Celebrate Bike Safety Month with Helmet Safety Tips

While a lot has changed for many during the past couple months, the month of May remains Bike Safety Month. Watch this short, educational bike safety video from the the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Safety Store as a family and make sure your bike helmets fit correctly before your next bike ride! Does someone in your family need a new helmet? Purchase helmets online from the Safety Store for $9/each! *Enjoy FREE SHIPPING on bike helmets May 25-30 using the code “HELMET” at check out.*

Both of my kids received new bike helmets in April as we were doing a lot more bike riding while at home. We moved to a new house in November, and it is located on a low-traffic cul-de-sac. Little did we know how much our kids would look forward to their daily bike rides outside during our time of isolation.

Both of my kids, ages 5 and 8 years old, had to adjust to their new helmets. It is important to make sure you buy a helmet that is the right size for your child. Additionally, it takes a bit of time to make sure the helmet is fitting their head the right way. The size may be right, but if it is not adjusted correctly it may not function properly.

Be sure you are wearing your bike helmets correctly by following a few simple tips:


Take a measurement of the head you are buying a helmet for. If you are at the store, try the helmets on to see what size feels right. You will eventually adjust the straps in all places until the helmet is sitting snug on the head. But that won’t matter if you buy the wrong size helmet to begin with. My son’s head was just big enough to fit into the next size up, so it was especially important for us to properly adjust the straps on his helmet. It took a bit of time, but we got there and I feel much more secure in knowing his helmet is adjusted appropriately.


The helmet should sit level on the helmet wearers head. This means it is sitting low on the forehead and one or two finger-widths above the eyebrows. Often an accurately positioned helmet makes your forehead sweat and your hair messy. If those two things are happening, your bike helmet is probably positioned correctly. Luckily my daughter wears low ponytails at the nape of her neck, which means it doesn’t get in the way of her helmet. When she complains about her sweaty forehead I say, “That’s what is supposed to be happening. Keep riding!”

Side Straps:

Adjust the slider on both straps to form a “V” shape under, and slightly in front of, the ears. Many helmets also have a lock for the sliders. If your helmet has this, lock the side straps into place. My son was NOT a fan of this part. The poor guy was so annoyed with how many times we tried to form that “V” shape. His patience was thin but it increased when we said that if he didn’t have his helmet on correctly, he couldn’t ride his bike. (Mommy for the win!)

Buckles and Chin Strap:

Center the left buckle under the chin. On most helmets, the straps can be pulled from the back of the helmet to lengthen or shorten the chin straps. This task is easier if you take the helmet off to make these adjustments for length, if needed. Once adjusted to the needed length, buckle the chin strap. Tighten the strap until it is snug, so that no more than one or two fingers fit under the strap. To be honest, this part was a MESS for us. We accidentally buckled my daughters chin into her strap. She was NOT happy and tears flowed. She reminds us about the time we pinched her chin into her helmet buckle regularly. Oops.

And some general tips for Bike Helmet Safety:

  • If there is a significant crash while wearing the helmet, replace it; damage is not always visible.
  • Don’t plan for your kids to grow into their helmet. Buy and fit the helmet for their head size right now.
  • Make sure the helmet is comfortable. It is much more likely to be worn if it feels good while being worn.
  • That bike helmet is not in a rock and roll band. The helmet should not be rocking forward, backward or from side to side while on the wearers head. If it is rocking, readjust the straps.
  • Be a role model for your kids. Adults and children should both be wearing bike helmets. Your kids will be encouraged by watching you practice bike safety.

Now get outside and enjoy this May weather and celebrate Bike Safety Month!

This is a sponsored post. ICM was compensated for sharing this piece.  However, we love connecting our readers with people and organizations that are doing good in our community, and we think you will find this information helpful and informative!

Boredom Busters for Mom During Quarantine


I have found myself doing lots of mindless snacking with all the extra time at home since COVID-19 took over our lives. I found I needed to add in some variety to my normal free time routine — however small it may be.

Here are a few ideas to get you started!


Go for a walk, go alone, go with your kids, take your dog.  Dust off the bike, throw on a basket and get that take out. Try a YouTube fitness or dance video. Host a virtual dance party with your friends or kids or both!


Try a new book, genre or re-read a classic or one of your favorites. See this post on how to access free reading from our local libraries.

Complete a home project!

I’ve been putting off dealing with my chipped base boards I just need to order the paint and do it. Can someone please hold me accountable for this?

Try something new!

A new game, puzzle, try Sudoku or crosswords, oil paint or a craft.

