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In these modern times, many individuals across the country suffer from a wide variety of eating disorders. Whether we are referring to anorexia, bulimia or an addiction to food itself, these illnesses can severely affect quality of life and                          some can even be deadly. Some recent new stories illustrate how prevalent these conditions are in our society.

The Main Types of Eating Disorders

Most medical professionals divide the types of food-related illnesses into three classifications. While each is different in its nature, it is important to appreciate that self-esteem, body image and mental health are all the primary contributing factors.

Anorexia

The first type of illness is known as anorexia. This condition is characterized by extreme food restriction, a distorted body image and the compulsive fear of gaining weight. Sufferers will severely limit their food intake while never being satisfied that they are thin enough. More information on this condition is available on the Advice 4 Consumers’ anorexia page.

Bulimia

Bulimia is another common illness. This mental health disorder is defined by an individual eating large amounts of food (known as binge eating) only to subsequently purge this food in the form of vomiting. Once again, one of the underlying causes is the irrational compulsion to lose weight. Side effects will not only be the insufficient uptake of nutrients but the possible erosion of the oesophagus and increased rates of tooth decay. Further information on bulimia is available on our bulimia page.

Compulsive Eating

On the other end of the spectrum, some individuals engage in compulsive eating. This food addiction causes a sufferer to ingest unhealthy portions of food at one sitting. The result can be massive weight gain, unhealthy levels of cholesterol and potential heart problems. Note that binge eating can also fall into this category.

Symptoms

Some common warning signs that someone may suffer from these conditions can include:

  • Sudden, unexplained weight gain or loss.
  • Poor dental hygiene due to the teeth being exposed to stomach acid during purging sessions.
  • A disproportionate amount of importance placed on outward appearances.
  • A severely lowered immune system.
  • Feelings of malaise or depression.

Eating Disorder Treatment Options

As these types of mental health disorder may have significantly different causal factors, there are several methods available to restore a healthy balance to one’s life.

The first option is seeking traditional therapeutic counselling. This can be done on a face-to-face basis or in a group setting. Counsellors will provide tools and skills that can help patients cope with their fears, re-establish a positive body image, establish a healthy diet and realize when they may be slipping back into a negative habit. Sessions tend to be quite effective although they may take time to show results. Avoid mental health centres that seem overly expensive and yet come with few objective recommendations. Instead, perform an online search of any practitioners in the area and determine whether they have received positive reviews.

A second option is the administration of certain carefully monitored medications. Such forms can include tricyclic antidepressants or other medications that can properly regulate certain chemicals in the brain that may be imbalanced. These can only be prescribed by a psychiatrist and the patient will concurrently see an eating disorder specialist.

Another popular option is to attend eating disorder groups such as Overeater’s Anonymous. These groups offer a robust support system where individuals in similar situation can relate their experiences, gauge each others’ progress and offer much-needed advice when necessary. Such groups are free to attend and are administered by a licensed therapist; he or she most likely having suffered from a similar ailment in the past.

If someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, talk to the person suffering from the illness and explain that they need the help of a trained doctor who can provide the correct type of therapy to help them overcome their battle. Try to begin to have them understand that conditions such as food addiction or bulimia nervosa do not represent a weakness of character but rather a true medical condition. Finally and perhaps most importantly, it is essential that the sufferer is comfortable with the doctor they are seeing, as otherwise the help received may be ineffective and they will rebound into their old habits.

Three of the most effective eating disorder treatment techniques are:
  • Personalized counselling.
  • The administration of certain types of medication.
  • Group sessions.
  • Talk to the sufferer and support them through their treatment.

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Having a baby can be exciting and challenging, as well as immensely stressful. Bringing a new life into the world involves huge changes that you won’t have a lot of control over. You’ll be getting used to:Your new role as a mum.A different financial situation.Physical changes to your body.Relationship changes with your partner and family.Lack of sleep.
This can take its toll on you. While you’re busy juggling everyone else’s needs, it can be very easy to forget about yourself. 

Being aware that you are stressed is one of the first steps towards dealing with it. Here are some ways to combat stress: 

Rest when you can 

Sleep deprivation will make your day harder to cope with, so try to catch up on sleep during your baby’s daytime naps. If you can’t nod off, why not make yourself a hot drink and curl up on the sofa. 

If you are breastfeeding, put your baby’s cot next to your bed, to make night feeds easier. Your partner could pass your baby to you for a feed, and burp and settle her afterwards. You could share night feeds with your partner if your baby will take a bottle of expressed breastmilk, or if you are formula feeding

Eat a healthy, balanced diet 

Eat regularly to keep your energy levels up. Slow-release carbohydrates, such as wholemeal bread, pasta and brown rice, will help to keep you going throughout the day. 

Instead of saturated fats in foods such as butter, ready-meals and hard cheese, choose unsaturated versions, such as olive oil and avocados. 

Eat foods rich in protein, such as lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs, beans and lentils. Try to aim for at least two portions of fish a week, including two portions of oily fish, such as salmon. 

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables will keep your immune system working well, and help you to feel better. It will also help to prevent postnatal constipation

You could join a healthy eating club to get advice on making healthy food choices. Ask your midwife or health visitor for information about local groups. 

It can be hard to find the time to cook when you have a baby. Aim for meals that are nutritious, but easy to prepare, such as a jacket potato with beans, or pasta with a simple tomato sauce. Try not to snack on sweet things. A handful of nuts, hummus or a piece of fruit are better choices than chocolate, when you get the munchies. 

