Family Friday: Cut, Sculpt, and Roll Play Set with Tools

Oooh: My boys both loved the older version of this play dough set, so it’s nice to see that there’s an updated version. (If you’re on the hunt for more, we’re big into play dough at our house: this set is great if you’ve got a young’un, and my eldest was always a big fan of the Chuck and Friends/Play-Doh collaboration — but with the latter, skip the gravel grinder because it leaves you with tiny dried Play-Doh pieces all over your kitchen table!) This pictured updated set is $10.99 at Amazon. Melissa & Doug Cut, Sculpt, and Roll Clay Play Set With 8 Tools and 4 Colors of Modeling Dough

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  1. This is timely as I just earlier this week bought these tools (the old set though, I guess) from another parent and I wanted to post on here and ask for best playdoh tips. Put down newspaper underneath? Just vacuum afterwards? He has his own little wooden table and it’s over hardwood so hoping it wouldn’t be that bad.

    • Momata says:

      It really isn’t that messy. I don’t think newspaper would work well – the print will get all over the play doh and the play doh will pull it up and rip it. I just take a ball and squish up all the little pieces, then let whatever’s left dry and run over it with a dust buster.

      • Anonymous says:

        +1 – I don’t find it to be a big deal to clean up as long as no one is wandering the house rubbing it into carpet or something

    • It shouldn’t be bad on the floor – just let it dry a little and then sweep up. For the table, I put down wax paper or a cutting board to give them a work surface but NBD if they stray a little.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        Letting it dry a little is key. It’s tempting to clean it up right away, but it smears a lot more than if you let it get a bit stale first. The little pieces that fall on the floor dry up pretty quickly

    • Great, thanks! He got some for Christmas and at least three people reacted along the lines of “we only let them do play doh at school, too messy” or “I hope this gift is even okay because it’s so messy” and I was thinking, man – this sounds like a hassle.

    • PinkKeyboard says:

      I think it’s pretty easy. I even let mine play it on the kitchen floor while I’m cooking. If it gets gross I just throw it out. We also have no rugs because my husband and dog are NOT responsible rug owners.

  2. Patty Mayonnaise says:

    What are the best recipes for food to bring over to a friend who just had baby #2? I’ve done lasagnas, etc. in the past, but now that I have a little one of my own, I’m looking for something relatively quick and easy that will also be relatively healthy and satisfying for my friends. Thanks!

    • What about a slow cooker soup recipe that you can make the day before (or day of or overnight) and then take over in a big reusable container or big ziploc? Maybe chili, chicken and rice, black bean? Include a prewashed tub of lettuce and some breadsticks to go with it? Maybe a baked pasta recipe (that isn’t lasagna) that you prep in a Glad Ovenware and then they can pop in the oven on their own to finish? Slow cooker BBQ meat of some sort? When our daughter was born, we had other parents bring us take-out that we picked out, and it was just as great as a home cooked meal. So you could do that, too, and they would still be super appreciative!

    • No-boil pasta casserole: brown some sort of meat/ use meatballs + veggies (eg broccoli) + 1 pound pasta + 1 jar marinara sauce + 1 jar water + cheese. Eg:

      Also second takeout or pizza!

      My friend told me her freezer was full of premade meals already, so I just baked a batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (‘they’ve got oatmeal in them so you can pretend like they’re also good for breastfeeding’ :))

      • Anonanonanon says:

        OMG i’m full-term with #2 and if someone brought me oatmeal chocolate chip cookies after this birth I would cry with gratitude. That sounds so good right now

    • Maybe it is just me, but I would have appreciated a fruit salad with cut up fresh fruit that I could just shovel in my mouth. It wouldn’t keep long, though, so she would need to it within a day or so.

      • +1. Friends brought us Zoe’s Kitchen takeout with a giant container of their fruit salad. I loved all the casseroles and soups, but having fresh fruit at my fingertips was the best.

    • The best food we received after we had my son was a meat and cheese tray, huge fruit tray, and huge veggie tray. We ate off those for 3-4 days and it was amazing to have portable fruits and veggies and protein that we could grab in a few seconds even if we didn’t have time to eat a whole meal.

    • I preferred lasagnas and casseroles because after a while, all those CrockPot soups and stews taste the same. If the issue is just the prep time for lasagna, use the no-boil lasagna noodles to make the prep fast.

      I love this make ahead lasagna recipe, it freezes for up to a month. I make several at a time (using those foil casserole pans) so the prep doesn’t feel so crazy. The sauce is the longest part of the recipe, you could probably use store-bought to make it even faster.

      Cookies and takeout sound good too. Another great option is a breakfast casserole or french toast bake – sometimes it was nice to get a warm tasty breakfast after being up all night.

