9 Ways Kids Can Give Back During the Holidays

As parents we all agree that the holidays are a time for giving; and our kids agree that it’s a time for receiving. But in this season of overconsumption, there is a way to turn the tables.



1. Bake cookies or casseroles. Cooking with kids isn’t the most mess-free option, but this is a really easy way to involve your kids in giving back with their time. As a family, pass out homemade cookies to your local fire department or police station, or take some frozen casseroles to an elderly neighbor or single mom.

2. Pack stockings for homeless people. Buy some cheap stockings, and have kids pick out practical and fun items to stuff in them. Some ideas include granola bars, water bottles, toothpaste and warm gloves or socks. Keep the stockings in your car, and hand them out to homeless people you encounter on your daily commutes.


3. Clean out the toy box. The holidays are a great time for kids to donate some of the games, clothing or other things they own – and clean out some clutter while you’re at it. Even preschoolers can pick a few lightly-used toys to donate to kids who don’t have any. As an alternative, take kids shopping for new toys they’d love, but will donate to a local shelter or nonprofit.

4. Visit a nursing home. As a family – or with a group of your kids’ friends – visit a local nursing home. Call ahead to schedule your visit. Take cards and decorations to brighten up nursing home rooms, or sing a few carols for the residents.

5. Donate to a food bank. Even little kids enjoy picking out food items at the grocery store. Take your kids on a special shopping trip to pick up their favorite nonperishable goods for a local ministry or food bank. They’re always in need of extra food around the holidays.

6. Wrap gifts for donations. Older kids and teens can offer gift wrapping services in exchange for a donation. The money they earn can sponsor a local family or be donated to a favorite charity.

7. Take lunches to people who work over the holidays. Police stations, fire stations, hospitals and even retail stores are full of busy workers on holidays. Make some delicious sack lunches to take to the workers in your area who don’t get a break over the holidays.


8.Host a party. Sometimes hospitality is the best way to give back. Host a holiday party with your kids’ help, but focus on inviting those who are often forgotten, such as the new kids at school or neighbors and co-workers with no family nearby.

9. Tackle a bigger cause. Older kids are especially sensitive to the world’s injustices. Talk with your kids about problems – whether local or worldwide – that they’re passionate about. Then, do some research about the issue to find practical ways to help. Assist your kids in sponsoring a bigger fundraising event to help tackle this issue.

The Ticking and Tocking of My Biological Clock

When is it the right time to change your focus from new mom to second-time mom-to-be? What to Expect’s Lifestyle Editor, Emma Bing shares the ups and downs and the I-don’t-know-wheres of deciding whether or not to have another baby.

I’ve been an official mom for just more than a year now.

And as you may know, I am obsessed with my Lennox. Like crazy town, over board, no-lifeguard-on-duty obsessed. I want to shout my love from the roof tops. The kid even has his own Instagram feed.

So what could be more fun than another one, right? Or maybe not? That’s where I am right now, deciding whether to get pregnant and look forward to years of fun with another little one, or stand pat and enjoy all my waking (and many sleeping hours) with my one and only.

My biological clock has sounded a little something like this over the past two years:

Tick: I’m pregnant! I can’t wait to do this again and again!

Tock: I’m pregnant—I’m nauseous—never again!

Tick: My baby is kicking! I’m doing this again!

Tock: I’m in labor! Never again!

Tick: I’m holding my baby; I can’t wait to give him a sibling!

Tock: I haven’t slept in 3 months, never again!

Tick: My baby smiled at me for the first time! I can’t wait to do this again!

Tock: My baby puked in his bed in the middle of the night! Never again!

Tick: My baby took his first steps, I miss having an infant, let’s get pregnant!

You get the picture. Maybe you even know what I am talking about. I think most moms of one find themselves here. (And even if you aren’t a mom yet, you may go back and forth on whether you want to give one a go. But the trade-offs are a little different.)

Every day I change my mind on this. Am I ready?



Who knows!?

Even on those “tock” days when I swear Lennox will be my one-and-only, I don’t actually mean it. It’s like when I said I wanted to get rid of my bangs and then pictured my life bang-less (not a good look). In fact I always have a pregnancy test and ovulation test box in my bathroom cabinet… Just in case.