Try a new recipe!

Dust off your old Pinterest boards and make something new!

Work your green thumb!

Or try to turn your black thumb green! Start a garden or try to keep one plant alive (my current goal).

Give yourself a makeover!

Style your hair a new way, try a new lip color. Give yourself a mani and pedi! Purge your closet of unwanted items and have what you only wear to feel lighter and refreshed.

Spring Clean!

We all have lots in our home we do not need or use and now is the time to finally do this!

Host a spa day!

Give yourself a mani, pedi. Take a long bath and play some soothing music, light some candles and lock the bathroom door.

Play a game!

Dominoes, cards, scrabble, anything! Now is the time to teach your kids your favorite games you grew up with or have a unique date night after the kids go to bed.




Q&A With a Child and Infant Sleep Consultant

This is a sponsored post. Special thanks to our partner, Sweet Slumber LLC, for providing the content for today's post.  Iowa City Moms exclusively partners with businesses & resources that we trust and believe in, and we share their content with our readers' best interests in mind.

Raise your hand if you’ve struggled through sleepless nights with your kids at one point or another. Now, for the 99.9% of you who have your hand up, we’ve got some great news! Today we’re chatting with Meredith Brough, mom of five and the founder of Sweet Slumber LLC.  Meredith is a sleep consultant, offering a Successful Sleep program dedicated to helping mothers of children from 4 weeks to 6 years old with her gentle, “no cry” methods that support intuitive parenting practices to meet children’s needs. Her tips and tricks have been proven successful time and time again, and we hope that you, our Iowa City Moms readers, can find help for your families after reading through her answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that she receives from parents struggling to get their kids (and themselves) a good night’s sleep.

What does “sleep training” even mean?

Sleep Training is the process of training young children to fall asleep alone and to stay asleep at night. It typically involves leaving them to cry without being comforted which can be difficult for moms and children to endure.

There are positive ways to teach young children to sleep well, too. I teach mothers of babies, toddlers and children (4 weeks to 6 years old) to follow a sensitive and gentle approach that forms permanent sleep habits smoothly. My clients teach their little ones to sleep well and sleep all night by drawing from nature, building trust and security, offering reassurance, and conforming to their children’s unique needs and personalities. 

When can you start sleep training or teaching babies to sleep well?

Using my gentle, “no-cry” methods means parents can begin shaping their children’s sleep habits as early as 4-6 weeks old or when parents are ready. While babies are young, they are more teachable and flexible, so the sooner the process begins, the better. Starting to build skills in the early months can also make the process easier because there are fewer disruptions that affect babies’ moods and sleep. In the first few months or so, there are shorter mental leaps (1 week long instead of several weeks), a lower chance of teething, and fewer physical milestones. In the later months, it is still possible to work through disruptions, when children have cooperative moods during the day. It is worth the effort because after sleep habits are established, parents and babies receive the benefits of high quality sleep, naps grow longer, and sleep disruptions caused by mental leaps and teething decrease.

Do you only work with babies or can your services help my toddler sleep through the night too?

I coach parents of toddlers and small children, too. I offer services and support for 3 age groups: Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers. Toddlers are often the most resistant to change. But, since I teach parents to be creative and a bit sneaky in making changes, my program is a perfect fit for your toddler. My support and guidance is invaluable to parents during intense spells of teething and mental leaps between 12-24 months. I love helping parents sleep well after months or years of exhaustion. I also teach parents how to improve their toddlers’ and young children’s behavior. 

I don’t believe in cry-it-out. But, I need my child to sleep. Can you help?

This is my specialty! I am passionate about using gentle methods that bring peace AND progress. (It is very hard to find sleep consultants who fully support non-crying methods.) I created 6 of my own methods for babies and toddlers that eliminate crying, support the bond that you have with your child, create more security, and produce a feeling of safety and peace in the crib and bedroom. My methods for children work the same way. I am thrilled to offer you gentle and effective alternatives to crying methods!

I also work with couples who don’t want to co-sleep anymore or who want to continue co-sleeping but need to improve the family’s quality of sleep.

There is nothing wrong with nursing and rocking babies to sleep. But, empowering children to fall asleep on their own at nap-time and bedtime leads to connecting sleep cycles at night (when they are feeling well). This might mean sacrificing some closeness and affection during these times. Sleep deprived parents believe it is worth the sacrifice to help their children sleep well at night. During times of distress and discomfort, feel free to comfort your child the way that is most effective, especially at night. When sleep disruptions fizzle out, children with strong sleep habits and a sense of security will return to their beds and sleep soundly. Would you like to respond to your child at night feeling reassured and confident, instead of nervous and anxious? 

