Organizing Thursday: 4-Cube Organizer

I’ve often seen bins like this at Crate & Barrel and elsewhere for $200–$300. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that was $50 for a fairly large shelf, but Target has them. (That price means you put it together yourself, of course.) It looks like a good find if you’re on the hunt for something to store toys or other kid things, and the description notes that it’s compatible with Threshold 13″ storage bins and Threshold cube accessories. It has pretty mixed reviews, but at $50 it seems like it’d be worth a try. 4-Cube Organizer with Potato-Bins

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  1. Has anyone recently done research or gone to Palm Beach area of Florida while pregnant? It looks like there is no warning for the area on the CDC website but I am trying to do due diligence on my research. We would be traveling there in early May when I am roughly 22 weeks pregnant and would be sticking pretty exclusively to a hotel for all activities (so no swamp areas). TIA!

    • Carine says:

      The last time I got advice from an OB on South Florida was for potential travel last fall and she said she wouldn’t go if she were TTC or pregnant. I’m seeing there was a reported locally acquired infection in Miami-Dade in November? You should ask your doctor, of course – maybe it’s overly conservative to avoid entirely but I would be nervous about it if I were you and certainly take all recommended precautions.

    • I went and would go again while pregnant (I’m going in a few weeks at 28 weeks), but they’ve all been business trips. I fly in, get into an Uber, get to my hotel/conference center, and then sit in air conditioning for 3 days.

      If you’re talking about a vacation, I might consider going elsewhere if elsewhere is an option. I definitely wouldn’t be lounging by the pool around the evening/morning/peak mosquito hours. If this is a wedding or some event for which you cannot choose the location, I would probably do it, but I’m not super risk averse and it’s my 3rd baby…I’ve become fairly lax about how much I let being pregnant impact my life.

      • Thanks, unfortunately it is for a conference that my husband’s work is paying a lot of the expenses for and it is at a hotel that would NEVER normally be in our price range. Sadly, it’s this trip or no trip!

        • So your husband would be working and you would be the tag-along on the trip as a vacation? Are you thinking you’ll lounge poolside all day? Go to a beach? Go shopping?

          Kind of depends what you will be doing. People live in FL and get pregnant all the time.

          • I would be tag-along with the toddler. I am not much of a beach person and the hotel/resort looks really large so I was planning on just staying on site the entire time and avoiding outdoors during early morning and evening hours…

      • Katala says:

        Unfortunately, the type of mosquitos that carry Zika aren’t the dawn/dusk type, they are active all day long. Just be sure to bug spray throughout the day! When pregnant and living in an area that was expected to get Zika any minute, I wore long sleeves/pants while outside. It was hot and not very comfortable but worth it for peace of mind. I got some larger-size workout tops that had sleeves and it wasn’t too bad.

    • I’d go. I’m from Florida and have friends in South Florida who have recently had babies and don’t seem overly worried. The hotels treat their properties for mosquitoes (and my friends treat their yards). I’d just wear bug spray outdoors and maybe stay indoors at dusk.

    • What does your OB think? I’m pregnant too and just messaged mine because DH has to travel to Miami in a few weeks for work (I’m not going with him) and want to know if we should take any precautions when he returns

    • Everyone has their own risk tolerance but personally, I highly doubt I would be patient zero in a location with no active cases. I’m in the midst of fertility treatment and still traveled to a location that hadn’t had active local transmission for 3 months. My doc made me sign a waiver but wasn’t overly concerned. She said it was about the same risk as Florida, which they were no longer advising against.

  2. Penelope says:

    Vacation planning with toddler question. We’d like to meet my brother and his girlfriend (late 20’s) for a short vacation and are considering Mexico City. Has anyone traveled with a two year old here and have recommendations on neighborhoods/kid friendly activities/best transport options? Staying in one location in a city AirBnb is probably best for this group and we are open to other toddler friendly suggestions in surrounding cities/countries that have direct flights from DC and the West Coast. Thanks for your suggestions!

    • Anonymous says:

      following this closely…would love to do a trip to mexico city with toddler & baby. from what I’ve gathered so far, you need a car to get around, which raises All the Carseat Questions.

    • We’re doing Cancun for a spring break trip with a toddler. We have a direct flight. I really don’t know much about Mexico City, but know that the Cancun area generally has a bunch of activities/excursions that are toddler friendly. I have no clue what the AirBnb situation is. We really wanted the ease of going to a resort and not having to figure out much else. We probably won’t even do excursions if everyone is happy with the beach/pool/other resort activities. My hunch is that if you’re interested in Mexico City, the Cancun all inclusive might not be your speed for this trip. Thought I’d throw it out there, though, since it is a direct flight with toddler friendly activities. And lots of people take more advantage of the city and culture than we’re planning to do ;)

    • Anonymous says:

      This site is fantastic and the main author lived in Mexico with small children

  3. Thanks for all the advice on increasing milk supply – I’ve seen a few ounce increase over the past few days but also realised that I was being silly being so resistant to adding in a formula bottle to give myself a bit of breathing room. Baby used up the last of the frozen stash today so I bought a few bottles to make sure that he’s always got enough food.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Yay for you! Admitting when I was being irrational as a new mom was super hard, but I wish I had done more of it. I think it would have made new mom-ing more enjoyable if I had asked for help or made things simpler for myself.

    • Katala says:

      Yay! So glad some of the tips are working for you. And that you’ve been able to reduce your stress over it – that part is so hard!

  4. Screen Time says:

    Has anyone raised their kids with basically no screen time? I don’t want to set off a firestorm, but my partner and I are leaning towards that. All I’ve heard from friends and family is that this is impossible and kind of mean. Some family members have been very critical of this choice. Our child is under 2 and there’s no screen time right now. But under 2 means that the environment is pretty easy to control. Has anyone done this as their child aged? How did it impact them with their peers?

    Just to be clear, if you want your child to have their own ipad and it works for your family, that’s great! I know screen time is a hot button issue and I totally respect all the parents out there making the best choices for their kids.

    • avocado says:

      We started with no screen time, but then discovered that it was most effective to let the TV teach our kid sign language and reading.

