How Long Do Stool Softeners Take to Work?

best stool softener for postpartum

Stool softeners are over-the-counter (OTC) by-products utilised to relax hard stools or to avoid constipation. Afore you determine to use the best stool softener for postpartum, it’s a great idea to understand how they function in your body and how secure they are. You will also see it helpful to recognize when you would prefer to use them rather than taking medicine.

Why is stool softener medication prescribed?

Stool softeners are utilised on a short-term period to ease constipation by individuals who should prevent straining when bowel actions because of hemorrhoids, heart conditions, and other complications. They act by relaxing stools to create them more comfortable to pass.

How do stool softeners work?

Stool softeners serve by enhancing the amount of water level to your stools, which causes them softer and more relaxed to pass. This then fixes you up for a relaxed bowel action, one that should not need straining.

The main active substance in stool softener outputs is docusate. The drug is believed to work narrowly within your large intestines bowels. Most of the stool softener by-products should relax your stool and bring about the appetite for a bowel action within three days or 12 to 72 hours.

Types of stool softeners available in the market

Stool softeners arrive in liquid, capsule, and tablet mode that you use by mouth. The best stool softener for postpartum includes Correctol, Colace, Diocto, Ex-Lax Stool Softener, Doxinate, Fleet Sof-Lax, Phillips’ Stool Softener, Modane Soft and Surfak.

best stool softener for postpartum

Duration of using the stool softener

Stool softeners are created for short-term usage, which indicates that you would utilize them for about one week. If you are thinking to take a stool softener for higher than one week, consult your doctor to confirm that it is secure for you to take so.

Safety measures of using stool softeners

Stool softeners are not ingested into the bloodstream and are usually well-tolerated. There are very rare side effects of using the stool softener for postpartum.

Some individual may feel light side effects like nausea, bloating and abdominal cramps. Throat soreness may happen as an outcome of employing a liquid type of medication. If you undergo any of these fine symptoms, stop the use of the medicine.

Ask medical care immediately if you endure severe signs of:

  • Breathing or eating difficulty
  • Skin rash
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort or cramping

People who use stool softeners permanently may observe that they form an end to medicine and want to improve their dosage above time. Using stool softeners on a prolonged period should simply be performed under the prescription of your doctor.

Stool softeners may be harmless for children or pregnant women, but additionally should just be used with the approval of your child’s paediatrician or your physician.

When to use stool softeners instead of laxatives?

Stool softener is a perfect choice, when there is a particular need for you to keep your stools soft to avoid straining during bowel movements. This would include the following circumstances:

  • Following childbirth
  • Following surgery
  • When dealing with haemorrhoid or anal fissure
  • If advised by your doctor due to a heart condition

Usage of stool softeners

Usually, a stool softener is used before you move to bed at nighttimes. Stool softeners arrive as a tablet, capsule, syrup and liquid to take by oral. A stool softener normally is taken at night. Follow the instructions on the box or your prescript label thoroughly and consult your doctor or pharmacologist to clarify any part you do not know. Use the stool softener for postpartum precisely as directed. Do not use more than dosage level and use it perfectly directed by your doctor.

If you prefer a tablet or capsule form, take a full eight-ounce glassful of water as you use the medicine. Despite of the kind of product utilised, verify to take plenty of fluids during the day.

One to three days of normal use regularly are needed for this medication to take impact. Do not use stool softeners for higher than 1 week except your doctor advises you to. If unexpected changes in bowel practices that long last for more than 2 weeks or if your stools are however hard after you have used this medicine for 1 week, consult your doctor.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Stool softeners may create some side effects. Inform your physician if any of those symptoms are hard or do not move away:

  • stomach or abdominal cramps
  • throat inflammation from the oral liquid
  • nausea

A few side effects can be severe. If you undergo any of the subsequent symptoms, visit your doctor quickly:

  • rash
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • hives
  • fever
  • stomach pain
  • vomiting

What should one know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep the best stool softener for postpartum in the box it came in, firmly closed, and away from children. Save it at room warmth and out of reach from over heat and moisture.

