It’s been a pretty rough year, don’t you think? I surely do. There’s been unimaginable pressure on us as individuals, and as families. Here’s some tips from the professionals to make your life better, starting today.
Reshma Shah, MD, pediatrician, and co-author of Nourish: The Definitive Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for Families
TIP: Don’t Try to Trick Your Kids. While it may be tempting to sneak spinach into a smoothie or chopped broccoli into a sauce, relying on “sneaking” as a way to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in kids can backfire. They can begin to mistrust your offerings and won’t learn to enjoy these foods on their own. Inviting them to explore, modeling enjoyment of these foods, and patience offer strategies for a lifetime of healthy eating.
TIP: Let family dinner time be a refuge. The average American family spends less than 20 minutes at dinner. Often, it’s the only time during the day when families sit together and bond. Invite conversations that connect (how was your day, a family story, or a joke), and minimize adversarial ones (chores left undone, a poor math grade, or a string of to-dos). Creating a warm, welcoming space can offer a much-needed respite from our busy lives.
TIP: Cook more at home and together. Research shows that meals cooked and eaten at home have greater nutritional quality than those eaten outside of the home. A little bit of planning and prepping can help you to create healthy, delicious meals at home. Additionally, cooking together can be a useful tool in combatting picky eating as kids are more likely to try new foods that they have had a hand in preparing.
Lucy Rose Fischer, PhD, award winning Minnesota artist, social scientist and author of The Journalist: Life and Loss in America’s Secret War
TIP: See with your eyes open. How much do you notice? As an artist, I have trained myself to see beyond the surface and to look at the shapes and interrelationships of objects. In everyday life, it’s easy to miss the beauty all around us, the small things, not just the big scenes. To really see takes effort—but doing that can change your life.
TIP: Listen with your heart. Really listening when your friend talks to you is the biggest gift you can give. Not giving advice. Not telling them “This is what happened to me.” Just listening. When you listen with your heart, you are a true friend.
TIP: Live and be alive. As I grow older, I am aware of the finiteness of my life. I don’t know how long I will live—but I have a mission: to be alive, really alive, as long as I am here.
Brenda Davis, RD, writer, speaker, co-author of Nourish: The Definitive Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for Families
TIP: Serve and drink the best beverages. Make water and milk (breast milk, fortified soy or pea milk, or cow’s milk) your child’s primary beverages. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. If you serve fruit juice, keep it occasional, and limit to not more than 4 ounces per day. Whole fruits are more nutritious than juices.
TIP: Choose healthy family meals. Instead of “kid’s meals,” serve wholesome family foods and frequent family-friendly restaurants that serve healthy fare (e.g. ethnic restaurants, soup and salad bars). The foods that will bring comfort and joy to your child over the long haul are the foods that the family shares time and time again.
TIP: Avoid sugar. Sugar is best avoided or minimized in the diets of toddlers, and for those over two years, a limit of six teaspoons a day is suggested. When preparing homemade muffins, cookies or other treats, use dried fruits such as dates as the sweetener.
TIP: Protect your brain. Now more than ever we need to filter what goes into our brain and our hearts. Needless “doom scrolling” through sensational news headlines and inflammatory twitter posts drain our emotional and cognitive energy. To operate at peak performance in any sort of work, it’s important to protect ourselves by avoiding wasteful, meaningless content. As a novelist, I’ve learned to focus completely on my writing first, shutting out all distractions. Only after meeting my daily writing goals, do I allow myself a slice of time to spend my energy online.
Dr. Tinita O. Kearney, PH.D., CCC-SLP/L, speech-language pathologist and author of Lola Koala’s Travel Adventures: Who, What, Where & Yes/No Questions
TIP: Keep expectations in check. As a parent, you want the best for your child. Just be sure to set age-appropriate expectations for your little ones to prevent unnecessary frustration for both of you! Not sure what to expect? Start with your pediatrician and research the developmental milestones for your child’s age.
TIP: Put yourself in time-out. Parenting can be equally exhausting as it is rewarding. Be sure to take time away from the kids regularly to keep yourself mentally and physically prepared to be the best parent you can be. Plan as little as 10-minutes a day to just sit and do nothing but focus on you!
TIP: Talk about your feelings. We all can get overwhelmed at times and our kids are no exception. Teach your child words to label their emotions and talk through the choices that they have to deal with their feelings so that they learn how to appropriately communicate this to others as they grow older. This will also help them to become better communicators overall!
Willie Drye, award-winning author and journalist, author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935
TIP: Give yourself a reality check. If you live near the coast–especially in the Southeastern U.S.–accept the fact that sooner or later you’ll have to deal with a hurricane. Don’t allow yourself to believe it’ll never happen to you. It will.
TIP: Make a disaster plan now. Don’t wait until the storm is only a few days from landfall. You’ll never have time to do all that needs to be done in advance of a hurricane if you wait until then to start planning.
TIP: Don’t wait until the last minute. When the hurricane is heading your way, put your plan into action. If you plan to evacuate, have your gear packed, know well in advance where you’re going, and don’t wait until the last minute to leave.
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