By Nicole Harris | January 25, 2021
"Art has many benefits for children: it encourages self-expression, improves motor skills, develops patience and problem-" abilities, and increases concentration. It also gives kids a boost of self-esteem when they complete something independently. And maybe most important to kids? It's fun!
Keep kids busy and encourage their creativity with these art activities that are easy for little hands to handle. And when it comes to supplies, you probably already have most of them at home.
1. Big Reveal
For this easy art activity for kids, you'll need watercolor paper, watercolor paints, painter’s tape, a paintbrush, crayons, and stickers.
After taping the watercolor paper to a flat surface (like a newspaper-covered table) encourage your child to decorate it with crayons and/or stickers. Then they can paint the entire paper with watercolors. Wait until it’s dry, then gently remove the tape and stickers. These items will leave behind bright white designs on the paper! The crayons will also repel the watercolor, resulting in unpainted “negative space."
2. Natural Collage
Start this art activity by printing out a full-body photo of your child (for reference, ours is 8.5 inches by 11 inches). Then take a walk outside to gather “natural art supplies” from the landscape—think leaves, twigs, flowers, and bark. Back at home, glue the items to the photo to create a memorable collage to hang in your home!
3. Coffee Filter Art
Tennessee art teacher Rachel Motta, who works with the Metropolitan Nashville Public School district, shares how to turn coffee filters into paper glass with this art project for kids. It was inspired by exhibitions of Dale Chihuly's contemporary, colorful bowl-shaped glass sculptures called Macchia.
Grab a coffee filter; its translucency mimics the look of glass. Give the filter uneven edges with scissors, then use non-permanent markers to make lines and spots on it. Lay the coffee filter on a turned-over yogurt container or plastic cup, apply spray starch, and watch the colors bleed together. When the coffee filter becomes saturated, stop and let it dry.
4. Handmade Tiles
For this art and craft activity for kids, you’ll simply need the power of the sun and a few basic materials: ½ cup water, 1 ½ cup flour, ¾ cup salt, a mixing spoon, a mixing bowl, a sheet tray, a rolling pin, acrylic paint, and paintbrushes. You can decorate the tile with cookie cutters (any shape), rubber stamps, and small objects.
To start, mix the water, flour, and salt in a bowl, and knead it for about 2 minutes. Section of a ball of the dough onto a lightly dusted countertop, and roll it into a square shape—this will be your tile. Create impressions in the soft dough with your cookie cutter, rubber stamp, or object (for example, a silk flower). Add details with a pencil. Once you’re satisfied, place the tile on the sheet tray in direct sunlight. Leave it for several hours, checking periodically to notice changes in the dough, before flipping it to dry the bottom. Color the dried tile with acrylic paint. (Note: You can make several tiles with the dough recipe, so feel free to get creative with different designs!)
5. Kaleidoscope Collage
Grab some poster board or a large canvas, and get ready to make this kaleidoscope of colors! First, create a mixture of ½ cup craft glue and ¼ cup water. After your child draws a large shape (like a circle or square) on the poster, brush it with some of the mixture. Apply tissue paper squares to the wet board, brush some more glue over them, and repeat this process until you’ve covered the shape. To prevent messy dripping, we recommend completing this project outside on a flat surface (just make sure it’s not too windy!)
6. 3-D Portrait
3-D elements elevate this easy art activity for kids! Draw a simple image on a piece of card stock, cardboard, or one side of a cereal box. Ball up pieces of crepe paper, then attach them to the canvas with tacky glue."
BY SARA SHULMAN | JUL 24, 2021
"With stars like Debra Messing and Halle Berry looking decades younger than their actual age, 40 is definitely the new 30! Woman are no longer dreading reaching middle age and are feeling healthier than ever, thanks to the latest fitness and wellness trends. But aging comes with a lot of changes, too. It's usually around 40 when some women start to form deeper fine lines and wrinkles. The big 4-0 also signals the importance of doing health screenings regularly. For example, at age 40, women should have their first mammogram.
