10 Tips for Easy Meal Prep

When it comes to fear-inducing words, “meal prep” seems to rank right up there with “Heeere’s Johnny!” from The Shining. But is preparing meals in advance really so scary? Perhaps the terror arises as you picture your entire Sunday being ruined slaving away in the kitchen. Or maybe you’re afraid your meals will be tedious and bland if you have to eat from the same large batch of turkey chili all week. No? Well, could you simply have a fear of failure, knowing that planning ahead isn’t your strong suit?

The truth is, none of these concerns will come to fruition if you’re meal prepping properly. Of course, as the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. If you are serious about losing weight, packing on muscle or simply adding more veggies to your life, then meal prep is the holy grail.

We've compiled the following tried-and-true tips and tricks to help set you up for success:

Start small.

Identify and tackle your weak spots first — the meals or snacks that need the most attention. For example, if you’re eating out every night, then start with dinner. If you can’t figure out how to fit in a proper breakfast after your fasted morning workout, start with your postworkout meal.

Keep it simple, stupid.

Variety is the spice of life, but build that in over time. Initially, it’s more important to keep meal prepmanageable so you’re more likely to stick with it. Pick just a few proteins, veggies and starches to cook. Go ahead and pack some items raw if you don’t want to cook everything. Buy pre-chopped veggies, bagged salads, and frozen and canned produce to minimize prep time. Take baby steps so you don’t feel overwhelmed. That being said, if you are a proficient cook, adding culinary flair to your meal prep will stave off potential boredom. In that case, don’t be afraid to add some more advanced recipes to your meal-prep rotation.

Make a list, check it twice.

The most surprising meal-prep help? It’s not a sous chef, it’s a grocery list! Write it down ahead of time, and remember to include items like spices, marinades and any prep tools you might need, like tinfoil or a big baking sheet. The initial trip may be a big investment, but once you’ve gotten into a routine, you’ll be able to beeline to the exact ingredients you need for your staple recipes. You may need to grab some fresh fruits and veggies midweek, but you’ll still save plenty of time by stocking up in advance.

Make cleanup a breeze.

Simplify the prep and cleanup processes with big freezer bags, tinfoil and cooking spray. You can toss ingredients in a bag with seasoning or marinade to quickly and evenly coat them. After roasting or baking, you can toss the tinfoil and your pan will immediately be ready for another round. Also, wash dishes as you go so you aren’t overwhelmed by a big pile in the sink.

Chopped fruits and vegetables

When prepping, chop ingredients in advance and in similarly sized pieces.

Practice those knife skills.

Chop ingredients in advance and in similarly sized pieces so they all cook evenly. Keep in mind that they may need to cook separately, though: Compared to sturdy veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, softer veggies like zucchini or yellow squash will cook much faster at the same temperature. If you put them all together on the same pan, you may end up with a mixture of burned and undercooked veggies.

Order matters.

Save even more time by multitasking. Start your baking or roasting first, then move to stove-top cooking and microwaving. You can roast your sturdy, starchy veggies while you saute some chicken breast. Potatoes bake quickly in the microwave, and you can find bags of steamable veggies at most grocers.

Frozen is fine.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are at least as nutritious as the fresh versions. Because they’re frozen immediately after being taken off the vine, they may have even better nutrient integrity than the fresh alternative, which have spent days or weeks in transit before arriving at the grocery store. Plus, they last a lot longer. Fruits and vegetables with a low water content freeze well, so you can always chop and create your own blends that are identical to the store brand. Simply toss a mixture of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots into a freezer bag, press all the air out and throw it in the freezer. You’re ready for the next meal prep!

Prevent waste.

If you are using a buffet-style meal prep, weigh your bulk items before and after cooking to determine your yield. You’ll then know exactly how much you need to buy on your next shopping trip. This prevents both food waste and an inconvenient midweek emergency shopping trip.

Freezing and reheating.

You can freeze and reheat meals that you’ve already cooked, and in most cases, this doesn’t affect the taste or texture. However, there are some exceptions: Fully cooked potatoes, zucchini and leafy greens do not rejuvenate after a freeze-thaw cycle. Experiment with just a small batch first if you want to test your recipe.

Food safety.

In general, cooked food is safe for three to four days in the fridge. If you won’t eat all of it within that time frame, you can freeze it for a couple of months. Use an erasable marker on your prepped containers and a permanent marker on anything that goes into the freezer in order to document the date it was prepared or frozen. Also, when you’re done prepping, food should be refrigerated within two hours of preparation but ideally immediately.

At the end of the day, the best way to meal prepis to find what works best for you and have fun as you try new methods and recipes.

Written by Jill Schildhouse for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

5 Realities of Being a Parennial (aka Millennial Parent)

We focus on experiences.

In 2017 Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997) made up 90 percent of all new parents. That's largely because, in 2015, more than 1 million Millennial women gave birth for the first time, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The total number of U.S. Millennial women who have become mothers has officially risen to more than 16 million, which means that they made up about eight in 10 U.S. births in 2015.

While it's true that these so-called "parennials" had waited longer to have kids, they still had made it a priority in their lives. In fact, more women are starting families compared to 10 years ago, but they're waiting longer to have babies, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Data from the Pew Research Center and Healthline’s State of Fertility Report 2017, because of career security and financial reasons. But Millennial women have rated being a good parent as a top priority in a 2010 Pew Research Center survey. Some 52 percent said that it was actually one of the most important goals in their lives, surpassing having a successful marriage, and 60 percent said that being a parent is extremely important to their overall identity, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey.