Relax 

Keep using techniques that you learned at antenatal classes or at yoga, to keep muscle tension under control. Or try a wellbeing podcast from the Mental Health Foundation

Exercise 

Exercise is good for your physical and mental wellbeing, and can give you more energy. It triggers the release of endorphins, your body’s feel-good chemicals. You can start some gentle tummy and pelvic floor exercises straight away, as well as short walks, as you recover. Over time, you can build up your regime, but wait until you have had your postnatal check before you start strenuous exercise

Find out if there are any postnatal exercise groups, aqua aerobics sessions or yoga classes in your area, but remember to tell the instructor that you have just had a baby. 

Try going for a brisk walk with your baby in a pram or sling. Or try a postnatal exercise DVD, so you can exercise at home. But make sure it’s endorsed by a professional association, such as the Guild of Pregnancy and Postnatal Exercise Instructors. 

Make time for yourself 

Ask a trusted friend or relative to sit with your baby, so you get some time off. Or you could swap babysitting duties with other mums for short spells. Remember, taking care of yourself is an essential part of taking care of your baby. 

Talk about it 

Sharing your worries with someone else is a great stress-buster. Unfortunately, communication is often the first thing to be neglected in a relationship, whether it’s with your partner, family or friends

Try to remember that the adjustments that you are making as a new parent will also be happening to your partner. Sharing your feelings can help to strengthen your partnership. At the end of each day, let go of the things that you didn’t manage to do, and remind each other of the things that you did achieve.

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Bonding–What it Means

Bonding–the term for the close emotional tie that develops between parents and baby at birth–was the buzzword of the 1980’s. Doctors Marshall H. Klaus and John H. Kennell explored the concept of bonding in their classic book Maternal-Infant Bonding. These researchers speculated that for humans, just as for other types of animals, there is a “sensitive period” at birth when mothers and newborns are uniquely programmed to be in contact with each other and do good things to each other. By comparing mother-infant pairs who bonded immediately after birth with those who didn’t, they concluded that the early-contact mother-infant pairs later developed a closer attachment.

Bonding is really a continuation of the relationship that began during pregnancy. The physical and chemical changes that were occurring in your body reminded you of the presence of this person. Birth cements this bond and gives it reality. Now you can see, feel, and talk to the little person whom you knew only as the “bulge” or from the movements and the heartbeat you heard through medical instruments. Bonding allows you to transfer your life-giving love for the infant inside to caregiving love on the outside. Inside, you gave your blood; outside, you give your milk, eyes, hands, and voice–your entire self.

Bonding brings mothers and newborns back together. Bonding studies provided the catalyst for family-oriented birthing policies in hospitals. It brought babies out of nurseries to room-in with their mothers. Bonding research reaffirmed the importance of the mother as the newborn’s primary caregiver.

Bonding is not a now-or-never phenomenon. Bonding during this biologically sensitive period gives the parent-infant relationship a head start. However, immediate bonding after birth is not like instant glue that cements a parent-child relationship forever. The overselling of bonding has caused needless guilt for mothers who, because of medical complication, were temporarily separated from their babies after birth. Epidemics of bonding blues have occurred in mothers who had cesarean births or who had premature babies in intensive care units.

What about the baby who for some reason, such as prematurity or cesarean birth, is temporarily separated form his mother after birth? Is the baby permanently affected by the loss of this early contact period? Catch-up bonding is certainly possible, especially in the resilient human species. The conception of bonding as an absolute critical period or a now-or-never relationship is not true. From birth through infancy and childhood there are many steps that lead to a strong mother-infant attachment. As soon as mothers and babies are reunited, creating a strong mother-infant connection by practicing the attachment style of parenting can compensate for the loss of this early opportunity. We have seen adopting parents who, upon first contact with their one-week-old newborn, express feeling as deep and caring as those of biological parents in the delivery room.

Father-Newborn Bonding

Most of the bonding research has focused on mother-infant bonding, with the father given only honorable mention. In recent years fathers, too, have been the subject of bonding research and have even merited a special term for the father-infant relationship at birth–“engrossment.” We used to talk about father involvement; now it’s father engrossment–meaning involvement to a higher degree. Engrossment is not only what the father does for the baby–holding and comforting– but also what the baby does for the father. Bonding with baby right after birth brings out sensitivity in dad.

Fathers are often portrayed as well meaning, but bumbling, when caring for newborns. Fathers are sometimes considered secondhand nurturers, nurturing the mother as she nurtures the baby. That’s only half the story. Fathers have their own unique way of relating to babies, and babies thrive on this difference.

In fact, studies on father bonding show that fathers who are given the opportunity and are encouraged to take an active part in caring for their newborns can become just as nurturing as mothers. A father’s nurturing responses may be less automatic and slower to unfold than a mother’s, but fathers are capable of a strong bonding attachment to their infants during the newborn period.

7 Tips For Better Bonding

1. Delay routine procedures. Oftentimes the attending nurse does routine procedures–giving the vitamin K shot and putting eye ointment in baby’s eyes–immediately after birth and then presents baby to mother for bonding. Ask the nurse to delay these procedures for an hour or so, allowing the family to enjoy this initial bonding period. The eye ointment temporarily blurs baby’s vision or causes her eyes to stay closed. She needs a clear first impression of you, and you need to see those eyes.

2. Stay connected. Ask your birth attendant and nurses to put baby on your abdomen and chest immediately after birth, or after cutting the cord and suctioning your baby, unless a medical complication requires temporary separation.

