Turkey, football and the Macy’s Day Parade may be Thanksgiving go-tos, but the holiday can have so much more depth when you incorporate some truly unique family Thanksgiving traditions that will stick with people for years to come.
“Thanksgiving should be made up of rituals and customs we all remember forever,” says Jordan Stringfellow, owner of Jordi & CO Events, a Los Angeles-based event planning company that also specializes in seasonal decor and holiday table settings. "Passing on family traditions to our children and sharing them with a table full of blended friends and family is one of the most satisfying things a parent can do.”
Looking to add fun Thanksgiving traditions to your family’s holiday repertoire? Here are 10 meaningful and creative ideas the whole family will cherish.
1.Pass Around a Journal -“Simply pass a blank journal around the Thanksgiving table, asking all the guests to write at least one thing that they are thankful for. For kids too young to write, have an adult transcribe. Over the years, fill the book with comments and enjoy reading them aloud at Thanksgiving celebrations to come. It is truly wonderful to read how gratitude reflections change over time.”
2. Volunteer- One of the best Thanksgiving traditions for families? Volunteering together! Thanksgiving is a great time to give back to your community and help those in need — and it’s one of the richest customs you can incorporate into your family’s holiday.
3.Kick off the Holiday Season- These days, the December holiday season kicks off the second the last bite of pumpkin pie is eaten. Don’t try to fight it. Embrace it. Watch Christmas movies, wear Christmas pajamas....
4. Make room at the table- “Extend an invitation to an elderly neighbor whose family can’t visit or a coworker who’s far from home — and if they opt to stay home, take them a plate.” If doing the latter, though, Stringfellow advises towing a sensitivity line. “It’s important to be sensitive to the recipient,” Stringfellow says. “You don’t want to insult them or make them feel like they’re the object of charity. Sometimes this is best done by simply leaving the gift at the door and ringing the bell.”
5. Personalize the table- Have the kids put their beloved art skills to good use. “Making homemade place cards is something everyone can enjoy — and it makes the table that much more special,”
6. Have a special breakfast-While, yes, dinner is the meal on Thanksgiving, why not have a special breakfast, too?
7. Go for a morning family walk-it’s just a nice way to connect to nature and to each other. It’s the perfect beginning to a busy — and often stressful! — day.
8. Give kids an important job to do each year-Serving dessert? Making coffee? Setting the table? Help kids feel like an important part of the festivities by giving them “their” job each year.
9. Have a table toast- Let’s not forget what the most important part of Thanksgiving is: being thankful. If passing around a journal feels a little too formal for your family, have a roundtable toast. “Asking each guest to raise their glass — even if it’s a sippy cup full of milk — and make a toast about what they’re thankful for is a great way to start Thanksgiving dinner,” says Stringfellow. “Also, while it’s touching, don’t be surprised if elicits big time laughs!”
10. Play a thankful game
For parents of sensitive or anxious kids, during this season of fright, here are some ways to ratchet down the scary and still keep Halloween comfortable and fun.
Sensitive children feel things at a higher volume than others, and often need our help understanding and processing their environment. Imaginary ghosts, pretend spiders, and scary masks can all our part of this iconic holiday’s purpose of facing down our fears through play. At its best, kids learn that they can tolerate and even find fun in being scared, while at the same time knowing they are safe. This can be an important part of finding confidence amidst anxiety, and teaching kids that they can handle situations that are unfamiliar, surprising, and even disorienting. Especially for our sensitive and anxious children.For parents of sensitive or anxious kids, during this season of fright, here are some ways to ratchet down the scary and still keep Halloween comfortable and fun.
Author: Alicia H Clark, PsyD, Clark Psychology Group PLLC
Autumn has arrived, and soon we will see cooler temperatures and changing leaves along with it. It’s the perfect time to be outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. And don't forget to check our complete activities calendar of fun events being held all across our region. It is updated on a regular basis so check back often.
In the meantime, her are some budget-friendly Fall activities
1. Go on a nature hike. Make a game out of your family nature hike by making a bingo sheet. Include things like acorns, orange leaves and fuzzy squirrels. Whoever gets bingo first wins!
2. Have a picnic. The weather is perfect. Why not enjoy it with a nice picnic lunch at a local park? You can make it even better if you pack a couple of autumn treats, like apple cider!
3. Go pick pumpkins. It’s that time of year. Prepare your heart and head out to the pumpkin patch. Just make sure you budget for all the cute gourds you want to bring home with you!
4. Visit an apple orchard. This is an autumn classic. If you live near an apple orchard, make a day of it. Some places sell you bushels of apples, while others even let you pick your own.