Remember that rocking can be a useful tool, too. For high energy or affectionate children, a few minutes of rocking can help them relax before going to sleep for naps and bedtime. Stop rocking before your child gets very sleepy, or slow down and stop intermittently, then get up to move to the bed.

Do all children have sleep regressions? When and what should I expect during a regression?

No, not all children go through sleep regressions! Personality traits, levels of sensitivity and physical attachment, and the strength of your child’s sleep habits will affect how sensitive he or she is to internal and physical changes. 

During sleep regressions, children are actually progressing! They are learning mentally, cognitively, physically, growing bigger and taller, and teething. Recognizing when these various stages are happening will give you patience and understanding as you allow them to run their course, peace of mind knowing they are temporary and natural, and the tools/knowledge to meet your child’s needs. Learn more about this topic in the next answer.

My child used to sleep really well, then suddenly it all fell apart. What did I do wrong?

When sleep suddenly changes, there is always a reason. You did nothing wrong! Mental leaps, teething, growth spurts, the period of separation anxiety around 28 weeks, and physical milestones are the reasons for weeks or months of sleep disruptions. You can offer relief and comfort to help them feel better during these times, and it’s important to take care of yourself the best that you can! 

Week-long periods of mental development take place every month for a week or longer, until babies are 3 months old. Leaps lengthen out to 4-6 weeks, occurring every other month or two, until 17 months, when they slow down a bit. The Wonder Weeks app can be a helpful tool, but the predictions can be off. After 18 months, there is little information available; you can assume that if your child is acting more grown up and clingy and sleep is a mess, it is probably because of a leap. 

Teething pain comes in waves, is confusing and can happen at any time. If your child bites down hard on toys and your finger, he or she is probably teething. Teeth can pop out in 1 short week or take months to emerge. During teething, children can be greatly impacted by pain and discomfort, affecting sleep, appetite, and moods. 

During sleep disruptions, schedules can be off, children tend to fight their sleep, act wired and feel awake despite sleep cues, take short naps, skip naps, wake often, act very clingy, fussy, cranky, and get up too early. They prefer sleeping in your arms or next to you. During these tough times, offer extra comfort and be patient. When your child is cooperative, build sleep habits during naps and bedtime. After your child learns to sleep deeply, the sleep disruptions will decrease.

My newborn sleeps too much during the day and is awake almost the whole night. How can I fix this?

Newborns need to sleep most of the day and the night. But, your infant does need to be awake some of the time for about 15-20 minutes and up to 45 minutes for some, in between naps. Limit each nap to 2 hours during the day. This will help your child eat often and have adequate awake time, even if it is just 20-30 minutes. Some babies are hard to wake. Try laying your baby on the floor (safely) to see if he or she stirs naturally. As soon as you can, begin the day within 30 minutes of the same time in the morning. 

Take advantage of sunlight to help your baby know the difference between night and day. Take your baby outside in the morning when weather permits and open the curtains in between morning wake-time, naps and bedtime. Your child’s body will become regulated and know the difference between day and night. All of these steps will lead to better nights of sleep!

My child either refuses to take naps or only takes short naps. How do I change this?

This problem occurs frequently during sleep disruptions like mental leaps or teething. If your child has been struggling with naps for a while, there are a few things you should know. It’s normal for newborns up to 3-4 months old to take 30-45 min naps and be fully rested. At 4 months, their sleep consolidates on its own and regular sleep cycles begin. 

Teach your baby to feel secure in bed and the bedroom so it becomes relaxing, natural, and comfortable to be in there. This small thing can make a really big difference. Children need just the right amount of wake-time in between naps, based on their individual needs. Some babies have very subtle cues and need their nap routines to start early. Other little ones have more obvious cues and parents need to identify which cues (and how many) signal the best timing for sleep. While your baby’s or toddler’s naps are improving, it is better to have frequent naps often, rather than keeping them up too long. After all of these steps, the last resort should be to extend each wake window by 15-30 minutes. This can work well when children are well-rested.  Helping your child learn to fall asleep alone is important, too, because that is how your little one will start connecting sleep cycles to extend naps!

How can I teach my child to self-soothe without making them cry it out?

