{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Kids Who Spend More Time Outside Are Happier Adults, Science Says

download (2).png

Sending the kids outside to play isn’t just a good way to get them out of the house, it’s also beneficial for their mental health. And as a new study from Aarhus University in Denmark shows, children who more spend more time in nature may be less likely to develop various psychiatric disorders as adults.

This scientific research essentially confirms what we’ve always known: Playing outdoors is good for kids’ overall happiness and development. But what this study also shows is having more “cumulative green space” while growing up is associated with a “lower risk of a wide spectrum of psychiatric disorders later in life.”

There are a number of other factors that affect mental health, including family history and genetic predispositions to certain conditions. And the point of this study isn’t to scare city dwellers—it’s to reinforce for the idea that “green space” is good for kids, and integrating natural environments into urban areas has proven benefits as well.

The fact is that kids just don’t spend as much time outside as we did growing up. One 2016 survey from U.K.’s National Trust showed that the average child spent just over four hours a week enjoying Mother Nature, compared to the 8.2 hours their parents logged when they were little. We can chalk it up to our busy schedules and the rise of technology, but that doesn’t change the fact that our kids aren’t getting much fresh air and sunshine.

Many parents are trying to change to this, though. Take Ginny and Jason Yurich, a Michigan mom and dad who started 1000 Hours Outside, an online community encouraging families to (you guessed it) aim to spend 1000 hours a year in the great outdoors.

The Yurichs, who have five children, say that an ideal world, children should be outside four to six hours a day. That’s a lot, we know, and the creators of 1000 Hours Outside are quick to say they’re not spending four to six hours outside every day. Instead, they “aim for 4-6 hours outside at least three to four times a week,” Ginny writes, explaining they do “a little more in the nicer months and a little less in the worse ones.”

There’s plenty of evidence that suggests unstructured outdoor play is key to a child’s development, and we’re of the mindset that every little bit counts. What the Yurichs are saying, though, is that when kids are able to spend longer periods of time outdoors, the benefits are even bigger.

“Children who are allowed this freedom of time outside get lost in nature,” Ginny explains. “They get lost in their imaginations and they get lost in wonder. And then they rapidly develop. There are many factors why but one reason is due to the rich sensory environment that nature always provides.”

Nature also provides the perfect place for kids and parents to be active and explore the world around them. It isn’t always possible to head outside and play, but when the weather’s right and you can carve out some time in the family’s schedule, it’s a wonderful, affordable way to engage those little ones and their developing minds.

 

This article was written by Rebecca Macatee from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

7 top tips for a spontaneous family getaway

8678.png

 

Like the thought of going on a last-minute family getaway but can’t get your head around the idea of planning and executing a trip away without losing the plot?

You might think a family getaway requires months of meticulous planning and taking everything but the kitchen sink with you, but it really needn’t be that way.

 

Simply by following a few basic steps it is possible to pack up and leave for a weekend away on the spur of the moment – whether you’ve got one, two or three or more kids like me.

Want to know how? Organisation – and the internet – are key!

7 top tips for a spontaneous family getaway

1. Book accommodation online. Thanks to the rise of the likes of Airbnb you can find a fantastic bolt hole for you and your family at the drop of a hat, from cosy country cottages with honeysuckle and ivy around the door to swanky city centre apartments. We’ve used Airbnb several times to visit the Christmas markets in Germany, and it’s great because you can find accommodation with all the necessary for your needs, like cots and highchairs. And if you’ve got pets don’t panic – many websites and properties now accommodate pets so there’s no need to leave them at home or sort out alternative accommodation for them while you’re away.


family getaway

2. Book airport parking online. Thanks to a number of helpful sites you can guarantee safe and secure parking both from smaller, city airports like Birmingham Airport to other major departure points. (If you are travelling from Birmingham you can discover more about Birmingham airport parking at this site – it couldn’t be easier!) In many cases you can even drive straight up to the departure building and hand over your keys to a waiting, professional valet who will return your car to you when you return, taking the hassle out of parking the car and herding the whole family onto a transfer bus.