5. Carve jack-o’-lanterns. Once you’ve visited the pumpkin patch, make a family date of picking out patterns and (carefully) carving them onto your pumpkins. Don’t forget to budget for the candles!
6. Check out local festivals. You can find local festivals just about anywhere at this time of year! Check out what events are happening in your city and prepare for a day of fall fun!
7. Visit a corn maze. Another must-have bucket list item, visiting a corn maze is one of the best parts of fall. If you’re a competitive family, time each other to see who can make it out the fastest!
8. Go to a football game. It’s that time of year. Slip on your boots, throw on a scarf, and head out to a local football game. Whether you go to a high school, college or professional game, you’re bound to have a blast.
9. Make apple cobbler. Nothing says fall like the smell of fresh apple cobbler in the oven. It’ll smell even better if you use the apples you bought (or picked) from your trip to the apple orchard.
10. Make popcorn on the stove. Sure, you can make popcorn on the stove no matter what month it is. But there’s something extra special about this cozy tradition in the fall. And it tastes good, too!
11. Roast pumpkin seeds. Make the most of your pumpkins by scooping out the seeds when you’re carving jack-o’-lanterns. Toss them in the oven with a drizzle of oil and salt, and you’ll have a delicious snack!
12. Visit a haunted house. If you’re into spooky Halloween traditions, this should be at the top of your list. Just make sure you know what to expect before taking the kiddos with you!
13. Roast marshmallows. There’s just something about this time of year that makes roasting marshmallows an absolute must. Bonus points if you make s’mores.
14. Drink hot chocolate. Autumn isn’t complete unless you enjoy a few mugs of hot chocolate on crisp fall nights. Or, if you aren’t a fan of chocolate, swap it out for a hearty cup of spiced apple cider. Yum!
15. Go for a Sunday drive. Leisurely Sunday drives are always in style, but they’re even better in the fall. Grab a blanket for the drive and hit the road to admire all the leaves changing colors.
Make the most of your time together... you'll be so glad you did!
How Every Family Can Start the School Year Off Right: Here they are–successful new-school-year survival tips, in no particular order, so that we all start the school year off in the best way (humanly) possible:
1. Make early and frequent contact with your child’s teacher. Don’t be afraid to send an email if you have a question or concern, or just send a note to say ‘hi’ and introduce yourself. Ask how you can support classroom learning at home, and ask how you can help the teacher–by classroom volunteering or doing what you can at home.
Have your child write a Hello Teacher Note before school starts or even during the first week or month of school so that she feels a special connection with her teacher. It helps!
2. Know your child’s friends. Plan a weekend play date, even if it’s only for an hour or two, and don’t let the kids hide away downstairs or up in your kiddo’s room. Make a snack together, play a game together, or pull out a craft to do together.
Get to know these little friends now, and listen to how everyone interacts. If necessary, jump in if you don’t like what you’re hearing and talk about how kind friends speak to each other, how to share. or how to take turns. Ignoring behavior we’re not comfortable with is just like saying it’s okay.
3. Eat at least two dinners together each week. It’s hard. Verrrry hard, I know, with soccer practices, lessons, and late work days. But sitting down to dinner as a family has been proven to lead to healthier kids, happier families, and stronger family relationships.
It’s a great time to talk about the day, make sure your kids are chewing with their mouths closed (really!), and to actually sit down and look at your cute kids before they run off and turn into 20-year-olds tomorrow night. And the meal? Doesn’t have to be fancy. Just has to be something on the table that you eat together.
4.Make a home for everything. When your kiddo walks in the door, shoes make a beeline for the shoe shelf, lunchbox gets emptied then heads to his landing pad on the counter, backpack drops in the box. No questions asked.
Then when you get a second, unload the take-home folder and recycle (yes–recycle immediately!) the papers you know you won’t need, hang up one ‘super-star’ assignment on the fridge, file the important papers in your file folder, and put the night’s homework on the table where your child does homework. Done. Check. Move onto the next thing.
5.Create a structured time and place for homework. For some, it works to get homework completed immediately after walking in the door and finishing snack; for others, homework’s best saved for after dinner. It doesn’t matter when you choose–just make a choice and stick with it. Everyone fares better with routine, so start one for homework asap.
6.Become a familiar face at school. If you walk to school, introduce yourself to the administrators (and don’t be afraid!) while they’re out on bus duty and say hello each time you see him or her. Say hello to the secretaries and be extra nice to them because their job is not easy, either. Don’t expect these busy people to remember your name right away, but use their names when addressing them if you can.
If you are able, join the PTA or PTO, but don’t sweat it if you can’t–you can still help in other ways. Consider asking the PTO President or School Director how you can help–from home. I’m sure she’ll come up with something.
