Parenting

3 Fun Activities to Stay Healthy This Winter

Keeping active during the season you'd ideally spend hibernating under the bedcovers is a challenge for parents and kids alike. But if the very idea of cold weather makes you shiver, take heart: You don't have to brave bone-chilling temperatures to stay healthy in winter. Many indoor activities can keep your brood fit during those long, chilly months. "The trick is to make activities about having fun, not about health or fitness," says Laura Williams, founder of the website GirlsGoneSporty.com. "Kids don't worry about reducing their risk of high blood pressure or diabetes. They identify with playing games and having a great time."

To keep your kids fit and healthy this winter, here are three ideas from our experts to keep things moving all season long.

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10 New Year's Resolutions for Healthier Kids

After the late nights, lax rules and endless eating of the holidays, the start of the new year is the perfect time to make healthy changes to your family routine.

Your first resolution should be to take it slow: Instead of grand promises, tackle 10 little new year's resolutions for healthier kids -- easy-to-stick-with habits that add up, automatically, to help your kids feel strong and happy.

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Blending Your Parenting Styles

Is your wife a strict disciplinarian, while you prefer to let things slide? Is your husband a screamer, and you're an "inside voice" kind of mom? When you have different parenting styles, it can often feel like you're at odds with your spouse. "My husband doesn't seem to see half of what our son does," laments Christine Richards, a mom in suburban New York. "I don't want him to grow up badly behaved, so I end up being the heavy."

Have a good cop/bad cop situation brewing in your home? Here are strategies from Harvey Karp, M.D., author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block (Bantam), for navigating this common parenting conundrum.

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Stamp Out Sibling Rivalry

You find your kids practically coming to blows over who got more cream cheese on their bagel, and you can't help but think: There is just no way to avoid sibling rivalry. Well, if the goal is to avoid it entirely, then you might be right, says John Rosemond, author of The New! Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children (Andrews McMeel Publishing). "The only way to prevent it is to only have one child or to space kids 18 years apart," says Rosemond, with a laugh. That said, there's plenty you can do to help defuse kids' natural tendency to push one other's buttons. Want to (almost) keep the peace? Put these strategies to work in your house.

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De-Stress Your Mornings

For most moms, mornings are a mad dash to get everyone up, dressed and out the door -- if your kid's shoes match, all the better. However the a.m. hours don't always have to be so hectic (we promise). Try just one of these tips tomorrow and you'll start to feel (almost) serene.

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Hand Sanitizers and Safety

Dear EarthTalk: My pediatrician swears by those gel hand sanitizers for lowering the risk of my family getting sick during cold and flu season. But I've also heard that these products can be dangerous to kids if ingested. Are there any safer alternatives that work just as well?
--Jason Blalock, Oakland, CA

A 2005 study by the Children's Hospital in Boston compared illness rates across a study group of 292 families—half of them got hand sanitizers while the other half were given literature advising them of the benefits of frequent hand washing. The findings revealed that those families who used hand sanitizers experienced a 59 percent reduction in gastrointestinal illnesses and that the increased use of sanitizers correlated to a decreased spread of contagions in general.

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Keeping Your Kitchen Safe

They're smart kids. Each year, more than 67,000 children are injured in the kitchen -- 43,000 of them four years old and under. "The only way to truly prevent kitchen accidents is to closely supervise your child and enforce rules, like no sitting on the counters," says Andy Spooner, M.D., director of general pediatrics at the University of Tennessee in Memphis. "Gizmos sold to improve kitchen safety are nice, but they can't take the place of adult supervision." What else can you do to prevent accidents? Here are Dr. Spooner's top recommendations

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The Daring Book for Girls (Review)

I have been dying to tell you about this book for MONTHS now, and then kapow! Two things kept me from meeting my blog tour deadline for "The Daring Book for Girls." First, our server blew up. You all held my hand through that, no need to rehash it.

But funnier, I just got the book back. Josie and Lou refused to give it back to me!

I feel it necessary to mention that I know Andi and Miriam, the gals who wrote the book. They're longtime online writing buddies, the founders of MotherTalk, and I'm even in one of Miriam's books. With that said, don't discount me when I say that "Daring" turned out even more fabulous that I was hoping it would be!

I am a sucker for these kinds of "handy" books and guides. I wish I still had my old 1940s Girl Scouts manual, for instance; I think I carted that thing around until it fell apart (this was in the 60s, thanks very much).

