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

Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Learning through Meal Prepping: Five Benefits of Encouraging Children to Pack Their Own Lunches

mealprep-4-8-19

Letting children assist with packing their own lunches can be beneficial. You can teach your children about responsibility and portion control and boost their creativity and decision-making skills by inviting your children into the kitchen with you for a lesson. Here are five benefits of allowing children to help prepare their own lunches.

It emphasizes portion control. Bento-box lunch containers are an easy and exceptionally helpful tool for teaching your child about portion sizes and meal organization. When your children select their lunch items with you, provide them with a bento-box container and explain what healthy meal portions look like. They can use the bento box to pack their lunches, which helps them visualize and be aware of the portion sizes they are packing.

It introduces the importance of nutrition. Your children’s favorite go-to treats, such as fruit snacks and cookies, don’t necessarily make some of the healthiest snacks. When they’re in the kitchen with you, teach them about what the key food groups are and how those food groups keep their minds and bodies well nourished. Provide different vegetables, fruits, proteins, grains and dairy products, and let them choose what to put into their lunch bags. Guide them to pack meals with all the food groups.

It aids in independent learning and decision making. When your children are preparing their lunches with you in the kitchen, give them options for what to pack. Allow them to choose from two or three different things. Do they want a chicken sandwich, a turkey sandwich or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Do they want carrots or cucumbers? Do they want strawberries, apples or grapes? Once they decide, let them gather and pack their choices, and then help them focus on the next food group. Once you establish a routine, they will make quicker decisions. Picking their own meals lets them feel independent and accomplished.

It boosts creativity and introduces the art of cooking.
Getting your children into the kitchen at a young age helps them start cooking and learning the steps it takes to create a meal. Instead of providing them with premade and wrapped turkey sandwiches, let them make some with you. Start by letting them select the bread, get out the condiments and select the meat, cheese and toppings they want on their delicious sandwiches. This shows them how much time, effort, creativity and skill it takes to make a proper lunch.

It teaches responsibility, routines and time management. Whether you pack meals after dinner or after your children get home from school, make sure to schedule a meal-preparation time that works best for your family. Meet in the kitchen at your designated time, and start preparing the lunches. By establishing a routine, such as meeting every night or twice a week at 7 PM, you will be familiarizing your children with following a schedule, helping them plan meals. If you want to make meal preparation more fun, consider getting a small chalkboard or whiteboard to keep in your kitchen. Have your children write out the days of the week and the foods they want in their lunchboxes each day. This can keep you organized, and it encourages your children to start planning meals.

How to Make Your Own Slime

slime-cheat

Slime can be a great teaching tool that incorporates STEAM learning. Help your children learn about science by creating slime with them. Use technology to research slime recipes, and use math to measure out ingredients.

Try this recipe for making slime, and then use the slime for the fun activities below.

  • Use slime to teach your children about shapes. You can create more than one batch of slime. Use one batch to demonstrate things to do with slime, and encourage your children to use the other batches to mimic your actions;
  • Make silly slime masterpieces. Encourage your little ones to use food coloring, confetti, glitter, various buttons and other trinkets to decorate the slime;
  • Optimize the use of sensory learning. Incorporate scents by adding scented food coloring or essential oils, and ask your children how the different smells make them feel. For example, ask how a discreet calming scent makes them feel compared to a more distinct scent;
  • Boost your children’s exploration skills by having them search for hidden items in the slime;
  • Strengthen your children’s gross motor skills by working with them to imprint objects into the slime, such as letters or numbers.

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

8 Ways to Make a Weekend at Home Feel Like a Family Vacation

download (7).png

You don’t need to go anywhere to capture the vacation vibe.

Spring and summer school breaks are coming up, and while many of my friends hop on the first plane, train, or rental car outta the city year after year, my family and I have found ourselves stuck at home many times in the past. The thing is: We’re all feeling it, the vacation itch. That’s why I like to bring the vacation vibe to us for special weekends. From decor to activities–and most of all, mindset!–we make weekends at home feel like the best family vacation ever.

