Easy Homework Rituals

When our children head Back-to-School, whether Pre-K or High School, there will always be challenges. Creating time for dinner, family and homework can be difficult. The key to our evenings is creating a consistent schedule and family ‘rituals’. Our world and our children’s world’s are busy, complicated and filled with outside stimulation. Teaching children to organize their time and prioritize their responsibilities will give them the grit and skills they need for future adult success.

Here are a few tips for creating homework rituals:

  • Post a family schedule that works. When the nightly routine remains consistent and predictable during the school week, children fall into productive patterns without thinking about them. No fight - no fail.

  • Have a community space for homework. There is no need to feel isolated when working. Creating a communal work space will deter distractions and provide academic support. Parents can even be cooking dinner, yet still be available to help. Sometimes a quiet presence provides just the focus a child needs for success.

  • Keep the ‘homework’ space consistent. Organize the space so it provides clarity on the intent of their actions. Children (and adults) thrive in predictability. If homework is done on the couch where the family ‘relaxes’ and watches TV the inclination will be to want to relax. Keep their work-time intentions clear.

  • Have snacks and water available in the homework space. Bodies need fuel. Providing light, healthy snacks will not ruin their dinner appetite, but it will fuel their brains. Small finger foods will also deter distractions and keep your child focused until their work is complete.

Providing your family with simple steps to a seamless homework plan will keep you sane and your children successful. Good Luck!

How Tortillas Makes School Lunches Fun and Easy

Back-to-School means school lunches. If you have children like mine, you know they will not eat what the school is serving. My children wanted the special touches that their lunch box provided while forgetting the challenges it gave to the working parent. Then I discovered the wonder of the tortilla. If I could ‘wrap’ it, preserve their ‘crust-free’ lifestyle, things were good in the lunch room.

Here are my favorite, simple and easy tortilla tips:

  • PB&J Burrito: use your favorite nut butter and jelly, spread and roll. Less than 5 minutes and I know my child will be filled with protein.

  • Crudites Roll: use fresh thinly sliced vegetables like cucumbers, carrots and red bell peppers, a little humus and roll. [it’s the fancy word that sold this vegies filled wrap]

  • Pizza Wrap: use your child’s favorite pizza toppings, such as pepperoni, ham, even pineapple; spread a little tomato sauce (great source of potassium, vitamins and iron), sprinkle shredded mozzarella and wrap. The creativity here is endless.

  • Quesadilla: any combination of beans and cheese will work. Then melt and cut. [Always a topic of conversation to add ‘triangles’ to the lunch box]

  • Mini-Chicken New Mexican: use the small mini-tortillas, pack some chicken and all the taco toppings your child likes and let them build-their-own at school. [You can’t call it the New Mexican if you forget the Green Chile - FYI]

  • Tortilla Parfait: roll fresh fruit and your favorite Greek yogurt . . .and OPA! You have a great lunch.

Routines to Make Back to School Easy

Being a parent of school-aged children comes with the responsibility of motivating those children to go back to school.   There is always an overwhelming feeling of how everything is going to get done before school starts.  After all your list can’t be that long? You have to buy school supplies, make sure children get to sleep early, buy school uniforms, make lunches and get out the door.  Can it get any easier?  

It can! We must create a routine that is going to work. When routines work it relieves some of the stress of going back to school.  Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1.       Help get your child back into the routine of going to bed early by starting now and be consistent. Set a bedtime routine that works for your family and stick with it.  According to the American of Pediatrics children 3 to 5 years need 10 to 13 hours of sleep and children 6 to 12 years need 9 to 12 hours of sleep for optimal health.

2.      Make it a routine to have your child pick out their clothes the night before.  For younger children this creates a since of belonging and responsibility. Children love being a part of something bigger than themselves.

3.      If your child takes a packed lunch to school let them help prepare their lunch the night before. Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes for younger children.

4.      Create a time to go through your child’s backpack for important papers to sign and homework. Backpack checks become predictable and homework expectations routine. Once you are done, have them put their backpacks near the front door for easy access in the morning.

The takeaway: create a routine that works for your family and is easy to make consistent. Make going back to school this year stress-free and FUN!

Fun Snacks to make for a fun 4th of July Celebration with your Kids

Making fun snacks with your children is a great way to celebrate any holiday. Here are a few fun and easy things you can do:

  1. Star Spangled Ice Cream Sandwiches: Children love to see how sprinkles stick. Buy blue and red sprinkles, let your pre-made ice cream sandwiches sit for 5 minutes and then ROLL them in the sprinkles, freeze for 10 minutes and enjoy.

