Neighborhood Kids family fun in bellingham & whatcom county


Staying Connected to Your Partner

Lack of sleep, busy schedules, and balancing home and work life leaves little time for our partner. True connection is essential to maintain a vibrant relationship once the kids have grown up and moved out. I asked some of my fellow moms of Columbia Elementary kindergarteners and my book club girlfriends how they foster a strong bond with their spouse. Here are a few practical ways they nurture their partnership while navigating the day to day.

Make quality time with your partner a priority. Make quality time with your partner a priority.

Take care of yourself first.

As parents, we’re trained to place everyone’s needs before our own. But doing so often leaves our own needs unmet. Eileen Laughlin, a working mom of two boys, age four and six, started a local monthly women’s discussion group based on the book The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson. After setting aside time to read, exercise, and indulge a favorite hobby, Eileen says she feels more fulfilled. “The key is that you have to fill yourself up before you can give to others, otherwise you can get lost and feel drained.”

Mary Moore, mother of twin seven-year old boys, says it took a while to realize that accepting separate interests was essential to her 20-year relationship with her husband Peter. “He has no interest in bird watching or scrapbooking, things that I love, and I don’t care to golf. But even if I don’t enjoy his hobby, I should still respect it. I miss him when he’s gone, but it’s worth it because the person I get back is the man I married.”

Schedule time together without the kids.

Nicole Brown, mother of a three- and six-year old, has traded date night childcare with four other families for several years. “Once a month we have all the kids at our house for three hours, and three times a month we drop the kids off and have our date,” Nicole explains. “We try to schedule two month’s worth of dates at once so it works well even for families with difficult schedules.”

The Browns also recently swapped sleepovers with one of the families. “My husband and I spent an overnight alone in Seattle. The kids really look forward to it, and so do we,” Nicole says.

Walk to date night instead of driving.

You’re already going on regular dates? Congratulations! Now try walking to your destination. As Elle Woods of Legally Blonde put it, “Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands.”

By walking to your date, you can hold hands and really talk with your partner on the way. An added bonus of eating close to home is that you can support local businesses. And as long as you don’t have to drive the babysitter home, you can both have a drink with dinner. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can always try again next time.

Check in each night after the kids are asleep.

“When the kids are around, you just can’t chat or check in without interruption,” says Mary. She and her husband share the sofa most evenings and discuss their day. “It helps us remember who we were before we had kids. We fall back on our underlying friendship, and share our sense of humor and the silly inside jokes that only he and I would understand.”

Plan future escapes from the daily routine.

“We always have some getaway planned, with or without kids, something to look forward to, like an overnight in Seattle or a trip to the beach. When things feel crazy, we have a break in the routine to look forward to,” says Mary.

Don’t forget to enjoy the moment.

In this busy period of our lives, we need to make time to tune in. Turn off the radio and put away the iPhone. Talk to each other during those innumerable car rides. Don’t forget to see the sunset, not just record the photo. Hold hands, hug, laugh at the funny things the kids say and do, and try to find the absurdity in the moments when they drive you both crazy.

Spending real time with our spouse helps us remember why we chose them in the first place and makes it easier to forgive them. Says Mary, “When he walks across the floor in muddy shoes and I want to kill him, I take a deep breath and remember what I love about him. I try to remember to be thankful for the good times and let the little things go.”

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New Moms in Bellingham Can Get Fit

Life with a newborn baby can take some adjustment. Whether it’s your first or your fifth, the entire dynamic of family might be a bit out of whack for awhile. From sleepless nights to sibling rivalry, the arrival of a new baby is a joyous and hectic occasion.

Stroller Strides Fitness Class Stroller Strides Fitness Classes
Photo courtesy Natalie Gustafson

On top of everything else, many mothers struggle to reclaim their pre-baby body. If you have the energy (and even if you have to struggle to find it), getting into a fitness routine is important for both your health and your baby’s. Luckily, there are some Bellingham resources that can help you on the way!

With Stroller Strides Fitness Classes, moms can get an hour of total body exercise while kids chill out in the stroller. Classes, taught by Natalie Gustafson, take place in a local park, but it’s more than just a walk; Natalie leads the group in specific exercises that are great for moms. Participants should wear athletic shoes and appropriate clothing for movement; all other equipment is provided. Visit Stroller Strides – Skagit & Whatcom Counties for more details, or call (360) 391-4855.

