Tag Archives: family

New Mom Support Group - SmartMom

9 Ways SmartMom is the Best New Mom Support Group

Photo by Jenny Lewis

Community is the concept that came to mind over and over again while we were developing our SmartMom app. How could we build a community of moms that could help and support each other? Well, we think we’ve done it. Here are nine reasons that SmartMom is the best new mom support group. 

New Mom Support Group 0a

1. Ask questions. It’s easy. Just download the app, create a profile and start asking your mommy questions. Trouble breast feeding? Your child is a biter? You don’t know what that rash is on your little one’s foot? Everyone has them and now you can connect with other moms that have the answers.New Mom Support Group 1a

2. Answer questions. Maybe you are a wizard at getting your child to sleep at night, but solid foods are giving your little one fits. After you ask about eating, be sure to help out those who are sleepless. Your trick might solve someone else’s problem, and someone out there might know how to make strained peas yummy.

3. Form local play groups. Hey, there are moms online day and night to chat with, but sometimes you need to get out to the nearest park and get some sunshine. Live in Monroe, Michigan or Placerville, California? Reach out on SmartMom and see who might live in your town.

4. Form support groups. Does your child have a specific diagnosis? ADHD or acid reflux? Tethered spinal cord or William’s Syndrome? Having trouble finding others who are going through the same thing? Come on over. SmartMom can help you find others who know how you feel. Sometimes that can make all the difference – chatting with someone (online or offline) who understands your daily challenges.New Mom Support Group 2

5. Activity. There are over 500 questions and answers posted to SmartMom every day. You can see who liked your answers on the Activity tab and you can follow certain questions or just see whose question hasn’t been answered yet. There are all sorts of ways to interact with individuals on SmartMom.

6. Followers/Likes. Your questions and answers really count. Not only do they help other moms, but you can develop followers and earn points for other moms liking your questions or answers. These points can go toward contests or other promotions.New Mom Support Group 4

7. Contests. New moms (all moms) need stuff! Come see our contests and win a diaper bag or a shopping spree at Old Navy. Things change quickly, so check back often and win some clothes or baby gear.

8. Blog. Still need some advice? Our SmartMom blog regularly tackles topics like play date etiquette, table manners and great holiday foods for toddlers, among many other things. Our group of experienced moms could answer a question you didn’t even know you had yet.

9. Twitter. Need more SmartMom? Join us on Twitter. Our community manager welcomes all followers and tweets out new blog posts, interesting links and generally great information for new moms. Did you read the latest article in the New York Times about importance of reading to babies? We did, and now you can, too.

So download SmartMom and start sharing your wisdom, get answers for the things that drive you crazy, post your triumphs and let us all “ooh and ahh” over pictures of your little ones. We are waiting for you.

Get more great advice and meet other moms. Download the SmartMom app today.

5 Ways to Avoid the Summer Slide

If the idea of workbooks fills you with dread and the words “the summer slide” make you want to slide into a corner and hide, don’t worry. Your kids can have a mentally engaging summer — without resorting to formalized school work style learning.

Hit the Beach

Wait, what? How can a trip to the beach help avoid the summer slide? Well, it’s all in what you make of it. Before you go, read up on tide pools, creatures that live in your local body of water and other info about the ecosystem. Then, while building sandcastles and jumping waves, point out the snails, hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs and share little facts with the kids.

They’ll love hearing what exactly the snails eat and why clams squirt water through airholes when they bury themselves beneath the sand. Or focus on tides and teach them how the moon impacts the tide, as well as where the water goes when it “goes away.” And you’ll love continuing to help your kids learn in a total no-pressure way.

Take a Hike

Like the beach, hiking can provide infinite opportunities for learning. You can teach about rocks, plants, animals and so much more. Choose your trail wisely – some nature centers have self-guided tours that can help with the learning on the go. Or try geocaching, which is a sort-of scavenger hunt that requires you to use GPS coordinates to find special spots where geocaches are hidden.

