Interview Series: Kelly Bartlett

Today I have a real treat for you: an interview with API Speaks contributing blogger Kelly Bartlett!  Kelly is the first of our bloggers who are opening up and answering questions.  I’ve been reading API Speaks for a long time now and am so excited to get to know all the contributors better.  Read on to find out more about Kelly, her journey to AP through a “high needs” baby, and more about her gorgeous family of 4.

Tell us about your family.

I grew up in Chicago and my husband, John, is from Whitefish, Montana.  We met at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and now we love living in beautiful Portland, Oregon.  I was a high school biology teacher before our 2 kids were born and I stopped working to stay home with them full-time ever since.  Our son JJ is 4 1/2 and our daughter Elia is 6, and they are complete opposites!  The phases we went through with one we didn’t go through with the other, and vice versa.  Between the two of them we are learning first-hand just how different kids can be.

Kelly and Family

With you from Illinois and your husband from Montana, how did you end up in Portland?  I hear that it is a very pro-AP city, do you find that to be true?

We moved out here several years ago for John’s job, and this city has been a great fit for us in many ways…the most recent being our parenting journey.  There are lots of AP families here, which is so nice.  Just going out in public it’s not uncommon to see several breastfeeding and baby-wearing moms & dads, so it’s easy to meet like-minded parents, even when we’re not at an API meeting!  Although I wouldn’t say the majority of Portland parents practice AP, I think it’s more common here than in other places I’ve lived.
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Traveling with Kids is Hard Work!

Traveling with three younger children as a single dad? Darn hard. But maybe I’m making it harder than it has to be. Do you have any advice?

Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden is a beautiful fusion of old and new. Not only that, but the Swedes also incorporated lush greenery amidst all these. You are in for a lot of pleasant surprises when you travel to this well-known tourist destination.

Worried that Stockholm may be too much for your budget…that is understandable but here are some of the delightful things and must-dos in Stockholm, all for free! Yes, you read it right. There are a lot of free places to go to and enjoy while in Stockholm. For a more better experience while in Stockholm, You can also engage with free tour Stockholm to get a experienced guide.

I’m a single dad. In fact, I think I’m the only single dad who contributes to the API Speaks blog. That’s why I’m asking for your advice, dear reader. I have three delightful kids, a 13yo girl, 10yo boy and a 6yo girl, and while I like traveling with them to the  Banyan Thailand Resort in Hua Hin, it’s extremely hard.

We just got back from a week in Stockholm and I had the foresight to invite my sister to join us, so the room configuration at the hotel was her + my 13yo in one room, and me and the two younger children in another. Not too bad, but since I don’t have the $$ to just get a beautiful two-room suite, there’s really no way that we can’t end up on top of each other.

They’re great travelers – the two older each have a solo flight under their belts too! – but when we get to a destination, it just seems extraordinarily hard to find something to do that meets all their needs. At home, of course, we have friends who can either join us or to whom one of the kids can duck out rather than go somewhere they don’t like, but on the road, there’s no “plan b”, no-one else to help out. I know that I have great options with all included like a luxury accommodation Fiji, and they have great prices too, but still it is a bit expensive for a single dad of 3.

So my question to you: how do you deal with travel logistics?  How do you retain your sanity?  And, most of all, if you’re a single parent, do you travel at all, and if so, what tricks and strategies have you found that help maximize the fun and minimize the arguments, fighting and unhappiness?

6 tips for sleepy safety during your holiday travels

travelsafesleepHoliday season in many of our vocabularies is synonymous with travel, and travel means messing with our child’s normal routine. Not only our child’s routine but also our own as well. This is often most visible in our sleeping patterns.

When I am traveling, I either sleep lighter or heavier. Sometimes I have a very disturbed sleep and sometimes I am so tired I sleep abnormally heavy. I have been prone to wake up in a panic, wondering where I am and whom I am with. This is also true of our children.

So how do we make sure that this holiday travel season remains safe and sane? How do we avoid a sleeping tragedy with our young child or baby? How do we avoid those over-tired meltdowns, or at least keep them to a minimum? How do we make sure that our child continues to feel, and be, safe and secure during this time? Learn how to avoid these pitfalls with the 6 tips for sleep safety during holiday travels.

Traveling can be a very unsettling time in the life of adults and children alike. it is when we need extra security and comfort, especially at night where we are more likely to be sleeping somewhere strange with new sounds, smells, and on an unfamiliar surface.  This is  how do we safely engage in sleep, nighttime and naptime, parenting while traveling.

