I love products that do double duty, and here’s a nursing cover that does more!
This multifunction nursing cover from Milk Snob gives you and your little one privacy while nursing. But, the soft, stretchy fabric also fits over any car seat for post-nursing naps.
I could have used this when my kids were babies (instead I used whatever coat I was wearing to cover them up for naps on the go) — it would definitely make my new parent wish list.
This nursing cover is $36.99 at Nordstrom and comes in five attractive patterns.
P.S. Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate!
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Sales of Note…
(See all of the latest workwear sales at Corporette!)
- Nordstrom – The Half-Yearly Sale has started! See our thoughts here.
- Ann Taylor – $50 off $150; $100 off $250+; extra 30% off all sale styles
- Banana Republic Factory – Up to 50% off everything + extra 25% off purchase
- Eloquii – 60% off all tops
- J.Crew – Up to 50% off “dressed up” styles (lots of cute dresses!); extra 50% off select sale
- J.Crew Factory – Up to 60% off everything; 60% off 100s of summer faves; extra 60% off clearance
- Loft – 40% off tops; 30% off full-price styles
- Lands’ End – 30% off full-price styles
- Talbots – 25-40% off select styles
- Zappos – 28,000+ sale items (for women)! Check out these reader-favorite workwear brands on sale, and some of our favorite kid shoe brands on sale.
- J.Crew – Up to 50% off kids’ camp styles; extra 50% off select sale
- Lands’ End – 30% off full-price styles
- Hanna Andersson – Up to 50% off summer pajamas; up to 50% off all baby styles (semi-annual baby event!)
- Carter’s – Summer deals from $5; up to 60% off swim
- Old Navy – 30% off your order; kid/toddler/baby tees $4
- Target – Kids’ swim from $8; summer accessories from $10
Gift ideas for a friend who watched my dog while I gave birth and postpartum? She said she’s happy to do it but I want to get her something nice, especially as he stayed longer than planned due to a long labor and c-section recovery.
She likes traveling, hiking, and Disney. Would prefer not to get wine or food because she works in a tangential industry and don’t want to buy something inferior.
Nice scented candle? Flowers plus an REI gift card?
Mary Moo Cow says
A Disney gift card? She could use it on travel to the parks or on merch. Or some special Disney trinket, like a limited edition mug or Loungefly collection luggage accessory? I always like flowers or a plant delivered.
Camping slippers! Apparently trendy now for hiking/outdoorsy folks, and Chaco’s Ramble Puff are on sale right now. I got a pair for a relative recently and they love them. Depending on how much you want to spend, you could also get nice Smartwool socks to pair with them – don’t now any traveling/hiking people who would turn down a new pair.
Ooh, I’d look at Passenger, the UK hip hiking brand for inspo.
What about a cute pair of sunglasses? I’m of the opinion that one can never have too many – they get left behind, broken, or misplaced so often. She could wear them doing any of the 3 things she likes that you named!
I need help with gifts for a 6 year old boy and 3 year old girl whose parents requested “consumable art supplies” – this has been the request for several years now and I feel like I’ve gotten them everything I can think of in that category. Are there any unique things you can think of that would be good for kids this age? The 6 yo takes drawing classes and is apparently very advanced.
I also need gift ideas for a 4.5 year old girl (super girly, into princesses and unicorns) and a 2 year old boy. Didn’t get specific directions from the parents.
Things that can be ordered from Target or Amazon would be preferable.
I got some really nice watercolour crayons for my son after the kids one turned out to be rubbish. I also like those long modelling clay strings, and the blocks of clay. I’d go for low end grown up art supplies rather than kid stuff if they are serious about their art.
Those of you who have school age kids, can you tell me more about what childcare expenses are eligible for dependent care FSAs? It seems like the rules for camps are really complicated. Have you been able to use FSA money on camps?
Mary Moo Cow says
Try the Ooly store on Amazon for art supplies — air dry clay, make your own eraser sets, double ended markers are some cool things we’ve gotten. Also, Young House Love has a gift guide with some really nice markers available on Amazon. You could pair those with an open ended coloring book, like Create This Book, or the Reverse Coloring Book. My 7 year old is getting the Kid Made Modern 1500 piece arts and crafts library, also from Amazon.
For the younger girl and boy, Squishmallows? Play food? We had and loved and gifted the Green Toys tea set and cupcake set. Melissa and Doug also make great play food (like the scoop and serve ice cream set, birthday cake, pizza, and taco sets.)
The Artful Parent blog has a lot of specific art supply recommendations.
I love this blog! My go to for art ideas
I’ve requested consumable art supplies from my family for our toddler. Some things I think of: Stickers (any kind really), googly eyes, craft paper, markers (markers are drying out all the time!), small subs of assorted crafts supplies, playdough, etc. To be more specific, Target has lots of little painting art kits from their Mondo Llama brand with the paint, brush and wooden items all in one kit. The “paint your own tea set” and “paint your own wood vehicle kits” would be a nice pairing for a 3 and 6 year old. Pairing that with a small plastic table cloth would probably seem great to those parents.
Nice watercolors and watercolor paper pads. A new set of Crayola crayons and markers for the 3yo. Those scissors that do funky designs.
4.5 yo girl into princess and unicorns — the Princess in Black series!
2yo boy – beach towel, water shoes, or sturdy sand shovel and bucket like Spielstabil Small Sand Bundle
KiwiCo makes individual boxes you can buy – many are science/engineering based, but there are some really cute craft ones, too. I also like giving Brad Meltzer books (Ordinary People Change the World Series) to early elementary age kids; so many great role models.
If the parents gave you the same generic gift request three years in a row, I think it’s okay to branch out. Maybe they are tired of coming up with ideas.
Art supplies that my 5YO loves include pom poms, puffy stickers, construction paper in her favorite color (pink), popsicle sticks, washable glue, washable glue sticks, washable project paint, extra paintbrushes, extra paper for the easel, different kinds of fun scissors or hole punches, new watercolors (they get brownish fast), new colored pencils and crayons, washi tape.
In terms of princesses and unicorns, several companies make kid-sized hooded towels with either a unicorn horn or a princess crown, and she uses it after every bath. She also has a unicorn themed sleeping bag she uses to sleep on our floor (or sometimes movie night downstairs). There are also paint your own unicorn kits (warning that they do not always have washable paint).
Also they make black note pads that you scratch off as your drawing to reveal colors underneath. That is going in the stocking this year.
I’d get tempera paint sticks and finger painting paper for the 3 yo. The shiny paper really makes drawing pop. We framed several by our toddler/preschooler as they come out amazing.
I just did this for the 3 yo’s birthday last month. But it seemed like it was a big hit and my kid loved it at that age.
Tempera paint sticks (kwik stix brand are good) plus 11×16 fingerpaint paper is a great gift. We received it a few years ago and it’s great for non-messy art projects.
The best part of consumable art supplies is you can regift the same items as previous years. Can you get them postcards to draw on and postcard stamps along with some new markers?
Another idea would be to buy a container and stock it with construction paper, glue, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, scissors, hole punches, popsicle sticks, feathers, and whatever other random things strike your fancy.
Stamps and stamp pads would be another idea.