    • I nearly cried when a friend brought over a kale salad after my first. I had so many pasta and cheese based casseroles my body was dying for a fresh green vegetable.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      If they eat beef or pork, here are two slow cooker recipes:

      Char Siu pork (basically Chinese BBQ pork):
      — Pair it with a vinegar-based coleslaw, and some rolls (and a salad if you want to add extra veggies)

      Beef Minestrone:
      — A ton of veggies in each bowl. I halve the amount of beef. I use a package of frozen chopped spinach instead of fresh spinach. I also use double the can of diced tomatoes and omit the tomato sauce. And I just use whatever veggies I want (zucchini, sweet potato, onion, celery, carrot, etc.).

    • Anonanonanon says:

      Someone told me that, as corny as it is, they received an edible arrangement after their baby was born and it was the best thing ever to have fruit on a stick around.
      I usually bring people a frozen family-sized stouffers casserole, frozen garlic toast, bagged baby spinach, and some “salad fixins”.

    • avocado says:

      My in-laws brought over a hot rotisserie chicken, bagged salad, and rolls at dinnertime during those first few days. You could do takeout BBQ, which would be easy to reheat if they didn’t want to eat it right away. An edible arrangement is a great idea, with the caveat that they tend to take up a lot of room in the fridge. Snacks or treats would be great too–homemade Chex Mix, cookies, even popcorn sprinkled with garlic salt or parmesan cheese.

    • Artemis says:

      I have kids of my own, so also, not a lot of time to cook. When a friend of mine had her first baby, I made a giant tub of cold pasta salad–cooked and cooled pasta, shredded carrots, cucumber slices and Italian salad dressing. It was the best I could think of on short notice. She later said she ate it for lunch multiple days, and it was early fall so she was happy for some cold food. Win-win I guess!

      On other early visits to her house I would bring a loaf of sweet bread (pumpkin, banana, whatever) from our local bakery–took five minutes for me to pick up and she could eat it for breakfast or dessert.

    • I loved receiving some pork tenderloins with Hawaiian rolls and mustard. They were amazing. We give roast pork or roast beef with rolls and dijonnaise to friends now.

  3. anon in nyc says:

    curious to hear from others who may have had similar experiences – my 32 week ultrasound suggested baby might be big by term (measuring just over 5lbs then), and since then my doctors have been pushing me to get another ultrasound. I’m now 38+3 and while my stomach is measuring on track and I’ve gained just under 30 lbs, they are starting to scare me with warnings of what could happen if the baby should get stuck and that they’d want to induce me if an updated scan showed he is really that big. I’m on the fence – my family tends to have bigger babies without much of an issue, but of course I’d be devastated if something happened to him during birth that I could have prevented. I’m currently leaning toward doing an updated scan and potentially letting them induce if he’s that big, but wondering if others have a different take/advice after being in similar situations. I know how inaccurate these scans can be and I really hate making a decision on the basis of one, but the downside seems so horrific that I feel like I owe it to the baby to at least see what it says…

    • Anonymous says:

      Ultrasounds are super inaccurate on weight. I had twins and the second baby’s weight was off (underestimated) by about 1.5 lbs. My co-worker was measuring for an 8 lb baby, she was convinced he was bigger (she and her DH are big, and her first was big) and he was 10lbs. She didn’t have any delivery issues at all. My SIL has a 10lb baby with no delivery issues. Once you’re at 40-41 weeks, you’ll probably get an ultrasound to check how baby is doing so I’d just wait until then.

      Sorry that you’re facing scare mongering. It doesn’t make much sense because if baby is that big, and labor doesn’t progress or there are issues, you can always have an emergency (as in unplanned) section. Outcomes are better for moms and babies who go into labor naturally, even if it ends with a section because it means your body is ready.

    • Cornellian says:

      This may be an unpopular opinion, but I would not get the scan. My practice pushed me to get a scan, the baby measured in the 5th percentile, and then he came out literally less than 24 hours later in the 70th percentile. I know it’s anecdotal, but it’s not an uncommon story in my friend group.

      I did look around for studies on it, and according to one I found (I’ll post link separately), 5% of babies had actual weights within 15% of the predicted weight, and 82% of the scans OVERestimated weight (which actually helps explain why they were more freaked about my “tiny” baby).

      I don’t think gathering more information, if it’s going to be inaccurate, or you’re not sure what to do with it, helps your baby.

    • I agree that ultrasound weights are hugely inaccurate. My daughter was about 1.0-1.5 pounds lighter than they expected. I also think if the time comes and there is a problem, you’ll have the opportunity for a c-section or whatever is necessary to keep you both safe and healthy.

      All that said…if I was you and my doctor recommended something different, I would 100% do what s/he recommended. But that’s just my personality. I understand the doctor has to give you all the risks, etc. But ask him or her what they would do it it was them, and go with that.

    • Anon for this says:

      I’m not going to tell you what I think you should do, but I will tell you my experience. (Going anon because this will out me to anyone who knows me.)