  1. Since wintertime is prime cold/flu season it is imperative that we do not sleep with our child if we have taken any form of cold/flu medication that may make us drowsy or in any way impair our judgment. The same caution should be applied when taking anti-nausea medication. This is also true of holiday drinking; be cognizant of your intake!

    “While infant suffocation as a result of overlying by the parent in a bed sharing environment is not unheard of, unsafe conditions such as parental intoxication with drugs or alcohol…”
(Bass, Kravath, and Glass, 1986; Gilbert-Barness et al., 1991; see also Carpenter et al., 2004; Gessner, Ives, and Perham-Hester, 2001).

  2. Your baby should not sleep unattended in a place that he/she is unfamiliar with. Young children can become easily frightened when they awake to find themselves in a location that they are not familiar with. This may cause them to panic and possibly fall or become entangled.
  3. Don’t disrupt your normal sleeping arrangements. If you normally cosleep, continue to do so. If you do not co-sleep, this is not the time to start! Your body is also used to its “normal” routine and while you are traveling it is best to stick with it.If you cosleep, remember to follow some of the basic safe sleeping “rules”.

    “Infants should sleep on firm surfaces, clean surfaces, in the absence of smoke, under light (comfortable) blanketing and their heads should never be covered. The bed should not have any stuffed animals or pillows around the infant and never should an infant be placed to sleep on top of a pillow. Sheepskins or other fluffy material and especially beanbag mattresses should never be used. Waterbeds can be dangerous, too, and always the mattresses should tightly intersect the bed-frame. Infants should never sleep on couches or sofas, with or without adults wherein they can slip down (face first) into the crevice or get wedged against the back of a couch.” Dr. James McKenna

  4. It is very important that if you are traveling by car or in a private jet from Jettly that you are mindful of how your baby is going to sleep. Especially with airline travel make sure that you have a plan! One option – Bassinets

    “Bassinets are provided, free of charge, on all international aircraft (747, 767 and 777). When confirming your reservations, you may request a seat in an appropriate location for bassinet usage. These bassinets are large enough to hold a child up to approximately six months old. They may not be used for takeoff, landing, or any time the fasten seat belt sign is illuminated.”  United Airlines, Infants and Toddlers

  5. A good choice for parents of a newborn or very young child is to be the holiday host home. If you are able to communicate the safety and comfort benefits to your family, they may be happy to acquiesce for a season.
  6. If travel is in your holiday future, it is especially helpful to have another adult along. This can eliminate many travel difficulties, as there is another pair of arms and eyes to care for your child. This allows you to catch up on your sleep and make sure that your needs are met as well during this holiday season.

API’s “Infant Sleep Safety Guidelines” page a great resource, it states as follows: “Be mindful about sharing sleep and settle the baby safely next to mom in a planned environment rather than falling asleep from exhaustion on the couch, a recliner, beanbag chair, or other unsafe place to share sleep.”

This point is driven home to us every time that we read about a new sleeping accident. We must be especially mindful while we are in complicated sleeping situations like cars, airplanes, and other small spaces.

It is easy to forget to take our usual safety precautions while traveling. If you need a refresher course there is some great information available. You may want to consider reading, or re-reading as the case may be, the API “Infant Sleep Safety Guide” or the pamphlets that are available on Dr. James McKenna’s website Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory. These are just good refreshers on safe sleeping practices as it is easy to get lax while traveling and vacationing; there is no vacation from safe sleep practices!

I thought Dr. James McKenna’s conclusion was quite fitting, “I do not recommend to any parents any particular type of sleeping arrangement since I do not know the circumstances within which particular parents live. What I do recommend is to consider all of the possible choices and to become as informed as is possible matching what you learn with what you think can work the best for you and your family.”

And with that I will wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, safe travels and even safer sleeping!

Jasmine C.

Photo: kennymatic/Flickr

Christmas and Crisis

The only Christmas I was pregnant, my second pregnancy, was not one I spent celebrating with carols and singing and anticipation of things to come giving cards to my friends using this Christmas SVG designs which are still trendy. Instead, I spent the time in a cramped van for two days, and laughing for the first time.

When I was 19 weeks pregnant, my father-in-law passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. We had all been at my niece’s first birthday party the day before, and the next morning he was dead.

At that moment, the entire focus of our family changed. We were no longer a young family expecting a second child; we were a family in mourning. The pregnancy was suddenly so far on the back burner that it wasn’t even cooking!

