Monday, March 2, 2015

Before you upload that picture...

Let's start with privacy basics: The bathroom door.

After several years of repeated discussions, my son has finally learned to knock on the closed bathroom door. About 60% of the time he also waits for acknowledgement before trying to come in. It is (in my head) a parenting triumph.

So we move on to phase two: The bedroom door.

After many reminders that everyone's body is private, my son no longer complains when I send him out of the bedroom when I get dressed. Sure, he is sitting outside the closed bedroom door waiting for me, but I count this as victory on an unprecedented scale.

The next step: Privacy by example.

This is a conversation many years in the making, and I am still learning the rules as I go. It's mostly about online privacy, but in order to teach my son about it, I have to learn more about it. And that is hard to do since companies keep changing the rules. This piece in medium, for example, lays out some shocking examples of companies profiting off baby pictures uploaded by parents to flickr. The parents who uploaded them may not have realized the images were marked as available for commercial use.

For me, this means that I need to start reading those terms and conditions closer. A lot closer. And then teach my son how to do the same when we spend time online together. I've already (mostly) won the battle for privacy at home; I think with enough determination and patience I can teach him to win the one online as well.

Are you up-to-date on all the terms and conditions of your social media sites? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Don't wake that baby up

In our household I think about sleep a lot: Who is getting enough of it and how to get more quality sleep. I am obsessed over my own sleep as well as that of the bears I live with and help wake up in the morning.

At school, my son's class still has a nap time. And that surprises me, as I know most of the children don't sleep during that time. But I understand that sometimes their little bodies need a rest.

So, like many parents, I was confused upon first seeing the research that children older than two might not need a nap. But to even attempt to crack the code of children and their sleep, you have to look at the full picture: To understand your child's sleep patterns, you need to determine how much they are sleeping overall.

When we last went on vacation, I was amazed at my son's request to take a short nap in the middle of the day, since he didn't normally take them at home. But, he was smart: He was listening to his body. He had been running around so much (and he knew he wanted to stay up a little late); he knew he needed some sleep.

So how do you know if your little one is ready to give up that nap? These are some things to keep in mind:
  • There is no quitting naps cold turkey. Some days they may still need one; some days they may be OK. Watch for mood swings and let your toddler be your guide.
  • How hard is it for your child to fall asleep? Are they still rolling around in bed for a few hours after lights out?
  • How difficult is it for your child to wake up in the morning (bears aside)? Any harder than when they were napping?
  • How much activity was there in the day? Are they exhausted or just normally tired at the end of a fun-filled day?
Naps are hard to give up (for children and parents alike). The idea is to make sure that the amount of total sleep overall is best for your child.

When do you really really want a nap? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

You might be making your spouse fat

My husband and I both work full time. And there was a long period where we worked in the same company (albeit different departments). And we both worked really long hours.

Then we had our little guy and life had to change: There were more important aspects to our life together than work.

Fast forward a bunch of years, and we are both still working hard, but I am definitely working longer hours than he is. Thankfully, he picks our son up from school (I handle drop offs). But it is definitely me that is sending the text messages that I will be late and he should start dinner without me.

I miss that time with my family, but I didn't realize I would be adversely affecting their health.

Researchers from the University of Illinois have determined that when one spouse works late, it leaves less time for the entire family to engage in healthy activities together. Because there are fewer hours at the end of the day, those families tend to eat less healthy meals (if they even eat together at all) and may be getting less sleep staying up later in the attempt to spend more time with their other half.

Happily, I do all our family dinner planning and prep work on the weekends, so dinners are mostly taken care of at night. So, at least my husband doesn't have to work too hard to get dinner on the table.

But, I definitely would like to spend more time with them in the evenings. I know that I can't control traffic, but I should be able to control my work schedule a little more. That means I need to leave on time.

Honey, I'll be home soon.

Who works late in your family? How does it throw off your evening? Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Beauty is skin deep

My husband recently took our son to a dermatologist for a rash, and I filled out the forms online before the appointment. One of the questions was about sunscreen: Did the patient use it daily and what SPF?

At this point the nagging feeling crept in that I do not put sunscreen on my son every day. A lot of days in cooler months I skip the step because we are in a rush or forgetfulness on my part, even though I know it is important to use sunscreen every day.

This is especially true as scientists have recently discovered that about half of the damage the sun does to your skin happens up to three hours after exposure. Just outside on a sunny day for a few minutes? Well, up to three hours later, UV is still damaging your skin.

As someone who already has a vitamin D deficiency and struggles with her relationship with the sun, this is not the best news.

But, it is fixable: I just need to make sure we are all lotioned up before leaving the house from now on - no matter what the weather.

Are you good about protecting your children's skin with sunscreen? Tell me in the comments.