Healthy Snacks – For Kids and Working Mothers

2014-02-18 09.26.42

Healthy Snacks for kids and working mothers

As working mothers, finding healthy snacks for our kids and for us is hard. We all have our good days and our not-so-good days. One of my biggest challenges is to give my kids healthy snack options everyday. Whether it is a quick snack to take for school or a healthy afternoon snack after the bus, it is always a challenge. My son Max gave me this Valentine’s Day card last week and it speaks volumes. To summarize: he loves me because after school, I apparently give him whatever he wants. He has a major sweet tooth and trying to win the snack wars with him is always a battle. Just yesterday, he threw a fit because I wouldn’t let him have an entire sleeve of Girl Scout Cookies after school. (I guess I don’t always give him what he wants).

At school, healthy snacking is tough because there are so many other kids around with ‘better’ snacks (trust me, I hear about all the other great snacks at school and how our snacks are lame). While at home, it is also difficult to make healthy snacking a priority amidst all the other chaos. Lets face it, pre-packaged snacks (with all the crap in ‘em) are easier and more convenient. You can keep them in the pantry, in the car, in the kids’ backpacks. They are tons easier but in addition to all the bad ingredients, these snacks carry a lot of guilt for mom.

I am trying hard to make healthy snacks available for my kids but it is very challenging. Not only do you have to have them on hand but the kids have to LIKE the healthier snacks or it is wasted food.

Here are a few PWM tips for healthy snacks:

  1. Don’t check Pinterest. (I feel like I always start here.) It will just make you feel bad. All the snack ideas on Pinterest require a “Bento Box” and at least two stops at various specialty stores.
  2. Do find raw veggies or fruit that the kids love and chop/prep them all ahead of time (on Sunday) and pre-package them in Ziplock snack bags (the small ones). Put them in the fridge where everyone can reach them. The kids can choose which snacks they want each day and feel like they have some say in it.
  3. Do pre-order snacks from a subscription site like NatureBox. This company has working moms in mind- you can select the items you like (or your kids like) from their website and these healthy snacks will be delivered right to your door!
  4. Do limit the amount of junk in the house to begin with. This old-school healthy snack tip comes courtesy of my own mom. She is the pioneer of healthy eating back in the day and never kept any “good stuff” (junk food) in the house. As a kid, this was not fun but made healthy snacking the only option.

Let me be the first to say that this is really hard for me as a working mother. I struggle to give my kids healthy choices every single day but am working on it. Keep in mind that we are not perfect and an occasional box (or two) of Girl Scout Cookies may find its way into our pantry. We can have treats once in a while with healthy snacking as our goal.

As a working mother, what are some of your healthy snack ideas?

For more information on healthy snacks delivered to your door, check out NatureBox.

Ode To The Hard Working Teacher

Ode To The Hard Working TeacherOk, this isn’t really an ode, but more of a story about a teacher. It could be any hard working teacher and we all know at least one!

I am fortunate because my kids go to a great school and have wonderful teachers this year! If you have spent even a minute in any classroom, you know without hesitation that good teachers are not getting paid what they are worth. Everyone talks about how education is our most important priority and we need to attract good teachers, but no one wants the additional money to come out of their pockets.

Before you mistake this for a political statement, which it is not, I wanted to share a simple story with you. This is a story about the hard working teachers at my school. Last week, a group of people that work at my kids’ school went out to dinner (4 of them were teachers) and one teacher had to deposit a check in her checking account so she could pay for her dinner and two teachers had to split an entree so they could eat. The fourth had a message on her phone that her funds were low in her bank account. For all of these teachers to have a night out, it took some arranging of their respective budgets. This made me sad. I know a lot of the teachers at that school and I know most of them to be excellent. They are not only inspirational to our children at school but also participate in all the extra events outside of school. I have even had a teacher come to my son’ s play that was not affiliated with the school.

The story has left me (and the person who shared it with me) at a loss. I know that this story, or a similar one, plays out for many of our hardworking teachers every week all over the United States. It has me thinking about what I, what WE can do for our hardworking teachers. I can’t give them a raise but I promise to vote for one if I am asked. In the meantime, I promise to thank our teachers in other ways. Whether it is a gift card to the grocery store or a restaurant or even a surprise Starbucks in the morning, I promise to show you just how much I appreciate what you do for my kids everyday.

