Monday, January 26, 2009

Welcome to Real Life Support for Moms


Ever since I wrote The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide and started posting my motherhood-related articles on my website, Real Life Support for Moms, as well as on other parenting sites, I've been contacted by women from throughout the U.S. and even beyond. (Hello Deborah in South Africa!) They write to thank me for my book and articles, and to share their stories for what I hope will be my next book. (i.e. A "survival guide" for women who are returning to the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom.) This site allows me to communicate with several readers at once—and it enables moms with like concerns to "meet" and speak with one another. I'll post brief items, articles, thoughts and questions here, and you can too. Thank you for visiting. — Melissa

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Evening Rush Hour

By Melissa Stanton

(Ignore the date, above. The following is an article from my "archives." Versions of this essay appeared in my book, The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide, as well as in Chesapeake Family magazine.)

It’s 5 p.m. on a Wednesday. We’ve been home for less than a half–hour, but my eight-year-old son is already arguing with one of his four–year–old twin sisters over whose turn it is to sit on the sought-after red chair. As I mediate the chair debate, I’m clearing snacks and drinks from the kitchen counter while attempting to wash watercolors off of my other daughter.

Channeling Goldie Hawn from her Laugh–In days, my own golden–haired girl has decorated most every surface of her exposed skin with purple and green paint. Before I can scoop her into the sink for a wipe-down, I have to empty the dishwasher to make room for the dirties awaiting their turn. I’m also ready to keel over from the stench of the hamster cage, which I planned to clean after doing the dishes and starting dinner and getting my son to begin his homework … until my painted lady made her debut.

During times like these I look at the chaos of my kitchen and the whining children who are fighting me, each other, and the order of my home and I wonder, as the Talking Heads asked, “How did I get here?” What I wouldn’t give to go back in time ten years, when 5 p.m. would find me in my Manhattan office, working at a job I enjoyed and later, when I felt like it, heading home to an evening alone with my husband, or out with friends. At that same time on any given weekday in my present reality, I don’t want to be in the company of my bickering, havoc-wreaking, relentlessly needy children.

But as the day turns to night and the harried activity begins to wane, I can describe to my husband, with a laugh, our daughter’s experimentation with body art and her exhibitionist second act, when she shed her clothing and ran naked through the house as her siblings screamed in delight. When I tried to dress her, she took hold of my face, declared “No, Mommy,” and gave me a big kiss on the lips.

When there’s finally calm in my kitchen, and I start sorting through the paperwork that generates from and for a family of five, I can talk to my other daughter about how amazing she was in her karate class that day. I can enjoy her smile and the enthusiasm she can’t contain about finally being able to play a team sport, like her big brother does. “I’m still so excited about soccer,” she tells me, nearly a week after her first Saturday-morning practice. My dark-haired daughter never holds back her emotions. While her bad moods are horrors, her good ones can be truly grand.

Once the girls are in bed, I can have one-on-one time with my son the way I did before his sisters arrived. When he asks, “Mommy, will you cuddle with me tonight?” I try to say yes. I know that in a year or so, he won’t even want me within arm’s reach. When I describe the changes to come, my son assures me, with complete sincerity, “That won’t happen, Mommy. You can cuddle with me until I leave for college.”

Would I ever trade the life I have with my children? Of course not. Just don’t ask me that question late on a weekday afternoon.

Like many moms, my day revolves around constant demands, mini-crises, and someone always having a need that (they believe) must be immediately met. We can all picture the idealized image of motherhood, either from a TV commercial or our own pre-kid fantasies, wherein one complacent child quietly colors while his mother sits at his side smiling and sipping a mug of herbal tea. That’s not me, nor—especially if you have more than one child—do I expect it’s you.

A “Giggle Job” at Williams-Sonoma Kept Me Sane

Ignore the date, above. The following is an article from my "archives." A version of this essay appeared in my book, The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide.

By Melissa Stanton

The company I worked for when my first child was born allowed parents (both mothers and fathers) to take up to a year of unpaid leave to care for a new child. It's a wonderful benefit, for people who can afford to take it. After much agonizing about finances and my career viability, I decided that I would, to care of my newborn son. But as every mother knows, not going to work doesn't mean not working. And very soon into my leave I realized that while going to a job everyday is hard, it's not as hard as having a baby attached to you everyday—all day—when you're on the phone, when you're sitting, when you're standing, when you're walking, when you're eating, when you're going to the bathroom. I started to miss my job simply because it allowed me to do all those things alone.

Several of my friends were on maternity leave when I was. We shared the same lament: We like to work, and for various reasons (ranging from economic to psychological) we need to work, but with new babies to care for, we just weren't up to working at a job that had any real responsibilities or hours, or required any sort of a commute. High on our list of fantasy jobs: Working at a nice store in our town.

It turned out that my child-bearing and stir-craziness were well-timed, for two months after I gave birth, Williams-Sonoma, the elegant kitchenware chain, opened a store one mile from my home. In November they started hiring temporary help for the holidays. My son was four months old by then, and I was becoming desperate for some semblance of independence. I decided that for my mental well-being (my sanity!) I needed to work at Williams-Sonoma.

I knew the manager, so I asked her if she would consider letting me work extremely part-time. She hired me for one weekday evening and one weekend day a week. My salary: $6.50 an hour.