      My first measured big throughout the pregnancy. I took the natural birth classes, was with a midwife instead of an OB, and got a doula all with the goal of avoiding a c section. At 41 weeks the ultrasound was predicting my kid would be 10+ pounds. I was showing absolutely no signs of labor readiness, but my midwife recommended induction because she was worried about letting the baby get any bigger. She also made a throwaway offer of a c-section but acted like I would be crazy to even consider it. So I went in at 41 weeks, 1 day and started cytotec. The next morning I started pitocin. After 12 hours on the pitocin with only a couple of cm dilation and virtually no progress on the baby’s position (which was head down, facing sideways), I asked for epidural because I could not take the pain anymore. (I had tried to avoid an epidural because I knew they make a c section more likely.) My epidural failed despite being upped 3 times. I was in agony and the baby was making no progress. Several hours later, I spiked a fever and the midwife called for a c section. My baby was born and was perfect and wonderful at 9 pounds 6 oz – almost a pound less than they had predicted. After several days in the hospital we all went home. A few days later, I got another high fever, spent the day in the ER and was readmitted to the hospital with an infection in my incision. I spent another 5 days in the hospital on IV antibiotics while various specialists debated whether to re-open my incision and attach a wound vac. I was extremely sick and miserable, and it was a traumatic way to start motherhood. After I recovered from the infection my c section recovery was actually pretty quick and easy.

      Now I’m pregnant again, and I’m going for a scheduled c section. I would never do another induction, especially not without significant signs of readiness for labor. I’m not trying to scare you, and I’m not saying my experience is common or representative, but it is what happened to me, even though my baby was quite a bit smaller than predicted.

    • Ultrasounds are hugely inaccurate. My doctor was super concerned in weeks 39 and 40 that my baby was not big enough, even though my weight had steadily progressed and everything else seemed fine. Baby was born in week 41 at 50th percentile, totally healthy. Baby’s cousin was also born at 90th percentile when measuring around the 50th percentile. If you have a family history of larger babies and no other indication that there is cause for concern, then I would strongly resist an induction just based off the scan.

      My personal opinion is that American doctors induce way too often, perform too many c-sections and make births way too medicalized. I am super grateful that medicine has advanced as much as it has and that there are interventions available if the mother or the baby need one, and my own sister’s and her baby’s lives were probably saved by a c-section. But often in pregnancy and birth, just “wait and see” is a truly wonderful approach. However, most doctors just struggle with it because they want to DO SOMETHING. One helpful thing I learned in my natural childbirth class was that if you are hesitant or unsure about an intervention, you can say something like “I would like to wait for [appropriate X] amount of time and then revisit options.” Basically push back by making the doctors wait, and of course if it is a true emergency you could expect them to say so.

    • Anonymous says:

      I went to a midwife, who only did 1 ultrasound routinely – anatomy scan at 20 weeks. After 41 weeks when I was still pregnant, I had to have more as part of the stress tests (I think that is what they call it? foggy memories) to make sure baby was okay. A day before I hit 42 weeks, my midwife said she wanted to induce, casually mentioning that “they think this baby is 10 pounds.” The ultrasound techs hadn’t told me this, so it was news to me. Either way, the main reason I was induced was because I was at almost 42 weeks. I did have a successful induction – 2 rounds of cervadil, then epidural (I was 2 cm dialated but begging for it, sigh), then pitocin, and my son was born weighing 9 pounds exactly. He was over 22″ long. Unfortunately he inhaled meconium when he was born and spent a week in the NICU, so that sucked. If I had to do it over again, I would probably push for induction at 41 weeks, but only because hindsight is 20/20.

      I think I would push hard to get more detail about if research backs up their recommendations – how accurate are the scans, what does research show about the risks vs benefits of each option, etc. These decisions are so hard, so good luck with whatever you choose!

    • If baby is too big, wouldn’t you just have a c-section? This is what happened to me. I pushed and pushed and baby just wasn’t fitting so it ended up being a c-section. Now, I don’t mean to say this lightly. A c-section is a major surgery and I started balling when the doctor mentioned it but we both ended up fine and healthy which, in the end, is what you want.

      • I think the idea is they induce early (before 40 weeks) so baby doesn’t have a chance to get too big for a V delivery.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think the thing they really worry about is shoulder dystocia, when the head is delivered but shoulders get stuck.

        • Yes, an increased risk of this plus a big baby is why I did a scheduled C section. Chances are everything would have been fine with a v delivery but I did a scheduled C at 39 weeks exactly and baby was almost 10 lb. Who knows what he would have been if I’d waited to go into labor.

          Scheduled C is very different than an emergency C … I know people have strong feelings about wanting a V delivery but my recovery was far easier than many women I know who tore during a v delivery, or who labored for hours before an emergency C.

    • 2 Cents says:

      Based on my own limited experience: I’m pregnant with my first, and had back-to-back ultrasound appointments (yay for high-risk pregnancy!). The first scan said baby was 3 lbs, 6 oz. The second, a mere 3 days later, said baby was an even 3 lbs. In my birthing class, the nurse leading it said she knew of one woman who elected to get a c-section because they told her baby was measuring over 10 lbs; baby ended up being like 7.5 lbs (and mom was ticked!).

