Hello cold and flu season! Is it me or does it seem like it is back with vengeance this year?? I am certain we can use all the help we can get to try to avoid or at least shorten the duration of sickness.
If you are like me you may tend to reach for natural remedies first before resorting to medications and one of my favorite things is to use essential oils. I absolutely LOVE the smell and cinnamon so a “thieves” blend is one of my go tos for our diffusers during cold and flu season.
However, after having our daughter as I researched more I realized that certain essential oils may be unsafe for children less than six years of age. The traditional adult blend typically contains eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils that may have high amounts of cineole which can slow down breathing and create nervous system issues in young children. This led me to creating my own kid safe blend which we now prefer to use throughout our home.
Here is the recipe:
It is also important to make sure you are choosing high quality essential oils. Our favorite place to get our oils from is The Wellness Company they are tested 10x for purity and with an amazing price point!!
The other day I made a reel on my Instagram about one phrase I never say to my daughter or my students and that phrase is “practice makes perfect.” What a terrible thing to say to someone. To allow a small person with such a malleable mind think that perfection is actually attainable. In my caption I said the phrase I choose instead is “practice makes better than yesterday” and I received some comments and messages afterwards saying what other people choose to say in their home is “practice makes progress” which I thought had a nicer flow to it. Regardless of what you choose to say in your home I wanted to elaborate on why I cringe when I hear the phrase “practice makes perfect.”
As someone who struggles with perfectionism I know how debilitating it can be. My own perfectionism stemmed from the need to control what was happening in my life as a child/teen and it progressed into a relentless beast in my mind resulting in shame and negative self-talk. NOTHING I did was ever good enough for me, I received a 4.0 GPA in university but I still could’ve done better. I would put unrealistic expectations on myself knowing that I could not meet them and then beat myself up because in my eyes I was a failure. To make matters worse when I was feeling poorly about myself I projected those feelings onto others, placing unrealistic expectations on those I cared about most and ultimately causing strain in those relationships. I never truly realized how much my perfectionism was effecting my life though until I had my daughter.
If you have ever had the experience of having a new baby you know that you are at the whim of this tiny human and in order to truly thrive you need to be able to accept and let go. I am sure you can tell by now I was not a “go with the flow” person. I felt like I had zero control over my life and to top it off I only took 3 weeks off of work before going back to teach thinking it would be “easy.” I would just baby wear and finish out the teaching year with no issues at all. I was wrong. Things were very difficult. I found myself crying before I had to teach. I had extreme incidents of rage, never toward Katie thankfully, but I was angry all the time. My poor husband (bless his soul) still chose to stand by me and he was the one that pulled me out of the darkness and got me onto this journey of self-love. I’ll be forever grateful for that because I know how difficult I made that for him but he never gave up on me.
Perfectionism, however, is so engrained in me that even though I am actively working on treating myself with more compassion and grace there are still times when it overwhelms me. I struggle with asking for help because I need to uphold this image of being perfect and having it all together. Recently I am noticing these traits in my daughter (who is now five), she was making a card for her cousin the other day and she got really upset because it wasn’t PERFECT. I do not expect perfection out of her. All I care about is that she tries her best and I am very careful with the words I use with her. The person I am not careful with though is myself and even when I choose to speak differently to her she is seeing how I speak to myself which makes it acceptable to speak that way to herself. I have realized that in order to assist in changing her expectations of herself I need to go first. Katie needs to see me give myself grace when I make a mistake, she needs to see me ask others for help AND accept it when it is offered. Are there going to be days when I screw up and get hard on myself because that is the habit I have created? ABSOLUTELY. But the more I am conscious of it and work to change this habit I can create new pathways in my brain. As I progress I find I can catch myself sooner and then choose a different response rather than choosing to react to the feeling that I NEED to be in control.
