Tag Archives: parenting

Healthy Happy Hour

25 Jun

When my toddler helps empty the recycling and holds up a bottle saying “Mama beer?” I feel a motherly pang. However, when I search my conscience I realize that I’d rather my child find beer bottles than pop cans. She sees the adults around her cook and eat healthy foods and enjoy snacks in moderation. She watches us drink water and coffee and beer/wine (and occasionally cocktails, which is her only reference point for juice). We’re healthy, loving, responsible grownups who actively engage with smart, physically active kids. Even digging deep into my mom psyche, I can’t feel guilty about alcohol being part of our lifestyle.

I didn’t drink while I was pregnant. I intended to, but as it happened I had a huge aversion to alcohol–that’s actually how I realized I was pregnant. My pregnancy nausea was moderate but persistent and pretty much everything except really spicy teriyaki set me off for a very long time. After the nausea was (mostly) resolved, even smelling alcohol made me queasy. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to enjoy a glass of wine with my sweetie and a little relieved I didn’t have to deal with people giving me dirty looks while I drank it. Both scientific evidence and several thousands of generations of humans (including our own) show that it’s safe for the average pregnant woman to consume some amount of alcohol without causing serious harm to her fetus. There are always exceptions and I’m not here to debate the issue–though you’re free to do so.

This post in The Awl is a lovely summary of how morally/emotionally fuzzy the issue of drinking while pregnant can be: “Moderation has served me well in life up to this point and I’d like to think that I have good instincts. What are instincts in a pregnancy, though? We’re told to listen to the voice inside of us that says when it’s time to relax and take it easy, when it’s time to call the doctor. But my instincts also led me to think I know my body well enough to know how to treat it when I’m pregnant which includes drinking. Which is or isn’t wrong. So should I not have listened to myself? Or listen at some times and not others?”

The science on drinking while nursing is much more clear and the evidence is overwhelming that moderate alcohol consumption does not harm a breastfed infant.. Alcohol content in breast milk is the same as alcohol blood volume (ABV). Even if your ABV is high enough to impair your ability to drive a car, your breastmilk will not significantly harm your baby. Alcohol inhibits production and some studies show that babies will refuse the breast if significant amounts of alcohol are present in the milk. If you’re pumping and storing milk, there’s a chance you’ll expose the baby to more total alcohol than if you’re nursing directly. There is no need to or benefit from pumping milk & disposing of it. “Pump & dump” does not clear your system of alcohol.

Here’s the bigger picture: if you’re drunk enough that you’re seriously worried about alcohol content of your milk, you’re probably too drunk to safely & responsibly parent. Forget about nursing–you probably shouldn’t be holding an infant or caring for a young child alone. If you’re concerned about your alcohol consumption (amount and/or frequency) talk to your health care provider–not your pediatrician.

I’m not joking when I say beer makes me a better parent. When I’ve had a beer, I’m more relaxed and find it easier to let the little things (messy play, a little whining) go. When I’ve had a beer, I can laugh more freely and forget how irritated I was about the kid not napping or the rice burning.  Continue reading

Save the sitter for banjo lessons

24 May

I love going out without my kid sometimes. We all need a break, and couples definitely benefit from time to connect without distraction. That said, families don’t have to live on boxed pasta or fast food while kids are young.

Seattle Times food writer Rebekeh Denn misses the point in her list of 10 restaurants to not bring your kid. Denn’s recent article “Get a sitter — please — for these 10 great date-night restaurants” suggests that parents can’t enjoy good food (much less good wine) with their kids around.

The chefs of at least a couple of the eateries disagree. I don’t have much to add to Jason Wilson’s (chef at Crush) comment:

“I think that adults can often be as mis-behaved as some children in restaurants, but a family enjoying dinner together trumps any assumption of formality, its a very important part of our culture,” he said.

There’s a “should” missing from that statement. Family enjoying dinner together should be an important part of our culture. Unfortunately, as Denn’s article makes clear, it’s not. Kids should be included at the family table and should be able to enjoy a variety of foods. When we exclude them and limit their diet, how will that ever happen?