Now that my baby is a toddler and I hear the pitter-patter of little feet running through the house, I am missing the baby days. You know, when I could carry Lennox without him wanting me to put him down after .2 seconds. The thing is this, like puppies, babies grow up… as much as you want them to stay cuddly and sweet forever, teenage years happen.

While we are on the subject of “biological clock”, there is also the “age” factor. My mom was pregnant at 23, and in my “life vision” I would have expected (no pun intended) to have about three kids by now. With that being said it is also the age of the Halle Berrys of the world having babes in their 40s. (Granted, she does look 21 and I’m sure her uterus does too).

Also, I am not going to lie, I am strongly concerned about being pregnant with a toddler at my feet. In what land is that going to be easy? My first pregnancy I could be a lady of leisure, nap when I wanted, lay in bed all day like the queen of the house “requesting” what I needed (OK, that never happened).

With a hyper toddler running all over the place, and me expecting, things are going to get real. And by real I mean Mommy is going to have a breakdown at some point. And by some point I mean every day.

With that being said, I still do want to do this… Having Lennox was the best thing I have ever done. Let me say it again: The best thing I have ever done.

Now that I am a mom, I can’t remember what it was like B.B. (Before Boo), and honestly I don’t really want to. Being a mommy is like joining a special club. Initiation was getting fat, nausea, and hemorrhoids (I can’t be the only one here!) but the payoff is love, cuddles, those sticky little hands pulling at your leg to pick them up, and that smile that can stop time — or at least you wish it could.

Okay, question: Is it irrational to think that I won’t be able to love my next child as much as I love my lil’ boo? Probably. Even saying that out loud sounds crazy.

The fact is that I love Lennox so much I can’t even describe my love. I genuinely worry that I may eat him. It’s teetering on stalker status. I watch him sleep and save his early attempts at, uh, art. It’s infinite. He has my heart. But with that said, I would like to think that my heart is big enough for two… or three…

Next stop…baby-making? Or just getting the usual supplies at the baby store? I’ll be weighing these thoughts and more for a little while (I think). Stay tuned!

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff

Finding A Male Nanny

Question: “I’m a single mom to a toddler boy. I’m wondering whether a male nanny might be the right child-care option for me. What are the pros and cons of mannies?”

The goal of any child-care search is to find the best fit for your family amongst the many childcare options, so kudos to you for considering a nontraditional choice — the male nanny.

Since it seems you’re set on going with an at-home caregiver, you can follow the same guidelines for hiring a nanny: Do background checks (and gut checks — if he feels wrong, respect your intuition), ask lots of questions, and invite the top candidates into your house to see how each one interacts with your toddler while you’re around. If after all that, you’ve found your male nanny, congrats! After all, mannies can provide families with some unique benefits, such as:

A reliable guy in your child’s life. If your toddler’s dad isn’t in the picture (or doesn’t come by often) and there are no other close male relatives around, your munchkin could be missing out on forming an important bond (no matter how close the two of you are). A male nanny can provide another type of role model that your little guy needs now. And even if your ex sees your son regularly, boys tend to do well with mannies, who are a lot like (much) older brothers. You might find that your tot listens to instructions from a manny more closely (and with less back talk) than he does from the women in his life; and, as he gets older, he may feel more comfortable sharing his feelings with him.
A high-energy play pal. No one needs to tell you that toddler boys run around a lot — and when they’re not running, they’re jumping, climbing, or commando-rolling through an imaginary jungle. And because mannies are, well, big boys themselves, they’re always up for joining in (or starting up) some physical fun. There’s a boon for you too — by the time you get home, your tyke will be tuckered out and wonderfully mellow.
A protector. Because men are generally bigger and stronger than women are (another plus for rough-and-tumble toddlers), many a mom feels safer knowing her child is with a guy who can tackle any emergency. Just make sure the male nanny (or any nanny) you hire knows CPR.
The one downside to mannies? There just aren’t a whole lot of them around — in fact, they make up only 10 percent of the nanny workforce. Part of that is simply that it’s a nontraditional job for men. Plus, there’s still a stigma to being a male caregiver, since many parents question a manny’s intentions or worry about abuse.

So how can you hire the male nanny of your dreams? You can find a good nanny by filling out our family application and letting us do the work for you! We do various screenings and background checks so you can make sure we’ve found the perfect big guy to take care of your little guy.

Here’s hoping you find a super manny!


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