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.
Digital tools can help kids build safe money habits
(BPT) - The earlier kids start learning basic financial skills, the better their financial health in the long run, according to research.
When it comes to teaching kids about money, caregivers are asking for help. In fact, 32% of parents are uncomfortable speaking about finances with their own children and 46% are looking for additional resources to help encourage good financial habits, according to a Chase survey of parents across the U.S., with children aged 8–14.
Traditionally, kids learn about money from shopping with adults and having related conversations. While discussions are an important part of learning about finances, online shopping has changed how kids experience spending.
"Families are juggling so many more responsibilities today than ever before, so it's understandably more complicated to find opportunities to teach financial wellness to children or to find hands-on purchasing moments to talk about the value of money," said Anastasia Morgan-Gans, an executive focused on family financial health at Chase.
Fortunately, new tools are helping meet the changing needs of parents and their children. For example, the free Chase First Banking account is designed to help families develop healthy financial habits by putting parents in control and giving kids and teens the freedom to learn how to earn, spend and save money.
Through the Chase Mobile app, parents can assign chores and provide allowance, set amounts and locations of where kids can spend money using a debit card, and help children reach savings goals. Kids interact with the app on their end, too, checking off assigned chores when completed and seeing when their allowance is paid. They can also see how much they can spend and where, as well as their savings goals.
This type of digital tool makes financial literacy discussions easier and brings family money management into the digital age, engaging kids in meaningful ways. In addition to adopting useful tools, it's important to have ongoing conversations about finances. Morgan-Gans suggests starting with some rules for a family ‘contract’ when it comes to having access to an account:
"These tools can help guide parents, so they have the confidence to teach kids about bank accounts and spending — it’s like an account with training wheels," says Morgan-Gans.
Savvy parents are always looking for tricks to save time and money while becoming better caregivers. This article presents six simple hacks will make you feel like a superstar parent while giving your little one the best. Read the full Medium article here.
Many families look to the new year as a time to reset their eating habits and focus on making healthier choices. However, adults aren’t the only ones who could use a menu refresh as children may also need to focus on healthier food choices. Consider these low-sugar ideas for meal and snack times to help control the amount of added sugar you and your family consume.
Refresh Your Child’s Diet with Low-Sugar Options
(Family Features) Many families look to the new year as a time to reset their eating habits and focus on making healthier choices. However, adults aren’t the only ones who could use a menu refresh as children may also need to focus on healthier food choices.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed children consume an unhealthy amount of added sugar every day. Researchers found nearly all of the toddlers in their study ate an average of 7 teaspoons of added sugar daily – the equivalent of a candy bar. Additionally, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, excess sugar consumption can lead to an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
“Small children have small stomachs,” said Courtney Hines, a nutritionist for KinderCare Learning Centers, which care for more than 165,000 children around the country every day. “You want them to fill up on nutrient-dense foods, not empty calories in the form of added sugar. When children consume lots of sugar, their palates get used to overly sweet flavors. They may not accept other, less sugary flavors or learn to appreciate the natural sweetness of a piece of fresh fruit.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the consumption of added sugar for children under the age of 2. Children ages 2-18 should aim for less than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, of added sugar per day.
For families that want to cut down on the amount of added sugar in their diets, Hines recommends cooking more at home, relying less on processed, packaged foods and serving only water or milk for beverages.
Consider these low-sugar ideas for meal and snack times to help control the amount of added sugar you and your family consume.
Swap Out Syrup
For more ideas to introduce your children to healthy habits from a young age, visit kindercare.com.SOURCE:
Before you face another chorus of “I’m bored” from the kiddos, consider these simple activities you and your child can do together when winter weather or schedules have you stuck indoors.
Simple STEM Activities to Do at Home
(Family Features) Winter is the season for family gatherings, snow days and breaks from school and work, but all this time indoors can lead to a serious case of cabin fever for both children and adults. Before you face another chorus of “I’m bored,” consider these simple activities you and your child can do together when winter weather or schedules have you stuck indoors.