It is essential to keep all medicine out of reach and sight of children as various containers such as monthly pill minders and the one for eye drops, patches, inhalers and creams are not child-resistant and adolescent can remove them easily. To shield young kids from poisoning, constantly lock security caps and instantly place the medicine in a safe place. Instead, the safest way you need to throw your unwanted medicine. Talk to your doctor or talk your local recycling/garbage section to know about take-back plans in your community.

What special precautions should you follow?

Before using stool softeners,

  • Inform your physician and pharmacologist if you are sensitive to any other medicines, or stool softeners, or any of the elements in the stool softeners, seek your pharmacologist for a listing of the elements.
  • Report your pharmacist and doctor what non-prescription and prescription medicines, nutritional supplements, vitamins, and herbal by-products you are using. Be assured to tell about the mineral oil. Your physician may have to change the dosages of your medicines or observe you thoroughly for side effects.
  • Inform your medical practitioner if you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you grow pregnant while using stool softeners, consult your doctor.

How Often to Bathe a Newborn Baby?

Bathing a newborn could be an appalling experience. Your baby may not prefer it, either. With a little preparation, you would both begin to have a more pleasant feel at bath time. You should immediately begin to learn baby shower basics.

How regularly should you bath newborn?

You need not bath your newborn daily. You can make them have a bath three times a week. This might be enough until your baby grows further mobile. Bathing your baby too often could easily dry out his or her skin. Change the diapers when it filled up and clean the area that requires much attention. You can simply wipe the whole body and diaper parts for better freshness.

When should you bathe your baby?

The choice is up to you. You can choose a time while you are not hurried or possibly be disturbed or interrupted. Some parents prefer morning baths since their babies would be alert. Others would make their baby take a bath at night as a part of a quiet bedtime ritual. Do not try to bathe your infant immediately after feeding and it is better to wait for your baby’s stomach to settle a little first.

How about a sponge bath?

Many Pediatricians recommend sponge baths until the umbilical cord stump drops off and this might take one or two weeks. You should follow the following steps to give a sponge bath to your baby.

  • First of all, you need to have a warm and flat-surfaced place such as a bath area or long table, or firm bed. These places would work perfectly for a sponge bath. You can also use a blanket or towel on the floor and even the pad hard surfaces with a blanket or towel will be enough to have a sponge bath.
  • The next step is to spread out soft blanket, towel or changing pad and make your baby lie on it.
  • You should certainly keep your one hand free and hold your baby on the other hand. If you use a changing table, then you should use the safety strap.
  • You should make a sink or simple plastic basin for holding the water. You can also run warm water into the plastic basin or sink. Do not forget to check the temperature of the water with your bare hand and you should make sure that it is not too hot.
  • You should keep all the essential supplies right nearby you and prefer best body wash for baby. You should collect all the baby cloths and towels that are required frequently. Take the bathing things such as baby wash, soap, a new diaper and changing clothes.

The first step to be followed while making your baby take bath is to take their clothes off. Then, gently cover a baby into any soft cloth. You should lay your baby on his or her back in the prepared place for taking bath. Besides, you should just try to keep your baby warm. You must only try to expose the baby’s body parts that you are about to wash and clean.

The next step is to wet the washcloth thoroughly and strain out excess water. Take the washcloth to wipe your baby’s face. Slowly wipe each eyelid right from the corners of inside to the outside. You can clean your baby’s body by using plain water or a mild, moisturizing soap. You should pay special care to tucks under the arms, back ears, around the neck as well as in the diaper area. Additionally, you should wash your baby’s fingers and toes thoroughly.

What should I wash first?

Most parents begin with the baby’s face and clean down the dirtier parts of the body. This retains cleaned areas with soapy water again. If your baby has hair and if you think it requires washing, then you can go ahead with it. You need to gently massage your baby’s whole body with a drop of body wash and cover your babe’s head with your hand and pour the water slowly in order to protect their eyes and to keep suds out of it. You can also use best body wash for baby for complete freshness.