  2. Graham Cracker Flags: Children can practice small muscle skills by spreading softened cream cheese on a graham cracker. Using strawberry jam they can ‘paint’ their stripes. Then watch how they count blueberries to add 50 stars (if they fit lol) to complete their flag.

  3. Patriotic Popcorn: Nothing screams fireworks like dumping candy and popcorn into a bowl. Your kids can help choose the red and blue candies that can be added to popcorn, nuts and other treats. Stir and Serve.

  4. Celebration Sparkling Water: We know how children love something sparkly! Replace their soda with sparkling water and let them sweeten with fresh fruit. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries make a great holiday choice.

  5. Firework Fruit Kabobs: Fruit kabobs for the ambitious. Watermelon on the 4th is a national staple. Cut them into stars and let your children thread them onto skewers followed by some fun fresh blueberries.

Enjoy and have an amazing day with your children!

20 Books Every Child Should Have

Reading to young children and exposing them to literature is a building block to success.  We know that when a child is read to their brain surges in activity; therefore vocabulary is increased and new knowledge is absorbed.  Reading develops a child’s empathy by allowing them to identify with new emotions and to feel what they feel.  Reading is the key to academic success.

There are many wonderful and fabulous books for young children and choosing can be overwhelming.

Below is a list 20 books every child should have (in no particular order):

1.      Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

2.      Winnie-the- Pooh by A. A. Milne

3.      Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

4.      Green Eggs and Han by Dr. Seuss

5.      The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

6.      Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle

7.      The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

8.      Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

9.      Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

10.  The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

11.  Corduroy by Don Freeman

12.  Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

13.  The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

14.  Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McClosky

15.  Arrow to the Sun by Gerald McDermott

16.  Fables by Arnold Lobel

17.  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

18.  Why Mosquitoes Buzz in Peoples Ears by Verna Aardema

19.  Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

20.  The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Why is Summer Reading so important?  Tips to combat the dreaded "Summer Reading Slide."

A baby’s brain begins to make connections through responsive and engaging environments from the moment they are born.  In fact, how we communicate and respond in the environment makes a difference in how children develop and learn new words. Between birth and 6 months infants are learning different sounds, cooing and making sounds and by 6 months babies begin to babble.  This is why language and reading to infants is important for brain development.  From birth to age 5, research shows that 90% of a child’s brain has developed. Why is this important? For children to develop bigger vocabularies and strong language skills we need to read!  Reading to children creates a foundation for learning through language. If we want to help children develop the skills needed for academic success, we need to read to our children daily.  Jeff Grabmeire reports that: “Young children whose parents read five books to them, a day, enter kindergarten having heard 1.4 million more words then kids who were never read to.”   Powerful statement!

Imagine how important this is for children during the summer months?   Research shows that children who do not read during the summer months develop what is known as the “summer slide” and are said to lose around 3 months of their reading achievement. This doesn’t need to happen. If you read at least 1 book a day to your child he will hear 290,000 more words.  

Here are some strategies you can use at home with your child:

·         Read to your baby or child instead of watching TV or having screen time

·         Create a daily ritual with your child that they look forward to (i.e. bedtime routine)

- Create games that require reading instructions, even picture instructions, such as a scavenger hunt or treasure map

·         Allow your child to touch, turn, and point to picture as you read

·         During household routines such as cooking or folding laundry, have young children hold a book while you read simple text and with older children, have them read to you.

·         Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes

·         Make a book using family photos and add new words to create your own story

·         Visit a library in your community to check out books your child will love. If your child’s older let them pick out books they would like you to read.

·         Participate in reading groups in your community such as Dion’s, participate in Barnes & Noble book readings and Scholastic on-line reading challenge.

 

Source: ”A million word gap’ for children who aren’t read to at home,” by Jeff Grabmeire, April 4, 2019, osu.edu

 

DEBUNKING 5 PARENTAL MYTHS

We are not given blueprints on how to parent.  We are learning that much of the advice we’ve been given about parenting might just be plain wrong, or even questionable. So here are some common parenting myths with some science facts to guide us.

1. Sugar makes kids hyper.

Many parents have said that cookies, candy, and cake have the power to morph the well-behaved child into the sticky mess that resembles a hollering gargoyle who behaves erratically. Anyone can agree that the hypothesis sounds reasonable, except for the fact that it is completely false.

A 1994 research study proves that sugar doesn’t change kids’ behavior. A sugary diet has no affect on behavior or cognitive skills, reports the researcher. However, during this study it did find that sugar, does in fact, change one thing; parent’s expectations. The study found that after hearing their children had just consumed sugar, parents were more likely to say their child was “hyperactive”, even though the sugar fix was a placebo.