7.Ask your child questions and listen to the answers.
Yes:Hi, Honey, so happy to see you! What did you do in P.E. today? OR What book did you read in Reading Group? OR What was your favorite part of your lunch? OR Did you like about the assembly today?
No:Hi, Honey! Did you have a good day?
Shoot for specific, open-ended questions and go with whatever he wants to talk about. Close-ended questions (that result in a yes or no answer) stop conversation before it begins. And rapid-fire questions about what you want to know but what he’s not ready to share are enough to make a kid want to turn around and run back to the bus for safety.
So make sure you breathe–and let your child breathe, too. And what isn’t covered on the walk home can be covered during dinner or at bedtime.
8. Get your kids involved in at least one extra-curricular activity. Even if it’s one little thing that gives them a chance to interact with other kids and burn some steam, it counts.
Whether it’s a community sport, a craft club, a scouting group, or a youth group, it doesn’t matter. Kiddos need some little something to call their own when they’re young. And even if an extra-curricular is not in the budget, make it a goal to attend a free event at the library, church, or in the community several times a month.
9. Meet parents. Respond to the Room Parent’s plea for help, and remember her name when you see her at Back-to-School night or at the class party. Get to know the moms, dads, grandparents, and sitters who walk their kids to school or the bus stop. Ask parents–especially the seasoned ones–questions, and learn a little from them if you can. Learn which kids belong to which parents. Exchange contact information so that you can text someone to give you a hand if you’re running late one afternoon, or meet up at the playground after school.
10. Be thankful. Be supportive. Be grateful. Teachers’ jobs are seriously more difficult than most people can imagine. The amount of work that they do–during the week and on the weekends–to prepare lessons, ready their classroom, research best practices, work with specialists, grade schoolwork, respond to parents, attend meetings, and (for many) continue their own education–is insane.
So we need to be thankful for their hard work–today and every day–not just Teacher Appreciation Week or at the end of the year. Sign your emails with a sincere, ‘thank you for all you do‘ and mean it. Ask what you can do to support them, and follow through.
Say ‘thanks’ to the administration, the para-educators, the specialists, the custodians, and the lunchroom workers because they’re all working towards creating a safe environment for your child to meet with success and have the best year possible. So why wouldn’t you want to be thankful for, supportive of, and grateful for this school community?
Excerpts from: teachmama.com
Author: Janelle Cox
Back to school time is always a big transition, not only for children but for parents.
While children are filled with excitement and first-day jitters, parents are filled with thoughts of “Am I prepared enough?” To help eliminate these thoughts, and help you and your child prepare for the new school year, all you need is a little organization and forethought. Here are 10 back to school tips to kick-start the new year and get you prepared for a fresh start.
1. Get back into your sleep routine. To help eradicate those stressful school mornings, set up a regular bedtime and morning time routine to help prepare your child for school. Begin your usual school sleep routine about a week or so before school starts.
2. Shop for school supplies together. To get your child excited about starting a new grade, shop for supplies together. Allow them to pick out their own backpack, lunchbox, etc. This is a great way to give them a little bit of responsibility too!
3. Re-establish school routines. Have your child practice getting back into the rhythm of their daily school routine. You can do this by having them wake up at the same time every day, and eat around the same time they would at school. About a week or so before school starts, plan a few outside activities where your child will have to leave and come home around the same time they would if they were in school. This will help them be rested and ready for the big day.
4. Set up a homework station. Sit down with your child and together designate a time and place where he can do his homework each day. This can be somewhere quiet like in the den, or even in the kitchen while you are preparing dinner. Make sure to choose a time where you are available in case your child needs your help.
5. Prepare for the unexpected. Working parents know that it can be difficult to find a sitter when your child is sick. Before school even begins, it’s a good idea to have a sitter already lined up in case you get that phone call home from the nurse saying your child is ill.
6. Make an after-school game plan. Make a plan for where your child will go after school lets out for the day. Depending upon the age of your child, figure out if they will go to a neighbor’s house, an afterschool program, or be allowed to stay home by themselves. This will help eliminate any confusion during the first few weeks.
7. Turn off the TV and video games. For a lot of children summertime is filled with endless video games and TV programs. Children are usually in shock when they begin school and realize that six hours of their day is going to spent learning and not playing games and watching TV. Ease your child into the learning process by turning off the electrics and encouraging them to read or play quietly.
8. Review school material and information. For most parents, schools send home a packet with a ton of information regarding their child’s new teacher, important dates to remember, emergency forms, and transportation routines. Make sure that you read through this information carefully, and mark down all important dates on your calendar.