In a world where we are constantly comparing ourselves to others highlight reels on social media it can be easy to think that we are the only ones that do not have their shit together. This couldn’t be further from the truth. NO ONE IS PERFECT and it ok to be messy and make mistakes but it is how you treat yourself when you do make mistakes that is important. The feelings of guilt, shame and unworthiness will inevitably creep in from time to time but you can decide to respond differently by choosing love, grace, acceptance and forgiveness for yourself instead. You deserve your love and if you have children there is no greater thing you can teach them than self-love and respect. I believe the only way to do that is by doing it for yourself. The world would be a better place if we all loved OURSELVES more.
I don’t know about you but I am all about themed activities and Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to discuss kindness, love and friendship with our little people!! This month at the preschool our themes have been revolving around those topics with some Valentine’s art thrown in, of course!! Here are five activities to try with your child this month!
1. Make and hand out Valentines to the people in your neighborhood. There is no better way to teach kindness then doing acts of kindness! Your child will see how good it feels to spread joy and make someone else feel good!
2. Use the snow as your canvas. Last week I bought some spray bottles from the dollar store and filled them with one pump of washable paint and the rest water. The children absolutely loved painting the snow with beautiful Valentine’s colors!!
3. Make Valentine’s Cookies together. Among other reasons baking with your child is a great way to connect. It gives you the ability to have some uninterrupted time together while also creating a delicious treat for you to enjoy (and share with friends) afterwards. Here is one of our favorite sugar cookie recipes from Sally’s Baking Addiction and if you have not had a chance to read my previous blog about the benefits of baking with your child check it out HERE
4. Make a Valentine’s Day Busy Bin with Flower Petals and Water. For this activity I like to buy the flowers early and enjoy them for a week or more until they start to wilt then I take all the petals off, chop up the stems and throw it all in a big bin with some water and a few drops of red food coloring and some water beads if you have them. You can have small bowls or cups, scoops, child safety scissors and whatever else you can think of. I recommend setting up on the floor and putting a towel underneath so there isn’t a big puddle to clean up. These types of activities the children will honestly occupy themselves with for the full hour of creative time.
5. Make beautiful Valentine’s Day Art work! This activity is best explained by my newest Youtube video!! The children and I made lovely display worthy art to give to their parents for Valentine’s Day! We used a picture frame, paint, glue, glitter, jewels and beads, check out the video HERE for the tutorial.
Let me know if you try any of these activities! I’d love to hear from you!!
1/31/2022 0 Comments
Life can be hectic (especially as parent) and there are many instances when sometimes you need to quickly throw together a meal and your child’s help (or lack thereof) is the last thing you want. I personally need to do this quite often but I really relish the times when I do not need to rush and Katie and I can bake or cook something together.
I have been cooking with Katie since she was able to be in her kitchen helper stand. It started with her tossing ingredients I had pre-measured and set aside into the bowl and now at the age of 5 I am teaching her how to plan, measure and cut certain fruits and vegetables!
There are many benefits to cooking and baking with your children, here are my top 4.
1. Connection and Bonding – after a busy week it is really nice to spend some uninterrupted screen free time together creating a meal or baking treats for us to share. I get to witness her confidence as she becomes more capable in her cooking skills which give me an opportunity to praise her in a meaningful genuine way. One thing we like to do in our home is I’ll pull out a recipe book and ask Katie to choose something for us to make together. We plan the day we are going to make it and I will grab the ingredients we need when I get groceries that week. There is always such a huge sense if pride when she not only chooses what we are eating but she also helps me make it.
2. Teaches Planning and Sequencing – although some meals can be put together haphazardly (those can be a lot of fun) many meals and baking are best prepared in a specific order so they turn out just right. Children learn through cooking to follow directions, to plan and prepare and to do things in a specific order. This is a wonderful skill to practice in the early years in a safe and encouraging environment and it will set them up for success later in life.