    • Marilla says:

      Our daughter’s just over 2 and we have probably the least amount of screen time among our friends, but not none (screen time gets used for when she’s home sick or for travel or other “emergency” cases). In a typical week she might not have more than 5-10 minutes max. I find that the more she has, the more she wants, and I have to say no more. It’s easy for us to keep it limited because she’s in daycare all day where she keeps super busy, Saturdays we use no electronic devices at all, and Sundays we tend to keep her busy baking or doing arts and crafts or on outings. I’m pregnant with #2 and I’m sure with having to divide my attention screen time will have more use. And as she gets older she’s likely to be more interested, both because she can follow a story and because other kids will be talking about it more and more. I know other kids in her daycare and in our friend group are Paw Patrol devotees but she hasn’t picked up on that.. she just thinks they have doggies on their hats/t-shirts/sippy cups.

      Interested to hear experiences from parents of older kids!

    • Not personally, but we have a neighbor who homeschooled their kid and didn’t let them watch television or movies until they were preteen or so, then basically started with a history of film curriculum. That’s one weird and awkward kid, honestly, but I can’t say it’s directly related to the screen time, because they’re fairly extreme in their parenting decisions across the board. It’s probably not super helpful, but it’s the only family I know who went that route.

      I will say that the alternative to no screen time is not a child with their own iPad. THAT kind of categorization could set off a firestorm, yes.

      • Adding my own approach – we are on the more limited side of screen time like other commenters, we don’t have cable or keep the television on as background, which is very different from our extended families and they think it’s a little weird. Agree with Betty that people can be defensive and you should just do what works for your family.

      • Regular Poster, Anon for this says:

        Yeah, I was homeschooled and my mom was very strict about TV too. I felt even more alienated from my peers because of it– not only was I a weirdo because I was homeschooled, I couldn’t carry on basic conversations about pop culture because I had no clue what they were talking about. It’s one of the reasons I let my kid watch tv.

    • My kids are 5 and 3 and don’t get screen time. Only exceptions are if they watch a show at school (obviously I’m not about to pull him out of class for that) and once when we took a long (10 + hour) plane ride. The plane rides are the toughest, but in terms of day to day life, we find it very easy.

      I felt very strongly about this when I was pregnant with my first and my husband felt less strongly but has completely come around now. We both work full time and as it is, I feel that we don’t see our kids as much as we would want and I’d rather spend the time we have in the evenings eating dinner together, doing puzzles, playing Legos, reading, etc. We probably read 20-25 books a week, from the library.

      I watched a lot of TV growing up (latch key kid) and personally felt it was detrimental to me, so that’s in part why I didn’t want to do it. My nephews are also addicted to their screens and that made a big impact on me.

      The surprising part is that my kids aren’t the least curious about the large TV in the living room. They know it’s a TV but they don’t ask ever to turn it on.

      It has worked very well for us.

      • I will add, no screen time is much easier for us because we have two kids. On the weekends they are largely running around playing with one another and entertaining each other, so I feel little pressure to be “on” all the time, if that makes sense. I think no screen time may be harder with just one child, but that’s just my guess.

        Also, my kids are super social and well adjusted, based on my own sense of them and what their teachers tell me.

        • Thanks for your perspective, it makes a lot of sense. I listed below how zero screen time would present some challenges, and I think you are right that many of these issues would be absent or not as big of a deal if our child was not an only child.

    • My kids are 4 and 7. We do no screen time Monday through Thursday. They are allowed to watch cartoons Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning, but what they can watch is pretty restricted. Now that my oldest is 7, he can turn on the cartoon of choice in the morning and let us sleep. We don’t watch a great deal of tv in general, and I constantly respond to friends/family that “no, I haven’t seen ___ show. We don’t watch much tv.” It is the adults who give the blank stares. We tell our kids that it is the family rule of no tv/screen time during the week, and they accept that, for now. Prompted by the massive windstorm that took out our power for a week this fall, every few months we do a “no screen time” week, and it helps reset everyone’s expectations. I honestly don’t think it will impact the kids’ social anything. Yes, a bunch of my daughter’s friends are into my little pony. She has never seen the show and is ok with it. My son is into his model railroad and has zero interest in tv (other than the show “How It’s Made”).

      My advice would be: figure out what works for you and your family. It is not “cruel” or “mean” to not watch tv/screen time/etc. Many are defensive about their choices, but their comments are more about them than you.

    • Not personally, but we do try to limit it to a minimum. Like all things, this depends on the context of the family and child. For us, the challenge of zero screen time would be:

      *What to do with young child when one of us is out of town and the other needs to take a shower or do a quick business call or otherwise needs child to be reliably occupied nearby without parental assistance for more than 5 minutes. (Keep in mind that the screen also usually keeps them in place, so they can be kept in the line of sight and you don’t have to worry that they have wandered off to get in trouble and chase them around the house while you are busy handling a conference call.
      *What to do with young child when both of us are needed for an activity for a few minutes and we need child to not be underfoot. For example, this weekend we had to move some heavy furniture and setting child in front of a screen was a lifesaver. We have no family in the area and it is not practical to pay a babysitter for 20 minutes for things like this that pop up.
      *How to distract the child that never naps (but still needs sleep) when doing an 18 hour door to door travel day.
      *Handling social situations as child gets older and is not familiar with some of the characters or shows other children are talking about. My child is only 4, but already she plays “Elsa and Anna” with her friends, etc. I think this would be much easier in a Waldorf setting or other school where all parents are presumably discouraging screen time.
      *What to do when I have reached my breaking point and need just 5 minutes to re-center and my child is off the wall and no one else is around to help and she is not interested in the five activities I have already suggested she sit down to do.

      I think zero screen time can be done, but there is a window (we are smack in the middle of it) where the child is too young to read a book by themselves, too young to be trusted to entertain themselves for very long with activities, and otherwise seems to need constant attention or they are off potentially hurting themselves or damaging things. In other words, I think the no screen thing is probably hardest from around age 3 to maybe age 6 or 7. I think books will be a big game-changer when child learns to read, as both DH and I would read for hours alone when we were children. Also, there is a component of personality. Some children are very destructive or whiny if they aren’t reliably occupied with an engaging activity, while others can be patient and sit and focus on something at a younger age than others.