    • Practitioners are all SO different. Everyone kept telling me my baby was huge because of how I looked (though I gained only about 20 lbs); my OB and midwife were not concerned at all. I was never given any talks about induction, with my OB saying we’d wait until 41 weeks to do a scan (I think prior to that my last one was like 28w?) to make sure baby was ok, but not because she was worried he was too big.

      Then during my actual labor, which stalled at 8-9cm, the OB on call was apparently muttering that he didn’t think I could do it because the baby was too big to get through my pelvis the way he was positioned (sunny side up and his head twisted). Because I was so out of it I never heard this, luckily, and still believed I could do it! My nurse and doula had me in child’s pose for awhile and eventually baby turned. He did end up being almost 9lbs and it was not an easy birth, but I didn’t need a C-section, vacuum, forceps, etc.

      I think it’s worth it to push back and ask about the risks and if your doctor is really adamant, believes there are real risks to you and the baby, then consider a scan and induction. But I think it’s possible you’re in a situation like mine – sure, baby was big, and it wasn’t fun, but baby and I were both totally fine.

    • A couple of inputs here – #1 I agree with everyone that the ultrasounds are pretty inaccurate. #2 Check out the Bishop score – if it’s high enough, odds of a successful induction are pretty good. If your doctor does an internal exam, you can get all of the information to calculate your score.

      This is a tough one, but if I were in your shoes I’d talk through potential outcomes with the doctor and the odds of each. I think shoulder dystocia is the really scary potential issue with a bigger baby. If you’re just not making progress you can have a c-section. But I would want to discuss the various things that could happen and the odds of each rather than these vague recommendations doctors seem to make.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Just to chime in with a different perspective on the accuracy of ultrasound measurements. Mine was roughly accurate throughout my pregnancy. My cousin’s wife had an accurate measurement too. She just had an 11 lb 4 oz baby and she did not look that big during pregnancy. They discounted the scan measurements telling them that the baby would be big (at one point the dr told them the baby was ~9 lbs and they immediately thought the baby was more like 7 lbs). They wound up going in for an induction. She tried a vaginal delivery, but wound up having to have an emergency c-section after about 48 hours.

      Of course there are plenty of counter-examples where measurements have been wildly off. I just wanted to point out that in at least 2 instances that I know of the measurements were in the ballpark.

    • LittleBigLaw says:

      My understanding was that the medical guidance no longer considers the risk of a “big baby” to be an appropriate reason for an elective induction and/or c-section.

      Of course, I’m not a doctor and the guidance may have changed. But I would definitely challenge the push for an elective induction based purely on suspected birth weight.

    • I’m adding another: ultrasounds are inaccurate, “big baby” is not a reason to induce opinion. If you had a family history of risk because of big baby I would think differently. But unless you have GD, you baby is not likely too big to make it through. If issues are present, the baby (or you) will show signs and they can do a C.

      I had two successful V deliveries from inductions. My first was 9lbs 4oz at 42 weeks, and if I had an aggressive OB, he/she probably would have called for a C-section. I was glad to have a patient midwife, who never told me how big he was measuring at my non-stress tests.

      If your stomach is measuring on track I would say no to the extra scan, but that’s just me.

    • Here’s what I’d consider: how big were you as a baby? How big were your siblings? How did your mom deliver? How big was DH as a baby? What is your frame like, generally?

      I was a 9lb 12oz baby, delivered vagnially without drugs. My sister was 8.8 and my brother was 10.8 (!). All delivered vaginally without drugs.

      I was 40 weeks and had an US that showed a “8.5lb baby, max”. I chuckled knowing how unreliable those things were. Then I actually laughed when the OB threw out induction/c-section as options to get the baby out before it passed 9lbs. “Dude, I was a 9.5lb baby, I’m sure I’m getting what’s coming to me.”

      Fast forward and I went into labor at 41+6, had a happy healthy baby weighing in at 9lbs 15oz (!!!). I had a 3rd degree tear and an epi because I had back labor, but all things considered it was FINE.

      WIth my second, I was 41 weeks and had an US; baby measured >10lbs and they were laying on the pressure for induction. I waited it out until the last possible minute, but ended up getting induced at 41+6. Induction was super smooth (I really think this has to do with it being my second, and also being so dang overdue) and baby was 8lbs 7oz. Nowhere near the 10+lber they were predicting.

      And finally–FWIW, both my kids were long, so while they were heavy, they fit just fine.

      • Anonymous says:

        This reminds me of my favorite nurse question, “do you have your mother’s pelvis?” I was like, um, we never compared. (Good news: apparently I do).

