How do I choose which Fall conference to attend?

Fall is right around the corner and speeding quickly our way. Where did the time go? And with school starting soon or already started it’s time for child care providers to do some thinking about their own education, specifically Minnesota providers.

Here at littleSonder we recently sent out a newsletter (if you didn’t get one sign up here) alerting Minnesota Providers about 4 Conferences around the state. Well we decided to go further and create this graphic for you highlighting key pieces about each conference specifically:

  • Host
  • Date
  • Location
  • Cost
  • Keynote Speaker
  • And which areas of training for the Minnesota Knowledge & Competency Framework (KCF) will be offered

Here are a few questions to help you pick a conference to attend: 

Does it matter to you who hosts the event?

  • In the case of the Minnesota Child Care Provider Information Network members get a discount.
  • Both Milestones and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s conference promise to draw a large number of people. Definitely something to consider if you aren’t fond of crowds and prefer a smaller event.

Date? Yep, we all have busy lives…so fitting one more thing into an already busy calendar. Two of the events are coming up fast in September and the other two are the end of October right before Halloween.

Location, location, location: It’s much easier to go to an event close to home; you save on gas money and hotels

  • Three conferences are located in the Southern portion of the state.
  • One is in the Southwest region.
  • One conference is in Duluth which is great if you live in the Northern half of the state or are looking for a getaway, see our next point cost.

Cost? This is always a concern for a small business owner but is it worth to go to Owatonna for the low cost conference when you might have to spring for a hotel room. In that case maybe you want to make it a girls weekend? Or a weekend away with your partner? Or maybe a family getaway?

FYI, we’ll highlight a few littleList suggestions for you in the weeks ahead of how to take a conference weekend and turn it into a getaway.

Keynote Speaker: Do you enjoy hearing from an expert in the field? Someone who speaks knowledgeably and from experience about children?

KCF training areas? Let’s not forget that fulfilling those different pieces of the MN KCF are important for maintaining your MN license and the reason for attending a conference.

Lastly: Hanging out with other providers is a great way to share your experiences and hear other provider’s experiences. After all these are the people who understand what it’s like to literally be the only adult in the room.

Links to the Conference Providers:

The Challenge of Parenting with Hashimoto’s

April is back to share with us what life is like living with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. We encourage people to leave comments about their own struggles along with resources you have found. Feel free to add them in the comments section or out on our Facebook page.

January is Hashimoto’s awareness month, so why am I writing about it in February? Well, I meant to but then I forgot, was too tired, and did I mention forgot. You see, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that attacks your thyroid. The thyroid gland produces hormones which regulate the body’s metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development and bone maintenance(Thanks Google!). Basically, it makes me exhausted, cranky, and achy. So it’s a super awesome funtime! I do do things so I can function semi-normally on daily basis. Exercise & eating right are important but even they can not help when my body really has it in your for me. There are days I really need to lay in my bed binge watching Netflix while eating powdered donuts lamenting about why my body hates me so. Another fun side is depression and anxiety. I have to remember to be kind to myself. It is not my fault that my body thinks my thyroid is the enemy and must be destroyed. Soon it will quit fighting and my thyroid will swing into action with a burst of energy!

The holidays are the worst. Every fall, I think that I will get on top of the holidays. I’ll get all the shopping done for Christmas and Hanukkah early so I can spend the time baking, decorating, and enjoying life. Nope, not even close. All of a sudden, it’s winter break for the tiny human and nothing is accomplished. Winning! Of course, I am surprised at where the time went. With two weeks before the festivities and I end up having to scramble to get things done. With the help of the tiny human, I throw up Christmas lights everywhere. Seriously, if it will hold a 3M hook then lights get attach to it! My husband always makes fun of it but I really like the soft lighting it creates. This year, Hanukkah and Christmas were at the same time so we decorated the house with a cheery mix of cultures. Here is where my anxiety kicks in, I think is this enough?! I have to remind myself that the holidays are not about ‘stuff’ but being with loved ones. I forego fancy cookies for store bought and elaborate time consuming meals for easy simple ones. Though I am determined to make a German Stollen cake next year! Ok, I say it every year but I really mean it this time. Really.

The big thing this year was getting a real tree. We lived in a condo for 12+ years and never wanted to drag one up to the fourth floor then drag that bad boy back down again. We did have a lovely potted Norfolk Pine tree that got decorated. Now that we have a cute little house in ‘burbs, the husband decided that we should have a real tree. This was done in a timely matter as he was in charge of it. We had family funtime picking one out, getting it home, and setting it up. Now, I was in charge of decorating it so can you guess when that happened? About a week later. Winning!

After worrying about food and the house being festive, I forget about gifts. Now it’s one week left and we have nothing. Crap! If you don’t know about Amazon Prime then let me tell you it’s a life saver. Two day shipping is amazing! I click through everyone’s wishlist and, boom, it’s on the way to my house. Except, if a snow/ice storm hits the Pacific Northwest like it did this year resulting in nothing getting in or out. More anxiety hits but I remember to be kind to myself. I forget this quite a bit. I must remember that it is not that I am lazy or not trying hard enough. Stupid body trying to destroy me! So deep breaths and a little spiked eggnog to calm the nerves. At one point, I printed out a picture of the gift to put in our eldest’s stocking. We ended up celebrating all the way up to New Year’s eve as packages came in.