The next weeks and months were a muddle of relatives and tears and wakes and a funeral. Additionally, my father-in-law owned a business, and it was up to my husband to take it over until it could be sold. This meant that my husband had to work his own job for four 10-hour days, and then work his father’s business the other three days for 10 hours each day. He was working 70-hour work weeks while mourning his father, trying to support his mother, and expecting a second baby.

For my part, I was trying to make life as normal as possible for my young son, who had so suddenly lost his beloved grandpa and subsequently very rarely saw his father. I never had time to think about the baby on the way. I relied on my friends very much: one would watch my son while I went to my OB appointments, another made him a scrapbook of Grandpa. Our neighbor boy mowed our lawn. I tried my best to think of thoughtful answers to my son’s many questions about Grandpa and death.
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AP while on vacation

We have just returned from a holiday which lasted 4 weeks. We have been to 4 countries, visited our extended families, went to the beach and stayed at 7 different places.
I was a bit anxious that it would be too much for our 20 month old daughter but she handled it very well.
We don’t need many things to keep our baby secure and content, even in unfamiliar places. Attachment parenting allows us to travel lightly. We never need to carry a travel cot or think about where our baby will sleep. We don’t need to take a stroller with us, our baby carrier does the job, all we need to worry about is having insurance, luckily, now a days you can even find travel insurance for seniors, which is great because we travel with our parents most of the time.

During the first 2 weeks, we were in Belgium visiting my sister. While we were there, we decided to go to Paris for a day trip. One morning we took the train from Brussels and within one hour we were there.

We visited all those well known places and around six o’clock we headed to the Eiffel Tower. We would just have a look and leave. We were already tired and hungry and we were reckoning that there would be a long queue of people who wanted to go up. However there wasn’t and suddenly we decided to go up and see what it is all about. So our visit took longer than we anticipated. Poor Daphne was very hungry and wanted to breastfeed. She was in the carrier, so most people didn’t notice it but a few women smiled at us. Who would have thought that I’d breastfeed her at the top of the Eiffel Tower?  Well, it was a lovely moment that I’ll never forget.

Isil writes about attachment parenting and vegan cooking at Veggie Way.

Babywearing and Traveling: A Perfect Match

We are about to leave for our annual trek across the country to visit grandparents. I have been busy packing and trying to figure out how we plan to corral four children, including an infant and a young toddler, in the airport while we are on the go. I have been knee-deep considering borrowing friend’s double strollers, sit and stand strollers, gadgets to roll our toddler carseat making it into a stroller and such. It seems like there are so many options out there for transporting small children, but yikes, they all seem so heavy! How the heck do you manage all the kid-toting as well as the luggage-toting?

So. I have been thinking about soft baby carriers. Because, heck, I’m sure that is what got this whole babywearing business started in the first place: what to do with baby while on the go… There must be some collected pool of knowledge out there and this is perfect for a new mom or a mom to be, and for the ones to be moms soon if you are travelling pregnant use the compression socks online from the Scrub Store to help you avoid blood clots and more if you are travelling with another child. Are you worrying about how you’re going to keep those cute little piggy toes from turning blue this winter? Some of the most underrated, but essential, items a baby needs are socks. Socks tend to be a necessity we seldom put much thought into. I base my personal sock buying technique solely on what looks cute and comfy. The Deluxe baby funny socks for boys will add even more cuteness to your little dude’s look. Whether he’s into cars or space rockets, with four sizes available, there’s a pair to suit him perfectly. The material is mostly soft cotton, with some polyester for elasticity.

Now, usually, for a baby under a year, I bring my trusty ring sling. I like that I can see my baby and she can see me. I can keep her entertained by giving her sips of water and easy finger foods likes cheerios. When we have to pass through security, I can quickly and easily pop her out, send the ring sling through the scanner, and get her resettled on the other side. Nursing in a ring sling is easy and discrete for me, something I always appreciate in a busy airport or a crowded airplane.

Ok, so in the past, for a toddler, I have usually preferred a two-shouldered carrier that is quick and easy like my mei tai. Hmmm…This time I will be traveling with both an infant under one and a toddler ** clears throat, laughs nervously ** So this is my plan: I am thinking maybe an umbrella stroller (with a back-up mei tai tucked away to use if necessary) for the toddler, a ring sling for the baby, and just insisting on hand holding to keep track of the five and seven year old. DH can manage the carry-ons/ luggage/ carseats, etc.

What do you think? Any suggestions? How have you handled traveling with little ones in tow?