Watercolor pens for the 6 y.o. artist. Target has a Mondo Llama set that is good for beginners. For the 3 y.o. Kid Made Modern makes art supply gift sets with Pom poms, pipe cleaners, etc
My seven year old loooves model magic and I hadn’t bought that for her yet. She’s getting a bunch for christmas.
for the 3 year old girl – not sure if this counts, but Crayola Scribble Scrubbie pets or something crayola color wonder, like with stamps. last year for Chanukah my then 3.5 year old twins got a kinetic sand kit that they loved. This is not exactly in that category, but this summer my 4 year old twins got LED coloring tablet things and they still use them every day. They also love all different kind of stickers, particularly the foam ones from Michaels. is the girl newly 3, or closer to 4, because melissa & doug make great bead kits. And depending on where they live, bc I know it is hard to get toys you can’t use now, but there is a cute Ice Cream themed sidewalk chalk kit, Even though Spirograph says 8+ maybe that would be good for him?
for the super girly girl 4.5 year old – I have two of those, these are some things that they’ve received/will receive and have enjoyed, some of them say 6+, but idk why: from Target: It’s So Me – Unicorn Jewlery Box Craft Kit, Creativity Kids Unicorn Mini Garden, Unicorn purse; Color a Skirt Mermaid from Fat Brain Toys, Shrinky Dink kits have also been a HUGE hit, and one of those stuffed animals that has lots of little ones inside (unicorn themed of course – can find at Amazon)
2 year old boy – you didn’t mention budget, but at that age magnatiles, Lego Duplos, the Melissa & Doug birthday cake,
Stickers, Foam craft paper, foam paper with sticky on the back (all the craft stores have this, you can find it online- my kids like to make their own stickers), scrapbook paper in fun patterns, cardstock, construction paper, washi tape, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, double sided tape, glue sticks, gel pens in fun colors. I got this for my crafty neighbor when he was around 6 and it was a huge hit. Maybe you can find something similar. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Elmer-s-Build-It-Cardboard-Tools-Craft-Kit-87-Count/685312418?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227000000000&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=42423897272&wl4=aud-1651068664746:pla-51320962143&wl5=9001878&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=685312418&veh=sem&gclid=Cj0KCQiA14WdBhD8ARIsANao07j5CPMDFfp8B2KZLXShPbO026BW7kEiDmrnDQ4U_kx7hyvocQkILr8aAr8-EALw_wcB
Even if you’ve gotten this stuff before, get it again. It’s consumable! My kids go through it like water.
If you think he can handle it, get the 6 year old an extreme dot to dot book. My 9 year old LOVES them but they are too much for my 6 year old, so YMMV on those.
Have you seen the Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon activity books by Mo Willems? Could be amazing for the 6 yo who likes art.
Some thoughts that might be more for the 6 year old:
I think Sunpaper is really neat.
Air dry clay.
Window cling paint to make sun catchers.
Really large pads of paper- we like to draw city street scenes on paper that is 4’x3’.
If the 6 year old uses pencil in his drawing class, a mechanical eraser might be fun.
Thanks all. Lots of great ideas for the older kids. Any suggestions for the 2 year old? I only saw Duplos, magnatiles and Melissa and Doug play food and I know they have all those things.
There is a car kit expansion pack for the magnatiles that they may not have and is a lot of fun (basically a base plate with wheels). People also make a remote control toddler car you can find on amazon that my kid loved (and I can vouch is pretty indestructible). If he is into building type toys (the magnatiles, duplos, etc.) Squigz are pretty fun and can stick to any smooth surface.
Paging the "induced early..." poster from yesterday says
tl/dr: size measurements may not be very accurate, so I’d ask a lot of questions if you do get that recommendation.
I’m about your size, and while the doctors did not recommend that I be induced, they did comment that the baby was measuring big near the end of my pregnancy and said I should be prepared in case a C-section was needed. They estimated 10lbs+, and my son was actually a little shy of 7 at birth. All 3 pregnancies they said the baby was measuring big, but the subsequent 2 they noted that since my previous babies were smaller they weren’t terribly worried. I think maybe they measure femur length and estimate weight from there? In any case, all three of my kids were (and still are) long and skinny — the biggest was 8 lbs at birth.
On the flip side, one of my good friends had an emergency C section at 37 weeks due to complications and her baby really was over 10.5 lbs!
Yep, I was 11 days overdue, they told me at 36 weeks that I was having a 10.5 lb baby and he was under 9.
I had to be induced for other health reasons, but was given the choice of induction or c-section due to my baby measuring over 90 percent for head, shoulders and height. Shoulders are really the ones that can get tricky and lead to dislocations and broken collarbones (which heal super fast, but still). We did a c-section at 38w2d and she was 8.5 pounds (with a massive head and shoulders like mine) and I had had not a single contraction and was not at all dialated, so I have no doubt we would have gone to 40w and she would have been close to 10 pounds. Big babies are common in my family so this was not terribly surprising except to the OB who was convinced I had GD due to DD’s size despite me testing negative 3 times.
Induced early due to baby measuring large says
Thank you to everyone who responded, today and yesterday! Definitely helps to have all of the reassurance. I chatted with my doula last night and will see what my midwife says next week/OB the week after that, and then I guess we’ll go from there.
Interesting point about femur length. His sister was 21.5 inches at birth, and has remained 100th percentile for height ever since, so I wonder if he’s similar and that threw things off.
Big Baby Mama says
I was in your shoes last April, except my baby was measuring 9lbs at 36 weeks. The doctors droned on and on about the risks of shoulder dystocia at every appointment after that and would have gladly scheduled me for an elective C-Section. I had 0 dilation or effacement at my 39 week appointment and was despondent. The hospital was busy. Although I had an induction scheduled for 40 weeks, it wasn’t guaranteed that I’d get one until 41 weeks. Turned out that I went into labor naturally 2 days after my 39 week appointment and really did not have any more trouble delivering my big 9.5lb boy than I did delivering his 7.5lb sister (all babies seem impossibly huge at that point!). It was actually a much better experience than my first birth! Coincidentally, one of my good friends also had a 9.5lb baby a couple months later. Since she did not know her baby was measuring big, there was no hand-wringing, and she had a drama-free delivery with the surprise of a big baby girl!
Another point of anecdata to make you feel better: My husband’s grandmother gave birth to 5 babies in the 10-13lb range without any interventions. She was 5’2″ and super super slim. I am 5’8″ and about your size and my husband often comforted me by saying “If that twig can do it, so can you!” :)
Read the article on inductions and c-sections for suspected big babies on the Evidence Based Birth website. It helped me feel more confident in choosing to move forward as if I didn’t know my baby was measuring big!
Good luck! You can do this!!
My first was 7lbs 6 oz and came a week late after being induced.
For my second, she came on her due date with spontaneous labor after only 2 hours of contractions. But she was 10 lbs and got stuck on her way out with serious shoulder dystocia. It was super scary. They never flagged her size ahead of time as she was measuring exactly on track. In short, it’s a big guessing game.
Drs were convinced at 34 weeks that my kid was already measuring 8.5 lbs. She was a hair over 6 lbs at 39 weeks (not induced), almost exactly the same weight I was and my mom was at birth. My OB said that she’d been told for all 3 of her kids that they’d be 10 lbs, and they were all around 7. After around 32 weeks, it’s just a guessing game.
Yeah I think family history birthweight is a better predictor than those measurements. I was 8 lbs 13 oz at almost 42 weeks, my kid was 8 lb 6 oz at almost 41…so almost exactly the same, using the “half pound a week” rule of thumb.
Yes, exactly. The measurement is based on three things: belly circumference, head circumference, and femur. My husband is 6’7″ and I am 5’8″, all four of my kids were 22 inches at birth and had 97th percentile heads (even my 35 week preemie). I was warned all would be big, none of them were even 8 lbs. Apparently, the stat is that third trimester scans are off my a pound in 80% of cases.
Vicky Austin says
I’m assuming that’s Mom’s belly, but baby’s head and femur?
Baby’s belly i think? My OB said mother’s belly size and shape doesn’t have much to do with baby’s size.
Agreed. Though some track fundal height. Interestingly, this pregnancy the baby is measuring two weeks ahead and my fundal height is also, they are matching.
