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Posts Tagged ‘Tips’

Six ways to raise a resilient child

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Helping our children navigate the stresses and strains of daily life is more important than ever. Figures released in November last year by NHS Digital show a worrying rise in young people’s mental health problems; sadly, my experience as a GP confirms this. One in eight children aged between five and 19 in England has a diagnosable mental health condition; the prevalence of emotional disorders, including anxiety and depression, has risen by 48% since 2004. “The pressures young people face range from school stress, bullying and worries about job and housing prospects, to concerns around body image,” says Emma Saddleton, helpline manager at the charity YoungMinds.

While we may not be able to remove all these challenges, we can pass on skills to help young people cope with stress and adversity. “It’s what’s known as resilience,” Saddleton says. “The ability to overcome difficult experiences and be shaped positively by them.” Our brains respond to the information around us, so resilience can be taught, modelled and nurtured at any age. “By doing this, through strong support networks and encouraging communication, we can help young people understand when they feel down and know what they can do to make themselves feel better,” she adds.

As a parent myself – I have a son of eight and a daughter of six – it’s something that’s high on my agenda, and I’ve discovered some effective techniques. Crucially, they don’t require you to overhaul your parenting style, but simply to make a few tweaks that will help your children thrive.

Have one-on-one time with each child, without distractions

I have a full-on job, two school-age children, and an elderly mother to care for, so I understand that we’re all busy; I’m not trying to pile on the guilt. But I’ll never forget what my daughter, then four, said one day. We were working on a jigsaw, but I kept nipping to the kitchen to check my phone. When I rejoined her for the third or fourth time, she rightly observed, “Daddy, you’re not really here, are you?”

Resilience comes from relationships; children need nurturing. It’s not a magical “inner strength” that helps kids through tough times; instead, it’s the reliable presence of one, supportive relationship, be it parent, teacher, relative, family friend or healthcare practitioner. My key point is, it’s quality, not quantity, that counts. Ten minutes of fully focused attention is better than an hour when your mind is on other things. If you’re on your tablet at the dinner table, you’re teaching them it’s OK to always be distracted. And that they are not important enough for your sole attention.

One-on-one time doesn’t have to be time carved out of an already hectic schedule. Make bathtime, car journeys, meals, queues count. Chat, listen, talk about your feelings, encourage them to express theirs. Once these one-to-ones become regular, your children will know they always have a safe space to open up.

Give sleep a chance

I see so many children who are struggling to sleep, waking tired, with dark circles under their eyes. A lack of good-quality sleep is a huge driver for stress: it has a negative effect on memory, concentration, cognitive function, and decision-making.

One of the fastest ways to improve sleep – for all of us – is to limit screen time before bed. The type of blue light emitted by digital devices suppresses production of melatonin, the hormone that signals to the body it’s time for sleep. In addition, looking at screens before bed keeps us emotionally wired and stimulated, making it harder for us to switch off.

It’s a steely parent who can ban tech completely, and I don’t think you need to. But I would urge you to issue a household ban on devices at least an hour before bedtime. Turn off the wifi, if need be. (TV isn’t so bad if you need that as a compromise; we tend not to sit as close to the screen.)

Earlier in the evening, insist everyone uses “night-time mode” on their devices, which swaps the blue light for a warmer glow. You can download apps that do this (such as f:lux), too, or buy blue-light-cancelling glasses. It’s also worth switching your children’s night lights to red ones – red has the least impact on melatonin production. When I did this in my children’s rooms, they slept in more than an hour later the next morning.

Get out and exercise

We all know that regular activity is important, and that most of us, children included, need to do more of it. But what if I told you that, as well as keeping them physically fit, exercise will increase your child’s resilience? It actually strengthens the brain.

It’s well documented that exercise is on a par with medication when it comes to treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety. This could be because it gets the body used to moving more fluidly in and out of the stress state. The same hormones released when we’re stressed (cortisol and adrenaline) are raised temporarily when we exercise. Regular physical activity teaches our stress-response system to recover more efficiently.

It can be a lot of fun to do this together, and I’ve learned that kids do what they see us doing, not what we tell them to. I’m a big fan of “movement snacking” – short bursts of exercise throughout the day. I’ll put on the radio before dinner and we’ll all dance around in the kitchen. Or my kids will join me doing squats, star jumps, bear crawls or frog hops. The sillier I look, the more they seem to enjoy it.

