Back to School – The Best Ways to Ensure You’re Prepared!

The beginning of September can be an extremely stressful time for most families. After having two months off school, most children aren’t excited to go back to the routine that is the school week. Children are often stressed about social and academic situations, while parents try hard to ensure they’re children are prepared for school both emotionally and materially. Parents also have the stress of figuring out before and after school care for their younger children. With everything that goes into preparing your child and yourself for back to school, it might seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to make sure everyone is prepared in the most fun and low stress ways possible.

Back to School Shopping

The first thing you need to do when thinking about back to school shopping is to take an inventory of everything you already have. Once you know what you have, its easier to make a list of what you still need. Although sometimes shopping with your kids can be more complicated than doing it on your own, bringing your children will help them to feel more prepared for school. Letting them make choices for the types of notebooks they get or some new outfits will help them to feel more comfortable with going back to school. This way they will feel like they are going back to school they way they want to look and present themselves which can be a big confidence booster.

Meal Prep

One of the most time consuming and stressful tasks for parents and children old enough to make their lunches, is finding the time to prepare all the meals. Luckily, there are many great recipes and tutorials that can now be found online that show you how to create healthy and varied lunches for an entire week. You and your child can work on most of these recipes together and create their lunches. Choose a night once a week like Sunday, to create the five meals your child will bring to school.

Start Your Routine Early

The summer can bring a lot of bad habits like staying up late and sleeping in. Since these bad habits don’t lend themselves to school and learning, help your children by setting a bedtime and acclimatizing them to it before they go back to school. Starting a week before school starts is a good idea to get your children used to going to sleep and waking up at school appropriate times.

Take Some Family Time

Once the kids go back to school, it becomes a lot harder to make time to spend as a family. With after school curricula’s, work and playdates, sometimes it can feel like there is no time to spend together as a family. Before the kids go back to school, make sure to make use of the time you have left. Plan a board game night, or a nice night out for dinner and a movie. This will be nice time together, but may also offer a distraction from the stresses that can come with going back to school.

The Importance of Senior Socialization

Senior isolation is a common problem for many because unfortunately, many seniors live alone. For many isolated seniors, socialization can be extremely daunting, but social relationships can have a positive impact of health during aging. Having a good attitude and lifestyle can make a world of difference throughout the aging process and being social will generally only make seniors feel happier and healthier.

Seniors Living at Home

For seniors living at home, socialization can be a daunting task. Those receiving care at home are in contact with others, but with time constraints on caregivers, these seniors may not be getting to spend as much time with their caregivers as they wish to. This means that these seniors will have to find other means of socialization. Socialization doesn’t have to be a planned activity with a large group of people. It can be as simple as meeting a friend for lunch or spending some quality time with your family members.

Another option for seniors living on their own is to join a club or class where they can not only interact with others, but possibly meet new friends to spend time with. There are many clubs and fitness classes targeted at seniors and these can be a great option to learn a new skill, get fit and meet new people. All these things have great health benefits for seniors who otherwise may have stayed at home on their own.

Volunteering your time to causes can also be a great way to not only socialize with others, but can also be a very healing experience. Looking into local causes and events that need volunteers can be a great way for seniors to interact with others, but also can be a rewarding experience to know that you have helped others.

Seniors in Assisted Living Facilities

Senior homes have a lot of programming availability for their residents, so it is generally easier to get out and meet other people in your community. Socializing can still sometimes be a challenge, but with your caregivers available to you and other seniors also living in the same vicinity as you, joining in activities will be a great way to ensure that you are engaging with others. Physical activities, like fitness classes are especially important because they can have other health benefits as well. Craft and hobby classes as well as excursions can also be great ways to meet other people, learn new skills and gain new experiences. All of this will be beneficial to your health.

Seniors who are out and socializing are happier and healthier because of their lifestyle. The importance of socialization is important to those of all ages, but because a lot of seniors live alone, it is very easy to become isolated. It is important for seniors, and their family members, to ensure that they are making the effort to spend time with others doing activities or even just spending time in the company of others. This time spent with others will ensure everyone’s happiness and health.

