All Entries For motherhood

Healthy Flying Tips for Families


The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and many people will take to the sky to visit family and friends. Despite appearances—a plethora of fast foods, snacks and lots of sitting around—flights and airports offer plenty of nutritious food and opportunity for activity, if you know where to look.


  • Make sure everyone eats a healthy meal before you arrive. You’ll be less likely to munch on high-calorie snacks just because they’re around or you’re bored.


  • If eating in an airport, it’s worth it to spend the time seeking out healthy foods. Look for salads, fresh fruit, vegetable-based soups, and baked or grilled chicken.
    Posted 11/4/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 13 comments   11,496 views
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Healthy Pizza with Pizzazz!


Pizza can be a healthy choice, filled with complex carbohydrates, B-vitamins, calcium, protein, vitamin A, and vitamin C. However it often ends up being an indulgent, high fat, calorie-packed nightmare. When you’re starting from scratch (or ordering by phone) these pointers will help keep your meal healthy, while still pleasing your family's taste buds.
Posted 10/21/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 19 comments   19,358 views
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Is Your Child's School Commute Safe?


Walking to school can be a great way for kids to get some exercise and socialize with friends out in the fresh air. It helps get their heads straight for the school day and allows them to decompress on the way home after long hours behind a desk.
 
But for parents, it's hard to know when a child is old enough to walk alone safely.
 
The school district in which I live only offers busing for students who live more than two miles from school. My soon-to-be kindergartener is very active--he plays tee ball and has run kids' races--but I'm not sure he'd be able to walk four miles daily. I'm also fairly certain I'm not willing to ask him to, considering the lack of sidewalks in our neighborhood and on the couple of larger roads he would have to cross to get to school. For us, age 5 is too young. But growing up in a very small town, I had friends who lived on the same street as our elementary school who, even as kindergarteners, made the short walk home alone every day along the tree-shaded sidewalks. Every situation is different.
 
Posted 10/17/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 15 comments   7,448 views
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Confession: Parenting is Hard (Even for the Experts)


Even though I consider myself to be a parenting expert, with multiple degrees on my wall and years of research under my belt, no textbook or research study could ever prepare me for my role as a parent.

A couple of weeks ago, my 8-year-old son had an outburst (that’s what I’ve termed it), which could be likened to a 3-year-old tantrum with a 13-year-old attitude.  I told him to go to his room.  He answered, ''I am not going to my room.''  I tried to calmly explain that there would be consequences for his behavior.  To this, he responded, ''I don’t care.''  I reminded him that his behavior was rude and inappropriate.  He replied, ''No, yours is.''  Through all of this, he went between being defiant and crying.  We covered a lot of ground.  As I went along, I searched my brain using terms like ''discipline,'' ''defiance,'' ''authoritative parenting.''  My searches eventually came back with ''no results found.''  I was at a complete loss.
Posted 10/10/2012  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments   7,556 views
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How to Squeeze in Exercise as a Busy Mom


Do you feel more like a chauffeur than a parent? We all know that exercise is important for us to stay healthy, but between cooking, cleaning up, budgeting, homework help, and—oh, yeah—sleep, who has the time?

Next time you feel too busy to exercise, try squeezing it in to your schedule with these tips.

During Drive Time
Try some isometric exercises: Squeeze your glutes, contract your abs, and work your calves by raising your legs up on your toes at red lights. Park far from your destination so you have to walk farther. Arrive early to your event, if possible, to allow time for a brisk walk.

At Programs, Practices, and Games
Walk around the facility before or after the event; look for chances to combine a class or activity with those of your children. For example, take aerobics while your daughter has basketball practice at the YMCA.
Posted 10/7/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 8 comments   13,201 views
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Backpack Safety 101


Do you know how much your child's backpack weighs?
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a backpack weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of your child's weight. So, if your kindergartener weighs 50 pounds, his backpack should be no more than 10 pounds when it's full.
 
Posted 10/3/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments   6,498 views
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Helping Your Kids Cope with Back-to-School Exhaustion


Parents quickly learn this equation every school year: New ideas + new skills + new routines = a tired and cranky child.
 
My oldest son was so exhausted every day after his first week of preschool last month that I thought he had a virus. Then I saw a storm of tweets and Facebook posts from other parents in similar situations. There were stories about kindergarteners suddenly becoming holy terrors every day at school pick-up, teenagers eating the contents of the refrigerator and then passing out, and elementary students reverting to their toddler bedtime. I realized my son wasn't sick; he was learning.
 
