Leading with Strength, Patience and Kindness


I am not sure about you, but the situation our world is facing right now has left me feeling a little anxious and uncomfortable. Last night I had a tough time sleeping. My mind was racing about my kids, my family, my practice, my staff, our community, our country. In times like this, it is difficult to know all of the right moves and decisions to make. It is unsettling not knowing exactly what the next day will bring and how to best prepare for it. I feel for small business owners and people that are in the service industry, for the elderly and those with health concerns. It is easy to let the wheels of negativity and fear spin over and over and over in our heads.

But, I would ask you to take a moment and find ways to unplug from this, whatever that means to you.

Do you need to take a little break from watching the news or following social media 24/7 because it is causing you anxiety and panic? Do you need to practice extra gratitude for all that you do have right now, be it your health, your loved ones under your safe roof, the fact that you actually did get toilet paper before it became scarce? Do you need to take better care of yourself, making sure you get enough sleep, drink lots of water, and find quiet times to let your mind relax? We can’t always control what enters our minds, but I do believe we can control how long we give it energy.

We all have the opportunity to help lead our families, children, and even our coworkers/employees and friends through these choppy waters with strength, patience, and kindness. To lead isn’t always comfortable. To lead is to bring a sense of safety to our kids as they watch how we manage this unprecedented time in our history. To lead is to practice compassion towards others and to help those you can. To lead is to not let this situation get on top of us emotionally, but to find ways to experience joy and laughter in the heartwarming and happy moments that are going to happen as we all hunker down at home and figure this all out together.

The Branch will continue to be here to offer support, connection and resources in any way we can!

Dr. Cathy Subber
Founder of The Branch

Why Toddler Tantrums are Good


As frustrating as they can be, temper tantrums are actually good. Parents magazine reminds us of 10 reasons why those challenging tantrum moments are an important part of your toddler’s emotional health and well-being.

Better out than in
“It helps if we let our kids tantrum without trying to interrupt the process so they get to the end of their feelings. ‘Crying is not the hurt, but the process of becoming unhurt,’ explains Deborah MacNamara, Ph.D.

Crying may help your child learn
When a child is struggling, “expressing their frustration helps them to clear their minds so they can learn something new. ‘Learning is as natural to children as breathing,” says Patty Wipfler. ‘But when a child isn’t able to concentrate or listen, there’s usually an emotional issue that’s blocking his progress.'”

Your child may sleep better
“Sleep problems often occur because we parents think the best approach to tantrums and upsets is to try to avoid them. Allowing your child to get to the end of her tantrum improves her emotional well-being and may help her sleep through the night.”

You said ‘no,’ and that’s a good thing
“Saying ‘no’ gives your child clear boundaries about acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Sometimes we may avoid saying ‘no’ because we don’t want to deal with the emotional fallout, but we can stand firm with our limits while still offering, love, empathy, and hugs. Saying ‘no’ means you aren’t afraid of the messy, emotional side of parenting.”

Your child feels safe to tell you how he feels
“In most cases, children aren’t using tantrums to manipulate us or get what they want. Often your child is accepting the no, and the tantrum is an expression of how he feels about it.”

Tantrums bring you closer together
“Let her get through the storm of her feelings without trying to stop or ‘fix’ them. Don’t talk too much but offer a few kind, reassuring words. Offer hugs. Your child will soak up your unconditional acceptance and feel closer to you afterwards”

Tantrums help your child’s behavior in the long run
“These are all common signs that your child is struggling with his emotions. Having a big tantrum helps your child release the feelings that can get in the way of his natural, cooperative self.”

If the tantrum happens at home, there’s less chance it will happen in public
“‘The more we ask our children to ‘keep it together’ at home and in public, the more the tension bottles up inside of them,’ says Michelle Pate. ‘The more we can find time and space to listen to our child’s feelings of upset at home, the fewer bottled-up feelings they’ll carry along with them on every excursion.'”

Your child is doing something that most people have forgotten how to do
“It’s hard for adults, and particularly men, to find the sense of safety and connection to really let go of our feelings. So let your child have that mood-enhancing tantrum while her emotions still flow freely.”

Tantrums are healing for you, too
“Our child’s upset can trigger memories of how we were treated, which we may not even be conscious of. Parenting can be a healing path for our own emotional challenges when we get support and a chance to be listened to ourselves.”

For more great info on the good side of tantrums, click here.

10 Bedtime Routines Parents Love


When it comes to bedtime, the struggle is real.

Thanks to HuffPost Life, we have 10 tips from parents who have bedtime down to a science.

Consistency is Key
“Consistency is key! We use sleep cues like music and white noise. I also use a picture chart so that the kids feel like they have some control over the routine as well. Everyone knows what’s coming next and there are no surprises.”–― Megan G.

Stay in Bed
“Our middle is our night owl and early bird, so sometimes [she] will procrastinate, but for the most part they follow our rule: you don’t have to go to sleep, but you have to stay in bed.” ― Lesley C.

