Pandemic meal preparation: How parents are coping with kids at home
(BPT) - In March, parents across the country had life flipped upside down. All of a sudden, they had to figure out how to work from home, guide their kids through e-learning, prepare more meals and manage the other regular duties of parenting. Little did these parents know that all those stressors would return in the fall.
Three-fourths of America’s school children were engaged in some form of e-learning in late September, leaving the burden of food preparation on parents for almost every meal. According to a new Castle Wood Reserve consumer survey, seven in ten K-12 students get breakfast at home, while 66% get lunch from home and 74% get snacks at home.
Because of the demand to cook and eat at home more frequently, about one-third of parents said meal preparation is more difficult this school year than it was last year. Parents also cited food availability and the challenge of planning meals as top reasons that meal preparation is more difficult.
The coming months are not going to be any easier on parents. With COVID-19 case counts rising across the country, even more school districts are transitioning to full-time virtual learning. Parents are seeking convenient, delicious solutions that save them time in the kitchen.
Cargill’s Castle Wood Reserve brand is working to satisfy kids on each end of the K-12 spectrum. Cargill chefs have developed an array of quick and easy recipes with time-saving tips. Parents can make roast beef cheeseburger sliders, Monte Cristo rollups or ranch chicken club rollups for their younger kids and offer waffle toasted ham and cheese or a pizza melt to their older kids, who can handle a simple five- or ten-minute meal prep on their own.
Deli meats can also be used to vary your snack routine. Simple snack recipes, like pretzel bites with ham or melon and ham skewers, can be a fun snack time change of pace for kids and help keep them satiated.
Consumers can find a variety of deli meats and premium snack kits at their local retail stores that can make any meal convenient and provide the protein to keep kids full and energized throughout the day. In the survey, for most dayparts, parents cited protein as the most important nutrient that they seek for their kids.
According to the USDA Dietary Reference, the recommended daily allowance of protein is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight as part of a balanced diet. So, someone who weighs 120 pounds needs about 43 grams of protein each day.
Why is it important to achieve an adequate intake of daily protein? Protein helps repair cells, boosts energy and keeps us satiated longer, so kids are not constantly asking for another snack. Protein also serves a vital function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.
With health and convenience in mind, parents are making the most drastic changes to their lunches and snacks. Three-fourths of parents in the survey reported that lunches in their household had been impacted by returning to school, and 68% said that snacking had been affected.
Planning these meals ahead of time can be a lifesaver for time-crunched parents. Consumers should map out daily meal choices based on activities and school schedules for the week. When students are at home for e-learning, parents can assemble bento boxes or pre-packaged meals, leave them in the refrigerator and allow their kids to grab them once they are hungry.
Smart shoppers will also plan meals before getting groceries and stick to the outside perimeter of the store to purchase fresh ingredients, including vegetables, fruit and lean meats. Creating a shopping game plan leads to healthier meals, while saving time and money. This approach will eliminate extra trips to grab takeout or fast food, while diversifying your cooking routine at home to keep everyone in the family excited for mealtime.
Obtaining a driver's license signals a new road to independence for teenagers. Parents often worry about their kids when they get behind the wheel of a car. What about a motorcycle? Many teens also want to hop on a bike and take off. While you may be concerned, there are steps you can take to best prepare your child to get their motorcycle license.
Before anyone can become a licensed driver, they usually must practice with a permit. Requirements vary from state to state, but the consensus is that applicants must at least be between 14 to 17 years old and able to pass the specified tests. The main tests include a DDS knowledge exam, a road skills test, and a vision exam. Your state may also require you to sign on your child’s behalf.
While you may not always need a permit, there are some advantages to having one. For example, holding a learning permit gives your teenager the time they need to master the skills of driving a motorcycle. Always check with your state's DMV before letting your teen hop on a bike.
Training and Safety Courses
Before your teen gets on a motorcycle, it's a great idea to enroll them in a training and safety class. It's critical that they learn everything they can before embarking on their journey. Courses vary from location to location, but they typically teach the same material. Students will have classes in things such as shifting gears, navigating, and braking while enrolled in their course. Motorcycle accidents are prevalent, so always practice defensive maneuvers. With roughly 88,000 motorcycle accidents in the U.S. in 2015, it's pretty clear that riding a motorcycle can be incredibly dangerous, something that can be at least somewhat mitigated by taking training and safety courses.