Unplug

This is a tough one (at my house, anyway), but at least try. Put your phones, tablets, and computers in a drawer–padlocked if necessary–and spend the weekend like you’re on a desert island, devoid of news updates, texts, and annoying robocalls. You will survive, and maybe even feel refreshed.

Change the Decor

Go nuts with colorful flowers and funky lighting, and hide your regular artwork and rugs to take “your house” out of your house. So maybe you’re not at a fancy hotel in the Swiss Alps, but you’ll barely recognize your digs and will have a blast setting up (and then luxuriating in) this alternate universe.

Eat Exotic Foods

Roll your own pasta (it’s not as hard as it sounds!) and toss in a little Puttanesca sauce to bring the flavors of Naples to your kitchen. If you’d prefer to take a break from cooking, order a lavish Mediterranean meal or a Spanish feast if there’s a tapas restaurant in town, or get something decadent online, like Russian caviar. And don’t stop there. Go the extra mile by bringing in exotic dessert or candy to go with it. After a wedge of Turkish Baklava or a box of Baci (y’know, the delicious Italian chocolates that come with a message inside), you’ll feel like you spent the day anywhere but home.

Switch It Up

Do you usually eat dinner in the dining room? Try a picnic on the bedroom floor. Maybe you’ll get leave some crumbs, but that’s what the vacuum is for. Similarly, skip your queen-sized bed and have a slumber party in the living room or under the kitchen table (maybe vacuum first, in this scenario).

Bring Camping to You

If you have a yard or garden, pitch a tent out there and eat dinner under the stars before cozying up to sleep. Once you’re zipped inside a tent, you really won’t notice if you’re in your yard or atop the Rocky Mountains. This way has some added conveniences in that you can wash your hands after they get covered in s’mores and the beer will stay cold in the fridge.

Have a Rave

Glow sticks: check. Bubbles: check. Techno: Well, my daughter will make sure it’s Selena Gomez–but, check. If you can’t make it to Ibiza this summer, turn out the lights, have a fashion contest to see who can come up with the wildest outfit, and boogie down till sunrise.

Throw a Film Festival

Pick a theme, from beach movies to French thrillers, and hunker down for a lazy weekend of nothin’ but movies. Create a themed cocktail or amuse-bouche for each film and see if you can borrow a projector from a friend to get the full experience. To really build a retro vibe of a drive-in movie experience, serve a classic snack like Entenmanns’s Minis Apple Snack Pies–what’s more of an American staple than apple pie made by a baked goods company founded in 1898?

Make It a Spa Weekend

Go to Sephora and load up on sheet masks, then start lighting scented candles, ripping off rose petals, and running a hot bubble bath. If you really want to feel decadent, find a local masseuse who does house calls and turn those muscles to mush in the comfort of your own home.

*This piece is sponsored by Entenmann’s.

 

This article was written by Alex Richards from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Ways to Make Tough Conversations with Kids Easier

download (6).png

1. Time it right.

Weekend mornings are preferable because you’re not rushing to get everyone out the door and your kids can return to you—and the topic—if they have more questions or fears later in the day. Many kids (and grownups) are grouchy and exhausted by the evening.

“And even if your kids seem to be in a great mood, a drowsy brain can’t take in information as well, and any tears or anxious questions make it hard to wind down for sleep,” says Dawn Huebner, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of the self-help children’s book

2. Rehearse beforehand.

If the situation is emotional for you—for example, your pet needs to be put down or someone in your family is sick—take time to practice what you’re going to say, either in front of a mirror or with your partner or a close friend. That will help you keep your composure and deliver the news in the way that you want, says Dr. Huebner. “It’s okay for kids to see that their parents are sad, but the initial conversation sets the tone, and if you’re sobbing or stumbling over your words, your children may feel frightened.”

3. Speak on their level.

Complex concepts such as moving, divorce, or death are difficult for children to comprehend, says Paige Greytok, a family psychotherapist in Greenwich, Connecticut. If you flood your kids with all the nitty-gritty details, they may get overwhelmed or shut down. Instead, use short and straightforward sentences with age-appropriate explanations.