Audiobooks for the Win
“I have two kids ages 9 and 5. When my oldest was about 6 I would have her go to bed listening to audiobooks because she didn’t want to be alone in the dark but somehow it made it better with an audiobook on to fall asleep to. This let me lie down with my youngest (after reading him his 2 books… he never lets me forget that) and then I sneak away once he is asleep. Total bonus from audiobooks it really boosted her audible memory and she is reading 4 grade levels ahead now!” ― Jill H.

Ask Some Questions
“We have bedtime questions that help them settle down and get the talkies out. They are the same five questions every night: ‘what was your favorite thing about today?’ ‘was there anything you didn’t like?’ ‘how were you kind today?’ ‘what do you think we will do tomorrow?’ and ‘how much do I love you?’ Both kids (6 and 3) are usually passed out after ten minutes.” ― Elizabeth A.

Carve out One-on-One Time
“Staggering quiet one on one time with one parent just cuddling, reading, or quietly chatting. I cannot tell you how many times I fell asleep in one of my kids beds. Or how often they fell asleep in mine.” ― Nicole Ann M.

Use a Timer
“Timers have been a game changer. My son doesn’t ‘transition’ from one activity to another well without advance notice. We set a timer on our Echo Dot. ‘Okay, in 5 mins when the timer goes off, we’re gonna go do ____ and then cuddle and then read books and then bed!’ Also keeping the routine the EXACT same (down to saying the exact same thing ever night: ‘sweet dreams I love you I’ll see you in the morning when you wake up’) helps a ton.” ― Noelle F.

Check out Night Time Apps
“Those night time apps are the best thing ever! My daughter gets to scroll through and pick what story or lullaby she wants (giving her a sense of control and engagement) but five minutes into a story and she is sound asleep and snoring.” ― Corey D.

Have a Last Call
“We do a ‘last call’ for snacks/drinks 30 mins before bedtime. It has eliminated the ‘I’m hungry’ and ‘I’m thirsty’ calls from our daughter’s bedroom after we leave the room!” ― Amanda S.

Let Kids Be in Control
“Let them be in control as much as possible: ‘Do you want to brush your teeth first, or get in Pjs first?’ ‘Would you like these Pjs, or these Pjs?’ ‘Would you like water first, or a story first?’” ― Lauren M.

Start Earlier
“Start 20 minutes earlier than you think you need to!” ― Stella H.

For more great tips, click here.





How to Get Kids to Help Out with Chores


Doing chores is great practice for what your child will need to do as a grown-up—they not only teach essential life skills for living independently, but they also help kids develop a work ethic.

Here are some tips we found for getting your kids involved with the household chores.

Introduce your kids to chores as early as possible
Even toddlers can help around the house by putting toys away or throwing clothes in the hamper.  Look up age-appropriate tasks, adding more complex chores as your child gets older.  Already have older children?  Sit them down and explain why it is important they participate in household responsibilities, allowing them to contribute to the conversation with their own ideas.

Organize each family member’s chores in a chart
Keep a visual track of all the chores in a place where kids can easily see it, such as the refrigerator door.  Start with four daily jobs (i.e. doing dishes, taking out the trash), rotating them between kids so no one feels as if they are “stuck” doing the same thing.

Make it part of their daily routine
Choose specific times such as right after dinner or before the start of a favorite TV show so the task becomes part of their regular routine—just like brushing their teeth in the morning.

Don’t use chores as punishment
Punishing your child by making them do chores will result in your child associating them with negative feelings. Instead, make doing chores fun by turning on music or setting a timer to see how quickly a room can be picked up.

Be realistic
Understand that your definition of “done” may be different than that of your child.  Let your kids know what you expect and pay attention to the challenges they may be having such as not being able to reach a certain shelf.

For more great chore tips, click here.


The Moms Network Talks Anti-Aging, Skin Care, and Mom Bods


If a new year means a healthier you, the January episode of The Moms Network is a must-watch.

From anti-aging and skin care with Dr. Juliana Basko of Basko Dermatology to how the connotation of “mom bod” should be more about how we feel than how we look, this month’s conversations are all about becoming the best version of yourself.

Click below to watch each of this month’s segments. And thank you to Basko Dermatology for being the sponsor of this month’s episode.

Anti-Aging and Skin Care for Moms

Mom Bod

Click here to watch all episodes of The Moms Network.

How to Break the News about Santa


There is one universal conversation no parent wants to have: telling their child the truth about Santa Claus. But, it’s a conversation we will all have to have at some point.  Thankfully, mom Charity Hutchinson has shared with Upworthy a way to have this conversation that won’t crush the hearts of those little ones we love.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Find a time to take your kid out, one-on-one, to a favorite spot and deliver the great news: The time has come for them to become a Santa. She suggests saying something like: “You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too.”
  2. Assure your child that they’re ready to become a Santa because they understand the true meaning of giving. “You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa.  A lot of children think that because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE.”
  3. Now that they’re in on the secret, have them choose someone who could really use a great gift and devise a plan to give it away. “The child’s mission is to secretly find out something that a person they know needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it, and never reveal where it came from.”
  4. Remind them that being Santa is top-secret business. And that, next year, they can carry on with their selfless Santa duties once again.  “I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did or he wouldn’t be a Santa.”

