Hiring the Perfect Caregiver with the Windy City Nanny Florence Ann Romano

In this episode of The Parent Pod spoke to the Windy City Nanny (Florence Ann Romano) about everything from nanny cams to hiring dos and don’ts for parents.

Florence Ann Romano, The Windy City Nanny ™, is an author, podcast co-host of “Finger Painting the Future”, a philanthropist and child-care expert who has always had a special place in her heart for children. Romano worked for over 15 years as a nanny, beginning as a ‘Mommy’s helper’ at the age of 11. She believes the key to success for a family is by focusing on what she has coined as THE TRIFECTA – parent, child, and caretaker working in unison toward common, family goals.

About

The Parent Pod podcast by Gymboree Play & Music is a weekly conversation that features various experts who are willing to share helpful tips for parents and grandparents on how to support their little ones during the first five years of life. Our podcast drives conversations around early childhood development and parenting strategies, with topics ranging from sleep training, and minimalist living to maternal mental health and postpartum depression.

January Book Recommendations

Photo Credit Paige Cody

Out With the Old, In With the New… Books 📚

We’re celebrating 2021 by focusing on experiences that are new and exciting for parents and kids alike.

From yoga and mindfulness to New Year’s celebrations and flowers, our January book recommendations teach your little one about the joy of new beginnings.

See the full list below.

 

Recommendations for Children

The Stars Will Still Shine

by Cynthia Rylant and Tiphanie Beeke 

Author Cynthia Rylant and illustrator Tiphanie Beeke bring us a story that is perfect for all ages. No matter what the new year may bring, the stars will still shine.Through positive affirmations in gentle verse this book teaches that even when we face new challenges in our lives, many things will always stay the same. We can take comfort in all he goodness life has to offer.

Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga

by Rebecca Whitford and Martina Selway 

Get your toddler up and moving and try something new with this first book of yoga poses! Encourage your toddler to move just like “yoga baby” as you model the poses alongside them. Make a New Year’s resolution to spend time each day moving along with your toddler!

The Night Before New Year’s

by Natasha Wing and Amy Wummer

It’s the night before New Year’s! The whole family is dedicated to staying up until midnight to bring in the New Year. Everyone has sparkly streamers and fancy party hats. But after a night filled with many cupcakes and card games, will the children be able to stay awake? Older toddlers and preschooler will love this rhythmic rhyming text and hearing about the family’s New Year’s festivities.

The Tiny Seed

by Eric Carle  

Beloved author Eric Carle brings us an inspiring story about a flower. We begin with a tiny, brand-new seed floating in the wind. Preschoolers will love the gorgeous collage illustrations as they learn about all the hardships this tiny seed endured to be able to grow into a new flower. At the end of the story, we see the cycle begin anew as the flower sheds its seeds into the wind.

If I Never Forever Endeavor

by Holly Meade

A little bird, safe in the comfort of his own nest, wonders whether he should try to fly. On the one wing, he might fail. But on the other wing, he might soar! He’ll never know unless he tries. This sweet story about trying new things will resonate with anyone facing a challenge, a rite of passage, or a change. Preschoolers will enjoy following along with this story and cheering on the little bird until he is finally ready to take flight.

Recommendations for Parents

The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired

by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson 

Based on the latest brain and attachment research, The Power of Showing Up shares stories, scripts, simple strategies, illustrations, and tips for honoring the Four S’s effectively in all kinds of situations—when our kids are struggling or when they are enjoying success; when we are consoling, disciplining, or arguing with them; and even when we are apologizing for the times we don’t show up for them. Demonstrating that mistakes and missteps are repairable and that it’s never too late to mend broken trust, this book is a powerful guide to cultivating your child’s healthy emotional landscape.

Untigering: Peaceful Parenting for the Deconstructing Tiger Parent

by Iris Chen 

In Untigering, Iris Chen shares her journey of leaving behind authoritarian tiger parenting to embrace a respectful, relational way of raising children. As a Chinese American mom, she draws from her experiences of living in both North America and Asia and offers insights and practices to:

Heal from your childhood wounds
Change your beliefs about yourself and your children
Parent through connection instead of control
Redefine your understanding of success
Navigate and challenge cultural norms

Iris calls for a radical shift from parenting that is rooted in power to one that is grounded in partnership, but she does so with humor, humility, and empathy. This book is her invitation to you to begin your own journey of transformation as a parent.