Another option? Hike a waterfall – then you can talk about water flow, erosion and more. Again, this is a fun and active way to enjoy summer without falling into the Summer Slide trap.

Visit the Library

It’s no secret that instilling a love of reading in kids is important. Stories let children explore new worlds, discover creativity and linger in their imagination – all good things. So, if you haven’t already, join your local library and go weekly.

The kids will love choosing stories, and you can tap into all the resources that libraries offer for families – like story hours for kids, author visits and more. And just the act of going to the library will help prevent the Summer Slide since the kids will be inspired to learn.

Also, check to see if your library has any summer reading incentives for kids – they can range from prizes to cold, hard cash just for reading a certain number of books. Pretty sweet, right?

Get Cooking

When it comes to practicing math, cooking is an awesome way to do it without even thinking about it. Between number recognition, fractions and time (this takes 15 minutes to cook – when will it be done?), numbers are part and parcel with everything done in the kitchen.

Better yet, if you are working from a recipe, kids can practice their reading skills and their direction-following skills too.

Plus, the help in the kitchen is a priceless way to bond too (it’s not just about avoiding the Summer Slide!).

Garden Together

Psst! There’s a lot of learning that can happen just by doing – like by planting and maintaining a garden. It’s not too late to get pretty flowers in the ground and cultivate them.

Have the kids help with the planning, planting and care-taking of the garden. They will learn first-hand about what makes plants grow, garden pests and so much more.

 

Here are some ideas on fun summer activities!

Get more great advice and meet other moms. Download the SmartMom app today.

When should you begin disciplining your child? - SmartMom

When Should You Begin Disciplining Your Child?

Once children begin walking and talking, it’s time to begin the early stages of discipline. Between the ages of 12 and 18 months is a good time to start disciplining your child, using simple techniques that focus on teaching your child acceptable behavior.

Preventing Behavior Problems 

Discipline for toddlers should focus on prevention, not punishment. Prevent behavior problems by creating an environment where your child can explore and play safely. Remove breakable and potentially hazardous objects and give your child an opportunity to throw, bang, and pound indestructible age-appropriate toys.

Create a Schedule

Establish a routine so your child’s body grows accustomed to regular eating, sleeping, and playing times. Plan your errands and community adventures according to your child’s schedule. A well-rested and well-fed toddler is more likely to behave when you’re in public.

Redirect Your Child’s Attention

Redirection is a wonderful discipline technique that allows you to use your toddler’s short attention span to your advantage. For example, if your child bangs his toy on your antique table, give him a pillow to safely bang on instead. Redirect his energy and attention by giving him a more acceptable alternative.

Provide Praise and Positive Reinforcement

Children begin responding to praise and positive reinforcement at an early age. Whenever you catch your child being good, use your words and your body language to cheer him on. Clap, celebrate, and show him how pleased you are with his efforts. Such positive attention encourages good behavior to continue.

Give Short Explanations

Give your toddler short explanations about why his behavior needs to change. For example, rather than giving a list of reasons why biting is bad, say, “No biting. Biting hurts.” Skip the long lectures and stick to the facts.

Apply More Complex Discipline Strategies

Discipline strategies need to change often to keep up with a child’s development. Once your child understands cause-and-effect relationships you can begin implementing consequences, such as time-out. Prior to the age of 2 or 3, most children won’t grasp the concept that their behavior is linked to a consequence.

Once your child develops an understanding of consequences, begin adding other discipline strategies, such as removing privileges. In the meantime, focus on safety issues and prevention. Remain consistent with your rules and responses to lay a firm foundation for future discipline efforts.

Here are a few ways to discipline your child effectively!

 

RELATED QUESTIONS

What are some of the ways you will discipline your children? Will you spank or not and why?