Nope! Baby’s belly circumference. All ultrasound measurements. I should qualify that is the formula in Canada and was in Germany when I delivered there but I suppose could be different in the US)
After several years, my kid is finally old enough to not yank at necklaces and earrings, and upon examination, my jewelry collection is mostly dated.
What jewelry do you wear regularly? I wear my wedding band and one rose gold necklace sometimes, and am looking to branch out with some earrings or maybe a cuff bracelet. Thanks!
Mary Moo Cow says
I wear a watch every day. When I had to put away my necklaces and dangling earrings for the same reasons, I started buying nicer watches as jewelry. ( I find good deals on Nordstrom Rack.) I have gold, rose gold, a few silver, and a few colored leather bands.
I mostly wear stud earrings, either small diamonds, pearls, or black pearls. I also have some gold ball studs, rose gold ball studs, and silver knot studs. I would love some gold huggies, some real gemstone studs, and some larger diamond studs and pendant in the same cut as my wedding ring. I buy holiday themed earrings from Bauble bar or J. Crew Factory, and mix those in occasionally. I occasionally wear a silver necklace with the kids initials or a pearl pendant necklace. I get a lot of mileage out of my fake pearl 3 strand necklace from J. Crew Factory.
I have gotten out of the habit of wearing pendants and dangling earrings, but my youngest is 5, so I have no excuse not to!
Mine is 5 and still in the climb all over me phase, but I am starting to see the end and thinking about this. Right now I wear my wedding band with engagement ring and diamond studs and my smartwatch every day. I got a fancy band for the watch for special events this year which is nice (normally I wear a rubber waterproof one) and I like that it is easy to switch out.
I have opened pinterest for the first time in many, many years to start looking at right hand rings and have learned that I have very particular taste, but that will probably be my next purchase if I can find something unique I like (I’ve been noticing them on a lot of female colleagues, and while my engagement ring is a family heirloom that I love, I am ready to add some extra sparkle on the other hand). Any experiences with Noemie? They have a half band I really like but am thinking about customizing for more carats. I am also debating how tacky it would be to find a ring inspired by Diana (now Catherine’s) sapphire, which is one of my favorite rings I have ever seen.
The other trend I see a lot on colleagues are thin stacking diamond rings on various fingers, which is too fussy and too much of a sensory issue for me personally but I think it looks very stylish on others. Dainty and delicate necklaces seem to be in style at the moment, which has never been my style, so I haven’t been tempted by any necklaces lately, and bracelets drive me bonkers typing all day.
On a daily basis in my office (business casual with occasional business formal meetings): Wedding band, engagement ring; gold signet ring on right hand. Gold knot stud earrings. Either necklace or bracelet depending on the outfit, not both. Bracelet is gold bangle. Necklace is pearls if formal meeting, gemstone pendant if normal day.
I’ve never felt (or worried) that I look dated but I also only ever wear fine jewelry, a lot of it is passed down from my mother and grandmothers, and it veers classic. I guess maybe you and others on this forum would say it’s stale though!
I wear my wedding & engagement ring plus a mixed-metal watch every day. Usually also some kind of stud earrings (diamond, pearl, various precious or non-precious colored stones) or small gold hoops, and a small necklace. My favorite gold necklace’s clasp broke a couple weeks ago and I realized I don’t have another gold one that’s suitable for daytime, so I’m in the market for that. For some reason I have a lot of silver necklaces, but gold is much better on my skin tone. I have a single pearl necklace that I wear frequently, and a bunch of statement necklaces from circa 2010 that I haven’t worn in ages, but figure will be back in style soon enough. I rarely wear bracelets during the day because I find them annoying when I’m typing or using a mouse.
oh and I usually wear a kids birthstone ring on my right hand, but one of the stones fell out in my office the other day (and I miraculously found it!) so it’s on the bench until I get it repaired.
I’ve been wearing some smaller polymer clay dangled earrings from Etsy vendors. I think they’re a fun way to add some fun to my generally neutral clothes.
Wedding rings, simple diamond cluster studs, simple diamond pendant necklace and/or kids initial necklace.
Occasionally I wear statement earrings (costume) for an evening out or in the summer with my hair up. Love selection on ShopBop, Net a porter.
I would get some huggies or similar, and I would look at Jennifer Fisher, Sarah Chloe, and Mejuri. Goop is also a good place to see some nicer options.
I also buy some earrings from Smallable, because I like the quality of the French brands they carry, but it can be hit or miss if the photos are limited.
Thanks, all, for the ideas!
Those of you who have school age kids, can you tell me more about what childcare expenses are eligible for dependent care FSAs? It seems like the rules for camps are really complicated. Have you been able to use FSA money on camps?
Day camps, yes. Sleepover camps, no.
I’m finding some things online about how “educational” day camps aren’t covered. I’m not sure what makes a camp educational, but most of the camps we’d be doing have a theme like zoo camp, art camp, theater camp, etc.
I’d assume those aren’t covered. The ones that are covered tend to be the programs that run the whole summer (e.g., the YMCA), not the one-off weeklong camps.
Yeah that’s my worry. We don’t use aftercare, so we shouldn’t fund the FSA at all if these kinds of camps won’t be covered.
Can confirm that all (? definitely the “traditional” day camp and tennis & swim camps) YMCA day camps are covered, and the day camp that’s run by our aftercare program. Last summer, my kids went to a sport-specific skills development day camp + wraparound care run by the team, which was also covered.
I believe the educational carve-out is for things like an hour of tutoring or music lessons… if it’s a day camp that takes up a sufficient time that it allows for parent employment, you’re good, even if the camp is focused on a specific “educational” activity.
Maybe it’s employer specific? For my federal employer, any camp/child care that allows the parent to be at work is covered, even if it’s a specialty camp for sports or school.
I don’t think it’s employer specific. It’s the IRS that makes the rules.
As I understand it any daycamp should be covered. It needs to be able to be counted as childcare while you’re working, which is why only 7am-6pm ish is covered, not overnight camps. I wonder if the “educational” bit is coming from things like aftercare being FSA-eligible but tutoring isn’t?
My kids go to ones run by the city, run by a private school, and run by an org that does aftercare during the school year. All have “themes” and you could definitely argue that the ones run by the private school are “educational”, but I’ve never had issues using FSA funds for them.
Thanks. Does it have to be a full day camp? Would 9-12 or 9-1 camps be ok?
I’ve used it for 9-3 camps (and we’ve just flexed our hours around that), but never 9-12 or 9-1, so I’m not 100% sure, but if the half-day camp is providing childcare while you work, it should all be in the letter of the law…
I have used it for extended day coverage through the public school.
We use it for extended day/aftercare program and summer day camps.
Toddler christmas says
Silly problem, but I want to get a small token gift for my 2.5 to open Christmas morning. He has tons of toys so husband and I agreed not to buy him a ton of stuff, but I’d like to get him something to unwrap since he’s starting to grasp Christmas this year.
Loves duplos but has a big collection. Playdough is a big hit. Also arts and crafts.
Preferably nothing huge. He doesn’t have magnatiles yet and I know he plays with them at school.
Can he unwrap something you were going to buy him anyways (clothes, books, shoes, etc.)? If you’re specifically looking for a toy, I just bought my 5YO more magnatiles for this Christmas because they are still in very heavy rotation. Also, if you don’t mind the playdough, can’t go wrong with that!
+1 at age 2 the unwrapping will be the real gift. I would just wrap up something practical or even just some random thing you have in your house.
Yeah, but also get the magnatiles. Get a small set from TJ Maxx. It’s such a great age to play with them, and they really have longevity.
Yes, definitely get the magnatiles. Ours are probably 7 years old now and still popular with all my kids (and me)
So soothing, the way they snap together.