      • I should add that I think it would be great to have zero screen time or limit it even more than we do, but for us we would need to be able to solve the challenges listed above. I know that it could be done, but I guess we have made the decision that the alternative ways of dealing with these challenges don’t work for us as well as some screen time does. Scheduling also plays a role–if a child gets up very early or stays up very late (compared to the parent’s schedules), the window of time for getting things done without the child around can be less convenient than if the child’s schedule is more in sync with the parents.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m the poster that asked about easing into screen time with our twins yesterday, and FWIW we plan to be quite restrictive of screen time– I agree with the poster above who says she barely sees them anyway. We’re in the same boat as immediately above, where we have absolutely no family in town and few close friends (none with kids), and sometimes need them to sit still for five minutes while we try to install cabinet latches/fix a garage light/what have you.

        My parents were EXTREMELY strict about TV when I was growing up– I could watch Sesame Street about 3x per week after maybe age 4, my parents watched Jeopardy at dinner, and that was it till I was older elementary aged– and while I think it helped my imagination and creativity to be outside so much, it also slightly limited my social interactions, especially in early elementary school. I had never watched Power Rangers or TMNT or what have you, and that was what 7 year olds wanted to talk about. I was never ostracized or lonely because of it, but I was aware of that difference and it made it harder to play on the playground sometimes. So my goal with the twins is for them to strike that tricky balance of having at least passing knowledge of what their peers are into to foster a sense of normality… without having it be something they tantrum over or watch every day. We’ll see how it goes– I’m ready to cut the cord if it becomes a source of conflict, but I’d like them to have the opportunity to use screens thoughtfully, which is what I myself try to do.

        Also thanks everyone for the recommendations yesterday! I have a little list of shorter chunks of TV now that we can try to integrate every week or two once they turn 2.

      • Sabba — I’m the Anon who posted above that we do no screen time. On the social element, one thing that has worked for us is that we get a bunch of books from the library on the various TV characters — Star Wars, Paw Patrol, Frozen, etc. We didn’t do this for the purpose of him “fitting in” at school, but my son asked for Star Wars books after someone mentioned it at school. So now we knows all of the characters and the various stories, but through books – not TV. This has worked out well for us so far.

        • Sabba says:

          Good idea–I will probably do this if she asking about characters but it is not a show that I really want her to watch at that time. Thanks!

      • We are not anti-screen time, but I generally don’t use it in the scenarios you provided. Mine are 18 months (so 0 interest in screen time) and 4.5 (easily amused by screens).

        *What to do with young child when one of us is out of town and the other needs to take a shower or do a quick business call or otherwise needs child to be reliably occupied nearby without parental assistance for more than 5 minutes: I set them up with a project. In fact, because my 4.5 year old is fairly responsible, I tell her she’s in charge while I shower. A “quick business call” of <15 minutes, same thing. Kids play downstairs, I go upstairs and take my call.

        *What to do with young child when both of us are needed for an activity for a few minutes and we need child to not be underfoot: I use baby gates for my 18 month old, and/or put her in her high chair/booster with a snack. She can't get out. I tell my 4.5 year old to stay out of the way.

        *How to distract the child that never naps (but still needs sleep) when doing an 18 hour door to door travel day: This depends on the kid's age, but my older one loves books on tape. Neither of my kids sleep with screen time, so it's actually the opposite: we use screen time when we DON'T want them falling asleep!!

        *Handling social situations as child gets older and is not familiar with some of the characters or shows other children are talking about: My kid does watch TV, but doesn't watch any of the characters/shows that kids talk about. 90% of the preschoolers that "love star wars" haven't seen it! We read books with those characters sometimes, or do coloring books/workbooks. Definitely not a reason to use screen time in my book!

        *What to do when I have reached my breaking point and need just 5 minutes to re-center and my child is off the wall and no one else is around to help and she is not interested in the five activities I have already suggested she sit down to do: For my older one, I just tell her to go play in her room and I go to my room and lock my door. She can figure it out. :)

        That said, my older kid does watch TV. I do not let my 18 month old play games/watch things on my phone, which a LOT of her peers get to do and are into/addicted to in a really bad way.

        • Thanks. It sounds like your older child has a much different personality than mine, as they are close in age. I chuckle at the thought of just telling my child to go play in her room and locking myself in my room. Lord help that door to my room and my eardrums if she thinks she can’t get to me–those hinges will not withstand the wrath of the attention seeker. In fact, if I tell her I need a few minutes to myself, her need for me seems to grow such that I am better off trying to sneak off without her noticing than attempting to do any sort of activity or distraction for her (other than screen time or possibly a sugary treat, but I never use food that way). Or if I tried to do a call while she is set up with a project, oh my goodness. Her projects involve showing me something or asking for help every 45 seconds, eating part of the project (that she is not supposed to), or just throwing it at the wall to see what will happen because she became bored so quickly. If it is a brand new project that she has never seen before and is interested in I *might* get 5 minutes interrupted, if I am lucky. Yes, she has a short attention span, but neither her doctor or her teachers or I am worried about it at this age. And screen time does not put her to sleep. She does not sleep, ever, except in her bed. Even as a baby, she never slept in the carseat. Screen time keeps her (and me) sane when she will not sleep and is up 6 hours past when she should have been asleep but can’t because we are traveling. She once stayed up for 20 hours straight once during a trip as a 14 month old baby (I naively thought she would just sleep on one of the planes or in the car if she got tired enough), and that was actually the first time she got screen time because I was so desperate at the end of the day and was running out of options. In the situations I outlined above that we use screentime, my only real alternative would be to buy materials for new projects and hide them until needed for a 5 minute break. I just don’t have the money or time to do that for how often they would be needed, and a quick YouTube video is more reliable, cheaper, and easier for us. Different families, different things work, so thank you for sharing your insights–they might help another on this board!

          • I think your oldest has the personality of my second :) Luckily, she’s content to bug her older sister instead of me!!

            And don’t get me wrong- my kids watch TV and play online (the older one). Usually when I want to do my own thing for a while, or when I want to nap and snuggle. And when my older one was 2, I absolutely let her watch PBS while I showered!

      • In many ways, it gets much easier as kids get older to have them self-entertain. It is also dependent on the child. My 7 year old can disappear into a room for hours to be left on his own and could reliably and safely be left to self-entertain starting at 4. My youngest has much less capacity/interest in self-entertaining. Thankfully, she has her older brother to hang out with. She just needs to be around people. For her, sometimes screentime is the way to get things done and the path of least resistance. And when I am exhausted, tired, trying to just make a dent in cooking/cleaning/organizing/work/packing for a trip, I have zero energy to do anything other than turn on a cartoon.

    • We do very limited screen time (usu. one 15-min show per week, and exclusively Daniel Tiger) and our 4-year old has already told us about some times she has felt left out at daycare because of it. For example, at Halloween, there were a number of Elsa costumes and she had no idea who that is. Likewise, lots of kids at her daycare know all the words to Let it Go, and wear lots of character shirts from Moana or Frozen or whatever.

      One solution we have considered (because we do not think we are ready for movies) is to let her check out a picture book from the library and also listen to the soundtracks so that she knows the basic story and the score (which are apparently pretty good). I’m really not ready for such extended screen time, but I also don’t want her to feel left out and I do think that there is some good social/emotional lessons in the movies and between the kids when they talk about the movies.

      We never had cable and growing up I felt so left out when I didn’t know anything about MTV– the vjs, the real world and road rules characters, etc. I hated that feeling but I also read way more books than my peers did and looking back I wouldn’t change it (but the tantrums I threw begging my parents… woof. Sorry, mom!).

    • One of my best friends grew up without a TV and was allowed no screen time until she started using a computer in school and was old enough to go to the movies with her friends alone. I think she had a really great, full, family life and doesn’t regret that at all, but did not help with the socially awkward parts of middle school to have no idea whatsoever what anyone was talking about. I grew up without cable and without the TV on all the time, but we were allowed to watch a show periodically, and we’re probably doing that approach with our 3 year old.
      We actually don’t have a TV set but we (grownups) watch on our laptops. For our son, we did basically no screens until after 2, but now use them sporadically — started out just airplane flights, sick days when I need to do a work phone call, and distraction for home haircuts, with the occasional video of Grandma’s dance performances or youtube of guitars (because he’s obsessed). We now probably let him watch a show (Mr. Rodgers, Daniel Tiger, or Sesame Street) once a week — watched a few more as potty training rewards and as I’m currently pregnant we sometimes watch one so I can just lie down for half an hour. We also do short youtube videos almost every day — often songs he likes but sometimes a random request like “a crab pinching the water.” I assume that TV will increase with #2’s arrival, but I’m okay with that.
      Second the thought above that once you start, you get more and more requests for it.

      • Adding — it’s REALLY hard to police a total policy of no screen time. It was hard even under 2, because, say, you’re visiting the grandparents and they have a baseball game on — doesn’t go over really well to make them turn it off. Or Grandma wants to show you her dance routine video, and it’s not so polite to refuse. Or you go to a friend’s house and they have sesame street on in the background, and it’s not good manners to make them turn it off in their own home. We really tried to do NO screens before 2, but sometimes that baseball game just stayed on.

        • Legally Brunette says:

          This is true, which is why our rule is no screen time in the house or when it’s just us as a family. At the end of the day, that’s pretty much 98% of our life anyways. But if my son goes over to a friend’s house and the TV is on, I’m not about to make them turn it off. However, if it’s my own mom’s house, I will ask her to turn it off because she knows I feel strongly about this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Honestly – we started down that path and you know what?

      My life drastically improved once I became okay with a couple minutes of Daniel Tiger when I was in the shower. I could make excuses about how I solo parent 50% of the time and just want to take a shower without being needed, but honestly? My quality of life improved once I was willing to be okay with being ‘average’ at this.

      • Yeah, this feels like you are punishing yourself. My kids watch 30 minutes a week? One Daniel Tiger? It was helpful for things like potty training and it’s lovely to sit down and get a break sometime. I have a three year old and an eighteen month old.

        I think it’s a lot easier to do just-a-little-screentime than you’re making it out. I feel no guilt about that half hour. It’s generally at a random time so they don’t demand it.

        Exceptions: airplanes, sick kid with the flu. Again, you’re really just punishing yourself if you don’t let your kid watch a Daniel Tiger on a flight, and I’m not sure that it’s really bad to do so…?

        I may reevaluate in a while. We also let my daughter watch some olympics, pretty funny to get a three year old’s thoughts!

        • Carine says:

          +1 on not punishing yourself. I had a funny realization with my first – until she was about 2.5 or 3, we had a policy of no screen time on weekdays, only on weekends. It was probably when I got pregnant with my second (ha), but one day, struggling through all the weekday routines and getting ready etc., the lightbulb went on, like, wait a minute! I have this totally backward! It would be so much easier for me if I could turn on the tv for 20 minutes on a weekday! The weekends I can fill with non-screen-time activities, no problem.

          Of course, that could be different for another family, but it was such a striking moment for me. Not sure why I manage to keep being surprised at having to continually adjust and re-evaluate – becoming a parent has been so much about staying flexible and learning that what works today might not work tomorrow.

    • PinkKeyboard says:

      We aren’t but I can totally see it begin possible. We seriously limited screen time until she was almost 2 and I was super pregnant and ready to die. I’m actually less concerned by TV (she gets about 30 minutes at night and frequently gets bored and would rather exercise with me, run around, play with toys) than the tablets. We own an IPad mini that is used ONLY for car trips over 2 hours. I hate watching kids playing with ipads and phones in the car for short errands, out at stores, at restaurants, etc. Plus I feel like they really zone out playing the games… TV gets boring for kids and they will go do something else. My daughter also has different shows (Thomas, Dinotrux) than most little girls and has never seen Frozen etc. She’s only 2 but she seems fine so far. I’d say it’s up to you, but will likely be easier with two children so they can play together.

      • PregLawyer says:

        This is what we do. Maybe 15 minutes during a weeknight. And I sit and talk with my 2.5 year old while we watch whatever it is we are watching. We also have really started to talk to him about effectively using his time. We warn him when he has about 15 minutes before bedtime – if he wants to play with other toys, or do some other activity, then he needs to stop watching his show. It’s been working really really well. He is learning now how to self-regulate and to make choices about how he wants to spend his time. Usually, he’ll voluntarily tell us he wants to stop watching the show so he can get some time in doing pretend play (right now it’s pretend school where he gets to be the teacher, or going on a pretend boat).

        I don’t know anyone with older kids who have successfully cut off all screen time. Sorry OP! I don’t really have any advice for you on that front!

    • I have a question about screen time as relates to apps, games, etc. vs passively watching shows? Mine is just a baby right now so not an issue yet, but in this age of technology, are kids who do not grow up playing with an ipad or computer behind other kids when it comes to learning about how to use these things? i am personally not the most tech savvy person ever and while i don’t want my kids to be playing on electronic devices 24/7, i also feel like it is important for them to be comfortable with technology

      • My 4.5 year old has learned how to shop online. I found this out the other day when she was home sick.


        • avocado says:

          This is hilarious.

        • My 7 year old learned how to buy apps on my husband’s phone. I learned it when they were both home sick and the amazon receipts started rolling in to my email. The 7 year old forfeited allowance for about three weeks ($9).

        • PregLawyer says:

          My 8 year old nephew spent $2000 (SERIOUSLY) on an NFL game that had in-app purchases. He had no idea that he was paying money to get better players via trades. My sister successfully cancelled all the purchases by calling the company. It was terrifying–but hilarious.

        • Ours was straight up online shopping (just like mom). We were looking at the Gap Kids website and I walked away while she was looking at bathing suits…when I walked back she had like $200 of stuff in her cart. In her size! At least she didn’t know how to pay!

      • avocado says:

        My kid didn’t use the computer or other devices until she got to school, and she picked it up just fine in the classroom.

      • PregLawyer says:

        It’s up to the parent, obviously, but there are some really cool early computer coding toys/apps that kids can start using as early as 5. They come with a robot and the kid can program the robot via an ipad app. My kid will be using those.

        • PregLawyer, funny you should mention those games. We already play a “coding” game but without screens or a computer. Basically, I set up a bunch of objects as “buttons” in front of my child, and then we decide what I will do when she hits the “button.” Each button is usually a toy or some other random object. For example, I might oink if she taps on her play pig. And then jump up and down when she squeezes a pillow. She thinks it is hilarious to get me to do stuff, but I think it is teaching her some programming logic (if this, then that). This game can grow, as she is now helping me come up with the commands and we can do more complicated sequences. Or maybe this has nothing to do with coding and I am just trying to make a silly game with my kid sound more educational than it is.

          • PregLawyer says:

            That’s awesome! I love this game idea.

          • This is an awesome activity idea. It is also what we had to do on our MSDOS computer when I was 7. I found it infuriating but my brother loved it. Guess who’s a programmer now.

      • I think it may depend on the kid. My son is in third grade, and there has been a real push to learn how to use the class chromebooks last year and this year because they have state-wide testing on the chromebooks at the end of the year. I have volunteered for computer time for the past year and a half.) I do see a lot of difference between kids who have more exposure to technology and kids who don’t. At the end of the day, if your kid is comfortable with the subject matter, it’s not that big of a deal, but if your kid isn’t, and isn’t technologically competent, it’s a bigger issue.

        We used our iPads a lot for school-related work as well (reading apps, spelling tests, math games). Since we both work full-time, I want the kids to be able to do all of that stuff before we get home, and it’s easier to monitor when using the iPads as opposed to having our nanny (who we did not hire because of her amazing academic skills) do it.

    • Boston Legal Eagle says:

      We’re not the greatest at limiting screen time – my son is just under 2 and he watches Daniel Tiger, Dino Train and a couple of other PBS shows for about 30 min per day on the weekdays and a bit more on the weekends. It’s an easy way for us to get ready in the morning, and provides some downtime in the evening as well. No iPads yet, but I think we’ll need to give him one if we do a cross-country flight, as we’re planning to do soon.

      FWIW, I remember watching a LOT of TV as a kid – more around middle school/high school, but also earlier. I also had my own computer (the huge ones :) ) starting at around age 12 or 13. I also read a lot and don’t feel I was harmed by watching TV and playing online. I’d say it’s totally doable to limit screen time while the kids are really young, but harder to not allow any TV when they’re older and want to talk about shows with friends. It’s kind of a bonding experience to reminisce about shows from your childhood, so maybe you can allow a moderate amount of screen time. I believe some schools are now moving toward having books on iPads and other computer assignments, so again, not sure you can limit screen time forever.

    • I don’t have a lot of advice on this one. Our child (28 mos) is probably pretty average. She goes to daycare so doesn’t get screen time M-F during the day. We usually watch one segment of Daniel Tiger before bed to help wind down from running around. Sometimes she watches another 10-15 minutes while we pull dinner together if she won’t stay busy with something else. Otherwise, it’s car trips and some shows here and there on weekends when we are desperate. Also when she is too sick to play but not sick enough to sleep. Hubby is super into sports, so we usually have football/basketball/golf, etc on during weekend afternoons, and it doesn’t hold her attention so she barely notices.

      What I do have to say (and feel strongly about) is this: please do not try to control what other people do when you’re in their homes. We have a relative who was very strict about TV time with her first couple kids (but relaxed as she had more), and she would get visibly upset when my in-laws turned football/basketball/NASCAR on in the background during weekend trips to their house. It was usually on mute to just glance at between card games, etc. No one even sat down to watch it for more than 5 minutes. But this mom would get pretty rude about it. I’d avoid that if you can ;)

      • Anon here replying to my own post. A couple other comments. We use Skype/FaceTime to talk to grandparents and other relatives. It’s really great for everyone. I’d recommend being open to that type of screen time. Second, it is rare that one of us isn’t watching with our child. For some reason that usually makes me feel better. Lastly, don’t discount shows like Daniel Tiger teaching parents, too. I’m not very conscientious by nature. I’m rather matter of fact. Things don’t really bother me, and I forget that lots of people are more sensitive than me. I’d like to teach my child to be more conscientious than I am. Daniel Tiger has actually helped me learn more ways to teach her. It has also helped me learn what social norms/standards for preschools/playgroups are. I had very little experience with kids and kid groups before I had a child. I’ve actually found it helpful for myself in learning how to respond in certain situations and teach my child.

    • I guess think about how this is going to work in the long haul, especially with multiple kids (if you’re planning to that). It’s relatively easy to ban screen time when you have one very young child, and you’re spending most of your family time in your own home. It becomes a lot harder if someday you relax your stance with the older one … good luck keeping the younger sibling away from that!

      I consider myself pretty strict about screen time, compared to many parents, but I have relaxed my stance over time. (This is easier to do with big kids rather than young ones.) Not all screen time is created equal. Do I want my second-grader zoning out in front of the TV for hours? No way. And I’ve told my DH that I don’t want our DS playing video games at all, because given his particular personality, I think it would become a huge problem. But do I mind when he’s using a laptop to research his favorite animals or visit Art Hub for Kids learn to draw Captain Underpants? No, I really don’t.

      Bottom line: If you want to ban screen time, that’s totally fine and good for you. Just be prepared to become more flexible as your kid(s) get older and their needs/interests change.

    • Anonymous says:

      You might look into Waldorf schools, which (I think) often encourage families to adopt a no screen time policy. Could be totally wrong about this, especially in upper grades. But I don’t understand how this would work with a teenager who ostensibly needs to use a computer for some school work, will have a smartphone at some point – what does no screen time even mean in this context? I mean, you could move totally off the grid, but otherwise…

      When the discussion came up yesterday, I read this article on the AAP website, which mentions talks about both risks and benefits of media usage in school aged and older kids.

      One interesting quote: “Research has suggested a U-shaped relationship between Internet use and depression, with increased risks of depression at both the high and low ends of Internet use.”

      • Anonynous says:

        Please be aware that Waldorf was started by a member of Madame Blavatsky’s inner circle and members of the Anthroposophical society (i.e. spriritulists /cultists). Children are only allowed to use the color blue when they begin drawing, because of it’s “purity.” And the recommend kids wear natural fibers because of the “vibrations.”

        (I had really wanted to send my kid to a Waldorf school and am still in some sort of horror/shock at what I uncovered. And how close I came to subjecting her to it.)

        • Anonymous says:

          Don’t feel bad. I went to a Waldorf preschool (mostly because it was convenient to our home) and loved it, and also came home and played with my plastic toys, wore synthetics, and watched PBS every day while my mom made dinner. I think there is probably a lot of variation in how the philosophy is implemented; I really loved the high quality art materials we used. (I remember having access to all 3 primary colors at once!)

    • Anon for this says:

      I have a very close friend from college who was not allowed any screen time as a kid. By college things had evened out, but she felt like it caused her a lot of alienation from her peers growing up. And invariably, when her mother does some boundary crossing or controlling, my friend’s rants will eventually include being “forbidden” from watching TV as a kid. My friend is currently in communication with her mother, but they’ve been estranged in the past.

      I mention this, because you bring up “control” in your comment. If you want to do this, please make sure you’re doing it not to control your child or even control how your child encounters the world around them. Do it because your lives are so busy with other things that there’s not room for TV.

      And let the kid go to the movies when they turn six so they don’t feel like a “loser freak” (my friend’s words, not mine).

    • I think you’ll want to define “screen time” and acknowledge that the definition should change as your child(ren) ages. Maybe screen time right now is everything related to tv or tablets. Maybe in a year Grandma will want to start using FaceTime once per week, and that seems reasonable to you at that point. Maybe at 7, your child is invited to a birthday party at a movie theater or begs you to watch a particular movie as a reward or treat. Or maybe at 10, your child expresses an interest in cooking and you realize she will learn chopping techniques better by watching an expert on tv or Youtube than by reading it in a book. Also, I do think it will be expected for school in some situations. I would hesitate to say no screen time ever, but to not have regular, mindless tv/screen watching. Instead it is for connecting to family and friends and for a rare treat once your child is old enough understand that it is a very special treat.

  5. Rainbow Hair says:

    Talk me down, moms?

    Daycare is always sending out notes like, “remember to bring in something to exchange for our love and friendship party! healthy treats or toys only, please no sweets!” (also for birthdays, xmas, etc.) OK so fine, I order some shovels off Oriental Trading for kiddo to give to her friends. And she comes home with a MILLION lollipops and cookies and candy bracelets. And it’s just frustrating.

    [My stance on treats is that they’re fine as treats. Like, “on Friday after school you can pick one of your candies to eat!” My kid’s stance is that she should eat all the treats until they’re gone and then she should get more… because she’s three.]

    So I am thinking of not sending her to school on candy party days any more (next up will be their easter egg hunt) because last night and this morning she was just beside herself because she couldn’t have a lollipop on the drive home/for dinner/for breakfast, and she’s got a ridiculous memory so we hid something and she was like, “but where’s my cookie from Eleanor!?!?” It feels really mean to not let her go to school for a party, but at the same time, I hate having to fight with her about her candy haul for days…

    Have any of y’all done this? Is it too mean?

    • avocado says:

      For a while I used choking risk as an excuse to take candy away from my kid. She would even identify “chokey” things herself and hand them over because she knew I wouldn’t budge.

      I used to let her sort through her haul and pick out one or two treats to enjoy after dinner, then throw the rest away. I would also set requirements, like “no artificial food coloring.” We still do this with Halloween candy. She goes through it and keeps one piece for each day until Thanksgiving, with limits on how many pieces she can keep with artificial food coloring (we think she is sensitive). This system has worked well for us. It gives her control within reasonable limits and avoids the “but where’s my cookie from Eleanor?” scenario that arises when you hide or secretly toss the stuff.

      • Rainbow Hair says:

        I think I could do something like this. It’s such a freakin’ emotional rollercoaster for her — like the absolute effing joy of having a bag full of candy, and the agony of not being able to eat it all, then the joy again when you get a piece, then the agony when it’s all eaten… Poor kiddo.

        But I think maybe if I prepared her, like, “There might be treats at school today. When you bring them home you can pick three to keep. You can have one after school on Friday, and one on Saturday and one on Sunday…” then she’d see it coming and know what to expect and not try to bargain… this could work.

        • avocado says:

          She might still try to bargain, but after you’ve done it a few times she’ll realize that this is the system and bargaining is no use. Stay strong, mom!

    • I totally get your frustration, but I don’t know that keeping her home solves the problem. My daughter was sick and couldn’t go to daycare yesterday, but when I dropped her off this morning, there was an entire bag of treats waiting for her.

      I have that kid with the ridiculous memory, and it is HARD. I think rationing them is about the only way to compromise with a 3-year-old. It doesn’t make the whining any easier to listen to, though!

    • Anonymous says:

      If this is not happening that often, I would consider just letting her eat as much as she wants, and when they are gone they are gone. This is our day of Halloween policy. She might surprise you with her ability to self regulate, and if she eats enough to make herself sick, that is also a lesson that she will hopefully remember.

      Or let her have 1 per day until they are gone. 1 lollipop is probably under 30 calories, and there is no way that is going to make a big impact in her overall diet.

      • Rainbow Hair says:

        Hmm… so far she doesn’t show a great ability to self regulate but maybe “how does she learn if I don’t let her?” is a question here. My husband still tells the story of the time he ate ALL his halloween candy and threw up.

        It’s less that I think any individual candy is bad for her, and more that if she gets a lollipop for breakfast every morning for 2 weeks, she’s not going to respond very well on day 15 when she’s out of lollies. Then again, she’s not responding well right now… UGH why?

        • Anonymous says:

          Would it help you mentally to just accept that she is going to freak out for some reason or another about this, and basically there is nothing you can do to stop it – radical acceptance? Losing your mind seems to be the core purpose of the 3 year old spirit, so maybe it will feel less frustrating if you acknowledge that it is not something you can prevent. (This is the kind of advice that is 1000% easier said than done of course! I mean, I personally needed to eat lots of candy to cope with being the parent of a preschooler).

    • Sabba says:

      Hmm. I think you just need to find what will work for her. Maybe several treats the day of and then nothing after? Some people deal better with an all-or-nothing strategy if the “one a day” moderation thing isn’t working. I know one tactic I have to pull out several times a year is to take away the treat if kiddo is being a jerk about it. Oh, you want to cry because I am only letting you have one lollipop? Now there are zero lollipops. Better luck, tomorrow kid. It usually only takes a quick reminder that she will lose the treats she is allowed to have if she keeps whining about the ones that she is not allowed to have, but it is a painful process when she pushes me and I have to follow through on the threat.

    • My parents used to buy our Halloween candy from us to avoid this kind of meltdown. Not a perfect solution, but maybe offer to let her pick her one piece and trade the rest for a couple of quarters + a trip to the Target dollar aisle?

    • Marilla says:

      How old is she? Do you think you could try the brainstorming strategy from How to Talk so Little Kids will Listen? Kind of how they talk about “I wish I had ALL the candy ALL the time” and then work down from there into reasonable strategies that you are OK with as a parent, and let her choose? I don’t think this would work with my 2 y old but if she’s closer to 4 it may work?

    • What about letting her have a piece for dessert for 1-2 nights in a row, then toss the rest? Or find creative ways to use it up (we made cookies with the halloween candy…ie i threw away most of it and she got to mix the rest into cookie batter which i then dumped half of in the trash).

    • Anonymous says:

      How do you have enough time off to even contemplate this?

  6. TLDR; I’m bringing back a conversation that’s been had on here a million times – wondering whether to have another child. I would love to hear from other moms who have had the same or similar thoughts while making this tough decision.

    I’ll be 38 in April, so age is a consideration. I have a 19 month old son and an almost-12 year old stepdaughter. My husband and I have lightly discussed having another baby, and need to discuss it more intensely, so I’m trying to orient my own thoughts.

    My physical concerns – we’re both getting older, obviously. We conceived quickly the first time; if that doesn’t happen this time, I could be 40 before giving birth. There are more chromosome problems as you get older, which was also a concern when I was AMA with my son. I’m still having some lower back pain and foot pain which were exacerbated during pregnancy and obviously won’t improve with another one, though I’m working on it now. I’m also terrified of having twins, which I know is more likely with an older mother (terrified because of the financial aspect mainly).

    It’s already a tight question on finances, because daycare costs will soar (can’t have new baby at same daycare as my son; they start at 12 months). If we had twins, I honestly do not know how we could afford it – especially as we’d have to get another car to even fit our whole family. My mom watched my son for much of his first year, which lessened the financial impact then, but had its own other issues. Not sure I’d be willing to do that again, even if she offered – she is not local to us. I could consider paying less into my retirement, which I hate in theory. My organization has a great match where putting in 8% of my salary is matched 150% (so my contribution of 8% turns into 20%). But if that’s the best way to free up more money for a few years, I guess I could do it. Neither my husband nor I make huge money but I do make more than him.

    The lifestyle thoughts I have are probably the same for anyone considering another child – going back to that tough first year, more busy and less flexible lives, general impact on home life (relaxing my lax standards even more), time off of work for illnesses etc., how to get two kids clean, in bed, fed. I’ve also thought about potential stress on our marriage as money and time get tighter. And the impact on my SD, who loves her brother, but might feel more excluded if there are two children close in age.

    I am excited for the idea of more joy and more love in our family, and the idea of a new little personality (while being terrified we are lulled into a false sense of security with our fairly-easy current baby). I love the idea of having two kids close in age to play together, which is something both my husband and I enjoyed growing up.

    I know there is no right answer. I would love to hear any feedback, and I apologize for the novel!

    • Anonymous says:

      Can you find data to help you evaluate some of the risks you are concerned about – like just how much more likely twins are for someone who is 38 vs 36 or whatever? I think some of these risks may be overblown in your mind, but even if they aren’t, knowing how likely they are might help you weigh them better. And go ahead and research childcare – find out if your mom is interested, look into whether you could switch to a different daycare that would accommodate 2 with a sibling discount and what that might cost. Basically, gather more data to inform practical considerations that are part of this decision.

      • Expecting Better has some stats all my these lines. I recall some risks actually going down at 40 plus, not many but some. Also , I’ve never heard of older women being more prone to twins, is it possible that this is due to fertility assistance?

        The one helpful thing I’ve read is to picture your life in 5, 10, 20 years and go from there because the first few years pass quickly. Personally I was ambivalent about 1 vs 2 and 2 just sort of happened. The second pregnancy wasn’t too bad, but was harder at the end just because I was chasing after a toddler the whole time. But, at least for me, I felt better almost immediately after giving birth. Financially, two is obviously harder but i also remind myself that many people do this everyday with a lot less.

        • Anonynous says:

          Actually there are two different things going on that increase likelihood of twins for older mothers. The first is the increase in reproductive technology. But also the body is trying to increase the likelihood of pregnancy at all, so may release more eggs at a time as you age.

          My great^4 grandmother had two sets of twins and her final pregnancy was triplets. (Unfortunately as this was the 1860s the triplets did not survive.)

          • Interesting! I had no idea about the eggs, though it makes sense.

