We must teach our kids a foundation for healthy eating habits. Unfourtuanelty, this can be challenging for busy nurse moms, who often struggle to eat properly, exercise regularly, or get enough sleep as it is due to our crazy working-mom lifestyles.
So, how do we help our families adopt healthier eating choices when it seems like life is always getting in the way? Here are a few fun suggestions that have worked for my own family. I hope they help you too!
Involve children in the meal planning process
Teach your kids healthy eating habits by involving them in the meal-planing process.
Kids love to feel like they are a part of things, and they are more likely to want to eat healthy foods if they are included in the food preparation experience.Grant your children some say in which foods you bring into the house.
For example, if I plan to purchase grapes at the store, I will ask my son which color he wants. When we go to the grocery store together, I let him help me select the produce items that he thinks are the most appealing.Search recipes together for inspiration, so you all can be excited about the meals you will have that week.
I personally love Pinterest and use it as my primary means of saving and organizing recipes. Each child can be allowed to make one or two “special requests” for either a specific food they would like to have or a particular meal they want to eat.
Sometimes it is not realistic to prepare a family meal every single night. Here is a solution for that: make double batches when you cook to ensure that you have extra nutritious food that can easily be reheated as leftovers later in the week. When I worked 12-hour day shifts, I would often make a tray of lasagna, enchiladas, or casserole on my days off. That way, my husband could easily prepare healthy dinners for the family in my absence.
By preparing meals ahead of time, we eliminated the temptation to pick up fast food on the way home when we were exhausted and starving.
Encourage children to help out in the kitchen
Teaching kids healthy eating habits by involving them in the kitchen.
Even young children can make handy kitchen porters. They can help mix, measure, and stir years before they are old enough to be trusted near a hot stove or sharp instruments.
My son picked out a set of miniature set of kitchen tools (a small spatula, whisk, and tongs) for himself, and it makes him feel extra special when he assists me in the kitchen.You may have to do a little extra clean up at the end, but be patient and praise your culinary apprentices for helping! Fond memories and a love of cooking will be ingrained for life.
Teach kids healthy eating habits – don’t encourage them to clean their plates if they are full.
Children are very good at self-regulating their food intake. Telling kids they must finish their food, even if they insist that they are not hungry, can cause them to tune out their innate cues of fullness and may set them up to become chronic overeaters later in life.
Lead by example
Kids are always observing, and you need to practice what you preach. The nutrition standards you set for them as a parent will go further than anything you say.However, don’t always expect perfection of yourself. Parenting is hard, and some days just getting the kids fed is an accomplishment.
Holiday get-togethers, family dinners, and parties with cake and candy are perfectly fine in moderation. The point is that if you eat a variety of wholesome foods each day, your children will develop an appreciation for fresh, healthy eating as well.
Additional Information to help teach children healthy eating habits
The American Academy at Pediatrics has an archive of articles with evidence-based advice on healthy eating for children that you can find here. Consult with your children’s pediatrician or primary care provider if you have questions regarding your children’s specific dietary needs.
Cyra-Lea Drummond is a registered nurse with 15 years experience in telemetry, cardiac ICU, cardiac rehab, and home health. She currently lives near Louisville, KY, and enjoys spending her free time playing outside with her husband, son, and their dog Daisy.Content goes here
The relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is so special, yet finding activities for kids and seniors to do together can be challenging.
But spending quality time with older family members is essential and has many benefits. For example, grandchildren will often discuss personal problems with their grandparents, and they listen to the advice the grandparent gives in response. Also, grandparents are essential in passing on family traditions and history.
Many studies have even shown there are lower rates of depression in both the grandparents and grandchildren when they spend quality time together. This is particularly important for grandparents who want to be as involved as they can before they require a different level of care in their lives. You are never too old (or too young) to new things and new experiences. The best part is that when you are retired, there is more time to concentrate on spending more time with family. Now is the time to plan your next adventure!
Here are 12 fun activities for kids and seniors to help keep everyone active and enjoying life:
Go to the playground
It’s usually free, and it’s fun. Your preschooler will enjoy trying all the different parks in your community and going back to their favorite. Don’t just sit on the bench and watch them. Join in the fun and stay active!
See the animals at the zoo
A huge metropolitan zoo is fabulous for the older child who has some knowledge of animals. It’s great for the younger child also—but maybe start with specific sections in case they tire out.
Don’t forget the smaller zoos, such as petting zoos. See if there are any animal sanctuaries in your town. Many allow visitors, and you and your grandchild can learn about the animals that can’t be returned to the wild due to injury.