Such a great way to have the Santa conversation. What tips do you have for other moms?

Bonding with Grandparents Who Live Far Away


During this time of the year, family becomes even more of a priority and even if family members are unable to get together in person, this is a great time of year to begin creating those virtual bonds—especially with grandparents.

There is nothing quite like the bond between a child and his/her grandparent. “They’re uniquely qualified to be friends, mentors, and guides, offering a sense of connection and tradition,” says a recent post from Bright Horizons.

Here are some ways your child can bond with his or her grandparents even if they live far away:

Use Technology
From FaceTime to Skype, being able to see grandparents makes the interaction more concrete.  During the holidays, use these platforms to show your child opening a gift or sharing a special holiday moment.

Send a Postcard or Artwork
Yes, holiday cards are great, but consider sending a postcard from someplace you recently visited—even if it’s local to you it isn’t to the grandparents—or have your child create a special piece of artwork to share.  It’s also fun when grandparents reciprocate—sending a postcard from places they are visiting.

Capture It on Video
In addition to sharing photos, consider recording grandparents reading a Christmas story or video those special holiday moments such as baking cookies or coming down the stairs on Christmas morning.

Create a Virtual Tradition
Establish special traditions via phone such as scheduling calls during Sunday morning breakfasts in December or during Christmas Eve night.

Bright Horizons share more great bonding ideas—including what children of all ages can do with their grandparents during visits.  Click here to visit the website.

Regardless of grandparents living close or far away, using the holiday season as an opportunity to solidify those bonds will help you develop traditions that will last a lifetime.

Claus for a Cause


The Branch is so happy to be part of this upcoming event benefiting Little Friends.  Hope we will see you there!

How to Set Expectations with a New Sitter


There is nothing worse than coming home from a fabulous date night to find your children are still not in bed and the house is a mess.  While it is easy to just blame the sitter, perhaps she didn’t know what you expected of her that evening.  Katie Kavulla from SheKnows shares these tips for making sure you and your sitter are on the same page:

Be realistic
You can’t expect your occasional sitter to do it all—and do it all exactly the way you would do it. “A couple rules of thumb when setting expectations—ask her to have the house back to the state it was in when she got there and pick one thing that’s important to you for her to accomplish—getting the kids to bed on time, running the dishwasher after dinner…whatever you pick.”

Think about what you expect in advance
Consider sending her an email in advance about what you expect.  “Writing an email will help you compile your thoughts and it will her a chance to think about questions in advance.”

Make yourself clear verbally
Even you sent an email earlier, you should still take the time to verbally explain things before you leave. “When she arrives, walk her around the house and tell her what you expect.” In addition, make sure you have a copy of the written instructions—with the addition of important numbers—posted where the sitter can easily see it for reference.

Tell your children what to expect before you go
Whatever it is you expect your children to do (take baths before bed, put away toys, etc.), be sure and tell them this in front of the sitter.  “Make that clear while everyone is listening. A lot of miscommunications between sitters and parents come from the kids after you’re gone.

If your new sitter goes above and beyond your list of expectations, consider giving her an extra tip to show your appreciation—good sitters are hard to find!

And if she doesn’t work out on the first try? “If your sitter missed the mark this time, give her a second chance, but let her know before she leaves what you expect next time she comes over.”

Share with us your tips for working with a new sitter. And, if you’re looking for sitter recommendations, head over to our The Branch-Sitters Facebook group.


Tips for Traveling with a Toddler


If traveling is part of your holiday agenda, you may be wondering how to keep your sweet toddler busy and comfortable during long car rides, airplane trips and hotel stays.  Here are some tips inspired by an article written by Jodie Lynn:

  • Plan Ahead
    Make sure you know what you will be doing ahead of time.  Not only does this allow you to plan around nap times and feedings schedules, but it helps with packing. Throw in an extra jacket for colder climates, or crayons for entertaining while waiting for the big family dinner at the restaurant. If you will need bigger items such as strollers and high chairs, call ahead to your hotel to see if they are available or ask local family and friends if you can borrow them upon arrival.
  • Be Flexible
    Let your child’s schedule dictate your plans.  “Choose the best times to travel depending on your child’s napping patterns. Maybe traveling earlier or later in the day than you’d previously considered would be best,” writes Lynn. .  In addition, have a bag filled with sticker books, drawing boards or magnetic storyboards—anything that can be used in a pinch when plans go awry.
  • Pack Snacks
    You can never have too many snack options. Pack snacks in easy, go-to containers that can go from bags to cars to hotel rooms quickly
  • Bring Extra Items
    Don’t just pack extra clothes, also pack extra items that are favorites of your child—such as a blanket or stuffed animal.  “It’s much better to be safe than sorry in this situation when you’re sightseeing, eating out, or in a hotel room,” says Lynn.
  • Create a Playlist
    Familiar music is one of the best ways to ease a fussy child.  Before you leave, create a playlist of some of their favorite songs—encourage them to help you pick them out.

Read the entire article here.

What tips do you have for traveling with your toddler?

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