It's a Hoot Boot Camp! It’s a Hoot! Boot Camp
Photo by Jen Fox Photography

Another option for moms with older kids is It’s a Hoot! Boot Camp. ACE Certified Personal Trainer and owner Jackie Ellis offers a Boot Camp for Women concurrently with a Kids Fitness Camp (ages toddler and up) so both mother and child can get active and make new friends at various parks in Bellingham. Boot Camp for Women is open to women ages 16 and up, so older teens can join their moms for class too. Learn more by calling (360) 961-9078.

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as improving your physical health. Luckily, Mary Burgess of Life Song Perinatal Wellness Center hosts a variety of gatherings for new moms. Both her Weekly Postpartum Circle and Breastfeeding Cafe allow for women to reflect on their personal birth experience, hear stories from other moms, and enjoy a peaceful environment. Life Song also hosts a variety of childbirth, diapering, and feeding classes pertaining to mothers and the early stages of parenthood. Call (360) 510-0188 for more information.

For more details about these and other events for moms and kids in Bellingham and Whatcom County, check out Activities.

What are some other resources for new moms in Bellingham and Whatcom County? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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May is National Bike Month

Boy with bikes. Remember to wear your helmet on Bike to School and Work Day!
Photo by Theresa Carpine

Whether you ride your bike for exercise, fun, or as a clean and inexpensive form of transportation, you can celebrate National Bike Month throughout May at a variety of events scheduled in Whatcom County.

Bike to Work and School Day
With more than 8,500 participants in Whatcom County last year, National Bike to Work and School Day is by far the largest bicycling event of the month.

On Friday, May 21, 2010, you can walk or bike to your neighborhood Celebration Station. Located throughout the county, stations are organized by everybodyBIKE, a bicycle program for Whatcom Smart Trips in cooperation with local schools, agencies, and businesses. Each location will offer gifts, refreshments, and a chance to enter free prize drawings. Ask your child’s school if they’ll be hosting a station or check Mount Baker Bicycle Club for a list of all Whatcom County Celebrations Stations.

But what if school or work is too far to bike?
“Sometimes what seems too far to bike becomes more feasible as you work up to it,” explains Ellen Barton of everybodyBIKE. “The everybodyBIKE First Gear Class helps beginning riders gain the confidence and comfort to ride on roads and trails.”

Ellen offered these suggestions, via e-mail, to help everyone get involved, no matter what their circumstances.

  • Take your bike(s) on the bus part way. Each Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) bus can carry three bikes on its rack. Need advice about how to use the racks? Request a “Bike Buddy” from everybodyBIKE to teach you how to load and un-load your bike; they’ll also help you with the bus schedule for your specific route. You can also stop by the WTA Bellingham or Cordata Stations and ask one of the WTA staff for instructions. They are glad to help!
  • Ride the bus and walk part way. Bike to Work and School Day celebrates walking, too. Walking to and from the bus stop adds physical activity to your day.
  • Drive your bike(s) part way, park the car, and bike the rest of the way. A “Bike Buddy” can advise you on the best bike route, or check everybodyBIKE Resources for local Bicycle Maps. Even if you haven’t biked in years, bicycling three miles on flat terrain is a breeze.
  • Sometimes the trip to and from work or school is not the easiest to change. Try biking or walking for an errand during the day; avoid the drive-through by walking to lunch, or ride your bike from work to the gym.
May is National Bike Month! Kulshan Cycles lets Bellingham know that it’s National Bike Month.
Photo by Theresa Carpine

According to the International Bicycle Fund, a four-mile car trip adds 15 pounds of pollutants to the air. So substituting a bike trip in place of short car ride not only gets you fresh air and exercise, but it can also significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Health Benefits
Since bicycling burns around 500 calories an hour, you can also improve your personal health by riding your bike. Challenge yourself to participate in Bike to Work Week during May 17 – 21, and you can skip the gym with a clean conscience.

A variety of other bicycling-related events are scheduled throughout the month of May. For more National Bike Month events in Bellingham and Whatcom County, please visit Activities.

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