When to Start Baby Massage?


After baby born, the first baby massage is an important activity done by a doctor to have a proper body growth. However, you should be very careful and not touch a navel area. Actually, you should wait 4 to 7 days until their umbilical cord end drops off. According to the scientific research, massaging the premature babies has numerous advantages for them. Usually, the premature babies have increased pulse rates, when they are taken care of at the hospital routinely. Also, their oxygen level decreases as well, which means there is distress.

When you are massaging a premature baby, you have to discover the best oil for baby massage that helps to reduce their pulse rates and also improves their oxygen levels. This means the baby discovers the massaging relaxing, calming and soothing. When it comes to beginning the baby massage at the right time, here are some essential things to consider:

Massaging environment

The warm rooms are an ideal place for baby massages. Even 26 degrees is a perfect room temperature for the baby massage. Actually, babies lose more heat very fast, when they are uncovered and also applying oil on them will also lesser their body heat a lot more. The area, where you massage your baby must be very quiet and peaceful. You just turn off the television and ensure that no in the room is louder or causing interruption. In performing so, both parents and their baby will highly enjoy the massage. With no other interruptions, the parents can focus 100% on their baby as well as their baby can focus 100% on their parents. Hence, this will highly strengthen the bond between them.

Best time for baby massages

Normally, the best time to massage a baby is when they are awake and pleasure. Most of the parents massage their babies after giving a bath and your baby gets relaxed. During this massaging time, the parents should be silent, if they are not, there might be a chance that the baby will absorb the negative feelings, so the parent might get hurt.

Moreover, it is highly recommended not to massage a baby, after they have eaten. So, it is good to wait an hour or so later, otherwise it may cause vomiting to them. In addition to, you can ensure that your baby is well feed, before you massage them. If they are hungry while massaging them, this may create them feel more stressed and unsettled.

Length of a baby massage

The baby massages usually tend to last around 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Actually, the babies are not very big, so massaging them is very fast and simple too. If you are beginning this massage for your baby, it may take a little bit longer; because it takes some to study the techniques and followed to use. You should also practice and study many techniques by just enrolling into the baby massage classes.

How often to provide the baby massages

Normally, the baby massages must be provided daily with each session that lasts around 20 to 30 minutes. However, 15 minutes will be more beneficial for the parents as well as the baby. If you cannot massage your baby on a regular basis, you can massage your baby at least three times per week.

Best oils for baby massage

The massages must be applied on the plain skin of a baby. For baby massage, using the best oil can be used to support the hands move very smoothly all over the baby’s body without even any rubbing.


Applying pressure

When you are massaging the tiny areas on the body of your babies, the pressure you must apply is very similar to when you close your eyes and also press them together without even any discomfort. When you massage on the small areas on the body of your baby, you just use your finger tips and while massage your large areas, you must use your palms.

Other notes

  • Assure to be careful in choosing the best oil for baby massage, when you are choosing up your baby while they are oiled up
  • Avoid utilizing the aromatherapy oils, except you are accurately trained or have aroma therapist with you
  • If you trust that your child is allergic to nuts, you can simply utilize the nut oil free products

A Beach Guide for the Pale Family

Pasty people visiting the Florida panhandle is a recipe for a roasted epidermis. My pale family burns when we cross the state line. So why do we go? We want to swim in the ocean, play on the beach, and sleep in sand-filled hotel beds like any other family. We wanna make memories by dressing in all white for family photos so we look like creepy cult members.