+1 on the magnatiles. We first acquired some around that age and they were endless entertainment at home and on the go.
+4, my two-year-old has a small hand me down set and loves them. I bought him the 100 piece set as his present this year b/c he loves them so much.
+1 We got some for my son when he was 18 months (he mastered them early) and just got a bunch more sets for Christmas this year (now 2.5). They’re a huge hit for kid and adults alike in our house. Heavy rotation.
I’m in the minority I guess but my 5 year old has never had much interest in magnatiles. She may play them a bit at school but we have some that are almost never used. She is very into Duplos/Legos but uses them more for pretend play than actual building, which may be why straight building toys like magnatiles don’t hold the same allure.
Consumable bath stuff like foam soap, bath bombs, glow sticks, etc. Agree that at this age they just like unwrapping anything. I think they also are starting to recognize characters, so if LO is into Thomas or Daniel Tiger, maybe grab a coloring book or Magic Ink branded w/ the character. I like to break those out at restaurants, and at 2.5 they are starting to get excited about seeing characters they know.
You could wrap something he already owns, like a hot wheels or a dinosaur or something. I’m putting the following in my twins’ stockings: sticky notes, dot stickers, sunglasses (dollar store), hot wheels, small candy bar, small box of crayons.
Some ideas: Playmobil 1-2-3 truck(s), Schleich animals (those are going in my toddler’s stocking), a pack of matchbox cars, the Ultimate Book of Vehicles
I don’t think you can have too many duplos, personally. There are so many unique pieces! Pick the sets you’re excited to build. :)
Picasso tiles are my favorite magnet tile brand. The basic sets with the typical shapes will let your kiddo build some pretty good structures.
I’m impressed that your 2.5 year old hasn’t asked for the entire Paw Patrol universe of toys this year.
Ha we try to zoom past that section in target as fast as humanly possible and every time he sees the commercials we keep fingers crossed he doesn’t scream for them.
He does already have some of their cars from his birthday.
My son loved his Paw Patrol cars, the Marshall fire engine, and the plane. They were actually pretty good toys that held up well over the couple of years he was into Paw Patrol.
Our family had a similar policy re: Duplos, and I think we may actually have too many. Think 3-4 large tubs of blocks. We’ve gotten multiple duplicate sets & some other very large sets. My mother even found vintage duplo vehicles on Ebay b/c my kids had specific requests. That being said, we’re still getting more this holiday season- but it’s at the point where my kids play with them less b/c they don’t know where to start.
How about a large set of Magformers? They are like Magna Tiles but are better for building shapes like a decahedron, and are cheaper. Our 2.5 year old loves our Marble Genius marble run. We have to assemble it for him but he likes to put the marbles in, and it occupies him for a long time. Melissa & Doug makes large building blocks out of sturdy cardboard.
my twins got their first set of magnatiles at 2.5 and still play with them multiple times a week 2 years later. or crayola color wonder paper and markers
wrap up books from your local little free library, the pair of snow boots you just bought him, any clothes you’ve bought for him to wear, and a consumable toy (art, etc). If you do stockings, you might want to put a few fun things in there for him, even if it’s just a treat he’d have in his lunch at school (bag of pirate booty, etc).
Thanks for all the suggestions. Made a lunch time run to target (along with the rest of my suburb apparently) and grabbed a magnatile set, bath finger paint, and a coloring kit.
Figure the magnatiles are the main gift and the other two are stocking stuffers.
ha, I was just on a similar lunchtime Target run.
Hello from the other side of our 32h door-to-door journey from the US East Coast to Asia, and a 13h time difference this time of year! My family lives here so we’re obliged/ privileged to haul the kids halfway around the world every other year or so. This is the first time we’ve been back since the pandemic because of closed borders and unpredictably shifting regulations and all that jazz.
Anyway, here is everything I’ve learned from wrangling long-haul travel and parenting jetlagged children over the years. Some of it is applicable to most long flights, some is more about dealing with time changes. Kids are now 7 and 4 and it has been exponentially easier, almost downright enjoyable, since they’ve gotten older.
– Screen time limits go out the window in the air. Even if your toddler won’t keep headphones on, chances are you can just screen Finding Dory six times on mute and they’ll still be completely rapt.
– Snacks are clutch. Pack a lot! I find kids’ eating on flights to be incredibly unpredictable. Kids may be too tired to eat during in-flight meal service times, or their tastebuds may be wonky in the air, or they may inhale an entire meal and request more. Ideally you want them to eat on your destination timezone’s schedule, which helps body clocks adjust, but in practice I’m happy if they’re hydrated and getting some balance of carbs, protein and fiber over the course of our journey. I also packed lollipops in case either kid needed help with ears popping, but they didn’t need them this round.
– In-flight entertainments: My kids either napped or watched seat-back TV/ movies the entire time, but we also packed a few things like a magnetic chess/ checkers set, an electronic drawing tablet, and some books. This came in handy while waiting at the gate too. For babies and tiny toddlers who aren’t mesmerised by screens, I’ve taken a lot of great recommendations from this board. Painter’s tape, cup with an ice cube in it, window cling stickers, post-it notes, you name it.
– At the gate: if your airline lets families with small children board first, take the deal and get everyone settled in quickly.
– Layover entertainments and amenities: we had a six-hour layover between legs and went to the airport transit hotel, where everyone had a 3h nap and I got a shower. Sincerely the best 120 euros I have ever spent. (As a young, durable solo traveller I would have gone through immigration, chucked my baggage in a locker and immediately hit town. How things change…) On previous trips with shorter layovers, back when finances were tighter, we brought a packable travel blanket and found a quiet corner for the kids to have a nap.
– I rarely bring strollers through the airport as I find it’s just one more item to wrangle. Up till age 2 we use a carrier, after that my DH is happy to have kids ride on his shoulders or they just walk (but ymmv, and my city kids are used to walking a fair bit). If you have to run to make a connection, bring the stroller.
– At your destination: Rule of thumb is one day of adjustment per hour of time difference, but if we did that we’d adjust just in time to head back home. A melatonin gummy with dinner, a lot of time outdoors and/ or in your destination’s natural light, and eating on your destination’s schedule will help accelerate the process. Unfortunately the younger they are, the less they can understand and control what is happening to their bodies, so with infants and young toddlers I pulled out all the stops to try and get them to nap vaguely on schedule. You may have to accept that jetlagged kids will be grumpy and miserable for a bit, which I know from experience doesn’t always help with family dynamics (see: my parents trying to go out for a family dinner at 7 after I’ve tried to get kids to stay up all day), but do what you need to do to get your kids happy and adjusted.
You are so brave! We have a shorter flight now that my parents have moved to Europe but my son’s highlight is “I get to watch telly all the way there!” Our last flight, all he said was “tuna!” and a few requests for more snacks.
We get a big fruit salad at the airport, and have them fill his flask with oat milk, some pouches, and then some sweets. I’ve been on several flights recently where they’ve announced not to eat peanuts due to an allergy, so something to bear in mind if you’ve gotten pb cups. And then my mom meets us off the plane with farm fresh fruit cut up, because that’s how she shares her love. Persimmons in winter, apricots in summer.
Getting past security and filling a little thermos with oat milk is genius! And I should’ve remembered that Starbucks often has applesauce pouches – I wasn’t 100% sure I could get them past security.
Each country will have their own rules, but in the US baby food is not subject to the 3 oz limit if you have a baby or toddler. With your youngest being 4 it might be pushing it, but when I had a 2-3 year old we traveled with copious amounts of pouches and never had any issues. Also TSA in the US allows you to bring medicines over 3 oz even without a prescription, so you can bring large bottles of things like Tylenol and Benadryl. Other countries may require a prescription though (just learned this the hard way last weekend when I had to dump a bunch of medicines at security).