Of course, there are plenty of good reasons not to feed your kids sugar, but the fear of a crazy sugar goblin shouldn’t be one of them.

2. Listening to Mozart and classical music makes babies smarter.

Rachel Ehrenberg, a Vermont Alum Scientist busted this “Mozart Effect” myth in a 2010 article. The idea that 10 minutes of classical music produces collegiate students and boosts academic performance became exaggerated to such an extent that a governor from Georgia used tax money to buy classical music CDs for every baby born in the state.

Babies love music and there is evidence that suggests music may help to soothe a baby’s temperament.  There is also evidence that playing an instrument might be beneficial to brain development; however, scientists haven’t found anything supporting that classical music will make your baby smarter.

3. Feeding a baby solid food will help them sleep through the night.

Is your baby waking up in the night? “Just put some rice or oat cereal in the last bottle before bed.” The well-intentioned person says. The solid food will further fill the baby’s tummy and keep them satisfied longer, translating into fewer wakeups. You guessed it! False.
Studies found that babies fed solids before bedtime slept no better than babies fed only liquids. In actuality, early introduction to solid food (before 4 months) has been associated with worse, not better infant sleep. The magical sleep cure for infant care sounds awesome but is entirely fiction. And specifically for rice cereal…

Rice/oat cereal is an ideal first food for babies.

Lots of people assume that plain rice cereal should be introduced first. Doctor’s assure that there’s no reason to choose it over fruits or veggies such as, bananas or green beans. Real foods not only taste better, then the starchy rice cereal, but they have some good nutrients and fat, too. Strive to venture beyond rice cereal and explore more creative first food options.

4. You’ll spoil your baby if you pick them up.

People used to advise that holding your baby for an extended amount of time will spoil your child and cause them to be needier. Ph. D. and author, Maurice Elias, says “if your baby calms down when you pick them up then they needed to be picked up. More importantly, your child will gain the confidence that you will respond to them when they need.” Moreover, in the first six months of a baby’s life it is their job to seek your tender loving care and be held. Elias states, “the critical task of this stage is to develop a sense of trust that the world around will care for them.” If a parent were unresponsive to the cries and alerts of a child, trust goes undeveloped. After the 6-month mark parents can then choose to pull-back attention and allow their baby to learn to self soothe.  They will survive and learn to be self-reliant. Don’t worry, they’ll cry, but deep down they know you’ll be back.

5. Sippy cups cause speech problems.

When you Google topics like, which cup should I buy? Or, are ‘Sippy’s’ good for my child?.. you will find erroneous websites. Some state that the sippy cup will encourage “immature mouth and tongue movement” which will stunt normal development of muscles needed for clear speech.

Problem:  there is no supportive evidence or studies that back that claim. Sippy cups may contribute to cavities, if a baby or toddler constantly drinks from them, and sippy cups can cause injury if a fall occurs while drinking. But there remains no supportive evidence to state moderate sippy cup usage will get in the way of normal speech.

Whoop! There-it-is. A non-comprehensive list for Parenting Myths and supportive reasoning.

Why Fresh? Guide to incorporating more fruits and vegetables. 5 Steps for Food Success

Vibrant, crisp, fun, and colorful fruits and vegetables play a primary role in your child’s diet. Both contain essential nutrients that are important for their health, growth and physical development. Note these few tips to follow:

Children learn by example:

Babies commonly begin to eat fruit and vegetables as one of their first solid foods. At a year old, you may notice the “fussiness” in your children as they begin to flex their independence and dietary preferences. Often this change in personality with food includes fruit and vegetables. Parents, don’t worry if your children start to eat less fruits and vegetables during this time. This is a common behavior for toddler ages. The best way to counteract this behavior is for the parents to role-model this practice daily, and furthermore incorporate more into meal preparation of meals. Mimicry is how children learn best so, keep trying!

Fruit and vegetable benefits:

Eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits provide important vitamins such as vitamin C and folic acid. They also possess other plant substances that are thought to be important to help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease. We all know that these food groups and vegetables are a natural food source and are the most under-consumed food component, so load up on those greens!

Just try it!

According to “MyPlate” and other popular nutritional programs, we are encouraged to eat two fruits and five vegetables daily, but many children and most adults do not. Often children may reach for the high fat and sugar packed snack foods instead. Sometimes parents give up offering vegetables or fruit because it seems children often leave these uneaten and unwanted. Continue to offer your child a variety of fruits and vegetables daily with each meal, and not just the type they like. Children’s serving sizes may be small, dependent on their age, appetite and activity levels. Remember, anything is better than nothing. Look for ways to make fresh foods exciting.