As a holiday sales associate my uniform was Williams-Sonoma's signature apron, which I wore over pants and a turtleneck, so dressing for work was simple. I got to wander around the store's stockroom (imagine a fabulous, well-stocked pantry) and stand behind the checkout counter. It was like playing store. I found it fun. And I relished the fact that for at least eight hours a week for six full weeks I was able to leave my house without my child in tow. At Williams-Sonoma I got to talk to adults, spend hours in a festive place, sample good food, do my Christmas shopping--and shop vicariously through customers who needed my help spending their money. Best of all, I had a job that truly stayed at the office. I daydreamed about not going back to my magazine job in the city, which required a three-hour roundtrip commute every day, so I could work minutes from home at Williams-Sonoma.

My mom friends were envious. The stay-at-homes wished their husbands, like mine, would take care of the baby (or kids) so they could go to work for fun. The mothers with demanding full-time jobs outside the home fantasized about, as one friend put it, being able to have a "widget job." (i.e. A non-managerial job that starts and ends at set times and doesn't require bringing home work every night.) While I thought of the job as my "sanity job," another friend, a stay-at-home mother of two who joined me in pursuing a temporary retail career, dubbed her Williams-Sonoma gig her "giggle job."

Either name would fit. After all, she and I (and it turns out some other part-timers) were working for fun (giggles) in order to escape from our daily lives. We were not working for the money. In fact, considering what many of us spent "saving" money with our 40 percent employee discount, we were paying Williams-Sonoma to let us work there. I knew I was lucky not to be dependent on the job for my livelihood, or even for extra cash. If that were the case, working day after day on my feet on retail's frontlines, especially during the holidays, would not be all fun, relaxing and giggle-inducing. Separate from providing me with a refuge, part of the fun of the job for me was probably that it was new, temporary, and optional.

But I did have fun. I enjoyed restocking and arranging merchandise on the store's shelves. I got a kick out of selecting the perfect sized box or bag for a customer's purchase. I loved the challenge of the cash register: Would the shopper be paying by cash, credit card, check, gift certificate? Would they want the item shipped? Were they making a return? Each type of transaction required a different procedure. The variety kept me energized. While I was exhausted after a day at the store, it wasn't the same draining type of exhaustion I felt after a full, non-stop day with my baby. Being away from him for even those few hours recharged me, and helped me better enjoy my time with him. (It also allowed my husband time alone with our child, and gave him a taste of the good and the bad that comes with being the primary caregiver.) But when the holidays were over, so was the job. I was sad to leave.

I went back to my full-time magazine job and long commute two days before my son’s first birthday. When the holiday season approached that year, I thought about signing up for another temporary stint at the store, but in fairness to my son and my husband, and myself, I didn't. Still, I did tell the manager to call me if the store got real busy and she needed extra help. She never called, which was probably for the best. The point of working at Williams-Sonoma for me was to keep sane, not make me insane.

A Mother Knows When Something’s Just Not Right

Ignore the date, above. The following is an article I wrote for Professional Moms at Home.


When a child’s late talking, walking or crawling is a bit too late

by Melissa Stanton

When my son’s first birthday approached, and I was preparing to return to work, I typed a list of his words to give our nanny, in case she needed help with the translation. Right after my twin daughters’ first birthday, one girl started repeating, and remembering, every word we spoke. Her twin, however, said nothing.

At the girls’ 15-month check-up, I mentioned that daughter’s wordlessness to the doctor. She wasn’t particularly concerned.

At the girls’ 18-month check-up, I again mentioned that child's lack of speech. While my doctor was a little more concerned, she said she wouldn’t really worry about the unintelligible babbling until the twins’ second birthday. But if I didn’t want to wait, I could contact my county’s Infants & Toddlers program and ask to have my daughter assessed.

Within a few weeks a speech pathologist was at my house, asking me questions and putting my daughter through play-oriented tests. The speech pathologist determined that, yes, this twin had a speech-language delay and would qualify for free services. “I was right,” I thought to myself, smugly. “Good thing I didn’t listen to the doctor and wait.” She then explained that in order to receive county services, a child needs to be at least 25 percent behind in three or more areas of development. My daughter, I was informed, was behind in four. That, I didn’t expect. And that’s when I realized I was dealing with more than just a late talker.

Because my other two children developed on schedule, and in some areas ahead of schedule, I never considered the seriousness of being a late talker, or a late walker, or a non-crawler, or the myriad other developmental milestones on the checklist of babyhood. I had heard tales from other parents about kids who didn’t say a word until they were three or walk until 18 months but, one day, suddenly started speaking in complete sentences and sprinting through supermarket aisles.

By the tone of the speech pathologist’s voice, and the follow-up evaluation we had with her supervisor, I was soon made to understand that my daughter wasn’t simply a late-bloomer. At age 19 months, she was testing as a nine- to 12-month-old.

The county we lived in enrolled her in an Infants & Toddlers preschool, which met for 90 minutes three times a week. The class had four students and four teachers. The kids participated in group activities and one-on-one lessons. The moms generally stayed in the classroom, hidden from view behind a half wall. From the mothers I learned that their children were autistic. They asked if my child was as well. I explained that she was speech delayed, and was behind in social, cognitive and self-help skills, but she wasn’t autistic, at least I didn’t think she was. The program didn’t tell me she was. Was she?