“Women must always remain proactive about their health at every age,” says Taz Bhatia, MD, a board-certified integrative medicine physician, women’s health expert and author of The Super Women RX. The good news is there are ways to anticipate where your health is headed as you age through preventative screenings and an active lifestyle. Remember, age is just a number so keep it that way!
Losing weight in your 20s was as easy as cutting out soda for a week, but as women age, it gets harder to lose weight and easier to gain it. “Age, inactivity, stress levels, and poor dietary choices are the biggest precluding factors to weight gain,” says Kecia Gaither, MD, a New York City-based OB/GYN and director of perinatal services at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx. “Staying active is key,” she explains.
Fatigue and low energy
Feeling tired may not seem like something new to a woman in her 40s. After all, you’re probably working full-time, raising children, and managing a home, but as women age, they tend to get more tired, quicker. This is due mainly to hormonal changes happening from menopause. “Consistent sleep is a key factor in rejuvenating and replenishing the body,” Dr. Bhatia says. Dr. Bhatia recommends seven hours of consistent sleep for five nights a week.
“This is the most common cause of death in American women,” Dr. Gaither says. Over time, plaque builds up in the arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. "This prevents the normal flow of blood and oxygen that the heart needs. A clot may develop over the plaque, blocking the flow to the heart leading to a heart attack.” This is just another reason diet and exercise are so important.
There are numerous reasons women in their 40s experience a low sex drive. Everything from hormonal changes to vaginal dryness could be the cause. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as using an estrogen cream, but in other cases, it may mean something more serious. Always talk to your doctor no matter how serious or not you think the issue is.
“Breast and cervical cancer are the two most common cancers affecting women,” Dr. Gaither says. Breast cancer can occur at any age, but the risk increases with age. "Cervical cancer can affect any woman who is or has been sexually active, but it primarily occurs in women who have had HPV, are immune compromised, have poor nutrition, and don’t get pap smears,” she adds. Routine mammograms are key once you hit 40.
As if fatigue and low energy weren’t issue enough, insomnia plagues many middle-aged women as well. In fact, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that close to 20 percent of women age 40 to 59 said they had trouble falling asleep on four or more nights a week. The study explains that for many this is due to the onset of menopause. Night sweats, skyrocketing body temperatures, and mood swings can all affect sleep patterns.
Although hair loss for both men and women is mainly hereditary, hormones during menopause can play a roll as well. But there are supplements and treatments you can take in order to help prevent hair loss, so if you’re worried, ask your doctor."
By: MEGHAN SPLAWN | Updated FEB 15, 2021
"I have a personal rule when it comes to my kids: I always say yes when they ask to help with cooking. This doesn’t mean I’m inviting them to cook every meal with me, but when they ask I always oblige. Cooking with kids sometimes that means dinner takes 10, 15, even 20 minutes longer to get on the table, but we always learn something — even if it’s just to make sure the lid is tightly sealed on the paprika.
Letting them help now in the kitchen means they will learn to master a few basic skills before we full expect them to contribute to weekly meals. Dinner is the one meal we need the most weeknight help with, so it only makes sense to rope them into cooking what we will eat as a family. My 8-year-old has fully embraced being my sous-chef-in-training and cooks along with me two or three nights a week. Here are 18 of our go-to dinner recipes that are perfect for cooking with kids."
By Kim Hooper | July 19, 2021
"Many men struggle with mental health after becoming fathers. But stigma and societal norms keep them from getting help."
"When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I took a parent prep class in which they talked at length about the signs of maternal postpartum depression. My husband took detailed notes. After all, I had a history of depression and occasionally fell down dark, deep rabbit holes from which only medication and therapy could pull me out.
My husband, on the other hand, is the epitome of stable. When his parents died in our first few years of knowing each other, I required more comforting than he did. If I had taken bets on who between us would suffer depression following the birth of our daughter, every single one of our loved ones would have bet on me. And I wouldn’t have blamed them.
But it wasn’t me.
I’d never thought about the possibility of men struggling with depression after the birth of a child. At the time I was focused on the well-being of our daughter, as well as my own physical and mental health. But men do struggle also.
As many as one in six men can experience high levels of anxiety in the postpartum period, and about 10 percent of new dads experience postpartum depression. In the 3- to 6-month postpartum period, that rate climbs to 25 percent.