Parent Up: Inspire Your Child to Be Their Best Self

by Kelly Rippon  

How do you raise a champion? After her son Adam Rippon, medaled in the 2018 Olympic Games, single mom Kelly Rippon found herself being asked this question all the time. Kelly had six children―what did she do to inspire them to their achievements and how did she raise confident, self-driven, emotionally intelligent children? Kelly realized that her unique parenting ideas shared the same leadership influence model she presented to audiences across the country as a motivational and professional development speaker.

Her philosophy is simple: a parent has the greatest opportunity to be the most significant influence in a child’s life. Kelly shares ten key types of influence―from Optimism to Accountability―that will inspire your kids and build your own sense of purpose and self-worth.

The Parenting Toddlers Workbook: Manage Your Child’s Moods, Potential, and Well-Being 

by Katie Penry PsyD

Toddlers have a difficult reputation―and an easy aptitude for connection, learning, and growth. Nurture your toddler’s potential with The Parenting Toddlers Workbook, a resource packed with research-driven tools and quick, accessible parenting techniques. Key insights into your child’s development, combined with tailored exercises and activities, help deepen your understanding―and strengthen your bond.

Explore strategies for parenting toddlers of different ages: 12 months, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, and 4 years.

The 6 Needs of Every Child: Empowering Parents and Kids through the Science of Connection

by Amy Elizabeth Olrick (Author), Jeffrey Olrick  (Author)

Like most parents, Amy and Jeffrey Olrick left the hospital with their first child desperate to know, “What do we do?” But years of parenting three kids and Jeffrey’s work as a child psychologist convinced them to ask a better question: “How shall I be with this new person?”

In a culture obsessed with parenting formulas, it’s easy to miss the fact that science and lived experience have proven that human development and thriving are a matter of relationship. Drawing on decades of psychological research, neuroscience, and their own experience as parents and people of faith, the Olricks present six relational needs for human growth that will transform the way you think about your child–and yourself. Together, the needs form a trustworthy compass to guide you and your child to a path of purpose and relational wholeness.

Parent Self-Care With Author & Expert Kristi Yeh

Episode Information

In this week’s episode of the Parent Pod Podcast, we spoke to Parent Self-Care Expert Kristi Yeh about the ways parents can practice self-care, especially in the winter months.

Kristi Yeh is a parent of two, and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has been practicing in California for over ten years. She currently works in school-based mental health as a Wellness Coordinator at a public elementary school. Kristi has been passionate about self-care personally and professionally for years, which led her to start Parent Self-Care, write a book for parents about their wellness, and launch the Mental Mile podcast.

You can visit her online at https://parentselfcare.com/

And you can purchase her book Self-Care 101: Self-Care Inspiration for Busy Parents here.

About

The Parent Pod podcast by Gymboree Play & Music is a weekly conversation that features various experts who are willing to share helpful tips for parents and grandparents on how to support their little ones during the first five years of life. Our podcast drives conversations around early childhood development and parenting strategies, with topics ranging from sleep training, and minimalist living to maternal mental health and postpartum depression.

5 Holiday Treats That Will Make You Go Mmmmm

Credit: Taste of Home

Whether you’re from the United States, Canada, Italy, or Mexico, one thing is for sure…food is a BIG DEAL. Especially during the holidays.

Since we’re focusing on traditions this month at Gymboree Play & Music, our team thought it would be cool to curate a list of traditional holiday cookies and treats from families around the world. 

And voila, here it is.  

Italian Almond Pizzelle Cookies

If you love fun baking appliances, then you’ll love making these buttery, almond-flavored cookies. They get their unique waffle design from a pizzelle maker. They cook in roughly 5-10 minutes. You can try the recipe here.

