Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Good Parent Ideal

by Cynthia Rajchman, LMFT, Mommy & Me Instructor at The Pump Station & Nurtury®

Being a parent is wonderful, and while it is also a very personal experience it can sometimes feel like everyone has something to say about the way parents parent. In our society, there is immense pressure to be “good parents.” The pressure is such that we can start to believe that we have to live up to an ideal we haven’t created for ourselves.  

While pregnant, I remember feeling that every question my husband and I were asked by family, friends, and even strangers was a measure (or a judgment?) of whether or not we were good parents-to-be. Questions such as, “What does the nursery look like?” “What stroller are you going to get?” “Have you started thinking of preschools?” would elicit quips in my head I was afraid to utter lest I be thought of as a thoughtless mom. “Hmm... nursery...? It looks like an empty room with a crib that I haven’t set up yet.” “Yes, I bought a stroller. I traded my car in for it.” “Preschool?!?!?!?!?!” Are those the wrong answers?

The list is endless. Once our daughter was born, it felt like the interrogations got even worse because unsolicited advice would often follow. If I was breastfeeding, I was told that I should complement with formula so our child gets the calories she needs to grow and develop. If I were to bottle-feed, I would be told my child wasn’t attaching to me correctly. If my husband insisted on buying organic only, he was ridiculed for wasting money on sheer marketing. Yet, if we bought conventionally grown produce we were told our child was being exposed to harmful agrotoxins. If we let our child explore and go on her own at the playground, we got nervous looks from other parents. If we stayed close, we were helicopter parents. Our inner voices-which were habitually loud and strong-became shy and cluttered with other voices that we didn’t recognize as our own.

Deep sigh.

The thing is, we also have questions. We do want advice. But more importantly, we want to be heard and understood, and know that it’s OK if we don’t have all the answers right away.

Talking to other parents going through similar processes helped my husband and me feel that we were not alone. It allowed us to release some of that pressure and to explore what it means to us to be a good parent, not through the lens of societal expectations, but through our own experiences and feelings. It gave us space to figure things out without feeling judged for not having all the answers or not knowing what to expect.

Learning to be a parent is a social endeavor, and it requires support and help from other parents who know what we’re each facing. In Mommy & Daddy & Me, we get to explore these issues in a safe, non-judgmental environment so you can discover how to be the parents you want to be. As we discuss some of the issues around being first-time parents, I will give you information that I hope you will find useful while not overwhelming you with advice and opinions. I invite you to get to know other parents who, like you and me, ultimately want the best for our children.

I promise to listen without judging, and to be a witness of your child’s development. I promise to give you the tools to listen to your inner voice, and trust it.

Cynthia Rajchman, LMFT is a Mommy & Me Leader at The Pump Station & Nurtury and is currently leading 2 Mommy, Daddy & Me Groups on Sunday at the Santa Monica location.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Raising Multiples - An Instructor’s Personal Experience

by Laurie Kinigstein, LCSW, Mommy & Me Instructor at The Pump Station & Nurtury®

The moment an expecting mother discovers she is having multiples can be surreal. Feelings of shock, excitement, panic and gratitude all set in at once. These conflicting feelings often continue throughout the early stages of parenting multiples, and many parents find themselves overwhelmed and exhausted while simultaneously being overjoyed about their growing family.

In my first few months as a parent of fraternal twin daughters, I experienced all of these conflicting feelings. In addition to the constant conflict between being overwhelmed and elated, I was always exhausted. My friends who had singleton babies experienced a similar range of feelings, but I couldn’t help wonder if my experience was more intense in some ways. I was completely preoccupied with feeding, sleeping, and overall survival.

My journey began with an intense preoccupation with my milk supply and with my babies’ growth and weight gain. It seemed my daughters were always smaller than their same-aged peers, and my decision to attempt to exclusively nurse was often questioned by family and friends. I also found that I was exhausted from severe sleep deprivation and overwhelmed with caretaking responsibilities. Would my babies ever sleep at the same time? Would we ever be on a predictable schedule so that I could get anything done around the house?