        • Another NYC Anon says:

          How are you even supposed to know??? I was told that unless they do an x-ray, the only way to figure out what your pelvis is like is… having a vaginal delivery and seeing how it all goes down.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think they can normally tell by a pelvic exam. I was told by my OB that I had a very narrow pelvis long before delivery (no x-ray obviously since I was pregnant). And I’m a tall, large-chested and hip-y woman. Apparently what’s on the outside has basically nothing to do with what’s on the inside.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      I don’t know where my reply went, so apologies if this posts twice, but I know of at least two instances where ultrasound measurements were fairly accurate (w/in half a pound territory). Me and my cousin’s wife. In my cousin’s instance, they automatically discounted the measurements as inaccurate so they were really surprised when, late in the game, all of their birth plans had to change (they wanted to use a birthing center, but couldn’t because the baby was measuring over 9 lbs at the time). Eventually they went in for an induction, and after 48 hours of labor, she wound up needing an emergency c-section. Her labor went as long as it did because he and she were committed to trying every avenue for a vaginal delivery, but a c-section became necessary. The baby was 11 lbs 4 oz. His wife did not look that big during pregnancy either.

      I know that there are a ton of examples where measurements were off by a lot, but wanted to provide a counter example. For me, I’d want to know as much information as I could before going into labor. And, you can still run down all avenues for a vaginal delivery if that’s what you want – you just have to make sure that your doctor/medical team is aware that that is your priority.

  4. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I would not get the scan. My practice pushed me to get a scan, the baby measured in the 5th percentile, and then he came out literally less than 24 hours later in the 70th percentile. I know it’s anecdotal, but it’s not an uncommon story in my friend group.

    I did look around for studies on it, and according to one I found (I’ll post link separately), 5% of babies had actual weights within 15% of the predicted weight, and 82% of the scans OVERestimated weight (which actually helps explain why they were more freaked about my “tiny” baby).

    I don’t think gathering more information, if it’s going to be inaccurate, or you’re not sure what to do with it, helps your baby.

  5. another story about the inaccuracies of ultrasound measurements:
    My OB was convinced that my baby was 11lbs at 39 weeks, but she said that margin of error for this baby was 2lbs. That gave me a range of 9 to 13lbs. She also said that the most accurate measurement is the mom’s guess. I didn’t trust myself, because, umm how do I measure it?! But, self doubt aside, I knew the baby was not 11lbs, I just knew it. He was born the next day at 9lbs and the OB was beside herself. All this is to say, trust yourself. You know what is right for you…even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How old were your kids when you started volunteering with them? I want to teach my daughter about the importance of community and giving back, but also am cognizant that many times volunteer opportunities are a bit contrived and can require more effort from the organization than they get back. I don’t want to be a drain on them just to give my child an opportunity. Thoughts on when and what is best to do?

    • Anonanonanon says:

      I’ve thought about this a lot, and like you I’ve usually concluded that, at this stage, our presence would be a drain on the operation rather than a help.
      We use opportunities like the diaper drive or food drive at school to discuss poverty and for me to hear his ideas about how people end up in that situation, so I can kindly guide him through thinking about the different ways people find themselves needing assistance that aren’t just “they don’t work and don’t have money”. I’m hoping framing his perceptions about poverty early will make him a more valuable and compassionate volunteer when he’s old enough to help.
      Occasionally through youth education at our quaker meeting they’ll pack lunches for a homeless shelter, and let the littlest kids put granola bars in the bag, for example, but other than that we stick to donating to diaper/food/pajama drives through school etc.

    • This is such a great question! It definitely depends on the kind of volunteer work and the personality of the kid. Our daycare takes our kids trick or treating at a nursing home and while it isn’t strictly “volunteering” we do talk about how important it is to take care of our elderly neighbors and be kind and help them. The residents love it. At christmas (my kid is 4) we bought a few new toys and gathered canned goods from our pantry and took them to a santa collecting things for kids in need and talked about how lucky we are to have so much and so it is important to share. I think a preschooler could do a park clean up or even sort items at a food pantry. We plan to start serving meals at a shelter once our kid is 6 or so.

      You’re absolutely right that volunteer programs are a lot of work for the agency and your contribution should be a value add and not a burden on the agency. I used to run a volunteer program at a charity and I can’t tell you how many times I got yelled at for declining the offers of families to bring young children to volunteer for client-based programs. I tried to redirect to better kid-friendly alternatives, but lots of people were so focused on their kid’s experience that it was lost on them that my priority was to our clients.

    • Mama Llama says:

      If you’re in the DC area, the DC Diaper Bank has family friendly volunteer hours. Kids can help count, stack and wrap diapers, and then play in the play area if they lose interest.

      Another thing I’ve done with my 3 year old is do sidewalk-chalking with a parents activist group. There were hateful flyers distributed in a local neighborhood, so we chalked messages of support to the targeted group. We talked about it as people were saying mean things to these people so we are going to say nice things and help them feel better.

      I’ve also taken her with me to make food donations at a homeless program, diaper donations to the diaper bank, and clothing donations. I try to talk to her about how some people don’t have enough of the things they need, and we need to help them. I’m not sure how much is getting through at this point, but I figure it’s laying a foundation.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        I’m in the DC area and wasn’t aware of the family-friendly volunteer hours at the DC Diaper Bank, I’ll have to look into that!