Perhaps the fact that my husband was low on my list of concerns contributed to the problem, a problem that dramatically impacted the first three years of our family’s life.
One weekday morning in 2019, while watching our then-21-month-old daughter sitting in her high chair, shoveling fistfuls of oatmeal into her face, my husband said:
“I hate this time of day.”
“Why?” I asked. From where I stood, it was all rather pleasant.
“I just hate parenting,” he said. “It’s relentless.”
I was not surprised to hear this. I had suspected a problem and had even started reading about postpartum depression online.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines depression “with peripartum onset” as a major depressive episode during pregnancy or within four weeks after birth. For men, this may develop more slowly over a full year.
Typically, symptoms of a major depressive episode may include feeling sad, crying, having recurrent thoughts of death and losing interest in activities. According to Sheehan D. Fisher, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, symptoms for men can differ.
“The actual DSM diagnosis of depression doesn’t always fit how men experience depression,” Dr. Fisher said. For men, symptoms may include frustration, agitation and irritability, an increase in dopamine-boosting activities (drinking, drugs, gambling) and isolation.
That was my husband — frustrated, irritable and detached. He went to bed before 7 p.m., claiming exhaustion, though I was the one getting up with our daughter every night. He snapped at the littlest things. He just wanted to be left alone.
I tried to help with pep talks: “She’s a good kid! We’re so lucky!” Then I remembered how, when I was depressed, such cheerleading only made me feel worse, as if I was letting others down with my inability to snap out of it.
So I whisked our daughter off to playgrounds, giving him time to lounge on the couch or obsessively clean, something he’d taken up as a hobby. I encouraged him to go surfing or grab a beer with a friend, but he shrugged off these suggestions.
I tried to initiate conversation, by asking how he felt. He just kept saying, “I’m fine,” a lie familiar to me from my own depression days. Unlike women, men are often socialized to value independence, dominance, stoicism, strength, self-reliance and control over their emotions, and many see weakness as shameful."
By Christin Perry | February 25, 2020
"Almost as soon as those two pink lines pop up on a pregnancy test, your hormones get the message that something's different at mission control. Progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) begin pumping to signal your body to halt production on your next menstrual period, and begin forming that cluster of cells into a mini-you instead. As you probably already know, as these hormones get to work, you'll experience an onslaught of early pregnancy symptoms like nausea, fatigue, and breast tenderness.
As pregnancy progresses, our bodies produce extraordinary amounts of estrogen and progesterone, says Aumatma Shah, fertility specialist and naturopathic doctor at the Bay Area's Holistic Fertility Center. "These two steroidal hormones are key to creating dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters in the brain that are important in feeling calm and happy. This is why a lot of women feel amazing when pregnant: Pregnancy offers a surge of hormones and neurotransmitters that help us feel great."
But what happens to those feel-good pregnancy hormones once your baby is born? "Unfortunately, immediately postpartum and the week following delivery, estrogen and progesterone will both plummet. Simultaneously, there will be a surge in prolactin and oxytocin," says Shah.
These wildly swinging hormones are to blame for those crazy emotions you'll experience after giving birth. Here's a closer look at what happens to your hormones postpartum and when so you know what to expect—and so you know the loony emotions you're feeling are all completely normal.
What Happens to Hormones Immediately After Giving Birth?
The birth of your sweet bundle of joy is undoubtedly one of the most exciting moments of your life. No matter how long you labor or what time you give birth—yes, even if it's at 3 a.m.—you'll likely feel an amazing, indescribable high when you meet your baby for the first time, or shortly thereafter. But those surging hormones will plummet over the next few days. Here's what's going on:
Postpartum Hormones at 3 to 6 Weeks
After those first few weeks pass, you may start to feel those rollercoaster-like emotions start to regulate a bit as you begin to get into the groove of caring for baby and get used to the lack of sleep. Ashley Margeson, a naturopathic doctor says, "the first three months are a bit of a whirlwind of sleep loss and emotions as your system runs mostly on adrenaline to move you through the day."
