Archive for the 'Community' Category

Earth Day every day

heart earth from sticks and shells

Unaltered image. Kate Ter Haar, Flickr. CC license.

Children love to get out into nature and have fun. They also love to help and learn new skills. Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to weave those together. You can celebrate with your children in your own backyard or attend one of the many local events for families listed below.

Since we need our Earth to be healthy every day (and not just once a year), I challenge you to find an activity that will have lasting meaning for you and your children and make a pledge. Perhaps even consider a service to the Earth.

Find your (or your child’s) “love” from the list below and learn what you can do. Easy activities may take a few minutes. More challenging tasks can be done in an afternoon. Commitments are ongoing. Here are some ideas to get started.

Love: Playing outside in the yard

  • Pledge: Avoid chemical pesticides in your lawn and garden.
  • Activities
    • Easy: Embrace the dandelions!
      • Make dandelion flower chains with your young children.
      • For older children, make your own pest control spray with this recipe.
    • Challenge: Plant native plants and trees. These varieties don’t need high amounts of water, fertilizer or pest control. Bonuses: They attract birds and beneficial insects to eat any pests. Children can help choose which plant species to add to the landscape and where, then use a smaller size shovel to help dig.
    • Commit:
      • Use manual and non-toxic techniques to remove weeds.  Small hands are great for pulling young weeds, but maybe leave thistle and picky plants for gloved grown up hands or shovels.
      • Learn more about green gardening.

Love: Going to the local park

  • Pledge: Keep your favorite park beautiful and toxic-free.
  • Activities
    • Easy: Bring a bag, wear gloves, and pick up litter.
    • Challenge: Inquire about the pesticide policies at your favorite park and request pesticide-free.
    • Commit: Volunteer to help maintain (e.g., pull weeds, spread mulch, etc.) a pesticide-free playground or park.

Love: Bees and butterflies

  • Pledge: Provide food sources and habitat for pollinators.
  • Activities
    • Easy: Dandelions and clover are important food sources for bees.
      • Spread clover seeds in your lawn to attract and support bees.
      • Let the dandelions flower.
    • Challenge:
      bee house

      Bee house by Ty Gwenyn. Flickr, CC license.

      • Plant milkweed seeds in your garden for monarchs.
      • Plant other native plants to attract pollinators.
      • Build native bee houses.
      • Make a bee watering dish by putting rocks and pebbles in a wide, shallow bowl and partially covering the rocks with fresh water.
    • Commit: Avoid neonicotinoid (neonics), a type of insecticide.
      • Don’t buy neonicotinoid pesticides. (Look for a warning label and a small picture of a bee.)
      • Don’t purchase plants that have had neonics applied.
      • Ask your favorite bedding plants store to avoid neonics products on shelves and on bee-friendly plants.

Love: The Earth’s climate

  • Pledge: Use less energy.
  • Activities
    • Easy: Post small reminders to turn lights off when leaving a room and to unplug unused devices and appliances. Try: “Be nice, unplug twice: once at the outlet, once at the device.”
    • Challenge: Think foot power
      • Leave the car in the garage for short trips that are close to home, like to the park, school or errands.
      • Gear up your family’s bikes. Kids can pump air into bike tires, help clean bike chains, etc.
    • Commit:
      • Set up a clothes line or rack to take advantage of free solar energy to dry clothes (even if just some of your loads) and give the second biggest consumer of electricity in your household a time out. No need to spend money and energy heating up clothes in a machine when it’s plenty hot outside!
      • Speaking of hot, remember to forego the A/C whenever possible or turn it to a lower setting.

These are just a few ideas, but we can think about the Earth in all of our favorite activities. If you love to swimming or spending time on the water, find ways to help protect rivers, the Great Lakes, and our oceans (such as avoiding microbeads in facial scrubs and sparkles in toothpaste, or helping at a beach clean up day). Gather ideas from your children as well. They may offer up some wonderful surprises!

If you’re looking for more ways to explore the bounty, the beauty, and the wonders of this planet, check out one of these local Earth Day 2017 events. Events are free unless otherwise noted.

  • GreenFest at the Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak
    Saturday, April 22, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    Cost: Free with Admission (Bring in an old cell phone for reduced admission of $9)

Our children are passionate about the Earth. Let’s find ways to have fun and also show them that they can make a difference!