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Get more great advice and meet other moms. Download the SmartMom app today.

smartmom baby's first christmas on a budget

Baby’s First Christmas on a Budget

Photo by Amanda Watters

I haven’t gotten this excited about the holidays in quite some time. Honestly, Christmas stopped being a big deal for me several years ago. I still look forward to it, of course, because it means seeing my extended family and participating in all kinds of fun traditions. But for some time, it just hasn’t had the same appeal it did when I was younger. But this year is my baby’s first Christmas, and I couldn’t be more excited!

As we look forward to this Christmas, what I am eagerly anticipating the most is seeing our five-month-old son’s reaction to all the twinkling lights, the festive music, and, of course, tearing open of his gifts. A baby’s first year is full of exciting milestones, and for many families, the first holiday season is one of them. For us, the hardest part has been not going over our budget. I recently decided to quit my “real job” to concentrate on building my photography business, and I can tell you that not having a steady paycheck has really impacted our Christmas spending! We’ve had to show some real restraint, and it hasn’t been easy, but if you’re careful and make smart choices, you can make your baby’s first holiday a wonderful one without breaking the bank.

My first bit of advice? Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make your baby’s first Christmas a huge deal, at least not materially. When you think about it, this is really a milestone for you. Your baby’s not going to remember much, but you will, so concentrate on making those memories special! Take time out from your preparations to spend with your baby. Sing some carols, read Christmas stories together, take them someplace with lots of pretty light displays, and create some new traditions you can share for years to come! None of these will cost you a dime, but their value will stick around a lot longer than any present you purchase.

While we’re on the subject of presents, do yourselves a favor and don’t go overboard with toys. You probably have friends and family who are going to shower your kiddo with more than you’ll know what to do with. Between now and the day when he or she leaves for college, you’ll have amassed a collection of children’s playthings to rival Santa’s workshop, even if you don’t purchase a single one yourself! Instead, choose one or two that you’d really like your child to have–maybe something educational like Baby Einstein, or some fun musical toys–and leave the rest to someone else. Trust me, they’ll more than cover it.

You can also consider getting toys or other more expensive items second-hand. If you’re not up for a trip to the thrift store, there are plenty of nice resale boutiques nowadays that specialize in baby items, so you can get gently used clothes and gear for a lot less than you’d pay in stores. Craigslist can also be a great resource, but be sure you are safe about meeting up with people you don’t know, and if it’s something with moving parts, try it before you take it home!

For the rest of your presents, choose practical things–stuff you were going to have to buy, anyway. Let’s be honest: the best thing about babies and Christmas presents is watching them tear off the wrapping paper! I’m pretty sure even they like that part the best, so give them lots to unwrap in the form of necessities. For us, that means some new cloth diapers, a couple of new sets of pajamas, and a high chair. It’s all stuff we’d have needed to get before our son reaches six months, which means it was already in the budget, but this way we get to watch him rip open the gift wrap first.

If you’re wanting to commemorate the holiday for the rest of your friends and family, consider some homemade keepsakes to help them remember. Salt dough ornaments are quick, easy, and cost literally pennies. Just mix ½ cup water, ½ cup salt, and a cup of flour together to form a thick dough. Roll it out like you would sugar cookie dough, and cut it into circles a little larger than your baby’s hand or foot. Then, press your baby’s handprint or footprint into the dough. You can add a message like “Baby’s First Christmas” or whatever else you’d like by writing in the dough with a toothpick. Then, poke a hole that’s about the diameter of a pencil in the top and bake the dough at 250° F for two hours. When the ornaments are done baking and cooling, you can leave them plain or paint them with acrylic paints, if you want to liven them up a bit. All you have to do to finish them is add a ribbon for hanging, and you have a delightful memento to give! And this recipe is enough for 10-15 ornaments, so you can save a couple for yourself, as well.

