Happy birthday to our July kiddos!
Neil Venkatesh G.
By Laura Porter
Plastic Free Seems Impossible
A few years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story about a woman who was living an essentially Zero Waste life. She fit all of her garbage for a year into a mason jar – a far cry from our weekly trips to haul the garbage cans to the curb for pickup. While it seemed impossible for our family of 4 to ever get close to that, it was clear that there was a lot of room in between where we were and where we could be.
In looking through our garbage that week, I realized that plastic was the biggest offender of our black bin, so I set out to minimize anything that went into our black bin. At the weekly trip to the grocery store, I did an experiment… what could I buy with NO plastic?
Well, it was disappointing. I ended up with a baguette, a dozen eggs, and some fresh produce. Maybe a jar of jam or something in there, but there wasn’t much else we could buy! That was the day it dawned on me that we don’t have a choice about avoiding plastic, and then I wanted to see if it would even be possible.
The short answer was… not really.
Is plastic really that bad?
If they are so ubiquitous, are they really THAT bad? It’s easy to forget that YES, plastics really are terrible for us.
Zero Waste is an Ideal
After visiting what felt like every grocery store in the San Mateo area, I finally got the hang of which stores had bulk products, and which ones carried what I wanted. The problem was that even with that knowledge, I had to go to three different stores to pick up the package-free items that our family wanted. THREE GROCERY STORES? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
As with everything, it’s about balance. Yes, we need to reduce plastics to make sure we aren’t leaving a huge mess for our children, but we also need to make it to the weekend with our sanity. So we find a balance, and give ourselves grace for the slip-ups when they happen.
We’ll never get to the Zero in Zero Waste, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Strive for Zero, and be ok with the knowledge that you’ve taken meaningful action even if it’s not perfect.
Tips to Reduce Plastic Use
So how does one go about finding more sustainable products?
Here are some considerations that I go through as I try to shop for products for our family, which have helped us minimize our garbage.
Laura Porter is a mom of two and the founder and owner of Byrd's Filling Station, a zero waste grocery store which opened in downtown San Mateo in early June. The store holds a wide variety of products and encourages reuse of containers (bags, jars, bottles, etc) that you already own to replenish your household and personal care needs.
Happy Summer Solstice! Today summer is definitely rearing its hot head... hopefully we’re all staying cool indoors or finding a great place to chill outdoors. Here are a few of my family’s favorite shady spots and water-play places:
Parks with Some Shade:
Got a spot that was left off this list? Please email email@example.com to have it added!
Father’s Day honors fathers as well as the broader concept of fatherhood at large. Father’s Day, in the United States, is the third Sunday of June, which is June 19 this year. Last month, the San Mateo Parents Club provided a list of ideas for honoring Mom – all are equally applicable to Dad! Here are some additional ideas to add to the list.
Learn about Dad’s family tree. Tracing through the family tree helps children learn more about the family’s past and cultural heritage. Dig out the family photo albums and flip through page by page. Interview Dad (and Grandpa!) about their growing up. Make a family tree chart, tracing a few generations up.
Camp indoors. Set up a camping tent in the living room. Better yet, build a fort out of furniture and bedsheets. Make the night fancy by taping glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceiling. Read some bedtime stories about the great outdoors. Snuggle up in your sleeping bags or bring blankets from the bedroom.
Grill a burger for Dad. Dads are stereotypically at the grill. Reverse the trend on Father’s Day and grill something for him. If you need some help, check out this recipe. Or take him out to a burger joint in town: Jack’s Prime Burgers & Shakes, Jeffrey’s Hamburgers, Sal’s Burgers, Habit Burger Grill, and so many more!
Plan a family workout and stick with it. Search youtube for family workout videos. Or make a plan to jog or hike once a week. Once you’ve set a schedule, stick to it. Set up a competition using your fitness trackers. You’ll see the healthy difference in Dad and yourself!
Help Dad with a project on his To-Do list. There’s always something to do around the house. Surely Dad will appreciate some help. Washing the car, repairing something, or building something in the yard.
Play old video games. Does Dad miss Super Mario Brothers? Or is it Tetris, Street Fighter, or Pac-Man? Hopefully you can just dig these out from the attic, but if not, here are some tips on how to find and purchase retro video games.
Welcome our new members for June:
Happy birthday to our June kiddos!
Wow! It has been a crazy few weeks here at our house. It feels like I blinked and Spring Break just happened, but now we’re staring down Memorial Day, my son’s graduation from preschool, and the unofficial kick-off of summer!
It is absolutely surreal to have a five year old, and to have had a conversation about the sunset of his SMPC playgroup, the Kiddie Cats. I remember attending a play date with a group of moms with multiple children, hearing them talk about their older kids’ playgroup and thinking that there was an infinite distance between that moment, holding my three month old in my lap, and the prospect of a group no longer being necessary because friendships had solidified, people had moved on, babies were kids.