Around the six-week mark, she says, symptoms of postpartum depression may begin to show as those positive post-birth hormones continue to fade. "The changes you should look for closely are not wanting to shower or focus on hygiene, being afraid of leaving your baby with someone else, not being able to sleep fully due to continually checking on baby, and lack of desire for common tasks like eating, drinking, being around people, and leaving the house."
By: Mind Panda
"Keeping kids entertained with wholesome things to do is tough! Mindfulness activities for kids provide an excellent opportunity to engage with young ones while helping them to develop valuable life skills.
In this article, we share the best mindfulness activities for kids of all ages. We’ll start with toddlers and end with early teens. Feel free to skip to your preferred age group.
While we have split these kids mindfulness exercises into age groups, there are no set rules. You can try any of these activities for any age group.
Mindfulness Activities for Toddlers (1 – 3 years)
If you have a toddler, we don’t have to tell you how difficult it can be to get them to sit still or focus for extended periods!
The most effective mindfulness activities for toddlers are basic sensory recognition exercises – smell, taste, touch, hear, see. The goal is to develop a curious mindset, the basis for mindfulness and mediation.
With fewer distractions, bathtime is a fantastic opportunity to teach a toddler mindfulness. As you’re washing your child, make a point of verbalising what you are doing.
For example, “washing Jake’s back.” Try to get your child to repeat what you are saying. Use items in the bath like soap, sponge, face cloth, or toys to encourage your child to verbalise things that might otherwise remain in the subconscious. For example, “soap is slimy, or the sponge is soft.”
Mealtime is another opportunity for a toddler’s mindfulness activity. Talk to them about the food. Teach your child to describe the flavour, texture, and perhaps aroma of what they are eating. Again, the goal is to make unconscious thoughts and actions conscious.
Most of a child’s early development comes from play. Playtime is a fantastic opportunity to encourage your child to play consciously. Choose games and activities which stimulate the senses.
If you choose an art project, start by getting them to feel the texture of the paint, the bristles of the brush, and verbalise those actions.
Through all of these mindfulness activities for toddlers, the goal is to nurture a curious mind. Our goal is to bring the unconscious to the conscious mind.
Mindfulness Activities for Preschoolers (4 – 6 years)
As your child progresses from toddler to preschooler, their vocabulary grows, and they begin to start identifying emotions.
This stage of development is the perfect time to use mindfulness activities to teach your child about understanding and dealing with emotions.
SnapHappy Emotional Awareness Game
MindPanda’s SnapHappy emotional awareness game is perfect for preschoolers but can also be helpful for kids up to the age of 10.
SnapHappy encourages children to think outside the box to help build social skills and emotional intelligence. The game prompts players to describe emotions and why these feelings might occur."
By: Colleen Lanin | February 16, 2021
"This family road trip packing list will help keep your crew content and safe on the go. Road trips promise freedom, scenic landscapes, and quirky roadside attractions. Hitting the road with children, however, can also mean seemingly constant potty breaks, sibling disputes, car sickness, and backseat whining. For a smooth car journey, be sure to pack these road trip essentials for kids.
1. Travel Toys and Games
Old school games like 20 Questions and the Alphabet Game can be entertaining, but eventually kids will want something else to pass the time. Before every road trip, I purchase at least one travel craft for each of my children. A plastic travel soap box holds crayons nicely and can be used on every trip. Buy a special new toy or two for each vacation, too. You should also store a separate stash of hidden travel toys to keep old favorites fresh on each trip. Need some suggestions? Check out our picks for the best travel toys and crafts for kids and the best travel games for toddlers to teens.
2. Pit Stop Playthings
Keeping kids content inside the car is important but don’t forget to bring some outdoor toys for pit stops as well. Mini bottles of bubbles, a beach ball, Frisbee, or jump rope can help kids get active when you stop along your route at rest stops and parks.
3. Plastic Trash Bags
Road trips with kids can be messy. A plastic grocery bag keeps trash off the floor and seats. I hang a bag in the backseat from the front armrests. This enables my kids to deposit their juice boxes and snack wrappers into the trash themselves. Bring a few along so you can easily toss refuse at pit stops.