There is evidence that shows that children cannot truly ”self-soothe” until they are 4-5 years old. But, there are some children with laid back, easy going personalities that seem to have an inner sense of security. These children are easy to teach sleep habits to. Pop in a pacifier, add a swaddle or sleep sack and some white noise and a child like this might learn to fall asleep without help. “Drowsy but awake” might also work well. All of the other personality types need their parents to regulate their emotions for them, in various ways.  Many children need physical closeness to calm and relax them, others need motion. Some sensitive children need their own space without physical contact.

The way that you teach your child to fall asleep should include a calming technique that is effective for his or her needs AND should help your child learn HOW to fall asleep. I have 6 of my own independent sleep methods for babies and toddlers that include these 2 steps, plus they teach children the last 2 essential skills: feeling trust and security when they are alone. Teach the independent sleep method during naps and bedtime, not at night. Allow a short amount of wait time (just a few minutes) during night awakenings to allow your child to connect sleep cycles. If you go through these steps, your child will feel at peace in bed and it will be easier to fall back asleep without your help. When your child doesn’t feel well, you will respond as needed, and the good habits will remain, because you have taken the time to lay a foundation. 

How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?

  1. Help your child take optimal or frequent naps. 
  2. Set up a peaceful bedtime routine in the same order at the same time. 
  3. Use white noise and a swaddle or sleep sack. 
  4. Remove white, yellow or LED lights and use a salt lamp or orange Hatch light, instead. 
  5. Teach your child to feel secure with or without you by offering crib and bedroom play time.
  6. Teach your child to fall asleep alone, so that he or she can connect sleep cycles at night.
  7. Around 4-6 months, you can begin night weaning the remaining feedings, slowly. Offer night feedings during growth spurts and for comfort, as needed. 
  8. During the night, teach your child to wait for a few minutes for you to respond, so that he or she can connect sleep cycles. Then respond as needed. Connecting sleep cycles will come.
  9. Have your partner respond if you are the one your child prefers. 

How do I get my 2 year old to sleep through the night?

  1. Allow your child to keep a sippy cup of water nearby. 
  2. To help your child sleep well at night, children this age generally need 1 nap. 
  3. Set up boundaries and expectations around bedtime and night-time sleep.
  4. In the night, don’t interact with your child during awakenings. Walk your child to bed or tuck him or her back in lovingly, say very little, and be calm and neutral. Soothe your child, comfort him or her. But, don’t make it fun. 
  5. When children learn to relax in their beds, fall asleep without help, and feel secure alone, they connect sleep cycles on their own and reach restorative, quality sleep. Sleep usually lengthens out naturally for 10-12 hours a night for young children.

It takes my child forever to fall asleep at bedtime. What can I do to change this?

Getting the timing of bedtime right based on your child’s sleep cues, is a powerful solution to lengthy bedtime battles. Include an activity that slows your child’s body down as part of the routine, turn the lighting low, use calm voices, continuous white noise or music, and keep the routine in the same order around the same time every night. Each of these elements will become cues that help your child fall asleep easier. Try not to stimulate your child, and be neutral and firm in setting boundaries. Bedtime will go even better when your child feels secure in the bedroom and learns to fall asleep alone. 

My child wakes up way too early. What can I do to change this?

The #1 cause: a large number of children who wake early are going through mental leaps and/or teething, this will work itself out. The #1 solution in other cases: If your baby or toddler is sleeping less than 11-12 hours between bedtime and wake-time (or less than 10-12 hours for young children), move your bedtime earlier by 15 minutes and hold it there for several days (4-7 days). This can be repeated again. People don’t usually leave the early bedtime in place long enough for their children’s bodies to adjust. The key is to put them to bed earlier so they sleep better and deeper, which leads to a later wake-time.

Also, look closely at the frequency and length of naps. When the balance is off, it can cause early morning wake-ups. When your child falls asleep without help and can connect sleep cycles, sleep may naturally extend in the morning, too. Offer a “snooze button” feeding to babies between 4-6 AM, because not all of them can sleep for 10-12 hours between feedings.

How much time and money should I expect to spend on sleep training services?

If you visit my website you will find a Gentle Methods Workshop for $75 and consultations that range from $100-200, depending on the amount of support desired. My online program is my most popular service, which includes all of the tools that every parent needs to create optimal sleep habits for their child, including a customized plan and initial email support. The sessions run for 5 weeks. This program is $600 (discounts available) and has add-on options. (Please visit the web-site to check current pricing.) I take a few clients a month who want more “hand-holding,” as well. We work together for 4 to 8 weeks over weekly 1:1 coaching sessions and frequent emailing. You can set up a free 30-minute consult to discuss your goals and learn more about my services.