4. Validate in the moment.

Labeling emotions can help your young child put words to whatever feelings bubble up. For instance, you can say, “It sounds like that makes you sad” or “Is that scary?” But resist the urge to jump into fix-it mode. “It’s tempting to minimize feelings by saying something like ‘Don’t be afraid,’ but remember, whatever your child is feeling is real and valid to her,” says Dr. Huebner. “Children need to ‘feel felt’ before they can move on to things like processing and problem solving.”

5. Check back in.

The conversation isn’t over when it ends, points out Greytok. With a hard topic, kids will have further questions, so make it clear that you’re always available to discuss this again and that they can come to you with any questions or worries, big or small.

 

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

7 Sneaky Ways to Make a House Kid-Friendly

download (5).png

Anyone else’s home victim to a messy (albeit adorable) tornado of a child? Same. But today we’re here to remind you that you don’t have to sacrifice on style to master function. Take this apartment by designer Jess Gersten: While luxe and immaculate at first glance, every last decision was made with her tiny clients (a six-month-old boy and three-year-old girl) in mind. Lucky for you, we’re spilling her secret pro tips below. 

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

ROUND-EDGE FURNITURE

No bumps and bruises in this tactile living room. Every piece of furniture that lands at toddler eye level or below was selected for its soft edges. See: the circular glass coffee table, the twin club chairs, the wooden accent table, the mid-century lounger.

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

WOOD

Gersten relied heavily on hardwood furnishings, which are super hard-wearing, impervious to stains and easy to wipe down in a pinch. (Also, no need to put a needs-to-vacuumed rug beneath a dining table when you’ve got those gorgeous floors.)

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

LEATHER (& FAUX LEATHER) UPHOLSTERY

The one question to ask yourself: Is this easy to wipe clean? The foyer bench seat is sealed leather, which makes it a safe spot for the kids to kick off their shoes after coming inside from the park. In the living room, the cushions and seat backs on the sofa sectional are also clad in easy-wipe faux leather.

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

VINYL WALLPAPER

Wall treatments are a gorgeous design statement—but they’re easy prey for grubby fingers and errant magic markers. The solution? Easy-wipe vinyl wallpaper from Elitis, which Gersten used across accent walls in all the bedrooms.

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

WOOL RUGS

We know what you’re thinking: Beige rugs in a kid zone?!  But all of the pale carpeting in this home is strategically 100 percent wool. Fun fact: Wool is effectively stain-repellant thanks to the natural lanolin oils in its fibers. Translation: Wool doesn’t soak up spills like other materials do—and it’s the easiest material to steam clean as needed.

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

DOUBLE DUTY DECOR

Think fashion and function when it comes to pieces they’ll outgrow. The teepee in the girl’s room, for example, is both a fun design note as well as storage solution and activity hot spot. In addition to a cute indoor playhouse, toys and mess can be quickly tucked inside at cleanup time. 

Courtesy of Jessica Gersten Interiors

KID ‘ZONES’

Keep the messiest activities (see: snack time, arts and crafts) to a designated spot for a solid defense against major messes. This child-size Jens Risom dining set is the first place these kiddos flock to because they have ownership over it—and it makes them feel like tiny grown-ups!

 

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

The Benefits of Your Family Getting More Sleep

download (4).png

Before you can consistently be in the moment with your kids, before you can appreciate the precious details and small treasures of their lives and your lives together—before, that is, you can achieve a level of day-to-day mindfulness—there’s something you and those around you need: sleep. Sleeping is one of the easiest (and most effective) things we can do for our health and general well-being, and yet so many of us act like sleep is a luxury we often can’t afford. Parents especially seem to pay the steepest price, due to the unpredictable sleep patterns of children. But what exactly is the cost of sleep loss to a family? And what are the benefits of good rest?

The National Sleep Foundation’s most recent Sleep in America poll found that only 10 percent of American adults prioritize sleep over other aspects of their daily life—including fitness, nutrition, work, hobbies, and social life. A prevalent attitude among people seems to be that we can catch up on sleep another time, take a nap the next day, or bank hours of sleep over the weekend. But sleep is not an investment that builds over time; rather, the deposits and withdrawals are made daily, and the truth is that if you don’t snooze, you will lose.