In the first couple of months, I consulted anyone I could about these and other questions. I spent hours calling and visiting my pediatrician.  I also sought advice from other medical professionals and my friends with young children. I turned to the internet and read segments of books when time allowed. Nevertheless, the questions kept coming, and the majority of my days were simply about surviving and preparing myself for another long, sleepless night.

When my daughters turned 3 months, I began attending two different Mommy and Me groups. The groups became my primary source of parenting information and support.  Much of my confusion and internal conflict about parenting was alleviated. Through the support of my instructors who had experience raising twins, I was able to get my daughters on a feeding and sleep schedule that worked for all of us. Whereas I was previously questioning my decision to nurse, I now felt supported and motivated to continue nursing my daughters. I gained skills in communicating with my babies and learned about activities to facilitate bonding.  In the end, I found myself more attuned to my babies’ needs and increasingly able to help facilitate a secure parent-child attachment.

The combination of support and concrete skills that I gained from my experience in parenting classes led to my increased satisfaction as a mother. I was a more confident parent, and I learned to trust my instincts.  I also developed lasting friendships and enjoyed the benefits of being part of a parenting community. My daughters are turning seven this summer, and as I reflect on my Mommy and Me experience, I realize that I continue to utilize the communication style and intervention strategies that I developed in my parenting classes.   

Knowing first-hand the rollercoaster ride that is the honest start to many people’s parenting journey, I decided to expand my specialization as a child therapist to include postpartum adjustment challenges and parenting support.  I am thrilled to be facilitating a group focused specifically on parenting multiples for The Pump Station & Nurtury® this fall (Click here to reserve your spot or email for more info).  I feel honored to have the opportunity to support and guide other parents of multiples on their unique, challenging, wonderful and overwhelming journeys of parenthood. 

If you would like more info on our upcoming groups please email the following with your babies' names, Due Date/Birth Date and a phone number. You can reserve your spot with a deposit:
Santa Monica/Conejo Valley:
or reserve your spot here...

Laurie Kinigstein, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in West LA, specializing in perinatal mental health issues and postpartum adjustment challenges. Laurie also works for Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles where she facilitates support groups and provides individual therapy in the New Moms Connect program. She received her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin and subsequently worked as a child and adolescent psychotherapist for over ten years prior to expanding her specialization to include parenting support and postpartum depression. Laurie's experience parenting twin daughters has led to her passion for supporting new moms as they attempt to navigate their unique parenting journeys.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why I Spin

Otherwise titled – Why I continue to drink the SoulCycle Kool-Aid
By Cheryl Petran, CEO of The Pump Station & Nurtury®

Daniela turned 8 in April. In my role as a parent, I’ve desperately tried to find ways to get in a quick powerful workout that leaves me wanting more. SoulCycle gives me that and more. I’d like to share with you some of the reasons why I think they are an amazing resource for new parents... oddly I came up with 11 …. My lucky number….