When I asked the Infants & Toddlers folks, they responded that autism is a medical diagnosis, which as non-doctors they couldn’t make. The moms with autistic children, who were now
experts on autism, quizzed me about my child’s history and behavior. Their diagnosis was that she wasn’t autistic.

This “what if” lead me to seek out specialists. Since my daughter’s main problem was with understanding and using speech, the other mother's encouraged me to get her into private speech therapy. Since we live in Maryland, I was also directed to the Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute, which specializes in child developmental disorders and is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University.

More than three years later, my daughter is attending regular kindergarten classes at our public school. She meets with a speech therapist twice a week and every six months is seen by a developmental pediatrician. In terms of language comprehension and speech, she’s at least a full year behind for her age. Her twin, oddly, is more than a year ahead. So, developmentally, my fraternal twins are some two years apart in age.

Most every mother I’ve met with a special needs child says she knew, early on, that something wasn’t right with her child’s intellectual, physical or behavioral development. And most every one of these mothers said she was the one who had to point out the delay to her doctor, and insist that action be taken now rather than later. My experience and theirs has convinced me that mothers really do know best.

***
If You Think Your Child Has a Developmental Delay…

Tell your doctor about your concerns. Some pediatricians are so focused on the physical—treating illnesses, administering vaccines—that they don’t pay much attention to the less “medical” aspects of a child’s growth. How many words is your child saying? Does he understand commands? Does she make eye contact? Does he initiate play? The answers to such questions, all of which are included on standard assessment questionnaires, can help you and your doctor determine if your child is on track.

Contact your county, city or town’s Infants & Toddlers or Early Intervention program. A parent can usually contact these programs directly, with or without a physician’s referral, to request an assessment.

Consult with a specialist. Seek an evaluation with a expert, be it a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, geneticist or audiologist. Most municipal health departments provide free audiology screening. Specialists can be found via your doctor, insurance company, the phone book, the Internet and other parents.

Consider medical testing. Some behavioral and developmental conditions can be diagnosed through genetic or diagnostic testing. Such testing typically involves a blood draw and lab tests. In some cases, an X-ray or MRI might be prescribed. Your doctor will need to order the specific tests.

Do your research. As upsetting as it can be to learn about conditions you’d rather not have to know about, bite the bullet and do some research on the Internet, at the library or in a bookstore. A book called The Late Talker (by Marilyn C. Agin, M.D., Lisa F. Geng and Malcolm J. Nicholl) helped me immensely in getting insurance coverage for my daughter’s speech therapy. The author spelled out which insurance codes and diagnoses are and aren’t covered. For instance, “developmental delay” is often used when a doctor isn’t sure of, or doesn’t want to make, a clear-cut diagnosis. The problem is, insurers claim that “developmental” problems will simply right themselves over time. (Without intervention, most won’t.) While a diagnosis of apraxia, autism or ADHD can be frightening, therapies for such conditions do qualify for coverage. It might be best for your doctor to make an educated guess. After therapy and monitoring, the diagnosis can be changed.

Talk to other moms. If you have concerns about your child’s development, seek out the help of mothers you know who are dealing with similar concerns, or have in the past. These women can be great resources, and sources of support.

***

Copyright 2008 Melissa Stanton
To be reprinted only with the written permission of Melissa Stanton or her authorized agent.
Contact reprints@lifesupportformoms.com

When Violence Creeps into Children's Lives

Ignore the date, above. A version of this article appeared in Chesapeake Family magazine (October 2007).
* = Name changed for privacy.

by Melissa Stanton

It’s little wonder that Matthew,* like many eight-year-old boys, is a huge Star Wars fan. Although the original three films debuted two decades before he was born, Matthew was keenly aware of the Star Wars franchise before he even saw a single film. Stars Wars playthings fill shelves in toy stores. Star Wars Legos are must-have collectibles among many elementary school boys. Star Wars-related giveaways are often the special toy inside fast food kid meals.

Knowing their son’s fascination with Star Wars, Matthew’s parents decided to have a movie night at home with the DVD of Star Wars: Episode II, Attack of the Clones. However, about halfway through the PG-rated film, when a teenage Anakin Skywalker returns to his home planet and finds his mother, who is a slave, bound and beaten and left to die, Matthew’s excitement about the fantasy action and plot turned to panic. The image of the mom tied to a rack crucifixion-style is onscreen for barely five seconds. The entire sequence of Anakin’s mother dying in his arms lasts less than two minutes.

“That night, Matthew cried about going to bed,” says his mother, Lynne. “He was terrified I was going to die.” For the first days and weeks after the viewing, Matthew insisted on sleeping in his parents’ room or else having his mom stay at his bedside until he fell asleep. For months, Lynne reports, he became extremely clingy. When the family attended Church, Matthew would become terribly upset. Apparently, the image of Jesus on the cross reminded the second grader of the horror that befell Anakin’s mother.

Half a year after seeing the upsetting movie scene, the eight-year-old was still seeking out his mom wherever she was in the house to hug and kiss her and tell her he loves her. It’s adorable to witness, and to an outside observer Matthew seems the sweetest little boy. He is sweet, but it’s sad to realize that his display of affections stem from a panic inspired by a fantasy depiction of violence.

