Monday, January 28, 2013

Toddler Milk Ideas

Do you have a hard time getting your toddler to drink milk (or soy milk or anything else with nutritional value)? Here are some ideas to help make milk more palatable to your little one.

Add one of the following to 1 cup of cold milk. Mix well in a blender.
  • 1/2 banana, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of any fresh, bruised berries plus 2 Tbs. sugar and 1 Tbs. of lemon or orange juice
  • canned peaches or pears plus 2 Tbs. fruit syrup

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fend off the Dreaded Norovirus

We all heard about the impending flu season and how difficult it would be, but most of us missed the memo about the norovirus--until it showed up at our door. Norovirus is commonly called the "stomach flu," and reported cases are up 58% nationwide from last year.

How has this one virus wreaked so much havoc? It's incredibly contagious. That's why it's spread from Australia to the USA and everywhere in between in the last month.

According to the CDC, a new strain of norovirus appeared this year, and that's why so many people are becoming infected. This new strain was first detected last March in Australia and has caused outbreaks in many countries. Norovirus mutates rapidly, with new strains showing up every two to three years.

The virus causes vomiting and diarrhea. The elderly and young children are the most susceptible to it, and it can be transmitted from contaminated surfaces, person-to-person, or even through contaminated water.

What's the best defense? Wash your hands thoroughly after using the restroom and before eating, and wipe any contaminated surfaces with a disinfecting solution. It's also helpful to isolate contaminated people so they don't have a chance to spread the virus.

What does this mean for your babysitting co-op? Don't drop your child off at someone else's house if she has any norovirus symptoms (stomach pains, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting). Even if all the kids look healthy, be vigilant about having them wash their hands, and it wouldn't hurt to disinfect the toys and tabletops after your shift is over.

Soon spring will be hear, and we won't hear about the norovirus for a while. Let's hope!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Keeping the Co-op Connected

One of the most common concerns we hear from co-op parents is that they just don’t know the other moms well enough. They get ten minutes to chat during pick-up and drop-off, but they’d really like some good solid time to get to know each other better.
            In larger co-ops, some moms always feel like they’re out on the fringe, never getting asked to babysit because nobody knows them well enough to feel comfortable calling them up and bringing their children over.
            What’s the solution to this problem? Organize some social gatherings where moms can sit around and talk about high school, child development, international politics, and what they’re going to make for dinner. It doesn’t need to be fancy or long, but it should be comfortable for everyone, and nobody should have to find a sitter for it—that would defeat the purpose.
            Playgroups work well for moms with preschool-aged children. Take turns hosting the playgroup in homes during the winter, but during the summer just meet at a park and everyone can bring their own lunches. The children will stay busy on the playground, and the moms can sit and enjoy the sunshine and each other’s company.
            Potlucks are a fun way to include dads and older children who aren’t home during normal co-op hours. Just a few potluck dinners a year can bond a group. Involving the dads and older siblings also makes the co-op feel like a family affair, instead of just what the moms and little kids do during the day. Many dads like to be involved in all aspects of their kids’ lives, and they want to know the people their children spend time with.
            Along the same lines, holiday parties make fun traditions for co-op groups. Besides Christmas parties, you could get together on the 4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, or Halloween. In areas where trick-or-treating isn’t practical, a Halloween party might fill an important need.
            Social gatherings are great, but you can spend some valuable time as a co-op providing service to each other and to complete strangers. As a group, you’ve already learned to cooperate, so putting your cooperation to use in another way makes sense.
            As a co-op, you could organize a clothing exchange, where everyone brings children’s or maternity clothes that they’re not currently using and exchanges them for currently needed items.. You could set it up so that everyone gets their items back after they’re used, or you might just treat all items like donations. Such a system cuts down on individual families’ storage requirements and can save everyone a lot of money.
            In the same vein, set up a toy or equipment exchange. New toys are always more fun than old ones, but you don’t want to go out and buy new toys every few months. Just rotate them among the group, and the kids won’t ever get bored with what they have to play with. Likewise, let your group know if you have a baby crib or a changing table you’re not using. Instead of taking equipment to a thrift store when you’re done with it, trade it for something you need. In a group of families all raising children, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
            A cohesive, cooperative group can be a great force for good in many ways. Make the most of it.