  1. The instructors, the staff – from the moment you walk in until the moment you leave you are surrounded by the positive energy of everyone that works there. They are pleasant, thoughtful, and welcoming to everyone. Thank them – they’ve earned that.
  2. It’s dark! No makeup. Hair in a pony-tail. Comfy workout clothes. Heaven.
  3. The music – I love music, I love being surrounded by music - even the genres of music I don’t love – I love when I’m there. Try the different instructors – they hand pick their music for each ride - you’ll find some speak to you more than others. Some speak to you on some days,
  4. It’s dark! Did I mention that already? Just you, riding by yourself, but part of a pack. Part of a group of people all heading in one direction together, and it’s a positive one.
  5. The most productive 45 minutes of exercising you can find as a new parent. Let’s face it, finding “me-time” as a parent is tough. We take what we can get. This is by far the best 45 minute sweat you can get – with such positive energy.
  6. It gets easier, really.  First ride I thought I was going to die. By my 3rd ride I was disappointed when the ride was over. I wanted more.
  7. You set your bar. It’s not a competition. The instructors will tell you, listen to your body. They are not telling you what you have to do, they are just guiding you. Do what you are comfortable with – don’t do anything more than what you are comfortable with. It’s dark, no one can see what you are or aren’t doing.
  8. Me-time – 45 minutes of time for me and me alone. Yes, while I’m there I’m thinking about my daughter, my family, my life, my work – but I’m doing it while I’m doing something amazingly good for me!
  9. Endorphins…. According to Dr. Jill CampbellThe Pump Station & Nurtury's on-staff psychologist and curriculum director for our wonderful Mommy & Me Program, exercise will boost the release of endorphins, a mood elevator that provides you with a sense of well-being. In addition, when you are doing something good for your body, you feel more in control and connected to your body. This helps you to be kinder and less critical of yourself. When you are doing something healthy for your body, you can’t help but feel better about it.
  10. “Aspire to Inspire” – Boldly printed on the wall of their SaMo studio – I read this and think, “I just have to do my best to inspire my daughter. I don’t have to be an inspiration all the time.”  I leave there feeling that if I aspire to inspire her I will probably be successful. I’m good with that. Parenting is hard; all I can do is my best.
  11. Community – one of the most powerful messages often shared during a ride – “if you need to slow up, that’s ok, get in the saddle – ride at your pace - everyone in this room  has your back” – It speaks to who we are at The Pump Station & Nurtury. We are your pack. We are here to help and support. We welcome you to come in and let us take care of you.
Give SoulCycle a try. You may love it, you may hate it. Either way, it’ll help get you out of the house – allow you to do something for you. As a new parent you’ve earned that. Enjoy!
Calling All LA & Hollywood parents!

SoulCycle has a NEW studio in Hollywood and we are so excited to take it for a test ride! Join us on Wednesday, June 17 at 5:30pm for a FREE workout. Bikes are limited so RSVP today! Click here to let us know you are coming.

**PLEASE NOTE: Classes start PROMPTLY. Attendees are suggested to arrive at least 15 minutes prior in order to sign-in, rent cycling shoes and get set up on their bikes. For everyone's safety, anyone who arrives 5 minutes after class time will not be permitted to take class.   

See you on a bike!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Congratulations! You are expecting twins. So now what do you do?!

by Kate DiRienzo-Payne
Finding out you are expecting twins is a blessing and a shock rolled into one. Your initial reaction of “wow, we are having TWO babies” will likely be followed quickly by “HOW are we going to do it?!” You are not alone – these are the initial, confused feelings of ALL expecting parents of multiples.

Preparation is essential. As a mom to fraternal twin boys I’ve learned firsthand how important it is to be ready for twins. Unlike singletons you can’t just hope everything falls into place, because it doesn’t. Here are my five key points to keep in mind when preparing for your new babies

1.     Be as prepared as you can by 28 weeks: close to 50% of Moms expecting multiples are placed on some form of bed-rest and this is often around this time. Make this your cutoff point and save yourself the stress of being stuck in bed and unable to test strollers or pick out bedding. At the very least, make sure you have had your baby shower by then (if you are having one) and have done your maternity pictures!

2.     Don’t buy two of everything – it is a myth that twins can’t or don’t share. This is especially true when it comes to activity toys such as rockers, bouncers or anything electric. Instead buy different types so that you can rotate the babies between each. This will also ensure you don’t give over space at home to two jumperoos that neither baby enjoys, and save you a trip to the store to return them! Also look on your local twin groups and Facebook pages; moms are always parting with baby gear at a much lower price!

3.     Take advice from other moms of twins. You will find great comfort hearing from moms that have been through it, whether they’re new moms or more experienced. Parenting techniques evolve so recent experiences and techniques are useful. But the backbone to your twin learning may well come from older moms who are a wealth of amazing information and can act often as our lighthouse.

4.     Choose a medical support team that has experience with multiples – this applies in all areas from OB’s to pediatricians. Multiple births, twin development, even twin milestones can vary greatly from singletons so try and find experts that are experienced in this so you can feel 100% comfortable in their care.