3. Math Skills – Even your youngest chef can begin to learn early math skills when cooking. You can count how many eggs you need or how many pieces you had to cut something into. Measuring starts introducing fractions even before they fully understand what a fraction is!! When I used to work at the hospital I baked with the children once a week and I would often not set out measuring cups that I knew we needed in order for the children to try and figure out how use what we had to get the amount we needed. For example not supplying them with a full or half cup measuring cup but only a quarter and third. Granted I would not do this with preschool age children but you get the idea of how you can incorporate math skills for any age you are cooking with.
4. Works on Fine and Gross Motor Skills – The precision of cracking an egg or the larger motion of mashing the bananas for banana bread all works the muscles necessary for printing, throwing and catching etc. and although it is great to actually practice these skills it is nice to do something a little different that also works those muscles.
There are many more reasons to cook or bake with your children including the fact that you can enjoy what you made together once it is finished, those are just my top 4. I encourage you to plan something you can make with your child this week, if you are looking for an idea our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is below and make sure to check out our YouTube video of us making them as well!!
Katie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
1. Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit
2. With a hand blender or stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter in a large bowl
3. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well
4. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and whisk to mix.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until combined.
6. Add chocolate chips and mix well with a spoon to incorporate them into the batter
7. Spoon cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. We usually use a heaping teaspoon to measure out our cookies.
8. Bake for 9-11 minutes
Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan and ENJOY!!
If you were like me when the pandemic first started you probably stocked up on disinfectants for your home! Because my teaching studio is in my home I was extra particular about making sure it was clean and safe, not only for my family but my students. After a few weeks of constantly disinfecting I began to notice that my skin why dry and chapped and I was dealing with constant headaches from the fumes which lead to be to begin looking for safe yet effective alternatives.
An article released by the American Lung Association states that many cleaning products contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are released when used and contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions and headaches. Studies have also shown that cleaning your home with products that contain these compounds as little as ONCE per week can be as damaging to the lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years!!
Cleaning supplies and household products containing VOCs and other toxic substances can include, but are not limited to:
Many of the same products on this list also contribute to skin irritations and can cause you to break out in a rash such as eczema. Once the skin’s barrier is broken this can lead to bacteria getting into the wounds and cause infection or other problems.
So where can you start when you want to remove toxins from your home? If you are like many people you may not be able to afford throwing out all your cleaning and personal care products to be replaced with safer products, like me you may need to convert your home to safer products over time. Not to mention that many safer products can be ineffective and cost way more.
My search for safer products lead me to The Wellness Store which is where we now get all of our cleaning, laundry and personal care items from. We slowly began converting our home starting with the cleaning products followed shortly after with our personal care products. I was blown away with how safe and effective the cleaning products are while also being environmentally friendly (big bonus for me!!) and affordable! I no longer get headaches while I am cleaning and no one in our family has had an eczema flare up in over a year which is proof enough for me that I made the right decision for my family to switch to safer products.
Whatever products you choose to make the switch to know that you are helping your family in a way that is invaluable. We come in contact with so many toxins throughout our day when we leave our homes reducing the toxic load in within our homes is so important to our well-being.
There are many great options but if you want to skip the research and learn why I chose The Wellness Store Click HERE.
Let’s face it, with the recent world events the grocery bill has definitely increased and there is no sign of it going back down anytime soon. It can be really difficult to stay on budget these days during your weekly grocery shop, especially if you want to make healthy food choices for your family. Here are three ways our family stays on budget while still maintaining our healthy eating habits.
1. PLAN – I find when I fly by the seat of my pants on my grocery store trips I always end up spending at least $50 more than I would if I went with a list. Typically when I am making my grocery list I will sit down on Sunday and I will plan my meals for the week. This takes approximately 30-40 minutes but it is so worth it!!The ingredients I need for my dinners end up making the majority of my list and then I will also add a bit of extra fruit and some school snacks for my daughter. Doing your list this way can help eliminate throwing away food that has not been eaten at the end of the week. By the following Sunday in our home it is pretty slim pickins’ in our fridge and I prefer it that way. When planning your meals if there is a perishable ingredient that you can only buy a a larger amount of such as Bok Choy consider looking for another meal you could make that uses that same ingredient so it doesn’t go to waste. Two of my go to cookbooks lately are: Half Baked Harvest Super Simple And Jamie Oliver Ultimate Veg.