Teach delayed gratification

Resilience means understanding you can’t always have what you want as soon as you want it. It’s an important concept to pass on in the age of Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix and Uber. Psychology teaches us that people who can accept delayed gratification lead happier, healthier lives. Without the ability to defer pleasure and reward, our kids are losing an important skill for their wellbeing.

One of the best ways to teach it? Playing board games. These require impulse control, turn-taking, and mental flexibility. They exercise the prefrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain involved in decision-making, emotional regulation and, yes, resilience. Board games are also a good way for you to model resilience by being a good loser.

But there are no shortage of other ways to encourage delayed gratification: learning a musical instrument; listening to whole albums instead of skipping from track to track online; mastering a new sport; even watching a TV series together week by week, instead of bingeing in a couple of sittings.

Eat the alphabet

Nutrition has a significant impact on mental health. Good-quality food changes the composition of our gut bugs, which helps send calm signals to the brain. Poor-quality, highly processed food sends stress signals instead. A diverse diet, rich in fibre, will lead to greater diversity in our gut bugs, which in turn will help make us more resilient, and anxiety and depression less likely. Persuading kids to eat more healthily can feel like an uphill battle, though, especially if they’re fussy, so this is not about becoming a top chef – just trying a few tricks that can really benefit them emotionally.

Related: ‘It’s been bittersweet’: three Indian women on 50 years in the UK

I like to challenge the whole family to “eat the alphabet” over 30 days. I think it’s a realistic goal to consume 26 different plant foods in a month: A for asparagus, B for banana, C for chickpeas, and so on. It turns healthy eating into a game, and encourages children to try new foods. Turn it into a competition and see who can tick off all the letters first.

Model gratitude

Instead of pestering your children with questions such as, “How was school?” and, “What did you do today?”, teach them to reframe their day.

The following is a game I learned from a friend, who played it with his daughter over dinner. Everyone must answer three questions:

1) What did someone do today to make you happy?

2) What did you do to make someone else happy?

3) What have you learned today?

I love this simple exercise for how it helps us all find the positive in every day. It teaches gratitude, nurtures optimism, and recognises kindness. It doesn’t matter what may have happened at work or school, or how stressed any of us may have felt when we sat down at the table; the whole mood seems to lift once we’ve played this game. I learn things about my kids that they’d probably never have thought to tell me otherwise. Try it. It might just become the highlight of your day.

 

This article was written by Dr Rangan Chatterjee from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Turn Washing Dishes Into a Stress-Relieving Activity

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When done a particular way, washing dishes can reduce stress and boost your mood.

Let’s be real, doing chores isn’t exactly a blast. Cleaning, vacuuming, and scrubbing the dreaded toilet may not sound pleasant, but as it turns out, at least one thing on your to-do list could be good for your mental health. So long as it’s done right.

In one small study, researchers at Florida State University had 51 student participants wash dishes. No, this wasn’t just a way to get the kids to do some housework, but rather a way to understand how mindfulness affects everyday tasks.

Half of the participants were asked to wash the dishes after reading a short descriptive dishwashing passage. The other half were asked to perform the task after reading a passage on mindfulness. The mindfulness passage read in part:

“While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes. This means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly. Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers concluded that participants who washed dishes in a more mindful way increased their feelings of inspiration by 25 percent and lowered their nervousness levels by 27 percent. Conversely, the group that simply washed the dishes didn’t gain any benefit from completing the task.

“It appears that an everyday activity approached with intentionality and awareness may enhance the state of mindfulness,” the study concludes.

“I was particularly interested in how the mundane activities in life could be used to promote a mindful state and, thus, increased overall sense of well-being,” Adam Hanley, a doctoral candidate in FSU College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology program the study’s author, shared in a statement.

So, how can you turn your dishwashing into a mental break? Do as the participants did by focusing on the good things involved in the task like the sweet smell of the soap, the warmth of the water on your hands, and the feel of the dishes passing through the water. Then, just stay present in these moments and take them as a glorious few minutes to be quiet with yourself. Who knows? You may start liking your chores after all.

 

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

6 questions you should ask your kids every single day

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In today’s digital world it is becoming harder and harder to actually connect with our children. They come home from school to the waiting television and usually end up playing video games on the tablet while watching TV (no judgement, we all do it). We don’t really know our children because none of us really know how to communicate anymore.