– Melissa Cooper Sargent, Environmental Health Educator with LocalMotionGreen at Ecology Center. For more information, you can email her at melissas@ecocenter.org or visit http://www.ecocenter.org/lmg

Successful solutions for the homebound spring breaker

 

As the weather vacillates from winter to, well, still winter here in Michigan, one’s thoughts inevitably turn to more exciting times. Something must be on the horizon to break up this monotony, one thinks. And indeed, something is coming. No, not the zombie apocalypse.

Spring Break!

At this point in the school year, chances are high that spring break is right around the corner.  Many families use this time to travel – vacationing or visiting family elsewhere. Others, however, remain close to home and fill their time hiding from their children doing fun local activities. You may think, “But what can we do? My town is so boring.” Fear not! There is so much out there that this article won’t be sufficient to capture all of the possibilities.

  • Museums. The Detroit metro area offers several options that are specifically geared toward kids such as the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.
  • Indoor waterparks. Frankenmuth and Sandusky have a variety of fabulous ones. Live across the border? Adventure Bay Family Water Park is right in the heart of downtown Windsor.
  • Aquatic centers. Troy and Warren have indoor facilities.
  • Pottery and painting studios.
  • Zoos. Detroit and Toledo both boast excellent ones.
  • Metroparks and county parks offer hiking, bird watching, and nature centers.
  • Local farms. Lots of baby animals arrive during this time of year.
  • Libraries. Many have programs for younger kids.
  • Gyms. Even if you aren’t a member, many gyms offer day camps for kids whose parents still need to work.
  • Indoor climbing and play centers. Jungle Java and Detroit Kid City are popular choices.
  • Bowling!
  • Movies
  • Mini golf and/or the driving range

If transportation, finances or time are factors, then there is always the tried-and-true, time-honored, parent-approved activity that is sure to please all of the children: chore time! Surely there is a room that needs tidying or some dishes to wash. Many hands make light work, as Ye Olde Saying goes. And the kids sure do like those “Olde” sayings. Before they know it, they’ll be asking to go back to school.

– Wendy MacKenzie is a mother of four, Parenting Program volunteer, and former teacher who used to love Spring Break.

Mommy shaming: What else is new?

Woman hiding face in shame

Altered image. Camdiluv, Flickr. CC license.

Through social media and popular culture, we’ve found a hip and trendy way to blame and shame mothers in the 21st century. And while we think this is a new “thing,” that is far from the truth.

Let’s take a look back. Sigmund Freud, a psychologist who studied psychoanalysis in the 19th and 20th century, was one of the first to suggest that early childhood experiences were the cause of poor brain development and led to diagnoses such as autism. Mothers were often blamed for causing autism in their children during this time and were known as “refrigerator moms” due to their inability to show emotion and displayed cold parenting. Thank goodness these thoughts and attitudes were debunked. However this notion that the mother is to blame continued throughout the sciences of psychology and medicine.

Not to get too scientific here, but epigenetics is the study of how external and environmental factors influence gene expression. Even in the 21st century scientists continue to have various thoughts. It’s very similar to the old debate of nature versus nurture. Let’s use the example of a mom who lets her child eat pizza for breakfast to avoid the morning power struggle. Is it really that bad? Could be. Some scientists may say that by doing so, the mom may be altering the eating habits of that future generation. Other scientists may say that one less argument may have a profound impact. But unless you are a scientist, nutritionist, or gym teacher, why do you care? Why are you judging this mother?

How often have you (primarily women, though men have too) been in public and witnessed a mother doing the unthinkable to her child? Was she breastfeeding him, scolding the child, allowing the child run all over the store, letting the child talk back? Did the child have her mother’s electronic device? Did the child have snacks with high fructose syrup or was the mom late in picking her child up from practice? These are things that we judge other parents about. We call them names, roll our eyes in disgust, talk about them behind their back, and put them down.

That is Mommy shaming.

Yes, we Mommy shame! So why is that? We put down other mothers for doing something that we disagree with or think is appalling. But who are we to say what is appalling or not? There is no perfect parent. The Parent Police do not exist. But what does start to exist is a need to be the perfect parent.

As parents, we try to keep up with the latest information that will help our child succeed. We may overschedule our child with several extracurricular activities and tutoring sessions. We give our children the newest electronic gadgets. We grow our own garden and prepare all the meals from scratch to avoid pesticides and GMO foods (genetically modified organisms). It becomes too much and too stressful to keep up with.