And speaking of mementos, make sure you chronicle your baby’s first holiday season with photos or video! Like I mentioned before, your baby isn’t going to remember much about it, but you’ll kick yourself if you forget to document it so you can share your fond memories with them in the years to come. If you don’t have a camera or a video recorder, consider borrowing one from a friend, or renting one. Heck, even a smartphone can take decent pictures and video these days, so capture every last moment and save it for posterity. You–and your child–will be so glad you have the ability to look back on these memories together!

Making your little one’s first holiday a special one doesn’t have to involve too much spending. You just have to get a little creative and recognize that the best present you can give your baby is a day full of joy and laughter, surrounded by loved ones. After all, that’s what the holidays are all about!

Get more great advice and meet other moms. Download the SmartMom app today.

Mother Knows Best - SmartMom

Mother Knows Best

Photo by T&T blog

From the moment the stick turned pink, every well-meaning person within a 100 mile radius was itching to tell me everything there is to know about parenting.

At first, I really appreciated the information. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that much of the guidance I received was contradictory. I still remember sitting at my baby shower when someone suggested that all the veteran moms in the room give me some “professional advice”. Almost immediately people started tossing tidbits of maternal knowledge at me like a group of children throwing breadcrumbs at a pigeon- a pigeon that didn’t even realize she was hungry! I desperately ran from one crumb to the next, my head flipping back and forth as the conversation bounced across the room.

“Make sure you swaddle your baby tightly… they’ll sleep better that way.”

“Yes but not too tightly, or they’ll get over heated and suffocate!”
“Oh, and never ever let the baby fall asleep in your arms. If you do she’ll never learn to fall asleep on her own. Trust me!”
“But hold your baby all the time! They grow up too fast!“
“If you do things right your baby will sleep through the night by the time they’re 8 weeks old.”
“The only way our baby sleeps through the night is if she sleeps with us.”

“Oh you should NEVER sleep with your baby! You’ll roll over her and kill her! She’ll suffocate!”
“Yeah, plus then she’ll want to sleep with you until she’s 12.”
“Don’t even watch the clock, just enjoy every minute… but make sure you put her on a schedule as soon as possible! Babies thrive on a strict schedule.”

Just when I thought my head was about to explode, my grandma piped in, “I hope you’re taking notes!  Does someone have a pen handy so she can write this all down?”  I wrapped my arms protectively around my growing belly as if to say, “I changed my mind little one! Just stay in there where it’s safe!”

Seven years have gone by since that day, and I am happy to report that I now have 4 fantastic kids running (and crawling) through my house. They are happy, healthy, and thriving, regardless of (or perhaps because of) the fact that each of them requires a unique blend of parenting. My younger siblings are starting their own families now and suddenly I’m considered one of the veterans. Sometimes they come to me, worried that they’re not “doing it right”. But the thing is, there’s not one “right” way to do it.

I don’t have all of the answers. The only breadcrumb in my arsenal is this:  You can read all the parenting books in the world, but until you can learn to read your child they won’t be of much use to you.

I’ve often heard people say, “I wish my baby came with an instruction manual.” The truth is, they do! It may not be spelled out for us, but it’s there. Mothers are blessed with a 6th sense, a deep maternal instinct that burns inside us. It may not come immediately, but with time you will learn how to read your baby’s cues. Even babies who can’t talk will tell you what they need if you are willing to listen. As you study your child’s spirit you will be better equipped to filter the parenting advice you are given. With anything from sleeping patterns to discipline problems- you will know what breadcrumbs to pick up, and which ones you should leave on the ground.

So, all of you sweet mammas, my advice to you is simple. Do your research. Respect other’s opinions and parenting styles. Keep in mind that what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for all, and that’s okay. Devour every book you can get your hands on, and then take a deep breath… and let it go. In the end, Mother Knows Best. You got this mamma bear. You got this.

At SmartMom, we’re all about sharing advice and support, especially for our new moms. What are a few things you wish you knew as a first time mom? Post them in the SmartMom app to share the mom love.

Get more great advice and meet other moms. Download the SmartMom app today.