Encourage your child to eat more fruit and vegetables:

When you have healthy eating habits it will prompt your child to as well. Keep offering fruits and vegetables in a variety, as children are more likely to eat what is familiar. Never assume your child dislikes a fruit or vegetable. The next time you offer it may be the day they decide to try it. Children’s tastes change as adults do. Studies have found it takes six introductions of a new food before a child decides if they like it. Keep trying.

5 steps for food success:

1.      Involving your child in food prep and planning

Take your child fruit and vegetable shopping and let them see, smell and feel the fruits and vegetables with you. Allow your child to help wash and prepare fruit and vegetables. This is an opportunity to explore colors and shapes of them.

2.      Start a Garden

Grow some vegetables or herbs in the garden. Let your child water and nurture the plant. Caring for something that’s their own will taste that much better.

3.      Embrace Reluctance

Don’t rob your child(ren) the opportunity to try brussels sprouts and eggplants, etc.

4.      Fresh. Fresh. Fresh

Keep a bowl of fresh fruit handy. Easy grab vegetables such as peas, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and mushrooms are a great healthier alternative than what’s in those pantry..

5.      Presentation

Make the vegetables and fruit look great on the plate. Serving something that’s visually appealing is important for children.

Fun Ways to Enjoy Earth Day with Your Family

Earth Day is a great opportunity for families to connect with their children. As parents, we want to teach our children to care for things outside of themselves, to have empathy and to have an appreciation for the planet they live on. Here are some great tips that can bring your family together while enjoying Earth Day:

  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - Talk to you family and set-up systems based on the 3 R’s. Reduce: walk more, turn-off water and lights and ride bikes. Reuse: clothes, books, bags and boxes. Recycle: water bottles, soda cans, newspapers, and boxes.

  • Nature photography - Help your child appreciate the beauty of being outdoors. Grab your camera or smart phone and head outdoors for a picture taking outdoor adventure. You could print pictures and make a collage or let your child get behind the lens and take them themselves.

  • Outdoor game of “I Spy” - Kids love to play “I Spy.” It even entertains them when waiting in the doctor’s office. The great outdoors will offer your child tons of things for their little eyes to spy.

  • Cloud watching and star gazing - You can help develop their sense of wonder in simple ways; such as, laying a blanket outdoors and looking up while watching the clouds and describing shapes and animals; and for the evening you can star gaze while looking for constellations while imagining what else is hidden in space.

  • Read - There is no better way to develop a young mind then reading! Choose books about Earth Day, saving our bee’s, recycling, planting and much more.

Earth Day provides a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the wonders of the outdoors while learning to preserve the planet that feeds and sustains us. Enjoy!

“Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink,

taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

* Henry David Thoreau

How You Can Help Your Child with School Readiness

Before children can focus on the skills they need for school readiness they need to develop the necessary milestones that are essential for growth and development. Children should not be expected to skip developmental milestones that prepare them for academic readiness. It is important for adults to be focused on how young children view the world around them and how it contributes to their learning. For example, have you ever bought your child a new toy and watched their engagement, then suddenly, they notice a rubber band on the floor and instantly lose interest in what they were doing? Children are naturally curious, and anything they can manipulate with their hands can instantly challenge them. Think of all the possibilities to their play. Play-based learning stimulates curiosity, imagination, and discovery. It is the best way to help children grow and develop. The next time your child is playing, look closely at what they’re doing and help them build deeper understanding by implementing the following tips:

  • Ask your child open-ended questions, such as “Can you tell me about what you’re doing?”, “I can tell by all that laughing that you’re having fun, what is funny?”. Open-ended questions will lead to multiple answers that will help guide you to building new ideas with your child.

  • Help your child make connections in everyday experiences while playing. For example, children can help you sort laundry by color and/or item or they can make a game of setting the table while they count silverware, etc.

  • Limit screen time and allow your child more outdoor playtime.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” (Mr. Fred Rogers)

 6 Warm Weather Safety Tips

Longer days means children are ready to run faster and play harder. As you see them race out the door do you feel a need to protect them from everything that could and would potentially go wrong? 

Parents have many outlying factors to consider; such as, childcare coordination, road safety, environmental exposure etc. It’s a fact that the spring and summer seasons call for extra preparation in order for young children to have an endless supply of fun.