3. Let your baby breastfeed right after birth. Most babies are content simply to lick the nipple; others have a strong desire to suck at the breast immediately after birth. This nipple stimulation releases the hormone oxytocin, which increases the contractions of your uterus and lessens postpartum bleeding. Early sucking also stimulates the release of prolactin, the hormone that helps your mothering abilities click in right from the start.

4. Room in with your baby. Of course, bonding does not end at the delivery bed–it is just the beginning! Making visual, tactile, olfactory, auditory, and sucking connection with your baby right after birth may make you feel that you don’t want to release this little person that you’ve labored so hard to bring into the world, into the nursery–and you don’t have to. Your wombmate can now become your roommate. We advise healthy mothers and healthy babies to remain together throughout their hospital stay.

Who cares for your baby after delivery depends upon your health, your baby’s health, and your feelings. Some babies make a stable transition from the womb to the outside world without any complications; others need a few hours in the nursery for extra warmth, oxygen, suctioning, and other special attention until their vital systems stabilize.

Feelings after birth are as individual as feelings after lovemaking. Many mothers show the immediate glow of motherhood and the “birth high” excitement of a race finished and won. It’s love at first sight, and they can’t wait to get their hands on their baby and begin mothering within a millisecond after birth.

Others are relieved that the mammoth task of birth is over and that baby is normal. Now they are more interested in sleeping and recovering than bonding and mothering. As one mother said following a lengthy and arduous labor, “Let me sleep for a few hours, take a shower, comb my hair, and then I’ll start mothering.” If these are your feelings, enjoy your rest–you’ve earned it. There is no need to succumb to pressure bonding when neither your body nor mind is willing or able. In this case, father can bond with baby while mother rests. The important thing is somebody is bonding during this sensitive period of one to two hours of quiet alertness after birth. One of the saddest sights we see is a newly-born, one-hour-old baby parked all alone in the nursery, busily bonding (with wide-open, hungry eyes) with plastic sides of her bassinet. Give your baby a significant presence–mother, father, or even grandma in a pinch.

5. Touch your baby. Besides enjoying the stimulation your baby receives from the skin-to-skin contact of tummy-to-tummy and cheek-to-breast, gently stroke your baby, caressing his whole body. We have noticed that mothers and fathers often caress their babies differently. A new mother usually strokes her baby’s entire body with a gentle caress of her fingertips; the father, however, often places an entire hand on his baby’s head, as if symbolizing his commitment to protect the life he has fathered. Besides being enjoyable, stroking the skin is medically beneficial to the newborn. The skin, the largest organ in the human body, is very rich with nerve endings. At the time when baby is making the transition to air breathing, and the initial breathing patterns are very irregular, stroking stimulates the newborn to breathe more rhythmically–the therapeutic value of a parent’s touch.

6. Gaze at your newborn. Your newborn can see you best with an eye-to-eye distance of eight to ten inches (twenty to twenty-five centimeters)–amazingly, about the usual nipple-to-eye distance during breastfeeding. Place your baby in the face-to-face position, adjusting your head and your baby’s head in the same position so that your eyes meet. Enjoy this visual connection during the brief period of quiet alertness after birth, before baby falls into a deep sleep. Staring into your baby’s eyes may trigger a rush of beautiful mothering feelings.

7. Talk to your newborn. During the first hours and days after birth, a natural baby-talk dialogue will develop between mother and infant. Voice-analysis studies have shown a unique rhythm and comforting cadence to mother’s voice.

Rooming-In vs. Nursery Care

Rooming-in. This is the option we encourage most mothers and babies to enjoy. Full rooming-in allows you to exercise your mothering instincts when the hormones in your body are programmed for it. In our experience, and that of others who study newborns, mothers and babies who fully room-in enjoy the following benefits:

  • Rooming-in babies seem more content because they interact with only one primary caregiver–mother.
  • Full rooming-in changes the caregiving mindset of the attending personnel. They focus their attention and care on the mother, who is then more comfortable and able to focus on her baby.
  • Rooming-in newborns cry less and more readily organize their sleep-wake cycles. Babies in a large nursery are sometimes soothed by tape recordings of a human heartbeat or music. Rather than being soothed electronically, the baby who is rooming-in with mother is soothed by real and familiar sounds.
  • Mother has fewer breastfeeding problems. Her milk appears sooner, and baby seems more satisfied.
  • Rooming-in babies get less jaundiced, probably because they get more milk.
  • A rooming-in mother usually gets more rest. She experiences less separation anxiety, not wasting energy worrying about her newborn in the nursery, and in the first few days newborns sleep most of the time anyway. It’s a myth that mothers of nursery-reared babies get more rest.
  • Rooming-in mothers, in our experience, have a lower incidence of postpartum depression.

Rooming-in is especially helpful for women who have difficulty jumping right into mothering. One day while making rounds I visited Jan, a new mother, only to find her sad. “What’s wrong?” I inquired. She confided, “All those gushy feelings I’m supposed to have about my baby–well, I don’t. I’m nervous, tense, and don’t know what to do.” I encouraged Jan, “Love at first sight doesn’t happen to every couple, in courting or in parenting. For some mother-infant pairs it is a slow and gradual process. Don’t worry–your baby will help you, but you have to set the conditions that allow the mother-infant care system to click in.” I went on to explain what these conditions were.