And with the advent of 24 hour children's television and video games, I worry that "girl culture" as I knew it is disappearing, much as "housewife culture" disappeared almost overnight late in the 20th century after several millennia of tradition. Every time I see a couple of girls playing "cat's cradle" with a loop of string I get happy chills.

And this book gives me happy chills!

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Daring Book for Girls

See Lynn's full review here. (Short version: IT'S FABULOUS!!!)

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Get Your Kids Moving!

What do your kids do for fun? If you answer "watch TV" or "play video games," your kids may be facing a serious health challenge, especially later in life. Obesity and inactivity are sharply up among today's children, and while schools are trying to reverse the trends, the real battle is on the home front. You have to get them moving, and you can't depend on your child's school to do it for you.

You don't need to force pushups and squats on your children, or march them through an adult workout routine. Kids love to play. You just need to encourage them to channel all that energy into active play.

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Creative Childcare on a Budget

Parents need timeout from parental duties to keep the spark between husband and wife ablaze. Whether it's a table for two, a concert, movie, or even a sleep over (empty nest or at an inn), quality time as a couple is important to a marriage and family.

If you don't think you can afford these dates without worrying about your kids' happiness and safety, and childcare costs, you're not alone. For this reason, consider a child-swapping network with other couples. It's a convenient, inexpensive, reliable and rewarding alternative to a babysitter.

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Make Your Own Baby Food

What's in that jarred baby food in the cupboard? Chances are there's a ton of sugar and preservatives in it, that's what. The majority of baby foods on the market add sugar to everything, even chicken and peas. And that's not counting the extra salt!

Why should you go homemade? For starters, you'll know exactly what's going into it that way. You'll be able to tailor the ingredients to what your baby needs and likes. The food will be fresh, free of extra sugar and salt, and prepared with good ingredients, as opposed to jarred ones which are often made from bruised fruits and vegetables with chemicals added to even out the taste. The killer reason for me? Homemade baby food isn't only better for baby, it's not only easy to make--but it's incredibly cheap!

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Organic Baby Food


Giving babies nutritious food is not only good for their health, but it will also help establish positive eating habits, unlike our spokesbaby here. Photo: Getty Images.

Dear EarthTalk: I want to give my baby fresh, organic food but I don't have the time to make her special meals. What options are out there?
--Marie L., via e-mail

Babies deserve the best possible start in life, so giving them nutritious food is a must, not only for good health but also to establish positive eating habits as early as possible.

According to Consumers Union (CU), publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, commercial baby foods, many of which are made up of condensed fruits and vegetables, can contain high concentrations of pesticide residues. “A lot of these pesticides are toxic to the brain,” says Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics and preventative medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Citing studies that have linked smaller head circumference and reduced intelligence in babies to in utero exposure to pesticides consumed by their mothers, Landrigan says it is best not to gamble when it comes to baby food.

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Errands with Kids

Wouldn't it be great if you could get childcare every time you needed it, whenever you needed it? Well, for most of parents, that just isn't possible. So, in the meantime, try some of these tricks from real moms on how to get your errands run, and traveling done with happy kids at your side.

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A Greener, Healthier Cafeteria

Dear EarthTalk: How can we get schools to offer healthier and more eco-friendly cafeteria food to our kids? I don’t have time to bag a healthy lunch every day.
-- Leslie Morris, Richmond, VA

Now that many schools have stopped selling sodas and other unhealthy vending machine items to their students, improving the nutritional quality of cafeteria food is on the agenda of many parents and school administrators. And luckily for the environment, healthier food usually means greener food.

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Punk Rock Dad: Gabba-Gabba Hey! Get That Out of Your Mouth!

Click here to buy Punk Rock DadJim Lindberg is the lead singer of the punk rock group Pennywise. Being neither an aficionado of punk nor a fan of the rock bio genre of literature, I resisted reading this book. Having completed my read, I now regret that resistance.

I haven’t listened to Pennywise, Jim’s band, but have heard snippets of their appearances on Loveline with Drew Pinsky. I can’t speak to their music, but I can tell you that Jim a doofus. A loveable doofus, for sure, and quite serious about a few things, but when it comes to things like onesies and potty training, he is a very very silly man. He also happens to be one of the more unlikely authors of a book on parenting.

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Punk Rock Dad

See JJ's full review here.

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Homeschooling for Beginners

Ae you considering homeschooling your children? While there is more information out there about homeschooling than ever before, you may not know where to start. So let's take a look at homeschooling, from a beginner's perspective.

"Homeschooling" in a legal sense means that one or more children of not more than 2 families are instructed by parents or legal guardians, or a member of either household. The laws that define homeschooling vary from state to state, and country to country.