“Violence is marketed to American kids,” says Lou Aymard, Ph.D., a child psychologist and the director of The Parenting Center at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland. “As parents, we need to look at the world through the eyes of our children. We need to see what they see and understand how they perceive what they’re seeing.”

There are so many children who, sadly, experience actual violence in their lives: They are the victims of physical aggression, they live in homes threatened by physical and emotional violence, they have witnessed violence or borne the consequences of violent acts against a loved one. While the violence casually depicted on television, at the movies, and even in children’s books and through toys isn’t as harmful as actual violence, it can have a damaging effect on children, including on those fortunate enough to be raised in a loving and safe environment.

For instance, a dad flipping channels at night might not seem like such a big deal. But think, from a child’s point of view, about the images that are flashing across the screen: a beer commercial with men ogling bikini-clad women, an advertisement for a gruesome slasher movie, a torture scene from an R-rated movie being shown on cable, a talk show with adults screaming at one another, a hospital drama with a bloodied child crying in an emergency room.

Each image may be on the screen for barely a second. The entire display may have lasted just ten seconds. But those seconds and scenes add up. According to an oft-sited estimate, by the time an American child is in sixth grade he or she will have been exposed to 100,000 acts of television violence.

VIOLENT IMAGERY WHERE YOU’D LEAST EXPECT IT

When my son was a preschooler, we borrowed a library book that featured a train ride, a Wild West theme and an animal cast of characters. Several pages into the book, an armed wolf burst onto the train, announced a stick-up and shoved a gun barrel into the pig conductor’s mouth. This storyline and its illustrations were in a children’s picture book!

As libraries typically order books sight unseen, based on marketing materials from publishers or summaries provided by industry reviewers, it’s likely that no one at the library ever even opened the book before procuring it for the collection. It just so happened that at the time I was on the board of this particular library and attended meetings with both the library director and the children’s librarian. When I questioned the appropriateness of the book for children, I was told by these women that the author was an award-winning children’s book writer.

While I was speaking as a mother who was having to explain to a three-year-old why anyone would put a gun in someone’s mouth, and why doing something like that is horribly wrong, the librarians, neither of whom had children, were speaking as academics. They said that while I might have a problem with guns, not all parents do and, besides, what did I expect from a story about the Old West? They also lectured me a bit about why it’s the job of parents to select suitable reading materials for children, not the library’s. They’re unfortunately right. Parents shouldn’t, and can’t, rely entirely on professionals or the filters provided by others when determining what media materials their children should have access to.

Even the most revered children’s literature can be child unfriendly. Think of Grimm’s Fairy Tales or even the beloved Babar the Elephant stories (which feature a full-page illustration showing Babar’s father dead and bleeding from a hunter’s bullet). Screening the media a child is exposed to doesn’t mean parents should become crazed censors. It does mean that certain books need to be avoided or read together, so any violence or misbehavior can be put into context. As Jenny, a Maryland mother of two told me, “I was surprised to hear my four-year-old calling out in a pretend baseball game, ‘Kill the umpire!’ He had heard the phrase at a reading of Casey at Bat. I explained to him that ‘kill’ is an ugly word and I don't like to hear it.”

An unfortunate source of unexpected violence are G-rated movies, such as Finding Nemo, in the opening sequence features a shark attacking the home of two tiny clown fish, killing the mother and all but one of her thousands of incubating eggs. The toddler seated in front of me at a movie theater showing screamed so loud, and became so inconsolable, that she and her mom left the movie.

Marketing is the cause of many inappropriate images being thrown at unsuspecting viewers and children. “Theaters show previews for PG-13 movies during showing of PG-rated films,” notes Kaye, an Annapolis mother of twin fourth graders. “Several times the boys and I have left the theater and waited in the lobby until the previews were over. When I spoke with the manager, he said the trailers are prepackaged. I would think that if you're going to see a PG-rated movie there should be no exposure to a PG-13 movie or otherwise.”

Without context, a frightening, aggressive or confusing image can lead to fears, as they did with Matthew, or in four-year-old Brian’s case, unwanted behaviors. “Brian loves all things related to cars and trucks, especially monster trucks!” says his mom, Karen. “He received a toy that included a child’s DVD with footage of real monster trucks in action. But after watching the DVD, Brian proceeded to crash, smash and bash everything in sight. He even pretended other children were monster trucks.” To put a stop to this unexpectedly destructive behavior, Karen and her husband discarded the DVD. “We’re still working with him on what kind of behavior is acceptable, as both pretend or real play,” Karen explains.

WHY BE CONCERNED

Children learn how to behave by seeing how the people around them behave. The concept is called observational learning. “It’s like monkey see, monkey do,” says The Parenting Center’s Dr. Aymard, while describing a study in which children watched an adult beating on a clown-faced punching bag. Seeing the adult punching the bag, and having fun, the children wanted to do the same. However, when the adult was scolded for his actions, the children who witnessed that reprimand didn’t want to punch the bag. “If children see violence as being enjoyable, they’ll want to be violent,” say Aymard.

While American children don’t experience daily violence to the extent children do in, for example, Iraq, and in many of the world’s most troubled regions, violence is “pandemic in our society,” says Dr. Aymard, especially in its depictions on television, in movies and in the words and images of newspapers and magazines. Yes, adults can hide a newspaper’s front page and program their televisions to block certain types of programs or channels. Computer-savvy parents can even edit bad scenes out of movies. But, overall, there are few foolproof ways to control what a child is exposed to. “Parents walk a fine line between socially isolating their children and letting them interact in society as part of growing-up,” notes Aymard.