Yet here I am, sappily replaying that moment with another baby on my lap, but with the wisdom of knowing that this time is indeed finite, and the biting, wood chip consuming, 4:00 am nursing sessions, and general feeling of fatigue will soon be distant, overtaken by sleep training, more consistent routines, and a subdued oral fixation. And then babyhood will be for other caregivers to enjoy.
I have decided to approach this spring with a renewed desire to enjoy these days that often feel so rushed, and I hope we can all take a few moments to step away from our chaos and perhaps step into nature or another space that brings calm, and soak up the moments that will be what we look back on in a few years as the ones that make it worth it. Whether it’s a milestone your baby is working toward and proudly accomplishes or a story time cuddle with a book you’ve read 6,000 times and counting, may that moment work its way into your forever memories and be a touchstone in the future.
By Lorraine Felix
“Sleep Training” is such a buzz word! A lot of people think of it negatively. Many people have visions of babies being left alone in their rooms for hours on end. I promise, that’s not what sleep training is. I LOVE babies! And sleep too, but mostly babies! So, what does it mean? What is sleep training?
Different people and even pediatricians discuss the subject without realizing they have completely different definitions of the same words. Even sleep consultants can have slightly different definitions of what they mean when they say “sleep training”. Since you are reading this, I want to give you a clear answer to the question, “What is sleep training?”
When sleep consultants use the term sleep training most of them mean “a number of different methods parents use to adjust their child’s sleep behaviors”. When I ask, is your child “sleep trained?” What I am asking is “have you adjusted your child’s sleep to where he or she is sleeping through the night and able to fall back asleep unassisted (without the use of sleep props)?”
Here are some definitions, because it’s important that we are talking about the same thing.
Now that we know what sleep training is, let’s talk about the use of sleep props. Are they always a “bad” habit? No, of course not! Some babies are able to use a pacifier all night long and never wake when the pacifier falls out. Others can fall asleep at the bottle, and it doesn’t stop them from connecting sleep cycles.
When do we view sleep props as a problem? When the baby needs them to connect natural sleep cycles, for example:
These props are only an issue if your baby expects to use them to fall back asleep. If your baby is sleep trained they should be able to sleep through the night, get themselves back to sleep if they wake unassisted and should be on an age-appropriate nap schedule and feeding schedule.
No one should feel obligated to sleep train their little one if things are relatively smooth, and your baby is rested and happy. If you have a baby that is a good sleeper, then great job and go with it! That being said, if you are struggling, exhausted or unhappy with your baby or toddler’s sleep, you should consider sleep training. Everyone needs quality sleep. It’s not an easy way out for parents. It’s not selfish or done for ease so parents can make their kids fit into their perfect schedule. Sleep is necessary for muscle growth and brain development, as well as a healthy immune system for kids of all ages. Parents need sleep so we can stay healthy (immune system) and function in our daily lives (juggle work, life, balance our obligations, etc.)
A family short on sleep may struggle more than a well rested one. Parents that are tired have less energy and patience. Babies and children feel the same way! It’s hard to control emotions (especially when you are a toddler!) and process frustration when tired and overwhelmed. A rested family can better handle the ups and downs of a daily life.
DON’T let the words “sleep train” scare you! Remember the definition? “A number of different methods parents use to adjust their child’s sleep behaviors”. This means there is not one set method to help you and your little one get the sleep you need and deserve. Some methods that I use include sitting near your child, back rubbing/patting, quick checks, silently return to offer support (older children) and there are many, many more!
That being said there are some times that you will want to wait to start sleep training.
Sleep training can be a lot of work. It is changing the way we had inadvertently trained a child to sleep (using certain props and sleep associations) and re-training them to use new (independent) sleep associations. That takes patience, effort and consistency. When done consistently and correctly, it is a short term effort. Yes, you need to keep up with it; boundaries need to be maintained and routines need to be followed for the most part. But don’t let anyone tell you sleep training means you can never leave your house or have a late night dinner with friends; that’s not true! There will be bumps such as teething, regressions, illness and travel, but all of your hard work and routines will be beneficial. Children thrive on consistency and they will bounce back faster when they know what is expected and are back into their normal routine. You will be grateful for the rest and ease of sleep after these bumps. Sleep training may not be for everyone, but if you are struggling to get sleep, are constantly tired or feel that your child is constantly tired, it is definitely something to consider! If you have tried to sleep train your little one, are frustrated from failed attempts or feel like you need some extra help, ask for support! It will be worth it!
Lorraine Felix is a certified sleep consultant and the owner of Serene Sleep Solutions. SMPC is hosting a free zoom talk by Lorraine on “How to Sleep Train Your Little One.” The virtual event is May 24 at 7:30 pm. Please register here.
Welcome to our new members this month!
Happy birthday to all our May kiddos!
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