The typical daily parental question is, “How was your day?” And the typical response from our kids is “fine,” “good,” “OK” or any other one word response they can come up with without actually thinking. This question is lame. It will always get you a one-word answer and leave you wondering why you even bothered to ask. The key to understanding our children is to trick them into talking by asking questions that cannot be answered with “fine” or “good.”

Here’s some proven suggestions that will give you true insight into your child’s life.

1. What made you laugh today?

The random things that kids find funny are absolutely hilarious. My nieces and nephews tell the worst jokes, but their insane laughter is contagious and we always end up laughing together. You know what they say; families who laugh together, stay together!

2. What made you sad today?

Hopefully the answer to this question is nothing too major and depressing, but kids have emotions too. No one likes to voluntarily share sad things that happen every day and our kids are no different, but children are also inherently honest. When asked point-blank, in a place they feel safe, they will open up. You may have to pry, but it will be worth it.

3. Who did you play with today (note that teenagers prefer the phrase”hang out”)?

As much as it may worry us, our kids’ friends will have a huge impact on who they become, which is why we have to know who they are. This is a subtle way to find out if Susie is still hanging out with bad news Bobbie or if she has found new friends to play hopscotch with during recess. When you know your children’s friends, you don’t have to hope they will stay out of trouble.

4. What made you proud today?

Sometimes we are too preoccupied to fully appreciate the lint collection being shoved in our faces right at dinner time, so give your children this chance to brag a little bit and show off their creations or good deeds for the day. This also creates a killer opportunity to praise your child and to reinforce good behaviors.

5. Who made you smile today?

People are the source of true happiness and true friends will bring that joy to the forefront. The people who make your kids smile on a daily basis are the ones worth keeping around. Those are the true, lifelong friends that will hopefully be in their lives forever.

6. What’s something interesting you learned today?

This is the ultimate show and tell moment for your children. Despite what they may think, our children really are learning new things daily. This question makes them actually stop and think about what they learned and helps them internalize those things by condensing and sharing them with you.

You may be thinking there is not enough time in the day to sit and ask all of these questions and that’s OK. Tweak these questions to work for you and your family. Ask them all at once or twice a week, ask a couple each day or ask them all every day. If it is hard to talk during family dinner time, then bedtime is the perfect opportunity to review the day. Sit on the side of your child’s bed (even your teenagers) tuck them in and ask these six great questions. Try it in a way that works for you. You will be grateful you did, even if your kids do complain you’re getting repetitive.

 

This article was written by Kelsey Robertson from Family Share and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

This Easy Elf-on-the-Shelf Hack is a Dream If You Need to Declutter

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It also teaches your kids an important lesson.

Elf on the Shelf has become a polarizing holiday tradition for many working moms. Yes, it’s cute and gets kids excited for Christmas, but it’s also a pain to change the elf’s position every day. That’s why we love this popular elf idea that keeps things simple for parents and even helps cut down on clutter around the house.

A photo of the genius hack went viral after it was shared on Facebook last week. The picture shows the famous elf perched on a Christmas tree holding a sign with the message, “You got to give to get.”

The sign continues to explain to the kids that their elf “Trixie” is going to be collecting toys to take to the North Pole this year, and they will be given to other kids in need. The parents also put a basket under the tree for the kids to fill up with old toys they don’t use or want anymore.

The hack is perfect for parents who are desperate to get rid of rarely-used toys that take up space—especially since the holidays are sure to add more to the collection. While some kids may normally be reluctant to part with them, they are unlikely to say no to the elf who is delivering a message from North Pole. You can encourage your kids to get rid of clutter without dogging their footsteps up or doing the work yourself.

In addition to clearing up some room in your home, it also helps teach your kids a lesson about giving and helping others. It may even inspire them to volunteer toys to be donated to needy children all year round.

Since it was posted on Facebook last week, the photo has been shared over 158,000 times and has received thousands of comments from parents who are in love with the idea. Unfortunately, the person who first shared the photo doesn’t know where it originated, so we can’t extend our thanks to the savvy mom who came up with this novel hack.

It’s also worth mentioning you can use this trick to avoid coming up with creative ideas for rearranging the elf every evening. Just set a deadline for donations and keep him posted all season long. Now that’s what we call a win for everyone involved.