A fun activity for kids and seniors: go to the zoo
Besides the permanent exhibits in the collection, most museums also have on loan temporary exhibits. They can range from a re-creation of ancient Egypt to an exhibit of Native American culture with authentic clothing and the different type of shelters used at the time.
Visit an art museum
Most kids like to draw and paint, and most have been exposed to sculpture through Playdoh® and clay. Why not take them to an art museum to see other types of art?
This is usually more age-appropriate for an older child, but even a young child can enjoy the art if you tailor the visit to what they will love. Check out the different types of art and then see what they are drawn to.
A fun activity for kids and seniors: look at art together
Go for a hike
If your grandchild is still in a stroller, you might be restricted to paved paths, but at least you can vary where you go. Take a walk through a botanical garden and talk about the pretty flowers. If they are very young, the emphasis may be on just the colors. You can introduce the smells plants have and the different shapes of the leaves.
Older children can go on hikes in the woods or by the lake. Many state parks have guided hikes that teach about the tracks animals make. They also have nighttime hikes to see nocturnal animal activity.
Visit a farm
Many states that have a strong farm tradition host a “Breakfast on the Farm” or “Day on the Farm” where you can have a tour of how the farm works and then enjoy a farm breakfast made from the food the farm produces.
Better yet, take your grandchild to a Field-to-Table event. All the food used in the meal is made from food grown at the site and prepared right after harvest. This is a great opportunity to introduce them to concepts of good nutrition and healthy food.
Pick your own fruit and make something
Pick your own strawberries and make freezer jam with it. This is an easy project, and your grandchild will have strawberry jam to take home. You can also save some strawberries to serve over ice cream for a treat later on.
Check out what is grown in your area and find a pick-your-own farm to gather cherries, apples, blueberries, pumpkins, or even peaches.
A fun activity for kids and seniors: go apple picking
Fly a kite
Why not spend the afternoon flying kites at the local park? You may even be able to find a kite exhibition with huge kites in your area. These are usually held on shorelines of big lakes or in large open fields.
Along the same line, see if there are any hot air balloon events in your area. These are usually held early in the morning or in the late afternoon. It’s pretty impressive to see several hot air balloons take off at the same time and the kids will love it!
Go miniature golfing
There are some very unique miniature golf courses that make spending time together really fun! Even if you are a real golfer, miniature golf evens the playing field! The best part is all ages can participate.
A fun activity for kids and seniors: go whale watching
Take your grandchildren to a drive-in movie
Take a trip back in time and show them how you went to the movies in the “old days.” The good news is most drive-ins have the option of dialing in your radio for the sound instead of using the speaker that hangs on your window. The radio option may not be quite as authentic, but it sure does lessen the mosquito population in your car!
Make a birdhouse
If you are good with construction and woodworking, build your own one-of-a-kind birdhouses. Or, if that isn’t one of your strengths, buy premade, unpainted birdhouses and lots of colored paints and spend the day painting your birdhouses to hang in your yard.
Susan Ashby, MS Gerontology, is a Community Relations Manager with Superior Senior Care in Little Rock, Arkansas. She has a passion for helping families age with health and happiness and in the setting of one’s own choice. She loves to spend time outdoors with her children and grandchildren. Her favorite activities include boating, swimming, fishing, and hiking the nearby mountain trails.
*This post is sponsored by the American Cleaning Institute to help educate people about the importance of laundry safety, including the proper storage and handling of liquid laundry packets. You can find our disclosure pagehere.
Safety Throughout the Home: Caring for Older Adults
There is nothing better than watching my children play with their grandparents. We just spent a fun-filled week visiting family in Sacramento, and my 4-year-old daughter has asked at least a dozen times when she gets to see Grandma and Papa again.
And (not surprisingly) she has already started planning for their visit to see us over the holiday season.
But Thanksgiving will be here before we know it, and with the holidays approaching things will start to get even busier.
The holidays are right around the corner.
It is so easy to get overwhelmed as a busy mom who is trying to hold down the fort at home and plan for the holidays. Trust me, I get it. My life feels like an earthquake at times as a busy ER nurse and mom with two toddlers.
That is why I think there is an aspect of safety-proofing the home that often gets overlooked – keeping the home safety-proofed for older family members with dementia or other cognitive decline.
Especially when it’s something you aren’t used to doing or in the habit of preparing for.
Dementia is a serious issue among older adults.
A recent study estimated that 8.8 % of adults aged 65 and older in the United States had dementia in 2012. That corresponds to about 3.65 million people!