Whipped Cream Krumkake from Norway

These sweet treats are surprisingly easy to make. This recipe gives simple and clear step-by-step instructions that will walk you through the process required to create these beautifully intricate waffle cookies at home.

Rosette’s from Norway

These traditional deep-fried favorites are crisp and delicious with a delicate, lacy look. These intricate crispy treats are as delicious as they are beautiful. This cookie is sure to delight your little one. Check out the recipe here.

Khrustyky from Ukraine

This crispy, dainty pastry dusted with confectioners’ sugar has an eggy flavor similar to cream puffs. You can use this recipe to create this treat for your family.

Mexican Cinnamon Cookies

This 5 ingredient delight is sweet, simple and easy to make. You can head over here for the full recipe.

Reinventing life, traditions and hand-me-downs with Rent a Romper Founder Lauren Gregor

Episode Information

In this week’s episode of the Parent Pod Podcast, we spoke to Rent a Romper founder Lauren Gregor about her family traditions, her business, and her life as a mom of two boys.

Lauren Gregor is a mom, wife, strategy director, soccer coach, and entrepreneur living in California with her 2 children, husband and a desire to help save the planet. 

Check out her business Rent-a-Romper; a rental clothing subscription that ensures that you have the right clothes at the right time as your child grows. Her goal is to make parents’ lives easier while easing the negative effects that the fashion industry is having on the planet.

About

The Parent Pod podcast by Gymboree Play & Music is a weekly conversation that features various experts who are willing to share helpful tips for parents and grandparents on how to support their little ones during the first five years of life. Our podcast drives conversations around early childhood development and parenting strategies, with topics ranging from sleep training, and minimalist living to maternal mental health and postpartum depression.

Gymboree Play & Music announces their new micro-partner program.

Photo Credit: NeONBRAND Digital Marketing


2020 has been a year of ups and downs that have forced businesses to take a step back and see how to better serve their customers. Gymboree Play & Music is no exception. 

After we saw the true impact of the pandemic on parents, families, and small businesses, we wanted to do more to keep our customers connected, and to use our platform to introduce some of our friends to each of you. We hope that their services might make it a little easier for you and your family to navigate these trying times.

Today we’re happy to launch our “micro-partner” Rent a Romper, which is an environmentally-conscious clothing rental service for kids that repurposes gently-used clothing. Families can clear their closets and ship all of their hand-me-downs to their headquarters – for FREE. You can learn more about the partnership and their offering to our customers here.

This is just one of several micro-partnerships we’ve developed for 2021. Please subscribe or follow us on social media to learn about other partnerships that will be announced in the coming months.

The Secret to Mentally Strong Parenting with Amy Morin

Episode Information

In this week’s episode of the Parent Pod Podcast, we spoke to Amy Morin about the ways in which we can be more mentally strong as parents. Amy is a psychotherapist and the internationally bestselling author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. Her books are translated into more than 40 languages. She’s also the host of The Mentally Strong People podcast.

You can learn more about her at https://amymorinlcsw.com/

About

The Parent Pod podcast by Gymboree Play & Music is a weekly conversation that features various experts who are willing to share helpful tips for parents and grandparents on how to support their little ones during the first five years of life. Our podcast drives conversations around early childhood development and parenting strategies, with topics ranging from sleep training, and minimalist living to maternal mental health and postpartum depression.

December Book Recommendations

This Month is All About Traditions

This December we’re celebrating the many ways families observe different traditions from around the world. 

What better time of year to explore the concept of “tradition” than the holiday season. At a time when the world is going through so many changes, it’s our traditions that have kept us anchored. 

This month we curated our book recommendations to help you and your child understand the importance of traditions, and why they’re important. See the full list below. 

Recommendations for Children

Global Babies

by The Global Fund for Children

You and your baby will love looking at these vibrant photographs of babies from all around the globe. From Guatemala to Bhutan and many places in between, get a quick snapshot of the daily life, traditions and clothing of babies from around the world. The simple text teaches that no matter where they come from, all babies everywhere are special and loved.

