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Our Debut as San Francisco Bay Area Moms!

We are now SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA MOMS

Dear Moms,

Welcome Home.

Over 4 years ago, San Francisco Moms Blog was launched in order to create a community resource which would help connect moms in the city of San Francisco. 2 years after, we launched Mid-Peninsula Mom Blogs. Both sites have since experienced incredible growth and thanks to our incredible readers, we have established ourselves as the local, go-to parenting resource destination.

Now, we are evolving to serve our vast and diverse community of Moms across the entire San Francisco Bay Area, including all of its nine counties.

Home is the San Francisco Bay Area.

We are passionate about Moms, our local communities, and everything San Francisco Bay Area. As fellow Moms passionate about connecting local Moms, we are thrilled to continue to serve you, now as SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA MOMS!

We are proud to create a space where Moms can always feel safe and respected, embracing our diverse backgrounds and parenting philosophies. We hold your best interests at heart, and strive to always provide honest parenting information, opportunities for connecting with fellow Moms, creative ideas for family fun, and guides for our geographical home. What we recommend to you, we first try ourselves and with our children. What we suggest as fun activities, we do with our own families. What we share with you, we learnt directly from our own experiences.

We are San Francisco Bay Area Moms.

San Francisco Bay Area Moms is a family made up of Moms from all walks of life, sharing insights and swapping stories by Moms throughout our motherhood journeys, on a resource platform across different mediums for Moms during the various stages of Mom-venture, all throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you are a San Francisco Bay Area Mom – no matter if you are a first-time Mom, expectant Mom, Mom-preneur, single Mom, stay-at-home Mom, Mom of multiples, Mom of Moms, working Mom, special needs Mom, LGBTQIA Mom, tiger Mom, allergy Mom, tree-hugging Mom, etc. – you are one of us. You belong with us. We are here to support you, and we need your input just as much.

Home is where Mom is.

Home is where you find unconditional support, where you find answers to your questions, where you connect with peers sharing a similar circumstance, where you talk out your worries, where you share your great finds, where you discover the existence of a hidden gem in your turf, where you reference tips to keep your family safe, where you experience a wonderful sense of community, and where you are – without a doubt – part of a sisterhood with fellow Moms.

Home is San Francisco Bay Area Moms.

Be sure to bookmark our new URL: SanFranciscoMoms.com

Come join us in conversations on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and let us know if you or you know anyone who’d be interested in joining our fabulous team of contributors!

Always,


Mom-in-Chief

Join Us, Mama: Open Call for Contributors

 

We are looking for fresh and diverse voices to join a trust platform where ALL feel welcome. As we continue to grow and evolve, we are building upon our family and extending an invite to moms local to the San Francisco Bay Area!

Become a Featured or Guest Writer

Are you a San Francisco Bay Area Mom who enjoys writing or creating fun online content?

Are you interested in connecting with other moms and rediscovering your love for creative writing?

Are you a new mom; veteran mom; owner of a small business that’s geared toward women, children, or families; or are you an expert in a parenting field?

Our website is written by local moms for local moms, which means you’re probably already qualified to join the team! YOU have something interesting to say to fellow moms, so consider joining our team – you won’t regret it.

Maybe you’ve got an incomparable funny bone that will give us a good laugh or have a way with words to tug at our heartstrings. Share your wisdom and your struggles so other moms don’t feel so alone. Not sure what to write about? We have lots of ideas and not enough time to write them all down! No professional writing experience is necessary, but strong writing skills are important.

Note: You do not have to be a blogger to apply. This is a volunteer role with opportunities to get fun perks!

Do you know someone who would be great in this role? We hope you’ll tell them about this opportunity!

So, is it YOUR voice and experience that we’re missing? Fill out the form below!

New Writer Form

  • Please attach up to 3 relevant writing samples or see below for more options.
    Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf, rtf, rtfd, txt, epub.
    For e-mail submissions, please type "Writing Samples, Your Name" in the subject line.

 

Find Other Ways to Get Involved

Maybe long-form articles aren’t your thing, but you’re a great meme creator, graphic artist, a Pinterest whiz, love coordinating playdates and events, or are looking for a way to showcase your photography. There are lots of ways you might fit on our team!