Great Children’s Books to Teach and Help Develop Empathy and Acceptance

One of the most important things a child can learn is to empathize and to be accepting of others. Children often see things through a selfish lens because they haven’t yet learned the importance of different perspectives. Its vital for children to learn from an early age that despite our differences, living creatures all have emotions and can feel hurt by the actions of others. When children are exposed to the idea of acceptance and are taught to empathize with the struggles of others, they become more well-rounded adults who can co-exist more peacefully. Here are some books that explore themes of acceptance and empathy that you can read to or with your child to help them to learn a valuable lesson through story as opposed to a lecture.

Picture Books

One by Kathryn Otoshi

One is a story about colours and their differences and the number that comes along to teach them how to come together and count. This story teaches young readers about numbers and counting as well as primary and secondary colours, all the while also how to learn to accept each other’s differences.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

This story is about a blue crayon that has been mistakenly labelled red. The blue crayon has an identity crisis when everything he tries to colour doesn’t look the way it should. Red, the blue crayon, must come to terms with his inner self despite what his outsides say. This story will teach children that labels aren’t important and that people aren’t always what they seem on the outside.

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

The Sneetches is a classic story by Dr. Seuss about two distinct kinds of Sneetches. The plain-bellied Sneetches and the star-bellied Sneetches and how this physical difference keeps them separated. This story discusses segregation and discrimination in a simple way that really gets the point across and will help children to realize that even if they don’t look like someone else, it doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. We can’t judge others based on physical differences.

Chapter Books

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This is a graphic novel/memoir detailing author Cece Bell’s younger years with severe hearing loss and the Phonic Ear that sets her apart from her classmates. At first, the hearing aid, which is bulky and awkward, prevents Cece from making new friends, but in this funny and truly beautiful graphic novel, Cece is able to learn to control the Phonic Ear and become her own superhero. This is a heartwarming tale that shows its readers that being different isn’t a bad thing.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B White

Charlotte’s Web is a classic and well-beloved tale about a girl named Fern and the love she shares for a pig named Wilbur. This is a must read for all children because of Fern’s true compassion towards animals. Fern looks after Wilbur because he is the runt of his litter and saves him from an awful fate. This is a novel of friendship of a different kind that will teach children the intelligence of animals and that having compassion for all living beings is important.

Wonder by R.J Palacio

This is a book about a young boy with a facial difference that has prevented him from attending regular school. Starting in the 5th grade at a mainstream school, the protagonist, Auggie Pullman, just wants to be treated like a normal kid. Unfortunately, it seems that his classmates have a hard time looking past his facial difference to meet the real Auggie. This is a great book for middle grade kids that tackles feeling different, standing up to your bullies and the struggle of trying to find acceptance.

Each of these stories offer a unique perspective on the differences of those around us that will help your children to learn to find acceptance and be able to empathize with their peers. The younger children are able to learn these lessons, the more tolerant they will be as adults.

What We Need to Know About the Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation is just that – a group of people sandwiched between two generations – stuck in the position of caregiver for both their children and their parents. This is a generation that is feeling the pressure to take care of everyone, but are having less help than they once did.

Many in this generation are finding the strain of being a caregiver for both their children and aging parents is causing stress, anxiety and even depression. All of this is due to a general lack of understanding and support. It’s important for everyone to realize who this generation is and how it’s possible that they will become a part of it. Here are some important details about the Sandwich Generation and the struggles they face:

It’s Growing

The amount of people considered a part of the Sandwich generation is increasing. This growth can be attributed in part to a higher mortality rate as well the rising average age before having children. The numbers make sense – we have much better medicine and care and frankly, people are living to an older age. This can put a strain on the children of seniors because they are looking after their loved ones a lot longer than they used to. Family sizes are now also a lot smaller and with less siblings around to shoulder the burden, it can fall to just one or two people who may not have the financial means or time to contribute to their parents well-being. This generation is also having children later in life than they used to which can be attributed to both our longer lifespans as well as post-secondary educations and careers. A single income used to provide for the whole family, but now, most families rely on double income in order to support themselves. All of this leads to a larger gap. The longer a person waits to have children, the older their parents get, which is leading to this overlap in supporting parents in old age and children in their growth.