family getaway

3. Turn packing into a game. If you’re the owner of small people who like to ‘help’ like me, try turning packing into a game. A weekend away doesn’t need more than a few clothes and you can easily enlist their help to get things organised quickly. It can be as simple as asking who can be the quickest to bring something to the suitcase, and a challenge like ‘first one to bring me their favourite t-shirt!’ gets them out of your hair for a minute or two. Then if they play nicely, reward them with a treat for the car as you leave.


family getaway

4. Order food online. If you’re staying in the UK for your getaway, consider ordering groceries online before you go. You could order everything you need for the weekend away so you don’t have to worry about going shopping when you get there, plus it saves on some valuable space in the car. Just pick a delivery slot after you’ve arrived and hey presto – everything you need will be taken right there for you.


family getaway

5. Go somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. A single weekend might not be long enough for lots of activities, but there is plenty of time for one major visit. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? From visiting a castle or museum to taking the time to do something like a bungee jump or a skydive, a spontaneous getaway is the best opportunity you have to get those things ticked off. Take a look at your bucket list. It might provide some key inspiration about where you want to go and what you want to see. For example, if you have always wanted to climb Ben Nevis, a weekend away in Fort William might be just the ticket.


family getaway

6. Opt for child-friendly activities. Some of the most well-loved attractions around the UK are either geared towards children or have child-friendly aspects to them. For example, a stately manor might have a quiz or treasure hunt for them to take part in while you wander around taking in the historic location. Activities like these are perfect for appealing to every member of the family, and remember you all came away for a reason, so it is only fair that all your interests are catered for.


family getaway

7. Go with the flow. Make sure you spend some of your getaway chilling out. Whether that’s a casual stroll around the city you are visiting, or just curling up by a roaring fire with a good book, it’s completely up to you! Listen to your body, listen to your kids, and just take the time to relax and spend some good, old-fashioned quality time together.

family getaway

Have you been on a family getaway recently? Are you planning one? I’d love to hear about your experience!

The post 7 top tips for a spontaneous family getaway appeared first on Confessions Of A Crummy Mummy.

 

This article was written by crummymummy1 from Confessions of a Crummy Mummy and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Energy Savings for a Healthier Earth

Sometimes we’re all guilty of leaving lights on, blasting heat, running water excessively and spending countless hours in front of the TV watching our favorite programs.

As our children grow, it is important to teach them to conserve resources to keep our earth healthy for generations to come.

Instead of reprimanding our children for not turning off the lights and the television, we should reward them when they do turn off electrical devices that are not being used. Explain to your child that if he turns off the lights every time he leaves a room, he will receive a reward. For example, he may choose his favorite meal for Friday night dinner, or he can pick a movie for the whole family to enjoy.

In some locations, the outside temperature can drop below freezing in the winter. Be sure to turn the heat down when leaving your house and turn it up when you return home. However, if you turn the heat off completely and then turn it on when you return home, sometimes you may waste more energy than by simply turning it down when you leave the house. You should check with your local energy supplier for best practices for your home.

Encourage everyone in your family to fill his free time with activities other than television. Save energy by reading a book, playing a board game or getting crafty.

What are some ways your family works to save energy?

Five Swaps for Single-Use Plastics at School

During Root for Earth, which runs from April 1 to April 22 this year, we are focusing on how to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics. Here are five swaps you can make at school to help keep our planet clean.