Now there may be some times when safety is a concern and you feel the need to say something to a mother. Think twice about this, then think again and wonder how you would prefer to be approached. For example, if a child isn’t being supervised and you’re concerned about safety or a kidnapping, you might say, “I saw an unattended child on aisle eight,” in a pleasant and polite tone. Avoid saying, “You need to go get your kid and do a better job of watching her,” in a disapproving judgmental tone.

By now you should know if you are one of those women who shame other mothers. If this is the case, it is a definite sign that you may need more balance in your life. We could all use a bit more balance in our lives. If we have to put others down so that we can justify our own neurotic behaviors, then we know we are too close to the edge! Besides what does our mommy shaming behavior teach our kids? We wouldn’t dare want our daughters and sons to be known as “the mean girl” or “classroom bully” would we? What would the neighbors say!

– Carnigee Truesdale-Howard, PsyD, ABPP, Pediatric Psychologist with Beaumont Children’s Divisions of Hematology/Oncology & Gastroenterology

 

Hey, Mom and Dad! What is Earth Day anyway?

Black & white hands holding color Earth

Unaltered image. Steven Guzzardi, Flickr. CC license.

We’ve been celebrating Earth Day on April 22 since 1970. What started out as a small grass-roots effort for environmental protection has turned into a day celebrated by 193 countries! Here are some fun ways to celebrate with your children, while showing them how important being earth-friendly is.

Activities and crafts

Learn together

  • Watch this tour of a recycling center with LaVar Burton from “Reading Rainbow.” I’m sure many of our kids have wondered what happens to the stuff in the recycling bin after the truck takes it away.
  • Did you know that water conservation is incredibly important?
    • Learn why, what you can do to help, and check out the game for kids.
    • Then discover 20 ways your family can help save water.
  • Read a book.

Take action

  • Take a walk and discuss how you can help the earth stay healthy.
  • Turn off lights and electronics whenever they aren’t in use.
  • Recycle at home. When you’re out and about, look for recycle bins; remember, you can always bring your things home to recycle.

Yoga Moms prenatal yoga

Pregnant mom doing yoga meditation

Cropped image. Randy Pantouw, Flickr. CC license.

In honor of National Yoga Month, we are highlighting Beaumont’s prenatal yoga program, Yoga Moms.

If you’re expecting a baby, prenatal yoga can be a great way to relax, stay fit and prepare for birth. Studies have suggested that prenatal yoga may:

  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Decrease swelling
  • Encourage socialization and support with other expectant moms
  • Increase strength and flexibility of the muscles needed for birth
  • Decrease low back pain, nausea, headaches and shortness of breath
  • Decrease the risk of pregnancy induced hypertension

Beaumont’s Community Health Education Department offers Yoga Moms at SOLA Life and Fitness in Rochester Hills and the Beverly Hills Club in Southfield. The six-week class series is taught by certified yoga instructors. Classes include breathing, gentle stretching, postures and relaxation. The class is recommended for any stage of pregnancy, with physician approval.

For more information or to register, visit Yoga Moms or call 800-633-7377.

Raising children with dignity and respect

Young boys soccer team high fiving coach

Unaltered image. Woodleywonderworks, Flickr. CC license.

What are the most important aspects of raising healthy children?

As a parent, teacher, daughter, sister and friend, two words stand out to me: dignity and respect. This message was brought to the forefront as I walked the path of terminal illness with my husband. After his diagnosis with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in January 2004, I learned that these two simple words are the foundation of everything we teach in life.

If our children are to grow into strong and compassionate adults, they must witness the role that these words play in our lives, as acted out by their parents.

How do you teach a child dignity?

Dignity is defined as “a state of being valued, worthy and honored.” (Oxford Dictionary, 2000) We are raising the most valuable resource on this earth: new human beings. We bring them into this world with our own dreams, wants and needs. In reality, our children must feel valued to discover their own dreams, wants and needs. As a parent, this is a fine balance. The influence of our life is infinitely connected to the lives of our children.

Within two years, three of the most influential men in my life died: my father, my husband and my brother.

My father was extremely faithful and raised each of his six children to never doubt our value. He challenged our thinking, but quietly supported our choices. He taught us the basic value of feeling special. I learned how to give to others through his devotion to volunteering. He demonstrated that treating all people with dignity, no matter what the circumstance, was the only way to live life.