It Effects Everyone

The problems facing the Sandwich Generation aren’t just effecting its own generation or their parents and children. These issues are also affecting the economy and businesses. Many members of the Sandwich Generation are feeling they have to leave the workforce to provide full time care for their loved ones. This is sometimes one of the best or only options available when considering the financial strain on this generation. If people are having to leave their jobs or consider career changes (to positions that require less time or commitment), businesses are losing highly skilled and qualified employees.

It’s a Financial Strain

A lot of parents would love to help their children with university costs, but also find themselves feeling fiscally responsible for their aging parents who may also require care. Millennials are already facing a turbulent job market right now and once leaving school a large amount are moving back in with their parents, unable to find work in their chosen field. These situations can put a large financial strain on a family who may already not have much extra money to be spending on extra expenses to begin with.

There is also the issue of pensions and retirements savings running out. With the raising levels of higher life expectancy for seniors over the last few years, it seems that seniors are running out of the money that they worked hard to save. This puts additional financial strain on their children who are still able to work, but who will now have to work a lot later into their life before retiring.

How Dance Can Help Seniors to Avoid Dangerous Falls

Dance is often overlooked by many as a sport or as a means of legitimate exercise, but for many seniors it is the perfect way to strengthen the right muscles to help then with balance. Some of the most common injuries in seniors stem from serious falls. Recently Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto live streamed dance classes for elders living in rural areas to advocate this as a integral part of any seniors exercise regime. Dance requires focus and determination and works the parts of the body most important to the development of strength and safety for seniors. Preventing falls is one of the most important aspects of protecting the well being of seniors. A fall can dramatically decrease the quality of life for seniors, sometimes leading to a lack of independence, hospitalization or even chronic pain or issues. Although movement in general is good for seniors, dance can provide an all encompassing exercise that isn’t only good for them, but is also fun and something that can be done as a group activity.

Balance

 One of the largest benefits of dance classes is the general improvement of balance. Usually when seniors fall and injure themselves, the fall has stemmed from a lack of balance. Dance is a very disciplined exercise which includes different positions. For instance in ballet, there is first position (feet together with toes turned out), second position (feet shoulder width apart with toes turned out), etc. These positions along with the other movements that go along with them offer a good base for muscle memory. In a situation where a senior feels they are losing their balance, they’ll have learned these positions and may be able to prevent a fall by trusting this muscle memory.

Strength

Like any form of exercise, movement is important. In dance, strength is gained mostly in your core. This is because all movement in dance stems from the core. This is the perfect strength training for seniors looking to prevent falls because the body’s core is where balance is gained. A dance move that begins in first position will also finish in first position. For instance, if a dancer lifts their leg from first position, they will return it to the ground into that position. This works the core and teaches the body control.

Flexibility

 In general, dance is seen as an extremely flexible form of exercise. Dancers work muscles based on their own body weight and body movements. Often, dancers use stretching of their arms, legs and torsos to move their bodies into certain positions. These stretching movements will help to increase flexibility which in turn will help with overall movement capabilities. The more able a senior is with their movement, the less likely they are to fall.

 Confidence

 A big part of preventing falls and being safe in movements is confidence. Being confident will help seniors to feel in control of their bodies which is a large part of preventing falls. Practicing dance as a form of exercise will enable seniors to feel accomplished, strong and totally in control of their bodies. Like with any type of exercise, it’s important for seniors to not push themselves. Dancing in groups is more fun than it is as a solitary exercise and having an