  1. Reusable water bottles – Whether you prefer a BPA-free hard plastic bottle or a metal one, drinking from reusable water bottles is a great way to cut back on the consumption of single-use plastic bottles, which is also a handy way to save money. Plus, your child can decorate his bottle to make it his own!
  2. Lunch boxes or insulated bags – Instead of filling a plastic or paper bag with foods in zip-top plastic baggies, give your child a reusable lunch box, which will save you money in the long run. You can put each food item, such as carrots or apple slices, into individual reusable containers and pack those containers in the reusable lunch box. You could also pack a bento box, which is a creative, fun way to keep foods separated. Bento boxes are perfect for picky eaters who don’t like their foods to touch.
  3. Reusable eating utensils – Pack reusable metal or plastic utensils in your child’s lunch box or insulated bag. You can also buy reusable sporks, which are two utensils in one.
  4. Reusable baby-wipe cases – Baby wipes often come packaged in disposable plastic baby-wipe cases. Reusing these baby-wipe cases can help cut back on the amount of plastic you use. Just buy baby wipes in bulk, and refill your case when it’s empty.
  5. Reusable wet bags for soiled clothes – Accidents happen. When they do, the soiled clothes are usually put in a plastic bag. This is a good way to repurpose plastic bags, but using a reusable wet bag is a more eco-friendly solution. As a bonus, wet bags come in different designs and colors.

Five Ways to Cut Down on Single-Use Plastics at Home

During Root for Earth, which runs from April 1 to April 22 this year, we are focusing on how to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics. Here are five ways to use fewer unnecessary plastics.

  1. Scream for ice cream…cones. If you go out to get ice cream with your child, ask for that single scoop in a cone instead of a plastic dish. It will be delicious and eco-friendly.
  2. Bulk up. When you’re shopping for toilet paper, diapers or other plastic-wrapped items, buying in bulk instead of in smaller quantities means you won’t be disposing of plastic as often. Buying in bulk also means taking fewer trips to the grocery store, which saves gas, money and time.
  3. Filter out the plastic by filtering your water. Use a refillable pitcher with a water filter and reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water. You will use less plastic and save money. There’s also the added benefit of always having cold, filtered water on hand.
  4. Shop ‘til you drop…with reusable shopping bags. The average American family takes home about 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year (National Resources Defense Council, 2008). If you could stack them all up length-wise, they would be as tall as a 254-story skyscraper, which is 94 stories taller than the tallest building in the world! You can reduce the number of plastic bags you bring home by investing in reusable shopping bags, which are usually bigger and more durable. Many stores offer a discount if you bring your own reusable bags.
  5. Say no to plastic coffee cup lids, and say yes to saving moolah on java. Some coffee shops offer discounts on coffee when you bring your own reusable mug. You can save money on coffee while helping save the environment. It’s win-win!

 

 

References

 

Natural Resources Defense Council. (2008). NRDC lauds passage of New York City Council legislation requiring groceries, retailers to provide plastic bag recycling for consumers. Retrieved from https://www.nrdc.org/media/2008/080109

Bento Box Mania!

What is a bento box?

Bento box lunches have been increasing in popularity among families with preschoolers and school-age children. Google the term “bento box lunch” and you will find a wealth of resources, including blogs, Pinterest pages and online retailers selling basic and whimsical options. If a parent is artistic, the child’s lunch can become a work of art.

Why does it work well for school lunches?

Bento boxes work well for school lunches and snacks because they protect food in a sealed container and keep food groups separate. If you have a picky eater who does not like foods touching, a bento box may keep your child happy. Parents can have fun creating different lunchtime masterpieces. Bento boxes are also economical because they are reusable and help keep plastic snack and sandwich bags out of landfills.

What are the nutritional benefits of bento boxes?

Bento boxes are appealing because they provide a creative way to add a variety of foods to a child’s lunch while keeping wet foods separate from dry foods. By introducing different, healthy foods early in your child’s life, he or she may develop a preference for those foods as well as a more diverse palate. You can also turn the preparation of the bento box into a learning activity by asking your child what each food is, where it comes from, how it’s made and so on. Engaging your child in the experience may help to build and reinforce a child’s love of diverse, nutritious foods while fostering a love of learning.

What can I put in my child’s bento box?

The options are endless, but here are some ideas:

  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs;
  • A mini-bagel sandwich with almond butter, jelly or another spread;
  • Sliced strawberries, blueberries and kiwis;
  • Cheese cubes;
  • Pretzels;
  • Sliced grapes;
  • A muffin;
  • Mini-pita sandwiches filled with cheese and pepperoni;
  • Sliced pineapple;
  • Celery and carrot sticks;
  • Cucumber slices;
  • A turkey and cheese sandwich on a Hawaiian roll;
  • Veggie chips;
  • Rice molds;
  • Chickpeas and black beans;
  • Raisins and chocolate chips;
  • Sandwich rounds with ham, cheese and avocado.

