in Uncategorized

5 Tips to Help Families Manage Holiday StressFeatured

’Tis the season for holiday parties, travel, hosting and more. While it is a joyous time of year, the never-ending to-do lists and school being out of session can make everyone feel a little overwhelmed, children included.

Consider these five practical tips from the experts at KinderCare to help families proactively manage holiday stressors.

  1. Manage expectations. The commotion that often comes with the holiday season can be stressful for young children, but you can help alleviate worries by familiarizing them with what’s to come. Talk to them about upcoming travel arrangements, who they’ll see at events and what to expect throughout the season. If they are cautious in their current developmental stage, let loved ones know beforehand to give them a little extra space at festivities. Parents can also begin familiarizing little ones with relatives through photos and phone calls.
  • Empower children. It’s important for children to understand they have a choice – and family members are willing to respect that choice. Parents should acknowledge their children’s body language and empower them to say “no” in uncomfortable situations. Parents can help by proactively asking questions such as, “Do you want a hug?” and if they say “no,” support them in their decision. This also helps establish healthy long-term social skills.
  • Maintain your schedule. Children thrive on consistency, and during the holidays it’s important to at least try maintaining as much of what they’re used to as possible, such as naps, meals and playtime. Changes in schedule can result in more tantrums, so be sure to allow space for them to safely work through their emotions.

It’s also important to note that children feed off their parents’ energy, so make sure you’re in tune with your own emotions. When overwhelmed, openly discuss how you’re feeling and involve your children when taking breaks. For example, “It’s loud in here, would you like to go sit outside with me?”

  • Have fun. Make time to spread joy and integrate activities to bond as a family, such as reading holiday-themed books, crafting, playing games, singing or baking. Whether old traditions or new, these are moments your child can cherish for years to come.
  • Keep others in mind. While it’s important to set children up for success ahead of the holidays, parents should also teach children the holiday season can look different for others. Putting a focus on experiences rather than the gifts can help them have more to discuss with their peers when returning to school. It’s also a good time to consider donating toys to make room for new ones or volunteering at a local charity to show children joy can be experienced through more than just gifts.

To find more tips to help manage holiday stress, or to access additional resources around social development, setting boundaries and routines, visit KinderCare.com.

in Flourishing Physically

5 Simple, Natural Ways to Boost ImmunityFeatured

Your body’s immune system protects against illness and infection, fighting off threats before you even know there’s a problem. Even though your immune system usually does its job automatically, you can give it a boost with habits that promote wellness and support immunity.

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in Uncategorized

Meet the Home Sweet Homes Journal — a Way for Co-Parents to Help Young Children Cope with DivorceFeatured

Fiona Kong is on a mission to help children of divorced families cope with the separation of homes with her newly released Home Sweet Homes Journal. Designed for kids four and up, it provides comfort and stability during a difficult time by serving as a safe space children can work with both parents on their needs as they go back and forth between homes.

The innovative idea gives children a personal platform to express thoughts and emotions, and easily track their transition schedule, events, milestones and more. The journal travels with the child from home to home, making it a mental and emotional anchor they can use to help with the transition from one house to the other.

Fiona developed the first-of-its-kind journal following her separation from her son’s father saying “parental separation can be very traumatic for kids where they may blame themselves, experience immense grief, or feel confused, scared or angry about what is happening”.  She went on to say, “Maintaining a strong and healthy connection to parents plays an important role in a child’s mental and emotional wellbeing. The journal serves as a bridge between homes for co-parented kids; it gives them a way to still feel like a family while providing reassurance they are safe, secure, and loved.”

The interactive daily journal contains fun activities for children to fill out, resilience building affirmations, and monthly calendars so children have access to their schedule no matter where they are. Each day contains open journaling space for kids to reflect on their day, process feelings and communicate ideas on their own or with the help of a parent. Overall, it provides a neutral place for the family to stay connected and actionably manage information between households.