Sometimes Pret will charge it as a babycinno but often they’ll just do it for free if you are ordering other drinks or snacks. It saves the faff of having them check it at security.
Depending on the brand applesauce and yogurt pouches are often under the 3.4 oz threshold, so would be fine to bring even with an older kid.
I’ve only done Europe/Hawaii so far but agree with pretty much all of this. Lots of natural light, especially early in the day, is key for beating jetlag. The airport hotel for the layover is genius. I haven’t had a layover that long yet but would definitely consider booking a hotel if I did. Another tip is that if you’re arriving in the early morning local time, it may be worth booking a hotel for the night before so you can nap immediately. We’ve done this in Europe and it lets us catch up on sleep without wrecking our ability to sleep that night.
love these tips!
The only one I disagree on is stroller. I love a stroller. It’s also like a free luggage cart! Personal preference tho.
I loved a stroller and it has saved us many times where connection times were short. That said, I never gate check strollers, I use one that is carry on luggage sized. I’ve had gate checked strollers be off loaded with the checked luggage at a connecting airport twice. Once it was luckily in an EU country so DH could pop in and out through customs relatively quickly to grab it. The other time it took almost a week to get it because they didn’t load it to our final destination and we didn’t have time to go out through customs at the transit airport.
Ha! Free luggage cart. I must be using the wrong strollers, ours never seemed to have quite enough basket space. Totally personal preference!
I’m team no stroller by age 4 but if you want a stroller, definitely bring a cheap umbrella stroller not one of the fancy $1000 strollers. Our stroller was completely destroyed by an airline on a trip in Europe even though we gate-checked it.
I’m with you on the stroller. We had to run through the airport last weekend, and I was so happy to have our yoyo for the 3.5 year old. FWIW, we never gate check the yoyo, always carry it on.
I’m team stroller for toddlers if you want it at the destination. If you’re never going to use it once you get there (looking at you Lisbon with your hilly cobblestone streets!) then it’s not worth having in the airport and baby carriers are the way to go.
There’s one caveat to this, which is know which airports you’re going through! I’ve traveled with two toddlers and no stroller and it’s been fine, but we had one trip where it took us 30+ minutes to walk through the sprawl of Dulles and that probably would have been miserable without a stroller.
I’ve also seen ride on kids’ luggage you can pull. That seems like it might be a good solution if you don’t need the stroller at your destination. I only have one kid (but frequently fly solo with her). We ditched the stroller at age 3.5 and have not had any issues getting through airports, but we’re usually flying direct unless it’s an international flight and in that case the layover is long enough to allow for a 3 year old walking pace.
I love this – we just had a long-haul trip to Asia (also to see family/wedding) in November for a few weeks. My kids were 5 and almost 2 at the time. It was almost-2’s first flight! And agreed on the snacks. ALL THE SNACKS – I thought I had overpacked but nope, everything was consumed (or consumed enough).
GCA you gave me some great advice when I had posted about carseats/boosters which was spot on – we even cheated a few times and went full local and let 5 year old sit in an autorickshaw between us or sans booster when we had more bodies in our car.
I will add, that I loved having our stroller as a luggage cart, but there was some drama with that (it was checked through to our final destination at the gate..SMH) and wasn’t fun when we had a 2 hour layover.
However, I was pleasantly surprised at how overall well the kids did and we ended up having a ball. We hope to make it a bi-annual thing.
I was thinking of you! Glad it went well!
Piper Dreamer says
These are great tips! Traveling in a few days with a 5 year old and 1.5 year old to Europe so this is timely. Do you all bring a car seat for the flight? It’s clunky and we will have car service on both ends that have a car seat if we decide not to bring. But it seems a good baby container?
For a 1.5 year old I would, yeah. Not necessary for the 5 year old.
I would not bring a car seat for either kid, but from past posts on this topic, I am definitely in the minority on this board.
We don’t bring car seats for the super long-haul journeys, and there’s a looot of back and forth about the pros and cons of car seats on flights, but I feel like it really boils down to some cocktail of: how long and what time your flight is, how old & big kiddo is and whether they would sleep better laying flat or in a car seat, your tolerance for a lap toddler/ being nap trapped under a kid, and to what extent you need the toddler contained in their seat. If it’s a direct red-eye to Europe, I’d bring it for the toddler.
We took full advantage of free seats for under 2 on short flights. 2.5 hours to grandma and grandpas would be about all I could handle. Not having a squirmy toddler on your lap for 10ish hours seems like it’s worth the cost.
We bought the $50ish Cosco seat just for flying, and it’s great. Lightweight, simple, and I won’t be devastated if it gets beat up
I would 100% bring the carseat for the 1.5 yo, if he/she is generally happy to sit in it. We did flights to Europe when our twins were 15 months and 22 months and since we were buying them seats anyway, having their carseats meant they were able to sleep in them the whole overnight flight on the way over and had a comfy seat to sit (and nap!) on the way home. I don’t think we would have gotten 6+ hours flights of two awake babies/toddlers happily sitting in their own seats if we hadn’t had the carseats and I suspect the parents wouldn’t have been able to sleep on the redeye with toddlers draped over us.
We flew to Europe with a 16 month old (nonstop redeye from Chicago) and were glad we had the carseat even though my kid did not sleep at all. I’m not as concerned about carseats for safety as some people here, but I would not want to do a flight that long with a toddler on my lap and a kid that age will not stay confined in their own seat unless you have a carseat.
What new items have you added to your wardrobe recently? I have added some non-skinny jeans, the matching sweatsuit all the influencers are wearing, a belt bag, oversize blazer and some cropped cardigans. What else would you add to update things?
Mary Moo Cow says
I recently bought the Free People Ottoman tunic in cream and black. I wear it with leggings or jeans or slim pants. And two pairs of Birdies Starling flats, one black in heavy rotation and a teal for pop of color with navy or black pants.
A pair of flares and a pair of straight leg jeans, some cropped/baggier sweaters, and 2 new pairs of rothys (drivers and loafers) as the points were feeling a bit dated. My style is intentionally very classic/preppy but I’m really enjoying wearing flares and heels again like I did as a 20-something!
I’m leaving the sweats/mom jeans/super oversized everything to the actual 20-somethings this time around. I have been LOVING the designer sets that Daphne was wearing in White Lotus but alas, neither my budget nor my lifsetyle allow me to buy them.
Non-skinny jeans which I still think make me look like a farmer (or I borrowed DH’s pants) but my sister assures me are on point. One square neck peplum blouse that reads almost peasant style to me and I never wear because it’s so short and my bra straps always creep into the neckline but for 10 seconds before I move looks great. Otherwise added some new down vests in my current size rather than continuing to try and squeeze into too small ones. Haven’t been able to get on board with any other recent trends and so am waiting for styles to change a bit before making further updates. Thinking of buying some Birkenstock mules so that I get fewer strange looks wearing their sandals in 40 degree weather, but haven’t made the plunge yet.
I like the square neck peplum/peasant situation for summer (got 1 Target top to wear w/ high waisted jean shorts in the summer) but I don’t know that I feel it for winter. Agree the bra situation is tenuous.
I have a long sweater skirt that I’m loving for winter work travel. And for home, I have the most hideous teddy bear button up jacket that is absurdly warm (European heating bills… our house is 60f tops as we literally can’t afford to keep it warmer). I bought one for my son as well for early Christmas and now we walk around pretending to be bears.
I need a pair of jeans and a shortish skirt.
I’ve thrifted a couple of pairs of M Gemis recently, one pair of square-toed flats (the Ballare) and one pair of sandals (similar to the Lorenza, but with a toe post – I have no idea what year they’re from, but they’re not on the website) and they’ve been incredibly comfortable for my feet, so I now have my eye on some loafers.