This is a great opportunity to build your network of local moms. Some of us are here as a hobby and some of us do this as an extension of our professional lives. Reach out to us at [email protected], tell us how you’re interested in getting involved, and we can share more details.

More About San Francisco Moms Blog

Learn more about who we are and why we do what we do on our About Us page, check out who’s on our current team, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

If You Paid Your Nanny $2,100 or More Last Year, You Owe Taxes

Did you know your nanny is legally your employee? Did you know you should be withholding taxes from his or her pay? Many people believe that a nanny is considered an independent contractor, but this is not true. The truth is, if you pay a household employee over $2,100 in a year to perform work in your home, you owe taxes.

Who Is Considered a Household Employee?

A household employee is anyone you hire to perform regular work in your home. That includes positions such as a nanny, babysitter, housekeeper, in-home caregiver and personal assistant. According to the IRS, hiring a household employee makes you a household employer, which means you are legally required to withhold taxes from your caregiver’s paycheck.

What Is The Nanny Tax?

If you paid your nanny or any household employee $2,100 or more last year, you need to withhold taxes from him or her each pay period. You also need to pay taxes of your own.

The “Nanny Tax” is a combination of federal and state tax requirements. As a household employer, you need to withhold Social Security, Medical, federal income tax, and state income tax from your nanny’s paycheck. Additionally, you are required to pay Social Security, Medicare, and both federal and state unemployment insurance.

How To Pay Nanny Taxes

To properly withhold and pay nanny taxes, you need to:

  • Apply for Tax ID numbers.
  • Accurately track your nanny’s payroll. That includes what you pay him or her and the taxes you withhold.
  • Pay estimated taxes. State taxes are generally filed on a quarterly basis, as are 1040 estimated payments.
  • Produce year-end tax forms. You need to provide your nanny with a 1040 form by January, so he or she can file his or her own taxes, along with several other year-end forms.

Isn’t There a Simpler Way To Handle the Nanny Tax?

Handling Nanny Taxes correctly can be overwhelming for families, and that’s why we love Care.com HomePay. Care.com HomePay has been the leading provider for nanny and tax payroll services, serving 60,000 families over the past 25 years. Since 1992, HomePay has filed over $2 million in tax filings and processed over $4 billion through their payroll services. They handle literally everything you need to do from nanny taxes to payroll management. Along the way, if you ever have a question, HomePay has award winning staff waiting to help. There is no question too small and no problem too big for their experts.

All parents know that it’s just too easy for paperwork to get in the way of spending time with family or just relaxing. That’s why we prefer to simplify the Nanny Tax and rely on Care.com HomePay to handle it all. Call them today at 877-367-1976 for your free consultation!

Jam Your Way Through the Summer at Community Music Center Camps

Now that the rainy season is giving way to the sunny Californian weather, we know this means Summer is fast approaching! With Summer comes school holiday and free time on your little ones’ schedules to be attached 24/7 to your hip! While that sounds SUPER fun (we all love family quality time!), you can certainly make some time for yourselves and sign your little ones up with fun activities at the Community Music Center’s summer camp programs located in SF’s Mission and Richmond Districts. As parents, an important life skill we need to hone is the ability to plan ahead. So delay no more, and read on about the fantastic music camps that will have everyone jamming all summer long!

 

Students can learn all about Latin, Caribbean, African-American rhythms using drums, percussion instruments, and body percussion at Musical Discovery Camp.
Learn about the world through music at Musical Discovery Camp! Students will have the opportunity to explore the excitement of making music together while learning about ear-training, musical appreciation, rhythms, instrumental and voice techniques, playing in a group—all in a fun social environment. This summer, the camp will focus on musical styles, history, and cultural background of a variety of musical genres from the Caribbean, Mexican and African-American traditions. Previous experience singing or playing an instrument is welcome but not required, so this is a fantastic chance for your children to be exposed to the wonderful, diverse world of music! Students will also have a chance to show off their learning with their new friends in a showcase performance at the conclusion of the program.

 

Camp CMC is a one-week summer camp that offers young musicians ages 9-14 the chance to play in both small and large groups and explore many different styles with a big performance at the end of the week.

