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Healthy habits: Integrating movement into your day

Children need to move and be active.  Current learning theory tells us that movement helps learning. When children move around it helps to store information more efficiently. Movement also helps some students who may have trouble learning in the traditional teaching format. Getting up and moving helps children to integrate the information they are taking in and form new pathways in their brains to access this information. This is IMG_4827why integrating movement throughout the day for children is so important.  Children who spend time being active are more likely to have better cognition, memory, and a reduced likelihood of depression.  So, in addition to helping improve your  physical well being, movement also helps with mental health.

As a part of forming a new healthy habit, find ways to make movement a part of your family’s daily schedule at home.

Tips for making movement a habit in your home:

  • Set an example for your children by staying active yourself
  • Pick several activities you enjoy so that when one becomes boring or you are unable to do it you can easily have another activity. ( for example: Running, Biking, Hiking, Yoga, and Canoeing)
  • Schedule the activities instead of just squeezing them in if you have time. This ensures you will make the time
  • Get friends involved. This can make it more fun and keep you accountable
  • Measure progress (for example set a goal to participate in a 5k run, sign up for a competition, or download an app to keep track of your personal progress


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Child Sleep Routines and Mental Health

A big part of having a happy healthy child is having a regular and consistent sleep routine. Because of busy schedules, homework, lack of a routine, etc. children often don’t get enough sleep.  The amount of sleep required by children is more than adults need and may be surprising to some parents.   The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has made these recommendations: Preschoolers 10-13 hours, Grade schoolers (age 6-12) 9-12 hours, and teens 8-10 hours per night.

Lack of sleep can cause many different problems for children such as headaches, irritability, lack of concentration, and even depression. The well rested child will be able to do much better in the school environment than the one that is tired and lacking sleep. For some parents it may appear that their child isn’t tired until later at night this may be one reason you don’t think your child needs that extra sleep. Don’t let this fool you. Even if your child doesn’t show signs of being irritable or cranky from lack of sleep, they could still suffer consequences.  Children are still growing and need that restorative time so their brains and bodies can grow.  Researchers have found that lack of sleep in children could negatively effect their brain development (Lack of Sleep May Disrupt Development of Child’s Brain, National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2016). Because this is such an important aspect of your child’s life, parents are encouraged to find ways to create healthy routines.

One way to ensure your child gets enough rest is to determine what time they have to wake up in the morning and then set a bedtime that allows for the appropriate amount of hours of sleep.  For example setting an 8:00pm bedtime allows your child to wake up at 7:00am and get 11 hours of sleep.  Once the bedtime is set, it is important to stick to it and follow a routine. A routine can be as simple as telling the child when to start changing, brushing teeth, etc. so that they can be in bed by the set time. Some parents like to include a story at bedtime as well. If you do this, make sure you start your routine with enough time so that it can end with your child getting into bed at the time you decided upon. If you follow the same routine on a regular basis, then you will find it starts to flow more naturally and helps the child recognize when it is getting close to time for bed. This will help with falling asleep faster and getting the rest that is needed for a happy and healthy child.


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Parenting 101

 

The title is a bit of a misnomer since there is no manual on parenting. Well there are but I can’t say that any one book or person can tell you everything about parenting your own child. Each family is different and every child requires a unique parenting style. Even within one family you could use different techniques for different children. The problem is that we don’t all have several tricks up our sleeves or know what to try next when our usual parenting style isn’t working.

If you are a parent then I’m sure you’ve been in a place of self doubt at some point. We all want to do our best for our children.  When you first held your child in your arms, I’m sure you did not envision sleepless nights, piles of homework, and fights over too much screen time. You probably pictured spending quality time with your child and activities that brought joy to both your lives.