Obtaining a License
Once your teenager has spent the necessary time to learn the basics of driving a motorcycle, it's time to get that license. The typical requirements are about the same as getting a permit; they'll have to be able to pass the necessary tests to prove they're competent at driving. The applicant will also have to pay a fee for their license to be valid. Once approved, their license will show "M" class, proving that they're a registered motorcycle driver.
While your teenager is learning, stress the importance of being patient. As you know, your teen always needs to be cognizant of what's happening around them. You're a great parent to help your child get that license they want so badly, so enjoy the ride.
Did your teen pass their driving test? We recommend reading this article before investing in a new or used vehicle.
Making the decision to divorce is difficult. Alongside the emotional components of the decision is also the complexities of navigating the legal system in regard to divorce. There are many different types of divorce to consider and choosing the right one is crucial to making sure the journey towards divorce is as easy as possible. Here are 3 Types of divorce and what they can mean for the family.
Default divorce occurs when one spouse files for divorce but the other spouse never responds to being served. Every state has its own laws and time limitations for how long a spouse has to respond to the divorce request. After that period of time has elapsed, the spouse petitioning for divorce can file a motion of default which will allow the court to accept the divorce without the participation of the other spouse. While default divorce is a simple way to end a marriage when a spouse is unresponsive to court proceedings, it does carry some risks, primarily for the unresponsive spouse. If the court grants divorce by default, the unresponsive spouse gives up their right to contest any orders brought forth by the court. This can include any orders for dependent custody, custodial privilege and child support. This can lead to the petitioning parent being granted full custody of minor children or being awarded child support.
An uncontested divorce involves forgoing a courtroom trial and instead focuses on both spouses working together towards an agreement in terms regarding the divorce. For couples who have come to divorce as a mutual decision and can amicably divide property, determine custody and child support arrangements, an uncontested divorce is the most affordable method of ending a marriage and is often much quicker than others as well. It also allows for fair terms in regard to child custody, visitation, and support.
Collaborative divorce involves both spouses utilizing lawyers to work collaboratively in their best interests towards terms that both spouses can agree to. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses must be open to sharing all information regarding assets and finances and agree to come to terms that are fair to both parties. If both spouses cannot come to an agreement in terms, they must abandon the collaborative divorce filing, hire new lawyers and take their divorce case to trial. Collaborative divorce can be beneficial for the family as it will allow for a fair and balanced agreement regarding property allocation, minor child custody, and child support.
Divorce is never easy. However, armed with the correct information it can be a bit less painful. Aiming for the most amicable solution where both spouses are considerate of fairness and the well-being of any minor children will aid in the best resolution for all parties involved.
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From taking steps toward the stairs to learning that bubbles don’t taste good, exploration is a part of development for babies and young children. While it’s an exciting time, it also can be coupled with anxiety and hesitation as parents find themselves saying “no” or jumping in when baby discovers a new space. To help raise resilient, confident and adventurous humans, consider these tips.
5 Ways to Raise a Confident, Adventurous Child
(Family Features) From taking steps toward the stairs to learning that bubbles don't taste good, exploration is a part of development for babies and young children. While it's an exciting time, it also can be coupled with anxiety and hesitation as parents find themselves saying "no" or jumping in when baby discovers a new space.
An Open for Adventure survey from Babyganics found a majority of parents (69 percent) believe a child can learn to be more confident if he or she is allowed to explore freely as a baby. However, letting go doesn't always come naturally for parents.
Aid in discovery. Encourage and applaud baby's healthy risk-taking, such as mastering a challenging stair climb or pushing through moments of frustration and failure. Additionally, create teachable moments that introduce your child to necessary limits. For example, if you have hot coffee in the morning and your little one wants to touch the mug, let him or her gently touch a warm area of the mug with a fingertip and repeat that the mug is "hot" to help encourage exploration and flex baby's senses.
Let baby be free. While you may think baby gadgets are necessary for playtime, consider rethinking those toys. Instead of searching for stimulation through lights and sounds from a toy, allow your baby to explore the natural environment. Look for opportunities that allow him or her to make a manageable mess and even get wet or dirty. This could be as simple as playing with a container filled with water or letting your baby pull up grass in the backyard. These small unstructured play adventures can help develop independence and confidence.