Older kids, tweens, and teens with a 2+ year of background in instrument studies or chorus/glee club experience will have the opportunity to play in ensembles and dabble in a variety of musical styles at Camp CMC. Past styles have included Latin, Cuban, spirituals, jazz, classical, blues, folk, rock, swing, American Songbook, Klezmer and more. Teens with 3+ years of instrument studies can also opt for the CMC Chamber Music Camp, where they can be coached daily by CMC’s prestigious faculty. Music will be mailed to participants early to allow adequate time for practice with private teachers before the beginning of camp.

 

Students can play in supportive small ensembles, master classes, large ensembles by instrument, and daily independent chamber music rehearsals at CMC Chamber Music Camp.

Exclusive to Our Readers – receive 10% off!
Register and use code SFMoms OR contact a registrar and mention “SF Bay Area Moms

How Moms Are Making Extra Cash With Focus Groups

Stay at home moms can bring home extra spending money by participating in focus groups and other types of market research. Life as a stay at home mom can monopolize most of your time and energy, but focus groups are great because you can participate according to your own schedule. The flexibility and ability to do surveys from home makes it a very doable way to make some extra cash while taking care of little ones.

What Is a Focus Group?

A focus group is a selected group of people who participate in a planned discussion to voice their opinions on a product, service, or idea. Typically, companies who are looking to get input on current or future products hire Research companies to conduct focus groups.

Focus groups can either take place in-person or online. They might be product trials where you test a product in your home, or discussions about all kinds of topics. Just about every product on the market today has gone through product testing by everyday consumers.

moms making money through focus groups

Which Focus Groups Are Best for Moms?

Basically, any product development or services directed at kids and families depend upon what moms think. Whether its diapers, bottles, kids’ clothing, education issues, or even insurance, moms generally make the decisions on what products to buy for their kids and family. 

When it comes to the type of research, many moms prefer online surveys because they can be completed when it’s convenient (like after bedtime!). Webcam interviews or phone interviews are also doable for many moms. Parents with school-aged children or childcare help can also easily participate in studies that require them to go to a convenient research location for a focus group that takes approximately an hour to an hour and a half of time.

How Much Money Can You Make With Focus Groups?

You can usually make about $50-$200 for focus groups lasting one to three hours. That’s a pretty good deal! There are some studies that pay even more, but they often require a larger time commitment.

Remember though, that focus groups aren’t meant to be a reliable source of regular income. They are a fun way to network and share your opinion while making some extra cash. 

mom making cash with focus groups

How Do I Get Started?

Make sure you are signing up with a reliable research company. One of the most reliable and reputable companies is Focus Pointe Global. Registration is free and easy to complete on their website, FocusGroup.com. After you provide some basic information, such as your date of birth, email address and zip code, the company will send you surveys to see if you qualify for a particular study. Focus groups tend to fill up fast, so make sure to respond quickly if you are contacted.

 

Top 5 Tips for Seeing a Monster Truck Show With Little Ones

monster trucks

“I’d love tickets for the 3 PM Monster Jam show in Oakland!” is not a phrase I ever, not in a million years, thought I would speak. Yet with two truck-loving young boys and a husband who is young at heart, I excitedly raised my hand when given the opportunity a few weeks ago to see this show at the Oakland Coliseum. Having absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, here are five tips for seeing a Monster Truck Show, now that we’ve had the experience. 

Tip #1: Go! 

It’s not as loud, crazy, or dirty as you may be imagining. The mechanical acrobatics are truly impressive. The show is full of great teaching moments (see Tip #3 below). And it is very kid-appropriate, for those three and older. Though the trucks’ wheels spun dirt all over the track, it was very well contained and didn’t spray up into the stands. All around good, clean (in every sense of the word) fun.

Tip #2: Bring the Girls

While trucks of all types and sizes are more heavily marketed to boys than girls, this experience is impressive and exciting for all children, no matter their gender. I’ll admit to initially feeling lukewarm about the idea of attending, and doing it “for my boys”. But after seeing these trucks flip upside down and stand up on two wheels, as if in a handstand, I could really appreciate what draws such huge crowds to the show. It was also refreshing to see that two of today’s drivers were talented and beautiful women, as was the show’s emcee. 