With vigilant parenting, children can be shielded from many forms of inappropriate media imagery. Still, we live in a real, complicated and currently volatile world. To quell a child’s anxiety about the world’s larger issues, Aymard suggests that parents show children, in a practical way, that Mom and Dad, and many other people, are doing everything possible to keep them safe. Aymard is also an advocate of martial arts programs geared specifically for children. “The training can shore up a child’s confidence,” he says, adding that a good instructor will discuss violence and protecting oneself from it at a level a child can understand.

“There’s no way to completely allay all of our children’s fears,” says Aymard, but we can help children feel safe and comfortable enough not to be overwhelmed by fear, or be influenced by the violence they’re exposed to.”

***

HOW VIOLENCE CREEPS INTO THE LIVES OF YOUNG CHILDREN

• Violent images and language in movies (even in G- and PG-rated flicks) and on television, especially in commercials and cartoons. (Have you ever really watched the shows on Cartoon Network?)
• Toys and video games that mimic or promote violence
• Violence in children's books (even kiddie picture books)
• Abusiveness against women and provocative behavior depicted in music videos, reality TV dating shows, magazines and tabloids
• News coverage about horrible violence in the world (Iraq, Darfur, Afghanistan, to name just a few troubling hot spots)
• Bullying and meanness among peers
• Internet predators and malicious strangers (such as the much-feared pedophiles, child snatchers, run-of-the mill flashers and perverts)
• And, every October, gruesome Halloween imagery and costumes

HELPING A FRIGHTENED CHILD—BY THE AGES

A scary movie. A dark bedroom. A big dog. A thunder storm. A neighborhood crime. Being separated from mom or dad. Each experience can be worrisome, or outright terrifying, to a child.

“All of us have fears,” says Lou Aymard, Ph.D., a child psychologist and director of The Parenting Center at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland. “But when a child’s fear escalates, parents need to respond.”

• Preschoolers and young children (ages 3 to 6) often don’t have the language skills and vocabulary to explain what frightens them. Child psychologists often use toys, dolls or action figures to help children reenact their fear and, hopefully, get control over it.

• Since children between the ages of 7 and 12 can talk about their fears, parents serve best by being “reflective listeners.” Example: “I can hear how frightening that was for you.” Aymard advices that with children these ages, parents not share their own frightening experiences. “Knowing that you have or had fears can make a child afraid that no one can protect him,” says Aymard.

• Communication is key with teens. Listen to your older children. If they’ll talk, share your experiences when appropriate and keep a watchful eye. For instance, according to Aymard, it’s good parenting to say, “No, you can’t go to the mall alone with your friends. Yes, you can shop with your friends, but I’ll also be in the mall.”

If a child becomes overwhelmed by her fear, so much so that she thinks, dreams and obsesses about her worry, Aymard recommends arranging a consultation with a pediatrician or child therapist.

***

Copyright 2008 Melissa Stanton
To be reprinted only with the written permission of Melissa Stanton or her authorized agent.
Contact reprints@lifesupportformoms.com

Media Coverage

During her career, Melissa has been quoted in newspapers including The New York Times and The Washington Post. She has appeared on Access Hollywood, Extra, ABC News, MSNBC and morning TV shows and radio programs nationwide. Her motherhood-related writing has been cited or reviewed by many media sources and she is frequently interviewed as a parenting source.

Mother-Talk.com. Multiple book reviews, posted June 9-13, 2008

Mom Writer's Literary Magazine. Cover Story and Interview. "Sometimes It's OK to Not Love Being a Stay-at-Home Mom," by Kris Underwood, Fall/Winter 2008

HillRag (Capital Community News, Washington D.C.). Review: "Surviving Motherhood," by Karen Lyon, October 2008

Mama Speaks.com. Review: "Speak Softly-Mama's Reading: The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide" (October 2, 2008)

The Capital, Capital-Gazette Newspapers. (Annapolis, Maryland) Feature article: "Perfectly at Home," by Theresa Winslow, June 19, 2008

The Baltimore Sun. Feature article: "A how-to for stay-at-home mothers," by Jasmine Jernberg, July 6, 2008. (Also posted on ChicagoTribune.com, Newsday.com and the Courant.com.)

The Associated Press. Quoted in the syndicated article “Idea to Help Your Kids Beat Vacations Blahs,” by Megan Scott, December 18, 2008

iParenting.com. Quoted in the article “Kids, Indoor Sports and Toddlers: How to Make Everybody Happy,” by Kelly Burgess, December 2008

The San Diego Union-Tribune. Quoted in the article “Old Toys Need to Make Room for Shiny New Ones,” by Jennifer Davies, January 9 2009

American Family Podcasts. Interview with Melissa Stanton by host Gigi Lubin. Available at iTunes or Whirlpool.com (go to the "Offers & Events" heading and select the show "Stay-at-Home Moms"). Air date: July 9, 2008

SAHM Answers.com. Article: "Stanton's New Publication Shows Proactive Approach to Motherhood," by Stephanie Torres, July 9, 2008

MomCentral.com. Review of The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide, June 28, 2008

MomTalk Radio. Interview with Melissa Stanton by host Maria Bailey. Available at momtalkradio.com. Air date: August 28, 2008.

