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100 Tips for Nannies and Families

The advice in this book comes from Candi Wingate, President of Care4hire.com.
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Healthy Holidays for Your Kids

Most people think the holiday season is the time to throw off their kids’ sleep cycles, give them sugar rushes and crashes, allow poor nutrition and over-consumption, and find other unhealthy ways to celebrate the holidays.  While each of these may be ok from time to time, they are unhealthy, so parents may want to allow these behaviors only as rarities.  As to the every-day holiday routine, there is a better way.

Maintain the usual sleep and wake cycles.  By keeping your kids’ sleep and wake cycles similar to their regular school-time routine, you minimize the difficulties associated with transitioning to and from the holiday sleep-whenever-you-want schedule.  Additionally, you can use the additional hours of wake time for wonderful family time opportunities.  For example, if your kids normally awaken at 6:00 a.m. during the school week, perhaps they can awaken at 7:15 a.m. during the holidays.  This allows them the treat of sleeping a little later during the holidays without creating significant disruption to their normal sleep and wake cycle.  They can then spend their wake time helping you prepare for the holidays, engaging in fun and festivities, and making memories that will last a lifetime.  For example, by having your kids awake during most of their normal hours throughout the holidays, you and they can spend quality time together making decorations for the family Christmas tree, decorating the tree and your home, going caroling in a skilled care facility near you, working in a soup kitchen, “adopting” a family in need in your community,  etc.

Limit consumption of refined sugar.   Cookies and candies of every variety are omnipresent during the holidays.  If your kids over-indulge, they can experience sugar rushes and crashes, weight gain, and consumption that is nutritionally incomplete.  To guard against this, limit your kids’ consumption of refined sugar.  Perhaps your kids may have two treats (i.e., two cookies or one cookie and one chocolate-covered pretzel) each day.  Ensure that you don’t tempt your kids to violate this limitation:  don’t leave trays of sweet treats sitting around your home.  Instead, keep the bulk of your cookies and candies frozen and, on a daily basis, thaw small quantities of them for consumption the following day.

Ensure consumption of balanced, nutritious meals and reasonable quantities of food.  Prepare nutritionally balanced meals with moderate portion sizes.  Do not allow your kids to have cookies and candies unless or until their nutrition is consumed.  This may sound not at all fun or festive, but you can make standard-fare meals fun and festive.  Mashed potatoes can be formed into the shape of snowmen on your kids’ plates, with carrot slivers for their noses and peas for their eyes and smiles.  Make fruit into  Grinch kabobs (on a toothpick, skewer one grape, one banana slice, one strawberry with top removed, and a mini-marshmallow . . . these fruits, in this order, look like a Grinch face wearing a Santa hat).   Red and green apple slices, grilled red and green bell pepper slices, and a romaine lettuce and fresh spinach salad with grape tomatoes are lovely red-and-green accents to your holiday table.  The opportunities for this kind of food festivity are limited only by your creativity.

Exercise.  Stay active this holiday season by exercising as a family.  Not up for a family run together?  No problem.  Shop at the mall . . .that’s walking.  Carry your bags of purchases . . . don’t put your bags in a cart that you push from store to store.  This carrying (lifting) is exercise.  Go caroling at a skilled care facility near you  . . . that too is walking.  Put up your Christmas lights together . . . this lifting, stretching, reaching, etc. is exercise.  Volunteer your time in a soup kitchen; the often fast-paced work of feeding the masses can be very good exercise.  For every holiday activity in which your family participates, you engage in activity (i.e., at least mild exercise.)

By following the tips above, your kids can have a new and better paradigm for their holiday experience.  May you and your kids have a wonderful, healthy holiday season and a happy new year!

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