Here are some tips to assure safety for the whole family:

 

1.       Be Sun Savvy:

Spring sting. We know that a person exposed to excessive sunlight has an increased risk of melanoma and sun stroke. Here are some common ways to prevent increasing your child’s risk. 

Apply sunscreen early and repeat throughout the day. Kids 6 months and older should have at least 15 SPF or higher and it should be re-applied every 15-30 minutes to decrease the likelihood of excessive sun exposure. Parents can also opt for protective covering, clothing, and shades to shield from harmful sun rays.

Keep infants out of the sun: Infants younger than 6 months should be shielded from direct sunlight because of their sensitivity to outdoor environments. They have a high risk of overexposure.

Beware of shade: Staying in the shade can give us a false sense of security. The shady areas may provide heat relief, but the scattered sun rays can still cause sunburns in just as much time as being fully exposed.

 

2.       Water Rules:

Drowning can happen quickly and quietly. This is the leading cause of unintentional death in kids ages 1-4 years old.  Below are helpful tips to keep water play safe this season:

  • Stay free of distraction. Don’t allow yourself to be inattentive while your children swim or play in the water. Do not turn your back on your children or get distracted with your cell phone.  Drowning can happen in minutes. Note: children should never be left alone or left without adult supervision near or around pools of water regardless of depth.

  • Get trained.  Adults, babysitters, and caregivers should become Infant/Child CPR certified.

3.       Beware of the bugs:

Creepy crawlers and blood sucking insects are very much a part of warm weather, day and night. Here are some suggestions to keep your spring and summer insect free:

  • Spray and repeat: Parents should apply insect repellent to the exposed skin of children.  Do not forget to re-apply when necessary in order to keep from being bitten.

  • Watch for allergies: Kids can be prone to allergens of the environment and/or be allergic to certain bug bites.  Being aware and using an allergy medicine can ensure your child’s enjoyment of outdoor play and extend their overall health.

4.       Prevent Dehydration:

Sun stroke can be sneaky.  Your child may become dehydrated before there are any outward signs. Children need to drink water often when in the sun.  Juice and soft drinks should be offered minimally, if not at all.

  • Children should drink 12oz of water 30 minutes before outdoor activities begin, and take water breaks every 20 minutes continually thereafter.

  • Tip: A child’s gulp equals a half-ounce of fluid, averaged, therefore your child should drink 10 gulps for every 20 minutes of play.

Watch for warning signs of dehydration such as excessive thirst, dry/sticky mouth, headache, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, and/or changes in behavior.

5.       Heads Up:

Put a lid on it!  Kids should always wear proper fitting head gear when biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc. It’s important for you, the parent, to model proper safety practices for your child. Take a family trip to choose the color and style of helmets. This can be a fun way to encourage head gear safety, but don’t forget to fasten that chin strap!

Hats are also important in the summer months.  Wearing a hat can help keep your child’s body temperature down.

6.       Never Wait in a Hot Car:

Look twice!  It only takes 10 minutes for a car’s inside temperature to increase 20+ degrees. We have all heard the stories of a small child or pet being left to wait in a car, whether it be a “quick-run-in” or because “they’re sleeping”.  This is unsafe, negligent and potentially fatal. Children are at a greater risk because their body temperature heats up at a high rate, 5x more than an adult!  A cracked window will not keep your child safe from injury in the heat of the summer. 

Here are some great seasonal supplies to have stowed away for a safe Spring and Summer:

·         Cell phone

·         Water

·         Bandages

·         Antibiotic cream

·         Crushable icepacks

·         Sun protectant

·         Insect repellent

·         Tweezers

Now is the time to enjoy the longer days and fill them with laughter, memories and fun for all. Sometimes those bug bites and knee scrapes are a worthy exchange. Use these tips to prevent worry and keep your family safe this season!

 

 

How to Conquer the Potty-Training Dilemma?

Are you thinking about potty training and not sure how to get started, or maybe you tried but gave up? We’ve all been there.  Have you heard stories of how difficult it is to potty train your child? Do not listen! It doesn’t need to be difficult. It’s about creating a routine that will work for you and your child, that is the first step to potty training success.

1.       Be intentional and committed, don’t give up! Once you start keep going.

2.        Create a space in your living room where you will be comfortable using a portable potty. This is typically where you will be spending most of your time. If not, pick an area that works for you.

3.       Keep a basket of toys nearby so your child has something to do while sitting.  Read stories about going potty such as, “Elmo Goes Potty”.

4.       Notice how often you change your child.  This will help you determine when you need to sit your child on the potty.