The book has received praise from co-parents, therapists and coaches. Brandyn Roark Caires, LCPC, owner of Mind Matters BRC, Co-founder of Parent Team, mediator, and Accredited Collaborative Divorce Practitioner, Co-Parenting Coach is a Clinical Mental Health Therapist who specializes in working with children, teens, and families with two-home structures — assessed the journal and shared her thoughts.

“Children with two homes have to navigate more complexity in their lives. It’s important that their parents absorb as much of this complexity as possible, so kids aren’t left in the middle, don’t have to manage adult challenges, and just “get to be kids”. The Home Sweet Homes Journal and Planner helps to open a safe, neutral space for children to explore and process their two-home experiences. This journal also provides a child-focused opportunity for co-parents to connect on their children’s needs, keep their children out of the middle of conflict, and keep the focus on what their kids need. This beautifully bound journal is a thoughtful, organized, joyful, place for two-home families to navigate transitions, emotions, experiences, and memories together.” 

In addition to Brandyn’s positive comments, parenting coaches, divorce professionals and co-parents have left their thoughts in comments on Amazon and the Home Sweet Homes website. You can find the journal on Amazon or purchase it directly from Fiona’s website, Home Sweet Homes. In addition, the site includes how-to videos, use case examples, and a way to give back to the community of co-parents. 

Positively impacting future generations by helping children of divorce grow up to be emotionally healthy adults is especially important to Fiona. For that reason, she wants to help every co-parenting family have access to this tool and set up the Pay it Forward Program page for others who feel the same and want to donate a book to a family in need.

Contact Information:
Fiona Kong
hello@homesweethomesjournal.com

Photo Credit: Juhn Kwon Photography

in Emotional Mastery

5 Healthy Habits to Help Reduce StressFeatured

Between work, family obligations and a constantly changing world, people in the United States are stressed. In fact, U.S. workers are among the most stressed in the world, according to a State of the Global Workplace study. While some stress is unavoidable and can be good for you, constant or chronic stress can have real consequences for your mental and physical health.

Chronic stress can increase your lifetime risk of heart disease and stroke. It can also lead to unhealthy habits like overeating, physical inactivity and smoking while also increasing risk factors, including high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. However, a scientific statement from the American Heart Association shows reducing stress and cultivating a positive mindset can improve health and well-being.

To help people understand the connection between stress and physical health, the American Heart Association offers these science-backed insights to help reduce chronic stress.

Stay Active

Exercise is one of the easiest ways to keep your body healthy and release stress. Physical activity is linked to lower risk of diseases, stronger bones and muscles, improved mental health and cognitive function and lower risk of depression. It can also help increase energy and improve quality of sleep. The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity or a combination.

Meditate

Incorporate meditation and mindfulness practices into your day to give yourself a few minutes to create some distance from daily stress. Some studies show meditation can reduce blood pressure, improve sleep, support the immune system and increase your ability to process information.

Practice Positivity

A positive mindset can improve overall health. Studies show a positive mindset can help you live longer, and happy individuals tend to sleep better, exercise more, eat better and not smoke. Practice positive self-talk to help you stay calm. Instead of saying, “everything is going wrong,” re-frame the situation and remind yourself “I can handle this if I take it one step at a time.”

Show Gratitude

Gratitude – or thankfulness – is a powerful tool that can reduce levels of depression and anxiety and improve sleep. Start by simply writing down three things you’re grateful for each day.

Find a Furry Friend

Having a pet may help you get more fit; lower stress, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar; and boost overall happiness and well-being. When you see, touch, hear or talk to companion animals, you may feel a sense of goodwill, joy, nurturing and happiness. At the same time, stress hormones are suppressed. Dog ownership is also associated with a lower risk of depression, according to research published by the American Heart Association.

Find more stress-management tips at Heart.org/stress.