        • Mama Llama says:

          They are very popular, so you have to sign up way in advance, but it’s a great opportunity to introduce kids to volunteering.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just in case this didn’t occur to you: many organizations have formal policies prohibiting kids under a certain age – check if you have somewhere specific in mind. I have yet to find a good option that works for my limited availability and a 5 year old.

    • EP-er says:

      So far, most of our volunteering activities have come through scouting. There is a big community service element to both Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts. And we participate in school activities & try to help out the older neighbors on our street. We haven’t prioritized other volunteering activities because… well, time & two working parents.

      • Anonymous says:

        +1. My kids are still too young for scouting, but that’s how I got my start as a child. (a) the volunteer opportunities through scouting are nice because they are planned and age appropriate and (b) you’re generally with others in your troop or of your age, making it more fun and less intimidating.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve struggled with this too and will echo some of the others that volunteering at younger ages can be through drives and talking about the drives, as well as being the person who delivers the collections and bringing kid with you.

      Two other thoughts:
      1. Think outside of the ideas that you might consider volunteering as an adult. For example, I wouldn’t really consider going to a group home something that I would do as a volunteer myself (for many reasons, not least of which I have no actual talent to contribute) – BUT, my children have sung Christmas carols and performed concerts organized by their music teacher at these homes. This is great on so many levels – the people in the homes get a special event, they usually get a kick out of seeing little people…and the kids get a non-threatening public venue for practice while learning that they have the power to bring a little joy to people’s lives. So they are thinking about others and getting the lesson of giving and actually doing something lovely.

      2. Turning a birthday into a chance to give. For us, this started out punitive (kid was on horrendous behavior and lost the birthday party, but earned the party back on the condition of no presents), but has ended up being one of the best memories of my year. Kid proactively suggested that guests could make a donation to victims of local seasonal disaster instead of bringing birthday gifts. Kid was super proud of self for doing this, and for the amount raised, and kept thinking about opportunities for helping (and the bigger issue of NEED) long after the birthday.

  7. LittleBigLaw says:

    I’ll be going back to work after maternity leave in a few weeks and need some advice about reduced hours. I took a smaller chunk of leave up front so that when I start back I can use my remaining parental leave intermittently throughout the rest of the year. I’ll essentially be returning at 80% (I.e., one day “off” each week), and I have a good bit of flexibility as to which day of the week to stay home. For those of you who have gone reduced hours, either temporarily or more long term, which day of the week did you find to be the least disruptive at work and/or most productive at hone? Did you set a specific day at the outset or did it vary based on the demands of a particular week? Also, what is reasonable to expect from this time away from the office? Did you use it to spend extra time with your kids or to grocery shop, clean house, etc? Is sending the kiddos to daycare frowned upon since it’s technically supposed to be bonding time for parents? Interested to hear others thoughts and experiences!

    • Anonanonanon says:

      In terms of whether or not you send kid to daycare, I’d play that by ear. I assume you’re paying for that day whether you use it or not. You may find it beneficial to have kiddo go half the day so you can grocery shop etc. while the stores are less crowded on a weekday, then have more bonding time over the weekend as a family since you got errands out of the way during the week.

    • Anonymous says:

      Full day off each week on a set day. I went with Friday, but I’ve also heard Wednesday is good because it breaks up the week for kid plus you avoid the end of week panic that sometimes happens on late Thursday because you can still work on Friday. Avoid Mondays because they disappear when there are holidays.

      At baby stage, I just napped when baby napped to catch up on sleep. Usually ran a few errands with baby At toddler/preschooler age, I often did a fun kid activity in the morning (baking/swimming/whatever), dropped off just before lunch and pick up just after nap time and ran errands with kid in the afternoon or went to the park. While kid was at daycare for 3 hours approx I did a fitness class and tidied up or did a project at home (like reorganized my closet or something similar that it’s hard to do with kid around).

    • I did this with both kids and I always did Friday. I’m in consulting so we tend to start off busy on Monday, but have relatively few client meetings on Fridays. Plus people often take off Fridays to make long weekends so it seemed more natural than taking a day in the middle of the week and it reduced the possibility of work infringing since people are ramping down for the weekend anyway. I usually did stuff around the house and then picked the kids up early to spend some extra time with them. I tried keeping them home a few times, but it was disruptive to the routine (especially for my older daughter). At the beginning I felt guilty about sending them when I wasn’t working, but it is SO worthwhile. In those early days, time to yourself is precious – even if you’re spending it at the grocery store. It was really nice to have that flex time to do whatever I felt I needed that week, which could be errands, housework, cuddle time with the kids, or just rest.

      • LittleBigLaw says:

        I’m leaning toward Fridays for these same reasons, but I’m concerned that taking every Friday off will come across more as a vacation because of the three day weekend (I’ll be the first in my office to use parental leave in this manner, so it’s hard to anticipate what the reception will be.) Still, it seems like the most logical choice.

    • Anon On This One says:

      I’ve been 1500 hours/year since my baby was born. I intended to go back fulltime (1800 hours), wasn’t keeping up, realized I didn’t want to keep up, and made it official when my baby was around 7 months. My child is two now. After about 18 months of being officially “part time” now, I’ve come to a really important conclusion about it. I still work closer to full time on the days I work – I aim for at least 7 billable hours per working day (I know some in biglaw will laugh at that being “closer to full time”, but for my area and firm size, it is). In return, I give myself a “bank” of real holidays, baby sick time, self sick time, actual vacation, etc. Because I do some early morning or evening work most days, I learned that if I just reduced my time each day or week, the morning or evening work was what was getting cut out, and it didn’t really make a difference in the time I had off or the time I spent with my child. That could just be my own self-discipline. Anyway, it works much better for me to have a stress-free “bank” of time when baby is sick, I am sick, real vacations, etc. Basically it has made being an attorney at a firm into more of a full time non-attorney or in-house type position. I really highly recommend doing it this way. That is my two cents.

      • Anon On This One says:

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’d save that “day each week” for the unplanned days when baby is sick, you are sick, etc., so you’re not stressed about making those hours up rather than planning to take a ton of days off when all is well.

        • LittleBigLaw says:

          Didn’t see this when I replied. Makes sense and fits in with what I expected. Thanks again!

      • LittleBigLaw says:

        Thank you for this reply! This is pretty much exactly what I’m hoping to do. I’d like to keep as close to my normal schedule on working days as possible so that there is less spill over on my days at home. Glad to hear that this approach works for someone else. Follow up question, have you taken sick days, vacation days, etc. in addition to a scheduled flex day or do you use your flex days to cover those situations?

        • Anon On This One says:

          Sorry – I wasn’t clear. I don’t do regularly scheduled flex days even though I could swing it if I wanted to . Instead, I take more vacation, sick time, etc. than most people and don’t feel guilty about it. That’s just what works well for me and what I’d recommend. At least after the first 6-12 months. At first, I understand wanting time home with baby and to find your footing. After that, at best, I’d take off a few hours early one day per week to grocery shop, go to Target, exercise, or whatever. But not an entire day. That’s just me. I’ve made the conscious decision that I’d rather take an extra week of vacation over the summer to visit grandparents and at the holidays and do my extra bonding with my child that way. Other people make a different decision, and that works well for them. I doubt there is a right answer.

          On an annual basis, I do this, where a “day” is 7 billable hours:
          Working days: 215 (43 weeks at 7 hours per day)
          Holidays: 11 days (follows my husband’s and child’s holiday schedule, which is more generous than mine)
          Child Sick Time:9 days/63 hours (I go by the hour to include dr’s appointments and because I usually split the days in half with my husband.)
          Self Sick Time: 5 days/35 hours
          Vacation: 20 days/4 weeks

          I could rearrange that time to have a weekly flex day or half. I just don’t.

    • I did exactly this with both my kids – off one day a week. It was the same or usually the same each week. Sometimes I would cancel the day based on office needs but this was rare and I usually made up for it by taking an extra day somewhere else. My kiddos aren’t in daycare, it’s a combination of family, so it’s a relief for the other adult(s) who would be in charge if I was at work. I use the time for a mix of things, honestly. The first time, we ended up selling our house and buying a new one. I cannot imagine having worked full-time through that experience while having a baby. I also have used nothing but that unpaid time as long as I can, for anything, to allow my paid time to accrue again, (i.e. vacation week is entered as parental leave).

  8. How long can you go with a plugged duct? Has anyone had one that just WON’T go away?

    Baby Pogo finally is night weaning himself (prayer hands emoji), but of course I woke up with a plugged duct at 4:45 today. I put him on the b00b and he was just annoyed because I don’t think he was actually hungry at that point and of course the milk wasn’t coming out very fast at all.

    I spent over a half hour pumping this morning bent over at the waist and doing massage. No dice.

    Should I let it go til the end of the day? Pick him up early at daycare right before a feeding so he’s hungry and try and get him to get it out? I’ve never had one go more than a few hours before.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      I think everyone is different, and you shouldn’t hesitate to call your doctor if need be, but I went about 24-36 hours with one and it was painful. Warm compresses, and really strong pumping (the highest you can stand) plus painful massage eventually worked for me.

      Have you tried warm compresses? My lactation consultant told me this diaper trick where you soak the diaper, fold it up and microwave it (not scalding hot but very warm), and use that as a compress because it retains its heat better.

      • +1 The warm diaper trick is amazing if you can. At work in a pinch I’ve used a maxi pad from the bathroom with water and microwaved (yep). If home, I’ve also had good luck with a hot shower. Massage along with the eat and then try pumping again. I would try to clear it ASAP because mastitis is awful.

        • Massage along with the *heat*. Eating is good too though! ha.

        • Hm, thanks. I’m actually considering the maxi pad trick, lol.

          I’ve had mastitis before, too, so that’s why I’m so paranoid about getting this thing cleared out. It also hurts so much I really can’t concentrate on my work.

          • Anon in NYC says:

            Honestly, I massaged so dang hard that I thought I was going to give myself bruises. If you haven’t yet tried that sort of pressure, try it.

          • Ugh, I know. It just hurts so much! I’ve been at my desk with my hand down my shirt, lol.

    • Heat! I used a hot pad on my plugged ducts. I often would heat it before bed, and then sleep on it, so I got the heat for a long time. With that and the next nursing, it would usually work its way unplugged. Pumping didn’t work the same as nursing for me. Heat is huge.

      • Thanks. Yeah, pumping only worked to clear it one time for me and it came out really quick so I don’t think it was that clogged. The problem with nursing now that he’s older is he gets very distracted and frustrated that the milk isn’t coming out fast enough. I had a really tough time getting him to nurse this morning on the affected side.

    • PinkKeyboard says:

      If your husband will do it… have him suction it out. He will make much more suction and you can be massaging, vibrating (no judgment on what you use :)), applying heat, etc.

    • Patty Mayonnaise says:

      Also, if you can, hot showers and hand-expressing followed by lots of massage (I actually used a soapy wide-toothed comb in the shower) right before nursing. They’re so annoying – hope it clears up soon!

    • Anonymous says:

      +1 to heat and pumping on the highest setting. Also massage. And start taking lecithin right now.

    • Hot shower + vibration (Clarisonic) worked on an especially bad one I had. Plus 3x/day lecithin.

    • For Pogo says:

      Not sure if you’re still reading, but I’ve had a lot of plugged ducts. The clog starts at the n*pple and it backs up from there. Try soaking your n*pple in warm salt water (epsom salts are great for this) for 5 minutes, then try hand expressing the n*pple (you may be able to feel a pebbly like texture – those are clogs), then soak again in salt water. Repeat as necessary. Hope that helps – I know its miserable.

  9. Anon in NYC says:

    Silly question, but how do you get your toddler to keep his or her clothes on? My kid has recently become obsessed with taking all of her clothes off. I don’t care if we’re in our house, but she does this at school too! Apparently yesterday she had a bit of a meltdown because her teacher tried to get her to stop stripping down.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      Hahahaha I’m sorry, it’s been years so I don’t have any advice because I can’t remember how we handled it, but this post brought back (now) fond memories of my little guy disappearing for a few minutes during playdates and emerging in just hid underwear, or stripping down when we had company. It wasn’t as funny at the time but now I think it’s hilarious and cute in retrospect :)

      • Anonanonanon says:

        Now that I’m reflecting on it, I think for us part of the problem was that I let him run around in his underwear at home, so I started requiring sweatpants and shirts at home and he got more used to being in clothes.

    • That’s unfortunate but also hilarious. Probably just a phase but you could just ask if there’s something bothering her about her clothes (tags, something scratchy, etc). Also agree that you may want to require clothes at home so she doesn’t have to remember complex rules. Instead, the rule is just “we need to wear clothes.” Ah, toddlers.

      • Sabba says:

        Tags really bothered me as a kid, so I agree with asking about comfort issues and then addressing those if possible. But likely it is just an annoying but hilarious phase!

    • Anonymous says:

      Consistency with requiring clothes at home and daycare helped. Plus we let our little pick out her own outfits. They were some pretty interesting combinations but at least she kept them on.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Thanks! I don’t think anything about the clothes are bothering her (they’re usually tag-less, etc.) – these are clothes she’s been wearing for months. She just likes to be naked right now! It probably is just a phase, but in any event I’m going to start emphasizing how we wear clothes outside of the house at all times. lol.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Duct tape?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh this is what I get for trying to be funny – meant for Anon in NYC above.

    • Mama Llama says:

      Along those same lines, I was going to suggest overalls.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      lol, I wish! I hadn’t thought about overalls, though. I’ll have to see if I can find a pair that she’ll wear – she’s become pickier about clothes.

  11. Late in the day for this question, but here goes – do you send Tylenol/ibuprofen to daycare with your teething-age kids? Daycare called letting us know our normally very happy son was inconsolable and wouldn’t eat lunch after a normal morning. They said we didn’t have to pick him up, but my husband was home today anyway so we thought we might as well. He (son, not husband) was a real mess but about 15 minutes after ibuprofen was back to normal. He had a normal morning so I wouldn’t have thought of giving it to him before school, but on a normal day where we are both at work, this wouldn’t have worked as well. Curious what others have done. The only “medications” we have sent to daycare are diaper rash cream and sunscreen.

    • Definitely. It’s part of our daycare supplies. Sometimes I think they overdid it (but they always called to see if it was okay) but I’d rather err on the side of her not being uncomfortable.

    • Sabba says:

      I think you should just ask your daycare. For ours, we have to fill out a form for any medications to be given while our child is in care. The form has stuff like doctor contact information, name of medication, when it is needed, etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      Definitely ask your daycare. Ours does not allow any medications without a doctor’s note/prescription on use and dosage.

      • Yeah, I think ours doesn’t administer medication except with dr note. If you’re close enough to stop by at lunch, you could give it then.

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