And that loss can be significant: “When people get less than six hours a night as their norm, it’s associated with lower immunity response, higher cardiovascular incidents, higher rates of metabolic syndrome; it impacts our hormones, and leads to cognitive dysfunction,” says Michelle Drerup, Psy.D., director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. She reveals that the latest research shows a potential link between lack of zzz’s and dementia, because sleep can remove beta-amyloid—a toxic protein linked to Alzheimer’s—from the brain. That protein has been found to be higher in those who get less sleep. Most studies tend to look at sleep deprivation as opposed to sleep loss (as in staying awake for 31 hours straight). “Although these findings do not provide that sleep deprivation causes Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Drerup. “They highlight the importance of sleep to optimize brain health.”

Sleep deprivation certainly takes a toll on children, as any parent who has experienced the mood swings and the, uh, determined behavior of an underslept child can attest. “We typically pay attention to a child’s daytime functions but often overlook what is happening in the child’s body during sleep at night, yet what really happens in sleep is what dictates daytime behavior and function,” says Suresh Kotagal, M.D., a child neurologist and a pediatric sleep specialist at the Mayo Clinic. In school-age children especially, Dr. Kotagal says, insufficient or disruptive sleep will cause their frontal lobes to not work as well. Frontal-lobe function impacts not only mood but also attention and concentration. He sees many children in their sleep clinics with a diagnosis of possible attention deficit disorder, but what the child ultimately needs is to get “good quality sleep.” Even among children who are accurately diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Dr. Kotagal often finds an additional sleep disorder; if the disorder is successfully treated, the child may experience incremental improvement in daytime alertness and concentration.

Babies and toddlers have their own nuances around sleep patterns. Sally L. Davidson Ward, M.D., division head for pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, says infants tend to become sleep-deprived due to illness. That makes for a generally cranky infant. Toddlers, Dr. Davidson Ward adds, might manifest their sleep deprivation by being more prone to oppositional behavior. In other words, without proper sleep patterns, the “terrible twos” could be even more terrible.

Sleep loss and parenthood seem to go hand in hand. How often have you heard new parents say they had no understanding of the true definition of tired until being faced with nighttime feedings and not being able to get their infants to drift off? While some of the war stories relayed by exhausted new parents are amusing—say, a mother on maternity leave who gets fully dressed to go to work and even goes out to her car before remembering she is still on leave—the reality of the effects of lack of sleep for new parents is less funny. Dr. Drerup points out that not only can sleep deprivation cause new parents to be more forgetful about things like when they last changed the baby’s diaper, it may also increase the risk of depression for postpartum mothers.

The practical applications of not getting enough sleep can have consequences. The National Sleep Foundation reports that severe sleep deprivation can have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol. People who are awake for 18 hours straight drive like they have a blood-alcohol content level of .05. (The legal level of intoxication for drivers in the U.S. is .08.)

Across the board, not getting enough sleep can be a detriment to your family’s health, safety, and relationships. At the very least, if you’re foggy because you didn’t sleep well, chances are you’re not going to be present for the everyday. Any parent who for whatever reason missed a first smile, word, step, or other milestone can tell you how important mindfulness and being in the moment is in parenting. And any parent who’s ever lost her temper because she’s cranky from lack of sleep knows that gut-punch feeling of guilt after snapping at her children.

Making sure that your (and your family’s) sleep habits don’t detract from your health and wellness is not as easy as just hitting the hay more. Following the popular advice “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is rarely that simple, especially with a newborn. We all know the drill: You nurse the baby to sleep, but when you go to put her back in her bassinet or crib, she wakes up and can’t fall asleep again until you nurse her or rock her, creating a vicious cycle that results in exhaustion for you and for your infant.

“Imagine if you fell asleep in your bed but you woke up in the car in your garage—what would happen? You would be very distraught, scared, and worried,” explains Dr. Davidson Ward. “That’s what’s happening to your baby every time they wake up in the crib. They don’t know where they are, because that’s not where they fell asleep.”She goes on to explain that you want your baby to fall asleep in the “desired sleep environment”—say, her crib or bassinet—and that you want to put them down when they’re drowsy but not yet asleep.