I can’t wait to share my effective and gentle tools, so that you can transform your child’s sleep habits permanently and feel whole again!

About Meredith:  My husband and I have been married for 23 years and are proud parents of five children (ranging from 12 to 20 years old). My family is very important to me, and I love spending time with them whenever possible.  We spend a lot of time outside, on the lake, and in the kitchen cooking and eating together. I relax by playing the piano, going for walks, learning new things and writing.  I have worked with babies and young children for over 30 years in various roles at home, childcare and school. My work as a pediatric sleep expert is something that I’m passionate about. I love inspiring and lifting women, teaching them to trust their instincts and helping them find fulfillment as mothers. I adore working with families and seeing children thrive because of their strong sleep habits!About Sweet Slumber: Sweet Slumber, LLC was founded in 2017 by Meredith Brough who, over the course of 15 years,  succeeded in establishing strong sleep habits for her own children and several of her friends and daycare clients. When Meredith realized the impact she could have on the lives of mothers, she dedicated herself to being a sleep consultant full-time. Through her Successful Sleep program, she guides mothers of children from 4 weeks to 6 years old, by instructing and mentoring them in their homes, on the phone or video conferencing and with her online courses. She has coached women from all over the world, including 33 states, 5 Canadian provinces, and 21 countries. Meredith has now supported over 350 families professionally and has served countless others worldwide in her Successful Sleep Facebook Group. She is devoted to using her own gentle, “no-cry”, methods that support intuitive parenting practices to meet children’s needs. Meredith specializes in supporting mothers of children with high needs or challenging personalities, and women with postpartum mental health disorders.

Website: www.SweetSlumberTime.com
Facebook: @SweetSlumberTime
Phone Number: 319-775-7859
Email: [email protected]

Three Things I Learned from a Cancelled Graduation During COVID-19


As the weeks go by amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, certain things start to feel normal. We adjust to the small, everyday things like wearing a mask to the grocery store or setting up our kids’ Zoom links for teacher conversations. We accept these changes because it’s for the greater good and we know (hope?) that one day we will once again play at the park, send our kiddos to school, and browse the tables at the Farmer’s Market.

And then there are big things, like graduations, that just happen to fall during this extraordinary time. What do we do when a milestone that we have looked forward to for years is cancelled?

When The University of Iowa cancelled all spring 2020 commencement ceremonies, my family experienced the disappointment that comes with a cancelled milestone. My husband was graduating with his Doctorate of Pharmacy after going back to school at age 43. Throughout his years of hard work, the vision of “walking across the stage” (along with gallons of coffee) sustained him. And just like that, the vision was erased. I was heartbroken for him. We spent a few weeks just kind of looking at each other and saying, “it’s such a bummer!”

I know our situation is not unique; thousands of students planned to participate in graduations this spring.

Judging by my social media feed you’ve probably received more than one invitation to participate in a “drive by” graduation party. We’re making the best of it. While I hope none of us has to live through another pandemic, I learned three things from acknowledging milestones when life is turned upside down.

Acknowledgement is powerful.

It was really hard to watch someone I love experience disappointment. A simple, “I’m really sorry” went a long way in showing him that I understood it was a giant bummer and that there’s no way to replace what would have been his special day. When people experience disappointment, heartbreak, or failure, they need someone to sit with them in their discomfort for a minute. Offer a simple acknowledgement before you go about trying to make it all better.

Scaled-down expectations are ok.

My husband is easy to please. When I asked him what he wanted for his big (virtual) day, he said, “I don’t care, as long as I get a big Costco cake with my name in frosting.” Easy, right? Turns out, Costco is not making their big sheet cakes because big sheet cake=big gathering. I asked if they would make an exception if we promised to eat it all ourselves, but they didn’t get my logic. I called upon my favorite local bakery instead and they made a gorgeous, smaller cake with lots of frosting. He loved it and we didn’t have a giant cake on the counter for a week after the celebration! I hope we don’t experience another pandemic in our lifetime, but we certainly will have times when things don’t go as planned. If you can’t get the big cake, get a smaller cake with more frosting.

Friends and family are where it’s at.

When we learned that the big grad party would have to wait for another day, I still wanted him to feel the love from friends and family who cheered him on along the way. I put out a call to his family and friends to send 10-second video congratulation messages. I got dozens of responses! My fifth grader helped me to put them all together with music and photos (it helps to have Gen Z tech support in the house) and we surprised him with it on his graduation morning. Those messages meant more to him than anything else that happened that day. I wouldn’t have put together a gift like that had we thrown a traditional party, and it was an important reminder of the power of connecting with friends and family. I hopped on a Zoom call with my parents and sisters the very next day!

What are you learning during the pandemic that you will take with you back to normal life?


Stock up and Make-Ahead Lasagna

Oh, how I love Ina Garten. This is not news to anyone into whose home I have brought a potluck item. Her cookbooks are in heavy rotation in my kitchen; their grease-splattered pages lovingly disclose my all-time favorites: roast chicken, panzanella, rugelach. Similar to showing off a dress with pockets, I enthusiastically share: “thanks; it’s Ina Garten.”

Ina’s roasted veggie lasagna looks impressive and tastes amazing.

It’s one of my favorites because I love make-ahead dishes the way some people love built-in bookcases (also me). In the days when I commuted to work, I would assemble this lasagna in advance so it was ready to pop in the oven when I got home. It was also my go-to for new parents; I would coordinate a daytime drop-off and provide baking directions.

This lasagna is surprisingly well suited for when you are trying to minimize grocery trips and deliveries.

While you can make and freeze the dish, I prefer to just keep ingredients on-hand to save freezer space. The noodles and sauce are shelf stable and the dairy items can live happily in the fridge for a while. It is flexible — use frozen, fresh or no veggies, skip the basil, add meat . . . or not. The recipe is adaptable, just like you.

You can find the original recipe on the Barefoot Contessa website.

In the spirit of “store-bought is fine,” I have adopted some shortcuts that save prep time and energy.

  • The original recipe calls for roasting eggplant and zucchini. Trader Joe’s has a frozen product, Misto Alla Griglia, which has sliced grilled eggplant, zucchini and red peppers. This sub saves 30 minutes of cooking time. You can also skip the veggies all together and it’s still great as a cheese lasagna.

  • Instead of soaking the lasagna noodles, I use no-boil noodles. This sub saves 15 minutes of soaking time.

Depending on your knife skills (mine are lousy), there are two shortcuts that make my life easier.

  • I buy a pre-sliced log of mozzarella. I have also used mozzarella pearls.

Another shortcut that will save your time: use a bigger pan. This recipe calls for a 9 x 13 baking dish, and technically that will work if that’s what you have. However, this is a pretty substantial lasagna (note the direction to bake on a sheet pan), so I use a dish with slightly larger dimensions.



I am at a Stalemate with this Season of Parenting — Parenting During a Pandemic

Remember that time when I wrote about seizing the day and I was so over-the-top sappy that you couldn’t even bear to read it?

Or maybe you didn’t have time to read it because your toddler was screaming for more toaster waffles and your five-year-old was trying to bargain for more screen time. The noise they make never stops and maybe you could barely manage to go to the bathroom alone that day, let alone sit in a comfortable chair and read a blog post.

Well. Sister, I am with you.

Maybe my hefty dose of “going crazy during quarantine” was delayed because I work in healthcare, but I read that previous post and cringed so hard I pulled a muscle.

I’m over it. I’m done.

These babies need to go live at grandma and grandpa’s house for a week. My moods are all over the place. In one moment I’m grateful and happy and “living like I might end up on a ventilator” and the next I’m shouting orders and impatient and begging my boys to be quiet.

We now close our windows at 4:55 p.m. every afternoon. This is because at approximately 5:10 p.m. every evening, our children lose their ever-loving minds. They either play together and lose themselves in imaginary scenarios that always involve ear-piercing screams or they are at war and have to antagonize each other. With ear-piercing screams.

Either way, we have to close our windows to spare the neighbors. There is no way to reach the children during this witching hour. It is as if their ears have snapped shut and their mouths are stuck open. They are loud. They drown out the parents. Even when I try to out-shout them. And they’re wild, running through the house at full speed and it feels like they are unstoppable unless we trip them or physically pick them up and put them on the couch. They get off the couch just as quick as if nothing happened. I tell them to stay but they can’t hear me because of the shouting.

This is about the time I start deep breathing.

I use all the tools my therapist has given me and I still end up shaking mad while tearfully asking my wife if I can take a walk around the block.

I feel like a failure.

I feel like I don’t deserve those beautiful boys because I cannot handle myself when they are overwhelmed and acting out. Instead of a “good” parent, I become overwhelmed myself and need to escape. And because they are four and five years old it is impossible to get away from them. Leaving them in their room while I breathe doesn’t work. Going to the bathroom and locking the door just buys me an extra minute because they know how to unlock the knob. Leaving them alone in the house while I walk isn’t an option, obviously.

There is no getting away.

And I think of all the single parents or parents with unsupportive partners and I shake my head in wonder. How in the world do you all do it?

Bedtime inevitably comes and hopefully the only tears shed are my own. It’s awful when we end the day with everyone sad. But I am so tired and I am at a stalemate with this particular season of parenting —parenting during a pandemic.


Why You Should Be Wearing a Mask in Public During this Pandemic

I’m going to cut to the chase.

Wear. A. Mask. In. Public.

I know it might feel weird. I know it might make some people feel embarrassed or weak (?). I know it feels uncomfortable. I know it’s a little bit inconvenient. I know Americans value independence and freedom and liberty and in general don’t like being told what to do.

An image of a woman wearing a maskBut I also know many Americans value community.

I know many Americans value public safety and public health and the individuals who work on the front lines of those fields. I know many Americans value caring for their neighbors. And right now, and for the forseeable future, wearing a mask in public is one of the best ways to demonstrate those values.

Now that businesses are opening up again, we might take that as a sign that we can loosen social distancing and other prevention practices. While we’re eager for things to “go back to normal,” the reality is things won’t be normal for a long time. If you do go out, you still need to be vigilant about protecting yourself and others to slow the spread of COVID-19.

This includes wearing a mask when you go out in public.

(One note: I recognize that some neurodiverse individuals may have sensory issues that might make mask wearing difficult. Here’s a good article outlining how one family keeps their child and others safe in this situation. Masks can also be challenging for individuals who are hearing impaired. In these types of situations other accommodations should be made).

Wearing a mask prevents the transmission of COVID-19 to other people.

Since tests are scarce and people can be asymptomatic carriers of the disease, wearing a mask is one of the best ways to slow the spread of the illness.

Wearing a mask sends the message: “I’m not sure if I’m infected. I’m wearing a mask in case I’m infected because I don’t want to infect others.”

Wearing a mask says: “It feels a little bit uncomfortable/awkward/weird wearing this mask but I’m prioritizing the health of others above my feelings of awkwardness.”

Wearing a mask in public shows that you care about people you know and people you don’t know.

It shows that you don’t want anyone to fall prey to this scary infection that we still don’t quite know how to treat. It shows that you recognize this disease is a wild card that impacts EVERYONE, including children. It’s not just the elderly or those with preexisting conditions who are hit hard by COVID-19.

Wearing a mask shows that you care about keeping kids like my son Adrien safe. Let me tell you a little bit about him.

He’s excited about starting high school in the fall. He is smart, hilarious, frustrating at times (because he’s 14), and an overall joy to be around. He loves basketball, baking, and fishing.

He’s is a healthy kid, but has a history of asthma-related issues. Respiratory illnesses have always been problematic for him. When he was little I always panicked when he got a cold. A simple seasonal illness could be enough to send him to the hospital. To this day a typical cold can leave him coughing for weeks.

It terrifies me to think about what this disease could do to him. This disease that takes its grip in the lungs and can leave even young healthy people gasping for air.

It terrifies me to think of this infection sweeping through my family. This isn’t a just a common cold or flu. It’s unpredictable. There’s no certainty on how it will impact people now or what the long-term effects will be.

It terrifies me to think of this illness hurting people I know and people I don’t know. If wearing a mask in public is something I can do to keep my family and my community safe, then I will do it as long as I have to.

I wear a mask because I love my friends and family. I love my community. I want to be with them again, in person, not through a computer screen. I want this to be over as much as everyone else.

My friends tease me about how I’m an awkward hugger. But I’m so excited to hug everyone I know when it’s safe to do so. In order for that to happen, we need to continue to be careful as things open up.

Carry a mask with you at all times. Never leave home without it. Wear it when you need it.

I can’t wait until we can all be together again.

For more information on mask guidelines, where to purchase masks, and patterns for homemade masks, check out the links below.


Iowa Governor’s New COVID-19 Rules: What is Reopening and When


On May 13, 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds released a new Proclamation of Disaster Emergency due to COVID-19. In it, she outlines rules for what can and cannot reopen in Iowa between now and midnight on May 27, when we can expect additional guidance to come from her office.

Check out our quick guide so you know what to expect in Iowa— over the next few weeks. Remember to check with local businesses and municipalities as some businesses and establishments may decided to remain closed longer.

Try this Homeschool Schedule (Created by a Teacher) During Quarantine


If you’re choosing to homeschool your kids while school is not in session you might find this schedule helpful. I’ve been using a version of this schedule with my second grader, sixth grader, and eighth grader for the past five or six weeks. You’ll notice some of the activities are more appropriate for elementary students (grades two – four), while others are more appropriate for upper elementary/middle school students (grades five – nine).