If pale families are gonna survive the burning ball of light in the sky, we need a strategy or we’re gonna char like chicken on a kabob. Here are a few tips for your peaked pigmentation:

  1. Being a pale family at the beach means starting the day at sunrise to avoid the strongest UV rays. Of course, you should probably begin sunscreen application with small children before dawn. I suggest drinking a few sips of coffee before chasing your greased three-year-old around the hotel room. Go ahead and count this as cardiovascular exercise.
  2. Ideal beach time is between dawn and 9 a.m. The rest of the day I suggest watching Lego Batman in the hotel room and jumping on the beds until someone calls the front desk to complain. If there is an overcast, go to the beach; otherwise, take a trip to the grocery and do not return to beach until the sun sets.
  3. The perfect activity for pale families is crab hunting at night. You will find us walking at dusk in small groups with flashlights. What do we plan to do with caught crabs? Your guess is as good as mine.
  4. A healthy balance of time for a pale family is to spend 20% discussing dinner plans, 20% regretting not getting takeout, 20% at the beach, and 40% applying sunscreen.

Let’s be honest. Pale families belong in the mountains under a thick canopy of trees where risk of sunburn is minimal. We will never be the family on the beach basking in the blistering sun with their head tilted back as if they are having a spiritual experience. Sure, we enjoy looking at the beautiful ocean and building sandcastles but we get along with the sun like gummy worms left in a hot car.

FAQ: How To Survive A Three-year-old

“This is the best age,” said an elderly woman at the park, smiling at my three-year-old son. I exchanged a polite smile. But what I really wanted to say is “Are you kidding me? This creature is a monster.”

When my son turned three, bad behavior escalated to a miserable level. I was caught off guard because I bought into the myth of the “terrible twos” and thought I was doing well enduring toddlerhood until BAM! my son turned three and things got real. I found myself missing my tantrum-throwing two-year-old who was mostly cute and a source of laughter. I was stuck with a threenager (now I fully understand why this term is used) and wished to thump on the forehead those who claimed two was the the worst age. They were full of it.

If you are like me, you will need help surviving this trying age. So, I’ve collected frequently-asked-questions and done my best to answer them as truthfully as possible. I hope they prove helpful. Remember, it’s not too late to consider adoption.

Q:  Why are three-year-olds so awful?

A:  Why is the grass green? The sky blue? I don’t know. I’m sure a children’s psychologist could offer an answer to why Mother Nature requires this developmental stage but all I can do is open your eyes to the fresh hell you are entering. Prepare yourself for chaos. A few weeks ago, I sat on my comfy couch reading the New York Times, sipping fresh coffee, engrossed in a story. In the middle of the article, a thirty-five pound force busted through the paper like a high school football player running through a banner. I jumped out of my skin. Coffee spilled on my lap. I uttered a unmentionable word. And you know what the lil’ jerk did. Laughed. He laughed at my scalded crotch. Despite my best efforts to deter this behavior, the kid does it to me every Sunday morning and laughs in my face. I don’t drink coffee while reading the newspaper anymore.

Q:  What motivates the three-year-old?

A:  A three-year-old has one goal: the decimation of your psychological well being. They are experts at pushing your limits until your mental health dangles by a thread and then, sensing weakness, press harder. In their gleeful eyes, you can see their calculations to undo you.

I typed on my laptop at the kitchen table. My son leaned against my shoulder trying different tactics to divert my attention. Banging on keyboard. Yelling. Sticking fingers in my mouth. When his efforts failed he dug in his nose and wiped the largest booger/snot rocket combo to come out of a little person’s nose across my computer screen. I looked at him startled. “How about that?” he said, giggling, proud of his handwork. The snot ran down the screen and forced me to stop and clean it. Did he get my attention? Yes, he did.

Q:  How bad can it get?

A:  The month my son turned three his ability to listen shut off and his goal to undermine my sanity rose to the top of his toddler bucket list, right above visiting LegoLand. Damn kid doesn’t hear a word coming out of my mouth unless it involves gummi worms, monster trucks, or watching Paw Patrol. Typical toddler behaviors like screaming, kicking, and throwing escalate but I believe the psychological warfare waged by three-year-olds is an act of evil.

The most effective tactic of the three-year-old is taking a simple activity/interaction and making it as difficult as possible. For instance, exiting the car so we don’t miss our doctor’s appointment turns into a ten minute negotiation/wrestling match. Here is my son’s latest trick:  he will beg forever to do something like go outside or to the playground and as soon as I give in and fully prepare us for agreed upon activity he will reverse his decision, refusing to participate. It sounds benign, but when a child does it 300 hundred times a day it qualifies as torture.