I hope you will join me in this effort! Don’t wait for ‘Teacher Appreciation Week’ and then give your teacher a pack of pencils. The apple-shaped note pad has been done. Give your teacher something that they can really use! Some suggestions include a gift certificate to a local restaurant, some extra cash or a gift card to a liquor store. Hell, if I had to spend my days with 26 kids, I would need one too!

We LOVE teachers and many of them are Proud Working Moms. Help us spread the love!

photo credit: cybrarian77 via photopin cc

Teenage Driving Safety

images-8There comes a time in all parents’ lives that they dread – the day when their teenager gets behind the wheel. Driving is a teenage rite of passage and one that most do safely when trained properly. You can’t ignore the statistics, however:

Half of all deaths of 13- to 19-year-olds happen due to a car crash.

(16 year olds have the most deaths). It is not great news and even though my kids are not near the driving age, I know many parents who are in this right now.

There are ways that you can reinforce safety to your teenager, and that is by setting a good example.

1) No Texting and No Talking

Most teens reported talking and texting on their phone while driving and guess what – an even higher percentage of parents do. You may think that your years behind the wheel make it okay but the truth is, your experience in this regard means nothing. It only takes a second for a distracted driver to have an accident. Also remember kids often do what they learn. Are they learning this bad habit from you? Don’t do it. Set a good example for your kids and they will be less likely to talk and text when they are behind the wheel.

2) Wear Your Seat Belt

Not only should you wear your seat belt, you should also insist that everyone in your vehicle wears a seat belt. Studies show that teenagers who have parents who demonstrate this practice consistently are more likely to wear seat belts themselves. Seat belts do save lives. Minor fender benders can become death traps without a seat belt.

3) Never Drink and Drive

It seems obvious but this one is in here for a reason! Parents often set bad examples without even realizing it. Even having one or two glasses of wine or a couple of beers at dinner out, then driving the family home, is a bad example. Even if you’re not legally intoxicated, your reaction time is still going to be lower, and frankly it’s just a terrible idea.

4) Don’t Speed

Each mile per hour you or your teenager goes over the speed limit ups your risk of accident proportionally. Speed limits aren’t made arbitrarily. They make them based on the rate of accidents that happen at certain speeds in certain conditions on certain roads. Follow the rules of the road – for yourself and as an example for your teenager.

5) Teaching Teens to Drive

Most of the time a parent teaches their child to drive. Some schools have driver’s education programs but due to how many students move through the school program, they’re not going to learn as much as if you do it yourself. Or you hire someone to do it for you. Be committed to providing your child the number of hours required by law before getting their driver’s license. This will help your child feel more confident and be a better driver.

6) No Passengers

When a teenager is learning to drive, they don’t need the added stress or the distraction of extra passengers in the car. It may sound like a relief to let your child drive your younger children around, or fun to drive their friends around. For the first year of driving (or set a time period that you are comfortable with), do not allow your new driver to have passengers. Not until they are ready for the responsibility and you are sure it is safe.

We all know that an automobile can be a very dangerous weapon. That isn’t new information. But make sure you are setting a good example now for your kids ~ both those that are driving age and the younger ones who will be on the road before you blink your eyes. Keep in mind that they are watching everything you do!

Lose That Muffin Top ~ It’s Not Cute!

medium_5906955875As a hard working mom, nothing has been more of a challenge than my ‘muffin top’. In case you have been living in a cave, a ‘muffin top’ is that extra roll of fat that shows up over the top of your pants and ruins the line of a good dress. It made an appearance in my life as soon as I had my first child and I have been battling it ever since. Today we are going to discuss this most unwelcome addition to some of our bodies and what we can do about it.

In most cases, you can get rid of a muffin top with a more disciplined diet and exercise. Unless you hate dieting or exercise, in which case it doesn’t work (my case). In extreme cases, some people even resort to surgery. Before going down that path, check out these easy ways to take a serious bite out of your muffin top.

1. Wear the Right Clothing for Your Body Type.  A good friend of mine used to say “just because they make it in your size, doesn’t mean you have to buy it” Truer words have never been spoken! Instead of fighting your natural shape, it will help to wear the right type of clothing. If you don’t know what looks good on you, then find someone (like my friend) that knows how to dress their body and ask for help!