With toddlers and school-age children, the biggest issue is often getting them to go to sleep. How many times has your child begged you for another story or suddenly had the thirst of a water-deprived camel right before it’s time for bed? Dr. Davidson Ward describes it as the “curtain call,” and says that a predictable routine, verging on boring, done at the same time every night, could help your child avoid behavioral insomnia. “The routines around bedtime have to be for a finite period of time, 20 to 30 minutes maximum. If we keep talking to the child over and over again, what happens is sometimes children actually get excited and activated. Then they cannot sleep at all,” Dr. Kotagal says.In other words, right before bed is not the time for a pajama dance party or a rousing game of Chutes and Ladders. It’s easy to fall into the “wear them out and they’ll sleep better” trap—after all, it sounds logical. But too much physical activity, just like too much mental stimulation, can have the
opposite effect and invigorate the child.

A good, common routine might simply involve a bedtime story (singular) and a lullaby, but this can also be a time to teach a child about meditation and conscious breathing. That may help them fall asleep while also having the potential added benefit of relieving stress or anxiety. Of course, it’s not easy to get little ones to sit still, let alone to focus on something as mundane as breathing. Still, give this simple exercise a try: Start by asking your child to lie down, close her eyes, and breathe normally. Ask her to pay attention to all the parts of her body that move as she breathes. Then ask her to place one hand on her chest and the other on her stomach. Explain that when she inhales through her nose, the hand on her stomach will move upward while the hand on her chest will remain still. Tell her to inhale for four seconds and then hold that breath for four seconds. Then instruct your child to exhale, feeling the hand on her stomach move downward. Once she gets the hang of it, lie next to her and do the breathing exercises together for five minutes. Just make sure you leave your child’s bedroom before they (and/or you) fall asleep.

For both parents and children, one of the key components to ensuring proper sleep is diet. Since carbohydrates burn quickly, eating a heavily carb-based dinner or giving your child carb-based snacks before bedtime will almost guarantee that they become hungry again within a couple of hours—possibly after they’ve fallen asleep. Instead, advises Georgia Ede, M.D., a nutrition consultant and a psychiatrist, a whole-foods diet with adequate protein and fat will go a long way toward facilitating better sleep for the entire family.“Foods that are easiest for most people to digest are meat, seafood, poultry, fruit, and most seeded vegetables,” Dr. Ede says. “Foods that are easy to digest are unlikely to cause heartburn or indigestion symptoms that can interfere with sleep quality.”For snack-loving children, Dr. Ede suggests that a piece of fruit, carrot sticks with almond butter, and cucumber slices with guacamole will do your child and his sleep a much better service than processed snacks with refined carbohydrates.

What we eat, though, is not the only connection to better sleep. How we eat can also have a great impact. Small steps toward mindful eating, such as having dinner together at a table and not in front of a television, can help avoid distraction and, consequently, overeating. Paying attention to how our food tastes and smells while taking time with a meal or a snack can also help our bodies register when they’re full. Mindfulness during mealtimes can go a long way in getting the most mileage from our fuel, giving us the quickest detour to a better night’s sleep.

A staple of parents’ diets usually involves some method of caffeine ingestion, but Dr. Drerup says that while one or two cups of coffee is usually fine for most people, because the “half-life of caffeine is about five to seven hours,” noon or early afternoon is usually a good cutoff. If you still experience the mid- to late- afternoon slump, she recommends taking a walk outside instead of going to Starbucks for a venti never-gonna-sleepuccino. Exposure to natural light can help alertness, and a quick walk will give you a much needed boost of energy afterward. The National Sleep Foundation says that as little as ten minutes of aerobic exercise can also
“dramatically improve the quality of your night-time sleep.”

Another key component to getting a high-quality night’s sleep for the entire family is minimizing screen time, especially before bed. Experts agree that cutting off screen time at least an hour before bedtime is ideal. Dr. Kotagal explains that screen light suppresses the natural sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, not to mention that whatever is being watched might also be mentally activating for both children and adults.