2. MAKE IT YOURSELF – There are a lot of cost savings when you make certain things yourself. For example a 600gram bag of granola at the grocery store can run your anywhere from $6-12 but you could make the same amount at home for about $3 and in my opinion homemade granola tastes WAY better!! Check out my favorite Granola Recipe HERE. We also started making our own nut milk as opposed to buying it. The cost to make a liter of nut milk is about $1 compared to $3-5 when you purchase it in the store. I’ll make sure to get that recipe up on the blog for you guys soon as well!! It is incredibly easy and tastes delicious.
3. GO MEAT FREE – We are not vegetarian but about half of our meals are meatless for a combination of health and environmental reasons not to mention the added bonus of cost savings on our grocery bill. If you are used to eating meat with every meal you may want to start with just one meal a week without meat and then work your way up. There are a ton of great meatless recipes online so challenge yourself to try a new one every week!!
I hope these tips help you to stay on budget on your next trip to the grocery store!!
Store bought granola is expensive and honesty I do not like it as much as homemade granola. You can easily use this recipe as a base and make a ton of different variations to enjoy!
-4 cups of rolled oats
-1 ½ cup raw nuts or seeds such as pecans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- ½ cup melted coconut oil – you can use olive oil or avocado oil as well
- ½ cup maple syrup or liquid honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup of dried fruit such as raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
Combine the oats, nuts and coconut in a bowl. Add the salt and cinnamon and gently stir. Add the oil and the maple syrup (or honey) and stir until combined.
Bake the granola until it is golden brown, about 20-25 mins, stirring half way. The granola will crisp up as it cools.
Let the granola cool fully then break it apart and add your dried fruit (or chocolate chips if you’d like!).
Store your granola in an air tight container for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Life gets busy. Whether you are a parent or not we all seem to have a to-do list a mile long. It is becoming more and more important to prioritize ourselves. I used to think that if I prioritized myself I was being selfish, I am sure many of you can relate.
I own and teach at a preschool, teach private piano and voice lessons, I am growing two online businesses and have my family responsibilities as well. If I am not organized with my week or I have not taken time for myself to do the things that energize me and fill my cup I get overwhelmed. Planning is a big part of how I keep myself feeling like I have things under control, lucky for me I am very A-type and I thrive on planning and schedules. This can sometimes be a detriment to my mental health though as I can tend to be quite rigid in certain areas of my life but that is a whole different blog topic.
Part of what I schedule within my day though is time for ME. This time typically happens in the morning before the day has really started for me. I find this the best time because if I wait to do it until afternoon something always seems to come up and I am never able to make time for it. My morning routine is really important to me. It energizes me and puts me in a headspace where I feel like I can be the best version of myself for all the people and tasks that require my attention throughout the day. Here is what a typical morning looks like for me.
1. Exercise. This is usually the first thing I will do often before I even have my coffee!! Yes, you read that right! I recently heard on a podcast that you should delay coffee intake for at least an hour after waking up because it doesn’t actually “wake you up” it just blocks adenosine which is one of the neurotransmitters that make you sleepy. This is why most people have a midafternoon crash because once the coffee wears off the adenosine is still in your system since the body did not properly deal with it. Also I exercise EVERY DAY. Some days may be less intense but I intentionally move my body every single day. This has proven to be one of the best ways for me to start my day right. I always feel better and ready to take on the day after I work out. I want to also mention that as a mother (or primary care giver) I know how difficult it can be to stay consistent with working out especially at first because you feel like if you are giving to yourself you are taking away from your children. This is absolutely not true and I intend on writing another blog on this topic. Giving to yourself will actually make you a more conscious, loving human.