5.     Plan to schedule everything from the moment the babies come home. Keeping the twins on the same feeding, sleeping, activity schedule means you can plan your day effectively and not feel like you are running around 24/7 with no respite. You can organize your partner, family and friends to chip in and take turns feeding as you will know what time the babies’ awake periods will be.

6.     Lastly, believe in yourself! Having twins is so thrilling and yet can feel overwhelming at times. Take it one day at a time. The days may feel long but the time really does go by fast. Enjoy the extra kisses, hugs, cuddles and unwavering love that only moms of twins have the benefit of receiving. 

Kate DiRienzo-Payne has experience working in the childcare industry as a caregiver and also in the pre-schools. Over two and a half years ago she began her journey of becoming a mom to multiples. Living far from her family, meant she and her husband were going to be traveling the road to twins without the close-by support of their families. She set out on learning everything thing there is to know about twins by taking classes, reading books, testing products, and speaking with other twin moms. Along with raising two happy, healthy, adventurous twin boys, she is focused on bringing other twin moms in the Los Angeles area together to give each other the support and TLC they need.

Kate also teaches The Pump Station & Nurtury's NEW Expecting Multiples Baby Care class in Hollywood. Topics covered are personalized to your TWINS! Topics include but are not limited to: Feeding, (breastfeeding, bottle feeding and Introduction to Solids. Sleeping: Rhythms and methods that will work for you. Scheduling: Effective tips to make your day easier. Baby gear: What you need and don't need (we save you money!)
For more information click here...

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Incredible Long Term Benefits of Parent Child Classes

By Lisa Cook, Founder of KidSwim

Parent-child swimclasses are incredibly popular and with good reason; they are economical, fun, social, and a great new experience for your baby. Warm water feels so soothing and calming to them, even babies that tend to be more tentative almost always relax and warm to the idea of being in the water. Most babies who nap after swim class tend to take marathon naps and have no trouble falling asleep. They are getting stimulation, exercise, and quality time with mom or dad (or both!)

But what skills are they absorbing that have any real lasting impact? Believe it or not, the long-term positive effects are huge! First of all, babies who begin swim class between 6-9 months of age and maintain once a week exposure to the environment throughout the months up until age two, will almost always be swimming by age two without ANY fear, resistance, anxiety, or tears! It’s amazing how easily babies transition into swimming toddlers when it’s an environment with which they are comfortable and know well. The best part of it is, you really don’t even need the class more than once a week over an extended period of time. At Kidswim we recommend having swim class for as many months as you are able and minimizing the winter months when they won’t swim (of course if you have access to an indoor pool, you can go year round). Nine months on and three months off is ideal.

While initially it seems that the skills are so rudimentary that you might wonder how this translates into real swimming, just remember that the skills develop as your child develops. If your child has a fairly consistent parent-child swim experience then you can look forward to the following at two years old:

  1. Being able to swim short distances with face in the water, both holding breath and blowing bubbles while kicking.
  2. Being able to jump into the pool and swim to you.
  3. Being able to swim to the wall, reach, and catch the wall and climb out unassisted (in most pools, except ones with particularly high side walls).
  4. Being able to float both on their front and back - either completely unassisted or with very little assistance.
  5. Being able to dive down with some assistance to the bottom of the shallow-end side of the pool to retrieve a toy.
  6. In some cases, children around age two can actually begin to perform basic stroke work - big arms, and beginning breaststroke.

And the biggest benefit is simply that around age two your child will avoid the period of fear and resistance that can happen when introduced to a new environment and that expedites the process to get to the next stage. A child that begins swimming at age two and a half or three without prior experience takes, on average, two summers to learn to swim effectively, while a child who has taken parent-child swim classes only requires one summer to learn to swim and then going forward, builds up technique, endurance and confidence towards water safety. It’s truly a win-win all the way around. Enjoy!

