Texas Parenting News
Putting family first
Working parents feel increasing stress in today’s world. Employers’ demands for higher profits, global competition, and traffic jams create tension on the job. Computers and cell phones often seem to chain parents to jobs even while at home.
Yet most parents would agree that their most important job is the family. Babies and preschoolers need our full attention if they are to develop into competent, well-rounded adults. Children won’t be little forever, and there’s plenty of time to pursue careers when children reach school age.
Quality time is important, and so is quantity. It’s not enough to reserve a couple of Saturdays a month to spend with your kids. They need a few minutes several times a day.
Let’s look at the bigger picture by asking a few questions about the job.
How can you lessen stress at work? Can you delegate tasks to others, designate blocks of times for answering phone and e-mail messages, and take periodic breaks to breathe deeply and stretch? Can you change your attitude toward an annoying co-worker or boss by realizing that you don’t know what challenges he or she may be dealing with?
Is it possible to change the nature of the job? Might you be allowed to work a few hours at home, decline overtime hours, or work four 10-hour days with three days off?
Can you work part-time or share jobs with a partner? Be aware, however, that a 20- or 30-hour job can easily slip into 40 hours unless you can set firm boundaries. Be sure to find out whether you will retain the same job benefits, such as health insurance, if you reduce your hours.
What are the options for reducing travel time? Instead of attending meetings in person, can you connect by phone or video? Can you cluster assignments so that you accomplish several tasks in one trip? Can you offer to meet at your office instead of theirs? Can your change your hours so that you avoid rush-hour traffic?
Is it possible to find a less stressful job? This can be a hard question for families worried about making ends meet, but for some families it’s a fair consideration. Maybe the real question is: Can you find a job with a more family-friendly employer?
Let’s also look at the situation with home and family.
Do you feel comfortable with your child care arrangement? Do you feel confident that your children are safe and happy, and that they’re learning?
How can you improve travel time to and from child care or preschool? Perhaps you can engage children in a game such as identifying colors or counting red cars, or you can sing songs or recite rhymes. Put away the cell phone—making calls and texting are not safe while driving, and in many places against the law.
Can you change your home environment to be more conducive to interaction? Can children safely play and explore without your worrying about breaking things? Do you turn off electronic devices (TV, computer, phones) and play and read to children?
Can you have sit-down dinners with the whole family? This is a perfect time for conversation and sharing. The key is listening, not lecturing.
How can you involve children in family chores such as sorting laundry, cleaning, and preparing food? Babies and toddlers can’t help you cook, but they can play on the floor with pots and pans, for example.
How can you involve children in other family activities? Shopping for groceries can be a learning opportunity as you name vegetables or count rolls of tissue, for example. Pushing children along in a stroller as you walk or run teaches them the importance of exercise.
How can you enliven routines such as dressing, bathing, and getting ready for bed? A bedtime ritual of reading a story, singing a lullaby, and talking about the day is enormously beneficial not only for your child but also for you.
For more ideas on putting families and children first, see NAEYC for Families, published online by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, at http://families.naeyc.org/.
Help prevent respiratory illness—and entervirus
Colds, sore throats, flu, and earaches accompany cold weather. Recent reports of an enterovirus, EV-D68, in children may have rattled parents already anxious about respiratory illness.
There’s no need to panic. EV-D68 displays symptoms much like the common cold. It’s diagnosed by a lab test that may not be widely available, and no special treatments or medicines have been developed to cure it.
If your child has asthma or a compromised immune system, however, EV-D68 can be more dangerous. If the child wheezes or has difficulty breathing, contact your doctor.
What you need to know
EV-D68 is a strain of enterovirus that can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and body aches. Severe symptoms include wheezing and difficulty breathing.
The people most at risk are infants, children, and teenagers because they are the least likely to have been previously exposed to the virus and therefore have not built up protection against it. Adults can also get infected, but they typically have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
Enteroviruses are more common in the summer and fall. The virus circulates every year, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has received reports since 1997, but this year the reports have been much higher.
EV-D68 is found in secretions from the mouth and nose, such as saliva and mucus. The disease spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others.
What you need to do
Prevent EV-D68—and all respiratory illness—by following established hygienic practices.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeves, not hands. Discard tissue after each use.
Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after wiping a runny nose, before eating, after toileting, and after touching often used surfaces. (See Licensing in this issue for proper hand washing procedure.)
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid hugging, kissing, or other close contact with people who have symptoms.
Don’t share drinking cups or eating utensils.
Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched, especially toys and doorknobs.
Keep children home when sick.
If your child has asthma, the CDC recommends the following:
Discuss and update the asthma action plan with your primary care provider.
Give the prescribed asthma medications as directed, especially those for long-term control.
Talk with your doctor about a flu vaccine.
If asthma symptoms worsen, call the doctor right away.
Make sure the child’s caregiver or teacher is aware of the condition and knows how to help if the child experiences any related symptoms.
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control, “Enterovirus D68,” www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/ev-d68.html.
Prepare for emergencies
Wildfires, plant explosions, and tornadoes are facts of life. Rather than live in fear of such events, we can take simple steps now to protect our families. Talk you’re your child’s teacher about emergency plans the child care program or school may have in place. Also talk with your employer. You want to know how you will be able to reunite with your children in a safe and timely way.
For your home, consider the following:
1. Identify the danger. What emergencies might occur in your neighborhood? Do you live near a creek or river, forest, industrial plant, gas station, railroad, highway, or hazardous waste facility, for example? The risk of a terrorist attack is generally considered low, but targets might include large cities, international airports, and popular tourist sites.
2. Make a plan. As a family, discuss how you will evacuate your home, should the need arise. Listen to any questions and concerns of family members and respond calmly and honestly. Which routes might you take to safety? Where might you find safety, such as the home of a friend or relative? Write important phone numbers on a card or enter them into your cell phone, and carry it with you at all times. Make sure every family member knows where the meeting place is and how to get there.
3. Assemble emergency supplies. Stock up on items that will provide your basic needs for at least three days. Keep them in containers in a place where you can grab them quickly. Include the following:
radio, flashlights, and extra batteries;
first-aid materials such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, and aspirin (for recommended contents, see the Red Cross website at www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit/anatomy);
nonperishable foods such as canned goods, cereal, and crackers (include pet food, if you have pets) as well as bottles for an infant;
water, 1 gallon per person per day;
change of clothing, including diapers for infants, sturdy shoes, and sweaters;
a small amount of cash and credit cards; and
blankets or sleeping bags.
4. Decide how you might access important documents, such as insurance policies, wills, and bank statements, after an emergency. Do you have copies in the offices of your insurance agent, attorney, banker, or physician, for example? Should you store them in a safe deposit box in a bank or in a fireproof box at home? Do you have photos of your home and furnishings to prove ownership and value?
5. Refresh emergency supplies periodically. To learn more, see www.ready.gov.