Get Dirty!

When it comes to spring, what’s the first thing that comes to mind…THE MUD!!!  As parents, we dread this time of year with the muddy clothes, shoes, and the dirty hands and feet that will come into your freshly cleaned house.  Children on the other hand think very differently when it comes to mud.  They can’t wait to spend hours in the dirt, making dirt cakes and mud pies, and covering themselves in the earthy brown goodness.  Children are drawn to dirt from the youngest of ages.     As parents, we need to remember that playing in the dirt is all a part of childhood and learning!  Believe it or not, dirt is good for the brain, body, and soul.  According to the University of Bristol, there are different types of good bacteria found naturally in soil that activates the neurons that produce serotonin, which is a key chemical in many bodily functions as well as a natural anti-depressant.  Just like a mud facial at the spa, outside dirt can also help you feel relaxed and happy. 

In our technology savvy generation, kids aren’t getting enough play time outside.  Instead, they are having too much screen time whether it’s educational or not.   Many studies have suggested that this is due to the increase of obesity, depression, and attention disorders in children.  Children who play outside are healthier physically, emotionally and socially.  Children have the opportunity to be creative, become adventurous, and develop a better sense of understanding and assessing risks. 

Whether you’re a child or adult, playing in the dirt can be a blast.  Don’t worry about the mess after; nothing that water and soap can’t fix.  Here are some great ideas on what to do with your children to help discover the great outdoors…

1.  Give your child a bucket and a shovel and send them on their way to see what happens; they probably will be in heaven.

2.  Garden with your children.  You can even give them their own garden plot to discover and plant their own choice of vegetables or fruit.  By growing their own, this can even help encourage children to eat healthier.

3.  Create an outdoor scavenger hunt with your child.

4.  Play in the rain!  Put on a rain coat and mud boots and head for the biggest puddle you see.

5.  Go for a hike.

As parents what do we want to see most out of our children?   To so many, it’s seeing them have fun and learning.  Consider all the benefits and get your kids outside and enjoy it with them!   

Trick-or-Treat: Keep Your Kids Safe this Halloween

Halloween is a desirable childhood holiday; they get to dress up as their favorite character from a book or movie.  For weeks, your favorite super hero, princess, monster or witch has been anxiously awaiting trick-or-treat night, and I’m sure you are just as excited to see them show off their costume!  Having a safety plan will help keep the magic of Halloween night alive for many years to come.  Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween, but not when it comes to your child’s safety.  Here are some health and safety tips to keep in mind this year…

Dress appropriately.  Be prepared for the cold!  Even if your child can’t fully show off their costume because winter coats and hats are needed, your child won’t remember this; they will only remember they were warm and cozy.   However, purchasing a costume that is one size bigger can help with this so that layers can be added or removed as needed.  Just be sure the costume is not a tripping hazard.  Make sure everyone walking in your party has comfortable shoes.   The last thing you want to hear is “Mom, my feet hurt” and you’re only 10 minutes into the night. 

Be Seen.  With some creativity, you can add reflective tape to any costume or trick-or-treat bag to help be seen by drivers.  To add some fun to your walking party, pass out glow sticks and make sure to bring your flashlights with fresh batteries! 

Choose the Best Time and Location.  Having an early dinner and heading out right at dusk makes it easier to be seen.  Make sure your child uses the bathroom before leaving your house and only go to houses that have porch lights on as those are the houses prepared to pass out candy.  Talk to your child about staying with the group.  They will be so excited and will want to run from house to house, but reminding them never to cross the road without an adult and never cutting across yards or alleys. 

Crush the Sugar Highs.  ALWAYS make sure to inspect your child’s candy before eating.  Throw out all candy that seems to be opened or homemade.  It’s easy to overload on all those yummy treats, so be sure to remind your child about healthy habits.  Many dentist offices will have fun prize exchanges for candy this time of year.  If your child has an abundance of candy, teach your child about sharing.  You can take them to an assisted living center to share with the residents.  Even if they can’t enjoy the treats, I am sure they would still enjoy a visit from the children.   

Talk About the Culture.  Letting children know that not everyone celebrates Halloween by dressing up as their favorite charter.  This is a great time to discuss the meaning behind “Trick-or-Treat” and how other people across the world celebrate throughout the year.   Letting children know that not everyone can experience all the yummy candy and chocolates due to allergies or illness.  You can encourage children to think about other ways we can include those trick-or-treaters by passing out non-food items. 

Hoping these tips will help everyone have a FUN and SAFE Halloween!!!

It's Back....Cold and Flu Season!!!

It's Back...Cold and Flu Season!!!

It's October....Which inevitably means we are all once again becoming vitamin C-stocking, house-disinfecting, fever-fearing maniacs!  Our blood curdles with the ring of every phone, the sound of every sniffle and sneeze.  And the thing we fear the most during cold and flu season....OTHER PEOPLE'S  CHILDREN!!!!! AAAHHHHH! 

The fact of the matter is, while you will still most likely receive that dreaded phone call that your child is not feeling well and needs to be sent home from school or child care, you are not harming your child by exposing them to others, you are in fact, helping them.  Don't be discouraged.  Your child is getting what they need from school and child care.  I'm not just talking about early learning, social exposure and other skills that will help prepare your child for their future.  They are also building a and healthy immune system that will assist them in kicking those nasty cold and flu symptoms faster.  How is this possible?  Exposure to germs is essential to building their immune system and this means other people's children are not so scary after all!

Don't get me wrong...there is one thing that will make absolutely, positively, 100% certain that your child and everyone else's WILL get sick repeatedly: Ignoring or disguising signs and symptoms of contagious illnesses and sending your child to school or child care.  We get it...there are meetings that can't be missed, vacation days that have run out, plans that won't be rescheduled.  But, before you treat that fever with ibuprofen and send your child off to school or child care, ask yourself these questions...Am I prepared to get that dreaded phone call again next week?  And the week after?  And the week after that?

Hopefully, you and your child get that "home away from home" feeling every time you walk into your child care or school.  But when your baby or child is not feeling well....There is truly no substitute for their own home with their own family.  Keep them in their bed, in their jammies, in your arms.  There is no better medicine.