Pit of despair

23 May

While Vios on Capitol Hill is often quite delightful and the public space in Lake Forest Park Third Place has many charms, most of the time I avoid eateries that cater to parents by creating an area dedicated to small children (aka kid pits). I hate kid pits. Not because they’re germy. Not because the toys are often broken. Not even because every single place I’ve ever visited that has a kid pit is usually crazy loud and staffed by martyrs who may have once enjoyed children but now can barely make eye contact with a parent. (Though all these things are, sadly, true.)

I hate kid pits because there is a subset of parents who use their existence as an opportunity to avoid parenting. Parents who bring their children out to eat and expect to be able to ignore them. Parents who allow their children to shout, destroy things, beat on other kids and create a moving obstacle course for servers and other parents to avoid. People who bring special food into a restaurant and do not order or tip accordingly. Sure, sometimes you need to bust out the raisin stash to keep a child happy while you’re waiting for the appetizer. However, if your child can’t/won’t eat anything sold at the establishment, maybe you shouldn’t bring her there. At the very least, ask your server if outside food is permitted.  Also, please consider ordering something extra for takeout.  (Obvious exception for babies not yet on solids.)

If you want your child to enjoy dining out and to be enjoyable companions, it takes effort. Going out with kids under 10 means compromise: eating earlier (and faster), leaving before you’re really ready, bringing toys, cleaning up your mess. It means tipping better and encouraging your children to say hello, thank you, and goodbye. Parenting in public is hard, and sometimes unrewarding. It’s also critical in helping your kid become a functional member of society–totally worth the effort. I avoid kid pits because they give my kid a chance to observe (and, god forbid, practice) exactly the opposite of how we want her to behave.

Parties, potlucks, and play dates

8 Nov

Stay in touch with your friends.

Invite people over–even when your house is a mess and you have no food. You can always order in. True friends will understand if you ask them to pick up take out or grab a bottle of wine on the way over.   When people ask you to bring the baby over, take them up on it. Always say yes to invitations and don’t worry about being a little late, not having a hostess gift or perhaps having not showered. Friends understand.

People with kids seem like a logical choice for spending time around your little one, but don’t forget those in your life who don’t have kids in the house. Your life has changed, and maybe it seems all you talk/think about is your child, but spending social time with other adults helps you connect with other parts of your identity.

Babies are great ice breakers.

We live in Beacon Hill, an incredibly diverse neighborhood currently experiencing a baby boom. There are 3 babies under one year on our block and at least 20 kids under 5 in a half-mile radius. Since the baby was born, we’ve  met lots of new friends and had the opportunity to pass around baby clothes and gear. We’ve also met baby sitters and learned survival tips from seasoned parenting veterans. When you see someone with a small child in tow, smile and introduce yourself.

It’s not cheating to order online

Would you like to host a play date or holiday party but you’re overwhelmed by the idea of shopping? Place an order with Amazon Fresh while the menu is fresh on your mind (or monitor) and it will be delivered to your door on the day of your choice.  If you plan to be home during the delivery, you can even order beer or wine.  I’ve pre-ordered my Thanksgiving items to be delivered the Monday before Thanksgiving, giving me plenty of time to realize what I’ve forgotten.

Regular scheduled deliveries have been a life saver for essentials like coffee, baby wipes, and other items we can’t go without. Every Wednesday morning, grocery essentials appear like magic on the porch. For the critters, we have a monthly delivery from Smiley Dog , a friendly local business that delivers high quality pet supplies–never run out of cat litter again!

Thinking of holiday gifts? Gift certificates for deliveries make great gifts for new parents and busy people in general.

Highchair Happy Hour

28 Oct

Happy hour is my favorite time to dine out. It’s cheaper and often less crowded than the usual dinner hour. Small plates mean I get to try more items on the menu and dinner at 4pm fits our schedule well (I usually eat another small meal around 8pm). Before baby, we frequently ate an early happy hour dinner downtown.