Great thread idea. Also non-skinny jeans (black Target ones…my size is still fluctuating because of breastfeeding so I didn’t want to spend a lot of $$).
A fitted henley shirt; I love that those are back in style.
A puff-sleeve sweater.
A black zip hoodie from Primary, of all places. I’ve been looking for a black hoodie for years that’s not too boxy. Tried the American Giant one and it just didn’t quite work. But the “faded black” adult slim fit hoodie from Primary is PERFECT.
I also got a pair of fleece lounge joggers from Target that are extraordinarily comfortable.
I bought a very reasonably priced (I thought at least) and versatile dress from tuckernuck! Link to follow because I like it!
ooo I am loving these. Curious to see which one you just got, I could be into any of this (just perused the website, never heard of this brand!).
for those of you who are married – do you give your spouse gifts for the holidays and/or birthdays? ever since we’ve gotten married (which at this point was 10+ years ago), and we share finances, buying gifts for one another often feels silly to me because I can just buy anything I want myself. I do like when DH gets me flowers or something like that for occasions. Growing up my parents gave each other gifts, and I do think it was nice ‘modeling’ for my sister and I, but they also could’ve just gotten themselves anything.
Nope. I think we did the first couple years of marriage but we gave it up long ago. At this point the only thing I want is travel (the clothes thread made me laugh because I don’t think I’ve bought myself clothing in…probably two years?) and my husband doesn’t really want anything, so it would just be a giant waste of money.
We’re very uneven about giving each other tangible gifts for birthdays and holidays (although we always do cards), but occasionally get “just because” gifts especially if we travel solo. Gifts are very definitely NOT my love language, and while I appreciate flowers, I’ve turned into a buy-flowers-at-the-grocery-store-every-week-or-two person, which impedes giftability. We usually agree that our Christmas gift to each other will be a date night and focus on helping the kids choose and purchase gifts for the other parent. For my birthday, I usually grab the latest Kennedy Center mailer and circle all the shows/concerts I’d like to see and tell my husband to pick one.
It’s funny – we did when we were first dating, largely stopped for several years, and then started up again. It’s become a way to increase the joyful, loving spirit, closeness, and novelty in our marriage. It’s not about big-ticket items (also, our finances are 100% combined). I’ve been surprised to see how even little thoughtful gifts can increase the joy of Christmas in a long-term marriage – paired with the experiences/quality time we’ve always loved, it’s been great. Highly recommend.
Yes, we do, including every night of Chanukah- but almost all of those are under $5 with one or two bigger items.
Yes, more for Christmas though than birthdays. Basically anything either of us buys ourselves from October-December gets wrapped. Ex this year- bought myself new boots, DH will wrap them as my gift. He’s getting new Keens for the summer, but I’m also wrapping new pants, socks, and boxers he picked out for himself. YMMV, but I like the idea of this being about all of us getting gifts for each other. The kids also pick out small gifts for their parents and for each other. Some of this is because I reallyyyy don’t want my son to grow up to be another man who doesn’t “know how” to buy and wrap gifts for loved ones. And at nearly 5, he’s old enough to understand that he has to pick something little sister wants, not what he alone wants. He’s very excited to give her this $7 toy.
Not for Hanukkah – it’s a kids-only holiday in our family and many other Jewish families we know. It’s pretty different than Christmas in that way. Growing up Dh and his sister didn’t even get Hanukkah gifts as kids! We do get each other birthday and Mother’s/Father’s Day gifts, although it usually involves the recipient telling the other person pretty explicitly what they want. It works for me and I’m not disappointed because I got what I wanted.
Vicky Austin says
Yes, but more for birthdays than Christmas. Christmas is very liable to just be “well we bought new furniture/repaired the water heater recently, so that’s our gift to each other.”
I have a friend who has a standing agreement with her husband that for whatever occasion might be a flowers occasion in general, he should just buy her a candle instead. I might implement this myself.
Pretty much this. Nothing says “Here’s a lovely gift” like the emergency torsion spring replacement on the garage door opener.
Vicky Austin says
HA! Nothing sexier than that!
We have a different approach every year but always discuss ahead of time whether to exchange gifts and how much to spend–no unspoken expectations!
Lately, we’ve counted a large purchase for ourselves or for the family as our joint Christmas gift, and then had Santa fill our stockings with smaller items. Large is also relative–it’s ranged from $400-500 for NFL playoff tickets (those were the days!) or a Nintendo Switch, to $2000 to replace our TV, to $20,000 for a kitchen remodel.
We have a birthday formula – expensive whisky for my husband, 3 books, sushi, vegan cake and some flowers for me. We are self isolating but my husband managed to snag a sushi delivery spot (we live quite rurally) and they are making vegan smitten kitchen cake.
We used to, but stopped for bdays a few years ago (ha, probably around the time kids came around). We still do Xmas but it’s mostly us giving each other pretty specific info and/or ordering, mostly so that the kids feel the whole family participation. When the kids are older we may stop. I do love the occasional flowers or the like, but gift giving is not a primary love language for either of us so we realized it was causing more work to come up with something when we already but ourselves what we want throughout the year. OH and I forgot, one thing we do is cards on every bday, Valentine’s Day, anniversary, etc. I save almost nothing in general but have saved all of our cards from when we were dating through now.
I think it’s totally fine whatever couples decide to do – I know couples in great marriages who do not cross-gift, for the reasons you describe. My husband and I do get each other Christmas and bday gifts, though not anniversary lately. His love language is giving/receiving gifts, so…
We try to, especially for the winter holiday.
Typically for our birthdays, it’s an experience gift (a play or performance and dinner out). My husband has also started giving flowers.
For anniversary, sometimes it will be a joint gift (like a new recliner) or an experience. Or we may say we’ll do something & then forget.
For winter holidays, we do give each other a gift. Often its something that’s a nice to have or one of us will say “I want x category of thing” and then the other one does research & finds the best one, so it’s not typically a huge surprise what we get.
We also tend to rely on similar themes- I know my husband will typically appreciate a good punny t-shirt or socks, and he knows that I like puzzles, so those are often exchanged.
We also do cards for Valentines, mother/father’s day and anniversaries.
Yes, but my Husband’s love language is gifts, so…. We also are underbuyers so we tend to procrastinate on buying ourselves things.
Usually my husband buys me some new tech to replace something because I tend not to replace my technology and limp along until everything is ridiculously slow.
Boston Legal Eagle says
Generally, no, we don’t get each other tangible gifts. We typically do a couples only trip for each of our birthdays (which is really a gift from my parents by watching the kids!) Gifts is not my love language, at all. It’s more his, but I tend to slack there. Sometimes I’ll get him a nice beer, or he gets flowers for Mother’s Day, but I don’t expect it.
I’ve never been a gifts person and much prefer going out for a special dinner or even a weekend away (before kids). I’m picky about my things and don’t like clutter. But lately I have started to come around on gifts, and I’m more into the idea of little special somethings to show we thought of each other. I really like flowers and framed photographs, as they’re things I wouldn’t think to get myself but they’re lovely to have around the house.
We have not for a long time but are doing a few this year, specifically for the modeling for the kids.
We just do stockings for each other at Christmas. Our birthdays and anniversary are all in one week, so we generally do a big experience thing at that point – except this summer, for our birthdays/anniversary, we got ourselves a new water heater and water softener.
