrier, breastfeeding can be easy and discrete.

Lastly, I have always appreciated that when my babies were carried, it was easy to keep them away from the hands of well-meaning strangers. When sitting in an enclosed space with lots of people you don't know, especially in cold and flu season, you don't want strangers stroking your baby's cheeks.

If you're boarding a bus with a toddler, and you think he's outgrown a baby carrier, think again. A lot of soft-structured carriers (SSCs) can be used with children who weigh up to 40 lbs, the size of an average four year old. You can wear your toddler on your front, making it easy to sit down with him in your lap. It can be done, trust me!

So, all this to say if you have a current OC Transpo or Grand River Transit pass, you are entitled to a 10% discount on any instock, regularly-priced baby carrier (no other discounts apply). Transit pass must be shown at time of purchase.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tips for convincing Dad to use cloth diapers.

While we see a lot of expecting couples doing their research at our stores, it's not uncommon to see pregnant women come in alone, gathering information for their partners who are reluctant to consider using cloth diapers. We are well-prepared for this, we have handouts that detail the who-what-why of cloth diapers, a chart that breaks down the cost savings, and a glossary of terms with a chart that outlines the pros/cons of different systems. What can I say, we want you to be prepared!

If your partner is still on the fence, the following tips can help bring him over to the dark side.

Make him read this. What can I say, I think I did a pretty good job of poking holes through any argument against using cloth diapers.

Show him what today's cloth diapers look like. Like your future daycare provider, your partner may have some preconceived notions about what cloth diapers are, and how they work. If you take him to a store that sells cloth diapers (like ours, hint hint), allowing him to see and feel cloth diapers, you'll do a lot ot sway him to your point of view.

Buy him his own stash. If your partner is still hesitant about using cloth diapers because of their perceived difficulty of use, then buy some easy-to-use diapers just for him. Yes, prefolds are easy to use, however, if he's going to reach for a disposable diaper because prefolds scare him, then buying him his own diapers will be worthwhile investment. Consider a velcro pocket diaper, if you stuff it beforehand, it goes on just as quickly and easily as a disposable diaper.

Keep it simple. Oh, how can I put this delicately. There are some people out there with a lot of time on their hands. I'm not a make-work person, so the thought of folding and color-coding our cloth diapers ever time I wash them makes me shudder. Like anything in life, using cloth diapers can be as complicated or as simple as you make it. If your partner is already worried about the workload involved, make it easy on him by storing everything in a hamper. It doesn't have to look pretty, but it makes laundry day so much easier when all you have to do is pull everything out of the dryer and stick it in a hamper. So. Easy.

Point out the obvious. No matter how liberated you and your other half may be, truth is, for the first few months at least, mom will likely be the baby's primary caregiver. It's just the way things tend to work out. As a result, he will not be changing as many diapers as you will. If you're the one changing poopy bums, you should be the one to make the call as to what goes on junior's bum.

Sign up for a diaper loan program. Over six years ago, I developed the concept of a diaper loan program (a genius idea, if I may say so myself!) as a way to enable parents to seriously consider cloth diapers, giving them a chance to 'test the waters' without making a serious financial investment. A loan program is a great way to see what using cloth diapers involves (easy-peasy, I swear!), and your partner will get a chance to try a variety of diapers -- who knows, maybe he'll turn out to be a prefold fan after all!

It wasn't terribly hard to bring my husband on board with respect to using cloth diapers. The cost savings alone sealed the deal (like me, my husband is a frugal person, a man after my own heart!). Nine years and four babies later, he has never regretted the decision. Your partner won't either, I promise!