All babies are born with a group of special qualities called attachment-promoting behaviors–features and behaviors designed to alert the caregiver to the baby’s presence and draw the caregiver, magnet-like, toward the baby. These features are the roundness of baby’s eyes, cheeks, and body; the softness of the skin; the relative bigness of baby’s eyes; the penetrating gaze; the incredible newborn scent; and, perhaps, most important of all, baby’s early language–the cries and precrying noises.

Here’s how the early mother-infant communication system works. The opening sounds of the baby’s cry activate a mother’s emotions. This is physical as well as psychological. Upon hearing her baby cry, a mother experiences an increased blood flow to her breasts, accompanied by the biological urge to pick up and nurse her baby. This is one of the strongest examples of how the biological signals of the baby trigger a biological response in the mother. There is no other signal in the world that sets off such intense responses in a mother as her baby’s cry. At no other time in the child’s life will language so forcefully stimulate the mother to act.

Picture what happens when babies and mothers room-in together. Baby begins to cry. Mother, because she is there and physically attuned to baby, immediately picks up and feeds her infant. Baby stops crying. When baby again awakens, squirms, grimaces, and then cries, mother responds in the same manner. The next time mother notices her baby’s precrying cues. When baby awakens, squirms, and grimaces, mother picks up and feeds baby before he has to cry. She has learned to read her baby’s signals and to respond appropriately. After rehearsing this dialogue many times during the hospital stay, mother and baby are working as a team. Baby learns to cue better; mother learns to respond better. As the attachment-promoting cries elicit a hormonal response in the mother, her milk-ejection reflex functions smoothly, and mother and infant are in biological harmony.

Now contrast this rooming-in scene with that of an infant cared for in the hospital nursery. Picture this newborn infant lying in a plastic box. He awakens, hungry, and cries along with twenty other hungry babies in plastic boxes who have by now all managed to awaken one another. A kind and caring nurse hears the cries and responds as soon as time permits, but she has no biological attachment to this baby, no inner programming tuned to that particular newborn, nor do her hormones change when the baby cries. The crying, hungry baby is taken to her mother in due time. The problem is that the baby’s cry has two phases: The early sounds of the cry have an attachment-promoting quality, whereas the later sounds of the unattended cry are more disturbing to listen to and may actually promote avoidance.

The mother who has missed the opening scene in this biological drama because she was not present when her baby started to cry is nonetheless expected to give a nurturing response to her baby some minutes later. By the time the nursery-reared baby is presented to the mother, the infant has either given up crying and gone back to sleep (withdrawal from pain) or greets the mother with even more intense and upsetting wails. The mother, who possesses a biological attachment to the baby, nevertheless hears only the cries that are more likely to elicit agitated concern rather than tenderness. Even though she has a comforting breast to offer the baby, she may be so tied up in knots that her milk won’t eject, and the baby cries even harder.

As she grows to doubt her ability to comfort her baby, the infant may wind up spending more time in the nursery, where, she feels, the “experts” can better care for him. This separation leads to more missed cues and breaks in the attachment between mother and baby, and they go home from the hospital without knowing each other.

Not so with the rooming-in baby. He awakens in his mother’s room, his pre-cry signals are promptly attended to, and he is put to the breast either before he needs to cry or at least before the initial attachment-promoting cry develops into a disturbing cry. Thus, both mother and baby profit from rooming-in. Infants cry less, mothers exhibit more mature coping skills toward their baby’s crying, and the infant-distress syndrome (fussiness, colic, incessant crying) is less common than with nursery-reared babies. We had a saying in the newborn unit: “Nursery-reared babies cry harder; rooming-in babies cry better.” A better term for “rooming-in” may be “fitting in.” By spending time together and rehearsing the cue-response dialogue, baby and mother learn to fit together well–and bring out the best in each other.

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DRINKING

When it comes to the risks of children drinking alcohol, they can be both short or long-term. Knowing these risks makes it all the more important to talk to your children about alcohol before it’s too late.

Children can make more responsible decisions about drinking if they have the facts to base them on and feel confident to say “no” if they want to. While the immediate effects of alcohol on children may be no more than being sick or having a hangover, alcohol can leave children emotionally, physically and sexually vulnerable. So the most important thing is to talk to your child earlyand often about the different risks associated with drinking alcohol. 

Long-term risks

Liver damage

You might think that only lifelong alcoholics get liver disease, but regularly drinking too much can increase a young person’s chances of damaging their liver. And as there aren’t many warning signs of liver damage, a problem might only be discovered when it’s very serious.

Brain development

The areas of the brain responsible for behaviour, emotions, reasoning and judgement are still developing throughout childhood and into the teenage years. Drinking during this time can have a long-term impact on memory, reactions and attention span. This could affect your child’s performance at school and stop them reaching their full potential. 

Drinking later in life

If children binge drink, they are more likely to be binge drinkers as adults. Drinking frequently at a young age is also linked to an increased risk of developing alcohol dependence in young adulthood. Regularly drinking in later life can lead to cancer, stroke, heart disease and infertility.

Short-term risks

Vulnerability

The hormonal changes children go through at puberty make them more likely to take risks. Alcohol can further impair children’s judgement, leaving them vulnerable. If they have been drinking they might unintentionally put themselves in risky situations like getting involved in a fight or walking home alone. Over a third (34%) of 16 and 17 year olds have walked home alone at night when drunk.

Unprotected sex

Alcohol affects children’s rational decision-making skills. When children drink they feel more confident and have lower inhibitions. This can mean they make decisions which are out of character such as having unprotected sex.

Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol can be poisonous to anyone that drinks too much in a short space of time but children are especially vulnerable because of their smaller size. Serious health effects of alcohol on children can be seen when their blood alcohol levels get too high. This can cause their brain to stop controlling their body’s vital functions and in the worst case scenario they could stop breathing, fall into a coma or choke on their own vomit.

Appearance

Alcohol has almost as many calories as pure fat so drinking can cause weight gain. It is also a diuretic so it dehydrates the body and can make skin look pale and grey. Drinking affects normal sleep patterns too, leading to restless nights and tiredness.

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Sleeping

Be on your way to sleep-filled nights with these pointers compiled from doctors, sleep experts, and researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

1. Avoid feeding your child big meals close to bedtime, and don’t give her anything containing caffeine less than six hours before bedtime.

2. After dinner, avoid all stimulating activities, says Carol L. Rosen, M.D., medical director of pediatric sleep services at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.

3. Warn your child that bedtime is in five minutes, or give him a choice — “Do you want to go to bed now or in five minutes?” — but do this only once.

 

4. Establish a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine that lasts between 20 and 30 minutes and ends in your child’s bedroom. Avoid scary stories or TV shows. It’s better to read a favorite book every night than a new one because it’s familiar.

5. Avoid singing or rocking your child to sleep, because if she wakes in the middle of the night she may need you to sing or rock her back to sleep — a condition known as sleep-onset association disorder. (If you have already been doing this, try to phase this behavior out gradually.) Instead, have her get used to falling asleep with a transitional object, like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal.

6. Make sure your child is comfortable. Clothes and blankets should not restrict movement, and the bedroom temperature shouldn’t be too warm or too cold.

7. If your child calls for you after you’ve left his room, wait a few moments before responding. This will remind him that he should be asleep, and it’ll give him the chance to soothe himself and even fall back asleep while he is waiting for you.

8. If your child comes out of her room after you’ve put her to bed, walk her back and gently but firmly remind her that it’s bedtime.

9. Give your child tools to overcome his worries. These can include a flashlight, a spray bottle filled with “monster spray,” or a large stuffed animal to “protect” him.

10. Set up a reward system. Each night your child goes to bed on time and stays there all night, she gets a star. After three stars, give her a prize.

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Top 10: Tips on coping with your newbornRex Features

I feel uncomfortable when assigned the tag of “expert” because I’ve had five children. After all, I’m not an expert on all babies and I wasn’t even an expert on my newborns.

However, that said, I do sometimes look at new mothers these days and think “oh, if only I could tell you this or that”. But I don’t want to get a reputation as an interfering old know-all in my real life.

Here, I have no such qualms so I have written out my top ten tips on coping, whether it’s your first or fourth. I shall, however, try to stop short of saying “in my day……”. 
1. Ignorance can sometimes be bliss: I’m not talking about not knowing the signs ofmeningitis or preeclampsia, of course. But I had no idea that having a c-section was supposed to make breastfeeding harder, for example. It wasn’t a walk in the park at first but I didn’t know any different and stuck at it. And, if you haven’t had your baby yet, don’t talk to women about their birth experiences.
2. Have a babymoon: Admittedly this was a new concept to me but one I wholeheartedly embraced with babies four and five. It’s hard to do but really important. You chill out in your PJs, preferably in bed at home, with your little one (and partner too, although he is on kitchen duty) for at least a week. And if you have other children they can join you, but once you’re dressed you’re back to full-on doing-it-all mode. If there’s one thing you do from this list, let it be this one. 

3. Embrace imperfection: The laundry piling up, the dust settling, being in your nightclothes still at 4pm — all of that doesn’t matter. Things will get done. Just not right now and not as quickly as you’re used to. Exhale, let it go and snuggle with your baby. That’s all that matters.

4. Accept help: I know, this can also be tricky. People say “if you need any help let me know” which is a cop out because then you have to take the initiative. But take it you shall. Tell them you’d like nothing better if they could bake you one of their chocolate cakes/take your toddler out/cuddle the baby while you take a bath. They’ll be flattered to be asked and if they’re not, perhaps it might teach them not to make empty offers.

5. Forget putting your baby in proper clothes: I did this for the first few months (but maybe that’s because I’m lazy). Those teeny pairs of jeans look so cute but avoid at all costs. Babies need changing with alarming regularity and really, you don’t need to give yourself more work. Plus, I never thought proper clothes looked all that soft for little ones. Babies in white babygros with a knitted cardigan, on the other hand, look lovely.

6. Go to National Childbirth Trust antenatal classes: NCT classes are not populated by placenta eating, natural birthing hippies, at least not round my way. Mothers who join them seem to form such tight knit groups that trying to infiltrate is harder than joining the Freemasons. You will meet other mothers everywhere but having friends with babies very close in age, at least at first, is priceless. Avoid competitive mums though.

7. Dismiss 99% of all advice: Apart from this list, obviously. It is all very well people telling you to “leave the baby to cry” but it’s not them standing there with leaky breasts and tears streaming down their face. Do it your way (which could also mean leaving the baby to cry). You’re not a perfect mum (who is?) but you’re the perfect mum for your baby. Repeat it under your breath as a mantra.

8. Don’t get your baby weighed too often: I made this mistake at first. You feel so good when baby puts on nearly a pound (a pound!) in a week, especially if it’s thanks to your boobs. But a paediatrician advised me that monthly visits to the baby clinic are enough because you get too much “noise” on the chart otherwise (they will put on more weight some weeks than others, it’s the overall pattern that counts apparently). Obviously go if you have a question or concern but you know if your baby is thriving.