Seeing a loved one with dementia is one of the hardest things you can face. In fact, it has been so hard for me to watch my own Dad, who I have always viewed as a powerful figure, succumb to poor health.
I understand it is my responsibility to keep him safe. And by not accepting his situation as it is, I could make it worse. Which is why when you have older family members with memory loss or confusion, it is so important not to forget to safety-proof the laundry room!
It really does seem that the laundry room just doesn’t get as much love when it comes to safety-proofing, and I really want to change that.
It is important to safety proof the laundry room for adults with dementia. Packets UP!
Proper laundry room safety.
In my own experience as an emergency room nurse I have witnessed what can happen when confused adults experience accidental exposures. It is always horribly scary for them, and in every instance, completely preventable.
And every time it happens, both the patient and the family are devastated. They didn’t think that their loved ones were confused enough to accidentally ingest a cleaning product.
But just like we baby-proof our homes for our kids, adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s need to be protected as well.
Because adults suffering from dementia and other cognitive disabilities can get confused easily and accidents can happen in an instant.
Accidental exposure to liquid laundry packets can be prevented by taking a few simple steps to ensure they are used and stored safely.
Safety is always the #1 goal (because you don’t think something can happen…until it does)
As a busy mother, I understand how easy it is to forget to safety-proof your home. But if you take a few simple steps and have systems in place that will prevent accidents from happening, you can keep your family safe.
After all, most accidents that bring our family members to the emergency room can be prevented and avoided altogether.
So in honor of my desire to encourage families to take an active stance in safety-proofing their homes, my #1 safety message this year is to encourage parents to put their Packets UP!
Laundry room safety. Packets up!
Simple caregiver safety tips in the laundry room
Step #1: Keep laundry packets out of reach
If you are caring for an individual who shows the signs or symptoms of dementia, make sure all cleaning products, including liquid laundry packets, are stored in a locked cabinet or a closet.
If you don’t have a cabinet available, place liquid laundry packets (in the original packaging) into a larger bin with other laundry and household products and put it up high where those at risk won’t be able to see or reach them.
Step #2: Keep laundry packets out of site
While clear or glass jars can be a creative way to display household items, storing liquid laundry packets visibly in these jars could be confusing for adults with memory impairments. Keep liquid laundry packets tightly secured in their original packaging, stored up and out of reach.
Tip: If you have other family at home, teach them that they need to let you know immediately if they see any liquid laundry packets out.
Step #3: Separate laundry packets from groceries
When purchasing liquid laundry packets and other household cleaners from the store, have them bagged separately and put them away in their designated safe storage spot – out of sight and out of reach – as soon as you get home as you unpack your groceries.
Step #4: Make safety checks a priority
Conduct routine safety checks in the home to prevent accidents.
Tips: Consider ordering a free reminder cling from PacketsUp.com. Hang this sticker in the laundry room to remind yourself to check your laundry packets and make sure they are stored properly and out of children’s reach. If you have a housekeeper or someone else who does the laundry, have a conversation with them about how important it is that they also follow your laundry room safety rules.
If a liquid laundry packet is ingested:
Call the Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222) immediately if a liquid laundry packet is ingested.
I hope this messaging helps others understand how important it is to practice laundry safety when family with dementia are visiting, including properly storing and handling liquid laundry packets.
Let’s have ZERO accidental laundry product exposures this and every year. Safety first!!
Remember these key laundry packet safety points:
It is so important to store liquid laundry packets up high and out of sight and reach.
Don’t forget to completely close and seal liquid laundry packet containers after use.
Finally, always store liquid laundry packets in their original containers.
When my second child was born in 2018 my husband was back at work within a few days.
He had accepted a new position only a few months earlier that required longer hours and a lot more responsibility. As the manager of a new team of employees his presence in the office was important. And like most new dads in the United States, he didn’t have the option of taking paternity leave.
As a result, very soon after a difficult c-section recovery that resulted in me needing 4 blood transfusions and a whole lot of stress, I was back home taking care of an active 2 year-old-toddler and a new baby boy. Alone most of the time, and unfortunately without any family around to help out.
Many new mothers in the United States are by themselves within a day or two after birth
Many moms are home alone within only a few days of giving birth.
In the fuzzy days after a new baby’s arrival, many women struggle with a lack of support in the home. This happens at the exact same time they are struggling with both extreme sleep deprivation, and the physical recovery of childbirth.
Not to mention, many parents have additional children who need more attention than ever. This leaves new moms exposed and vulnerable to illness, both physically and mentally.