We do. For Christmas, we exchange lists so it is not usually a complete surprise, but I give DH 3-4 things I would like. Starting in around September I hold off buying things I would otherwise buy myself but could wait to put them on the list. Sometimes he stays on list, sometimes he doesn’t (and I do the same for him). This year the list I gave him was a solo fire pit, a new dyson, a couple of bras from a company I like (with sizing instructions), a 2022 ornament. I have seen boxes from the bra company and dyson, but obviously don’t know what exactly he bought. The list he gave me was bose noise canceling over ear headphones (and he’s also getting some sweaters, some new socks and undies (stocking), a case for his air pods (stocking), a heated blanket, a sports themed ornament (stocking), chapstick (stocking) and PJ pants). I also insist that he fill my stocking since I otherwise make all the Christmas magic happen but I draw the line at filling my own stocking (I should have at least one surprise!). For anniversaries we give each other traditional themed gifts for the year (up to 8 now), usually not high dollar but just creative and on theme and most years do a long weekend somewhere. For valentine’s day it’s just flowers or a plant and food treats. Birthdays are similar to Christmas but more likely to be an experience gift or a trip.
Christmas Vacation says
We live in Massachusetts and were planning on going north to Maine close to Canada or skiing and snowmobiling for Christmas Break. The snow doesn’t look too promising – thinking of driving somewhere South – We have a 1 year old and 6 year old. Any recommendations?
There is a lot to do in Philadelphia, and it is more reasonable than NYC.
We just came back from a long weekend in Philadelphia and had an awesome time! Great place to spend some time with kids (Please Touch Museum would be great for those ages). Aquarium was the top choice with my 6 & 5 year old & we also liked the Franklin Museum (did one a day over 3 days).
The skiing is great right now in Ontario and Quebec. We had a huge dump and more is expected.
I think there’s going to be a huge rainstorm in the northeastern US this weekend — I’m not a skiier but I guess that would negatively impact things?
I third Philadelphia. Would be great for the 5 year old.
Super anon for this.
13 year old girl. Always a bit of a loner, only child, prefers to hang with adults or small children though she’s been making some girl friends in middle school, has been called quirky and cool and independent by other parents her whole life. Recent suspicion of ASD; has been in therapy off and on for a few years, on this past 6 months or so and we are working with therapist to consider an assessment for ASD.
All of this is great and manageable! But. but. She seems kind of…s*x-crazed? Like not just curious, but full on asking what age she can have it, telling us when she has a dream about it (!), and MOST ALARMINGLY has s**xted with boys her age (resulting in a cycle of phone getting taken away for months, only to get it back and have it immediately happen again with another boy, and so on). Also telling other people about her it thus indicating she doesn’t get that this kind of thing is bad and will follow her around.
Her dad and I are at a loss almost. We seem unable to get it to “click” for her why this is wrong, how it can be harmful, etc. This is where some ASD likelihood definitely comes in but we don’t have that diagnosis yet – I am hopeful that once we do we can have some more tools for handling this. No history of abuse. Very limited access to internet, no older kids or teens at all – she’s really quite sheltered and consumes very childish media. I’m struggling both because of this as a behavior but also like omg is my kid going to be a sx addict?! This is just so NOT how I was as a girl or teen and I’m just so out of my element on managing this.
Literally ANY thoughts or ideas you have to share are welcome. Including that I am a terrible parent, let me have it.
You are not a terrible parent.
I am in no way qualified to give other advice…but I will anyway. In addition to whatever else you do, I’d do what you can to teach her about safe sex and help her access birth control and condoms. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous at 13, and I’d be hesitant to do it for my child at that age. But as a very objective outsider, if you’re worried this is coming and you won’t be able to stop it, she needs to know how to be safe and preferably not become pregnant. Perhaps a visit together with her doctor and/or a female gynecologist would be helpful.
Oh dear, I can imagine how hard this is. One thing that stuck out to me in your post is your language about it being “wrong” or “bad.” I assume you mean the part about her s**xting and putting it out there for everyone to know that she’s down for whatever, but you might want to think about how you can make this more about safety and less s*x = bad/taboo. You don’t want her to stop talking to you about it but keep up her exploration (including potentially-dangerous escalations) in private.
I would be MOST worried that she might encounter predators online, so if I were you, I’d be supervising all internet access. But also, is this coming up with the therapist? If you’re already working with one about ASD, I’d absolutely lean on them and solicit help on this topic, too.
You are definitely not a terrible parent. Also, and I say this gently, would you be reacting this way if it were a boy and not a girl? Yes, sxting is not good and reasonable grounds for getting your phone taken away, but the rest of it seems pretty developmentally appropriate. Even the sharing about sex dreams is a sign that she trusts you and while it’s not the relationship I have with my parents I don’t think it’s wrong or bad to share big changes like ‘I had a sex dream and that was weird/new’ with parents or discuss hormones/sex/puberty. Do you want her to learn to hide these things from you?
Kids get LOTS of mixed messages around sx, and ASD kids tend to be very black and white thinkers so it sounds like she’s trying to figure out the (very much not openly discussed!) neurotypical ‘rules’ for it in your house. So – when is it ok to have it? is this a topic we talk about with family? only with doctors? or do we not discuss it at all (fwiw, my vote is STRONGLY in favor of you can always talk about it with your parents as you are hear to help/guide her) Is this weird thing going on with my body normal? Do girls explore their bodies or are they not ‘supposed’ to? etc. etc.
Yeah I’m pretty sure the vast majority of boys are masturbating by this age, right? So it’s not like 13 year olds should biologically be asexual. Our culture is just really weird and taboo about women’s sexuality.
Right, I mean I hate to go there but in my middle school there were definitely girls/boys in 7th and 8th grade (12-14 yr olds) who were exploring and a few who had already had sex at that age. There was also a pregnancy in my 8th grade class. Being interested in/talking about sex at 13 is not abnormal.
Kind of out of left field OP, but maybe watching a few episodes of Pen13 on Hulu would be a good level set for what neurotypical girls exploring at this age could/did look like.
I was masturbating in kindergarten! I remember doing it at rest time, and I had orgasms. I’m kind of repressed as an adult, and didn’t have s*x with another person until well into my 20s, but I clearly had the drive.
Vicky Austin says
I distinctly recall finishing a test in eighth grade English, having a lot of time left in the class period, and returning to my seat excited just to have a nice think about having sex with whoever my current crush was. I had not even kissed anybody. I’ll join everyone in saying this is developmentally normal, she just is being unusually open and direct about it (which goes along with possible ASD).
The sexting issue is another story, but I wonder if there’s not some impulse control issue at work there? Impulse control problems are definitely an ADHD hallmark and the two do overlap sometimes. This might just be the most rewarding way she’s found to express her sexuality at this time in her life and she can’t stop herself without some other outlet.
Right, I think her curiosity is very developmentally normal, she just doesn’t have the filter with her parents that a lot of kids her age do. I recall engaging in clandestine AOL chatroom convos that veered toward cybersex (and then I would always chicken out when it got too direct) when I was in middle school, even though I also had never even kissed anyone. And one time a friend’s mom was watching us in a chat room over our shoulders and asked “what do they mean, ‘wanna cyber?'” and we were mortified explaining to her. Also omg I was fascinated by the Lewinsky thing and read anything I could find about it online. quel scandale! and more direct talk about sex than EVER happened in my WASPY household.
The internet was not nearly as dangerous of a place in the late 90s as it is now. And that’s before you even layer in current the “permanence” of online presence, revenge p0rn, etc.
There was plenty of s*x happening with 12-14yo’s in middle school when I was that age. Particularly there was one summer, I think before 8th grade, where a lot of stuff went down at sleepaway camp.
Yeah there was a girl who got pregnant in 8th grade at my (highly ranked) public school in a Midwest college town. I don’t think *most* girls that age were sexually active but I’m sure the one who got pregnant wasn’t the only one having sex.