“I met the nicest person today …” are words stay dear to my heart when I think of my husband. He always saw the best in others. He understood that the value of each person is precious. Nothing pleased him more than a Sunday dinner table surrounded by family and friends. He was a quiet man and an endless dreamer. I felt valued throughout our life together.

Finally, my brother suffered from severe mental illness his whole life. From him, I learned that no matter how busy and difficult life can get, we need to be there for each other. As a young child, I understood that although we may look and act different, the value of who we are remains unchanged.

How do we teach children respect?

Respect is closely connected to dignity. As a verb, “respect” moves dignity into action. Teaching mutual respect to our children is filled with conflict. Think about the conversations they overhear where you nag, reject, criticize or share prejudices. Think about the influences of the television they watch. As parents we fall into the trap of thinking that the more we say, the more our children will learn. However I’ve learned that it’s most often the less we say and the more we act on that are the best methods for teaching our children.

Disciplining

When disciplining, how closely are your words connected to your actions? Do you follow through with consequences or just threaten with words? When this happens, what level of respect are you demonstrating to your child? Do you feel respected by your child? It’s the spiraling effect of these conversations that turn ugly.

A wonderful book, Crucial Conversations states, “… when stakes are high, opinions vary and emotions are strong, conversation becomes crucial.” If mutual respect is the foundation of our problem solving, we will handle these situations by first understanding who we are. We can then listen to the other person’s perception. If we mutually respect each other, there is a safe environment to resolve the problem.

As a parent, if you take respect out of discipline, the child’s self-esteem is destroyed. Name calling, teasing and sarcasm are all indicators of the lack of mutual respect. Our children can become bullies.

How can we get back to a path of mutual respect?

We all have bad days or moments of bad behavior. First, apologize and admit you made a mistake. Your children learn we all have weaknesses.

When your intention is misinterpreted, it’s helpful to use contrasting a don’t/do statement. Describe what you don’t want and then what you do want. For example, you might say, “I don’t want you to spoil your dinner by eating a cookie now, but I do want you to have a cookie. So you can have one for dessert after a healthy dinner.”

My mission is to share the idea that if we live our daily lives with dignity and respect, we will create a world of acceptance. We will all be more understanding and considerate. We will teach our children that the value of every living thing is connected to the life we lead. Place these two words — “dignity” and “respect” — on your refrigerator and see how they will change your relationships and purpose in life.

– Beth Frydlewicz, MPA, System Director, Volunteer Services, Beaumont Health

Keeping Busy: Sources You Can Use to Find Out Where the Cool Kids Hang Out

Little boy and girl "driving" big trucks

My twins at a local “touch a truck” event I found on Metro Parent.
My son “drove” a SMART bus and my daughter “drove” a Zamboni!

My kids aren’t old enough to say, “Moooom! I’m booooored!” but I’m certainly to the point where I say, “If we don’t do something, I’m going to go insane!”

To help channel their buckets full of energy and save my mind, I’ve amassed a treasure trove of “things to do” resources that I can call on in times of need. Because I love you all, I’ll share, but you have to share your sources, too!

  • MetroParent’s events calendar has tons of events and happenings broken down by county. You need to create a free account to see some of the pages on the site, but they do send a handy weekly “here’s what’s going on email.”
  • Find your local Macaroni Kid. This is an awesome resource for things happening in your neighborhood and community. Bigger calendars don’t always cover library events or programs, but this one does. Subscribe to their email to get a weekly update with calendar and also like them on Facebook. Don’t forget to look at the Macaroni Kid for cities near you, too. If you’re willing to drive 15 minutes, you’ll open the door to all kinds of fun.
  • Subscribe to your local public television station’s calendars and updates. Detroit Public Television has a special section just for your shorties. We met Barney, Super Why and The Cat in the Hat by checking out DPTV emails.
  • Bookmark the Michigan Activity Pass page. Click on the site, enter your ZIP code, and see which museums and attractions offer free or discounted rates through the MAPS program. Just by entering my ZIP code, the search returned 64 entries. Not a bad start!
  • Check out the calendar and tips at MetroDetroitMommy.com. It’s just another source for finding something to do!
  • Also, do a little research and find local mommy bloggers, such as Detroit Moms Blog. These groups usually do “best parks” round-ups, listings of local fireworks shows and more.

So there you have it: my list of resources to help me keep the kids involved and experiencing new things. What are your resources and tricks?

– Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples


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