Let’s Celebrate Special Days Around the World

by Kate Depalma and Martina Peluso 

Learn all about 13 special days from around the world and the traditions that go along with them. “Let’s Celebrate” uses colorful, vibrant illustrations and rhyming text to explore holidays from several different cultures around the globe, like Kodomo no Hi in Japan, Carnival in Brazil, and more!

Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup

by Pamela Mayer  and Deborah Melmon 

Two grandmas, two traditions, two kinds of chicken soup and Sophie caught in the middle! She loves Bubbe’s Jewish chicken soup with kreplach. She also loves Nai Nai’s Chinese chicken soup with wontons. Read to find out how Sophie brings her whole family together to form a brand new family tradition.

Love and the Rocking Chair

by Diane Dillon  and Leo Dillon 

Colorful paintings illustrate this simple yet touching story that shows us tradition can come is all forms. A young couple of parents-to-be purchase a rocking chair for their nursery. As years go by, we see the little boy grow up and move away, the rocking chair left to collect dust in the attic. But the cycle begins again when the little boy, now a man, has a child of his own and the rocking chair is needed again. “Love and the Rocking Chair” is a beautiful reminder of how family love is passed on from generation to generation.

My Food, Your Food

by Lisa Bullard and  Christine M. Schneider 

This week is Food Week in Manuel’s class. Each student gets to talk about a kind of food that is special to them and their family. As we learn about different dishes from around the world, we discover that even when foods are different, they can still be alike. What food will Manuel share with his class.

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof : Tooth Traditions from Around the World

by Selby Beeler and G. Brian Karas 

Travel around the world and discover the surprising things children do when they lose a tooth. Selby B. Beeler spent years collecting traditions from every corner of the globe for this whimsical book, and G. Brian Karas adds to the fun, filling every page with humorous detail. He perfectly captures the excitement and pride that children experience when a tooth falls out.

Recommendations for Parents

The Joy of Family Traditions

by Jennifer Trainer Thompson 

 THE JOY OF FAMILY TRADITIONS offers more than 400 fresh ideas and creative approaches to cultivating birthday, anniversary, holiday, and other rite-of-passage and seasonal traditions that strengthen personal bonds and reflect a family’s individual style, spirituality, and values. It inspires and instructs families on how to create, personalize, adapt, and preserve relevant traditions that reflect how we live today. It explores the historical, cultural, and often quirky origins of holidays, customs, and milestones, both uncommon and familiar. And it includes holidays, holy days, annual events, once-in-a-lifetime occasions, and personal celebrations.

Danish Dinner Party: Traditions and Recipes

by Richard E. Klein 

More than a cookbook, Danish Dinner Party has everything you need to host an authentic Danish dinner for 12, including cherished customs from times gone by. Both inviting and entertaining, this book will teach you how to give a proper toast, sing a classic song, and delight your guests. Delicious, time-honored recipes are included for each course.

Author Richard Klein draws from his Danish-American childhood, as well as friends in Denmark, to share Danish history, customs, and a perfect meal plan. Illustrated with whimsical artwork and peppered with personal experiences, Danish Dinner Party will help you embrace the art of hygge and the comradery of a formal, yet intimate, party with your friends and family.

Good Luck Life: The Essential Guide to Chinese American Celebrations and Culture

by Rosemary Gong  and  Martin Yan 

Good Luck Life is the first book to explain the meanings of Chinese rituals and to offer advice on when and how to plan for Chinese holidays and special occasions such as Chinese weddings, the Red Egg and Ginger party to welcome a new baby, significant birthdays, and the inevitable funeral. Packed with practical information, Good Luck Life contains an abundance of facts, legends, foods, old-village recipes, and quick planning guides for Chinese New Year, Clear Brightness, Dragon Boat, Mid-Autumn, and many other festivals.

Written with warmth and wit, Good Luck Life is beautifully designed as an easily accessible cultural guide that includes an explanation of the Lunar Calendar, tips on Chinese table etiquette for dining with confidence, and dos and don’ts from wise Auntie Lao, who recounts ancient Chinese beliefs and superstitions. This is your map for celebrating a good luck life.