2. Journal. Once I have come up from my work out (and grabbed my coffee!!) I write in my journal. I actually have TWO journals. The first one I write in is for my negative thoughts. It is modeled after the concept in Make Miracles in 40 Days by Melody Beattie. I take about 10 minutes and write all the things I am not happy with in my life but I say that I am grateful for it. If this intrigues you I definitely recommend you reading the book. Essentially the idea is to get it all out there, be brutally honest about what you are not happy with in your life or about yourself or things you think are holding you back from your past that way later in the day when your ego tries to step in the way of your greatness your subconscious already feels like that negative thought was addressed and doesn’t feed into it. After I get all the crap out of my head I write in my “feel good journal.” This one is strictly for positive thoughts, things I am truly happy with and grateful for in my life and affirmations.
3. Meditate. After my journaling is finished, my mind is free from it the negative clutter and I am all filled up with gratitude and hope for my future self, I meditate. This for me is the perfect time and since my body has already moved it is easier for me to sit still. Some like to do it first thing in the morning but I personally find it hard not to fall back asleep. Meditation has so many proven and researched benefits such as reducing stress, increase emotional awareness, reduction in memory loss and lower blood pressure to just name a few.
I have made these three things a priority each morning because I know how much I benefit from them both physically and mentally. As I mentioned I am a mother and I have a work schedule to keep so most days I am up by about 5:30am to give myself enough time to make sure I get all of this in before my day becomes filled with other obligations. That might seem like a feat for some and I get it. If you have a younger child at home and your sleep is mediocre at best perhaps 5:30am won’t work for you OR maybe you just need to start smaller and build up to a great morning routine. I only in the past year developed the habit of journaling and mediating but it was after almost a year of exercising every day. If you don’t take the first step in the direction you want to head you’ll never get there but if you are consistent even if you think you are not doing much it will accumulate, trust me. So start building the morning routine that allows you to show up for YOURSELF each day. You won’t regret it…and your babies are watching.
When things get busy I love nothing more than easy but hearty and nutritious meals that be complied into one pan or baking dish.
Here are 4 of my favorite one pan/casserole meals
1. One Skillet Cheesy Broccoli Cheddar Orzo Bake – This delicious meal is quick and easy with minimal ingredients. It can be assembled ahead of time and it freezes well.
Check out the recipe from Half Baked Harvest HERE.
2. One Pot Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff – This dish is perfect for meatless Monday! It is absolutely delicious, hearty and filling. The mushrooms replace the meat and the added nutritional yeast and cashew butter create a creamy and satisfying flavor. Recipe from frommybowl.com and you can find it HERE.
3. Chicken and Zucchini Casserole – I find that most casseroles tend to be pasta focused. Do not get me wrong I LOVE pasta but sometimes it is nice to have another option. This casserole is a wonderful alternative if you want to steer clear of the extra carbs. If you are gluten free then be sure to substitute the flour in the recipe for arrowroot powder or corn starch. Recipe from Eatingwell.com and you can find it HERE
4. One Pan Chicken and Rice – This delicious Mediterranean meal will be a hit with the whole family! Easy, delicious and full of flavor you will come back to this dish again and again. Recipe from downshiftology.com and you can find it HERE.
Even as adults many, if not all of us, have experienced some form of anxiety. Our children are just as susceptible to anxiety but they may not have the skills yet to cope with it.
Anxiety in children can present in a number of ways including:
Reluctance to separate from parents
Physical symptoms such as headache or stomach ache
Teaching proper coping skills will allow them to feel more in control when feelings of uncertainty arise. The goal is not to make the fear go away but to teach them to manage it and to learn to tolerate uncertainty. When techniques for tolerating uncertainty are practiced at home in their “safe place” children will be able to put their skills to work when needed outside the home.
As parents we need to be modeling to our children how to react to stressful situations in a healthy way. Instead of thinking worst case scenarios we need to keep ourselves grounded and mindful in the moment. We can manage our own stress and anxiety in a number of ways.
