Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tips for Planning Your Next Trip

Thanks to Amy Williams for another terrific article for the Whole Hearted Parenting Blog!

By Amy Williams

Tips for Planning Your Next Trip
You’re counting the days until your next vacation, and it’s so close you can almost taste it. No deadlines, no alarm clocks, no carpools to multiple activities, and no pressures.  To get the most out of your family’s precious vacation time, plan a trip that allows everyone to relax, regenerate, and spend some quality time together. This should include planning some fun activities and being good to your mind, body, and soul. Follow these tips to get the most out of your vacation so you return to reality feeling refreshed and invigorated.

Choose a Destination
Where will your family have the most fun? Where can you get the most bang for your buck? Is this purely a vacation for fun, or do you need to tie it in with visiting family or friends? Once you decide where to go, then you can determine the logistics.  Regardless where you choose to go, try to keep it healthy, engaging, and fun for the whole family.

Keep It Healthy
While it’s perfectly appropriate to indulge on your vacation in moderation, overall there are some simple steps you can take to keep from overdoing it. If you follow a few easy guidelines, you can partake in that extra glass of wine or rich dessert without feeling guilty, and your children can enjoy some treats while still getting proper nutrition.

  If you’re driving, pack healthy snacks to enjoy on the road. Think fresh fruit, nuts, protein bars, or lowfat string cheese. These will keep you feeling satisfied and help you avoid the cost and calories of empty snacks at the convenience stores. Most airlines allow you to bring your own food on a flight, so the same can be done if you choose to fly instead of drive to your destination. This is good protocol for adults and children while traveling. Nourishing snacks will keep the grown ups from blowing their diet and prevent younger travelers from the dreaded too-tired, overly hungry meltdown.
 The same should be done when choosing your meals and restaurants.  Select restaurants with local, fresh offerings. Opt for baked or grilled entrees instead of fried ones, and choose salads or in-season vegetables for your side instead of french fries. If you stay at an all inclusive resort, be cautious with the all you can eat buffets and choose the fresh, healthy options, and keep the trips to the dessert bar to a minimum.
     Be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if traveling to warmer regions.  Make sure to drink water before you feel thirsty, typically more than you would usually drink to compensate for the warmer temperatures.This is especially true for children too as they tend to run nonstop and can easily become dehydrated in the heat.  Adults should avoid too much caffeine or alcohol because these can lead to dehydration when consumed in excess.  Enjoy in moderation with frequent drinks of water in between other beverages.

Stay Active
If you are used to exercising regularly, there’s no reason to let your vacation deter you.  Don’t use it as an excuse to get off track. Throw a pair of running shoes into your suitcase and explore your new location on foot. Choose a hotel with a gym and get a workout in before hitting the beach, and burn off that drink on the beach by taking a long walk along the water. Or, take your yoga mat and practice on the beach. Be adventurous and go kayaking or hiking instead of just sitting at your resort.  Many resorts also offer multiple classes or activities for individuals, families, and children, so research these options when choosing your destination. Introduce your kids to some new activities and perhaps they’ll find a new passion. Again, if you stay active, you can enjoy some vacation indulgences without feeling guilty.

Take Care of Your Eyes and Skin
Since the majority of Americans prefer beach vacations, it is imperative to discuss protecting your eyes and skin. Sun can wreak havoc on both. The first line of defense is sunscreen and a quality pair of sunglasses.  Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplied throughout the day. The key is understanding the SPF (Sun Protection Factor)  and how it works with your skin type. If your skin starts to redden in 10 minutes, multiply that by the SPF number to see how long the sunscreen will protect from burning. If you will be swimming or sweating a lot, you’ll likely need to reapply every 40-80 minutes. A waterproof sunscreen is highly recommended, and make sure it is a broad spectrum sunscreen to block both UVA and UVB rays.

Be sure to use proper sun gear, as well, such as a wide brimmed hat and an umbrella for shade during extended stints at the beach. If you should acquire a bit more sun than intended, or if your skin tends to get dry from the pool, sun, or sand, be sure to sooth and hydrate it with lotions, aloe, and/or essential oils for a healthy, sun-kissed glow.

Eating healthy, staying active, and caring for your eyes and skin in the sun will leave you looking fabulous and refreshed when you return from your vacation. You can enjoy all the pleasures of vacation without any of the guilty. 

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tips for Brand New Dads

Many thanks to my dear friend, Robbie, for this post!  

