The Mother of All Advice Columns

The Mother of All Advice Columns

You often don’t know the value of what you’ve lived through until it’s in the past. If you’ve had kids at home throughout this pandemic, you have so many life lessons to share with other parents. But putting the pandemic aside for a moment, traveling the long road through parenthood has always given us valuable lived experiences to share with those following in our footsteps. 

We asked parents, without any other pre-text other than I was planning to reflect on where I was three years ago on my parenthood journey, “if you met yourself three years ago – what parenting advice would you share?”

What Parents Told Us They Would Tell Themselves About The Road Ahead

All you can do is the best you can with the tools you have. If they have a smile on their face and a full belly that’s a win itself.

Makita Cotto

Looking back in time, it’s easy to remember who I was as a parent. Reflection is a great tool, not for regret… but to learn the lessons that can be applied now and forward. Three years ago, I was a different parent. I just came out of homelessness and was struggling with depression, bi-polar disorder, alcoholism and finances. I did the best I could to shield my son from all my shortcomings, but as we all know, kids are sponges to what we project. He knew there was stuff going on. Somehow, through all the layers of junk I was dealing with, he remained my number one priority; I kept up with visitations, made sure his education continued, and gave him my full attention.

If I could travel back and talk to this earlier version of myself, I would have shared my current strengths, wisdom, and instilled the power of abundance the universe delivers. I would have said this; 

‘The who you are now will not be the who you are going to be in the future. You WILL manage your bi-polar disorder and depression. You WILL quit alcohol and embrace the strength of strangers who love you. You WILL inspire others with your successes and become an amazing role model to your child as your dreams become reality.’

anonymous

The parenting advice that I would give myself would be, that it’s important to do self care. If we want to be happy parents, we have to be happy with ourselves. The things you don’t get done today, will still be there tomorrow, so just relax! To celebrate the small things and also to not sweat the small stuff. We only have this one life and our kids will only be this little for a short time.

Toni Miner

Work on healing your inner wounds and traumas. Our kids are our greatest teachers and mirror what we need to heal within ourselves.

Alison Knight

My best advice that I give (and need to be reminded of) is: don’t take credit when your kids excel and don’t blame yourself when they don’t. We are not responsible for the choices our children make. We are here to guide them, but each child is an individual and will make a path that suits them.

Jill McIntire Green

There will be wonderful joyous days and hard exhausting days… and minutes. Embrace the joyous ones, breathe through the hard ones, practice gratitude, and hold on to your optimism.

Jade Woodard

You will be a better mother, if you don’t lose yourself in motherhood.

Tara Petersen

Work life balance is a myth it ebbs and flows.

Lisa Kjeseth

Each piece of advice is valuable and likely resonates with every parent reading this article. And so, let this serve as a reminder to you to share your pearls of wisdom with others to, at least, let other parents know they are not alone in their self-doubt, stresses or challenges.

Parenting Advice to Past Me 

As I outreached to other parents I promised to share my own advice to the mom I was three years ago when my daughter was little over a year old and my son was three; and I was working through depression. My mom died from Cancer two months after my daughter was born and the swirl of postpartum emotions and hormones, coupled with grief and loss, still had a pretty strong hold over me. When I set out to write this inspirational column I wasn’t sure what words of wisdom I had to share with myself during that time, but after reading everyone’s varying perspectives it is this: 

Talk to other moms. Make friends. Remember to ask for advice because their perspectives are amazing and insightful. And, above all else, ACCEPT help. You will need it to get through the days and years ahead, but I promise you, you will still be standing. And, as a friend recently told me, ‘if they have a smile on their face and a full belly that’s a win.’

Katie Facchinello

Not Everyone is Having a Happy Mother’s Day

Having struggled through infertility for many years and now having lost my mom, it seems like I’ve experienced more bad Mother’s Days than good. So, a word of advice: if you are having a Happy Mother’s Day with your mom or taking the time to celebrate with your kids, remember to see and comfort those who are planning to pull the covers over their heads and let it pass. 

Thousands of parents in Colorado whose children are growing up in foster care are doing their best to make it possible for their kids to come home. Love doesn’t disappear because mental health struggles, substance use disorders or whatever other significant challenges helped make home unsafe exist. It’s still a hard day. The same can be said for their children. No matter what trauma a child may have endured, it is natural to want love from your parents and to want to be together. This day is hard for them too. We are thankful for the foster parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, and single parents who may feel unseen on this day of celebration. Thank you for strengthening your families. Your kids may, or may not, thank you for it, but Illuminate Colorado is grateful to you for helping to create a Colorado where all children and families thrive. 