Lisa Cook, mother of two, is a water safety expert with 30 years experience in aquatics. She empowers parents with concrete facts about what water safety really means and how to achieve it. Lisa believes a positive swim experience is a family affair. To book a free, no-obligation seminar at your home, parenting group, or your child's school, call 1-877-579-SWIM (7946).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tips for Applying to Preschool

by Dr. Michelle Nitka – Child psychologist and author of Coping With Preschool Panic the Los Angeles Guide to Private Preschools

Never mind college. How do you get your kids into preschool? Choosing a preschool, and being chosen, has come to feel like a competitive sport. The process of applying to preschool is enough to push parents of hearty constitutions to the edge.

But it does not have to be this way. Despite what some overachieving parents think, admission to the “right” preschool will not set your child on the road to Harvard. What is vastly more important is to finding the preschool that fits your child and your family. Given that the preschool search often begins when a child is not even a year old many parents may well ask, “How do I know who he is yet?  He can scarcely eat without drooling!”  It is important therefore to pay attention not only to your child’s needs but also to your own. The following tips will hopefully start you in the right direction.


1)  Do you want your child in a half-day program or a full-day program? How much flexibility do you need in terms of number of days your child is in school and hours your child is in school?

2)  How far do you want to drive? There are many outstanding preschool programs, and unless you have a pathological desire to listen to Barney or Elmo during long car rides, the closer the better.

3)  How much do you want to spend on preschool? Don’t forget hidden costs like the annual fund drive, capital campaigns, endowment funds, galas, etc. They all have different names but add up to the same thing – you are writing checks which can add thousands of dollars to your tuition.

4)  What is the educational philosophy you are most comfortable with (remembering of course that you are looking for the best fit for your child)? There are lots of choices out there, including but not limited to traditional academic, developmental, cooperative, Reggio Emilia, Montessori, and Waldorf. 

5)  Would you consider sending your child to a preschool affiliated with a church or a temple? Remember that just because a preschool is affiliated with a religious institution does not necessary mean it is a religious preschool.   If you are interested in a preschool affiliated with a church or temple, joining the congregation can give you an advantage in the admissions process.

6)  Is diversity important to you, and if so, what kind of diversity is important to you?  Some schools are founded on the idea of having a diverse student body, while others are extremely homogeneous.

7)  Does your child have any special needs that might affect whether a preschool is a good fit? Some preschool directors are exceptional at working with and including children with special needs, while others seem to regard it as a burden.

8)  How much parent participation do you want to see in the preschool? What are the opportunities for parent involvement, and what are the expectations? There are some preschools, for example cooperative nursery schools, that by definition require a good deal of parent participation. If you have a very inflexible work schedule this may not be a good choice. On the other hand for a parent who has quit their job to be involved in their child’s early education, a school with little to no parent involvement might be quite frustrating.

9)  What is the school’s policy on toilet training?  Some preschools have a very strict requirement that a child must be toilet trained to start preschool while others are far more lenient and realize that peer modeling will probably accomplish the task rather rapidly. 

10) After preschool do you plan to send your child to public or private school? There are some preschools where everyone will graduate and attend private elementary schools. Those directors typically help their families with this application process and are very well versed in it. On the other hand, there are many excellent preschools where no one continues on to private school. 

11) Apply to the toddler program of the preschool you are interested in. Many preschools have toddler programs that start when the child is about 18 months old. Toddler programs generally meet once a week and the parent stays with the child. These programs are an excellent way of getting to know a preschool program. Although it is not a guarantee, many preschools acknowledge that attending their toddler program does afford the child an advantage in terms of admission to the preschool.

Finally, try to remember that although these first decisions regarding your child’s education are important, no preschool can ever replace you. There are no golden tickets – no preschool will guarantee success.  It is far more important to be a loving, involved, present parent.

Get Dr. Michelle Nitka's Book
Dr. Michelle Nitka teaches our Hot Topics lecture "Coping With Pre-School Panic" at all our store locations. For the next lecture near you contact:
  • Santa Monica: 310-998-1981
  • Hollywood: 323-469-5300

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mama, Dada, I’m ready for a Nap Schedule! 5 signs your baby is ready for ‘time of day’ naps.