So, what did I learn this holiday season about my limitations? That it’s not the end of the world if things are a bit out of sync, Hashimoto’s isn’t the end of the world but it sucks, and cut yourself some slack. The last is the biggest thing. You have to take care of yourself before you can care for others. Especially, Moms. We tend to put others first but you have to remember that your health and well being is very important too. So it really doesn’t matter if things are not Pinterest perfect or the fact that you forgot to send out holiday cards. (I can’t even begin to tell you about how I have failed at that one the last two years or that last year’s ones are still sitting on a desk in our office.) So I remember that some days will be harder than others and not get too worked up about it. In fact, the tree is still up. I finally did take the decorations down but the tree is slowly dieing in our living room. I plan on doing it this weekend. Hopefully…

Big Sister

img_1328Occasionally, here at littleSonder we have guest bloggers. Today’s post in celebration of National Adoption month is April Wilson.  April shares with us her familys personal story of older child adoption.

On my 18th birthday, I got a sister. Not in the normal way where your parents sit you down and tell you that a bundle of joy will be here in 9 months. My sister is short, blond, and 2 months older than me. I find this funny as I am a 6ft chick with a black father and white mother.

My family had recently moved to Minnesota. To be honest, I was pissed off at being taken away from sunny California to the middle of nowhere. I took solace in my studies and picked an Advanced Placement European History Class, which is where I met Heather. She was a senior, super smart and hilarious. You see, I was a very introverted awkward teenager. Heather was as dorky as I was but didn’t care. She was awesome! We would chat in class but never really hung out. I really was trying to find my way as a human so I kept to myself that first year. All that changed once school ended.

The summer of my senior year, I got my first real job. I was a theatre geek so I auditioned for a local amusement park as a costume character that roamed the park and did little shows. What was I thinking? Giant costume in the humid heat?! Luckily, I didn’t get it. Instead I got a job at the Old Time photos. I got to take and develop photographs. I had started the Art Honor Society at school and I was excited to test out a new passion. The one hitch was that I didn’t drive. I really was scared to. My parents owned a car with a manual transmission and the thought of having my parents try to teach me was too much to handle. But they were willing to drive my butt the half hour to work. Yay!

Now, here is the fuzzy part, I don’t remember when or how but Heather and I started to chat on the phone. I remember stretching the long telephone cord from the kitchen to the living room as this was before cell phones. We would chat about normal teen stuff eventually I learned that Heather was in foster care. The place she was at was the last stop before turning 18. It would be up to her foster parents if she could stay past her birthday that was coming up. Then one day, she told me that her foster parents made a decision. They were kicking her out. I didn’t know what to say. How could someone do that?! I was floored but I had to go to work. I said good-bye, climbed into the car, and ranted to my mother as she drove. I am pretty sure that I didn’t stop talking the whole time! As I got out of the car, my mother told me not to worry that things have a way of working out. I hugged her and said that I really hoped so.

Late that night as I was climbing into the car, my mother said Heather had called. I panicked. I asked if everything was alright. She said it will be. Then she asked if it would be ok if Heather came to live with us.

“Yes! That would be amazing! She needs a place to stay!”

“No, I mean forever. Your father and I talked about it. If Heather comes, this will be home. She will be family.” She said.

I was shocked. I didn’t think of that as a possibility; to have the sister I always wanted and I basically get to pick her? I was ecstatic!

On August 21, 1991, I got my big little sister. Heather arrived during my birthday party with a suitcase and box of stuff. She was greeted not only by me but a whole bunch of crazy extended family. I was over the moon!

Now it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I would say that in the first six months, we went through everything sisters go through in decades. It was hard but worth every moment. It feels like Heather has always been my sister. Even when thinking about my childhood.

I have said to her “Do you remember…?”

She will look at me oddly and say “No.” In my mind, it is as if she was away at school. She is my sister.

We are both in our 40’s and people will sometimes ask how we are sisters. Sometimes we joke and say that I take after our Dad and she takes after Mom. The thing is, she acts like our parents and I swear, looks like them too. We have had some amazing and awful times but I can honestly say that my life is a million times better because Heather is my sister. So when the situation arose that a young cousin needed help, my husband and I decided that we would open our little family just like my parents did. We said that she would be ours and our daughter got a big sister. Family is not always blood but those that you open your heart to and never let go.

To this day, Heather is the best birthday present I could have ever wished for.

November is National Adoption Month

minnesota

November is National Adoption month. All month organizations that support child adoption run campaigns on social media and their own websites to raise awareness. Here at littleSonder we are pro-children and not only young children but older children. We believe that all children who come into this world deserve to be loved and cherished and as we all know that is simply not the case.

 

Everyone wants to adopt young children but not many people consider older children. Why is that? Here in Minnesota we have 488 children who need homes and of that number 25% are under 6 years old. The included graphic breaks down the numbers for you. Stop and think about it.