To Future Us

Every year there are more than 61,000 babies born in Colorado.1 Those first days and months are full of joy and stress for every family. If you are celebrating someone in your life that is about to become a parent this Mother’s Day, let this be a reminder to make sure you are up to date on what safe sleep looks like at home and everywhere babies sleep.

When you walk into any store to buy something for a new baby on the way, you may assume that the products on the shelves are safe, but those who’ve spent some time learning about safe sleep recommendations and guidelines know that isn’t the case when it comes to infant sleep products. Thankfully, beginning in mid-2022, any product intended or marketed for infant sleep must meet a federal safety standard.

Of course, recalls and safety guidance aren’t the only thing new parents have to know, so, I’m passing along a word of advice that one of the parents we outreached to for this column recently shared with a friend.

A letter to My Dear (pregnant) Friend, 

Happy Mother’s Day.This day is very special for you and your little one. You will soon find out why our moms love us so much. There is no kind of love that can equal or surpass it. 

I never envisioned loving anyone more than my cat. I never knew it was possible to love another person so much. 

Some advice:

1) Get as much rest as you can now.

2) Enjoy your personal space, like having a daydream or a private thought.

3) Remember what your life is like now. You will soon look back and realize how simple it was.

4) Enjoy small stuff like bathing alone or going to the bathroom in a restaurant (which will soon be very complicated).

5) Savor the romance, travel… and sex (you will understand what I mean).

6). Enjoy reading as many adult books as you can now; because your next chance won’t be until  they go off to college. 

Being a mom is the most precious blessing in life. I can’t wait for you to join the club.

Eliza Sultan

About the Author

About the Author

Katie is the proud mother of two children, four and six,  sharing her lived experiences so that children and families can grow and thrive together. As the Director of Communications for Illuminate Colorado, she specializes in the development of strategic communications plans related to the field of child welfare, child abuse prevention, and the use of evidence-based communications aimed at improving the well-being of children and strengthening families in the State of Colorado.

You Don’t Have to Carry the Emotional Load of Parenthood Alone

You Don’t Have to Carry the Emotional Load of Parenthood Alone

A big reason I’ve become so involved in my community and eager to support parents is because of my own personal story and experience receiving support. In October 2018 I experienced every parents worst nightmare: my three and a half year-old son passed away. After that tragedy, I was offered a whirlwind of supportive services, counseling, classes, family and friends coming to offer support. Every single one played a part in my healing process. What I found most life-altering was my home visiting program. 

Home visitors provided a listening ear, in-home coaching and support. They showed up and sat with me in my grief, my worry, my frustration. They listened to my struggles without judgement and genuinely created an atmosphere of friendship. My home visitors helped me to carry the emotional load of parenthood, as well as make sure my children were on track developmentally. Having that extra set of eyes helps you feel better about what you are doing as a parent. 

Not only do home visitors offer parenting advice and comradery, they can also refer you to social services if you lose your job or need a doctor or therapist. They can help you apply for social services like LEAP or TANF. They bring gifts. They bring new ideas and they’ll help you find a child care center. They are always there with the knowledge and the know-how to meet you where you are and give you the hand up to get to where you want to be. 

Home visiting support helped me through the most unimaginable grief a person can experience. And I will never be able to say thank you enough to those who have helped me become who I am now through all of that pain. 

After leaving my job in 2020 due to the pandemic, my home visitor suggested I join the Early Childhood Leadership Commission’s Home Visiting Investment Task Force as a parent voice as a way to stimulate my brain and give back to the community that gave so much to me. The task force works to guide the implementation of the home visiting strategic plan leading to the creation of a continuum of home visiting services in Colorado, something I am so looking forward to seeing. 

it was also suggested to me to enroll my children in the Colorado Head Start program, a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children from birth to age five. After enrolling, I took on an additional role for my region’s Head Start Association. As a parent in Head Start, I’m given the peace of mind that my children are given great preparation in school readiness. They also ensure that my children are receiving social and emotional developmental support. I’m encouraged to be a teacher for my children and given the materials to support what my girls are learning. As a parent president and board member, I get to have a say in the future education of my children and other children who will go through the program. Centro de la Familia’s Head Start program is an invaluable resource that has helped me connect to my children on a deeper level.

Having the personal connections and support offered to me through home visiting helped me get out of the deep dark hole I was in years ago. A few short years ago I had no idea how to go on, how to move forward and show up everyday for the people in my life, including myself. And now, I get the opportunity to be present in my children’s lives on a new level. We love to play dress-up, cook together, read, swim, sing and dance. We get to be silly and happy. I have the confidence that I don’t know everything and I won’t get everything right, but I do have a team of people I trust to pick me up when I stumble. 