Temperature can also be a factor in getting a good night’s sleep. While babies and children tend to sleep better in the low 70s, the ideal temperature for adult bedrooms veers cooler, hovering in the low 60s, according to Dr. Drerup. Per Dr. Kotagal, there is some research that suggests that because of the body’s natural gradient temperature, the temperature at an infant’s feet should be lower than the temperature around her abdomen, which is naturally higher. Parents might think it’s best to bundle infants in both socks and a heavier sleep sack, but that could make it harder for babies to fall asleep by artificially preventing heat loss from the infant’s body.

No matter what steps you take to help you and your family invest in better sleep, remember that sleep health is a significant part of a much larger overall picture, which is why Dr. Davidson Ward likes to ask her patients what they do for fun: “I think the pillars of good health are healthy nutrition, healthy exercise, a good night’s sleep, and doing something that you are passionate about or love every day. All these things are achievable for most families.” You just need to put your minds to it. *

This article originally appeared in Parents: The Mindful Life available at retailers and on Amazon.

 

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

5 Ways to Soothe Your Kids’ Seasonal Allergies—For Good

download (3).png

 

After a long winter of sweaters, snow boots, and Fortnite, the first signs of spring should bring elation for kids and parents everywhere. But for Geri Amera, a mom in Elmhurst, New York, it’s crunch time. “You know that pretty moment when the trees release their flowers and it looks like it’s snowing?” says Amera. “That’s the worst day of the year for us.” Her 11-year-old daughter, Sophie, has had severe seasonal allergies since she was 3, meaning her body treats seemingly harmless spores of pollen like dangerous invaders. When they get into her mouth and nose, they cause her immune system to release histamines, which pump up mucus production. This leads to lots of sneezing, sniffling, coughing, and itching.

Over the past few years, Amera has carefully crafted a regimen involving antihistamines, housecleaning, vaporizers, and lots of Boogie Wipes to ensure that Sophie can play outside without feeling miserable. Staying vigilant is key. Research suggests that with each passing year, pollen is becoming increasingly allergenic, and allergy season is lasting longer, says Jeffrey Demain, M.D., director of the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska, in Anchorage. (The likely culprit behind this trend: rising global temperatures.) Plus, untreated allergies can lead to irritability and interfere with sleep—which is no good for anyone in your house, says Edith Schussler, M.D., a pediatric allergist at Weill Cornell Medicine, in New York City.

How can you help ease your child’s symptoms? A science-backed plan is coming your way.

1. Get the right diagnosis.

In young kids, allergy symptoms can easily be mistaken for a cold or another virus. The biggest sign that your kid actually has a pollen problem? His symptoms stick around. “A cold usually lasts a week and then goes away,” Dr. Demain says. “An allergy flare, however, could last weeks or months.” And since most people in America with allergies are sensitive to more than one thing—dogs and ragweed, grass and dust mites, for example—sniffles often persist for longer than one season. Other signs of seasonal allergies: a clear drip coming out of the nose (rather than a yellowish or greenish one), itchy eyes, symptoms that worsen outdoors, and what doctors call “allergic shiners,” or dark circles under the eyes caused by nasal and sinus congestion.

Remember, too, that seasonal allergies run in families. If a parent has allergies, her child has about a 50 percent chance of developing them; if both parents are sneezing from spring through fall, the odds are even higher.

The best way to get your child diagnosed correctly is to see a pediatric allergist. After taking a detailed history, she’ll run skin and blood tests to pinpoint your kid’s specific allergies and effective treatments. Once you have a diagnosis and plan, your regular pediatrician can handle follow-ups, Dr. Demain says.

2. Minimize pollen’s presence in your child’s life.

First, consider the fabrics on your floors and windows, especially in your kid’s bedroom and playroom. “Heavy carpets and rugs hold on to allergens,” Dr. Schussler says, noting that you can easily mop hardwood and tile floors and wipe blinds and shutters clean.

“I have all our mattresses and pillows covered in allergen and dust protectors,” says Heather Nelson, of Greenwich, Connecticut, whose 7-year-old twins both have allergies. Washing sheets regularly in hot water can also remove lingering dust and allergens. Other smart ideas: Keep the windows closed during pollen season, run an air conditioner with a HEPA filter, and ask people to take off their shoes when they enter the house so they don’t track in pollen. 