 

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

5 Simple Ways to Make Life Easier for Your Sensitive Kid

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Sensory smart parenting made easy.

Jayden, an active preschooler, loves the playground. After a few minutes, he’s so revved up that he starts running around, bulldozes over other children in his path, and then digs into the sandbox, spraying his little sister, Jenny, nearby. Jenny starts crying because she hates sand on her skin, and it’s sticking more than usual because she refused to let you properly rub in sunblock. She can’t stand that either. You manage to calm both kids down and head to the supermarket because you forgot to buy frozen spinach cakes, the only vegetable they’ll eat. You bribe them with cookies to behave and grab another brand of spinach cakes because they’re out of the usual one. Maybe they won’t notice? Fortunately, your spouse bathes the kids so you can make dinner, turning up the music to tune out the complaints:

“The bath is too hot!”
“You’re pulling my hair!”
“My pajamas hurt!”
“That music is too LOUD!”

Then you serve dinner. The kids are pleased with the mac n’ cheese at exactly the temperature they like but … the spinach cakes are WRONG. Jenny starts to wail and Jayden calls her a baby. And the nighttime battles begin.

Quirks vs. Sensory Issues?

Do your child’s likes and dislikes make you feel like you’re catering to a cute but impossible dictator? All of us have preferences and intolerances. But there’s a big difference between the endearing quirks that all kids have and sensory issues that make living with children SO very difficult at times.

We all learn through our senses, both the familiar ones—touch, sight, sound, taste and smell—and some that are less well known: vestibular (our sense of movement), proprioception (our internal body awareness), and interoception (our sense of physiological well-being or distress). Sensory processing refers to how we transform all of these sensory messages into useful information so we know what’s going on in the world and with our bodies so we can respond proportionately.

Some of our kids, and some of us, are wired differently. When people have sensory processing issues, their brains do not interpret sensory information accurately and reliably, so their responses may be out of proportion. They may overreact to certain sensory experiences that don’t seem to bother anyone else. They might be hypersensitive, feeling things too intensely and thus overreacting to a tiny scratch or to getting messy with glue or paint. The hypersensitive child might be fussy about clothing or food textures. A child can also be hyposensitive (underreactive), needing a lot of input for it to register in his brain—stuffing his mouth with food to feel it in there, sprawling on the floor during circle time to feel the floor beneath him, or playing too roughly at recess. Many kids have sensory meltdowns when there is too much input to process, as can happen in a busy classroom or crowded store. Fortunately there are “sensory smart” parenting hacks you can use to minimize the effect of these sensitivities.

1.Keep a journal to help you predict and prepare for sensory-related problems.

Write out where the problem happened, what preceded it, the problematic behavior and what seemed to help.

2. Create a visual or written list of the day’s events so your child knows what to expect.

Children (and many adults) feel more confident and capable when they know what’s ahead. If a disliked activity is planned, collaborate on ways to make it more tolerable such as downloading favorite music on your smartphone for your child to hear while she’s sitting in the doctor’s office.

3. Bring a bag of tricks to help your child stay on an even keel.

If you know your child gets fidgety when waiting in line, keep a supply of calming items: an unbreakable show globe, a container of putty, chewing gum and so on. If your child is sensitive to noise, bring sound-reducing earmuffs, noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs.

4. Get them moving! Kids need to move, some more than others.

If your child is bouncing off the walls when it’s time to sit down for dinner, plan ahead and have him get intense movement before dinner such as climbing a few sets of stairs, jumping on a mini-trampoline with a safety bar (or a mat on the floor), running laps and so on. If your kid loves screens, put on a gonoodle.com or other online activity that encourages movement. Exercise keeps kids healthy and also generates those feel-good chemicals that keep kids happy too.

5. Take breaks and don’t over-schedule.

We’re all overworked and overbooked these days. We mighy be used to it, and lots of kids thrive on being busy, but sensitive kids need downtime. Keeping it together at school all day among active kids and all of those academic, social and behavioral demands is a lot to ask of a sensitive child. Taking a short restorative break in a quiet, softly lit room or taking a peaceful walk in a park after school can make all the difference!

