Creating Healthy Habits

Balanced Family Academy’s (BFA) Preschool and PreK monthly-themed curriculum is highlighting healthy bodies and minds in June with a unit titled “My Body.” As parents, guardians and/or teachers of young children, their health is obviously a top priority for us. At BFA, we aim to create healthy habits while they are young in hopes they continue them long into their adult lives. One important way we can maintain our good health?? - by eating nutritionally well-balanced meals! There has been extensive research conducted on the number and type of nutrients that should be included on a child’s dinner plate, as well as the total number of food group servings a child should consume each day.

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I can imagine several parents are reading this and thinking to themselves “well-balanced meals are great, but my child refuses to eat anything other than chicken nuggets.” Have no fear, you are not alone in that boat! It is not uncommon for a preschool aged child to go through a phase of picky eating. Children will often lean towards the foods they enjoy the most (as we all do) and with their young, unwavering, persistent attitudes it is easy to give in to their requests to insure they are eating something for dinner. Since picky eaters are a common occurrence, there are many tips and trucks available that may help! The very first step is to identify whether or not you actually have a picky eater or not! There are several behaviors that can indicate when a child has become or is becoming, picky. One, the most obvious, is when a child simply refuses food. This could be because of a certain color or texture of food, or that the child only wants to eat one specific food item. Two, a child may waste time at the kitchen table and choose other activities over eating. Lastly, a child could be completely unwilling to try new foods. Most often, these behaviors will disappear over time! If you are struggling with coping with a picky eater, here are some tips and tricks that could benefit you and your family!

  1. Allow the child to have the freedom to choose! What?! You mean let me picky eater choose whatever they want?…Not exactly. This doesn’t mean give into their pickiness when they demanded french fries versus green beans. Instead, let them be your special helper when it comes to picking produce at the grocery. When a child is given the freedom to choose and believes that they had a say in what shows up on the table, they are more willing to eat! You can still set limits for a child by allowing them to choose only between two healthy options. If they are given the choice between green beans and broccoli, the child still has power in the decision, but either way, they are ending up with a healthy option on their plate.

  2. Enjoy meals together! Spending time with family is sometimes the best solution for any problem you may be having. I once happened upon a video of two professionals speaking about children’s eating habits and one thing they said really resonated with me. These two professionals pointed out that as adults, eating food is very much a social matter. Adults get together often in the presence of food. We get together to catch up with old friends, plan an event, celebrate special occasions, and just to enjoy a meal in the company of other adults. In the evening at home when your to-do list is a mile long, it can be easy to put food in front of the kids and continue with the chores. Since adults find eating more enjoyable in the company of friends and family, trying sitting down together for dinner, or even simply have a conversation when the children are eating!

  3. Offer the same foods for the entire family! This tip sort of piggy-backs on the two previous. If you are able to serve the same foods for everyone in the family (although hard when your children are very young) it can greatly benefit dinner time! One, it is less time-consuming for you and as parents that is ALWAYS a plus! Two, it removes the idea that the child can eat whatever they want from the pantry instead of eating the healthy option on your plate. Three, children definitely learn from what is modeled for them. If they see adults they know and look up to enjoying healthy food, it is more of an incentive to try to enjoy it themselves!

  4. Make the kitchen fun! Children learn so much by having fun! By bringing children into the cooking process, it turns the kitchen into a place for making memories and experiencing new things instead of just a place where you have to eat dinner. You can give children specific jobs, no matter their age, such as mixing ingredients, handing items to you, placing things in the trash, making sandwiches, measuring ingredients, etc.! While you are allowing the children to have fun in the kitchen, make sure you are having conversations about the food and why it is important for them to consume!

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Making sure children are consuming all the right nutrients their bodies need to develop in a healthy and strong way can be a stressful job! There are so many resources available for parents and families that can be helpful in becoming more informed about healthy eating. ChooseMyPlate.gov is a resource commonly used at BFA by teachers to learn more about what the children in their classroom need to be healthy and strong. On this website you can find tool kits for teachers and parents, recipes specific to the state you live in, seasonal/local produce ideas, as well as the updated dietary guidelines for the current year. My Plate can help you personalize a meal plan that will meet your food group needs as well as an action plan that will get you moving! This resource begins by asking simple questions including age, gender, height/weight and average daily activity level. This program takes all your answers into consideration and recommends a set number of calories to consume each day, which is then broken down further into different food groups and how much of each food group should make up your total calories!

Now that warmer weather is here, we can get outside and have more conversations about all the fruits and vegetables growing in the sunshine! Our team at Whisk Prep Kitchen recommends the following produce for the month of June and Springtime: yellow squash, berries, watermelon, tomatoes, green beans, and bell peppers!

Cleaning, the Clean Way.