Mommytime Radio. Interview with Melissa Stanton, broadcast on WLAC 1510-AM (Nashville, Tenn.) and available at mommytime.com. Air date: August 31, 2008.

Utne Reader. “Great Writing” Blog article, June 11, 2008, “Baby Belly Blues,” by Lisa Guyla, reviewing Melissa Stanton’s essay “Mourning My Belly” in MotherVerse magazine.

The Westfield Leader. Article: "Former Westfield Resident Feels Right at Home with Book," by Marylou Moreno, September 11, 2008

Washington Parent. Review: "Stay-at-Home Surviving and Thriving: The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide," in the Good Stuff column by Karen Kullgren, October 2008

Urban Baby. Interview and article. "Survival of the Fittest," by Leigh Balbour, October 22, 2008

About.com. Review. "Stay-at-Home Survival Guide: Book Review," by Soni Sangha, November 2008

MaryLiz Live at BlogTalk Radio, Host: MaryLiz Conway. March 5, 2009, blogtalkradio.com/MaryLiz

The MojoMom Podcast, Host: Amy Tiemann. March 6, 2009, mojomom.com

Dancing Meatballs: Philadelphia. Blurb at dancingmeatballs.com. "Stay-at-Home Moms of the World, Unite!" November 2008

Pregnancy & Newborn magazine. Featured expert in the "Good Advice" column, December 2008

WomenOnWriting.com. Featured as a recommended gift in the Women On Writing Holiday Gift Guide, December 2008

The San-Diego Union-Tribune. Quoted in the article, "Parenting 101: Old toys need to make way for shiny new ones," by Jennifer Davies, January 10, 2009

The Washington Post. Appearance previewed in the Book World section. January 13, 2009

My Geek Voice.com. Praised in a review by Kristy titled "The Perfect Stay-at-Home Mom Book," January 30, 2009

MamaLit.com. Featured Book of the Month, review by Heather Laird. February 2009

TheBump.com. Review. "What we're reading: The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide." 5 stars (out of 5), February 17, 2009


WeeklyGeeks.com. Cited in the "Political & Social Issues" forum. March 8, 2009


The Proverbial Housewife.com: Recommended as an "expert source." March 26, 2009


Mojo Mom: Nurturing Your Self While Raising a Family, by Amy Tiemann, PhD. (Gotham Press, April 2009). Recommended as a resource for stay-at-home moms.


In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms, a book by Dr. Laura Schlessinger (Harper, May 2009). Recommended as a resource for stay-at-home moms.


TheMotherhood.com. Featured Author. Week of June 1, 2009


Examiner.com. "A book I wished for 20 years ago: The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide," review by Kellie Davis, Anchorage Family Examiner. June 21, 2009


BookingMama.Blogspot.com. Review. July 9, 2009


NY Metro Parents. Quoted in the article "How to Make Mommy Friends," by Julie Ruggiero (available at nymetroparents.com). July 2009


The Well-Read Mom. Review by Alexis Turner. "SAHP Points to Ponder." September 28, 2009


ABC News, Moms Get Real
, Interviewed on the segment: "Parenting 50/50: Goal or Pipe Dream," October 22, 2009

Reviews of The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide


Media & Blogger Reviews


"Becoming a Stay-at-Home mother shifts your entire world, and Melissa Stanton gets it. This intelligent, sensible, hands-on guide will help at-home moms navigate thr rocky waters of time, money, self-image, self-esteem, sex, friendship, and everything else." Ericka Lutz, author of On the Go With Baby

"This book is wonderful, with chapters like Money Matters, Sex and the Stressed Out Stay-at-Home Mom and Motherhood: Who's the Expert? A must read for all Stay-at-Home Moms." livelaughblog.com


"I seriously cannot gush enough about this book ... And as much as the book says it is for stay-at-home moms, there is a ton of info that is JUST as valuable to a working mom." bethanyhitola.com

"I started reading this book ... and those were my feelings she was writing about! ... This sentence really stood out to me: 'If there's one thing I hope women will learn from this book, it's that it is okay to sometimes not love being a Stay-at-Home mom.' Just reading that one sentence was like a weight lifted off my shoulders." — Big Blueberry Eyes at Mother-Talk.com


"Melissa Stanton is great at being honest about the issues associated with being a stay-at-home mom, but also encouraging that you are not alone... I loved her style because even when she is encouraging, she doesn't come across as a high school cheerleader on speed! She is practical and honest, which is refreshing."— MyGeekVoice.com


"Stay-at-home mommas now have an excellent new book to help guide and educate them on their path.... The day of a stay-at-home mom is not glamorized (thank god), politicized, or judged. I'd recommend this book to moms new to the stay-at-home routine, as well as to those mommies who have been at if for years... And best for busy mommies: It is a quick and enjoyable read." — Heather Laird, MamaLit.com


"Every time I get the urge to punch someone for saying, 'You don't know how lucky you are to be able to stay home,' I think I'll pick up this book instead." — Book Haven at Mother-Talk.com