Each activity idea from the experts at KinderCare can help children build foundational skills they’ll need for success in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas so you can combine fun and learning.
For more activity ideas, visit kindercare.com.SOURCE:
This time of year, family life can get a little messy. School schedules and sports activities mix with work commitments, and before long the house is as cluttered as the calendar. With these tips, you can make small changes to help you get organized and stay that way.
Tips for Maintaining an Organized Home
(Family Features) This time of year, family life can get a little messy. School schedules and sports activities mix with work commitments, and before long the house is as cluttered as the calendar.
Fall is the perfect time of year to recommit to an organized household so you can keep the chaos contained. With these tips, you can make small changes to help you get organized and stay that way.
Embrace routines. The idea of dedicating large chunks of time to organizing and tidying the house can be overwhelming. However, making time to clean as you progress through the day can help control clutter and keep the time commitment more manageable. Commit to cleaning up the kitchen after dinner each night. Set expectations for kids to pick up their rooms before bed. Before long, routines become productive habits that make a visible difference.
Purge the excess. Over time, nearly everyone collects too much stuff, and clutter is often more an indication of too much volume than poor organization. Items are purchased to replace outdated things, but the old pieces sometimes don’t actually get discarded. Getting control of your clutter starts with eliminating the things you no longer want or need. A good strategy is to create piles of items: keep, sell, donate and discard.
Create a drop zone. In most homes, the entryway is a catchall for family belongings that get shed with each pass through the door. It’s convenient to have shoes, coats, backpacks and other essentials ready to grab as you head out, so instead of fighting the inevitable jumble, find a way to organize it. A stylish drop zone using ClosetMaid’s Space Creations organizers is a solution that attractively contains all those essentials. The line includes a range shelving kits, complementing drawers, baskets, rods and more so you can customize the storage unit to your exact space and needs.
Avoid junk piles. Nearly every home has at least one junk pile, drawer or even room. In most cases, the reason is that the contents are a mish-mash of items that don’t really have any place else to go. Make a point to identify ways to create order, whether it’s adding drawer inserts to contain all the odds and ends or buying a standing file to capture bills and mail.
Be mindful about use. When you’re on a mission to eliminate excess clutter, it can be tempting to go overboard putting things away. It’s important to be realistic about where you store the things you need and err on the side of keeping the things you use regularly within reach. This may mean getting creative about how you organize or even adding new storage containers or furniture, but remember being organized is only helpful if it’s also practical.
Find more ideas for better home organization this busy season at ClosetMaid.com.SOURCE:
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.
5 Tips to Aid Performance in the Classroom
(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:
When you see something you can’t explain, it can be easy to mistake those moments for magic, such as a balloon floating into the sky or water disappearing from a surface right before your eyes. However, the truth is these moments aren’t magic but science at play. Consider these simple tricks that help convey the “magic” of science.
Science Made Magical
(Family Features) When you see something you can’t explain, it can be easy to mistake those moments for magic, such as a balloon floating into the sky or water disappearing from a surface right before your eyes. However, the truth is these moments aren’t magic but scienceat play. Observing the laws of physics or chemistry can, at first glance, seem too fantastical to be explained, but science can explain a lot.
These moments serving as creative ways to engage kids in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning may be one of the best tricks of them all. STEM touches many aspects of daily lives, and finding the connections between the classroom and the “magical” STEM moments of day-to-day life can inspire children and pique their interests in these topics.
Consider these simple tricks that help convey the “magic” of science:
Knowing how the magic works doesn't necessarily make these tricks any less fun, and these simple tricks help teach children how STEM plays a role in everything, including fun and games. Another way to encourage children with STEM at an early age is encouraging them to participate in a program such as ExploraVision, the only STEM-related competition of its kind. It allows kids of all ages to create ideas for new technological innovations in response to current real-world issues. Participants work on their projects to supplement their science education, while also developing problem-solving, analytical and collaboration skills.
Parents and students can learn more about the competition and how to enter, and teachers can find free tips for engaging students, at exploravision.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
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