Now that Spring weather has arrived, many of us may feel the urge to get organized and rid our homes of the germs that never fail to creep in over the Winter. Although cleaning can be a daunting task for some of us, it inevitably needs to be done in every home. Unfortunately, some of the products on shelves today contain unhealthy and potentially harmful ingredients that can affect the air quality of your home. After celebrating Earth Day in April, I set out to find new cleaning products that are conscious of our environment as well as reasonably priced. During my efforts, I came across various other blogs and resources that were full of helpful tips and tricks. Below you can find a list of clean brands, ingredients and recipes for DIY cleaning products, and resources to use to help find out if what you are using in your home is truly “clean.”

My Top Three “Clean” Brands

  1. Seventh Generation - This brand is AWESOME when it comes to making sure the products you are using at home are healthy and eco-friendly. They are committed to taking care of future generations by using ingredients that have the environment in mind. Seventh Generation products are reasonably priced and can be found at Target, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, The Fresh Market, and on Amazon! I have recently began to switch over to Seventh Generation products and am currently loving their Free & Clear Laundry Detergent (great for children with sensitive skin!) Seventh Generation also has their own blog where you can read more about their mission, products, and cleaning tips! Find it here: https://www.seventhgeneration.com/blog

  2. The Honest Company - The Honest Company is very popular for it’s all natural and organic ingredients. They are mostly known for baby and beauty products, but have a wide variety of household products ranging from laundry to bathroom cleaners! The Honest Company also has subscriptions available for diapers and wipes on their website you can enroll in after a free-trial! Their products can be found at Target, Whole Foods, or you can order it directly from their website. While you are checking out their products, head over and take a look at their Honestly Blog! It has easy-to-read and informative articles all about wellness, parenting and lifestyle. Find it here: https://blog.honest.com/

  3. Branch Basics - Branch Basics is a fairly new company founded by three women that experienced life-changing events which led to them to create non-toxic household cleaning products. Branch Basics uses a specific concentrate that is “plant- and mineral-based designed to replace virtually every cleaner in your home.” Although they are currently only found online, shipping is free for orders over $39 and you can find bundles that will help save money when buying multiple products! Their website is very user-friendly and contains a “soapbox” spot with more information on their mission and cleaning tips!

DIY Cleaning Recipes and Informative Blogs

  1. All-Purpose Cleaner without Vinegar – Tiffany, author of “Don’t Waste the Crumbs,” was in the last stages of packing up to move when she realized the cleaning box was already in the moving truck. Her mission is to live a healthier life without having to pay an arm and a leg for products at the store. Tiffany was able to create a simple recipe that could be used on any surface in her home to help with the finishing touches before she moved. This recipe does not include vinegar, so it is the perfect “All-Purpose” cleaner. Vinegar is harsh on granite, stone and marble, therefore should not be used on many countertops and tables. To find Tiffany’s story and the recipe follow this link: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2016/01/diy-all-purpose-cleaner-no-vinegar/

  2. All-In-One Bathroom Cleaner - As parents and guardians, we all know that the bathroom is one place in the house that needs to be continually cleaned in order to keep up with (unfortunately, this is true more so for parents of boys.) Kristin, author of Live Simply, experimented with different ingredients and created what she calls her bathroom therapy. This recipe was so effective for her, she felt the need to share it with everyone! With only a few ingredients, this cleaner will work hard on any “dirt, smell or mystery liquid.” Live Simply is found here along with her bathroom therapy recipe: https://livesimply.me/2014/09/28/diy-homemade-bathroom-cleaner/

  3. Floor Cleaner – A floor cleaner was a must when I began searching for ways to transform my home into being more environmentally conscious and healthy overall. I cannot tell you how much money has been spent in the past on Swiffer pads and juice. (Although I still love them, I am looking for something more cost-effective.) Kristin, the creator of the previous “all-in-one bathroom cleaner” also found a simple, effective recipe for a multi-surface floor cleaner. She also stayed away from including vinegar in her floor cleaner because it is not safe to use on all surfaces, and to stay away from the strong scent that comes along with it. This recipe has only three ingredients, so it is super easy to make whenever you’re ready to clean the floors. Find it here: https://livesimply.me/2016/04/30/homemade-floor-cleaner-multi-surface/

     

    4. Disinfectant – A disinfectant is a MUST in any home, especially in one that has pets and/or children. Many strong disinfectants you find in the stores either contain toxic chemicals, are not safe to use around children, or are hard on your bank account. Becky is the author of Clean Mama and created a recipe that uses natural ingredients to disinfect almost any area of your house. This recipe does include vinegar, so it should be used with caution on surfaces such as granite, marble and stone. There is no rinsing required for Becky’s disinfectant, but she does recommend leaving it sit for ten minutes to maximize its germ-killing potential. She also recommends using a glass spray bottle (an awesome version can be found at Branch Basics or another company called Grove Collaborative!) She also recommends using vodka in this particular disinfectant but notes that it may be substituted for rubbing alcohol. Her blog and recipe can both be found here: https://www.cleanmama.net/2017/06/diy-disinfecting-spray-cleaner.html