"I highly recommend this book to all stay-at-home moms, dads, or those who just want to understand what it's like to be in our shoes. You'll feel an instant camaraderie with Stanton and the moms who share their experiences in the book. And what stay-at-home mom couldn't use a little camaraderie?" — So a Blonde Walks Into a Review at Mother-Talk.com


"Stanton addresses the real issues that affect stay-at-home parents." — Dancing Meatballs-Philadelphia


"The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide has advice on everything from dealing with money matters to keeping up with housework to babyproofing on-the-cheap. 5 Stars out of 5!" — thebump.com


"A terrific resource ... [with] plenty of practical advice." — Washington Parent


"The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide has been pivotal for me in the way I view my role as a stay-at-home mom in my own family and in my society." — Beth, blogger at totalmomhaircut.com


"The Guide is a wonderful resource for stay-at-home moms, and it will definitely be added to my list of book recommendations I give to pregnant friends. The topics are well-organized, made for the mom that only has snippets of reading time... And the next time I meet a 'life is perfect, I'm blissfully happy' SAHM, I won't feel overburdened by guilt for thinking I'm a terrible mother." — nyssaneala.blogspot.com


"It's nice to have a non-preachy, non-patronizing resource to consult when you feel like you're being stretched too thin.... The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide is kind of like a What to Expect ... for Stay-at-Home Moms. [It's a] book I expect to reach for whenever I feel like locking myself in a bathroom to get away from a sassy four year old." — superdumbsupervillian.blogspot.com

"There are a couple books I recommend without reservation, and this is one of them." — askmoxie.org

"The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide
is full of practical insights from the author, and the many real-life women she interviewed. Topics covered include the ups and downs of stay-at-home motherhood, mothering multiple children, and en especially beneficial chapter on finances." The Proverbial Housewife


"The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide is, in my view, a must-have for every stay-at-home parent. Melissa Stanton doles out generous amounts of compassion (because stay-at-home parenting is HARD!) along with sensible, creative advice." alovelyproblemtohave.blogspot.com


"Perfect for: Any mom who has felt she has the best job in the world, and the worst job in the world, all within a two-minute timeframe."
MamaSpeaks.com


"If you ever feel like you're a giant freak show for feeling a particular way about being a SAHM, this book will let you know you aren't alone."
About.com


"The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide speaks volumes without being preachy, overtly tongue-in-cheek or feeding the 'Mommy Wars' ... [There's] support throughout the book that is relative to all aspects of motherhood, whether you are a SAHM (stay-at-home mom), WAHM (work-at-home mom), or a mother re-entering the workforce."
Mom Writer's Literary Magazine


"I LOVED this book.... I loved how Melissa Stanton writes the truth of what being at home with your children really is... I found myself thinking 'right on sister' at many points during this book!"
Wesnlani at Mother-Talk.com


"Ever have conflicted feelings about staying home with your kids? You are not alone. Being a stay-at-home mom is a mixed blessing. Sometimes we absolutely love being home with our kids, and sometimes we can't stand it. From extensive surveys, this book is full of practical advice and affirmations."
Parents Digest


"Thanks to this new book by Melissa Stanton, [Stay-at-Home moms] have somewhere to turn whever [they're] feeling a little lonely, under-appreciated, or overwhelmed."
MomCentral.com


"Among the things that I wish I'd had when I started having kids [20 years ago] ... maternity clothes that worked with the bulge and not against it, effective generic diapers, and Melissa Stanton's book, The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide. This book rocks! " Kellie Davis, Anchorage Family Examiner

Personal messages from readers:

"It was great to read a book by someone who understands what we're going through—rather than those books by celebrities or therapists who have full-time help raising their kids!" Julie


"I'm a former teacher and relatively new SAHM (2 kiddos, 17 months and 8 months) and desperately needed help figuring it all out. Being at home with my girls is by far the most draining thing I have ever done—and I used to keep up with a classroom full of first graders! Your book has helped me become a better (rested, recharged, realistic) mama. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such important and insightful advice. Stephanie


"I found [your book] one night when, after a particularly long week, I Googled 'mind numbing stay at home mom' ... Thank you for being so honest about all we SAH moms feel. I feel so much better knowing that many other mothers are going through the same trials and tribulations It's usually hard to get moms to be honest. Most just say what a blessing it is, but many don't say it's so hard sometimes, and you don't enjoy every day, and THAT'S OK!!! I've felt everything you talked about in your book and identified with so many (like the lady whose degrees mock her or the lady who feels like she's in the movie Groundhog Day as she lives the same day over and over). I've felt the same as almost every mom in your book, and I can't tell you how happy I am with your honesty on each subject." Jill


"You did a wonderful job of relaying all the mixed feeling moms at home can experience. Sometimes, I felt like I was reading my own words. I picked your book up over the course of many evenings and it gave me great comfort." Pam

"I could relate to so, so much of everything written... Not only was [your book] supportive and encouraging to reassure the reader they're doing the right thing, but it was very educational, especially the chapter on finances. Very real stuff, very wise and very much necessary for women everywhere, no matter their circumstance." Bhavna

Amazon reviews:

"I bought 4 different books on the topic, and ONE did help. This one. More than that it was a lifesaver. I felt like I wasn't alone in the struggles I was facing. This book gave me confidence ... Now knowing that I wasn't the only mom who struggled with all the tasks of stay at home parenting I confessed my struggles to [a mom at a playgroup] and you could see her great relief... This book could easily be titled "The Secret Confessions of Stay at Home Moms." I loved it and would recommend it to anyone and everyone thinking about staying at home with their kids. Most important, this book does not peg employed mothers and non-employed mothers against one another. It respects the decisions of both. It just helps the later to cope better with theirs." —"A No Longer Struggling Stay at Home Mom," amazon.com reader


[The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide]
has been instrumental in helping me adjust to being a SAHM. The advice is articulate and concrete. Chapters are organized according to specific issues. I actually loved the book so much I read it cover-to-cover and then went back to review specifics. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is considering, or who is, a stay-at-home parent." — S. Dahl, amazon.com reader


"This book is a must-read for all women who are either considering staying home with their kids or who have been doing it for years. It is encouraging and honest without being condescending." — PW Mom, amazon.com reader


"This is a real world book for real world moms." — Jljmr, amazon.com reader


"In my work I counsel parents and I recommend this book to the moms who stay home. I read it, and enjoyed it greatly, even though I've already survived those years. The author is smart, supportive, nonjudgmental and really captures the reality of stay at home motherhood. [The book] helps moms who are struggling with the daily grind of motherhood realize they aren't alone in sometimes feeling bored, frustrated, lonely, vulnerable, overwhelmed. I also recommend the book to mothers who are thinking about leaving the workforce, not to change their mind, but so they are prepared." — Cary Ann, amazon.com reader


"Finally a real perspective on what it's like to be at home, with kids, all day, every day ... and not loving it all day, every day. I found the book totally validating." — J. Beard, amazon.com reader

"I know this author and work at a children's boutique so we got a few copies and put them out for display. The books were a hit! Although a few moms bought the book for themselves, even more people who came in to buy something for a child wound up buying the book to give as a gift to a mom. Husbands would say, "Oh, I think my wife needs this." Grandmothers would say, "My daughter really needs this." It was interesting to see. I'm getting more books." — Jen, amazon.com reader

"The insights and anecdotes are well chosen and capture the angst that many professional, educated moms experience when making this change. A great read." — Lyn, amazon.com reader

"I could so relate to the author and the other stay-at-home moms in the book. What I loved about this book is that it acknowledges that while children are a blessing, and in today's economic times families like ours are fortunate to be able to live on one income, many SAH moms struggle with the role. I loved that the author and the moms she interviewed could be honest about their often mixed feelings about being 24/7 hands-on mothers. I feel that way. The book made me feel good, as a stay-at-home mom, and as the working mom I was and might be again. I also loved that the author doesn't play into the Mommy Wars. Women with children need to support one another, not snipe at one another" — MayaMc, amazon.com reader

"Great book, especially the money chapter ... I learned so much about insurances, Social Security benefits, retirement money, titling property and how to negotiate living on one income and as a woman not being at financial risk.... Women really need to know the stuff in this chapter. (And the Sex chapter is good too.)" Maureen, amazon.com reader
"This is a book pediatricians and ob/gyns should give to parents, or highly suggest [that] their patients read."E. Nolan, amazon.com reader

"I'd recommend this book for any new stay at home mom who is feeling a bit alone and lost."Jess, amazon.com reader

"This author totally gets what it's like to be a stay at home mom, especially to little kids. I felt like she and the moms interviewed for the book totally understand what I'm going through." Michkins, amazon.com reader

"I read [this book] in two days. I couldn't put it down. For any highly degreed SAHM with conflicted emotions about the role she has chosen, this is the IT book. [The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide] helped me immensely to come to peace with my decision. It explores the thoughts and feelings of women like me. I loved and highly recommend it."Sarah W. amazon.com reader

"This book is great! I am a stay at home Mom to 19-month-old twins. I love my kids, but the lack of adult [interaction can be] terrible. I thought something was wrong with me because I didn't love every minute of staying home. This book let me know I am not crazy and not alone. I am learning ways to meet my needs while I nurture my children. This book was a godsend!" Louise, amazon.com reader

For more reviews, please visit www.stayathomesurvivalguide.com


Melissa Stanton Biography


Melissa Stanton is the author of The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide: Field-tested strategies for staying smart, sane, and connected while caring for your kids, published by Seal Press/Perseus Books.

Previously, she was on staff at Time Inc. in New York, where she worked as a senior editor at People and LIFE magazines.

Melissa’s articles have appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Parenting, Organize and Brain,Child, among other publications. She has edited books including LIFE Sixty Years, and the photography collection Life With Mother (a Wall Street Journal bestseller with an introduction by Katie Couric). She has contributed to the books The American Spirit: Meeting the Challenge of September 11 and Faces of Ground Zero.

Several of Melissa’s parenting and mom-focused articles can be found on websites including StorkNet.com, MomToBe Depot.com, Wellness.com, CleverParents.com, WomenOf.com, WomensWeb.ca, MomScape.com, DrLaura.com, Hitched.com and ParentingBookmark.com. She is frequently invited to speak or lead discussions about work-family and family finance issues.

A New York native, Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and a master’s from the Hunter College School of Public Health, where she majored in community health education. Melissa is now a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom (as a freelance writer and editorial consultant). She is the founder of “Real Life Support for Moms” and lives with her husband, son and twin daughters near Washington D.C.

 

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