The Atlas of Christmas: The Merriest, Tastiest, Quirkiest Holiday Traditions from Around the World

by Alex Palmer 

Do you know that in Guatemala there’s a tradition to kick off the Christmas season, where revelers gather to set fire to piñatas? In Sweden, a popular figure in Christmas traditions is the Yule Goat, a rowdy, menacing character who demands gifts. And in Japan, a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken has become the classic Christmas Day feast. These and many other global Christmas traditions are featured here in this delightful book. From decorations and activities to feasts and special treats, there’s a wide range of both lovely and unusual traditions from around the globe.

The Little Book of Jewish Celebrations 

by Ronald Tauber  and  Yelena Bryksenkova 

From lighting the menorah on Chanukah to standing under the chuppah at a wedding, every Jewish ritual reflects a time-honored practice passed down for generations. With a foil-stamped cover and a ribbon marker, this elegant volume shares the beloved stories and traditions behind Jewish celebrations, from year-round holidays to once-in-a-lifetime special events. Featuring lush illustrations that capture the heart of Jewish tradition as well as a glossary of important terms for each holiday, this little gift book is a treasure to be shared at any occasion—from bar and bat mitzvahs to Passover seders.

10 Best Toys for Early Childhood Development this Holiday Season

With the holidays quickly approaching, we know you’re being inundated with commercials featuring the latest toys from Lego, Disney and Hot Wheels. Before you finalize your list, we wanted to share our gift guide that includes toys that are educational and help your child or grandchild developmentally. 

We believe in the power of play, and toys that made our list will help your little one learn along the way.

From babies to toddlers to school-aged kids, here are our favorite options this season.

Best for Babies and Kids 0-5

First Bead Maze from Melissa & Doug

We’re kicking off our list with an oldie, but goodie. If you’ve been to any of our locations, then you know we carry Melissa & Doug products. We love the mission of their company and the quality of their toys. Not to mention their toys are designed for development. This is their First Bead Maze and it’s suitable for babies 12 months and up. It features brightly colored, multi-shaped beads that spin and slide along red and yellow wire pathways anchored by a strong suction cup base. It encourages color recognition, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor development through play!

Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank from Fisher Price

The Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank from Fisher Price is great for both babies and toddlers. This toy plays more than 40 songs, tunes and phrases to engage your child. This toy assists with fine motor coordination skills while putting the coins into the bank. As children get older, they can use it to count and add as well.

Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog from Learning Resources

Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog helps kids build fine motor skills as they restore the chunky, peg-shaped quills to the back of this friendly hedgehog as well as develop color recognition, sorting, and counting skills. It includes a hedgehog, 12 pegs and activity guide with fine motor, counting, and color activities. You can purchase it directly from them, or buy it here at Target for less.

The Symphony Croc Music Set from Haba

The Symphony Croc is perfect for families with two kids under 5 because it contains two mallets and the drum can be easily removed from the crocodile base for playtime duets.

This playful reptile fosters children’s musical development and encourages a sense of rhythm while honing fine motor skills. 

Magformers Mastermind Building Set 

Containing a wide variety of new magnetic shapes, Magformers let kids explore magnetic construction through modular creative play. This set contains 13 Basic shapes, combine these with accessories to build Vehicles, Houses and more! Perfect for STEM learning, each geometric shape contains magnets that never reject, so you’ll always hear Magformers click. This is suitable for kids three and up. We spotted it here at Target.

Little Genius Starter Kit by Osmo

This kit from Osmo splits the difference between screen time and a learning toy, since kids use hand-held pieces in conjunction with an iPad. They can use the kit to learn how to form letters, make shapes that move on the screen, and mix and match outfits for different characters. This is ideal for kids 3 and up. It’s available on Amazon here.

Crayola Color Chemistry Set

The Crayola Color Chemistry set comes with 18 science experiments that kids can do right out of the box, and then there are ideas for 32 more experiments you can do with the set and some additional, common household items. There are two sets: a basic chemistry set and a winter-themed one.