Overall, I have found the activities to be flexible enough that all three of my kids can access them.

I’ve been a teacher for 16 years and have been a teacher educator (teaching teachers how to teach) for six years. To be completely honest, when this homeschooling thing started I thought “No problem. I know how to teach.” 

Well, our first week of homeschooling was quite disastrous — crying (them and me), refusal, yelling.

Someone (me) may or may not have called someone else (them) a naughty name during a reading lesson. After a week of failure I went back to the basics.

These are the three main rules I try to abide by in my classroom —maybe they’ll work for you too.

1. Choice, choice, choice.

Everyone, kids included, like to feel that they have some autonomy with what is happening to them. So the ninja teacher move is to decide on what is the non-negotiable, but give choice within that non-negotiable. For example, my personal non-negotiable is that my kids will do reading or writing, math, and something else for 90 minutes Monday through Friday. The choices they get are what they want to read/write, where they want to read/write, and what math they want to do (district resources, some other online math platform, or play a math game). 

2. Focus on the desired action, not on the behavior.

Is my kid reading? If the answer is yes—I leave them alone—even if they are rolling their eyes or saying snarky things to me while getting out their book to read. (After all, I am the one who called my kid a naughty name during reading class—so those who live in glass houses, blah, blah, blah).

3. First, do no harm.

There’s quite a bit of research (some of which I wrote about in this blog post) that parent attitude around school work has a profound and lasting impact on the way kids approach school, and their own learning—especially the way they see themselves as learners and their ability to learn. So, if every time I try to get my kid to practice addition facts or read a book we end up screaming at each other, I’m actually doing more harm than good and I should just butt out.

With these three guiding principles in mind, we set out on this homeschool schedule:

The kids eat breakfast and get dressed

(I have found that school in PJs is about as productive as me attending Zoom meetings in PJs—in other words—it’s not).

20 minutes

Watch CNN 10 on whatever device they want (choice). Find something you heard about on CNN 10 that you want to know more about (choice). Google it. Tell someone what you found out (sibling, parent, pet, call a grandparent and tell them). Choice, Choice. Choice.

30 minutes


60 minutes

Kids complete the tasks shown below. I’m using a choice board with must do/may do. The must-dos must be done every day. The may-dos are all of the optional work—they can choose what to do, but they have to be busy for the remaining 60 minutes.

Must Do

  • Look up Zoom meetings teachers have scheduled for the day. Which meetings will you attend?
  • Look up any assignments teachers have posted or emailed. Which assignments will you complete?

May Do

Wait, Younger Women! Read This About Menopause

I want to tell you this now, so that you can file it away in the back part of your brain and access it later when you need it. “Oh yeah,” you’ll think. “I remember reading this somewhere.” Note to your future self: that somewhere was on Iowa City Moms.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of menopause, which is defined as 12 months after a woman gets her last period. That’s it. It’s really just one day.

And if you’re like me, any information you have passively gleaned from mass media is that menopause looks like an older woman fanning herself and having unreasonable mood swings, often played for laughs.

woman in purple ball gown with lacy fan
Probably not looking this fabulous, though

What we need to talk about today is perimenopause, a word which is apparently so unknown that my phone puts a red squiggly line under it. Because while menopause is a defined time (that “12 months after your last period” stuff) and usually happens to a woman in her 40s or 50s, perimenopause can begin as much as ten years before that time.

Ten. Years.

That means that if your periods are going to stop when you are 46, you might experience symptoms when you are 36. 

I’m sorry to tell you, but I thought someone ought to let you know. Otherwise you might not know where to start when you realize you can’t sleep for no apparent reason, or you are waking up sweaty.

Here are a few symptoms of perimenopause, with a nice scientific article with even more information.

  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flashes or night sweats
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in sexual function
  • Weird changes to your breasts (swelling, hypersensitivity)—that one isn’t on the Mayo clinic page, but it’s reported by a friend of mine

I’ve also heard stories of women getting a rogue period even after they’re sure they are through with menopause.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be confident enough to wear white pants.

Isn’t being a woman fun? From the mood swings that can begin even before puberty, to the effects of loss of estrogen later in life. So much to look forward to! Maybe you can do so from the end of your very own dock.




Celebrate Bike Safety Month with Helmet Safety Tips

While a lot has changed for many during the past couple months, the month of May remains Bike Safety Month. Watch this short, educational...