5.       Don’t use pull-ups!  Pull-ups are made of the same material diapers are. Under-wear ONLY!

6.       Use a water proof mattress protector (you’ll be thankful later).

7.       Acknowledge your child’s efforts!  What you focus on grows!  Do not give your child attention for their failures – only attempts and successes!

How do I know when my child’s ready? Ask yourself these questions:

1.       Does your child pull his/her pants up and down independently?

2.       Does your child frequently have dry diapers? If so, this is an indicator that your child is learning bladder and bowel control.

3.       Does your child seek an area to hide when they’re going poop?

4.       Does you child dislike the feeling of being wet?  And can openly communicate with you when they are?

5.       Can your child remove their own diaper?

If you have answered yes to these 5 questions then your child is ready for potty training!

Spring into fitness this season with these family friendly tips. . .

Spring into fitness this season with these family friendly tips…

If you’re like a lot of people, you are not fond of hitting the gym, nor do you want to hassle with a baby sitter, so you can get myself there. As a busy parent, you am focused on giving your kids a happy and healthy life. That means fun, fun and more fun. Read below to for a few fun, local ways to get moving with your little ones.

1.Take a hike
Exploring the environment around us is not only fun, but it can be a great way to learn about where we live. How lucky are we to have the Sandia Mountains right in our backyard? There are trails, parks and picnic areas to enjoy all along the foothills. Without going too far, you and your family can experience the great New Mexico outdoors while getting in some physical fitness at the same time. Visit
http://www.sandiahiking.com to look up hiking trails for all fitness levels.

2. Hunt for adventure
There is so much to learn about bugs, trees and plants to create our own science lesson just by exploring the outdoors.  You can go for a scavenger hunt around your neighborhood. A spring walk will do your heart a ton of good and your little ones will learn all there is to know about where they live. Find out how many items you and your children can discuss throughout your neighborhood adventure.

3. Take it back to the good ‘ol days
We all have great memories of staying out ‘til the street lights went on… You know you’ve told your kids those stories of ‘when you were little’. Teach your kids classic games like hopscotch, four square and kick the can. Remind yourself how the power of fun can crush boredom, create quality time and keep us active. Visit https://www.cabq.gov/parksandrecreation for parks and recreation locations.

4. Make fitness a walk in the park
I bet, even if you tried, it would be hard to say how many parks there are here in Albuquerque that are free, family fun opportunities and are around every corner. Venture outside your neighborhood and check out a new, exciting play area you haven’t seen before. You can take a stroll along the sidewalk or just enjoy the fresh air and happy smiles. Either way, you are sure to gain some positive energy just by getting outside.

 5. If all else fails, dance…
Whether it be in a backyard, on a balcony or near an open window; one of the most universal ways to get your body moving is to dance! Let the sun shine, the birds chirp and the music play while you and your little ones simply let loose and dance! You won’t even know you’re burning calories because everyone will certainly be having fun.



10 Simple and Fun Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with your Children

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and it is a great time to start new family traditions. Children love the opportunity to play and bond with us through family activities.

Here are 10 simple and fun ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with your children:

  1. Plan a family dinner with traditional Irish food such as corned beef, potatoes and cabbage.

  2. Wear ONLY green all day and don’t forget to take silly pictures.

  3. Replace words your children know with an Irish variation such as, sidewalks are called ‘footpaths’. A ‘boot’ is not something you put on your foot it is the trunk of a car and sweaters are ‘jumpers’.

  4. Spend the day searching for a Leprechaun. They are an Irish Fairy that hides their gold at the end of rainbows and, when caught, will grant you 3 wishes in exchange for their freedom.

  5. Dance! The Legend of the Leprechaun has it that they will dance an Irish Jig until they wear out their shoes.

  6. Plan a family Leprechaun Hunt before dinner. Search for: something green, a gold coin, something Irish, something lucky, a hat, a four leaf clover, black shoes, a rainbow, leprechaun food etc

  7. Bake together! Green cupcakes, shamrock cookies, Irish Soda bread etc

  8. Lead fun and meaningful conversations at the dinner table. Challenge everyone to take turns naming 5 things that are green with NO repeats. Imagine you caught the Leprechaun and you had three wishes, have everyone talk about what they would do with those wishes.

  9. Tell jokes! Why do people where shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day? (Because real rocks are too heavy!) What kind of bow can be tied? (a rainbow)

  10. And READ! Reading to children is a fundamental part of their growth and development. There are wonderful books about St. Patrick’s Day such as, That’s What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting; How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace, and; Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola.

Luck of the Irish to you!