Q:  What to do if you snap?

A:  Throw them in the woods.

Q:  Is it possible to survive them?

A:  Yes. It is possible but you will need to learn coping skills. Here are a few of mine:  king size Kit-Kats, Cokes, Cajun Filet Chicken Biscuits, and potato wedges from the grocery deli.

This age sucks. But I’m trying to keep in mind it is a phase like all other phases of a child’s development. It shall pass. Maybe not as soon as I would like but it will pass. It always does. A veteran parent once told me, “if he is still acting like this when he is sixteen let me know and we’ll take him to a psychologist, otherwise just let it be.”

So, my only advice is laugh when you get the chance. Take breaks. Laugh at the absurdity of it all. Take more breaks. Laugh so you don’t toss your child in the woods.

Thanks For The Unsolicited Parenting Advice, Seriously

Thank you for the advice. You have obviously picked me out as a parent in need of caregiving tips. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy, demanding cashier job to offer me parenting wisdom. I know you didn’t have to do this. I expected to pass unnoticed throughout the 15 items or less line but you took the time to inquire about my parenting abilities. Thank you.

Your questioning moved beyond the surface level, beyond “how are you today” and “how old is he” to real talk. I knew from the look in your eye I was going to get more from you than I asked for. You are clearly a generous person.

“Here is my best advice for you,” you said, unprompted. Somehow you knew I was looking for a wise soul to drop parenting insights on me. My lucky day. There are so few people willing to speak to complete strangers about childrearing practices. But you stepped up to the plate. And you delivered. You payed it forward.

I was distracted trying to keep my two-year-old son from doing a nosedive from the shopping cart, while flipping through my keyring for my Kroger card, but you intuited what I needed, advice on swim lessons. “Start them early,” you said, “get them in the water now so they will not be scared later.” You proceeded to go on a lengthy lecture, including your experience in the water with children. It was TED Talk caliber. I kept waiting for a screen to drop from the ceiling and an elaborate slide presentation. You were that convincing.

Despite the fact my child already attended multiple swim lessons last summer, I did not interrupt you because you were so eloquent. Perhaps, insightful is a better word. You dug deep into your mastery and helped me to better understand the psychology of small children and swimming pools. Your analysis of the relationship between toddlers and water explained things in a way that, finally, made sense. Again, thank you.

I should note that I couldn’t help but notice the antsy customers lining up behind me as you shared your wisdom. Yet, you put them aside and focused on what really mattered: giving swimming advice to a parent who already suffered through a water gurgling nightmare at the local YMCA. Despite the people behind me fidgeting and clearing their throats, you maintained eye contact. YOU put your job on the line to help a parent. Where are all the wise elders like you in the world? The committed souls who choose to step forward and give unsolicited parenting advice in difficult circumstances. We need more people like you.

When I got home I shared our exchange with my wife at the dinner table. She too gained from your knowledge. She too realized your genius. We are now considering switching grocery stores. Once again, thank you.

Here Is What This Dad Learned Marching with His Son Last Saturday

Last Saturday, resisting the urge to remain in my warm bed, I attended the Women’s March in Nashville. Along with my wife, toddler, and mother-in-law, I gathered with thousands of Nashvillians marching through the streets, waving signs, chanting, cheering. I marched not because I am a model citizen; rather, a tiny voice inside me said either get your ass out of bed or stop complaining about the election results.

Initially, I felt uncomfortable in the the large, diverse crowd (an introvert’s nightmare) but the vibrating energy was contagious and reminded me why I was there in the first place–my son. I want him to learn to appreciate women and treat them as equals. I want him to witness strong, committed women in action. I want him to do a better job of treating women with respect than I did as a boy.