Concrete supports are among the five critical protective factors known to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families. It is my hope that other parents and caregivers who find themselves in a hole, who want to better themselves as parents, or who would like a friend to come sit with them for awhile, remember that there is concrete support here for them. I am forever grateful that it was here for me. 

Alexa Chenoweth

Alexa Chenoweth

Alexa is from Rifle, Colorado. As a mom to two daughters- an almost one-year-old and four-year-old she is a parent representative on the Home Visiting Investment Task Force and a board member for the Region 8 Head Start Association. She is sharing her lived experiences so that children and families can grow and thrive together.  She has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced grief and high stress while parenting her young children.   

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New Kid on the Block: Caramel Expands Illuminating Child Care to Pueblo and Fremont Counties

New Kid on the Block: Caramel Expands Illuminating Child Care to Pueblo and Fremont Counties

Caramel, Illuminating Child Care’s newest member of the fleet, was introduced to the Pueblo community at an open house on April 14th. Members of the community and local media toured the new classroom, learned more about the program and saw how the on-site classroom operates. Another open house is scheduled in Fremont County today.

Media Coverage of the Pueblo Open House

Before a parent can begin to address any complex issue impacting their family, like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, they are too often faced, first, with struggling to find child care.

That’s why Illuminate Colorado has partnered with Children First/Pueblo Early Childhood Council to expand the Illuminating Child Care program. Caramel, the newest classroom in the Illuminating Child Care fleet, is increasing access to child care for parents and caregivers navigating complex life situations in Pueblo and Fremont counties.

“We can support parents in… really being able to be present and well for their kiddos, then we can support children in building all of those brain connections that we know happens in early childhood. So that’s how this is really contributing to school readiness and long-term educational success for kiddos,” Jade Woodard, Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado, told Fox 21 News.

“As a single mother, and as a single mother in recovery, the greatest barrier to me being able to complete those tasks that I need to complete and stay on track would be child care.”

Karie, one of several parents who’ve depended on Illuminating Child Care

According to Angie Shehorn, Director of Children First/Pueblo Early Childhood Council, Caramel will officially begin services in late April or early May. “We have a schedule worked out… where we are out at facilities every single day, Monday through Friday,” she told The Pueblo Chieftain.

Getting this child care classroom ready to serve young children means we need your help!

Illuminate is hosting an online baby shower to help stock Caramel with all the items child care teachers need to help young children learn and grow while providing drop-in care on-site where parents are getting the support they need to strengthen their families.

The registry for Caremel is set up through Lakeshore Learning Materials.

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How to Help Your Picky Eater

How to Help Your Picky Eater

Most parents struggle with feeding their kids at some point in their lives. Eating is one of the most basic functions, so why is it so hard? There are many reasons a child might not like a specific food — the texture, what it looks like, the smell, or the child could be anxious about the sensory experience, so they refuse even to try it. Whatever the reason, there are ways to make this experience less stressful for everyone. 

I am a pediatric therapist and co-founder of Kinspire, a pediatric support platform that provides occupational therapy through a convenient telehealth experience. I often help families who struggle with picky eaters. Most picky eater caregivers dread mealtime because they know there will be struggles around food. Mealtimes should be an opportunity to connect with your family, not a time of stress. I’m excited to share a few of my favorite tips on how to support your child during mealtimes so the entire family can get back to a stress-free meal. 

Tips to Ease Mealtime Stress With Your Picky Eater

Introduce new foods alongside favorite foods.

Do not force your child to try a new food. Continue to present it in small portions alongside favorite foods to increase the likelihood of your child interacting with it. 

Select three goal foods.

Make a list of your child’s preferred foods. These foods will help you determine new foods to introduce – you want to select new foods that are similar to your child’s preferred foods, but different in some ways. Introduce the goal foods one at a time. 

Use “I wonder” statements to encourage your child to try new foods.

“I wonder if that’s crunchy like your pretzels,” or “I wonder if it tastes sweet or salty.”

Take the pressure off your child.

If your child doesn’t want to interact with a food, say, “OK, I guess you’re not ready to eat that yet.” Adding yet to this statement leaves the possibility open for the future while making them more comfortable during mealtime.

Get them involved in food prep.

Helping in the kitchen makes your child an active participant and gives them a sense of control from the start.

Encourage them to explore food through smell, touch or trying it in small bites.

If your child smells a new food, that is a win! Encourage them to touch and smell the food if they aren’t ready to taste it yet. 