     

    5. Window/Mirror Cleaner – Those tiny hands that we created and love dearly, also tend to leave behind tiny (not so adorable) fingerprints on all of our windows and mirrors.  The inspiration behind this recipe came when Kalyn, whose mission is to find “simple solutions to manage everyday life,” only had the bathrooms left to clean and did not want to leave the house just to buy window cleaner. Kalyn rummaged through items she already had at home and created a streak-free window cleaner with only three ingredients (water, vinegar and rubbing alcohol). To read more about her simple solutions and directions on how to use this recipe, follow this link: https://kalynbrooke.com/cleaning-organizing/homemade-window-cleaner-with-vinegar/

I hope these resources and recipes leave you inspired to clean “green” and to find products that are eco-friendly. Every one of the brand websites or blogs linked on this post are full of advice and tips to manage not just cleaning, but all of life’s craziness! Lastly, when I began searching for clean, healthy products, I used an app called Think Dirty. This app helps to quickly identify the ingredients in a specific product such as cleaners, baby products, makeup and beauty products, to ensure you know exactly what is sitting on your shelves. Since using Think Dirty I have been able to have more peace of mind in knowing that what is in my cabinets is safe and healthy for both my family and the environment! Happy Spring Cleaning!

Springtime Family Fun

Many of us Ohioans have been pacing back and forth in anticipation of its arrival, not knowing how much longer we can open our weather apps to find the temperature hasn’t risen above 30 degrees yet…thankfully, Spring is finally here! Warmer weather and the chance to have a variety of outdoor fun is just around the corner. Although Springtime usually means the temperature is crawling back up to a comfortable number, it also could bring with it many rainy days. After being cooped up indoors for what may have seemed like an eternity to parents of young children, how can we enjoy a few more weeks while we await the sunshine? - Fun indoor activities that switch up the routine and get your children moving and thinking! Below are just a few ideas that can be fun for the whole family!

Indoor Obstacle Course –

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         This one may take some extra leg work, but have an older child jump in to help! They can rearrange items or furniture in your house, use their imagination to make the obstacle course their own, and burn off extra energy! Use the couch or a towel on the floor as a safe spot from “lava," push cushions together into a tee-pee to crawl underneath, or place a stool in the living room to hop on! If furniture options or space is limited, use painters’ tape to write words, draw arrows and boxes, or mark off areas and specify as “off-limits” or “special zones” such as a jumping-jack zone! The whole family can participate at once or in teams, children LOVE when they see their parents jumping in on the fun!

Scavenger Hunt –

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         This activity can be modified to be developmentally exciting and appropriate for younger or older children. Younger children can work on learning their colors or letters with a scavenger hunt based on finding objects around the house that are a specific color; adding extra senses can make the scavenger hunt more exciting for kids such as “find something bumpy, noisy, cold, or sour!” Older children who are in the early stages of reading can be given a more difficult version with clues such as “just before bedtime, everyone uses these in the bathroom (toothbrush)” A scavenger hunt is also a great option for Spring days to get outside and enjoy the sunshine by creating a nature version! Pinterest can be your best friend if you are stuck on trying to find ideas to add to your family scavenger hunt!

Baking –

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         For an extra rainy day when the family needs to wind down, bring everyone into the kitchen to help bake a special treat! Let your children get messy, learn how to measure out ingredients, set the timer, watch in the oven as it bakes, and help clean up when everything is finished! For a little baking inspiration, Chef Erica from Whisk Prep Kitchen has let us in on her secret homemade pizza recipe. This recipe is fun but also manageable, and you can make it as simple or as complicated as you would like! Click the button below to view the recipe for pizza crust, and what to do with it once your crust is made!

These are only a few ideas and your child’s imagination can certainly help to make a rainy day more exciting! When you are ready to pack up and go on an adventure, make sure to check out our “Weekend Adventure Spotlight” for information on places to visit around Columbus! 


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About “The Balanced Blog”

At Balanced Family Academy, our tight-knit community and the relationships made within our centers are a big reason we have found so much success in the past four and a half years. Finding others who understand the many different roles you play every day is key to relieving some of the stress that comes hand in hand with being an important part of a young person’s life. Between being an employee, a parent, cleaning the house, staying healthy and fit, checking in on family, and keeping up a social life with friends, life can be quite the balancing act! With that being said, we want to introduce our latest adventure, The Balanced Blog! This blog will serve as a place to feel connected, to find helpful advice on the many roles you play, and to learn about fun activities and places to go with your family.

The Balanced Blog will strive to relate to each one of its readers, and your input is very valuable! If you are willing, please email emily.hammond@bfaschools.com with any topics you would enjoy reading about on The Balanced Blog!