Tip #3: Brush Up on Key STEM Concepts in Advance

The inquiring young minds in our family asked “how” and “why” so many times that I was scrambling to quickly dust off decades-old mental cobwebs from my college engineering lessons. There couldn’t be a better way to explain concepts like gravity, friction, momentum and propulsion than through the lens of a larger than life experience such as this. Harness that curiosity! Ask them questions about what they’re seeing, or try to figure out “how” and “why” together. 

Tip #4: Pick a Favorite Truck

It can be any truck, for any reason; it’s just more fun to watch the show if you are rooting for a favorite. Ours was Bakugan Dragonoid because of the big red wings flaring out towards the back of the truck.  

Tip #5: Bring Ear Protection

This should perhaps be Tip #1, but I’m going to assume that if you’re serious about going to see a Monster Truck Show, you’re reading this post all the way to the end. Ear protection is a must for little ones, and the noise level felt better on my own ears when I had my earmuffs on, too. We chose Snug Kids Ear Defenders which fit both our 5- and almost-3-year old boys well. My husband and I wore awesafe Electronic Shooting Earmuffs and although they worked very well in terms of noise reduction, I found them to be uncomfortably tight and took them off periodically during the show.

The next show in the Monster Jam schedule is in Santa Clara in early April. Check here for tickets, and in the meantime start brushing up on your physics!

I Don’t Need Valentine’s Day Because My Spouse and I Show Love All Year Long

valentines day

I dislike Valentine’s Day. I always have. The older I get, the more I’ve come to dislike it. Why do I need a holiday to remind me to tell my loved ones that I love them? Christmas is barely finished, and the Valentine’s Day decorations and candies are already stocked at every retailer. The jewelry advertisements crack me up too. Let’s not forget that every restaurant is booked solid, especially when the date falls on a Friday.  

I now appreciate tokens of love all through the year instead of just on Valentine’s Day. There are plenty of other dates on the calendar that I would rather celebrate. If you’ve been with your spouse or partner as long I have been with mine (coming up on nineteen years!), you know just what I mean. Here is a list of dates that I cherish much more than Valentine’s Day.

Our Couple Anniversary 

I don’t know when we decided that March 10 would be the date that we officially started dating, but the date will always trump our wedding anniversary date. We were college kids working at the Starbucks on 4th and Market when we met. Now, we are a family of four with bustling careers. It’s quite amazing how much we have grown together.

Our Daughters’ Birthdays

Whether we travel or have a party, I want to celebrate their special days. 

Christmas

I’ve written about my love for the holidays in previous posts. There’s something so delightful about Fall and Winter. I love the sweater weather and the gift-giving. I start preparing for Christmas in September with my gift list and budget.  Ilse and I start talking about how we will decorate the tree. Since Alice turns one next Christmas, this holiday will be extra special.

Our Respective Family’s Birthdays

Birthdays matter, as my husband and I are both from small families. We acknowledge all with morning birthday greetings or share a meal with them when we can. 

Chinese New Year

In our bicultural family, we welcome the new year twice:  once at the end of the calendar year on December 31 and one at the end of the Lunar calendar year for Chinese New Year.  We celebrate December 31 to honor my Filipino roots, and the Chinese New Year to honor my husband’s Chinese roots.

Thanksgiving

I cherish Thanksgiving, as it is one of the few holidays that I host a party for family. I plan the menu, the guest list, and the grocery list. Family and friends have come and gone over the decade, but the menu stays consistent. It’s the one holiday where gifts are not exchanged and where we focus on grace and gratitude.

Mothers Day (For Our Mothers)

Despite being a mother myself now, I celebrate Mother’s Day for our respective mothers and all the motherly figures in our lives. 

Easter

Easter marks the beginning of spring and the renewal of faith for practicing Catholics like myself. 

My San Francisco Anniversary

When I was in middle school or high school, I told my great aunt Tita Remy that I was going to move to San Francisco. This year marks my 20th anniversary of moving to the city. I’ve spent my adult life in San Francisco, and every year I am here is a gift.

My Birthday

Being alive is a gift. I’ll take my birthday over Valentine’s Day any day. I say a prayer of gratitude and contemplate the past year and the future ahead. 

With 365 days in an average year, there are plenty of dates to celebrate and love. These are just a few of mine. What dates matter to you?

