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Does anyone else feel like they blinked and it’s already back-to-school season? If so, you’re not alone. Summer has flown by! Let’s discuss how to best prepare our kids for a successful transition into more structured school days after, what we hope was a summer full of adventures and probably a few late nights. In this blog, we will discuss what it looks like to build a sleep routine that supports the adjustment back into school.
It’s common knowledge that sleep is essential to growth and cognitive function. Quality sleep influences mood stabilization, focus and is a crucial component to the ability to form memories and retain information. How do we build an environment that encourages quality sleep for our children? Studies suggest that a bedroom should be dark, quiet (or have soothing noise), and cool (approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit ) for optimal sleep conditions. Keeping a fan in your child’s room can double as cooling and soothing noise. Having a sound machine or radio that plays music without words can help encourage feelings of calmness and relaxation as children drift off to sleep. In some circumstances, a night light may be necessary, so having one that can be set to a timer that shuts off after your child falls asleep is ideal for good rest.
Create a Sleep Schedule
While it varies from child to child, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that children ages 3-5 need around 10-13 hours of sleep; children ages 6-13 need about 9-11 hours of sleep, and teenagers need approximately 8-10 hours of sleep per night. One helpful way to maximize a sleep schedule is to use a ladder system leading into the first week of school. On weeknights, try having the kids go to bed and wake up 15-20 minutes earlier until you arrive at the desired bed/wake time. This gradual progression will help make the adjustment easier as it is a smaller increment of time. This is especially ideal with ages that may be more difficult to get to stick to a sleep schedule throughout the summer (let’s be honest, the FOMO is REAL). And as always, have an open dialogue with your kids about the importance of being well rested in the new year!
Teaching our kids healthy ways to wind down for bed is the key to training their bodies and minds to produce the hormones necessary for quality sleep. An hour before bedtime, try to restrict or completely eliminate screen time. Many studies have shown that blue light from screens blocks the brain’s ability to produce the “sleep hormone” melatonin, making it harder for our bodies to recognize we’re tired. It is also recommended to not schedule extracurricular activities or exercise at least two hours before bed as well. Instead, try a warm bath, special quiet time (like cuddling and talking about the day together), or having a cozy designated reading area where they can relax before bed.
We hope you find these tips helpful and that they make the transition back to school a dream!
Educated Nannies is so excited to introduce our clients and nannies to our new partnership with Sproutable! Sproutable provides the tools to help set up your family for success by teaching families and nannies how to discipline in a positive way so that children feel connected and supported to grow and become independent, responsible, resourceful members of their communities. We hope this education will be one more way to provide peace, happiness, and confidence in your home.
What is Sproutable?
Sproutable is an educational program created by Julietta Skoog, Alanna Beebe, and Casey O’Roarty to help parents and nannies learn and become certified in the Positive Discipline Method. They have created a very easy-to-follow online course that lays out all the tools and techniques to help navigate these childhood challenges for the children in your life.
Who created Positive Discipline?
Positive Discipline is a parenting and discipline style developed by Dr. Jane Nelsen. This approach is designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities. This method is researched and based on both psychology and child development expertise.
What is Positive Discipline?
Positive Discipline teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and adults. It is based on Adlerian Theory that focuses on connection before correction that is both connected and firm at the same time for each particular situation. Positive Discipline Theory believes there are no bad children; only good and bad behavior. The main idea is to build mutual respect, effective communication and problem solving skills and focus on solutions rather than punishment.
There are five main criteria to learn in Positive Discipline:
- Disciplining Kind and Firm at the same time. Being kind is respectful to the child, while being firm is respectful to the needs of the situation. An example of this is to say to a child, “I hear that you want ice cream and we still need to have dinner first. Would you like to have grilled chicken or pasta first? You decide.”
- Creating Feelings of Belonging and Significance. Belonging means that I matter, I can contribute. Belonging means that I am connected to others. Through feelings of belonging and significance, children develop a sense that they are capable and have personal power and can contribute to society. Some ideas of this include having chores or teaching and allowing a child to dress themselves.
- Using Positive Discipline tools that work long term, rather than punishment that is a short term fix. This is helping find solutions for misbehavior and empowering children with knowledge and practice.
- Teaching valuable social and life skills to create good character. Positive Discipline will help teach problem solving, self soothing, thinking, listening and communication skills.
- Focus on encouragement rather than praise. Encouragement means that you are connected as a parent and value their effort. Praise has implied judgment of doing something well by your standards. Positive Discipline teaches children to find intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic motivation. An example of teaching encouragement and intrinsic motivation is to tell a child “I have faith in you. Keep trying. You’ll get there.” While praise is extrinsic motivation stating, “You are the best artist.”