I absolutely cannot imagine most kids feeling comfortable sharing a sex dream with their parents – cannot imagine it in any universe. OP, your daughter isn’t “abnormal,” definitely not, but I think some talks about boundaries and privacy would be helpful here.
thanks all. I agree it’s not a concern for sexuality (and we have tried very hard to reduce shame about it) but more about boundaries of how to appropriately express it – we’ve been having MANY boundaries conversations over the past few years, not just limited to this (she is also a very close stander and doesn’t seem to understand personal space unless specifically told which as I type it out is so clearly an ASD thing!).
Telling you about her sex dreams just seems like ASD – the dreams are totally normal, it’s the talking about them that’s not, and that lack of filter is classic ASD.
The sexting is the thing that seems most worrying to me and I would discuss that with the doctor or therapist. But my gut instinct is that I agree with others that the focus should be on making sure she is safe (both birth control-wise and in terms of avoiding online predators) and not on punishing her for it.
I wouldn’t worry she’s going to be a sex addict. I was still pretty childlike at 13 (didn’t get my period until 16) but in late high school and college pretty much all I thought about was boys and sex. I’m still not sure how I graduated and made decent grades because my brain was so occupied elsewhere, but I did fine academically and now my husband would tell you I’m nowhere near addicted to it ;)
You’re not terrible! Nor do I think she’s terrible for admitting she has dreamed about it. I agree with letting her talk to an OBGYN, and think maybe you should not be in the room the whole time. Also, I wouldn’t assume there is no history of abuse and proceed with the understanding that it is possible something has happened in her past that she has not disclosed to you. Best case, you’re right and there is no abuse, and you just approached this with extra care. But, in the event there is something else going on you don’t know about yet, you can prep yourself and read up a little bit so if it is disclosed, you can react in a helpful way and in the meantime avoid language that could make her feel further ashamed/weird/etc. Keep in mind that disclosure might not happen for years. My kids are much younger so I can’t really comment on what is “normal” at that age, but did have CSA in my family, unfortunately, and I did not know despite it happening literally around me. CSA can lead to kids acting out in sexually inappropriate ways. Neither victim disclosed until adulthood, even after seeing a therapist.
Agree you can’t assume there’s been no abuse.
Your reaction sounds very normal (not horrible) AND your daughter needs you to do better. It’s completely normal for a young teen to be interested in sex, but she needs to explore that in safe ways, not dangerous ways. Focus on the practical ways she needs to protect herself–BC and sti protection, digital privacy, and reliable transportation if she gets in a bad situation.
Work hard on dropping all your shame and moral judgement, because they erode your credibility and your trustworthyness as a confidant and as a rule-setter. If you can’t do that for her, encourage her to share with adults you identify who are sex-positive but have good practical judgement.
Also, on a practical note, perhaps a gift certificate to Amazon so she can buy some special toys?
to be clear we are very sex positive. We are non religious (these things are connected to me, no offense to religious people except those that deserve it ha) and have made it clear that sex is normal and healthy when it is safe and consensual.
I’m not concerned she has a sex drive, I am curious about her need to tell us about it – that’s the part that is so off to me. And she is telling lots of others about it which is where she is going to have consequences that I can’t protect her from.
You’re not a terrible parent. I am so sorry this is happening to you. I think doing what you need to do to have professionals help you is good. I have a colleague whose daughter had related things (+substances) and they tried tons of things but in the end, an inpatient intensive thing ended up being what helped her break habits and get back on track. Not to say that’s the solution but just that there are many options and getting a medical partner to work through them with you is key. Sending hugs.
I am a parent to a 7 year old boy who has ADHD and sensory processing disorder and anxiety. His psychologist has evaluated him for ASD and says he doesn’t have ASD, but what he’s dealing with has a lot of overlap. Other professionals who spend a lot of time with him but have not formally evaluated him think he does have ASD. I have started reading books and following social media accounts for parents of children with ASD. The diagnosis doesn’t really matter if the explanations and tips for handling things resonate. So, I’d start with finding resources for parenting neurodivergent people, and particularly neurodivergent adults. No need to wait for a diagnosis!
I’d also take away the phone for several years, or set something up where she can only use it when closely monitored by you. It’s not a punishment, it’s for her protection. She’s developing sexually at a different pace than her social/emotional IQ. (I don’t think she’s going to grow up to be a sex addict–I think she just doesn’t have the same restrictions many teenagers do on expressing the feelings they’re all experiencing.)
As for getting through to her, when explaining “why things are bad” to my son, it helps to focus on very practical issues, like safety. You need to discuss issues like privacy, consent, and assault in a very, very literal way. She may not feel the same sense of shame over the same things. I also second the suggestion above to teach her about safe sex and to help her access birth control. I’d also normally be hesitant, but it seems like a good precaution.
+1 to taking the phone away. It’s a very important precaution.
I think it’s completely normal to think about sex like that at that age, albeit with a filter. I would be more worried about the impact it has when she brings up “inappropriate” topics with her peers. Does she grasp fantasy vs what she can do in real life? Maybe get her some romance novels or something? My autistic nephew is really into fanfic, but there are some bizarre places online you may want to keep her out of.
Yes, she no longer has her phone (again) but that starts to become an issue too, for general communication and safety and our ongoing quest to build her independence a bit more. sigh.
I wish I could be more helpful, but the absolute most helpful thing I can think of is talking to her about getting an IUD. It is not safe for a girl to have an unintended pregnancy in far too many states now (not that it’s ever really safe at that age). I would pair the IUD conversation/process with talking about age-appropriate behavior, online boundaries, and consent in general. More girls today need to understand that the costs of engaging in early sexual activity are far higher for them than for boys – something popular culture tries to obfuscate.
Also, you are absolutely not a terrible parent!!
thanks – birth control may become a thing we discuss a little later but I’m not interested in giving an IUD to a just-turned-13 year old. I personally had a terrible IUD experience and I believe strongly in bodily autonomy (we are a very pro-abortion rights household too) . But understanding safe sex is actually a huge part of our discussions so she is aware of birth control methods and STI prevention, of course there is always more to do to reinforce!
I appreciate all of you, lots to think about. thank you.
Stupid Weather says
All of my Christmas plans are falling apart because of the weather–most of our family will no longer be able to travel to us and it looks like it will just be my immediate family now (mom, dad, preschooler, toddler). Any suggestions on last minute fun things I can do to keep spirits high when we’re trapped inside without all the grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins we were looking forward to seeing? I’m thinking a playroom picnic inside a homemade fort. What else?
Cookie decorating if you can handle the mess. Cinnamon rolls for the morning. Leverage some intergenerational video chats reading stories if you can. Bundle up and go for an after dark walk to look at neighborhood lights, with flashlights if preschooler wants to walk. Hot (OK barely lukewarm) cocoa with all the marshmallows.
These are all great suggestions, and I’ll add gingerbread house decorating. Pro tips for both of these:
Cookie decorating: decorate on cookie sheets with sides, so overzealous sprinkles stay contained. Give each kid a cookie sheet with the same number of cookies.
Gingerbread houses: Use graham crackers as the “gingerbread” and use a hot glue gun to create the structure. It is so.much.sturdier and saves lots of tears. Royal icing is good for sticking the candy on, but it is not structurally sound. You can buy a kit, but I think it’s more fun to hit up the bulk candy at the grocery store.
For hot cocoa: whipped cream, sprinkles and peppermint will make this a lot more exciting. Also, I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t think it’s the best thing ever to have whipped cream deposited directly into his/her mouth.
I feel like screentime was invented for this situation. If you want to feel less guilty about it, family movie nights (or afternoons, given their ages) are slightly more wholesome than just plopping your kid down in front of the TV.
Driving to see lights is a big hit with my kid when it’s too cold to comfortably walk.
+1 to cookie baking and decorating if you can handle the mess.