Give them some control over their food choices.

A food menu works great for this — give your child food options and let them fill out the weekly menu. When the child feels like they have some control over their food, they know what to expect and are more willing to try it. 

Manage your expectations.

It’s hard to put so much time and effort into feeding your child. Don’t expect any one tip to be the answer; this process can take time, but your patience will pay off. 

2022 Pinwheels for Prevention® Sponsor

Special Thanks to Kinspire for growing a better tomorrow for all children, together.

Speaking from personal experience with my youngest girl, being a parent to a picky eater can be overwhelming at times. If you’re looking for support for your picky eater, Kinspire can help you. 

Kinspire offers children and their families occupational therapy in the most flexible and convenient way that fits into anyone’s schedule. Kinspire’s platform empowers parents to support their children on a daily basis via a dedicated occupational therapist, on-demand telehealth services, and a self-service technology experience. Kinspire therapists work with families to develop a collaborative Family Action Plan tailored to their child’s needs and parents can reach out to their dedicated therapist whenever they need help or have questions.

No more wait lists or scheduling challenges— you can get help now at your convenience with Kinspire. Schedule a free consultation at www.kinspirehealth.com to get matched with a licensed therapist who will guide and teach you how to support your family so you can get back to stress-free meals.

About the Author

About the Author

Lily Baiser is a parent and highly experienced pediatric occupational therapist (OT). She holds a certification in sensory integration theory and practice, and has advanced training in multiple interventions. She also serves as the chief clinical officer and co-founder of Kinspire, a pediatric support platform that provides occupational therapy through telehealth to best support the developmental needs of children and their families.

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One Father’s Journey Through Parenthood with Community Resources

One Father’s Journey Through Parenthood with Community Resources

I never thought I would ever become homeless until it happened. A number of events led me to a point in my life where I needed to find a temporary home so that I could start working to rebuild my life from the ground up and continue to support my basic needs and be there for my son. I want to share and highlight a few community support programs that have had a big impact on my life and that of my son’s because I know that it is so important to breakdown the stigma of getting support as a parent. But first, I want to tell you about my son.

I am a father to a 9 year-old boy who has has the funniest sense of humor. He has this awesome joy inside of him that marvels over the simplest things, like a dollar store toy, a plastic device that makes snowballs or even a pack of gum. And, through his wonderment of these things he teaches me that life doesn’t have to be so complex and I too can enjoy the simple moments. My son and I have an amazingly strong relationship built on trust, love and the ability to learn and grow…together. I am honored and privileged to be a father.

But, parenting isn’t always easy. There’s no book to follow on how to be a perfect parent and it can be difficult at times. The good news is there’s so many resources in all of our communities that are reaching out to us to provide services, programs and support as we navigate our parental journey. These are just a few of the community organizations that have made an impact on my family in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Springs Rescue Mission

It was late in the year and it started to get cold outside. I had exhausted all other resources and had to find housing very quickly. As I entered the shelter at Springs Rescue Mission for the very first time, I was greeted with open arms and care. Immediately, I had a bed and began to learn what resources were available to me.

The caregivers at Springs Rescue Mission were amazing at connecting me to everything I needed. I had some medical issues and was put into contact with a doctor within days. I was shown where to get food at a number of locations. As you might imagine, my stress and anxiety levels were high and I was quickly connected to a provider to manage my mental health. When it came to generating income, Springs Rescue Mission was able to provide me with electricity and internet access so that I could continue to support the remote clients that I had. They also had jobs posted every week and clinics available for resume building and interviewing skills.

When times were difficult, I could reach out and talk to any of the shelter employees and they listened to me as we talked through issues that affected me as a parent. I can’t thank Springs Rescue Mission enough for supporting my basic needs, connecting me to all the resources I needed, and for helping me get back on my feet. This is just one shelter among many that provide a roof, food, and hands to help guide us back upwards.

Circle of Parents

The Circle of Parents® in Colorado is an online and in-person weekly meeting where parents come together, share thoughts, ideas and problems. In return, those in the group receive advice and resources to help make parenting a little easier. It’s a collection of parents needing help and through the bonds that are built… grow stronger, together. You learn very quickly in groups like these that you are never alone and help is just an email, text or phone call away.

For me, each week connects me to other fathers that are knowledgeable about local parent/child events and educational opportunities like parenting books, articles, or websites. It’s a safe place to share challenges and success stories and bond with other fathers.

Center on Fathering

Although there are many more organizations I could share, I do want to mention just one more; the Center on Fathering which has been a bedrock of support to strengthen our role as parents through parenting classes, support groups and access to educational materials.

