Kids & Yoga; put together and mix well


Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that was developed over 5,000 years ago by the Idus-Sarasvati civilization. Post-Classical Yoga, which was established sometime after 200 BC, was the beginning of what we in the west call yoga. As describe by Yoga Basics, “Yoga masters created a system of practices designed to rejuvenate the body and prolong life. They rejected the teachings of the ancient Vedas and embraced the physical body as the means to achieve enlightenment.”.

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The Modern Period and popularization of yoga in the west happened during the 1800s and 1900s when gurus started visiting western countries and attracting followers. Today, many of us in the west use yoga as a form of exercise and wellness. We participate in stretches and poses to relax and strengthen muscles also creates flexibility and develops balance and core strength. While yoga has been primarily thought of as an adult activity, I am here to educate on how beneficial it can be for children!

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Yoga provides the same benefits for children that it does for adults. A child who participates in yoga develops gross motor skills, core muscles, and balance. Yoga is an excellent tool to help children calm down and self-regulate. Most importantly, yoga is physical activity, which in today’s world of iPads, electronic devices, and sitting at a desk during school, is especially critical.

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My hands-down favorite for children’s Yoga is Cosmic Kids. These yoga journeys are not only physical movement, but they provide mindfulness and are presented through a story, which means they promote literacy as well! Triple score! I have used these repeatedly in my preschool classroom, and my two children, ages 9 and 6, love them as well. They have a story for just about every character and storyline you could think of. Have fun with your children, and jump in alongside them. Children are the epitome of Monkey See Monkey Do, they want to be just like the important adults in their lives. The bonus is you get a workout too! Not to mention, it is a fun way to bond. Some of them include bursts of running, jumping, and other cardio making it a whole body workout! Making fitness and wellness, a family affair has benefits for everyone.

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Statistic time! When children learn the importance of health and wellness at a young age, they are much more likely to continue those habits into adulthood. According to the CDC, 18.5% of children between the ages of 2-19 suffer from pediatric or childhood obesity. Those are staggering numbers. With the technology available at every turn, it can be difficult to entice children away from those devices. Therefore, I say make the devices part of the routine. Use sites like Cosmic Kids, GoNoodle, and artists such as Jack Hartman and The Learning Station to engage your children in an activity, movement, and song. Many of these videos are available free on YouTube!

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Get up and get moving! Teach your child the healthy benefits of yoga and exercise, and have fun at the same time!

A Mom-thrival Guide: you may not need them to survive but they could help you thrive.

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Being a mom involves experiencing a lot of stress. It’s part of the sign-on package that unfortunately doesn’t come with very good pay or health benefits. As moms we have to find our own little guilty pleasures and mini retreats and stress relievers. I am going to share 10 of mine in hopes that they may offer some release and enjoyment to all the other moms out there.

Top of my list is my mini oil diffuser and my Natrogix natural oils. First, I love its lotus shape; it fits beautifully in my office/library by the window with all my plants. It’s not overly powerful, but it works great in a small space, and I am typically sitting by the window when I write. Natrogix oils smell fantastic and come in so many great scents. Today I mixed lavender and lemon to entice those summery outdoor vibes. I have a second diffuser in my bedroom, and I also use oils at bedtime. Both of these items can be found on Amazon, but if you have access to a local small business that sells products like this, I recommend buying there!

These little guys are a lifesaver on mornings after sleepless nights or when you just didn’t get enough sleep because your kid decided that 3 AM was a great time to get up, turn all the lights on and watch TV a volume of 1,000. I was skeptical at first, but there were so many good reviews I decided to try them. First, they feel amazing. They are cool and refreshing, and if nothing else will help you wake up. Second, they truly work! They can be a little slippery when first applying so you may need to hold them in place for a few moments to get them to stick and you will also look like an odd sea creature while you wear them, but if it’s only your little monsters and spouse seeing you, who cares?

This stuff is awesome! If you are a peanut butter fiend like I am but don’t want all the extra fat in baking and smoothies get yourself some powdered peanut butter. I mainly use it to make banana smoothies. My recipe is a frozen banana, PB powder, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, agave, almond milk and vanilla protein powder. I also freeze bananas, add a little bit of milk and the aforementioned spices, I even add a little cayanne sometimes, and mix it int he blender. It makes an ice cream like treat that will have you forgetting that other stuff in your freezer.