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So how does reality start to vary so much from your dreams?  Making the choice in how to response to your child is hard when it’s dinner time and everyone is hungry (including you) and your child starts to have a meltdown.  Instead living the dream you end up trying to keep it all together. Most parents spend a lot of time making sure the needs of everyone are met: do they have food, clean clothes, school work done, etc.  So time for fun becomes lost in the shuffle.  That’s why so many people want a guide tell them what to do. How to get back to the picture of parenting that seems joyful instead of stressful. It’s hard but not as hard as it sounds. It just takes some time and a clear plan on how to get there.

Parenting 101 is just a way of saying where do I start? What’s the first step in bringing joy back into parenting?  Well here is one way of breaking it into manageable steps:

1.  The first step in making the changes you want in your life and the life of your family is really defining what is important to you. If you are struggling with quality time with your loved ones, then that would be the priority.

2. After defining what it is important to you, the next step is coming up with a goal.The goal you come up with must be something that is achievable and works for you. If you set a goal of 3 hours of quality time per day with your children but in reality you only have one hour of time to spend, then your plan will fail.

3. Once you have a goal, you must make a plan on how to get there.  Finding the right person for support is key. That person can help you come up with the plan and make sure that when you run into bumps in the road you have help.

4. Beyond creating a realistic goal and plan you must be given the tools for how to make it succeed. You may come up with a plan but have no idea on how to make it work. This is where that support person comes into play. This person should be someone with experience in that area and an ability to be available to you to provide support along the way.

Using these steps to start making meaningful changes at home will lead to better results. The best result is when you start experiencing more periods of joy in your parenting.

 


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Holistic activities for your child- Wet felting

Wet Felting- This is an activity that can be done with all ages. It’s fun for adults and children and helps to incorporate sensory activities with artistic expression. You can create something out of your wet felted balls or just make them for fun and use them to play with. The possibilities are endless.

The reason for incorporating these instructions on my blog is to allow families, parents, caregivers, etc. ideas of activities that you can do with your child that are not centered on media. This activity is great for those that need more sensory experiences as well as those that like to get messy!

Items needed:

  • Wool
  • 1 container warm water
  • 1 container cold water
  • Liquid soap

The first thing you need is some natural wool. It can be any color that you choose.

Wool

Wool

After you have selected your wool spread it out so that it looks like a flat piece. If you want to mix colors lay the colors together making one flat piece of wool.  See the picture above that has several pieces with mixed colors.  You then start to roll the wool into a ball keeping it as tight as you can. This is the basic shape you will start with.

Once you roll it into a ball you will need two bowls of water. The first bowl should be as warm as possible but still comfortable to put your hands in. Add a few drops of liquid soap to this bowl. This will help with agitation. You want to put the ball into the warm water and roll it around with your hands. Keep rolling. This helps the fibers of the wool to start “felting” together. This will make the ball stay in the shape of a ball.

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When you have the ball as tight as you like you then stick it in the cold water.  This will help the felted ball to set and you will be rinsing out the soap that’s in it. If you want to get it a little tighter you can also “shock” the wool by putting it in the cold water and then go back to the warm water to continue working on it.

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You can make as many as you like and use them for counting games, garlands, decorations, necklaces, anything your imagination allows.

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Toy Time-Out

Putting a toy in time out sounds silly but this is an alternative punishment for children (siblings or friends) who have trouble sharing. If you see continuous arguments over toys then you can explain to the children that if they are not able to come up with a way to get along or share the item then it will have to go to time out. Pick a spot where the toy will be put and a specified amount of time. If the children decide to share then great your job is done. If the children can’t stop fighting over the toy then you can gently explain that the toy is causing too much fighting and needs to be in time out for a while. Take the toy and quietly put it in the time out spot (preferably where the children can’t reach it). Then go about you business. Later take the toy out of time out, but if the children have moved on to a new game or are getting along you can simply add the toy back to the toy bin or other place it is usually kept. If the children want to play with it you can give a short reminder that if the toy causes too much trouble it will have to be put in time out again and the next time it will be for the rest of the day. This approach usually makes children figure out how to share the toy so that it won’t be taken again.