If you know me, you'll come to find out that I'm pretty passionate about health. I believe it's incredibly important to focus on holistic health and ultimately ensure that you make it a priority to have a healthy mind and body. In our nation, it's easy to zone in on a healthy body because we currently have an obesity epidemic.
I know this is a complicated issue from a world perspective, but, it's not from our country's perspective. I'm not talking about aesthetics here; I'm talking about a lifestyle that limits preventable diseases and complications by eating a healthy diet and remaining mobile and active.
Our children need to be educated about these needs because, let's face it, we live in a country that values a dollar over many things and our processed foods continue to be made cheaper, with little concern over the nutritional benefit to the consumer.
I've been pleased to see that General Mills recently announced that they will be removing artificial ingredients in their cereals. These are small steps, but positive ones nonetheless. Other companies are doing the same. As our manufacturers begin to make changes, we need to follow suit at home as well so that our children don't have the same challenges that we obviously do.
We have our kids in several different activities and one that always becomes a point of contention with me is team sports and snacks. First of all, I don't think a child needs a snack after 45min-1 hour of general physical activity. It creates a culture of eating for routine, or worse, eating for reward.
We are busy. I get that. It's been bred into us. I get that. Our barber, doctor's offices, and several other places we spend time at have candy jars. I have two in my office at work and it's a normal sight to other offices that I travel to as well.
Houston - we have a problem!
Why? Why so much sugar? The next person who says "it's just a little sugar" to me is going to end up not liking me. It's not "just a little sugar" when a kid gets it in their cereal, oatmeal, peanut butter, yogurt, crackers, chips, drinks, etc. they've been being rewarded all day if you look at it like that! We know it's bad for us and we need to be active in our pursuit of other reward schemes to help our kids combat some of the challenges. It's hard enough to make your way through the intentionally confusing nutritional and ingredient lists. Your children aren't dogs, so quit giving them treats like they are.
I used some brain power and consulted with some friends to make a list of examples of ways you can reward a kid without giving them candy.
1. Have a "sleepover" in the parent's bed. Can't sleep with your kids? Just give up your bed for the night. I guarantee any kid will think this is awesome.
2. Let them be in charge of picking the next movie/show you watch.
3. Let them pick an activity to do or game to play.
4. Praise them! Explain to them why what they did was great and how it makes you feel. Don't forget to ask them how it made them feel so they can connect that doing something positive feels good.
5. Take away one of their chores so they can use the time to do something else they prefer. We are big on teaching priorities, so this can be a great reward because they can shift their responsibility and have control over what they'd rather do.
6. Write them a note. Both of my older kids love getting notes. I make jokes, draw pictures, etc.
7. Give them uninterrupted attention. This seems like a given, but it's not. Go hang out with your kid. Go sit in their room with them, so play (you too...not just watching) at the park, or go on a walk!
8. Let them stay up a little later than their usual bedtime. What kid doesn't want to stay up past their bed time?!
9. Let them pick out new produce to try next time you go shopping. This is one way that we got our son to stop being a picky eater. We've had some bombs, but even then the experience is fun.
10. Plant a flower or plant in honor of the deed so they can have a constant reminder.
Ultimately, if you spend some time finding innovative ways to shift the focus towards other positive things, I guarantee you are helping your child learn more than just healthy eating.
Being at the eve of paying off my student loans has got me thinking.
Whether it’s my newsfeed that I
follow or my general social circles that determine this I’m not sure, but it seems to me that I see a lot of
complaints about the costs of an education.
Having been through two different degrees and now working in a field that relates to my studies, I think that people miss a few crucial ideas when approaching college.
Photo by Corna.QTR/CC
1. College isn’t as expensive as people make it out to be.
College isn’t expensive, people’s lifestyles are expensive. Sure, college isn’t cheap by any means,
but when I hear that someone walks away from their Bachelor studies with over $100,000 in
debt, I think that’s a lifestyle problem. People can go to a community college and then transfer
into a university. You can stay in a state school rather than attend out of state. People can seek
out renting textbooks instead of buying them new. Can I also just ask – what happened to being
a broke college student? My point is simply that I think it’s time people stop and reflect for a
moment about whether the cost of college itself is really what is making the bills so high.