Let me start by telling you that I hate perfume, no really I do. I am allergic to many, they make my eyes itchy and my throat close up. A co-worker gave these to our team as a Christmas gift and I LOVE THEM. They roll on, are extremely subtle and don’t have that over powering chemical scent I feel most perfumes have. Dab a little on your wrists, collarbone and behind the years and you will smell fresh as a Daisy, or in this case as fresh as exotic fruit, fresh amber or powdery floral. You can check out their website here.

I am obsessed with these. I first bought them on a whim because they were on sale and I thought, why not? Now I buy them every week at the grocery store. I am even eating one now as I type this. They are great for a person like me who doesn’t like to eat too much at the start of the day, or when you need a little sweet snack that is still healthy. The best part is because they are healthy your kids are less likely to eat them all leaving you with an empty box in the pantry! I purchase mine at Giant from the Natural Food aisle.

I am a tea tree oil junkie, and this, in my opinion, is the best. I use it as part of my skincare regime at night. If you have never used tea tree oil before, go slowly at first, or you can make your face red and burning with over use. I recommend to start you only apply once every other day to build up a tolerance. Make sure you are using 100% oil as well. Once your skin has grown accustomed to it, you will feel and see how smooth and fresh it makes your skin feel. It is also great to mix in with your shampoo or conditioner if you have an itchy scalp. Just a few drops will do.

I know, it’s seltzer water, but I absolutely love this flavor. I drink a lot of seltzer, I have never liked soda and juice is way too many calories and it’s not socially acceptable to drink wine all day so if I am not drinking regular water, I am usually having seltzer. I buy a handful of this flavor every week. It doesn’t have that artificial sweetener taste and it is sodium free.

While we are on the drink kick…. Typically I am a red wine or gin martini kind of girl, but my partner’s oldest son gave us this bottle of port, knowing his dad likes port, for Christmas, and I am fully on board the port train. This is the perfect way to unwind when you have the kind of day that where your son asks for a Strawberry Poptart; you repeat back to him “You want a strawberry Poptart?” because you know due to his ADHD he often says things or ask for something and then 5 seconds later looks at you like your crazy for giving you the item he just asked for. He replies yes, so you make said Poptart and give it to him. Ten minutes later you walk into the TV room to see two bites taken out of the Poptart when you ask why he tells you he doesn’t like this strawberry kind, he wanted the other strawberry kind (what other strawberry kind? we’ve never had another other strawberry kind!) and asks if you can take the strawberry filling out of the strawberry Poptart that he asked for. This port is perfect for that kind of day.

I have been using this product since high school. It is what you might call my “Old Face-full,” OK, I know that was the ultimate cheesy joke. I love this stuff; it uses natural exfoliators, so no plastic beads junk up the water system, and it keeps my skin clean and fresh looking. I use it every time I shower. St. Ives is one of my favorite companies for bath and beauty products, and I have several of their offerings around the house.

My last indulgence is glasses from Zenni Optical. I have more than a few. I have more than are even pictured here. They offer a wide range of colors, styles, and materials at a cost-effective price. I have a pretty strong prescription and astigmatism, and I have never had a problem with any pair. I use my glasses as part of my outfit, I have worn glasses since I was ten, so I do not feel myself without them on. In addition to standard eyeglasses, I also own three pairs of Sunglasses made by Zenni. The only time I take them off, besides sleeping, is when I am performing in a theatrical production, or they don’t match my Halloween costume! If you love glasses as much as I do or just need a new pair check out their site here.

*I have not been paid nor am I being compensated in anyway for mentioning any of these products. These are my personal opinions.

Halloween 2019, I mean Maleficent cannot wear glasses

Your Kid Won’t Starve: The Chicken Nugget Battle

Photo Credit Patrick Fore

                Your kid will not starve themselves, I promise.  Parents concerned about their child’s eating habits is probably the number one concern I have heard in my 14 years of teaching early childhood.  Parents surveyed once their children are older reflect that worrying about what their child ate was among the top three things on which they wish they focused less. 

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                As adults, we have this lovely ability to eat emotionally.  Got a new job?  Let’s celebrate with tacos and margaritas until we’re so stuffed we can’t even move.  Your boyfriend broke up with you?  You have the right to gorge yourself on chocolate cake and ice cream.  Have your children stressed you to the point of no return?  Time to break out the Girl Scout cookies and wine.  It’s what we do.  Happy, Sad, Stressed we reward or comfort ourselves with food.  Children do not have that emotional attachment to food yet; therefore, we don’t need to worry about them over or under eating.  They eat when they are hungry.  That’s it. 