 

What to Do When All Your Friends Are Skiing in Tahoe

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winter family fun

My husband and I are not native Californians, so it’s taken us a few years to fully grasp what we refer to as the “Tahoe Migration”. Every winter, the majority of our friends disappear on the weekends to go skiing. Ski trips intimidate us, so while we are excited for our friends who are passionate about powder, we do feel a little left out. 

The Winter season also challenges my activity creativity: rainy weather often keeps us indoors and it’s hard to make weekend plans in advance because our friends defer to the weather app to dictate their availability. 

With playdates harder to come by, I’ve cultivated a list of things to do on these winter weekends to pass the time:

Get a Museum Membership

Each year we rotate sites to mix it up. This year we have been frequent visitors to the SF Exploratorium, which leads to hours of hands-on play that our kids really enjoy. In previous years when the kids were younger, they loved Curiodyssey in San Mateo and The Discovery Museum in Marin (some of the best views of the GG Bridge, btw!). Our friends are members at the California Academy of Sciences, which is another great indoor spot. 

Take Your Kids to Wine Country

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to take your kids to Wine Country and still have a good time. We are members at Viansa, mainly because it’s one of the first wine stops and a great place to stretch our legs, grab some food, and it has some truly gorgeous views. Some of our other favorite haunts include Robledo, Larson Family Winery, and Frog’s Leap. These places all have large spaces for kids to run around, and we even bring the kids’ scooters sometimes for them to ride around in the parking lot. (Yes, we are those people!) Our kids now request Gun Bun by name because they like to go on the hike down to the lake while we enjoy a tasting or sip on a bottle of rose`. 

Take a Day Trip to Monterey

Head south and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is seriously one of my favorite spots, and the kids love it too. We could spend hours in the Deep Ocean exhibit and wading through all the jellyfish. Watching the sea otters eat their lunch is a favorite highlight! Plus there are great lunch and dinner options nearby before heading home. 

Frequent Your Local Indoor Playground

On the peninsula, our new favorite is Luv 2 Play in San Carlos, which is open to the public on weekends and has food, coffee, free wifi and a place for me to sit and get some work done while the kids play.

Sign Your Kids Up for Basketball

It may be too late this season, but our kids have developed a love for basketball, which is convenient because it keeps them active on the winter weekends! It might also get them in the mood for March Madness, which is around the corner. 

Enjoy the Relative Warmth of the Bay Area

On the weekends when it’s not raining and the sun is out, we feel truly blessed to live in this part of the country where winters are mild and we can be outdoors almost year-round. Take advantage of the sunshine to explore San Francisco, go visit the tidepools in Half-Moon Bay, or go for a hike or a bike ride on the Bay Trail. 

Those are our ideas, now what are yours? Share with us your favorites so we can add to our list. And Happy Winter! 

The New Meaning of Valentine’s Day

valentines day

After doing some very informal research on Valentine’s Day, I noticed that the word “martyr” kept popping up. According to Wikipedia, the original Valentines were the Valentine of Rome and the Valentine of Terni, who were honored for their martyrdom in the early first century.

Which got me thinking: wait a minute, this holiday is about honoring martyrs? I thought it was about love and candy hearts and staying up past midnight writing Valentines for my 5-year-old’s 30 closest friends.

Well if this is the case, then good news for us moms! Because I can’t think of a single mom who hasn’t made significant sacrifices since having kids. Aren’t we all, in a way, martyrs too? We have sacrificed our bodies, time, careers, relationships, friendships, and exercise for our families.

Not that we would have it any other way.

But maybe this year, we can use Valentine’s Day as a way to honor each other in addition to honoring our significant others and all our kids’ friends, because, let’s be honest, we deserve it. We may not be martyrs per se, but we sure do a lot for our families, things that often go completely unnoticed because we are so good at just getting stuff done. Hey, I’m a mom, and I barely recognize half the stuff I do every day that keeps the household running and pays the bills. I don’t have the time or energy to keep track of everything I do, and I tend to focus instead on all the things that didn’t get done.

Well, it’s time that we stopped that. Why waste our time focusing on the negative? In a world where everything seems uncertain and even scary right now, lets focus on all the good that we are responsible for. Because if we don’t, no one else is going to. And let’s do it together, for each other.