While there are a variety of disciplining methods to choose, Sproutable does an amazing job of teaching the Positive Discipline method through education and real life practical videos that are bite sized to go through at your own pace, allowing users to gain understanding quickly and easily so parents and nannies can put the tools into practice right away. Sproutable also offers support with all of their programs to ask ongoing questions and support with any nanny or parenting situations you may need help with.
Summer is upon us and while the temperatures are high, there is an invigorating shift that comes with the heat waves. Evidence of the positive effects of spending time in nature is bountiful, so today we’ll discuss the impact of nature on mental health and ways to incorporate more of it into your daily life to improve your family’s well-being.
The Healing Power of Nature
Much research has been done on the healing properties of spending time outdoors. The benefits have a broad range of physical, cognitive and emotional improvements. Significant shifts in focus, memory and behavior can be attributed to exposure to nature. In one study conducted in Denmark, children that had abundant access to green spaces were 55% less likely to develop mental illness when they got older. Spending time outdoors is shown to produce feelings of awe and happiness, which in turn makes us more productive and impacts how we show up in social situations. Those who feel happy and connected to life tend to be more generous and cooperative. The oxygen intake from walking outdoors is shown to increase serotonin production, boost heart and bone health, and decrease the stress hormone cortisol. Did you know that when the sun hits our skin, it actually uses the cholesterol in our skin cells to convert that energy into Vitamin D, an essential nutrient for our immune health? Even the sounds of nature are shown to reduce stress and improve focus. All of these benefits and more can be experienced with just two hours per week of time outside.
Ocean or Mountains?
The perks of spending time in green spaces (i.e. land abundant in trees and other foliage) and blue spaces (i.e. land with abundant aquatic spaces like oceans or lakes) are shown to have similar effects. A nice walk or bike ride for 20-30 mins a day could be just what you need to get a fresh perspective for your day. Instead of tv or a podcast as background noise or visuals, try a nature sound compilation video on YouTube or whichever streaming services you use most. A weekly visit to your favorite local park or hiking trail could also be rejuvenating. Even time at a public or private pool can serve as a great way to get outside!
Bring Nature to You
Some of us may have limited options for outdoor exploration, but there are several great ways to bring nature to you. Pinterest has tons of great resources for starting a balcony, windowsill, or raised bed garden for your patio. Low-maintenance houseplants are also an awesome way to fill your home with greenery, and teach your children the value of nature. There are so many lessons to be learned by caring for plants or tending to a garden that will encourage us and our kids to value life outside of ourselves. Chromotherapy or colorology studies the effects certain colors can have on our mood and productivity as well. These studies show that there are even benefits to just having the color green, blue or yellow in the decor we use in our homes. Color-changing light bulbs, the paint on the walls and the images we hang around our house can have a similar effect as spending time outdoors.
We hope you found this information helpful, and it inspires you and your family to spend some quality time in the great outdoors this summer!
Summer break is here which means warm weather, swim season, outdoor activities, summer holidays, and fun social events! This also means now is the time to seize the moment and create an opportunity to have an important conversation with our children about what it means to be body positive. Puzzled at where to even begin? We have four ideas for teaching children about body positivity.
Become a super ROLE model
Children pay attention a lot more than we give them credit for. Helping them value body positivity has to start with you. Remember that your words and actions matter. How we talk about our, and others, bodies is so important. We can set boundaries around criticism and compliments which is key to building trust and self-esteem. Reminding our kids that confidence and comfort are things we can give ourselves, not just get from others is vital as well. We can lead by example in how we care for ourselves; prioritizing healthy sleep, self-care, and personal habits.
Let’s get PHYSICAL
In a day and age where technology is king, it is important to emphasize connection; not only to other people but to our bodies. It can be helpful to establish a routine that creates space for physical activity. Try this language: “In our family, taking care of our body matters. We do this by ____ .” Whether you incorporate solo forms of exercise or group activities depends on your child’s personality. Reaching out to local community centers about different team sports or group activities can be a game-changer in helping our kids discover the world, build relationships and unlock inner talents/passions. Often, activities are offered seasonally, so empowering your child with choices and variety without it needing to be a permanent decision takes the pressure off and makes exercise a fun avenue of self-expression. Another idea is to make fitness a family affair. Going for family walks or bike rides after dinner can be a great way to build connection and value for movement. Family yoga on a Saturday morning can be an awesome way to get the weekend off to a great start. Remember, fitness is highly customizable, and the best workouts are the ones that work for you and that you look forward to doing.