It is well known that the US is only one of four countries in the world, and the only developed country, that doesn’t offer maternity leave. It therefore isn’t shocking to hear that paternity leave is way out of the question for most new parents.
Not only are women dealing with the overwhelming events that come with new motherhood: sleep deprivation, round-the-clock feedings, and constant care giving – but many moms, like myself, end up going back to work before they are ready because they are out of work for so long without pay.
When I did go back to work I was a zombie. A happy, grateful zombie. But nonetheless, a sleep-deprived, worn-out zombie.
(I consider myself lucky that I could afford to stay home with our son for as long as I did. As a per diem nurse I don’t receive any benefits at all, including paid time off before or after childbirth).
Arguments for paternity leave and how it may actually improve mom’s health
Can paternity leave be beneficial for the whole family?
In 2012, Sweden passed a law that allows fathers to take up to 30 days off in the year after a birth, while mom is still on maternity leave.
In addition, there was an 11 percent decrease in antibiotic prescriptions and a 14 percent reduction in hospitalizations and visits by these mothers to the doctor’s office.
The research found that paternity leave actually improved moms’ health. In addition, it even showed that by having dad at home for even a few days to a week after childbirth there were significant postpartum benefits for mothers.
Additional benefits to fathers taking time off for birth
Paternity leave can strengthen the father/baby bond, even if leave is for a short time.
Many new dads find themselves in a paternity-leave pickle
Health wise, the benefits of paternity leave makes sense for the whole family. But what if dad is afraid of taking paternity leave due to fear of negative judgement or missing out on a potential promotion?
Unfortunately, many new dads feel there is a stigma attached to the idea actually taking time off with a new baby. In fact, I know a dad whose company offered 4 weeks of paternity leave but didn’t take it because he felt “guilty” for missing work.
Is it possible to make that decision a little easier for dads to make without retribution from the workplace?
More attention needs to be given to new mothers after coming home from the hospital
Paternity leave can help mothers manage post natal depression and recovery from childbirth.
Even a short paternity leave could be a helpful solution to the isolation many new moms feel postpartum. After leaving the hospital, there is little attention focused on the day or two later when mom gets back home and into the new realities of motherhood.
It would be interesting to see what amazing things might happen if all new dads took 30 days of paternity leave to spend at home with their families to bond. Would it make a dent in the money we spend on postpartum healthcare for mothers?
Sweden’s experience seems to suggest it would.
What you think paternity leave would do for your family? Do you have an argument for or against paternity leave?
Additional recommended reading by Mother Nurse Love
*This post contains affiliate links. For more information about my disclosure policy click here.
September is Emergency Preparedness Month. Are you ready?
School is back in session for the kids and now is a great opportunity to do a little reorganization and preparation to ensure that your family is ready in case of a catastrophic event.
As a registered nurse and mom I have become more paranoid in the last few years about natural disasters. And I’m not alone with my concerns. If you recall, in 2017 the United States was hit by 3 of the largest hurricanes to have hit the US in over a century.
In addition, my family lives in Los Angeles County which means our home sits right in the middle of earthquake country. The experts have been saying that we are due for the “big one” at any time. We can’t predict when it will actually happen, of course. But we can do our best to prepare in case it does.
As I write this, I am currently taking inventory of the homemade emergency survival kit I made last September . And I’m asking my self the same question as I did then: is my family prepared if we had a major emergency such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack?
What will you do if there is an emergency?
I like to think of myself as a person who is ready for an emergency. After all, I am an emergency room nurse. I’m used to dealing with emergent situations during my twelve hour shifts. In the hospital we have all the training and supplies we need to be ready for (almost) anything.
I have plenty of first aid supplies stashed away in our garage. And last September I made it a priority to store enough non perishable food and water to last our family for 5 days. Now I want to reassess and make sure that my emergency food and other supplies are still up to par. After all, we do have an additional family member, our 7 month old son!
You can buy an emergency supply kit online.
There are lots of websites online that sell emergency supply kits. Many of them cost from $100 up into the thousands, which may not be affordable for some people. In addition, they still may not include all of the supplies you may need such as food, water, medications or other personal items.
If purchasing an emergency supply kit is not an option for you, why not build you own kit and customize it for your needs? I gathered the following information from several websites and I have resources listed at the bottom of this post.
What To Put In A Homemade Emergency Survival Kit:
The CDC and FEMA state that we should have a minimum of a three day supply of water and food for everyone in the family, including pets. This water is for both drinking and sanitation. Of course it never hurts to prepare with more.