9. Breastfeed: Controversial, I realise, but I can’t ignore it. It was probably one of the best things I have ever done. It wasn’t easy. My nipples felt like they were trapped in a red hot vice for what felt like hours at first. Apart from all the well documented benefits, it means you have to slow down to baby’s pace. Don’t be afraid to use all the advice there is. With my fifth baby I had to enlist a breast feeding counsellor’s help. If you don’t want to do it, or can’t do it, that’s fine too. Your baby will still thrive.

10. Enjoy it: It’s corny but oh so true that this time really does go by so quickly. I don’t want any more children, but if I could have a superpower I’d choose to travel back in time to when mine were babies. I would worry less, choose who I spent my precious time with more wisely but I really wouldn’t change much. I snuggled lots and the housework built up but I enjoyed them so much.

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readtogether

Many very bright children find learning to read English very hard. That can be surprising until you understand what’s going on. The truth is that their intelligence often leads them down the wrong path when they first try to read. As the text gets harder they will find progress more and more difficult. So they end up on a reading plateau, with lots of wild guessing and a collapsing self-confidence. If you guide them back onto the right path, they will usually progress fast.

There are actually multiple possible reasons for reading difficulty, but what I have described above is the most common. We call it Optilexia.

The key to getting progress with reading for a child is to understand what is causing the difficulty. That might be Optilexia or eye-tracking difficulty or Irlen Syndrome or one of the other 7 causes of difficulty we see the patterns of routinely with the children we help.

Once you understand a child’s reading difficulty, guiding the child to success usually becomes fairly easy.

So, at the heart of the Easyread System is a process of trying to understand the patterns shown by each child. We then make sure we apply the right help to get the child reading confidently. It normally takes around 6-9 months to achieve that.

It can be quite complex, but we have had years of experience helping thousands of children, so there are not many things left we have not seen! And if we don’t succeed we do not charge for our help.

Learning to read is probably the most critical educational step in every child’s life. So we focus hard on doing everything we can to make it go the right way. English is a very tricky language to learn to read, so just going with your intuition on how to help does not always work out well. One in five English-speaking children cannot read by the age of 11.

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Help Your Child Change a Poor Sleep Pattern

If you have a child who consistently goes to bed late and wakes up tired and unrefreshed, there are some things that you can try to help them change their sleep pattern. It won’t necessarily be easy, as a child who has become habituated to sleeping late can be very resistant to an earlier sleep pattern but it is about habit-changing and persistence and perseverance can help both of you to establish a new routine.

Steps

  1. 1

    Stick to a consistent routine. It is tempting to let children stay up later on the weekend but this is where children learn how enjoyable it is to stay up later and it gives them the desire to do so on other nights. When a routine exists that requires your child to be in bed early every night of the week, this provides a sense of consistency that children can easily adapt to. This means keeping a consistent bedtime and waking time.

  2. 2

    Ensure that your child has a comfortable sleep environment. The room should be at a good sleep temperature of around 16ºC (60ºF). If it is not possible to keep the room warm enough, add blankets and a child-safe hot water bottle to warm the bed. Avoid using electric blankets as these are not considered to be safe options for children.[1] If the room is too warm, strip the bed down to a sheet only, leave a glass of water at the bedside table and open the window if possible. It is also important that the room is quiet. This means no noise from TV, talking or other hubbub.

  3. 3

    Keep distractions out of your child’s bedroom. Remove anything that might distract a child such as computers, TV, video games etc. The family room is the place for these highly distracting devices. For teens, this will be more difficult, but you can institute a check at a certain hour to make sure they are not sneaking in extra time. The problem lies in the fact that using computers, playing video games or watching TV winds up our mind and it takes considerable time to unwind after using these devices. A good rule of thumb is to require reading, card playing, writing or drawing on paper etc. type activities to replace electronic activities one hour before bedtime. This becomes “down-time”. To make it fair, this should apply to everyone in the family, regardless of age, to help all get a good night’s sleep!

  4. 4

    Don’t let your child consume products that might keep them lively past bedtime. Ban consumption of soft drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate etc. that contain caffeine several hours before bedtime. Make it a rule that come 6pm, all drinks must be caffeine free. This will be harder on teen children than on younger ones.

  5. 5

    Avoid using bed as a source of punishment for time-outs. Children will associate being sent to bed with bad experiences and this can hamper their desire to go to bed and sleep.

  6. 6

    Get out and exercise. A bike ride or a ball bounce after dinner can do wonders for improving sleep patterns. However, care must be taken not to encourage exercise too close to bedtime or hearts will be racing and sleep will be long in coming.

  7. 7

    Change the whole family’s sleep patterns. If getting up early is an issue for everyone, perhaps it is time the whole family went to bed early. It can be a fun but instructive game for mom and dad to go to bed earlier than their child once in a while. Tell your child you are going to bed and that they had better hurry up and beat you. Turn out all the lights in the rest of the house except for where teeth are being cleaned and the bedrooms. The message soon becomes clear and everyone gets a good night’s sleep! This can be a great way to kickstart a new sleeping routine for the entire household and the kids feel involved as a part of the general shift, rather than being the sole focus.

  8. 8

    Be persistent. Your child will likely argue and whine. Be ready for that and have ears of steel. Repeat the mantra that “your bedtime is now, the TV time is over” or “Goodnight, sleep tight”. Using a mantra every night can help your child settle down, as long as you use it to signal that there’s no discussion to be had.[2] As much as the wheedling gets to you, as a parent, it is your responsibility to stand up to your child’s limit-testing and draw the boundaries clearly.