          • biglawanon says:

            My husband likened increased chances of twins to older moms to BOGOs at a going out of business sale. After I accidentally got pregnant, with an IUD, with twins, at 44. Not sure I agree with the “free” part, but I like the analogy.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are known factors for liklihood of fraternal twins – “frequency of intercourse [so like when you are actively TTC], menstrual history (higher in those with early menarche and short menstrual cycles, lower in those with irregular menstruation), oral contraception (varying effects), season (higher in summer months), family twin history (maternal), social class, and nutrition (conflicting reports).”

      It’s about 1 in 100 for 25 year olds and 1 in 50 for 35 year olds (your body starts to release more eggs as you age). Fraternal twins are heritary through the maternal line only – did your mother’s mother have twins in her family? That matters more than if your DH is a twin, which matters not at all. I read in another sources that taller women (above 5’7″) are more likely to have twins without fertility treatments invovlement. Makes sense to me from a purely genetic ‘room to grow’ perspective. I had surprise fraternal twins (no fertility treatment involvement) but in hindsight I had many of the factors noted above. Basically it’s rare enough that I wouldn’t exclude a second child on the basis that you might have twins, the risk factor isn’t much different from something like autism (1 in 67) and I’m assuming that you wouldn’t exclude a second child based on autism risk being slightly higher when fathers are 40+.

      Focus on what you see your family looking like in 5 years, 10 years and 20 years. Is there another kid in the picture? There’s no right answer. Good luck with your decision.

    • Boston Legal Eagle says:

      Much like the discussion that we had here a while ago in response to the main site’s question on having kids at all – I just don’t think there’s any way to truly know what it’s like to have 2 kids until you have the 2 kids. It seems very daunting and difficult, which I’m positive it is, but there are just so many unknowns that you just kind of have to accept and deal with in the moment if you get to them (i.e. twins, SD’s reaction, bigger car, etc.)

      For me personally, I knew I would regret not having a second. I’m not sure what a potential second will do to my career, my living situation, my finances and many other factors. But I know that I want to try and am open to the experience, and am especially looking forward to seeing a relationship between my son and his future sibling develop (no guarantees they’ll be close, I know, but it’ll be a relationship nonetheless). Right now I can’t even imagine loving someone else as much as I love my son, but I didn’t know that it could be possible before my son was here!

      As for the risks due to age, I agree that you should consult with your OB or other sources regarding the odds.

    • We’re having a similar discussion at home, but we’re thinking of adding another child through adoption. Having had two kids close in age, I will say that after the initial hurdle of infancy/nursing, etc., having two kids close in age has been really awesome for them and awesome for us as well. They play well together and share so many common interests, and they always have a friend to play with. Of course there are some arguments now and then, but for the most part they play very well together and it takes the pressure off my husband and I to be entertaining them.

    • Anonymous says:

      I just want to say I don’t think you’re crazy to think about not going for #2 because of the possibility of twins. It was one of several reasons we decided to be one and done. I didn’t feel a burning desire for a second child or for my child to have a sibling, and obviously if I did the analysis would have been different. But I did feel that a second child would have been completely manageable for our family and three (especially with two coming at once) would absolutely not have been in a whole host of ways (financially, logistically, physically). I am very confident that either my marriage or my job or possibly both would not have survived unexpected twins.

      Many people I’ve mentioned this to have acted like I’m completely insane for worrying about this possibility, but I know someone who got unexpected twins after a first baby and it was really, really hard on her. Her marriage was and is fine as far as I know but she ended up becoming a SAHM, which she doesn’t think would have happened but for the twins. I like my job more than I like the idea of a hypothetical second child. Several friends said “oh you can always get a selective reduction if it happens”, but while I am completely pro-choice from a “get the govt out of my sn*tch” perspective, I don’t believe I personally would be able to ab*rt an otherwise healthy child just because I got one more than I bargained for.

      Fwiw, I’m a couple years younger than you but I’m also tall, which is another thing that makes twins more likely.

    • Thank you for all the feedback and advice. It has been helpful to articulate my thoughts more clearly and think about what sacrifices might be made short term, but that will fade in the long term. Ah! Nothing that’s important is ever easy.

  7. Combo Feeding says:

    So maybe this is a dumb question, but I can mix formula and b*milk in the same bottle right? I’m pumping at work and probably 2-3 oz short of what he’s eating at daycare during the day. Can I just add a couple ounces of formula to one of the bottles and stop stressing about it? We make bottles the night before – it’s not going to separate weirdly or something? I think I’m probably overthinking this.

    • anne-on says:

      Yup, that’s how I weaned my kiddo off exclusively b*milk in bottles. If I did 3 bottles of my milk and one of formula he’d totally reject the formula bottle. I upped the % of formula as I stopped pumping and eventually got him to 100% formula.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. And that’s directly from my pediatrician. Blew my mind when she suggested it, but seems so obvious in retrospect (the sleep deprivation at the time didn’t help things)

    • I don’t think it’s a dumb question: there is still some stigma about formula feeding so there’s not a ton of info out there. Rant over! Yes you can just add formula to your milk. If you’re doing it the night before it needs to go in the refrigerator. I’m sure you know this but I think some ppl leave breastmilk out? I’ve only formula fed so I’m not sure. This was not your question but if you’re thinking of transitioning to formula, just remember it’s fine to add formula to b*milk, but if you’re mixing water and formula you need to be pretty accurate with the water so as not to mess up your LO’s electrolytes. Good luck!

    • Carine says:

      The only other factor to consider for mixing that I can think of is your daycare’s policy on leftover milk/formula. Some places are required to throw out what’s left of a bottle at the end of a feeding – when this was the case at our daycare I would often keep the mixed bottles pretty small so I was sure we wouldn’t lose the breastmilk for having added too much formula, if that makes sense.

      • This was the main thing that stopped me from mixing formula and breastmilk in bottles we sent – daycare was required to throw out the rest of the bottle and I’d lose that liquid gold. (Naturally, one day baby drank all 4 breastmilk bottles and then refused the formula, so it was kind of a problem either way. Grr.)

    • Anonymous says:

      You can but I didn’t because they are good, including good outside of fridge for different lengths of time. I just sent a separate 4 oz bottle of formula everyday.

    • anne-on says:

      Also, your daycare may vary, but ours was fine with us sending in a tub of unmixed formula and a bottle of water for emergencies or just in case baby drank everything I sent and was still hungry. It rarely got used but it did make me feel better in case I got held up at work or baby hit a random growth spurt.

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