You should have at least the equivalent of 1 gallon of water per person/per day. For our family of (almost) 4 that means we should have at least 12 gallons of water stashed away to have the minimum three day supply.
It is possible that electricity could be out for several days in an emergency, which means perishables in the fridge and freezer will go bad. Cooking is also difficult without electricity so the foods should be “ready to eat.” In the case of a major emergency non-perishable foods become important for survival.
Emergency food supplies:
Canned fruits, veggies
Canned beans, pastas
Dry cereal, granola
Trail mix, dried fruits
Protein bars, granola bars
Non-perishable pasteurized milk
Food for infants (formula, jars)
Food for pets
The Department of Homeland Security’s website, Ready.gov states that you should try to avoid foods that make you thirsty, so you don’t end up drinking all of your water.
Keep these items in a designated place in your home and don’t use them unless there is an emergency. You don’t want to go to your stash in the event of a natural disaster to find that portions of your emergency kit are missing.
You can’t plan a disaster. But you can prepare for it.
Take some time this weekend to prepare a homemade emergency survival kit. You will thank yourself later for being responsible and taking care of your loved ones in advance of a disaster.
Are you prepared for a disaster? What are you going to do today to ensure that your family has what they need to survive? Leave a comment below!
( *Post updated 3/9/2020. There are affiliate links in this post. You can see my disclosure page here.)
Who knew that a crib tent would give our family the gift of sleep (and sanity)? I purchased our crib tent 16 months ago, and it has since become my #1 most important toddler purchase, ever.
Just to give a little background: our daughter was never a good sleeper (sweet as pie, but hated going to sleep). As a result, delirium due to a lack of sleep became a “normal” part of our family’s daily routine.
So, when our daughter was ten months old, I hired a sleep trainer. Her methods were a success, and we all finally started sleeping again!
But then, after nearly six consecutive months of almost uninterrupted slumber, the unimaginable happened. Our toddler, Zoe, learned how to climb out of her crib!
Our toddler’s “crib jumping” was a problem.
Once again, we were all losing sleep. My toddlers daredevil escapes seriously concerned me because:
It was unsafe. Our tiny toddler could seriously injure herself by falling several feet or getting stuck between the slats.
I did not want her wandering alone through the house at night. Again, a significant safety issue.
My husband and I were not going to get a good night’s sleep until we found a solution we were comfortable with. We were all sleep-deprived but also experiencing daily stress from this new problem.
Sleep is important.
Sleep is so crucial for both physical and mental health.
According to The National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep is linked to hypertension, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and several other chronic diseases.
The National Sleep Foundation also states that sleep is especially crucial for children because it is when blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur, and important hormones are released for growth and development.
We looked at several alternatives.
After getting over the shock of my daughter’s uncanny ability to scale the crib, we tried several things to deter her.
We took out the bottom of the crib, so the mattress was on the floor to make her escape more difficult. That stopped her from climbing out for exactly one night, and then she was back at it again.
We took everything out of her crib so she couldn’t use it as a prop to climb out. This method didn’t stop her either.
We watched our toddler climb out of her crib on a monitor so we could see exactly how she was doing it. She made it look so easy! She held on to the top bar and put her feet in between the crib slates, hoisting herself to the top, then she teetered on the top bar and balanced until she could get both feet over the sides and jump to the floor. Usually, with a big SPLAT.
A toddler bed was not yet an option.
I scored the internet for more suggestions and solutions. A toddler bed was out of the question because our toddler would not stay in her bed (or room for that matter) for more than 1 minute.
Inevitably, we would end up having a little visitor in bed with us every night for the foreseeable future (or worse, roaming the house!).
My priority for our daughter was safety. I didn’t want her to get hurt while climbing out of her crib, but I also didn’t want her wandering around the house in the middle of the night either. And frankly, we ALL needed to get some sleep!
I read a ton of reviews on this crib tent, and it sounded like people were having a lot of success without having any safety issues. From my personal experience, these are the reasons this crib tent has been a gift from the sleep Gods.
Our toddler could no longer get stuck between the rails (which previously happened several times!).
Our toddler was unable to grip the sides of the railing, which prevented her from scaling the crib walls.
The material is made from BPA-free mesh netting and is hypoallergenic.
The crib tent fits snugly over the crib, and our toddler couldn’t get stuck in the crib netting. The bottom of the crib tent sits under the mattress.
It was super easy and fast to set up. No extra tools were required.
We ALL finally got the sleep we needed and finally felt refreshed again during the day.