Make friends with FOOD
Creating a healthy relationship with food at a young age is essential in maintaining a healthy balance as an adult. Rather than using verbiage that pits foods against each other like “good” or “bad”/”junk” foods, try the Always-Sometimes-Rarely method. “Always” foods are things like fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains. “Sometimes” foods are the yummy treats we get on special occasions like our favorite takeout, red meat, and starchy vegetables, like potatoes. “Rarely” foods are things high in sugar, salt, or trans fats like highly processed, packaged, or fried foods. Explain that certain foods are easier for our bodies to use to help us feel healthy, energized, and strong. Others may taste really yummy, but don’t give our bodies anything good in return. A creative way to encourage curiosity and build appreciation for what is on our plates is by making grocery shopping or farmers markets a family adventure and learning opportunity.
What’s on your MIND?
Health is about more than just the body; it starts in the brain. On a scientific level, food and exercise affect hormone balance, which has a huge impact on the chemicals our brain makes to keep our mood stabilized and bodily processes moving smoothly. Teaching kids to value mental health will only serve them later in life. Some helpful ways to check in with your kids on what they’re thinking and feeling are morning mantras and evening affirmations. Taking the time to appreciate and celebrate non-physical attributes is a very important practice to incorporate into your daily routine. It builds confidence, self-awareness, and the ability to communicate what’s going on inside your child’s world. Connect and check-in at dinner or bedtime about their day, and what may be on their mind about tomorrow. Some helpful language for this is highs/lows, roses/thorns, prayers/praises, or wins/losses. Whatever verbiage helps your child connect and understand, use that!
Expand Your Library with these Body Positive Books for Kids
I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont
I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
What I Like About Me! by Allia Zobel Nolan
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
What’s Silly Hair Day with No Hair? by Norene Paulson
Brontorina by James Howe
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
Love Your Body by Jessica Sanders
Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys Paperback by Cara Natterson
Being You: The Body Image Book for Boys by Charlotte Markey
Because I am Me: Positive Affirmations for Brown Boys Paperback by Erika J. Gibson
The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee
All Bodies Are Good Bodies by Charlotte Barkla
A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy
My Body Sends a Signal: Helping Kids Recognize Emotions and Express Feelings by Natalia Maguire
Pink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman
With summer break upon us families may be planning and packing up for a week of relaxation and fun! Many of you will be finding yourself on an airplane or in the car with your little ones which is no easy feat. Whether you are preparing for an hour flight, a six-hour flight, or a long road trip in the car we are here to share some tips and information to help make your travels a little bit smoother.
Plan Travel Around Naps
Creating a sleep schedule for your infant or toddler has probably been something you have put time and research into to ensure optimal sleep for all. When planning your flights or deciding when to leave for a long car ride, try to match the timing as best you can with your child’s typical nap time. It is not always a guarantee they will sleep but trying to keep them on their typical routine can help. Booking a direct flight can also be beneficial to their schedule with fewer interruptions involved. Make sure to bring their favorite lovie, blanket, or pacifier that soothes them at nap time.
Make A Checklist
Executing a smart and practical plan is essential when traveling with little ones. There are many items, toys, snacks, and gear to think of when packing for a trip away! Some essentials to add to your list are easy on and off clothing, extra diapers/wipes, sanitizing wipes, plastic bags (for wet clothes or dirty diapers), soothing toys, and blankets. Try categorizing the things on your list you know you will need such as meals, sleep, health, and safety items.
Car Seat for Plane Travel
If your child is under the age of two you have the option to still buy a plane seat for them where you can secure their car seat. If they are over the age of two this can also still be recommended. It is important to always check with the respected airline you will be flying to ensure they allow car seats in the cabin. Safe In The Seat has a wonderful and informative course you can take to learn more about air travel with small children.
Everyone always says to arrive at the airport two hours early and this is something that is especially important when flying with infants and toddlers! Arriving 90 minutes to two hours early will allow enough time for possible long TSA lines and better yet time to regroup once at the respected terminal to feed the baby, have lunch or purchase any last-minute items at the airport. A great time-saver is gate checking your stroller and car seat (if you’re not bringing the car seat on the plane). You can conveniently use your stroller to get your children through the airport with ease and check it right before you enter the plane. A great reminder is to purchase a travel bag to protect your travel system since it will be less likely to be damaged if covered!
Protect Their Ears
We have all experienced ear pain and pressure when taking off and landing by airplane and it is no different for our children. You can offer your baby a feeding whether it is by bottle or breast as the sucking can often help ear pain with pressure changes. According to the TSA formula, milk or juice quantities greater than 3.4 ounces are allowed in carry-on luggage. A few other options to offer are a pacifier, sippy cup, or snack for older children.
We hope you find these tips helpful as you gear up for any upcoming travels. Our team at Educated Nannies wishes you a safe and enjoyable summer this year no matter where you are headed!
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