Engage the senses. Exposing your baby to new flavors and smells helps engage him or her on a multi-sensory level. For example, allowing your baby (at an appropriate age, typically between 4-7 months) to try new foods can provide a feeling of accomplishment while also exposing him or her to different textures and flavors. Encourage even more sensory exploration by allowing your baby to smell the food and even play with it using his or her fingers.
Provide early exposure to new places. Bringing baby along to restaurants and other public spaces allows for positive exposure to new places, people and sounds, which can help build the immune system, encourage social interaction and support development. While letting a child explore in a public setting like an airport or train station can make many parents anxious, carrying products such as Babyganics Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes can help ease parents' apprehension and keep little hands germ-free while on the go.
Wait a moment. It's common for parents to intervene the moment baby awakes from a nap or starts moving toward the stairs. Try pausing, allowing your little one to naturally find his or her limits while managing your own fears and worries. This tactic can allow your young explorer an opportunity for cognitive and social-emotional development with you as a safety net nearby.
"Parents often look to their own internal response to guide parenting: 'If I am worried then it must be dangerous, and I should not allow my baby to do it,'" Wegner said. "When in fact, parents should prioritize their baby's exploration and needs to provide learning opportunities rather than allowing their own anxieties to impede their children."
For more information, visit babyganics.com.SOURCE:
Being stuck inside with a baby during the colder months can leave even the most seasoned parents feeling a bit stir-crazy. Consider these activity ideas that you and your baby can do together no matter the weather or where you’re traveling.
Building Babies’ Brains
(Family Features) With all the stress of a new school year, it can be difficult for students to readjust to a healthy routine, but many experts agree that sleep is among the most important parts of that routine. Numerous studies demonstrate that children who sleep better learn better.
While you're busy shopping for pencils, book bags and notebooks, remember that a good night's sleep should also be at the top of your list this season. Make the transition easier with these five tips from Dr. Sujay Kansagra, director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program and a sleep health consultant for Mattress Firm:
Ease into earlier bedtimes. For many children, the sudden shift to an earlier bedtime and wake-up call can pose a big challenge. Children who were accustomed to falling asleep later at night during the summer will have to slowly adjust their body clocks to move bedtime earlier during the school year. To ease children into the earlier sleep schedule, start moving bedtimes earlier by 10-15 minutes each night until reaching your end goal.
Ensure a comfortable sleeping environment. Pay attention to factors like lighting and noise. It may be necessary, especially early in the school year when the days are still long, to add blackout curtains to help block bright light. If noise is a factor, consider adding some soft background music or a sound machine to serve as a buffer so other noises are less intrusive.
Be sure the bed is up to the task. Another environmental consideration is the bed itself. Mattresses are not always top-of-mind as you consider back-to-school shopping, but when sleep can have such an impact on your child's educational performance, the right mattress can help ensure students are getting quality zzz’s at the start of a new school year.
Avoid bright light prior to bedtime. Aside from your window, there are also other sources of light that can affect sleep. Several studies have shown that excess screen time just before bed can have a negative impact on the brain’s ability to transition into sleep mode. Try curbing screen time well before bedtime, or if your child must use screens, engage the night-reading feature, which alters the hue of the light for less impact.
Develop a consistent nighttime routine. A routine performed 20-30 minutes prior to bed every night can subconsciously ease children’s brains into sleep. A ritual that involves bathing, brushing teeth, talking about the day’s events, discussing what’s ahead for tomorrow and quiet time with a book are all ways to unwind together and slow down those active minds for a transition toward a peaceful night’s rest.
Remember that sleep is vital for memory retention and cognitive performance. Without it, children may experience behavioral problems and other difficulties in school. Find more resources to help improve your kids’ sleep, including tips on how to purchase a new mattress, at DailyDoze.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Things to consider when researching child care providers
(Family Features) Finding the right preschool or care provider for your child doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Because your child’s early years are crucial in his or her development, choosing the right child care facility is one of the most important decisions you can make to prepare him or her for both school and adult life.