Amera puts her daughter’s hair in tight braids to keep pollen from infiltrating her long locks (a baseball cap does the trick for shorter hair). Immediately showering and changing into “indoor clothes” when everyone gets home helps too. If you have a dog who spends time outdoors, bathe him as often as he’ll let you and keep him off your child’s bed. Some parents also like to keep a bottle of saline nasal spray handy to literally wash the pollen out of their child’s nose throughout the day and before bed.

And don’t forget one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal: your phone. Download Pollen.com’s free app, which delivers the forecast for specific pollen counts in your area. When possible, schedule outdoor activities on low-pollen days. “The day after a rainy day is the best time to be outside,” says New York City pediatrician Alison Mitzner, M.D., whose 7-year-old has allergies.

3. Make medications work for your kid.

Most allergists recommend starting with the simplest over-the-counter treatment and adding more meds as needed. “We want to keep children on the lowest amount of medication possible to control symptoms so they have the least possible side effects,” Dr. Schussler says.

Consider starting with a daily dose of an over-the-counter, second-generation antihistamine such as Zyrtec (cetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine), or Claritin (loratadine) in a children’s formulation. Unlike first-generation antihistamines such as Benadryl, these drugs were designed not to cross the blood-brain barrier, which means they are less likely to cause drowsiness or hyperactivity. If your child begins taking medication even before his symptoms kick in, he may not produce histamines at all. “I recommend that patients start taking an antihistamine on March 1 for a spring-pollen allergy,” Dr. Schussler says. Take it at night, since some newer medications can still cause drowsiness.

In many cases, an antihistamine should provide enough relief for your child to get through the day. If he needs something more, consider reaching for a steroid nasal spray such as Nasonex (mometasone), Flonase (fluticasone), or Nasacort (triamcinolone acetonide). These daily-use sprays, which reduce swelling in the nasal passages and eyes, take a few days to kick in, and your child may not love the feeling of a spritz up his nose at first. But stick with it. A nasal spray can relieve the same symptoms that antihistamines do and also clear airways. For children with severe allergies that don’t respond to over-the-counter meds, ask about prescription-strength antihistamines and sprays.

4. Protect her eyes.

Itchy, red, teary eyes are one of the most aggravating symptoms of allergies. (The itch stems from inflammation of the mucus membrane covering the whites of the eyes and inner eyelids.) The fix: Keep pollen away from your child’s face. Dr. Schussler advises wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim. Kids touch their face all the time, but with these accessories on, your child will be less likely to rub her eyes.

You can also use saline eyedrops to wash away pollen. Or ask your child’s doctor about antihistamine eyedrops such as prescription Pataday or OTC Zaditor. “The drops can sting a little, but if you refrigerate them, it takes a bit of that away,” Dr. Demain says. Antihistamine nasal sprays often help with eye symptoms as well.

5. Go for long-term relief.

If you’ve tried pills, sprays, and rinses, ripped the carpet out of your home, and blinged out your kid with rock-star sunglasses, but he continues to suffer, talk to his allergist about allergy shots. “They are still the cornerstone of long-term treatment,” says Dr. Demain. “We have shots for almost every common allergen, and they also reduce the risk for developing new allergies and asthma.” The only real drawback? Getting your kid on board with a plan involving needles. The treatment starts out with two shots a week for up to two to three months, then tapers down to once a week, then every other week, and finally monthly.

After about three years, the allergy may be gone for good. Dr. Schussler suggests allergy shots after a patient has tried everything else and is at least 7 or 8 years old. “Some kids will be completely cured, and some still need to take an antihistamine when pollen counts are very high, but pretty much all children feel much better,” she says.

Is your child mainly allergic to grass? Good news: There’s a new option called sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) that works the same way shots do but without the ouch of needles. Instead, patients take one tablet daily that dissolves under the tongue. SLIT tablets for dust mites and ragweed have been FDA-approved for adults, but grass is the only allergen approved for kids as young as 5. Still, it’s worth checking in with your allergist; the other allergens are under FDA evaluation and may be approved for children soon.

 

This article was written by Marisa Cohen 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.

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.