How to Love Your Postpartum Body


As soon as you found out you were pregnant, your body changed.  Literally.

You spent nine months growing your beautiful baby, and although you are still basking in the beauty of motherhood, you just can’t seem to embrace your post-baby body transformation. We’ve all been there. And, as someone who is a true believer in loving WHO you are the WAY you are, I want to offer some words of encouragement I found from Darling magazine:

Your body is a hero’s body. 
Giving birth is a superhero power. Your stretch marks are your beauty marks and are worth everything. Try focusing on your happiness and what is positive in your life at that moment.

Your little miracle made changes worthwhile.
You are now a mother. Soak in those newborn moments. What your baby needs is his or her mother, and your body is now their safe haven.

Your features deserve love.
We are so great at focusing on our shortcomings instead of our strengths, so find something you like about yourself when you look in the mirror and focus on that or speak a mantra.

You don’t need to be so hard on yourself.
Accept that we judge ourselves more harshly than others do. No one is expecting you to look perfect. Recognize that it’s not the end of the world even if you don’t return to your pre-baby weight.

I love this quote: “Don’t let your body affect your happiness and confidence. Your imperfections are to be celebrated.”

Click here to read the entire article.




Tips for Traveling with a Toddler


If traveling is part of your holiday agenda, you may wonder 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 feeding 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 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?

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 just to 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 of 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 give her a chance to think about questions in advance.”

Make yourself clear verbally
Even if you sent an email earlier, you should still take the time to explain things before you leave verbally. “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.


Acceptance on World Down Syndrome Day


In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, we wanted to share something from one our of friends and members, Lauren Molloy. Her daughter, Autumn, brings smiles to all! Thanks, Lauren for sharing your words of acceptance. We know many can relate to this.


Acceptance: Everyone has the desire to be accepted and included whether you have a disability or not. I’m sure many people can relate to a time they felt isolated, and not accepted: maybe it was the time you had no one to be your locker partner, the time in gym class you were picked last, a Jr. High or HS School Dance that you weren’t included, the Neighborhood Click that didn’t invite you to that fun outing, the work group that didn’t ask you to join them in Happy Hour, it could go on and on…

But what is true is that we can all reflect back and feel that moment of wanting to be accepted and included. Let’s take those memories and use them as a learning lesson for those that aren’t just like “us”. Inclusion is contagious; we can all learn from each other.

Let’s spread Love, Acceptance, and Awareness on World Down Syndrome Day; we are all more a like than different! Differences make us unique, so having an accepting outlook will change the perception of people with disabilities.


World Down Syndrome Day was celebrated this year on Sunday, March 21st.


10 Phrases to Inspire Confidence in Your Child


We all know the importance of having healthy self-esteem and, as parents, we have the opportunity to build self-esteem and confidence in each of our children every single day.  Motherly shares some great phrases that inspire confidence–here are 10 of our favorites:

  1. “You are capable.”
    As a parent, our words become the internal language in the minds of our children. We know that our kids are capable of so much—let your words match this belief
  2. “That was brave.”
    Sometimes we need to notice things aloud. That means to let them know when we see them being brave. When we notice our kids being brave, they start to notice too.
  3. “You’ve got this.”
    You know that they have the skills and means necessary and your vote of confidence will give them that extra boost they need to succeed.
  4. “I believe in you.”
    As the parent, you have faith in your child’s ability. When you openly communicate that faith in them it will inspire it within themselves.
  5. “You can do hard things.”
    When the going gets tough the obstacles can seem insurmountable. So this direct phrase will tell them exactly what they need to hear—acknowledgment that this is hard work and that they are capable.
  6. “No matter what happens, I still love you.”
    Our children need to hear words that communicate unconditional love. That means providing reassurance of our love—regardless of the outcome.
  7. “How’d you do that?”
    Ask questions. When you see them do something hard, say, “How did you manage that? How can you do it again?”
  8. “I know it’s hard, but I’ve seen you do it before.” 
    It can seem overwhelming, but let’s give them evidence of when they have been successful before. This will instill the confidence that they can do it again.
  9. “You are enough.”
    It doesn’t matter what the outcome—they need to know they are enough just the way they are.
  10. “You make me proud.”
    Straight and to the point—you can never tell your child this enough.

Want some more inspiration?  Check out more great phrases here.


The Moms Network October Episode: Blended Families


Whether it is blending different cultures or different families through divorce, the co-hosts share their unique experiences and perspectives on what it is like to raise a blended family in this month’s episode of The Mom’s Network on NCTV-17. You can watch the full episode below. Thank you to this month’s show sponsor DuPage Medical Group.