2. Eat Right and Exercise. I know what you are saying…DUHH! We all know that we have to eat right and exercise to get rid of that muffin top. So why did I mention it here? Because it is important! This is a package deal. You have to eat right AND exercise. I am personally guilty of just exercising and then sabotaging all of that great work by overeating. In fact, for me this is the hardest part, being disciplined with my diet.

I have just come across a new way for busy working mothers to keep on track with your diet. Check out the South Beach Diet Delivery system! From the makers of my favorite diet, the South Beach Diet, they will actually send you meals to your home. Fast, easy, and all on the approved (and very popular) South Beach Diet.

3. Wear the Right Undergarments. Believe it or not, something as simple as wearing the right underwear can make a huge difference in how your muffin top appears. Try wearing undergarments that fit your proportions and don’t cut you off in a meaty section so that you have skin or extra fat spilling over. Also try a spandex tank top that you tuck into your pants to help smooth out the extra.

If none of that works, and you are of a normal weight and in good health, you might want to consider some of the surgical options that exist such as:

Liposuction ~ A good solution for a muffin top on an otherwise fit body, liposuction can be a real game changer for someone who has the money to do it. You’ll need time to recover and need to follow your doctor’s instructions for recovery to have the best results.

Coolsculpting ~ It’s marketed as quick and mostly painless; this only requires one treatment to work and you don’t have to get cut. The doctor uses a type of cooling procedure to kill fat cells by freezing them. Skin and tissue nearby is not harmed.

Mini tummy tuck ~ This is a procedure for people who just have a little bit of muffin top to remove but are not candidates for an all-out tummy tuck and where liposuction isn’t exactly right either. Heat and cold is used to melt the fat away. Recovery time is fast.

No matter what path you choose, it is all about making you feel better about yourself. So sketch out a game plan and stick with it!

photo credit: Malingering via photopin cc

Playground Bullies…At Work

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Whether it is the kid from A Christmas Story tormenting Ralphie or another character from real life, the playground bully has been around since before there were playgrounds. A bully is defined as a person who hurts or browbeats those who are weaker. At my children’s elementary school, this bully looks like the kid that used to steal my son’s snack or who grabbed his kickball from him at lunch and made him “come and get it”. It is the kid that used to shove my child out of the way in line, knocking him onto the ground. It is aggravating, it is frustrating, and as a parent, I’ll be honest, it makes me want to break out a can of whup-ass. After having to deal with it for a few years and wringing my hands for my son, I am happy to report that this year, I have heard no reports of any bullies.

I can’t say the same for one of my girlfriends. She is a fellow Proud Working Mom and is experiencing something very similar at work. No, she doesn’t get her snack taken from her nor does she play kickball at lunch. (By the way, I totally support having kickball at lunch for adults). This friend of mine has a colleague who is giving her a hard time almost every single day at work. Whether it is making snarky comments during a company wide meeting, or going out of his way to point out her mistakes, she is definitely falling victim to his bullying behavior. There is no teacher to report this to and just like with our kids, nobody like a tattletale. So how does one handle the playground bully at work? Here are a few ideas:

1. Kill them with kindness. It is the oldest trick in the book and remains one of the hardest. When someone is not being nice to you, it can be so hard to smile and act like it doesn’t matter. Bring them donuts one morning, compliment their outfit EVERY SINGLE DAY. Ask them to lunch. Get to know that person and let them get to know you. Make it impossible for that person to say anything bad about you.

2. If that doesn’t work, maybe a one on one sit down with this other adult will solve the problem. Perhaps you have offended this person and don’t even know it. Offering to sit and talk about it shows this other person that you care about the relationship and you care enough to try and figure out what is wrong.

3. Consider the possibility that this other person has something else going on in their own life. Just like with kids, you never know what is going on at home with another person. Perhaps this bully is going through a rough time in his/her marriage, is having trouble at work, or is somehow taking out a problem at home on you. Consider asking the person if he/she is doing alright or if there is anything you can do for them.

4. Whatever you do, continue performing at work. No matter what this person is putting you through, don’t let it affect your work! Work is not a popularity contest and as long as you are out performing everyone else, your work will speak for itself.

5. If all of the above fails and this person is still giving you a hard time, I will give you the same advice that I finally gave my son towards the end of last school year.  Sometimes, bullies don’t respond well to logic or reason.  If they are still giving you a hard time and you have tried EVERYTHING else,  open up a can of whup-ass!

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