While most parents start the process by asking friends and family for recommendations, keep these tips from the child care experts at KinderCare in mind when searching for a child care center:
Find Locations Along Your Existing Commute. The rhythm of drop-off and pick-up will soon become a reality of your days, so take into account how a new routine will impact traffic and drive times during your commute. Looking into child care facilities near your home or office, or along your route, can be a sanity saver, especially on those mornings when you’re rushing out of the house behind schedule.
Do Your Research. Child care has come a long way in the past couple decades, and nationally accredited centers like KinderCare can provide everything your child needs to reach his or her potential. Awarded by an independent organization, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, accredited centers meet rigorous standards in everything from teacher qualifications to curriculum to safety. A simple search online can provide a list of accredited centers near your location of choice.
Make a List of Requirements. Before you tour a facility, it can help to find your focus. Make a list about what you need from a program, what you want for your child and any concerns you may have, no matter how large or small. For example, consider potential concerns like kindergarten preparation, teachers’ management of conflict between children and more. Use your preferences to guide conversations when you’re ready to take tours.
Take Tours. Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a few preferred facilities or programs, schedule tours to check out the spaces, meet the directors and watch how the teachers interact with the children. Keep your requirements in mind and look for clean, safe facilities that focus on nutrition and encourage exploration and reading while building a sense of belonging. If you’re still on the fence or need more information about one or more centers, don’t be afraid to go back for a second visit and ask more questions to ensure you’re picking the right place for your family.
Trust Your Instincts. After taking tours, you may have a lot of information to process. Narrowing down what’s right for your family can seem overwhelming at first, but asking yourself questions such as these can help you in the long run: Did you feel listened to, heard and understood? Was the center warm and welcoming? When in doubt, trust your gut. This is your child, after all, and you know him or her best.
Find more tips and information to help pick the perfect child care center at kindercare.com.SOURCE:
(Family Features) For millions of school-age children in the United States, each day begins – and ends – with a bus ride. While the school bus is the safest way to travel to and from school, according to the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT), it’s important for parents to teach their children how to stay safe in and around the school bus as obstructed views, distracted drivers and more can put kids at risk.
These tips from the experts at NAPT and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) provide parents with some additional measures to take and lessons to teach to increase safety going to and from the bus, and even during the ride.
For more information and additional school bus safety tips, visit BetterOurBuses.com.
Many school districts are moving away from diesel buses in favor of buses powered by an alternate fuel, like propane, which offers numerous benefits for school districts and their students.
In fact, school buses powered by propane transport approximately 928,000 students to and from school every day at more than 840 public and private school districts in 48 states, according to a vehicle registration report compiled by PERC using IHS Polk new vehicle registration data.
“There’s a lot to like about propane school buses for community stakeholders and school officials, and school districts across the nation continue to take notice,” said Michael Taylor, PERC director of autogas business development. “Compared to other fuels, propane school buses are quieter and offer reduced emissions. Plus, they cost less for the district to operate, so schools can put more money back into the classroom where it helps students most.”
Among the numerous safety advantages propane school buses provide, engines powered by propane are noticeably quieter than diesel engines, which can help ensure a safe ride. Plus, just like all buses, propane buses are crash tested to ensure they meet U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for side and rear impact. In addition, an automatic shut-off valve prevents the flow of fuel to the engine when it’s not running, even if the ignition is turned on.
The World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency have identified diesel engine exhaust as a carcinogen, which can cause short- and long-term health effects. With the emergence of alternative fuels like propane, which provides a clean emissions profile compared with diesel and gasoline buses, there is decreased risk of exposing young passengers to harmful particulate matter that can be found in the exhaust in older diesel buses, which can escalate breathing-related issues and aggravate asthma.
Financially, propane buses provide school districts with the lowest total cost-of-ownership compared to other fuel types, according to PERC. Even as gas prices continue to fluctuate across the country, propane consistently costs less per gallon than diesel and gasoline, by as much as 50 percent, which saves districts significant money on fuel costs. They also require less maintenance over the lifetime of the vehicle, saving additional money on upkeep. Savings on transportation can help keep more money in the classroom helping students learn.
Start a discussion with your children’s school district about exploring a switch from diesel buses to cleaner alternatives by first downloading resources including fact sheets, videos, a toolkit and more at BetterOurBuses.com.
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images (Bus driver with girl, Two girls talking on bus)SOURCE:
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