Many mothers I know feel very lonely and out of touch with other moms, even though we are all going through the same thing! We need to support each other, raise each other up, and acknowledge collectively how great we are, and how proud we should be of our many contributions to our families. We don’t often make time to do that, but I really think we should.

So this Valentine’s Day, send a thoughtful note to another mom or two, someone whom you think is really killing it, getting her mom on and inspiring others. Find time to grab a drink or at least a phone call with a friend, and update each other on all the good stuff that is happening, not just the sleepless nights, tantrums and dinnertime battles.

And while you’re at it, treat yourself, too. During that massage, pedicure, yoga, or wine break (or all of the above!), take a minute to reflect on all the things that went right today. Be grateful for these successes, and be gracious to yourself for the things that maybe didn’t get done or go as planned. And when in doubt, turn to a friend. It’s time we come together to support each other. What we do isn’t easy, and it’s hard to go it alone.

So Happy Valentine’s Day to all my mom friends who are doing their best, which is more than enough. We rock!

 

 

I Left My Daughter Home While I Vacationed in Vietnam and It Was Amazing

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travel without kids

I vacationed without my 14-month-old and I’m so glad I did. But when my husband first asked if I’d like to join him on his company off-site in Vietnam, I assumed I wouldn’t go. As a stay at home mom to a 14-month-old who had never had a hired babysitter, let alone a week-long substitute set of parents, my response was my typical mom-mode “I wish” scoff and eye-roll. But as he continued to prod and present the up-side of this ten-day getaway, my “as if” slowly morphed into a “what if?”

A few weeks later in a rare moment of wanderlust, I booked a ticket. Almost immediately, guilt, anxiety, and questions set in. How can I leave her? Will she feel abandoned? Will I crumble without my little snuggle bud? What if our plane crashes? How will people perceive me leaving her for so long?

I polled my pals and everyone seemed to agree that this was exactly what I needed. A vacation, yes, but also a little bit of a return to self. After 14 months of diapers and teething and early mornings and mealtime meltdowns, being a mom on the job 24/7 had worn me down a bit. 

Before baby, my husband and I prided ourselves on our creativity with travel. We loved sneaking away to experience new things. After the baby came, we were mentally ready for the reality of travel being limited to visiting the grandparents. However, we didn’t anticipate how much we’d miss taking time away with just each other. 

Somehow, my husband and I had sunk into a familiar routine of racing through evening meals and playing with our daughter before bedtime. That left us with a few brief moments to check in with each other before slogging off to bed as early as 8:45 to keep things quiet in our one-bedroom apartment. Honestly, we missed each other. We knew we needed the trip. 

I am so fortunate that my twin sister (bonus as a mom-sub) and her husband were more than eager to leave the blustery Michigan winter behind and spend a week in SF with our daughter. My mom was equally happy to come out and take over for the tail end. With the fam on board, the guilt and trepidation began to slough away, and by the time we landed in Saigon, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. It was almost comically exciting to just be together, strolling efficiently through the airport, not carrying a stroller, a diaper bag, a blanket, a car seat, a baby carrier, an iPad, a milk bag, and a baby.

Here’s How We Prepared

Vaccines: I always check the State Department’s website regarding vaccines when I travel internationally. I wasn’t sure if my general practitioner would offer all the vaccines I needed, so I set up an appointment at Sutter Health’s Travel clinic. They walked me through which vaccines are actually required and which are just recommended. They also gave me some recommendations for bug spray, told me which foods to avoid, and armed me with a Z-pack just in case of any tummy troubles. 

The Will: This was a weird one. A friend told me I should write a holographic will before hopping on an overseas flight, and it made me a little nervous. We were putting a LOT of ocean between us and her, and it was admittedly unsettling. That said, I was actually glad to make a binding record of who we would like to take over our parental responsibilities in the case of anything catastrophic. And it was incredibly simple–literally just a few sentences putting custodial wishes on paper.

The same day I wrote the will, I also wrote my daughter a journal entry making note of all the things I love about her. Again, a bit “doom and gloom” but also oddly cathartic and a good reminder of how lucky I am to be her mom.