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Wee Ride Co-Pilot Bike Trainer

Josie learned and now Louisa is learning to ride on this bike trailer. We really like ours a lot.

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Five Ways to Get Outdoors More

get outside!Being outdoors should be a part of everyone's daily lives. But lately it seems as if people are forgetting about the natural world. The recent book "Last Child in the Woods" even gives it a name--"Nature Deficit Disorder"--and claims our children increasingly suffer from it.

Nevertheless, children are naturally drawn to the outdoors. If you let them, toddlers will pull you outside constantly. They have the right idea and we should all try and get out more. Here are five fun activities that the whole family can enjoy.

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The Way Things Go

I cannot believe I haven't added this to the reviews before now. This is one of our very favorite short films, and it becomes a favorite of everyone we've shown it to.

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Help Your Child Cope with ADHD

Coping with ADHD

ADHD: YOU CAN HELP YOUR CHILD--OR YOURSELF--COPE WITH IT!

It's Not A Life Sentence!

Dear Parent,

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is becoming one of the most diagnosed disorders among children and even adults these days. Many years ago, the acronym ADHD was virtually unheard of. When you get the word that you or your child has ADHD, you might feel overwhelmed wondering where you can turn for information on how to deal with this new thing in your life.

We can understand! That's exactly why this might be the MOST IMPORTANT letter you've ever read.

There have been as many as 750,000 children in America diagnosed with ADHD. Some say the actual number is much, much higher. Adults who are being diagnosed have probably been suffering with the disorder for years without being able to put a "finger" on what exactly has made them act the way they do.

With an ADHD child or adult, the first thing to do is to gather as much information as you possibly can. It's imperative that you understand what ADHD is, what the symptoms are, and how to deal with those symptoms.

We Have That Information You Are Looking For!

ADHD is NOT a disease. It is not an incurable illness. ADHD is a disorder that can be controlled and dealt with in positive, healthy ways. But in order to effectively control the behaviors that accompany ADHD, you need to know what exactly you are dealing with.

Our new e-book, Coping With ADHD, is the answer to your prayers! There is a lot of information out there that can help you, but if you have an ADHD person in your life, chances are pretty good that you don't have time to go looking for what you need.

The truth is that you want the very best for your child. But you worry about him or her because they don't glide through school effortlessly and they have tough times with things like following directions and sitting still. The adult with ADHD has problems finishing projects and paying attention when they should be.

"I've loved Lucas from the day he was born. Everything seemed fine until he went to school. That's when all the troubles started. No one could tell me why he was doing so poorly. I got tired of getting the phone calls from his teacher. Lucas kept telling me he was doing the best he could. I didn't know where to turn or even whether to believe him."

-- Alicia from Missouri

Both children and adults with ADHD can thrive--when you have techniques and tips that can help you conquer the symptoms and overcome. What's The secret? It starts with one universal thought that is an incredible truth--hear it and believe it! Every single person with ADHD has hidden talents and skills that he or she isn't using nearly as powerfully as they can. So why is it so difficult to find those talents?

So very often, success goes hand and hand with education. But general education teachers are pretty well trained to deliver information to students who will sit still and listen. Kids with ADHD simply cannot do this, so they miss out on what their peers are receiving simply because they don't have ADHD.

But There Is Help!

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Discipline Without Distress

Read an article from Judy Arnall here.

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How to Buy Clothes for Your Newborn

Buying baby clothes for your new little one might seem like an easy task--until you get into the store and see the incredible range of clothing there is! Baby clothes are a big business and that means you have more options than you can shake a stick at. So, which clothes do you go with? Which ones does your newborn really need? Let's sort all this out so you can buy the right layette and get on with enjoying your baby.

Newborns don't need much clothing, really. They aren't able to crawl around and get dirty yet, so most of the time you will only be dealing with spit up and leaky diapers. Baby clothes that are soft and comfortable are your first priority and after that, you can worry about durability. Babies grow so quickly that they usually only wear their cute little outfits for a month or two before they are on to the next size!

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Organizing Children's Rooms

Kids' rooms are notorious for being disaster areas. While this is a typical symptom of childhood, it generally comes from not having things organized in an easy to access manner. Kids are just not good at putting things away, so you need to make it fun and interesting, and above all, easy! This article will give you some ideas on how to go about incorporating a little organization into your kids' rooms.

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Who needs discipline more--you or your kid(s)?

Me
78% (51 votes)
My kid(s)
14% (9 votes)
None of us--we're perfect!
8% (5 votes)
Total votes: 65
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