By Robbie Gennet

I have some friends that are brand new Dads and as I changed another poopy diaper today, I was thinking of a few things to pass along. Tips, advice, whatever you want to call it~ Dads have a unique skill set that involves a lot of duct tape and ingenuity but you can only MacGyver your way out of so many situations with a baby. So now that I have a scarce window during nap time, here are a few random tidbits for you Daddios ~ any of my fellow veteran Dads want to add their 2 cents, be my guest.

1. When you take off a poopy diaper, put it far off to the side. Babies suddenly kick their feet straight out and will kick right into that poop. Save yourself the cleanup ~ and use the diaper to scrape off as much poop as you can before you start with baby wipes. 

2. Besides bringing multiple changes of clothes for the baby outings, bring an extra shirt or two for yourself (maybe pants too). I have spent many public outings roped in spitup ~ always understandable but it’s nice to be able to freshen up.

3. Unless you live in a humid area, your fingertips will dry out and crack from all the hand washing and diaper changing and whatnot. Especially here in SoCal, a good salve is a must. I use the Trader Joe’s Head to Toe stuff ~ non-greasy, natural and effective. However, Aquaphor is pretty much king so always keep a large tube handy. Great for diaper/neck rashes too. Don’t forget to monitor the folds in their neck for formula and food leakage.

4. You will never get enough sleep ever again. You will soon know what it must feel like to be Keith Richards. You will hit a wall on your way to the next wall. Important to swap with the missus to let each other catch up once in a while. And by catching up, I mean back to Keith in 1967. Disheveled? Were you ever sheveled in the first place?

5. Light roast coffee has more caffeine than dark roast. Have a selection depending on the jolt you need. And drink the good stuff ~ you will earn it, cup by cup. Coffee is the new cocaine (see: Keith 1975). Do NOT run out. Ever. Print up grocery lists that automatically include coffee at the top.

6. When you are preparing to take a diaper off of a 0-6 month old, you must be ready to replace it with a dry diaper, even temporarily until you secure disposal of the first. Think Indiana Jones with the bag of sand and the golden idol. Urine streams can really project ~ save yourself the cleanup! Getting peed on is for people who like Russian hookers. 

7. Babies get heavier as they grow. This will put exponential strain on your back, shoulders, arms, forearms, wrists and hands. As a piano player, it has at times really taken its toll. It’s not just the carrying (though that certainly wears you down). It’s more about the times they lurch left and you reach to grab them and there goes that lower back. Do strengthening exercises as much as you can. Remember your hamstrings are the secret support system for your back. Use the baby to exercise with doing gentle lifting and strengthening. Keep ice packs handy. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Move gracefully like tai chi. Be the ball, Danny.

8. Buy a million burp cloths. Maybe an extra half million for backup. Stack them in multiple places around the house, which is now a staging area for laundry, dishes and toys. Now go put the clothes from the dryer into the basket, put the clothes from the washer into the dryer and then fill and start the next load before you begin folding. This cycle will never end but now that you’ve given up on sleep, you have plenty of time for it!

9. Play classical and jazz around your child. If you were never a fan before, take this opportunity to expose yourself and your child to the music. I find Vivaldi and Bill Evans to be lovely bottle-feeding music. PM me and I would be more than happy to Dropbox you a nice little collection of jazz and children’s music or give you recommendations on great/easy/chill/cool records. And if you want to make your child musical, dance with them, pat the beat on their backs (great for burping) and move their hands and feet to the music. Draws them in nicely.

10. Parents always say “it goes so fast” and I can see how it can feel that way… BUT I feel that I have lived every day of my kids lives really connected and engaged and it feels like things have taken their sweet time and not leaped up on me. So stay engaged~ read, dance, talk, laugh, play ~ get off your phone and look them in the eyes and let them look you in the eyes and know how much you love them. Enjoy this time and remember it as vividly as you can a few years from now when he/she is in a tantrum and you are trying to restrain yourself from reverting to parenting styles of the 1600’s. 

11. You are going to take massive amounts of pictures and videos. Consider a system to label, store and backup these files. Start now! If you don’t, you will be trying to piece together an array of files and drives and will never feel you have it all together. Agree on a system with the missus as you will both be adding to it. Backup backup backup.

12. Nap times are like finding a wonderful little oasis in the desert. But the time will evaporate before you hear the cry from the crib and are back on diaper duty. Try to have a bit of a plan if you have things to do so the minute they are down for a nap, you can kick into gear. Sometimes, you will just be grateful to sit quietly on the couch with that fresh cup of coffee and daydream for a few minutes about what Keith Richards is doing right now… :)

Alright ~ any of my parental friends want to chime in with tips for new Dads? Mom’s perspectives are welcome too (whether we want them or not - am I right Dads? lol). 

Happy nap time ya’ll ~ xo!