Stress Less Parenting

Bringing the joy back to parenting your children.

Your Menstrual Hormones

Your menstrual cycle is governed by the rise and fall of hormones that are initially produced in your brain. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to release follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).

FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) stimulates the growth of follicles in the ovary, one of which will become the dominant follicle which will be released at ovulation. LH (luteinizing hormone) will trigger the rupture of the ovarian sac and the release of the egg from the ovary at the time of ovulation.

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Screen Time and Anxiety in Children

 WHO Says Increased Screen Time Harms Children’s Health

Study after study continues to confirm what we already believe to be true – that limiting screen time in our children can go a long way toward reducing their anxiety.  Our kids live in a digital world, so some screen time is unavoidable.  And there’s much to be said for the good that can come from technology and digital access.  But too much of a good thing can be bad for them, so limit it.  Quality matters as well, not just quantity.  Even though parents may be finally taking to note that screen time should be limited in children, we also need to pay attention to what our children are using their limited screen time for, and teach them (as they get older) how to be discerning themselves.

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Your Child? A Preteen?

Do you consider your child a “preteen”? Some marketers now lump the tender ages of 8 and 9 in with the former “tweens” of 10, 11, and 12. Although it’s just a label, it can have subconscious effects.

Young childhood has been getting compressed for years as privileges and experiences once reserved for older kids have become available to those who are younger. You’ll want to consider on a case-by-case basis how you feel about your child’s readiness for some of these things:

  • spa treatments: salon and therapy treatments for young girls and boys
  • mature clothing – how “racy” are you ready for?
  • PG-13 movies
  • elite team sports
  • personal electronics, including cell phones, MP3 players, and laptops
  • gym membership (kids get exercise just running around, but child gyms are a new trend)

Rule of thumb: The longer you can hold off on bigger-kid privileges, the better. Your child will never be 8 or 9 again, but he has years of teenagerhood (and young adulthood) ahead.

In preparing for this more mature life ahead, your child is noticing every aspect of your behavior – even things you might not be proud of. For example, if you receive too much change but don’t correct the cashier. Or if you pick something up off a shelf, decide against buying, and fail to put it back in its proper place. These failings may seem small, but they reflect your values and character and signal to your child what’s okay and what’s not.

More examples of behaviors that don’t seem “bad” but that you may not want your child to pick up: procrastination, leaving a mess (dirty dishes in the sink, unmade bed), being late, driving too fast, and making rude comments about other people.  Be the change you wish to see in your child, and model the behavior you want them to have.

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Your Child’s Self Esteem

Some experts say that girls’ self-esteem peaks around age 9. Then it plummets as they grow ever more influenced by peers and the media, and as puberty shifts their focus even more to their appearance and bodies. Increasingly, there are reports of boys’ self-esteem falling prey to these same influences.

Kids with strong self-esteem feel secure and loved. Help your child develop healthy self-esteem by starting with yourself. Monitor your comments about the appearance of your child, others, and yourself. Don’t get overly invested in decisions about clothing and hair; let your child sort these things out herself while you retain veto power.

Involve your child in sports and other physical activity, which can make her feel better in mind and body, boost her mood, and provide a peer group. Encourage your child to pursue interests whether or not they match traditional gender roles (maybe your daughter likes science or your son is drawn to ballet).

Limit media exposure or keep it age-appropriate. You don’t have to throw out the TV (although some families do), but you don’t have to buy Cosmo Girl for your daughter or muscle ‘zines for your son. Avoid talking about possible “boyfriends” and “girlfriends,” even in jest.

Emphasize who your child is right now for herself. Take pains not to compare her to siblings, friends, child actors, or anyone else. Celebrate your child for who she is, her personality, sense of humor, helpfulness, academic accomplishments, and so on.

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Many a mom luxuriated in the bath during pregnancy – only to have lost the habit somewhere along the route to third grade. It’s a habit worth recapturing. A leisurely soak soothes tense muscles and mental anxiety.
Scents can help, too. Chamomile and lavender, for example, have been shown to alter brain waves and induce relaxation. Vanilla can reduce anxiety. Save jasmine for a pick-me-up bath: It triggers alertness.

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Cervical Fluid 

Your cervical fluid quality varies throughout your cycle. Its presence and quality is determined by the amount of estrogen in your bloodstream.