3. Bucket for Motion
SicknessIf traveling with young children, then a bucket is a road trip must-have. Why? You’ll need this case of car sickness or sudden bout of food poisoning or stomach flu. Older kids can probably manage just fine with a plastic bag, but young children aren’t great at aiming and shouldn’t handle plastic bags due to suffocation hazards. A simple plastic beach pail should do the trick. Keep the bucket within arm’s reach. It won’t do you any good buried under a pile of suitcases in the trunk. Learn tips for avoiding motion sickness before you hit the road.
4. Road Trip Playlist
Sure, you can listen to the radio. But a road trip playlist makes the miles more fun. Create a playlist for your smart phone and plug it in for the whole family to enjoy through the car’s speakers (if your car offers this technology). Choose songs that appeal to all family members, so everyone is excited to listen along."
By: Jessica Grose | February 4th, 2021
"In early September, as the school year inched closer, a group of mothers in New Jersey decided they would gather in a park, at a safe social distance, and scream their lungs out. For months, as the pandemic disrupted work and home life, these moms, like so many parents, had been stretched thin — acting as caregivers, teachers and earners at once. They were breaking.
As are mothers all over the United States.
By now, you have read the headlines, repeating like a depressing drum beat:
“Working moms are not okay.” “Pandemic Triples Anxiety And Depression Symptoms In New Mothers.” “Working Moms Are Reaching The Breaking Point.”
You can also see the problem in numbers: Almost 1 million mothers have left the workforce — with Black mothers, Hispanic mothers and single mothers among the hardest hit. Almost one in four children experienced food insecurity in 2020, which is intimately related to the loss of maternal income. And more than three quarters of parents with children ages 8 to 12 say the uncertainty around the current school year is causing them stress.
Despite these alarm bells clanging, signaling a financial and emotional disaster among America’s mothers, who are doing most of the increased amount of child care and domestic work during this pandemic, the cultural and policy response enacted at this point has been nearly nonexistent.
The pandemic has touched every group of Americans, and millions are suffering, hungry and grieving. But many mothers in particular get no space or time to recover.
The impact is not just about mothers’ fate as workers, though the economic fallout of these pandemic years might have lifelong consequences. The pandemic is also a mental health crisis for mothers that fervently needs to be addressed, or at the very least acknowledged.
“Just before the pandemic hit, for the first time ever, for a couple months, we had more women employed than men,” said Michael Madowitz, an economist at the Center for American Progress. “And now we are back to late 1980s levels of women in the labor force.” The long-term ramifications for mothers leaving work entirely or cutting back on work during this time include: a broken pipeline for higher-level jobs and a loss of Social Security and other potential retirement income.
“Covid took a crowbar into gender gaps and pried them open,” said Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the University of Michigan. Her long-term concerns are even more fundamental: Will watching a generation of mothers go through this difficult time with little support turn the next generation of women off from parenthood altogether?
The economic disaster of the pandemic is directly related to maternal stress levels, and by extension, the stress levels of American children. Philip Fisher, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon who runs an ongoing nationally representative survey on the impact of the pandemic on families with young children, points out that the stressors on mothers are magnified by a number of intersecting issues, including poverty, race, having special needs children and being a single parent.
“People are having a hard time making ends meet, that’s making parents stressed out, and that’s causing kids to be stressed out,” Dr. Fisher said. This buildup can lead to toxic stress, “And we know from all the science, that level of stress has a lasting impact on brain development, learning and physical health.” Almost 70 percent of mothers say that worry and stress from the pandemic have damaged their health.
The statistics on stress levels are shocking, but they are sterile; they don’t begin to expose the frayed lives of American mothers and their children during this pandemic. A young mother who self-identified as American Indian/Alaska Native summed up her situation in response to Dr. Fisher’s survey: “We are requesting government help for food. Relationship between partner and I are tense. I am personally struggling more now with depression and anxiety. My toddler has become more anxious as well and shown aggressive behavior. She seems overwhelmed most of the time.”
Times editor-at-large Jessica Bennett spent months communicating with three women, who kept detailed diaries of their days, for a look at just how much American mothers are doing every waking second."