You can catch up on all episodes by visiting the NCTV-17 website.

Local Experts Offer Parents Advice for Summer Learning Slump


The summer learning slump is a normal thing for students, but this year it’s made even more challenging when combined with the “COVID slide.”  Our friends at NCTV interviewed local experts to get the best tips for helping students this summer.

Get more information here.

The Moms Network: Summer Skincare & COVID-19 Check-In


The Moms Network co-hosts welcome Dr. Juliana Basko-Plluska of Basko Dermatology to this month’s virtual episode to discuss everything we need to know about summer skincare—for us and our kids!  In addition, the co-hosts share some of the lessons they have learned as we head into the next phase of the state of Illinois reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out the clips of the segments below and head to NCTV to see more of The Moms Network.




Thank you to Basko Dermatology for being the sponsor of this month’s episode.

10 Virtual Field Trips for Kids

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This past weekend was the unofficial start of summer and with many camps and other programs postponed, you may be looking for some new ways to entertain the kiddos.  Why not take them on a global field trip?

Good Housekeeping recently shared 35 virtual field trips—from museums to farms to famous landmarks, your kids can go on a global adventure every week of the summer.  Here are 10 of our favorites:

Metropolitan Museum of Art: The #Metkids site is geared for little ones, and lets them explore a cute, illustrated map to find treasures in the museum’s collection.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: This site offers a virtual version of every exhibition in the museum.  You’ll want to bookmark this one.

Farm Food 360: Kids can see 11 different sorts of farm and food plants, including dairy cow farms, egg processing facilities, and an apple orchard.

Buckingham Palace: Go room-by-room and see all of the amazing historical objects in the palace.

Mount Rushmore: The virtual tour of Mount Rushmore was created through 3D scans of the mountains.

San Diego Zoo: One of the most famous of zoos in the United States, you can catch live cams and videos of your favorite animals.

Shedd Aquarium: Everything you love about the Shedd brought to your own home.  They even have new episodes of a limited series called #StayHomeWithShedd, made for kids and kids at heart.

M&Ms Factory Tour: The Food Network hosts a virtual tour of the M&Ms factory and shows how the delicious candy gets made.

The Moon: NASA does virtual tours of the moon, along with the International Space Station.  Kids can also see the real surface of Mars, courtesy of the Curiosity rover.

Discovery Education: The site hosts virtual field trips for kids, from engineering plants that make cars of the future to a lab that researches nuclear energy.

And while all of these are “screen experiences”, you can continue the engagement offline by having kids draw what they remember most, write about the favorite part of their “trip” or even create a family quiz filled with facts they learned.

Click here for the full list of virtual field trip ideas.

Does Online Babysitting Work?

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According to a recent article in the New York Times, interest in virtual sitters is surging.  Whether its stand-in home-school teachers, professional babysitters or a grandparent holding a virtual tea party, companies are creating platforms for caregivers to interact with kids virtually—including options to book onscreen babysitters.

But, does it really work?

“Of course, virtual babysitters can’t change a baby’s diapers, tuck a preschooler into bed or chase an unruly toddler around the house. But screen-based caregivers can entertain kids and give parents short breaks,” writes Katharine Gammon.

Here are some things you should consider before hiring your virtual sitter:

Timing is Everything
According to the article, virtual babysitting works best in small amounts of time, usually half an hour to an hour.  And parents should be nearby—at least within earshot of the child. It also tends to work best in the mornings, when kids are rested and fresh.

Focus on Special Talents and Interests
Consider hiring a virtual sitter who have specific skills, like being able to talk and play games about sports, or dinosaurs, or math.  This especially works well for older kids who can often pay attention longer when the topic is interesting.

Plan a Specific Activity
Doing an activity—reading a story, creating a craft or play a game—over a screen still engaged kids’ imaginative play.  As long as the child is able to communicate well and is interested in the person onscreen, virtual babysitting can work. “The burden is more on the babysitter than on the child,” Dr. Arthur Lavin explains, adding that the virtual sitter has to be more prepared and care about what the child will click into.

Virtual Experience Matters
Because keeping kids engaged virtually is different than when in-person, you should look for a sitter that has experience in virtual babysitting.  “As a parent you’re kind of looking for the feeling of — I know how to do this; I got you,” she parent Kimberly Sloan. “I haven’t experienced any sort of platform that has got this dialed in yet.”

You can read the whole article here.

Have you tried using a virtual babysitter?  We’d love to hear how it worked for you and your child.

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