Limit the amount of negative content you are taking in. Although it is important to stay informed about the world’s events it can wreak havoc on our own inner peace when we are not careful. Social media can be bad for this, people constantly sharing negative information or “calling each other out” because their opion isn’t aligned with the other persons. Try limiting the amount of time you spend on social platforms that are not filling your cup and limiting the amount of negative articles you are reading each day.
Be Present. This a big one in general but especially when it comes to handling anxiety. The actual definition of anxiety is: A feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Since anxiety stems from worry about something that has not yet happened when we focus on being present it is impossible to worry about the future. Consider starting a daily meditation practice to help you on this journey. I absolutely love the Insight Timer App, it has a ton of amazing free guided mediations.
Rely on routines. Establishing a routine of daily exercise, getting outside, healthy meals and appropriate amount of sleep is crucial for regulating our moods.
So now that we have discussed how to help ourselves let’s talk about how we can help our children.
Structure their day. Children thrive on routine and structure (just like we do). When there is certainty in their day such as regular meal times, time for exercise and play, scheduled play dates or classes and a good bedtime routine it will help them deal with the uncertain things that may arise. It is not necessary to schedule their entire day because free down time allows for children to recharge and for their imagination to flourish but having things throughout their day that they can rely on is very important.
Acknowledge their emotions and problem solve if you can. What may not be a big deal to you can be a BIG deal to your child. We need to acknowledge how our children are feeling but not allow them to spiral. Work with your child to come up with a plan to help them cope. My daughter recently started kindergarten and knowing that she was getting anxious about so many unknowns coming up. We discussed things that may help her feel at ease and she suggested I go to school with her. Unfortunately with the recent circumstances of COVID that was not an option so instead I called the school and scheduled a quick meeting and tour with her principle. This eliminated many feelings of uncertainty for her because she was able to go into the school with me to see her classroom and meet some of the staff prior to her first day. Initially the school seemed reluctant but after explaining how beneficial it would be to the success of her first day they agreed to meet us. It is important that we advocate for our children to set them up for success, this will in turn empower them to advocate for themselves as well.
Avoid over-reassuring. Reassurance can be good in small doses but our children can tend to rely on it and need it more and more. You cannot make promises of a future you yourself do not know about so instead have them practice mindfulness activities at home, in their safe place, with you or on their own so they are better prepared when feelings of anxiety arise. Again I would recommend the Insight Timer App, they have many great children’s mindfulness meditations.
Model calm yourself. Your child does not need to hear when you are worried about something; it is not their responsibility to shoulder your burdens. If things are weighing on you, be honest about your own emotions (because we also do not want to teach our children to suppress their emotions) and what you are doing to work through it, ie. going for a walk, mediation, painting or whatever strategies you have adopted to manage your own stress. You have heard the expression “actions speak louder than words” and it is true here too. You can tell your child all you want about how to cope with stressful situations but it will sink in more when they see you demonstrating healthy coping strategies.
Look for the positive. I don’t know about you but often when I am stressed I seem to have my sh*t colored glasses on. Nothing is good, everything sucks. When I notice myself getting into this frame of mind I instead start thinking of what I am grateful for. Incorporating a daily gratitude practice with your child can help them focus on the positive things in their life rather than the negative. If you are fortunate enough to eat meals all together as a family you can take turns saying what you are grateful for. Bedtime/wakeups are also a great time to connect and say what we are grateful for so we can start and end the day with positive thoughts. Each night when I am putting my daughter to bed I ask her what her favorite part of her day was, what her least favorite part was (and how it made her feel) and 3 things she is grateful for. I look forward to this time with her because typically I learn something about her day that she hadn’t told me and it is a wonderful time to give her a chance to feel heard.
In conclusion we want our children to grow up feeling confident in their own abilities to navigate their world in a healthy way. When we practice healthy coping strategies WITH our children we are giving them the tools to do so. Let’s empower our children to be confident, to see the world in a positive light and to be the best version of themselves. In my opinion the future depends on it.