Marching through the streets not only felt good it also opened my eyes. Here is what this daddy learned at the Women’s March:

We need to trust women. I know this is not an earth shattering insight, but we really suck at it, especially when it comes to decisions related to a woman’s body. Reproductive issues are complicated and involve varied circumstances, so let’s not pretend we know what is best for a woman in every situation. We live in a nation that prides itself on giving people choices; therefore, I don’t understand why we have such a hard time allowing women to decide what is in their best interests regarding health care. At the end of the day, women deserve the right to make the final decision about what will be done or not done to their body. It’s THEIR body. So, back off and let their conscience guide them.

Our children deserve better. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or Independent or apolitical, I hope we can agree the lack of decency this past year was disturbing. I’m bothered by the barrage of name calling, mocking, shaming, and bullying our kids witnessed from adults. Our sense of decency swirled down the toilet bowl. Now, parents are navigating through a hostile climate where hate groups feel comfortable crawling out of their dark corners, spewing their warped ideology. It would be foolish to pretend our children do not hear them. If we don’t reject hateful behavior, then what does that say about us as parents?

We need each other. The Women’s March reminded me how much parents need each other to get through the next four years. It will be so easy to wallow in cynicism, isolate ourselves, and quit caring about what our children are absorbing. But if we make an effort to stay connected we can lean on one another and share our collective energy to keep spirits high. Resisting the hatred, bigotry, and ignorance is going to require a community of like-minded people who share the burden. If I don’t find it, I will buckle under my despair. I’m reaching out. Are you with me?

Oh, on a lighter note, below is my favorite sign from Saturday’s march.

5 Reasons You Should Be Thankful For Your Toddler

I don’t remember the last time I slept past 6:30 a.m. I don’t remember the last time I went to a movie theater. I don’t remember the last time I ate a meal at my own pace. I don’t remember the last time I went an entire day without changing a poop diaper. I don’t remember the last time my toddler ate what I prepared him for dinner. Yet, I cannot think of anyone I want to spend more time with this Thanksgiving.

Just when I think I might toss him out the window he snuggles against me on the couch to watch an episode of Puffin Rock. He gently leans his head on me. The same head he used to ram me an hour ago. He pats me with the same palm he slammed into my nose this morning. How such a destructive creature could exist in such a cute body is a mystery I cannot explain. All I know is I am grateful for him.

I’m gonna take a moment to list why I appreciate this monster-truck-loving, peanut-butter-face-wearing, belly-button-jabbing child. I don’t know what I would do without him. And I wouldn’t trade him for anything. Well, I might consider a massage recliner, the kind they have on display at Costco is the closest to heaven I’ve been.

Anyway, here are five reasons I am thankful for my toddler:

5. Toddlers have a remarkable capacity to let go of things and move on. For instance, the other day I accidentally smacked him on the chin when the car seat belt slipped causing my hand to bonk him. I felt like crap. He cried, lip quivering, maximizing my guilt. I apologized. And two minutes later he wanted to talk to me about the foxes in his book as if nothing happened. Tiny people are refreshing because they tend to not hold grudges, harbor resentment, and wield bitterness.

4. The kid makes me laugh every day. Whether its giggling at his own farts or stuffing his face with linguini or his uncanny ability to locate dog poop. He makes me chuckle during the chaos. The other day I set him down to walk through the doorway of his parents day out classroom. He demanded I put his backpack on. I told him it was too heavy. He insisted. I put the straps on his shoulders and let go. He took one and a half steps forward and the backpack pulled him backwards to the floor. He dropped like a load of bricks. The teacher smiled. I laughed out loud and felt like the parent of the year.

3. My toddler reminds me why language is such an amazing thing. Reading children’s books with him has renewed my appreciation for the sound of language. For myself, listening to him repeat sounds and combine syllables into words is the most interesting part of early development. When I’m away from him I still find myself listening to the sounds of words. And don’t tell anybody this part:  I’ve started reading poetry because I love the sounds of children’s books so much.

2. He is teaching me patience. Oh boy, is he teaching me patience. I thought I was a patient person before his birth, but now I see how much room I had to grow. Leaving the house, getting in the carseat, shopping at the grocery store, attending church, and traveling to see family feels like mobilizing an army. And I just have one child. Much respect for families with multiple kids. I don’t know how you do it.