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growing up



My Rememberer

My forgetter’s getting better
But my rememberer is broke
To you that may seem funny
But, to me, that is no joke.

For when I’m ‘here’ I’m wondering
If I really should be ‘there’
And, when I try to think it through,
I haven’t got a prayer!

Often times I walk into a room,
Say “what am I here for?”
I wrack my brain, but all in vain
A zero, is my score.

At times I put something away
Where it is safe, but, Gee!
The person it is safest from
Is, generally, me!

When shopping I may see someone,
Say “Hi” and have a chat,
Then, when the person walks away
I ask myself, “who was that?”

Yes, my forgetter’s getting better
While my rememberer is broke,
And it’s driving me plumb crazy
And that isn’t any joke.

P.S. Send this to everyone you know . . . because I don’t remember who sent it to me!


Just a Wonder

A row of bottles on my shelf
Caused me to analyze myself.
One yellow pill I have to pop
Goes to my heart so it won’t stop.
A little white one that I take
Goes to my hands so they won’t shake.
The blue ones that I use a lot
Tell me I’m happy when I’m not.
The purple pill goes to my brain
And tells me that I have no pain.
The capsules tell me not to wheeze
Or cough or choke or even sneeze.
The red ones, smallest of them all
Go to my blood so I won’t fall.
The orange ones, very big and bright
Prevent my leg cramps in the night.
Such an array of brilliant pills
Helping to cure all kinds of ills.
But what I’d really like to know . . .
Is what tells each one where to go!


Prayer for Senility:

God grant me the senility
to forget the people I never liked anyway,
the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
and the eyesight to tell the difference.


Don’t Worry

At age 20 we worry about what others think of us;
At age 40 we don’t care what they think of us;
At age 60 we realize that they haven’t been thinking of us at all.


I’m Fine, How are You?

There’s nothing the matter with me,
I’m just as healthy as can be,
I have arthritis in both knees,
And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak, my blood is thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

All my teeth have had to come out,
And my diet I hate to think about.
I’m overweight and I can’t get thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

Arch supports I need for my feet.
Or I wouldn’t be able to go out in the street.
Sleep is denied me night after night,
But every morning I find I’m all right.
My memory’s failing, my head’s in a spin.
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

The moral of this as the tale unfolds,
Is that for you and me, who are growing old.
It is better to say “I’m fine” with a grin,
Than to let people know the shape we are in.

I’m fine, how are you ?


Radio 2

(© Dean Farnell)

I’m getting old I’m in despair
I’ve found my first grey pubic hair
I’m fast asleep by half past 10
I’m never gonna see my teens again.

It won’t be long until I’m gone
When father time will have won
My pipe and slippers wait for me
It’s, bingo, crib and cups of tea.

I’m wearing beige, and a cardigan
The musics hell on radio one
I just think about vapour rubs
Saga magazines, and bowling clubs.

I want to live till I’m 99
Where’s it gone, this life of mine
How can it be, that at 43
I think of retirement beside the sea.

The downward spiral has begun
The musics hell on radio one
The only thing, that’s left to do
Is to tune my dial to radio two.


My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went

How do I know that my youth is all spent?
Well, my get up and go has got up and went,
But in spite of it all I am able to grin.
When I think of the places my get up has been.

Old age is golden, So I’ve heard said
But sometimes I wonder, as I get into bed.
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup
And my eyes on the table until I wake up.

Ere sleep dims my eyes I say to myself
“Is there anything else I can put on the shelf?”
And I’m happy to say as I close the door
“My friends are the same, perhaps even more.”

When I was a young thing my slippers were red,
I could kick my heels as high as my head.
Then when I was older, my slippers were blue,
But still I could walk the whole day through.

Now I’m still older, my slippers are black.
I walk to the store and puff my way back.
The reason I know my youth is all spent,
My get up and go has got up and went.

But really, I don’t mind when I think with a grin,
Of all the grand places my get up has been.
Since I have retired from life’s competition
I busy myself with complete repetition.

I get up each morning and dust off my wits,
Pick up the paper and read the ‘obits’,
If my name is missing I know I’m not dead
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed.


Reality Check

(Elizabeth Van Loan)

I feel young and full of pep,
Rushing hither and yon.
Enjoying every passing day
Seldom woebegone.
Until the daily news proclaims:
“Elderly Woman Hit by Car.”
And I am halted in my tracks,
My pleasant world ajar.
Forced to face reality–
That ‘elderly’ woman is
younger than me!


A Little Mixed Up

Just a line to say to say I’m living,
that I’m not among the dead
Though I’m getting more forgetful,
and mixed up in my head;

I’ve got used to my arthritis,
To my dentures I’m resigned.
I can manage my bifocals,
But, Oh God, I miss my mind.

For sometimes I don’t remember,
At the bottom of the stairs
If I was going up for something,
or if I just came down from there.

And before the fridge so often,
my poor mind is filled with doubt–
Have I put the food away . . .
Or come to take some out?

There are times when it is dark
And my nightcap’s on my head
I don’t know if I’m retiring,
or just getting out of bed;

So if it’s my turn to write you,
There’s no need in getting sore,
I may think that I have written
And I don’t want to be a bore.

Please remember that I love you,
And I wish that you were here;
But now it’s nearly mail time,
So I must say goodbye, my dear.

Now here I stand beside the mailbox,
With my face so very red,
Instead of mailing you my letter,
I have opened it instead!