His brain was working so hard on his new skills and routines that there was no extra room for anything else. It's the same reason babies experience sleep regressions when they're learning a new developmental skill, or why my 2-year-old is extra stubborn as he wraps his head around potty-training. Adults experience this, too. Have you ever managed to control your temper during a truly awful day at work, only to snap at your family once you got home? Now, imagine you're a 4-year-old learning how to follow classroom rules, or a 12-year-old encountering algebra for the first time. Or, worst of all, a 16-year-old facing the looming pressure of college requirements, as well as the daily gauntlet of high-school halls.
 
It's no wonder our kids come home exhausted and cranky.
 
So, how can we help them? Each child is different. Some might need a quick after-school snack to re-energize them for the evening. Others might need a nap or quiet time on their own. Here are five things to try to get your little learner on a more even keel.
Posted 9/25/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   9,087 views
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Your Kitchen: Built for Speed!


We’re all pressed for time. Kitchens often go unused because it can simply take too long to cook, and seems more like a hassle than a help when you're trying to feed a busy family. In this hurry-up world, a clean, organized kitchen will get more use than a cluttered mess that’s difficult to use. Creating an efficient workspace makes for healthier, faster and more enjoyable meal preparation for everyone involved.
Posted 9/23/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 24 comments   14,252 views
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7 Life Lessons My Kids Have Taught Me


I just sat down on a Matchbox car. My lunch today included peanut butter and jelly. The last movie I saw in the theater was something by Pixar.
 
My children have changed me in many ways. My life isn't always glamorous, but it certainly is better for having my boys in it. Here are the lessons I've learned and good habits I've picked up since having kids.
Posted 9/19/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 10 comments   8,063 views
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Add More Veggies to Your Family Meals


"Eat your vegetables." We've heard it all of our lives, but if only it were so simple! Our bodies crave fruits and vegetables more than just about any other food because we tend to get far fewer of them than we need.

With just a little thought and a tiny bit of effort in snack preparation, you can make these nutritious foods more convenient and accessible for the whole family:
Posted 9/9/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 28 comments   15,447 views
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How to Teach (and Learn) Self-Control as a Parent


Any pediatrician or experienced parent will tell you that tantrums are just a fact of toddlerhood. Every child throws fits, and every parent struggles with how to deal with them.
 
What you're actually teaching is self-control, which is what makes it so difficult. That concept starts with you, and controlling yourself in the face of a screaming, irrational toddler is not always easy.
 
The official advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to distract, ignore and remove--in that order. On the surface, it seems simple. Distract the child when he starts fussing. If he is angry about leaving the playground, sing a silly song to redirect his attention and mood as you buckle him into the car seat. If that doesn't work and he continues to cry and yell, ignore it with the hope that he'll wear out the anger and frustration. And if that doesn't happen and he pitches a toy at your head instead, tell him sternly, ''No throwing!'' and remove the toys and other potential missiles from the car seat.
 
Simple--except you're now trapped in a vehicle with a kid screaming bloody murder because, after copious warnings that lunch was coming soon, you had the audacity to ask him to leave the playground. For food. Which he needs to survive.
 
Are you angry yet? Frustrated? Because I'm getting irritated just remembering this horrible experience--er, I mean, thinking about this hypothetical situation.
 
Posted 8/28/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 20 comments   12,323 views
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Workout Tips for New Parents


Between nursing, changing diapers, preparing meals (and cleaning up after those meals), visiting family, and trying to squeeze in a shower, stay-at-home parents work just as hard as those who clock in elsewhere, and often find themselves stuck in the same no-time-to-exercise trap.
Posted 8/26/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 17 comments   11,566 views
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6 Tips for a Healthier Family Road Trip


Planning a family road trip? Keep your family fit and healthy along the way. When you’re traveling by car, you spend a lot of time planning your course. We all want to make good time, but it’s also important to schedule several breaks into your itinerary, especially when you have kids:
Posted 8/5/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 12 comments   8,178 views
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The 10 Commandments of Healthy Eating for Parents


It’s as simple as counting to 10!

  1. Thou shalt not force, bribe or coerce thy child to eat.
     
  2. Thou shalt set a good example by eating at least five fruits and vegetables, three whole grain products, and three dairy servings per day thyself.
     
  3. Thou shalt make mealtimes pleasant.
     
  4. Thou shalt encourage thy child to help in meal planning, preparation, and cleanup.
     
  5. Thou shalt back off when mealtime becomes a power struggle.
    Posted 7/22/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 28 comments   16,572 views
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Sometimes the Littlest People Know the Most


Forget about talk radio, research labs, late night TV, or a magazine rack full of scantily clad cover models. Everything you need to know about fitness and nutrition, you can learn from your kids.

Here are 11 things children can teach you about healthy living:

Posted 7/8/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 14 comments   13,065 views
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