1.  Most importantly, he gives me perspective when I need it most. He causes me to remember what makes life rich and worth living. Relationships. People. Connection. Just when I think I need other things to make me happy, he reminds me the essentials are usually simple and free and natural. Sharing a meal. Bedtime hugs. Reading a book together on the floor. He seems to never forget these things because he isn’t weighed down by any other expectations. I’m grateful to be his father. He is teaching me important lessons.

Helicopter Parents, Tiger Moms, and Free Range Dads, Oh My!

Last weekend, my wife and I took my son to the playground. As we arrived, an older girl was climbing a curved, metal ladder that extended to a platform about five feet high. After studying her, I could tell my son was eager to climb. He shuffled his hands on the metal rails and lifted his feet to the first rung. His two-year-old motor skills were developed just enough to maintain balance. I kept my distance, a few feet away.

As he climbed, he was looking around at kids darting across a bridge. His legs wobbled. Keep your distance, Billy, keep your distance. After regaining focus, he climbed three-quarters of the way up the ladder but a boy screamed on the slide causing him to turn his head and he completely missed a rung, his leg dangled in the air, torso pressed against the ladder. Keep your distance, Billy, keep your distance. He regrouped and kept climbing and reached the top and stepped on the platform. He stood with raised hands and a mile-wide smile. “I do it all by myself,” he said, before running to the slide. I released a deep breath.

I’m learning to navigate the tension of parenting, knowing when to intervene and when to make room for my child to take risks. It’s tough. I didn’t want my toddler son to smash his head into the ground. But if I intervened I would have removed the risk that allowed him to accomplish a steep climb. I would have robbed him of newfound self-confidence. It was awesome to watch him smile on top of the platform and I wish I could say I am the trusting parent who always errs on the side of stepping away and managing my own anxiety. But that would be a big fat lie.

I am an anxious daddy. And here is what I hate to admit:  I am at risk of becoming a helicopter parent. Maybe I already am one. Ugh. I don’t want to swarm my child with anxiety, undermining his ability to make decisions and care for himself. I don’t want to be THAT parent. Nor do I want to be a tiger mom (always pushing my child.) And I don’t think I will ever be a free-range daddy, even though I like the ideas associated with this parenting style. So, where do I stand?

I’ve not spent significant time discerning whether or not I am a helicopter parent or tiger mom or free-range dad. I wasn’t interested in the debate until I read last Sunday about Mike Lanza’s Playborhood in The New York Times Magazine. His radical parenting philosophy, the polar opposite of a helicopter parent, jarred me. It left me with much to ponder. The gist of the article is that Lanza created a Playborhood (a creative and inviting playground) in the backyard of his suburban, San Francisco neighborhood. It is a space for his children and neighborhood kids to engage in unsupervised, free play and take risks which he considers a key ingredient to growth.

After reading it, his parenting ideas caused my head to spin. Lanza is talking about more than benign wrestling matches in the backyard; he allows his kids access to the attic of their home, which contains a door to the roof (a two story home) where they can hang out. Also, they climb to the roof of a backyard playhouse and jump off onto a large trampoline.

His ideas are extreme and make me uncomfortable. Yet, I have to admit they are compelling and I believe he has put his finger on a real problem, the toxic anxiety of modern parenting. His free play philosophy is so striking because it runs counter to conventional parenting norms.

To be clear, I really don’t think we can label parents and shove them into rigid boxes on different ends of the spectrum. But for the sake of thoughtfulness, I think it is helpful to use the categories to help you think through your parenting style.

I resist these labels because I don’t think rigid parenting philosophies are what children need. Parenting is a relationship. It involves two unique human beings. Two complicated people. And to make a parent-child relationship work flexibility is needed and one must always be adjusting to the needs of the other. I would never seek out a marriage philosophy or a philosophy to relate to my parents or grandparents or other family members. So, it seems a bit silly to think we can formulate parenting philosophies as if parenting is a one way relationship that is not changing every day. It seems subscribing to a parneting philosophy takes your eyes off the kid in front of you and their particular needs and places it on your self and the needs of your ego.