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Is Your Sex Drive Normal?

How often do most married people have sex? Is it true that men want sex more often than women? Read on for these answers and more.

Research does back up one stereotype: Men think about sex more, masturbate more, and will go out of their way to get sex more often than women. This is on average— it doesn’t reflect any particular woman’s sex drive or ability to enjoy sex or be aroused.

About 2% of men (and 5% of women) between 18 and 24 report having sex four or more times a week. But 24% of married women and 21% of married men that age say they have sex four or more times a week.
Not including foreplay, intercourse typically lasts 5.4 minutes. A study of 500 heterosexual couples in five countries helped researchers come up with this number — not very impressive, considering how often we think and talk about it (and how long we often think it lasts).
A glass or two of red wine per day can increase your libido. It’s the same for men and women. But too much can have the opposite effect, especially in men: Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of impotence and other sexual issues.  Women shouldn’t have more than one drink a day, and men should limit it to two. But don’t start drinking just to increase your libido, and don’t drink at all if you’re pregnant.
Just under 50% of all married people between 25 and 60 have sex 3 or 4 times a month. This is a higher rate than single people or people who have partners (not spouses) in that same age range. Guess we know who’s getting all the action.

After noticing that sexual interest in men changes with the seasons, scientists wondered if it had something to do with light. A study showed that men who sat in bright light for 30 minutes a day said they had more interest in sex.

Birth control pills do not limit a woman’s desire. Most women say they don’t notice any change in their sex drive, and some even say the pill makes them friskier.

Testosterone supplements do not increase a man’s desire. The hormone is linked to sex drive — as well as muscle and bone mass and strength — but giving testosterone to men doesn’t seem to make a difference in their interest in sex.

Viagra belongs to a group of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors. PDE5 is shorthand for an enzyme that’s involved with your body’s biochemical reactions. The medication makes the enzyme work more slowly, and that helps the penis keep an erection.

When men watch a lot of porn, there’s some evidence that this can lead to trouble with intimacy (but not desire).

During ovulation, a woman’s sex drive usually increases. It’s one of nature’s ways to keep our species going. A woman thinks about sex more often when an egg is moving from an ovary to her uterus, and this is when she’s most likely to get pregnant. This leads to more sexual arousal — and, theoretically, more babies.

During pregnancy, libido fluxuates, depending on the woman of course, and depending on where she is in her pregnancy. Early on, she may be too nauseated or exhausted to have any interest in sex. But in the second trimester, some women say they have more desire and more intense orgasms. This may because there’s more blood flow to certain organs, and that can lead to better sensation and more pleasure.

Obesity is linked to lower sex drive and decreased sperm count. It can also lead to lower levels of testosterone.

Drug abuse may cause sexual problems for over a year after a man stops using drugs. The two areas most likely to be affected are sexual pleasure and orgasm. But some illegal drugs also can decrease desire and arousal. If you or someone you love has a problem with drugs or alcohol, help is available.

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Fertility Charting 

If you are charting your fertility, your primary fertility signs are your cervical fluid and your Basal Body temperature (BBT). These are the ones that are essential to check when you want to pinpoint ovulation and your fertile time. Other fertility signs that can also shed light on your fertility status and your fertility pattern are cervical position, ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), ferning devices and fertility monitors. These are considered secondary fertility signs and are useful for cross-checking your primary fertility signs.

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Don’t rely on your child to apply his own sunscreen before going outdoors. Although your child is capable of putting it on, kids are notoriously skimpy sunscreen users. Some studies say that even adults use only half as much as they should.
Whether the sunscreen is in a spray or liquid or cream form, be sure enough of it is applied to thoroughly cover the skin. Check for spots kids often ignore: behind the ears, the back of the neck, the tops of feet, and those hard-to-reach places on the back.

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Young Kids and Sports

Are you an unwitting subscriber to “champ think?”  That’s the common mind-set shared by many parents that early involvement in competitive sports will give a child a leg up on peers and set her on the path to elite-athlete status.
Physicians and physical therapists consider it more important to expose a young child to a variety of activities than to focus on one specific sport. If she plays a single sport excessively, she risks overuse injuries in her still-growing body. Plus, she may burn out on it. That’s why youth sports experts generally advise that early-elementary kids not be involved in more than one league at a time and not play a single sport year-round, no matter how physically gifted they appear to be.

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