Photo Credit Sanjay Kumar

               

Now, don’t get me wrong, children can most definitely learn poor eating habits, and when we, as adults, use food as a constant reward or punishment, we are sowing the seeds of emotional eating. Food should be food.  Food can be fun and engaging, but it is food, something our body needs to survive.  If your child is presented with multiple options consistently, they will be more likely to try new things.  When we, as parents, worry that Billy doesn’t like anything other than chicken nuggets and fruit snacks, and hence only feed him that, we are depriving him of the opportunity to grow emotionally and physically.   I have seen it so often; a child brings the same lunch every day because mom or dad believes their child will go hungry unless they send the same five things known to be approved by their 4-year-old.  Guess what?  They won’t.  If your child refuses to eat the food given to them, yes, they may be a little hungry.   But they will remember what it feels like, that maybe they were a little grumpy or tired and after a few times of that feeling they will eat.  They will not starve.  They are not biologically nor evolutionary designed to allows themselves to.

Photo Credit Paul Hanoaka

                Here is where the fun science stuff comes in!  Metaphorically raise your hand if you have a picky eater at home… right, most of us have or do.  I have one now, and I know the struggle.  Now, what if I told you there is an evolutionary-based reason for this, would you feel better?  Young children, specifically between the ages of 3-6, are designed to be picky eaters, so they don’t poison themselves.  Back in the early human days of hunting and gathering, young children were often left unattended.  They would wander and play with other kids, and to make sure the human race didn’t kill itself off, evolution made young children extremely wary of unknown foods.  Hence, the creation of the modern-day picky eater.

                No one likes to see their child upset, but when we regularly give in to the whining and demands and make them mac and cheese for the 4th straight night in a row, we are allowing them to be in control, and we’re the adults, that’s kind of our job.  I get it, I’ve been there, I’ve capitulated too, it’s human.   But the key is to make giving in the exception, not the rule.  I had the battle of breakfast myself today.  My nine-year-old wanted frozen french toast sticks with syrup and powdered sugar.  I am okay with that; he’s a mostly healthy and adventurous eater.  The problem was, he wanted to take that sticky and messy meal to sit in the basement and watch TV.  I said no.  I explained that the meal was too messy to eat down there, and the tirade began.  I don’t trust him, and I never let him do anything, I am so unfair.  I calmly stated, again, why he was not allowed to eat such a messy meal over the carpeted floor and said what would be unfair is not to allow him to eat at all.  He stormed away, saying that since I wouldn’t let him eat, he was going to the basement.  Not what I said, kid, but okay.

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                Fifteen minutes later, he contritely came upstairs and politely asked if he could have breakfast.  See, it works.   I didn’t enjoy it, it raised my stress levels, and I had yet to imbibe the delicious smelling coffee sitting out on our coffee bar calling to me.  But, he was used to my consistency and knew it was a losing battle to push.  My younger one could live on fruit and candy, and he’d be happy.  That’s not sustainable, of course, but he is in the picky phase.  So I keep the house stocked with the healthy things I know he likes: oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, grilled chicken, cheese, and granola bars.  I also make new and non-favorites regularly and place them on his plate.  When dealing with a picky eater, you should always make sure they have at least one thing on their plate that you know they like.  That way they are guaranteed to eat something.  Then consistently and methodically keep trying the unliked foods and encouraging one bite.  That’s it—one bite. 

                Don’t ever force them to finish the whole plate; this is another way to create an unhealthy relationship with food.  If they say they are full, then they are full.  They will not starve themselves.  If you served them their usual portion of chicken nuggets and they say they are not hungry, okay.   Since you know your child likes chicken nuggets, let them know if they are hungry later, they will be having the nuggets before they have something else.   I currently have 2/3 of a requested hot dog sitting in limbo. 

Photo Credit D. Hanelle

                In the end, you know your child best, and you have to do what you feel is right for your kid.  When parents come to me with this concern, I impart a cliff notes version of the above, and I ask them to speak to their pediatrician.  If your child’s doctor is not concerned with their eating habits or weight, then realistically, neither should you.  We all want happy, healthy children, and concern about their nutrition is valid.

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Food should be enjoyable. We should certainly find times to celebrate our triumphs are share our sorrows over a meal. A staple in every major holiday is the food. So celebrate the diverse options we have in this world. Enjoy the night our with friend’s just because. I simply ask you to consider the science behind children and their eating and the benefits of creating a healthy relationship between your child and food as young as you can. You will make it through, and they won’t starve.  Promise.