I want to be somewhere in the middle of the spectrum and wave my own flag. I want to be the fluid parent that looks at my child and their stage in development and draws the resources I need based on where they are at. I am not interested in rigid philosophies and adhereing to them at all costs. I need more flexibility. I’m not a tiger mom or a free range dad or a helicopter parent. I am me.

There are parts I admire about both ends of the spectrum. I want to blend the attentiveness of the helipcopter parent with the trust of the free range parent. I want to be present to address my kid’s needs but I also want to respect his boundaries and make sure he has room to take risks and do what he needs to learn and grow.

One of the parents I admire most in our social circle is one that I consider resourceful. She doesn’t strike me as an anxious, hovering parent nor does she strike me as the parent who embraces any extremes of free play. She seems to stand somewhere in the middle. I would argue what makes her so skillful is her knack to find the resources her child needs to deal with whatever problem is present. She knows how to be aware of what is going on in her kid’s life and then turn and find the help needed.

She is a self-aware parent, which I think is a critical skill for parents to hone and develop more so than developing a specific parenting philosophy. Its often our own crap, our own unresolved issues, that impact our kids the most. Sure, there are plenty of real dangers in the world but are we aware of the issues we force our kids to deal with under our roof everyday. These are the things more likely to derail them–addiction, abuse, neglect, uncontrolled anger. The things we must turn away from the world to see and look inward.

I know this idea does not sound as interesting or exciting as a tiger mom or free range dad. Maybe it sounds kinda boring. Maybe a bit obvious or old fashioned. I think people like Mike Lanza are in the headlines because their extreme views invite discussion and prove interesting. That is fine and I think he offers exciting ideas. But I don’t think our kids need newspapers headlines or extreme ideas. They need stable, reliable, and resourceful parents who can problem solve when physical and emotional issues arise. And also know when to leave kids alone.

An Open Letter To Pumpkin Spice Cheerios

I’m not that kind of guy. I’m loyal. A man committed to regular Cheerios. Sure, sometimes I try apple cinnamon and honey nut, but I always come back to my steady. My plain pulverized oats.

I rolled my cart past you, but the next week I saw you again and gazed at your burnt orange box. On your cover, the miniature pumpkin and bundled cinnamon sticks, artfully arranged next to a wooden spoon, caused my hands to tingle. I resisted but knew it was only a matter of time. I would give myself to your seasonal spices.

At home, I stalked you on-line. I read your reviews. I studied your ingredients: 6 parts ground cinnamon, 1 part nutmeg, 1 part ginger, 1/2 part allspice, and 1/2 part ground cloves.

For a few days, I forgot about you until I returned to the store. In a moment of weakness, on a sleep deprived day with my toddler son in the cart, I drifted towards your end cap. I stared at your wall of burnt orange. I noticed your sale price and, finally, I grabbed you off the shelf and held you eye-level. I flipped you to your backside and found more cinnamon sticks and pumpkins. I could no longer resist you. I gave in to my desires.

At home, I hid you in the pantry between the Go Lean Crunch and Raisin Bran because I felt guilt. The moment I treasured most with you was during my son’s naptime when I poured a bowl of you and watched you turn my milk a shade of brown. Your pumpkin puree overwhelmed my taste buds. And left me with a belly full of regret. I knew I had betrayed my plain Cheerios.

At dinner, I told my wife what I had done. I asked her to keep an open mind. I told her I was experimenting. She shook her head and silently judged me. I felt like a seasonal sucker and owned by you and fallen to an onslaught of fall marketing madness. I told myself I would not taste you again.

So, I threw you in the trash because the emotional toll became too much. But a few hours later, after my wife went to bed, I retrieved you. I did this because things are so exciting when you are around. Yet, I know I can’t keep doing this. I feel torn. It’s too much. You have to go.