Guide Book: We spent the weeks before our trip creating a guide book for our stand-ins which included the following: 

  • Useful contacts, such as neighbors with a spare set of keys, the doctor’s office, and our closest friends
  • Photos of my daughter’s food because I realized that it’s not entirely instinctive to “slightly squish” blueberries or cut tiny clementine slices in half. Leading up to my trip, every time I prepared a kid meal, I snapped a pic and added it to a photo album I later shared with my mom and sister. It served as excellent inspiration and incidentally made me more accountable for diversifying her diet.
  • Two photos of everything that goes into my diaper bag. One photo included all the goodies longer outings and one was prepped for a quick jaunt.  The visual checklist was intended to make it easy to assess the accessories on the way out the door.
  • A breakdown of my daughter’s average day. We knew there would be alterations to the daily routine, but it was helpful to have some nap, meal, bath and bedtime benchmarks. We use a Hatch Baby Rest so programmed the white noise machine to come on at bedtime and gave them the best times of day to give her a bottle. We also included a breakdown of weekly events for kids like library rhyme time, open swim days, museum free days and Salesforce Tower’s Toddler Tuesday. 
  • A list of warnings. We tried to think of all her toddler tendencies that regularly have us scratching our heads or leave us a little queasy, such as constantly opening our motion sensor trash can and dropping mail, books, shoes, and toys in, or plunking her hands directly into the contents of a dirty diaper. We were also sure to include things that might not be super clear until it was too late, like the fact that she cannot stand up in the tub and that she can walk up stairs but not down. 
  • Our complete itinerary, including flights, hotels, and any planned excursions. 

Other Documents: I channeled my inner 8th-grade self and started a fun little folder of information and documents for my mom and sister. It included my daughter’s birth certificate, a copy of our insurance card, and a note giving my mom the authority to make any medical decisions on our behalf, in case our pediatrician required these documents. 

After all my careful preparation, we were truly able to enjoy this trip. The flight was nerve-wracking, but it also offered me 16 hours to sink into books and movies and naps like I hadn’t been able to in as long as I could remember. 

Knowing that our daughter was asleep most of the time we were awake because of the 15-hour time difference kept us from worrying too much during the day. 

With Whatsapp, we could have phone conversations anywhere with WiFi. We FaceTimed every morning and night, and my family gave us a brief synopsis of every day so we didn’t feel like we missed anything. 

Although it was difficult to leave my daughter behind, this trip truly made me feel an incredible amount of gratitude. I was grateful to be on a trip experiencing the sights, sounds, foods, excursions and adventures around Vietnam without the inherent anxiety that comes with bringing along a precocious toddler. 

One of the most enjoyable elements of this adventure was seeing my mom and sister connect with our daughter. We live a considerable distance from extended family, leaving them without many opportunities to bond. The photos and FaceTime moments my sister and mom shared with me throughout the trip reflected the joy they were all bringing each other, which eased my nerves and warmed my heart.

And after ten days away, I was so grateful to come home to her excited little snuggles. 

 

Coping With My Child’s Worry

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The other night, my five-year-old daughter was clingier than usual. As we snuggled at bedtime, she asked in a heartbreakingly sad voice, “What would happen to me if you and Daddy died? Who would Take care of me?”

Gulp. My eyes widened, and my heart raced. 

My initial reaction was to reassure her. “That would never happen sweetheart!” I said in a comforting tone. “Don’t worry, Daddy and I will always be here for you.”  But in spite of my best efforts to put her at ease, her fear persisted, and she choked up with tears in her eyes.  

I tend to have an anxious mind myself and I HATE when people tell me not to worry. It is a wasted wish. It’s too late! I always want to shout, the worry is already there, the seed has been planted!

 Being told not to worry feels dismissive to me. It infuriates me and makes me feel like I’m not being taken seriously. Since when does someone else have the authority to tell me what is worth worrying about and what isn’t? It also makes me feel helpless, as I realize the other person doesn’t know how to help me.

 At that very moment, I recognized that I was doing the same thing to my child. With that in mind, I chose a different tactic with my daughter. I just sat there and held her. 

I wrapped her up in my arms and said, “I know how hard it can be to have scary thoughts like that, and I’m here for you whenever you want to share them with me.”

And we just lay there together in silence until she fell asleep. I have no idea if that worked, but the tears stopped, and she was able to relax enough to go to bed. 