9. Get organized. The best way to prepare for back to school time is to be organized. With school comes a massive amount of paperwork which can consume your household. Designate a spot in your house for homework, permission slips, and any other school-related papers. This can help eliminate all of that paper clutter and make your life less stressful.
10. Get your child’s yearly checkup. School and germs go hand in hand, so it’s best to get your child’s yearly checkup before school even starts. Get any required vaccinations and ask your pediatrician the best ways your child can stay healthy throughout the school year.
Through preparation and organization, you can ensure that your child will have a smooth transition to the start of the new school year. By doing so, you and your child can enjoy the rest of your summer break.
Holidays like the Fourth of July and other celebrations can be fun times with great memories. But make sure everyone knows about fireworks safety.
What Are the Dangers of Fireworks?If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burns and eye injuries in kids and adults. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.
Lighting fireworks at home isn't even legal in many areas, so if you still want to use them, be sure to check with your local police department first
Fireworks Safety Tips
If fireworks are legal where you live, keep these safety tips in mind:
If an eye injury happens:
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2018
Extreme heat can cause children to become sick in several ways. Make sure to protect your child from the heat as much as possible, watch for symptoms, and call your pediatrician if you see any develop.
Prevent the Effects of Extreme Heat:When weather conditions do not pose a safety or individual health risk, children can and should play outdoors. A heat index at or above 90°F, as identified by the National Weather Service, poses a significant health risk. However, there are several steps you can take to beat the heat and protect your child from heat-related illness:
Potential Health Effects of Extreme Heat:Extreme heat can make children sick in many ways, including:
Additional Information & Resources:
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2017)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Do you need help starting a conversation about mental health? Try leading with these questions and make sure to actively listen to your friend or family member's response.
Similarly, feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, irritability, or sleep problems are common for most people. However, when these feelings get very intense, last for a long period of time, and begin to interfere with school, work, and relationships, it may be a sign of a mental health problem. And just like people need to take medicine and get professional help for physical conditions, someone with a mental health problem may need to take medicine and/or participate in therapy in order to get better.
Source: US Department of Health and Human Services
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.... this is the first in a series of postings to educate and support families facing this important health issue.
You can help your friend or family member by recognizing the signs of mental health problems and connecting them to professional help.
Talking to friends and family about mental health problems can be an opportunity to provide information, support, and guidance. Learning about mental health issues can lead to:
if you have a pool at home, you may wonder what the right age is for your kids to start swimming lessons so they can enjoy the water and be safe. The answer depends on how old your kids are and what you mean by swimming lessons.
When to Start
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons for all children age 4 or older. They used to recommend that you not begin formal swimming lessons until kids are at least 4 years old, the age that children are thought to be "developmentally ready" for swim lessons. However, they are no longer opposed to aquatic programs and swimming lessons for toddlers and preschoolers between the ages of 1 to 4 years old. Keep in the mind that the AAP is not going out of its way to say children under age 4 should have lessons, but it is okay if parents want to enroll their kids in these programs.
Benefits of Early Swim Lessons Iinfant and toddler aquatic programs are very popular for both parents and kids. They are a good way to teach your kids to enjoy being in the water and teach kids and parents about how to be safe around the water. However, these types of programs may not decrease your child's risk of drowning and are not a substitute for adult supervision and safety in the water, although some small studies have found that "some drowning prevention skills can be learned" by these younger children.
Will starting swim lessons early help your child learn to swim faster? Probably not. An older study on children's readiness for learning front crawl swimming showed that whether kids started lessons at 2, 3 or 4 years of age, they learned to swim well at approximately the same mean age of 5 1/2 years.
Importance of Learning to Swim
The AAP notes that drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury and death in the pediatric age group and that drowning rates are the highest among children ages 1 through 2 years. Whether you start at 2 or 4 or 6 years, your child should eventually learn to swim.
Safety in the Pool
Keep safety in mind at all times. Remember that swim lessons do not drown-proof younger kids and that they should always be supervised in the water, whether or not they know how to swim. Even with floaties or a life vest, you should learn to practice "touch supervision," which the AAP describes as a caregiver being within an arm's reach or able to touch the swimmer at all times.
You should also take other precautions, including instructing babysitters on pool hazards and showing them how to use protective devices. When you have a social gathering around the pool, have the adults take turns being the dedicated watcher so you ensure there are eyes on the kids at all times. Whenever a child is suddenly missing, check the pool first. Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and ensure all family members do as well. Don't let your pool attract children when it isn't in use and remove toys from around it. Ensure the gate or pool barrier is never propped open.
AUTHOR:By Vincent Iannelli, MD AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS