Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Conversation About Postpartum Depression with Author Megan Cyrulewski


Mothers of infants and young children experience a lot of highs and lows. They don't get much sleep and can feel overwhelmed with all the new responsibility. On the other hand, watching a precious baby learn and grow is one of the most satisfying, joyous events a person can experience. Sometimes, in the midst of these highs and lows, mothers can get stuck in the very deep lows of postpartum depression. A babysitting co-op can be instrumental in helping a mother suffering from postpartum depression to cope with this difficult condition.

Author Meg Cyrulewski has taken the time to answer some of our questions about postpartum depression. Many thanks to Meg!

Co-op 101: How do you view postpartum depression now that you've been through it yourself?

Meg: I used to have a very narrow-minded view.  Coming from a law perspective (because I’m an attorney) I honestly thought that postpartum depression was a terrible defense like when Andrea Yates used it. Now having been through it myself, I can’t say I condone what she did but I can understand how she could have done what she did.  It’s just one of those things that you can’t really explain it to someone unless they’ve been through it.

Co-op 101: What advice do you give to women who are experiencing postpartum depression?

Meg: Never be ashamed to seek treatment.  I went to the psych ward in the hospital because I needed treatment ASAP so I could take care of my baby.

Co-op 101: What advice do you give friends and family members of women who are suffering from postpartum depression?

Meg: You may not understand what she feels, but just be there to support her.

Co-op 101: How can a community of friends support one another as they welcome new babies into their families?

Meg: Every child is different.  Just because my friend’s child started walking at 9 months doesn’t mean mine will - and there’s nothing wrong with it.  Just have fun with each other’s kids.  It’s a whole new relationship because we’re all parents now!

Co-op 101: How have your recent experiences changed you as a mother and friend?

Meg: I see the world through my daughter’s eyes and I love it.  Madelyne had her first dance recital this past June and I bawled like a baby.  I used to dance too so it’s just such a joy to see her love something as much as I did when I was her age.  As a friend, it’s nice to be able to give advice.  Like today, my friend’s 1-year-old has a really bad cold so she asked me for advice.  I like that I can help.

You can learn more about Meg Cyrulewski and her new book Who Am I? How My Daughter Taught Me to Let Go and Live Again at her website.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Caramel" Fruit Dip

Do your kids need a little motivation to eat their fruit? This "caramel" fruit dip ought to do the trick.

"Caramel" Fruit Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer and serve with a variety of fruit. It's extra good with

  • apples
  • grapes
  • strawberries
  • peaches
  • pears

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cost to Raise Today's Kids: More Than $250,000?

According to a Federal report released today, raising a child in the United States now costs more than $250,000. If you look at the details of the report, you'll find that child care costs exceed the cost of food.

As we know here at Babysitting Co-op 101, creative parents working together can significantly reduce or even eliminate child care costs while offering other important benefits to neighborhood families, such as


  •  Friends for kids and parents 
  • A greater sense of community 
  • A spirit of cooperation 
  • Free time for parents 

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when reports like this surface, but these reports are based on the gathering of economic data and generalizations about how household finances operate. Child care doesn't have to cost more than food. In fact, it doesn't have to cost anything at all.

Pick up a copy of Babysitting Co-op 101 today to learn how you can eliminate child care costs from your budget while securing quality child care for your kids from adults you know and trust. This book contains everything you need to get your co-op up and running. It's full of resources, encouragement, and success stories.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Virginia Babysitting-Cop, 50 Years Strong

I thought it was so fun to see a Washington Post news story about the Aurora Hills Babysitting Co-op earlier this month. This co-op has been in operation for 50 years! Just think of that. The original kids who were babysat by the organizers of this co-op could have grandchildren who are currently involved in the co-op. What a great testament to the power of neighborly cooperation. Take a few minutes to read the article, and then get inspired to start your own co-op. Who knows? Maybe your grandkids will be participating someday in the group you organize.
Bettina Lanyi/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Parenting Resource: Learning at Home


Did you realize that you're building your child's cognitive foundation as you read bedtime stories and talk about your day? Our guest blog poster today, Rhonda Cratty, helps us to understand the importance of helping children learn to summarize. Below is an excerpt from Rhonda Cratty's Learning at Home. You can find links to the book at the bottom of this post. Many thanks to Rhonda for sharing her expertise with us.

Teaching your child to summarize is an excerpt from Learning at Home by Rhonda Cratty.

Teaching your Child to Summarize
Teaching children to summarize is no small task. Summarizing is one of the hardest strategies for children to grasp because it requires time and lots of practice. Your child needs to see and hear summarizing modeled. Summarizing is such a valuable strategy it is well worth a few small moments as you read those good night stories.

What is Summarizing?
Summarizing is how we take the gist, the key ideas, the main points that are worth noting and remembering out of a text.

What are We Doing When We Summarize?
When we summarize, we focus on the heart of the work. We try to find the key words and phrases that manage to capture the main idea of what we have read. 

What are Reasonable Summarizing Goals for Children?
-Pull out main ideas
-Focus on key details
-Use only key words and phrases
-Write only enough to convey the main idea
-Take succinct but complete notes of larger ideas

Strategies for Practicing Summarizing
-Have your child practice verbalizing summaries of familiar or interesting topics, such as "What I did during a sport or music practice," or "What I did at school today."
-After you finish reading picture books, use key words or phrases to identify who, what, when, where, why, or how in the story. Who is the story about? What did the characters do?
-Keep a reading diary. If parents do the writing and children do the thinking, this should take just a few minutes.
-Write the title of the book, date and a headline for the story. By summarizing in a headline, your child will begin to sort out main ideas from details of the text. Do not require sentences. Keep it under six words each evening.
-As you read non-fiction, help your child to recognize that sub-titles are summaries. 
-Summarize the lyrics from a favorite song or poem.
-Summarize a movie, field trip, party.

Summarizing is more than retelling it is a higher level of thinking. It involves analyzing information, distinguishing important from unimportant elements then translating large chunks of information into a few short cohesive sentences. Fiction and non-fiction texts, media, conversations, internet information, and events are sources to practice summarizations. Summarizing is an important skill. With the digital age, and the speed at which our children receive new information, summarizing will be imperative to the adults of tomorrow.
Working with summarizing is truly about equipping your children to be lifelong learners.

Learning at Home by Rhonda Cratty is a new parent resource filled with ideas to help children become the best they can be. Daily activities for family fun, that make subjects become more than pencil and paper, moving learning into everyday life. Learning at home can be purchased in print ($8.48) or eBook($4.48) form through http://www.amazon.com/dp/1494917203

For more information please see http://famfunlearn.com/.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Park Days

Summer is almost here, and if your babysitting co-op needs a little social rejuvenation, plan a few park days for the summer. Park days are informal get-togethers where co-op parents and kids can spend some time enjoying the sun and getting to know each other better. This is also a good time to find new neighborhood families if you're looking for a few new members.

To organize summer park days, choose a few specific times when you can meet at a local park. Then send out text messages or emails to inform everyone of the dates. Here's an example:

Sandhills Babysitting Co-op Park Day

We're meeting at Moser Park for some play time and fun!

When: Fridays in June
What Time: 11:30
Where: Moser Park, corner of Washington & 22nd

Bring a lunch and join us for an hour or two of play time. There's a sandbox, so bring sand toys if you want. Invite friends or neighbors who might be interested in joining our babysitting co-op. See you there!

Make sure you don't schedule your park days over an existing babysitting shift, or someone will be stuck at home while you're all enjoying yourselves in the sunshine. Summer park days are also a great time for school-age kids to feel like they're a part of the babysitting co-op as well. You may find yourself looking forward to park days as much as your kids do!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

5 Top Money-Saving Tips: Guest Post from Everyday Life on a Shoestring

If you haven't visited Sarah's Everyday Life on a Shoestring, it's high time you did. This blog is full of fantastic money-saving tips for parents of young children. It's personable, friendly, and charming, and we're honored to have Sarah with us on Babysitting Co-op 101 today. She's sharing some of her best money-saving tips with us. After you finish reading this post, we suggest you hop on over to her blog and learn some more!


Having kids is an expensive business. According to the Guardian newspaper, in 2013 the cost of raising a child in the UK has risen to an astronomical £222,458 ($374,042).


You would be right in thinking that the expensive part of raising a child would be getting them through college or university, but the next most expensive years are from age 1 to 5.


Armed with that knowledge, how can parents of young children save money?


Here are our five top tips (excluding childcare, which is well catered for on this blog!)

  1. The Guardian cites parental guilt over technological gadgets as another major cost; UK expenditure on kit for kids amounts to £302 annually. For young children this simply isn’t necessary. We all know that too much screen time is not good for anyone, especially young children. Our kids are expected to use the family computer and TV rather than having their own and a secondhand console is used for games. Both kids now have phones, but are on the cheapest contract we could find. This approach has not impaired them in any way – they are digital natives and are far more literate in all this stuff than I am.
  2. Buying secondhand also applies to many other things that have been required. From birth we bought clothes, toys, baby equipment, buggies and books secondhand, as well as never saying no to any offers of hand-me-downs. The world is awash with plastic toys and kids equipment, so don’t contribute to this ocean by buying new. Check out charity shops, eBay, school sales and Freecycle.
  3. From an early age, encourage children to save their own birthday, Christmas or pocket money to buy the things that they want. This teaches them the value of things and helps clarify whether an item is something they really want or just a whim.
  4. Avoid peer pressure! Just because other friends are going on expensive holidays or cinema trips, attend multiple after-school clubs, or have the latest gadget, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to. A camping holiday, playing in the garden at home, having a friend to play or watching a DVD together as a family can be just as fun. And today’s busy children need down-time as much as we do.
  5. The best things in life really are free! Parks, puddles, trees, the sky, museums, libraries, street entertainers, time with friends and family. It’s all available if you seek it out and costs nothing!
Many thanks to Sarah at Everyday Life On a Shoestring for this post!