Enjoy making bento box lunches!

Gardening with Your Preschooler

twenty20_4dabda32-4c09-4451-963e-d9188737e790

Have you found a summer camp program for your child yet? A high-quality summer camp often has an outdoor classroom or garden. Gardening allows your child to learn about biology through fun, hands-on experiences. Here are a few ways that you can get your child interested in gardening at home.
• With your child, start off by researching which plants will develop best in your area. Let him choose which plants he would like to see grow right in his backyard. Then take a trip with him to purchase the necessary seeds and tools.
• If you want to have a more advanced garden, keeping in mind age appropriateness, help your child plant vegetables. It will be rewarding to eat the vegetables that you and your child have helped grow.
• Talk with your child about the changes and patterns she notices as the plants begin to grow, and ask her to predict what will happen in the future.
• Discuss the different kinds of bugs that she sees in the garden. Determine if certain bugs are beneficial or harmful to the garden and why.
• Ask your child to draw pictures of what he observes happening in the garden and help him write down what he sees.
• Keep track of how tall the plants are, and ask your child to use her math and ruler skills to determine how much each plant has grown each week.
• As your preschooler “digs deeper” into gardening he will retain lasting memories of what he has learned.

National Plant a Flower Day Craft

Materials

  • Construction paper in multiple colors
  • Mixed dry beans (or seeds or beads)
  • Twine or yarn
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Instructions

Cut different flower shapes out of construction paper – stem, leaves and flower. Create the soil by cutting a piece of brown construction paper in half and gluing it to the bottom third of a piece of blue construction paper. Glue a strip of green construction paper where the brown and blue paper meet to create the grass. Then glue a bean or seed just below the grass to emulate planting a seed. Next, glue the twine or yarn below the bean/seed to create roots. Then glue the stem and leaves. Finally, add the flower and glue seeds in the center of it.

Be sure to talk about the growth process with your child as you assemble the craft. “The seed is planted in the soil, and then the roots extend, drinking in water and nutrients. Then the stem grows, which delivers water and nutrients to the leaves and flower. Seeds from the flower can be planted to grow more flowers!”

10 Random Acts of Social Media Kindness to Do With Your Kids

download (1).png

Teach them how to wield the internet for good.

With the mere words “social media” striking fear in most parents’ hearts, it’s easy to get mired in the dark side of the internet: bullying and trolling and wasting time … oh my! We can’t keep our children off social media forever, however, so why not show them how to use the powerful communication tool to make people actually feel good about themselves? An act of kindness often leads to gratitude—and even scientists agree there are many benefits of that, including greater happiness, stronger relationships and an improved ability to deal with adversity. And what better time to start spreading online kindness and gratitude than National Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17? To help you kick it off, here are 10 social media ideas you can easily do with your kids.

1. Leave a positive comment. There is no shortage of toxic remarks from faceless strangers, emboldened by their anonymity, left on social media posts. Combat that negativity and lift somebody’s spirits—whether it’s a family member, friend or a boy who happens to enjoy posting makeup tutorials—by taking the time to offer a heartfelt compliment.

2. Create an upbeat post. Social media is a popular place to commiserate about everyday frustrations. While that can be therapeutic, the sheer volume of frustrations we come across can also become tiresome. Inject some positivity by brainstorming a post that inspires hope, happiness and/or a giggle, whether it’s a quote or an original drawing, and creating it with your child to share with your followers.

3. Send an e-card. This might seem old school, sure, but most e-card sites (such as JibJab and Hallmark) also allow you to send a card via Facebook—a sweet way to let somebody know you’re thinking of them.

4. Write a glowing review. Maybe your family enjoyed a fantastic meal at that new Italian place down the street. Or the local dry cleaner went above and beyond to have your favorite dress ready by the next day. Posting a complimentary review on Yelp or Facebook can go a long way in bolstering small businesses. You can even ask your kids what their favorite local hangout is and write a complimentary review together.