 

Almost 500 are children waiting to become part of a family and unlike in years past there are a number of resources to help you navigate the process. To help you we have put together resources on our Pinterest and Facebook pages! Check back during the month as we post more about adoption as it has affected people we know and love!

Why bother with child psychology anyway?

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”                                                                            -Attributed to Mark Twain

Everybody thinks they are an expert on parenting and childcare.  After all, they were children once and often times (but not always) they have been parents.  This is like thinking that you are a doctor, because after all you do have a body and you have been sick before.

Turns out there is a large body of facts about children, raising children, and taking care of children.  This body of facts has been built up over the last 100 years in the field of child psychology and is based on the accumulation of thousands of descriptive and experimental studies.

Are you surprised by this?  If you are, you are not alone. When people hear the term psychology they typically think of clinical psychology, the specialization within psychology devoted to the treatment of mental illness.  Clinical psychology, however, is just one application of the science of psychology.  Child psychology is one of the specialties within the science of psychology, along with such specialties as cognitive psychology (the study of thinking), social psychology (the study of social relationships and groups), and physiological psychology, now called neuroscience, which is the study of the brain and the neurological basis for behavior.

Science is as important in taking care of children as it is in taking care of people with physical illnesses.  When doctors take care of a physical illness, they base much of what they do on what is called Evidence Based Medicine (EBM).  EBM grounds diagnosis and treatment in the best scientific evidence available to us.  EBM leads to a set of best practices in medicine.  Doctors still need to have a great deal of skill and experience to apply these best practices, but the practices themselves are based, to the extent we can base them, on science.

The science of child psychology gives us a kind of Evidence Based Childrearing, from which we can generate a set of best practices for parents, childcare providers, and teachers.  In future blog posts I will talk a lot about these best practices based on the scientific evidence.  Before doing that though, there are three things you need to know about these recommended best practices. First, scientists do not base general conclusions on a single study or even several studies.  Before we can form a firm conclusion, we need lots of research (typically dozens and dozens of studies, sometimes hundreds or thousands of studies) that point to some consistent conclusions.  We call this idea “the weight of evidence.”  Second, some conclusions are much more solid than others, and it is always important to distinguish between what is a pretty solid fact, what is a reasonably solid belief, and what is just our best guess (or tentative conclusion) at the moment. And third, the best practices are guidelines that work in general.  You should never apply them mindlessly to all children at all times.  We always need to think about the particular child and the particular circumstances of their life before automatically applying a best practice.

Many people resist the idea of a science of psychology and of evidence based childrearing because we all have our own ideas about people and children.  We are all, to a large extent, implicit psychologists: we have our own ideas of what people (including children) are like and why they do what they do, and these implicit beliefs guide our behaviors and interactions.  Interestingly, we are also implicit physicists and implicit biologists: we have deep beliefs about the physical and biological world.  Psychologists have spent a lot of time studying implicit psychology, implicit physics, and implicit biology.  The overwhelming conclusion is that we are not very accurate in our beliefs.  Or as Mark Twain was reputed to have said, “it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so” that gets us in trouble.

In future blogs I will be discussing some of the evidence based childrearing best practices. I invite you to send me your questions and the topics that most interest you. In my blogs I will always try to distinguish the rock solid facts from the reasonable conclusions and the tentative beliefs.

Katie’s tips for finding child care in Minnesota

Finding a childcare provider, whether you are a first time parent, or in need of a new provider, can be a daunting task. Endless searching, calling, interviewing, to find that perfect match for your family takes away from time spent with your family and adds stress to already busy life.

When I was looking for childcare for my son, I was clueless about how to start. I Googled childcare providers in the area, and the results were endless. To me, it was scary to have to call or contact all of these providers to see if they would have an infant opening in the near future. So what did I do? I put it off, thinking I will find one someday before I have to go back to work after giving birth. This was a bad idea on my part. Time was running out when I help came from out of nowhere and I found a provider for my son that was close to where we lived and fit all of our criteria! And how did I find her you ask? On the recommendation from one of my mom’s relatives that lives in our area. Crazy.

Not everyone has family to help them, so how do you find the right provider for you? littleSonder is your one stop shop for finding a provider for your family! We provide a great search tool to find providers in your area. Once you and your provider find each other we keep you connected. Let us help you make that first connection, and every connection in the future!

Moving on from the task of searching out providers, now you need to interview them. But what questions should you ask them? After all this is someone who will care for your precious child? For me, I went into the interview completely at a loss of what to ask, I pretty much let our provider do all the talking, and then when my husband and I left, we talked in the car on the way home and I came up with so many questions that were left unanswered because I wasn’t prepared.
So if I had to do it all over, and I was using littleSonder as my guide, I would research all providers I was interested in, and compile a list of questions ahead of time. Don’t know where to start with compiling questions, check out my littleList entitled “Katie’s tips for finding childcare in Minnesota” and you will be well on your way to being prepared for those interviews with potential providers.

After all the interviews have been conducted, the actual hard part comes next. Picking one of those providers. That’s a decision that I can’t help you with, but hopefully you found some help above that will drive you towards picking the best care for your child.

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