ABC’s of Aging

A is for arthritis,
B is for bad back,
C is for the chest pains. Corned Beef? Cardiac?
D is for dental decay and decline,
E is for eyesight–can’t read that top line.
F is for fissures and fluid retention
G is for gas (which I’d rather not mention–
and not to forget other gastrointestinal glitches)
H is high blood pressure
I is for itches, and lots of incisions
J is for joints, that now fail to flex
L is for libido–what happened to sex?
Wait! I forgot about K!
K is for my knees that crack all the time
(But forgive me, I get a few lapses in my
Memory from time to time)
N is for nerve (pinched) and neck (stiff) and neurosis
O is for osteo-for all the bones that crack
P is for prescriptions, that cost a small fortune
Q is for queasiness. Fatal or just the flu?
Give me another pill and I’ll be good as new!
R is for reflux–one meal turns into two
S is for sleepless nights,
counting fears on how to pay my medical bills!
T is for tinnitus–I hear bells in my ears
and the word ‘terminal’ also rings too near
U is for urinary and the difficulties that flow (or not)
V is for vertigo, as life spins by
W is worry, for pains yet unfound
X is for X ray–and what one might find
Y is for year (another one, I’m still alive).
Z is for zest
For surviving the symptoms my body’s deployed,
And keeping twenty-six doctors gainfully employed.

Copyright information: If something is incorrectly credited, please contact me. If something infringes on your copyright, notify me and I will remove it. Things on this site are for personal use with proper credit – not for profit making ventures. The compilation is mine but individual poems are copyright to their author.

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  • The Dog Ate My Homework

    dog eats homework

     

    The dog ate my homework
    just like it was kibble.
    He started up slow
    with a cute little nibble
    and then scarfed it down
    with a burp and a snort.
    How was he to know
    that my special report
    was due here this morning
    precisely at 8:00.
    So now it is eaten.
    I’m sorry it’s late.
    But what can you do
    when your dog needs a snack
    and your stapled report
    comes under attack?
    I told him to stop
    but he just wouldn’t mind.
    When my dog is hungry,
    he’s not very kind.
    I’ll bring it tomorrow,
    and you’ll see it then.
    So long as my dog
    isn’t hungry again.

    by Denise Rodgers

     

    Copyright© Denise Rodgers 

    All Rights Reserved

    Art by Julie Martin

    The second funny school poem in this set tells the same story… from the dog’s point of view!

     

    Yes, I Ate His Homework

    dog ate homework

     

    Yes, I ate his homework.
    You think I’m a liar!
    So kind of you, teacher,
    to go and inquire.
    It’s just that when hungry,
    despite what you think,
    there’s nothing more tasty
    than paper and ink,
    unless it’s some slippers
    or brand-new soft shoes,
    or maybe a sheet
    of some basted raw chews.
    I ate all the homework
    and part of the couch.
    There’s so much to eat
    and I’m hardly a slouch.
    So that is my story.
    I’ll swear that it’s true.
    Excuse me for now,
    I have text books to chew.

    by Denise Rodgers

     

    Copyright© Denise Rodgers 

    All Rights Reserved

    Art by Julie Martin

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clip-art-playing-children-844160

Easy Exercise Ideas

Does your child spend far too much of his or her free time watching TV or playing video games? Experts advise that two hours of TV or video games a day should be the limit to better assure kids will be healthy, strong, and creative.

Here is a quick reference list of some easy and fun exercise ideas to help children get active (often without even knowing they are exercising!):

1. Walk your dog 
2. Walk your neighbor’s dog (with permission from your parents and your neighbor, of course)
3. Fly a kite 
4. Toss a Frisbee 
5. Ask your parents or grandparents to take you to a state park or other area where you can take a nature hike 
6. Ride your bike 
7. Skate 
8. If you have a yard, pick up sticks or trash 
9. Pull weeds 
10. Rake the yard or garden 
11. Play tag 
12. Play hopscotch 
13. Have a hula hoop contest, and see who can keep the hoop up the longest 
14. Learn to juggle 
15. Jump rope (boxers do it, and look how strong & healthy they are!)
16. Visit the zoo, amusement park, or museum (lots of walking)
17. Wash the car 
18. Have every family member wear a pedometer, and have a daily challenge to see who can take the most steps. Losers do winner’s chores the next day.
19. Shoot hoops 
20. Play soccer 
21. Play softball 
22. Play badminton 
23. Have a water balloon fight 
24. Put on your bathing suit and run through the sprinkler 
25. Go swimming (never without an adult to supervise!)
26. Give the dog a bath. The bigger the dog, the more exercise you’ll get!
27. Sign up for a charity walk-a-thon with your parent, grandparent, or other relative 
28. Do jumping jacks 
29. Do push-ups 
30. Put on an exercise video and get a good workout 
31. Do sit-ups 
32. Learn to play golf, or caddy for someone else 
33. Play tennis 
34. Play miniature golf 
35. Go bowling 
36. Learn to twirl a baton 
37. Take a class in martial arts and learn to defend yourself 
38. Build a fort and play cowboys and Indians 
39. If you have a two-story home or a home with a basement, carry out-of-place items up or down stairs, one item at a time 
40. Run the vacuum 
41. Wash windows 
42. Clean your room 
43. Ride your skateboard 
44. Learn yoga, either at a class or from a video 
45. Race-walk 
46. Have relay races with your friends or family 
47. Play touch football 
48. Learn ballroom dancing 
49. Learn hip-hop dancing 
50. Take classes in ballet, jazz, or tap dancing

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