When to Get Help

Some kids, teens and adults have sensory challenges so significant that they interfere with learning, playing, working—and the ability to parent confidently. Somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of children have what’s called sensory processing disorder (SPD), including those diagnosed with autism and attention deficits, as well as kids who do not have any other developmental issues. The Sensory Checklist in Raising a Sensory Smart Child, which you can also download from sensorysmarts.com, will help you better understand your child’s sensitivities. A pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in sensory challenges can help you create more sensory-friendly environments and routines while, even more importantly, building your child’s ability to better process everyday sensory experiences.


Lindsey Biel, M.A., OTR/L, is an occupational therapist with a private practice in New York City. She is co-author of the award-winning book, Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues.

 

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

How to Unschedule Your Child

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It’s come to this: Doctors are now being told to prescribe play. The American Academy of Pediatrics details the urgency of the matter in a policy statement. There is a play deficit in this country, and we know it, don’t we? In articles about parenting, it seems that there’s no breed dissected more than that of the bubble-wrapped child who’s shuttled from Mandarin to fencing to organic cheese making classes until bedtime. We love reminiscing about the days when we could hop on bikes and meander for hours with the neighborhood kids (few of whose names our parents ever took the time to learn), and yearn for our kids to have that experience. We’ve learned that play enhances brain structure, helps kids practice empathy and makes them more creative and innovative.

And yet it’s strangely difficult to crack some of the structure of children’s lives. I know that I feel some pressure to add more adult instruction to my daughter’s days when I’m handed an inch-thick packet of extracurricular activities by her school teacher (“Ooh, robotics fight club”), or when other parents ask me what her schedule looks like for the fall (“Um, we’ve got Halloween?”), or when I read interviews by musicians and dancers and athletes who mention they started their paths to mastery at age three (“Argh, we’re already too late!”). To back off, it takes some real willpower and planning. Here are some tips for unscheduling your child in today’s overscheduled world.

Be Realistic

You don’t need to move to the woods so your kids can frolic in streams all day to give your family more healthy play time. There are benefits of having scheduled activities—higher self-esteem, lower rates of drug and alcohol use over time and social bonds. Some parents of middle schoolers told me that having their kids deeply involved in extracurriculars they love is what has kept them mostly safe during a time of peer pressure and emotional disarray.

The goal here is simply to protect your kids’ downtime. Denise Pope, one of the authors of Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids, tells the New York Times that young children need an hour of play time (which does not include dinner or homework or baths) for every after-school scheduled hour. You might set a rule for your kids such as one sport or activity per season. (I’ve decided to put my daughter in another voice class, which she absolutely loves.) You have to find the right balance for your family.

Start With a Good Playtime Setting

Dr. Robert Murray, the lead author of the AAP report The Crucial Role of Recess, tells me, “Parents can absolutely help their child find safe, interesting environments for them to explore—but it’s important to let him or her self-direct.” He suggests playgrounds, beaches and streams, woods and parks, fields, the zoo, local farms or indoor spaces where kids can pretend play with peers. Wherever you choose to go, step back and give them some “BE Time,” which he describes as the antidote to parent-directed activities.

At home, give kids access to open-ended materials to tinker with, even stuff you might see as junk. Blocks are always awesome, but so are random pieces of string, aluminum foil, masking tape, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls and emptied shampoo bottles.

Prepare for the Suck

Realize that it’s sometimes hard to give kids downtime. On weekends, the first thing my daughter asks when she wakes up is “Where are we going today?” When I tell her nowhere, she whines and declares that is so boring. And then parent-friends will start texting me: “What are you up to today? Wanna bring the kids to library story time? Or princess ballet class? Or go watch a movie?”And I often want to say “Yes!” It would be easy to strap my kid into the car and do any one of those things. But it’s good to sometimes say no. I know that my daughter’s groans will eventually turn to silence, and as I do my own thing around the house, I’ll often find her cheerfully playing with her dollhouse or making something out of a cardboard box or drawing with chalk in the backyard.

Put white space on your calendar and prepare for some protests. Then find something to do and let your kids do the same.

Connect With Other Back-Off Parents

Some parents are finding that as much as they want to unschedule their kids, there’s a problem: Their children have no one to play with. Playgrounds are barren as every other kid is off at chess or tae kwon do at 3:30 PM. A project called Let Grow is addressing that issue, connecting local parents who want to give their kids more independence by doing less for them. You can sign up to find nearby families.

Once you find other likeminded moms and dads, you might consider setting up a play street, in which community members transform a residential city block a car-free space for children and families to play together, say, either weekly or monthly, or lobby schools to start their own play clubs, in which they keep their gyms or playgrounds open till dinnertime for self-directed free play.

It’s true that unscheduling kids takes a lot more work than it did years ago. But after doing it, you may very well find that your family will be less stressed and happier. And plus, it’s the doctor’s orders.

 

This article was written by shared by Michelle Woo to Lifehacker and Michelle Woo on Offspring from Lifehacker and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The 2-in-1 Birthday Party Hack: Keep Cards and Stickers in Your Car

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This makes all those celebrations a lot less stressful.

Birthday season—it’s like the flu. When it comes, it comes at you hard. I’m no expert but I’ve attended my fair share of birthday parties in my three-and-a-half years in the parenting game and have learned some lessons along the way. Since our daughter’s social agenda has become ours as a family, my husband and I have created a system of parenting tricks to save our time and sanity as we get through the bustle of birthdays.

I respond to the invitation immediately and make sure it’s in both my and my husband’s calendar.

With the event in the calendar, I don’t feel as if I forgot anything or surprised when the day rolls around.

I use the party as motivation to get my daughter to move quickly.

I tell my daughter about attending her friend’s birthday party right when she wakes up. I remind her why birthdays are special to get her excited about making her friend feel celebrated, and then use this to my every advantage to get her up and moving. For example, “Go put on your shoes fast so we can leave the house and see Carter!” 

I keep a stack of blank greeting cards in the car with a pen.

That way, we don’t have to make a separate stop at the store to buy a birthday card, or go searching for a card in my home. I grab one and fill it out in the car so I’m not wasting any time as we make our way to the party.

I give my daughter an on-the-way activity to keep her occupied.

I pass her the card and envelope, plus stickers I also stash in the car. Then, she can decorate the card and envelope. My daughter loves this activity. The best part is how proud she is of that card.

It keeps her entertained while I take five minutes to set up a Littlefund for her friend. I enter a guardian’s email, choose a goal and amount, then hit send. It works like a gift card. I’m biased since I’m the founder, but I really think it’s the perfect gift for any child whose parents are constantly managing the influx of stuff. This way, kids can save up for one big gift or experience.

Mimi Chan is the founder and CEO of Littlefund@littlefund. She currently resides in San Francisco with her husband, daughter Liv, and one more little one on the way. In her spare time, she enjoys capturing her daughter’s weird sleep positions on her Instagram stories.

 

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

My top 5 school stain removal hacks

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Marker pen, gravy and glue. If I had $1 for every time the oldest comes home from school wearing one or all three of those items I would be significantly richer than I am now.

The question is: how best to remove them?


stain removal hacks

If you’ve got one or more kids at school like me you’ll know stains go with the territory – ranging from the innocent to the best-not-think-about-it downright suspicious. My attitude to these stains ranges from the ‘must remove said stain immediately’ to the ‘it can wait until the weekend’ sort of a stain, depending on where we are in the working week, and indeed the school year.


stain removal hacks

I’ve acquired quite an armoury of products to deal with these stains, and I’m a sucker for new ones to help in the constant battle too. So, what’s in my armoury at the moment? A month into the new school year and with half term rapidly approaching I thought now would be a good time to share my top 5 school stain removal hacks.

My top 5 school stain removal hacks

1. Whiteboard marker

Now blackboards have been superseded by whiteboards there’s a new stain in town: the dreaded whiteboard marker. They come in every colour of the rainbow and in our school the kids are allowed and even encouraged to use them. Who in their right mind lets a child loose with a marker pen? Sadly, they don’t simply wipe off their school uniform like they do the whiteboard, either.

The solution:

Hairspray. Put kitchen roll under the item of clothing and area of the stain, then spray it within an inch of its life. Blot the stain and repeat the process until the stain is gone, then wash as normal.


stain removal hacks

2. Code brown

Yes, I am talking number twos (not whole ones, but marks left by them). I don’t know what it is about school compared with home (I’m pretty sure tracing paper loo roll was outlawed years ago) but I regularly find tyre marks in undercrackers (don’t worry, I’ll spare you a picture).

The solution:

ACE for Colours. I love a new find and ACE is one of my latest – if you haven’t heard of ACE for Colours before it’s a liquid stain remover (£2) with an ‘8+ system’ designed to tackle stubborn stains including ‘body soils’, which is a polite way of saying code brown. Just fill the dosing cap with ACE, stick it in the machine on top of the offending item and bingo: tyre marks have vanished.


stain removal hacks

3. Gravy

What do they put in school gravy? My goodness the stuff sticks! Roast dinner is on Thursdays where we are, and you can put money on the oldest coming home with a splattered front and dipped cuffs. Owing to the fact it’s Thursday you could just leave it (no-one’s spotlessly clean on a Friday, right?) but if you really can’t stand it or gravy is served up earlier in the week there is an answer.

The solution:

ACE Stain Remover, which I discovered alongside ACE for Colours. There’s no need for a full wash and dry for this one, a simple sponge down will do: just spray some ACE stain remover directly onto a sponge or cloth and apply it to the gravy stain. As well as taking away the stain it also takes away the smell – leaving a fresh one in its place!


stain removal hacks

4. Grass

If they play on a field grass stains are inevitable, the question is what’s the best way to tackle them? Forget washing uniform over and over again in the vain hope the stains will eventually fade – there’s a far easier solution.

The solution:

White vinegar and baking soda – and a bit of old-fashioned elbow grease. Pour the vinegar into a bowl, soak the stain (or stains – there’s never just one, is there) for 10 minutes, then remove from the bowl. Dip an old toothbrush in the vinegar, and then dip it in the baking soda. Using a circular motion scrub the stain with the toothbrush until it’s gone, then wash as normal. It really works, I promise!


stain removal hacks

5. Glue

Remember that glue we used to have when we were at school that peeled off when it dried? Well they don’t appear to use that anymore. I don’t know what type of glue it is but what I do know is that they use it a lot and it doesn’t come off easily. Even worse, it sometimes contains glitter (and I hate glitter).

The solution:

Cold water and liquid laundry detergent. Make sure the glue is completely dry, then scrape off as much as you can. Soak the item of clothing in cold water overnight, then massage liquid laundry detergent into the stain. Wash as normal at your usual temperature, et voila!


stain removal hacks

Do you have any school stain removal hacks? I’d love to know what they are – the weirder the better!

 

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.

15 Easy School Lunches You Can Prep in an Instant Pot

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Getting our kids out the door in the morning is tough enough. But then you expect us to pack lunch, too? Enter these meal prep lunches, which keep in the fridge for up to three days and actually save a bunch of time—thanks to our favorite appliance, the Instant Pot.

The Cookie Rookie

Instant Pot Potato Salad with Dill Pickles

Pair with baby carrots.

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A Pinch of Healthy

Instant Pot Chicken Breasts

No reheating necessary.

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Foody Schmoody

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs in the Instant Pot

Be sure to pack extra napkins.

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My Crazy Good Life

Instant Pot Mini Frittatas

Presenting, the portable version of scrambled eggs.

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Tornadough

Instant Pot Taco Pasta

Serve it cold and it counts as pasta salad.

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5 Dollar Dinners

Instant Pot Chicken Broccoli Cheddar Rice

Bento box-ready.

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Sweet and Savory Meals

Instant Pot Tomato Soup

This calls for a Thermos.

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Pressure Cooker Recipes

Instant Pot Applesauce

Brilliant.

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The Foodie Eats

Instant Pot Ranch Chicken Salad

Tip: bagels don’t get soggy.

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Meal Plan Addict

Instant Pot DIY Sandwich Meat

No more waiting in line at the deli counter.

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Damn Delicious

Instant Pot Chicken Burrito Bowls

Wrap it up in a tortilla if you see fit.

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Crunchy Creamy Sweet

Instant Pot Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Pair with your kid’s favorite dipping sauce.

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Recipes to Nourish

Instant Pot Paleo Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

It’s so easy.

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365 Days of Crockpot

Instant Pot Broccoli Chicken Mac and Cheese

Pretty darn good eaten straight from the fridge, too.

Get the recipe

 

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9 First-Aid Items Every Parent Should Have in the House

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No matter how closely parents watch their children, accidents and unexpected medical curveballs are unavoidable. From scratches to splinters to allergic reactions, we want to be prepared for any situation — and that’s why it’s so important to have first-aid items in the house. 

Putting together the most thorough first-aid kit can be a daunting task, but don’t despair if you’re not sure where to start — we’ve got you covered. 

1. Triple-antibiotic ointment

Cuts and scrapes are a normal part of childhood, so it’s always handy to have some triple-antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin) around.

“Kids will always find a way to injure their skin, which happens to be the body’s largest organ and our first line of defense against infection,” Dr. Ashanti Woods, attending pediatrician at Mercy Medical Center, tells SheKnows. Although the majority of these cuts heal without complications, there’s always the possibility of infection — and some children are at greater risk for bacterial infections. 

“To prevent these infections, Neosporin or any triple-antibiotic ointment should be applied to the skin following a moderate to severe skin injury,” Woods advises. 

 

2. Antihistamine

Allergic reactions in children can potentially be life-threatening, so Woods says that an antihistamine that’s safe for children (like Benadryl and it’s generic versions) is definitely an essential item to have on hand at all times. 

“In the event a parent suspects their child (or a visiting child) is having an allergic reaction to something, the first step should be to give a healthy dose of Benadryl,” he advises. If an allergic reaction is severe, parents should call 911 and an epinephrine injection should be administered. 

3. Adhesive bandages

If you think of items essential for any first-aid kit, adhesive bandages are probably first on the list. Dr. Rachel Dawkins, a board certified pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, tells SheKnows that it’s important to stick with the basics. “Band-Aids are great for minor cuts and scrapes,” Dawkins says. “Also, kids love putting Band-Aids on — even when their injury is small or nonexistent.” 

Because children go through adhesive bandages quickly, Dawkins recommends buying in bulk or getting the novelty ones at a dollar store. “You could also consider putting gauze, nonstick bandages and an elastic [ACE] bandage in your kit,” she adds. 

4. Thermometer

As a pediatrician, Dawkins says she thinks having a working thermometer is the most important tool to have in your first-aid kit, noting that it’s common for children to feel like they have a fever when they don’t.

“The most accurate temperature is a rectal temperature and is the preferred way to take an infant’s temperature,” Dawkins explains. “Temporal artery or ear thermometers are fine options for older babies and children.” 

5. Tweezers

If you’re lucky enough to be sprouting chin hair, you probably already have a pair of tweezers sitting around, but it’s probably a good idea to get a pair specifically for your first-aid kit.

Tweezers are an essential tool for removing splinters and stingers,” Woods says. Once the splinter or stinger is removed from a child’s skin, the symptoms almost always resolve quickly, and typically no medicines are necessary, she adds. 

6. A small flashlight

Dawkins recommends keeping a small flashlight on hand for those times when you need to remove something small from your child’s skin and need better lighting. She also notes that you could use the flashlight on your phone. 

7. ACE Wrap

Because children are so active, it is not uncommon for them to get a bump, bruise, sprain or strain in their daily activities, Woods says. “These injuries involve an overstretching of muscles and ligaments near the big joints, [which] cause quite a bit of pain,” she explains. 

The most common way to treat a sprain or a strain is RICE: rest, ice, compression (that’s where the ACE wrap comes in) and elevation, she adds. With this type of treatment, Woods says you can typically count on your child being back to running around after three to seven days. 

8. Ice packs

Dawkins recommends keeping some form of ice pack in the freezer just in case. If you don’t have one, she suggests using a bag of frozen vegetables or a wet sponge that has been frozen in a freezer bag. “Alternatively, wrap ice in a paper towel or put it in a freezer bag,” she says. 

“The usual rule of thumb when using ice on an injury is 20 minutes on then 20 minutes off,” Dawkins continues. “I also recommend putting something between the ice pack and your child’s skin to prevent injury to the skin from the cold.”  

9. Medications & creams

Your home first-aid kit should contain a couple of medications and creams, Dawkins explains, and suggests the following (in addition to the ones mentioned above):

In addition to these first-aid items, Dawkins suggests that parents keep emergency numbers handy and in an easily accessible location. These numbers include their pediatrician’s office, poison control (1-800-222-1222) and a couple of emergency contacts. 

Chances are you probably have a lot of these items already in your house — you might as well take the next step and assemble them in an easy-to-reach kit to make treating your kids’ minor injuries and pain easier the next time they occur.

 

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