Stress 101

Understanding stress is an important step in managing and reducing it. Consider these things to know about stress and how it could affect your life:

  • Today, 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. report being worried or depressed.
  • Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol are linked to increased risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular events like heart disease and stroke.
  • The top sources of stress are money, work, family responsibilities and health concerns.
  • Work-related stress is associated with a 40% increased risk of cardiovascular disease like heart attack and stroke.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

in Emotional Mastery

The Benefits of Traveling Alone, Mid-Divorce

WHILE TRAVELING WITH FRIENDS OR A ROMANTIC COMPANION CAN BE FUN, TRAVELING ALONE HAS UNIQUE ADVANTAGES, ESPECIALLY WHEN UNDERGOING LIFE- ALTERING EVENTS, LIKE A DIVORCE. WE ARE SURROUNDED BY NOISE AND DEMANDS AND GETTING AWAY ALONE ALLOWS US TO SEPARATE FROM OUR NOR- MAL ROUTINE AND FAMILIAR ENVIRONMENT, WHICH CAN OFTEN CLEAR OUR HEAD AND PROVIDE US WITH A FRESH PER- SPECTIVE. THERE ARE FIVE SIG- NIFICANT BENEFITS TO SETTING TIME ASIDE TO GET AWAY ALONE.

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in Focus on Finances

Financial Strategies for Surviving Divorce

In my 36 years as a Private Wealth Counselor, I have seen many divorces. Make no mistake about it — divorce is heartbreaking. To make matters worse, you’re left to figure out how to salvage the economics of your new financial life after the divorce.
I have found that, for my clients, the best way to start is by taking one step at a time. Write down a list of the most important items and then commit to addressing them one by one.

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in Legally Literate

Find a Good Lawyer in 7 Steps

This is your life we are talking about, so you want to make sure you take every necessary step to find the right lawyer for your needs. It is very hard to do this, though, with all the ads flying at you, the people soliciting you and all the negative things heard about lawyers these days. But the fact of the matter is you can find the right lawyer and not all of them are bad.
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in Uncategorized

Protecting Children in a Digital Age

Keeping a watchful eye on your kids requires an increasing level of tech savvy many parents find intimidating. Not only are your kids vulnerable to bad actors online, but your family’s personal information could be at risk, as well.

Learn how to protect your children and family in this digital age with these tips:

Elementary-Age Children

  • Encourage open communication. Have conversations about what your kids see and do online and talk with them about potential dangers. Avoid lecturing in favor of an open exchange of information.
  • Make their inherent interest in privacy work in your favor. Kids in this age group, particularly toward the middle school years, understand the concept of privacy and value it immensely. Use that context to help them understand what goes online is there to stay. Talk about what kinds of information should always be kept private, including identifying details like addresses and social security numbers.
  • Stay on alert. Not all apps are completely safe (even the ones you can access from trusted stores) and not all filters are foolproof. Keep close tabs on what your kids are downloading by reading comments and reviews, and regularly monitoring what kind of content they see.

Middle School and High School Kids

  • Continue talking about privacy. You can never have too many conversations about privacy. What seems like harmless sharing on social media can be quite revealing. For example, frequent posts about visits to a favorite store or restaurant can allow a predator to begin tracking behavior patterns that make your child a target. It’s also important for kids to understand how their privacy settings work. For example, settings that allow exposure to friends of friends make their visibility to strangers much broader than they may realize.
  • Help manage their online reputation. Behaviors that once resulted in a day or two of hallway chatter can now live forever. Documenting mischief online is only fun until it spills over into real life and everyone sees those mistakes in full color – including prospective future employers.
  • Be clear about your position on bullying. From the safe distance of a screen, it’s easier for kids (and adults) to say things they’d never say in person. Teach your kids to handle problems constructively offline and avoid engaging in attacks on others through social media, email and other platforms.

College Students

  • Reinforce the risks. Once they’re on their own, kids may feel more liberated to make their own choices online. However, college students are easy prey for identity theft and worse. Remind them what’s at stake if they fail to protect their identity and private information, like where they live and what they do on a regular basis.
  • Teach smart practices. With all the independence that comes with college life, this is an ideal time for your student to take personal responsibility for his or her online security, including learning about virus protection, updating software, avoiding scams and backing up data.

If you’re looking for more practical advice for everyday family matters, visit eLivingtoday.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images