Practice Distraction

 

 

Do you ever have a thought when you’re participating in an activity that is not engaging such as “A-ha?”  Or a moment where a light bulb comes on or an answer to a latent dilemma just comes to you. This phenomenon is known as the Eureka Moment. Let’s talk for a minute about health, more specifically, mental health. Discussions along this subject matter involve stress and the management of it. This discussion will focus more on mind and body connections and how to preserve your vigor of life for longevity.

Alice Flaherty, a renowned neuroscientist that researches creativity, provides an answer. Our creative potential stems from a chemical known as dopamine. The more dopamine that is released, the more creative our thoughts and thought -process is constructed, she says:

 

“People vary in terms of their level of creative drive according to the activity of the dopamine pathways of the limbic system.”

 

 The quote above means our thoughts are driven by dopamine, a natural reoccurring organic chemical compound that is produced in the brain that communicates to other microcells and roles in emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and smelling sense. Emotional life is largely housed in the limbic system, and it critically aids the formation of memories. The increase production of this compound cements and creates permanent connections with instincts and mood. This explains why we feel the way we do, why we behave the way we do and how we build our personal and social constructs of belief.

This means that the triggers we experience make us feel great and relaxed, and are thereby related to dopamine! This is not prejudice to age, gender but a wide variance from person to person. Below are some triggers:

·         Music!

·         Fitness!

·         Meditation!

·         Reading!

These are ever changing from person to person with no measurable consistency. Now, ask yourself, what “drives” you?  Understanding what drives you will increase your chances of coming in to the “eureka or a-ha” moment.

A Harvard researcher, Carson, B. a Neurologist, that has long studied this phenomenon, labels it as a “distraction.”

 “In other words, a distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.’’

One popular maxim that is often quoted is that of Socrates and it says: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”

Find your wisdom and practice “distraction” to produce creative thinking to a better healthier stress-free YOU.

 

The Beauty of Breathing

We must not forget the beauty and importance of breathing; the beauty in a deep breathe when we are anxious, nervous or stressed and need calming.

Why have we forgotten to teach our children how to breathe?

Young children have very little experience with stress and anxiety, yet they feel it the same as adults. They feel strong emotions without the life experiences adults have that assist in coping and managing ourselves. Children get overwhelmed with their own emotions and they do not know what to do with those emotions. They may cry, yell, stomp their feet and even hit in frustration. They cannot think of any other choices in those moments. Why not teach our children to breathe? We need to show them how to take deep breathes when they are stressed, frustrated, angry, sad or even confused. We need to show them what we want them to do when they have those feelings.

We need to grace our children with permission to explore their emotions; both positive and negative. Their negative emotions (i.e. tantrums) are a normal and natural part of learning to self-regulate themselves. We should never punish a child for feeling and reacting to their negative emotions. We need to show them how to manage those emotions and choose a different reaction by:

  • Being Calm

  • Modeling Deep Breaths

  • Forgiveness

  • Not Lingering in Negative Emotions

Tomorrow is always a better day. You are your child’s first and greatest teacher. Show them how to move past the upset, release and forgive the negative and focus on a positive new beginning.

Providing your child's emotions a safe place-an alternative to time-out

If you’re struggling with disciplining your child you may have already tried using “time out” to resolve unwanted behavior. Time out has been a popular tool since the 1960’s but studies have shown that time out is not always effective for every child.

According to Mary C. Lamia on www.psychologytoday.com, young children may see time out as a form of punishment; which is not the goal for our little learners.  As parents and caregivers, we want our discipline strategies to teach and guide our children to positively handle their emotions. If you are like many who have been unsuccessful with the use of time out, here is a strategy you can implement at home or in your classroom.

Rather than asking our children to stop their emotional outbursts, we should teach them what their emotions are and how to handle them. Let them know that crying is acceptable because it helps release those negative feelings. Create a safe place in your home that can serve as a welcoming area for your child to handle their emotions. You can include pillows, stuffed animals and pictures to direct your child to positive things they can do to regulate their behavior.

Discuss this space with your child. Show them what they can and can’t do in this space. (i.e. It’s ok to feel sad, tired or angry. You can scream, cry or take a break when you’re upset, but you must do that in your safe place. You cannot hit, throw or make others feel bad when you’re upset).

Be consistent and assertive when implementing this strategy. Be sure that this space is reserved for your child to use. As you see your child’s emotions come out remind them to use their safe space.

Teaching young children that it is acceptable to feel all types of emotions and what they can do to handle feeling them is our main goal as parents and caregivers. We want them to learn what to do in life, rather than reprimanding them for what not to do. Not only is positive guidance effective in dealing with direct behavior, but it also gives them the opportunity to take charge of their emotions. They begin to recognize their feelings and, as they grow, they will know what to do in every situation.

Giving Your Child’s Emotions a Safe Space-An Alternative to Time Out

If you’re struggling with disciplining your child, you may have already tried using “time out” to resolve unwanted behavior. Time out has been a popular tool since the 1960’s, but studies have shown that time out is not always effective for every child. According to Mary C. Lamia on www.psychologytoday.com, young children may see time out as a form of punishment, which is not the goal for our little learners.  As parents and caregivers, we want our discipline strategies to teach and guide our children to positively handle their emotions. If you are like many who have been unsuccessful with the use of time out, here is a strategy you can implement at home or in your classroom.

Rather than asking our children to stop their emotional outbursts, we should teach them what their emotions are and how to handle them. Let them know that crying is ok because it helps release those negative feelings. Create a safe place in your home, that can serve as a welcoming area for your child to handle their emotions. Include pillows, stuffed animals and pictures to direct your child to positive things they can do to regulate their behavior.

Discuss this space with your child. Show them what they can and can’t do in this space. (i.e. it’s ok to feel sad, tired or angry. You can scream, cry or just take a break when you’re upset, but you must do that in your safe place. You cannot hit, throw or make others feel bad when you’re upset).

Be consistent and assertive when implementing this strategy. Be sure that this space is reserved for your child while remding them to use their safe space.

Teaching young children that it is ok to feel all types of emotions and what they can do to handle it is our main goal as parents and caregivers. We want them to learn what to do in life, rather than reprimanding them for what not to do. Not only is positive guidance effective in dealing with direct behavior, but it also gives them the opportunity to take charge of their emotions. By doing this, they begin to recognize their feelings and, as they grow, they will know what to do in every situation. 

Tips on how to protect yourself from the Flu:

Flu viruses can vary from mild to severe; common symptoms are:

 

·         Fever or fever-like chills                * NOTE: not everyone with the flu will have a fever

·         Cough/sore throat

·         Runny or stuffy nose

·         Muscle or body aches

·         Headaches

·         Fatigue

·         Vomiting and diarrhea; though this is more common in children than adults

 

What do I do if I get sick?

 

Most people with the flu possess only a mild illness and do not require medical attention or antiviral medication. In the event that symptoms begin, one is advised to stay home and avoid contact due to contagiousness.

 

·         Wash your hands often with soap and water.

·         Try to avoid/limit close contact with other persons. This is how germs are spread!

·         It is advised that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.

·         Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or other discard-able items when you cough or sneeze.

·         Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

·         Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.

 

The CDC recommends that antiviral medications are to be used early to treat people who become progressively ill and/or high risk of serious Flu complications due to age or a high risk medical condition.

 

When and why to get a Flu shot?

 

As long as flu viruses are prevalent it is never too late to receive one. In addition to protecting yourself, getting vaccinated also protects people around you; including more vulnerable persons like infants, older people, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. Flu vaccinations are still the best way to prevent flu illness and flu complications. In the event you become ill after receiving the vaccination your symptoms and altogether illness will be milder than not getting the vaccine at all.

 

Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, health departments, pharmacies or you can visit the https://vaccinefinder.org/.

Learning Starts With Your New Year's Resolutions

In a society that ‘re-boots’ itself every New Year’s Eve, it’s hard not to ask. . . “why”?

New Year’s resolutions to be made. . .then forgotten!

Is there any value in this repeated annual ritual? What value is gained in assessing yourself? The act of setting goals and then, potentially not meeting them.

We need to start with the assessing. The value of the New Year Resolution lies in the annual review. Spending time assessing our successes and struggles creates a space to think about more than our day-to-day existence. So we start our year with review.

Then we must plan! We need to decide where we want to go in the New Year. Setting goals helps us develop hope and helps us establish a future we have control over. Goals creates a plan.

Finally, we must act! Goals have been set, and now it is time to do. Once goals are put into action there is either success or failure. The failed goal still achieves an action; a new review.

Plan - Do - Review

One of the foundations of learning lies in the learners ability to plan, act and then review those actions to make new plans. Young children who develop this ability succeed.

How can you help your child learn these steps of success:

  1. Create goals with your child. Family goals to be accomplished together.

  2. Create time to discuss the progress of goals. Make the review process natural and thought provoking.

  3. Create visuals to help your child make their goals concrete. This will make them more achievable.

Happy New Year!