Where can you take a baby for happy hour? Hotel bars/restaurants are perfect! The women’s restrooms are usually large and comfortable, perfect for changing a wiggly baby and/or nursing in privacy. Spacious lobbies offer a place to walk around with the baby or let your little crawler stretch.

Our favorite hotel happy hour is at  Sazerac in the Hotel Monaco.  Located across the street from the fantastic Central Library, Sazerac serves strong cocktails, thin-crust pizzas, and an amazing selection of small plates. The acoustics are poor, which makes it a little loud for intimate conversation–perfect for those of us with a vocal baby! Sazerac extends the happy hour menu into the regular dining room, and will seat you in a cozy booth if you get there early.

Looking for something smaller in your neighborhood?

Tidbit Bistro on Capitol Hill (corner of Broadway & Union) also has a great happy hour and incredibly tasty food. The owners are friendly and welcoming to babies, too.

Tasha’s Bistro has happy hour Thurs-Sat. Great wines and really tasty food in a family-friendly environment.

Baja Bistro has happy hour specials from 3-7pm.

Island Soul Caribbean Cuisine features fantastic food at a range of spice levels and outstanding cocktails. The bright decor and welcoming smiles make baby and mama stay long enough to enjoy a slice of coconut cake.

Calamity Jane’s in Georgetown has food and drink specials at happy hour. Kids allowed in main dining area.

Not all restaurants extend happy hour into the main dining area. When in doubt, check before you go.

Beer makes us better parents

19 Oct

We live just about a mile from Jefferson Park. Baby fell asleep walking over there yesterday, en route, so we stopped off at Victrola for coffee–yum! When we arrived at the park, she was still asleep, so we strolled around the park and watched the big kids tumble down the slide. Still asleep…what to do?

After a brief debate about why we’ve never gone there, we decided to check out the Jefferson Park Golf Course snack bar. Cue celestial singing–they have NFL Sunday Ticket! And beer! And fried things! Children are allowed! This is exactly what this Beacon Hill family needs. Baby gets to enjoy the park, mom and dad get to unwind with a frosty cold one.

Becoming a parent shouldn’t mean giving up the things you love. I love football and beer. Baby loves happy parents.

  • Location & hours of operation: (206) 763-6412 4101 Beacon Ave S Seattle, WA 98108;
  • Transit access and/or parking: parking available, walking distance from the Light Rail Station or take the #36 bus
  • Accessibility for strollers & little legs: no stairs
  • Cost: reasonable (less than $10)
  • Activities & safety issues: walking distance to Jefferson Park, golf & mini golf on-site, televisions
  • Food/drink (for kids and adults): Beer, wine, cocktails & snack food (cheeseburgers, fries, etc)
  • Restrooms and changing table: table in women’s room, not technically a changing table but it works
  • Overall welcome (or not) towards kids & babies: very family friendly

If mama ain’t happy…

16 Oct

There’s an old saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.” Recent research shows this is true: children with depressed mothers do not meet developmental milestones and are at risk of suffering attachment disorders.

The best thing you can do for yourself, your relationships, and your child is to get out into the world. Explore new places and bring your baby to your favorite coffee shop or library branch. Integrate this new person into your life and stay connected with your world.

Isolation is a major risk factor for depression. In most cultures, multiple generations live together and extended family shares in child rearing. Children are seen, heard, valued and integrated into all aspects of life.  This is good for developing baby’s immune system and helps spread the responsibility for socialization across society. Parents and babies receive input about how to get along with the rest of the community.

This type of support also helps reduce the risk of postpartum and post adoption depression.

Many things can trigger and/or worsen depression, and there are many ways to cope with this debilitating condition. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, seek professional help. Talk to your primary care provider about counseling, medication, and other ways to feel better–for your sake and for the well-being of your entire family.

Resources for new parents after the jump… Continue reading