5. Donate toys and clothes. Although it can be hard to pry old stuffies and shirts that have been long outgrown from the hands of little ones, work together to set aside some items to donate and post them on a neighborhood Facebook page and/or a page that supports local foster families (a quick search by city usually reveals them, if available). As a certain famous organizing expert would say, give them to somebody for whom they’ll spark joy!

6. Start a pay-it-forward chain. Perform a random act of kindness offline—such as putting coins in an expired parking meter or leaving coupons in front of corresponding products at a store—and post about it, encouraging others to pay it forward and share how they did so in your comments. Hopefully, they’ll encourage their social media communities to follow suit. And boom! Pay-it-forward chain: activated.

7. Support a cause. Talk with your kids about the importance of supporting charities and nonprofits, which are increasingly relying on social media for donations, and select a worthwhile cause that’s near and dear to your hearts to help by sharing their mission and/or donating. Perhaps go a step further and hold a lemonade sale—which you and the kids can advertise to neighbors on social media—and donate the proceeds to that charity online. We’d raise a cup of lemonade to that!

8. Express how much your teacher rocks. You don’t have to wait until Teacher Appreciation Week to shout your love from the rooftops. Encourage your kid to drop a sweet comment about his/her teacher on the school’s Instagram account or sing the teacher’s praises in an e-mail to the principal. Because every day should be Teacher Appreciation Day.

9. Share a blog post. If you’re a fan of a lesser-known blogger, raise their visibility by sharing your favorite blog post. It can be hard for bloggers to gain traction in a World Wide Web overflowing with animal videos and car rants, and you’d be doing them a solid by helping them break through the clutter. Try to pick a post you can discuss with your kids, if possible, and explain why you enjoy it—potentially igniting a dialogue about what kinds of online content make them happy (and try not to roll your eyes if they enthusiastically launch into why they can’t get enough of watching kids open Kinder Eggs on YouTube).

10. Thank a service member. Search for #veteran on Instagram, and you’ll find many public profiles of brave men and women who’ve served in the military. Let them know how much you value their sacrifice and selfless service to our country with a simple, appreciative note.

 

This article was written by Candy Kirby from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Tricks to Have a Screen-Free Hour with Your Kids

download.png

We get it: Your family has fallen into the bad habit of spending hours on the computer (and iPad and TV and phone) every day. No judgment. Take baby steps: Put down the electronics for an hour and try these (actually fun) activities to reconnect with the tiny humans in your house.

Make something delicious
The only thing kids love more than Angry Birds and Call of Duty? Eating something sugary. So tell them you’re going to help them bake a half cookie, half cake. And that it has rainbow sprinkles. Extra credit: While you’re watching the cookies bake, have them help you wash the dishes.

Do a family reading circle
Maybe your kid loves to read and prefers that to Minecraft. (Didn’t think so.) Get an age-appropriate book they haven’t tackled yet and each read a paragraph or page aloud, passing it around the room.

Play “Roses and Thorns” at dinner
First, sit down at the dinner table. (Yes, we feel you, it seems daunting.) Have everyone go around the table and name their “roses” (things they liked) and “thorns” (bummer moments) of the day. Keep this game in heavy rotation and you’ll never have the “How was your day?” “OK.” exchange again. 

Play a board game about feelings
Sit cross-legged on the floor to play the Ungame, which is a board game with no winners, just a pair of dice, a meandering route to move your little plastic player piece and a set of cards that ask questions like “What are the four most important things in your life?” or “When do you feel most relaxed?”” It’s an amazing icebreaker that helps you learn the secret inner workings of your kid’s mind.

Turn a neighborhood walk into a scavenger hunt
When was the last time you went on an adventure after dinner? Do it tonight by turning a neighborhood walk into a scavenger hunt, with a challenge to see who can find the prettiest rock or locate the yuckiest bug. (Older kids can look for higher-up treasures like leaves or birds.) 

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.