2. The world revolves around demand and supply.
People can’t keep pursuing degrees that aren’t applicable in our job market and then at the
same time complain that your degree hasn’t gotten you a job. If we quit making uninformed
decisions about the path that we follow, those paths will begin to be less prominent. I hear time
and time again where people couldn’t find a job after their bachelor’s so they decided to go
ahead and start their master’s. That's some interesting logic to me. Soooo, you spent money
on one degree and haven’t put it to use, but somehow you think getting further in debt pursuing
another one is a good idea?
3. Just because you can get the loan, doesn’t mean you should.
This is where I screwed up. When applying for financial aid, I was provided the option to
apply for a loan and did. They offered me roughly 3 times as much as my actual costs were so
that I had money to “offset” my cost of living. By offset, I mean they offered me money that I
could blow and that’s precisely what happened. People have an opportunity to pick up work
while they are studying to help with this cost. I think that often students don’t consider the
options here because it’s easier to just get the extra money in the loan. I often hear the
argument that banks shouldn’t be allowed to offer such large loans because it’s a bad practice.
This is said as if the banks are forcing students to take these loans. At the end of the day, a
person made an active choice and that individual is accountable.
4. People need to look at their education as an investment.
This point in particular really becomes a bottom line for this subject. We simply don’t live in a
world where having a degree is going to land you a meal ticket. Maybe we did at some point,
but we haven’t for a long time. I started my college path trying to pursue something in
journalism, but ultimately changed course for this very reason. I needed something that was
going to land me a career, so I approached my decision with that in mind. That means that I had
to consider my area’s job market and then narrow my choices down from there. Most people
wouldn’t go dump thousands of dollars into a stock without reviewing its history or estimated
future performance, so why would you do that with your education?
Let me start this off by saying (or admitting rather) that I am a planner. I can’t help it. Really, truly, I can’t. I tend to freak out if things don’t go as planned and can get myself into quite a fit if someone else changes or impacts my plan. Any fellow planners will understand this, while other people probably just think I’m a crazy control freak.
Well, I didn’t exactly plan to be young single mother, working, while trying to finish my degree. I also didn’t plan to fall in love with a young single father who was working, while trying to get himself into his career path as well.
I DID plan on having a family that I loved fiercely while also taking summer vacations, family photos, playing board games, and just generally living our perfect life. See what I did there? Yep, I actually tried to plan a perfect family. Talk about setting myself up for failure.
I’m also pretty passionate about exploring different activities and interests for all of us – an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, right? That leaves us with a packed schedule. Add in our mixed schedules with the children and you’ve got yourself a nice mix batch of chaos.
Like a good planner, I will wrack my brain, adjust, swap, plan our family days and, inevitably, something will come up that ultimately leads to a meltdown (whether it’s actually one of my kids, or me doing the melting, tends to be random!). This vicious cycle repeated itself more times than I’d care to admit and left me drained…and then one day I decided to listen to my Husband…Yeah, that does happen every so often! ;)
See, my Husband happens to be the exact opposite of me in a lot of areas and let me tell you, it has been a breath of fresh air. He does not like to have a packed schedule and can truly enjoy a day of relaxation and just going with the flow. I always feel like we need to monopolize on the opportunity of whatever we are doing and MAKE THE MOST OUT OF IT. Isn’t that something right there? My end goal is always to relax and enjoy the moment but somehow I feel the need to force it and that simply doesn’t work.
I stopped trying to force a happy moment and instead have decided to just stop and let the day or event transpire. A perfect example would be comparing two separate trips to Disneyland. In one, we got there as the park opened, we hit every activity we could, we made it to scheduled shows, and we left when the park closed. All of us were wiped out, cranky, and pretty miserable by the end of the day! On the other, we woke up (without an alarm) and had a nice breakfast, got to the park after that and then wrapped up around dinner time so we could eat off site and then went back to the hotel and swam a bit before bed. We had an amazing day and the kids still talk about that trip. I enjoyed myself the entire time.
The same scenario has played out time and time again regardless of what the activity is. We've had great, quality moments doing the simplest of things if I stop trying to force it.
It’s pretty amazing how much fun you can have in the flow. And, for all you fellow planners, you can always plan to not have a plan too!