By Julie Wright, MFT

Nap confusion is way up on the list of parents’ sleep questions and concerns.  No surprise here. Naps are notoriously tricky and constantly shifting like a moving target. 

In our book, we tout the incredible ‘90 minute awake span’ technique—a life-changer for babies and their exhausted parents in the early months. But what happens next?  How do we know when our little one is ready to move from napping based on how long he’s been awake, to a nap schedule based on the clock? 

The good news is your baby will show you the way. Here are 5 signs from your baby that he is ready for a nap schedule.

1.  I’m about 5 – 6 months old.
It may surprise you to hear that your baby’s circadian system—her internal clock that signals night, day and nap times—has matured a great deal by this age. Now she’s moved from the erratic sleep patterns of her early months into much more predictable, by-the-clock timing for going to sleep and waking up. 

Other developmental areas are also surging forward at break neck speed.  She is sucking her fingers or thumb, snuggling with her lovey and nestling her body to get comfy. By this age or soon, she is rolling and becoming comfortable with her physical prowess and newfound freedom. All of these lovely skills contribute to her ability to self soothe.

2.  I can fall asleep on my own!
Once your baby is doing what he is built to do – fall asleep on his own, you’re well on your way to much more predictable and scheduled naps.  That’s because when babies are accessing their innate capacity to fall sleep without outside help from you (rocking, bouncing, swinging, stroller, etc.), they sleep longer and more deeply.  They also are able to put themselves back to sleep after a sleep cycle or being awakened by a loud noise.  If they fall asleep in their familiar sleep space, using their helpful sleep associations (thumb, fingers, lovey, body position), they know just what to do to go back to sleep. 

3. My naps are starting to get longer.
What a welcome change! You thought it would never happen but those dreaded 30-minute (or less) naps are finally starting to stretch out!

Little babies often go down for their first nap after only an hour of awake time.  By about 6 months, especially if your baby is getting the 11-12 hours at night that her brain and body require, you’ll also see that span grow to 90 minutes and longer. These are sure signs that she is moving to a nice nap schedule.

4. My morning wake up time is settling in – finally!
Why oh why do little ones think 5:00am is a good time to start the day? 

This is very normal, but the good news is with maturity, self-soothing to sleep, and a consistent pattern of response from you, your early riser will start sleeping to at least his 11-hour mark (11 hours since bedtime)—which is what we want him to do. Once your little one is predictably ‘finishing his night’ and waking at about the same time each morning, this sets the stage for tolerating a longer awake span and being ready to move into time of day naps.

5.  My internal clock is showing the way.
Here’s the really cool one.  We know that sleep is natural and babies are built to sleep.  Well, then it would only make sense that their little bodies and brains know when it’s time to move to scheduled naps.  And it’s true!  You will start to notice a pattern emerging where that first nap not only moves a little later, but starts to settle into a predictable time of day.  You will no longer need to meticulously count the minutes of awake time but can now set your baby’s schedule. 

Here are examples of typical nap schedules for babies 6-9 months old:

                                    EXAMPLE 1                                    EXAMPLE 2

7:00 p.m.
7:30 p.m.
Wake time
6:00 a.m.
6:30 a.m.
First Nap
7:30 a.m.
8:30 a.m.
Second Nap
12:00 p.m.
12:30 p.m.
Third Nap
3:00 p.m.
3:30 p.m.

For more sleep help, join us at The Happy Sleeper Sleep Class for babies 5-24 months (all ages welcome). The next class is April 3, 11:15am – 12:45pm in Santa Monica. In the class we’ll teach you our approach for helping babies,
·      Fall asleep independently
·      Sleep through the night
·      Take healthy naps

Julie Wright and Heather Turgeon are the authors of the new book, The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Newborn to School Age (Penguin Random House).  Follow them on Facebook @TheHappySleeper