Forest Friends Discovery Tree from Fat Brain

This Discovery Tree from Fat Brain is a whole ecosystem full of sensory exploration excitement! All around and throughout this entire treetop play structure are all kinds of fascinating things and activities just waiting for your little one’s little hands to discover. Kids can spin and slide the snail, butterfly, and ladybug blocks all along the winding cutout tracks. Just on the other side, those same blocks are apples, tumbling down the branches!

Milestone Play Kits by Lovevery

Starting at only $36 a month, Lovevery offers play kits by development milestones. This is a perfect option for Grandparents or relatives who may not know what to buy that the store. You can send one by yourself, or as a family or group through their website here.

Mindware Imagination Magnets

Your little one will discover hours of entertainment with the MindWare Imagination Patterns. This fun and colorful puzzle is a great way for children to boost their fine motor and visual thinking skills. This is available at buy buy Baby, and it is suitable for kid 4 and up.

Honorable Mention

TubeLox is a life-sized STEM construction toy for all ages that allows kids to use their creativity while designing and building their own play. With this toy, fabricate anything from sizeable sturdy structures, to usable cars, homes and rocket ships. According to NAEYC, things for pretending and building—many blocks for building complex structures, transportation toys and construction sets are ideal for kids 3-6.

The only reason it didn’t make our list, is because it was so popular that they’ve already sold out for Christmas. If you don’t mind waiting until January, head over to their site to order yours.

50 Random Acts of Kindness to try on World Kindness Day

World Kindness Day is a global day that promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. The purpose of World Kindness Day is to help everyone understand that compassion for others is what binds us all together.

Today we encourage you to allow your child to participate in the random acts of kindness campaign by doing something nice for someone.

Here are 50 random acts of kindness activities to get your family started.

  1. Send a card to an old friend.
  2. Hold the door open for someone.
  3. Share a toy or item they wouldn’t normally share with a sibling or friend.
  4. Donate to a cause anonymously.
  5. Return someone’s cart at the store.
  6. Send your teacher card or small gift to show you care.
  7. Leave a letter in a library book.
  8. Feed the birds.
  9. Leave happy notes around town.
  10. Volunteer your time.
  11. Call your grandparents and ask them about their childhood.
  12. Create activity bags for families of deployed soldiers.
  13. Let someone go ahead of you in line.
  14. Compliment a friend.
  15. Wash someone’s car.
  16. Write a thank you note for your mail carrier.
  17. Plant something.
  18. Bake dessert for a neighbor
  19. Walk dogs at the animal shelter.
  20. Check in on an elderly neighbor.
  21. Set up a cookies & cocoa station at your local community center and donate the profits.
  22. Send a card to a service member.
  23. Bury treasure at the playground.
  24. Set the table for dinner.
  25. Leave a small gift on someone’s doorstep.
  26. Smile at everybody. It’s contagious.
  27. Tell someone why they are special to you.
  28. Donate outgrown clothes.
  29. Buy a coffee for a stranger.
  30. Pass out stickers to kids waiting in line.
  31. Talk to someone new at school.
  32. Write chalk messages on the sidewalk.
  33. Shovel snow for a neighbor.
  34. Donate food to the food pantry.
  35. Bring flowers to your teacher.
  36. Tell a manager how good your service was.
  37. Compliment a stranger.
  38. Donate socks and supplies to the homeless shelter.
  39. Forgive and apologize to anyone you might have hurt.
  40. Call a friend you haven’t seen in a while to say hello.
  41. Tape money for the ice cream truck to a friend’s front door.
  42. Take treats to the fire station.
  43. Read a book to someone.
  44. Leave heads up pennies on the sidewalk.
  45. Donate books to a doctor’s office waiting room.
  46. Tell someone how much you love them.
  47. Say hello to everyone you see.
  48. Make someone else’s bed.
  49. Hold the door open for someone.
  50. Wave at policemen and firefighters.

Remember, there’s no right way to celebrate World Kindness Day. You can have your kids focus on one idea today, or many over time. We know kindness can be life-changing for your children and the people they interact with, and we believe that by participating in acts of kindness as a family or group can encourage long term kindness habits for your child, and the world.