I reached out to community organizations for help and it’s made me a better parent. If I can leave you with just one message today, it would be this…  it’s OK for parents to ask for support. We all need it. We all need to connect with one another—as parents—to share the information, resources, tips and tricks that we learn along the way.

Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

When families are connected and have access to concrete supports in their community that help minimize stress caused by challenges, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive. ​This is what child abuse prevention looks like in my life. Together, we can become the best parents we can be. For fathers, it feels especially difficult for us to reach out to one another to connect as parents and get support. This is the pledge I make to myself, to continue to connect and I’m sharing my story to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

Dave Ehlert

Dave Ehlert

Dave is a proud father to his nine year-old son living in Colorado Springs. He has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced homelessness and spends his time helping other fathers make progress in their lives in order to attain greater fulfillment.

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Colorado Substance Exposed Newborn Effort Name Change: Introducing SuPPoRT Colorado

Colorado Substance Exposed Newborn Effort Name Change: Introducing SuPPoRT Colorado

Our collaborative effort has a new name! Moving forward, the groups that were previously referred to as the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee, Family Advisory Board, and associated Work/Advisory Groups will be collectively known as Supporting Perinatal substance use Prevention, Recovery, and Treatment in Colorado (SuPPoRT Colorado). SuPPoRT Colorado will continue to work toward the same vision of a Colorado that equitably serves all families through prevention and reduction of substance use during pregnancy and provides multigenerational support for families to thrive, under a name that more accurately reflects our mission, values, and the work we do.

Aligning Our Name with Our Mission and Values

Hear from Family Advisory Board and Steering Committee members in their own words why they chose to make this name change:

The name change is important because it has a supportive person center description. I think it is important to keep the recovery from SUD during pregnancy in the title too so that it is also focused on the solution.”

Ashley Miller

Family Advisory Board member

“The new name, SuPPoRT Colorado: Supporting Perinatal substance use Prevention, Recovery, and Treatment in Colorado, is now inclusive of those who are affected by perinatal substance use throughout their entire lives. Effects of fetal alcohol exposure often require lifelong supports.”

Marilyn Fausset

Parent advocate, FASD Work Group Co-chair & Steering Committee member

“I really appreciate that the new name “SuPPoRT Colorado” shifts the focus from the newborn’s exposure to the support provided to both the newborn and the parent(s) related to prevention, treatment and recovery.”

Deborah Monaghan, MD, MSPH

Medical Director at Office of Children, Youth and Families-CDHS, Steering Committee member

“The name change reflects our commitment to learning with and from families, providers, researchers, and advocates. The new name better embraces our commitment to data-informed action that is family-led and community-based.”

Courtney L. Everson, PhD

Senior Researcher/Project Director at Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, Data & Research Advisory Group Co-chair & Steering Committee member

“As our work has continued to evolve over the last 14 years, it only seems fitting that our language evolves too. Our new name “SuPPoRT Colorado” better reflects our continued commitment to families across the lifespan.”

Jade Woodard, MPA

Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado, founding Steering Committee Co-chair

“Rising to meet the current needs and opportunities in our state has been core to our collaborative work since the very beginning, and I’m looking forward to the impact we’ll have in this next phase as “SuPPoRT Colorado.”

Kathi Wells, MD, FAAP

Executive Director of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect, founding Steering Committee Co-chair

The Steering Committee was originally established in 2008 and is a subcommittee of the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force. In 2019, the Family Advisory Board (FAB) to the Steering Committee was formed in order to elevate the voices of families who have experienced, directly or indirectly, the impacts of substance use during pregnancy. A reflection of the shared leadership of the Steering Committee and FAB, changing our initiative’s name to  SuPPoRT Colorado marks an exciting new chapter in our ongoing collaborative efforts to identify and implement strategies for reducing the number of families impacted by substance use during pregnancy and for improving outcomes for families across the lifespan.  

Beginning in April of 2021, the Steering Committee and FAB began a process to revisit our language and explore a name change to better align our name with our shared mission and values. Over the last year, the FAB and Steering Committee engaged in a process to identify ideas and ultimately choose our new name. Along the way, small ad-hoc groups of Steering Committee and Family Advisory Board members led the thinking with multiple opportunities for members across the effort to weigh in. We’re so grateful and excited to officially launch our new name and logo that was crafted with the input of so many dedicated partners.

Visit the SuPPoRT Colorado webpage to learn more about our history, vision, and mission,  click here to learn more about the current work, and sign up to join the effort here!

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