In reflecting on this interaction, I have realized that it’s better for me as a parent to acknowledge my child’s worries, give them a name, and hold space for her while she sorts through it. Despite my best intentions, telling her not to worry just sends the message that I don’t understand or don’t know how to help. 

I want her to learn it’s completely normal to have scary or overwhelming thoughts, and there are ways to cope with them. Sometimes we just have to sit together until the thoughts pass. Other times, we can try to challenge the thoughts, or distract ourselves, or find ways to think about it differently. I also want to help her talk through it, let her ask difficult questions and try to answer them honestly and age-appropriately.

I want her to feel comfortable sharing her worries with me. Even if I can’t or won’t solve them for her, I will be there by her side while she copes with them.

 

Pediatric Emergency Department at Sutter’s CPMC Van Ness Campus Hospital Is Designed Just For Kids

pediatric ed

I recently got the chance to tour the Pediatric Emergency Department (ED) at Sutter’s CPMC Van Ness Campus hospital and meet with its lead physician, Vincent Tamariz, M.D. Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, the ED is your go-to location for all kinds of medical emergencies. Although I hope my three-year-old never has a reason to visit, I know she’ll be in great hands if it ever happens. I hope the same for your children! But as we all know, kids tend to pick up viruses and some are just accident-prone. Here are a few things to know if you ever have to bring your little ones into the ED here in the City.

The Pediatric Emergency Department’s Entrance is on Franklin

If you’re programmed like me to head straight for CPMC’s old (now closed) Laurel Village location, don’t forget that the hospital’s new address is 1101 Van Ness, where next month, it will celebrate its one-year anniversary.

To enter the hospital’s ED, go in the doors on 1260 Franklin between Post and Geary. If you google CPMC, your directions will take you to the hospital’s main entrance on Van Ness, but you will save time heading right to Franklin and entering there.

pediatric ed waiting room

Child-Friendly Waiting Room

After checking in, you’ll be directed to a waiting room just for kids and families. Full of toys and books, the waiting room felt like a comforting place for a child. EDs can get pretty scary so I really appreciated knowing that my child would be surrounded in an interactive and soothing environment if she ever needed to come in.

When Dr. Tamariz told me that the average waiting time before being examined is just five minutes, I was very surprised. There have been times that my daughter has a fever or an injury and I’m unsure whether I should bring her to the ED. I often consider whether a visit would be worth spending a long and exhausting time in the waiting room. Now I feel like if I’m in doubt, I can just go in. That is really comforting for me as a parent.

Dr. Tamariz assured me that emergency staff would much rather you come on in if you’re unsure of whether it’s an emergency. He also pointed out that when in doubt, parents can call the ED to assess an illness or injury and get advice about whether they should come in.

pediatric ed

Experienced Pediatric Staff

As we know, children are different from adults and have a unique set of needs. Any doctor or nurse might be able to tend to a child’s wound, but it takes a special professional to calm his worries and make him feel safe. I clearly remember how the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses at CPMC were able to draw blood from my newborn without a single cry. I could not believe it.

The entire staff at CPMC’s Pediatric ED specializes in treating children. There are no students or interns either–these board-certified doctors and nurses have had years of experience to perfect their approach.

CPMC also has certified Child Life Specialists on hand who meet with families as soon as they arrive at the ED. These pediatric healthcare professionals work with children and families to help them cope with the hospital. Child Life Specialists prepare kids and their parents and answer any questions they have along the way. Child Life staff uses props like dolls and teddy bears and child-friendly medical equipment to help kids act out scenarios and procedures as well as talk through their fears and feelings.

Child-Sized Tools

CPMC’s Pediatric ED is fully equipped with child-sized tools such as blood-pressure cuffs or injection needles. They also have a range of sizes because kids vary in size throughout childhood.

This is major. I once brought my daughter to emergency and there were certain tests they were unable to perform because they did not have the right-sized equipment. Tools scaled down to fit your child also means that procedures remain as comfortable as possible.

pediatric ed therapy dog

Posey the Therapy Dog

Dr. Tamariz has a therapy dog named Posey who comes to work with him daily. We have met Posey before, and she is as sweet as ever. Posey visits children in the ED and is especially good at calming little ones as they have blood drawn.

I hope none of us ever have to use the Pediatric ED, but boy is it comforting to know what great care our kids will get if they do.

 

 

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