The research also shows that they're confident in their abilities to care for children—even more so than previous generations—and they have more fun with it and find it more rewarding than older generations as well.

So what is it like to be a parennial? We asked a few.

1. Being a parennial means being a role model.

"For me, and I'm sure for others in my generation, we remember what childhood was like before the internet and before it was normal to have high-def video games vying for our attention," says 28-year-old Ben Woods, owner and founder of Weathered Coalition, a men's boutique in Austin, Texas. "I know what it was like to play outside every day and to watch the sunset and to feel that bittersweet feeling that playtime was over and I had to go inside. That's what I want to offer my son. So we're being very intentional about how much we use screens in our home, not because technology is evil, but because we want to set an example for him. We want him to see that we're not entertainment addicts, and he doesn't have to be either. And we take him outside every day."

2. Being a parennial means having to be more discerning.

"My kids are part of Generation Uber, and they expect that if we need something, we can just order it up!" says Erin Goodnow, co-founder and CEO of Going Ivy, a college admissions consulting group. "Believe me, that was invaluable when we were going through a box of diapers a week. Then my daughter asks for gloves last August because her friend has gloves, and I say maybe in a while, and she asks why I don't just 'text it to my phone.' So as a parent, there are benefits and drawbacks to the conveniences we Millennials couldn't live without.

"Parents of previous generations really couldn't fulfill every wish their children had, and maybe I could (if money grew on trees) because I have access to everything at my fingertips. But I choose not to fulfill every wish they have. It is a judgment call sometimes. They are learning the virtue of patience in a different way, and while they will also grow up with more conveniences available to them, it will be my job to teach them what is worth working harder for. As a Millennial parent, experiences are worth more to me, and I want to expose my children to those experiences that will bring their lives value.

"My daughter and I do 'mommy-daughter days,' and my favorite one was a stroll around the mall where we discovered a crêpe shop. We shared a strawberry crepe with whipped cream and powdered sugar on top and talked about the time Daddy and I went to Paris and how she might go someday, where she'd like to travel to, why she likes her friends, her favorite things about her school and more. I wouldn't give up quality time for more money, and I will use money—in this case something like $8—to buy more experiences like that."

3. Being a parennial means being self-aware.

"I don’t know anyone else’s reality, but I make an attempt to know mine—my parenting styles are primarily a synthesis of learning from my parents’ mistakes and welcoming some ancient/modern ideas and techniques put forth by Dr. Harvey Karp in his Happiest _____ on the Block books," says Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. "My wife and I knew we wanted to present our kids with as much freedom as possible, without being outright negligent or quasi-negligent. We knew we wanted to provide them with unstructured free play time, ideally outside, on a regular basis. We knew we wanted to pretend there was a tooth fairy, but not lie to them about things that matter. Parenting is a process of trial and error, and you learn things as you go along, regardless of how many books you’ve read, movies you’ve watched and advice you’ve gotten.

"For me, this means understanding, internalizing and constantly reminding myself that it is my kids’ job to push the very limits I try so hard to set, and to smash the rules I attempt to enforce. We both test and 'educate' one another all the time, but proper parenting helps it remain a test, a trial, a right step in the ongoing evolution—without it escalating into a battle. You’re both going to lose that confrontation.

"Happy parents to happy kids? Is such a thing possible? Yes, but the key is not to expect it all the time. It is not a goal, it is a perk. It is a means to an end, not an end unto itself. If happiness happens to land on your doorstep today, great! Embrace it, enjoy it, saturate yourself in it, lose yourself to its positivity and acknowledge its fleeting nature when it up and disappears. Self-aware parents, who understand they will make mistakes no matter what, are less prone to self-flagellation and also less prone to acting in a vengeful way towards their kids. Know your power, know your weapons and do what you can to keep them sheathed."

4. Being a parennial means having to ignore the tech on which so many Millennials rely.

"As the mother of a 2-year-old working full-time in digital marketing and PR, it's vital to make my career and parenthood work together—because both are 24/7," says Lisa Deliberato, 27. "Prioritizing quality time during the week with my daughter is key, so I try to keep my phone and laptop use to a minimum from the time I pick her up from daycare until she goes to bed. Finding an employer who is supportive of work-life balance is key.

"Having a kid has made us both more present. The glorious teeny-tiny baby phase is fleeting; first steps can be missed if you're checking your emails, and some of the things that come out of their mouths are comedic gold … So pay attention (and write it down!).

"When it comes to advice, it's tough not to get caught up in scary news stories, the latest nutrition trends or sucked into the feeds of enviable mommy bloggers, but we've learned (in our tiny two years as parents) that if you do what feels right for you and your child, things generally work out OK."

5. Being a parennial means having to take everything with a grain of salt.

"Raising children in this day and age is hard," says Britnie Sims, a contributing writer for Oklahoma City Moms Blog, which shared some of Sims' words from a recent post with us. "It seems like us 'old' Millennial moms just can't win. We're bombarded with conflicting information, and our parenting choices are scrutinized. One-second judgmental snapshots are posted about our lives everywhere, which makes raising children in this day and age a little murky and complicated. Raising babies and 'mom-ing' children with the world of information and opinions at our fingertips is risky business. Read through a baby book, chat with your girlfriends or scroll through a forum about any given topic, and you will end up more confused on the subject than when you started."

Written by Fairygodboss for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

4 Ways French Moms Have Hacked Parenting

For them, "no" is "no."

Different cultures have different parenting styles, but there's a good reason American moms have become obsessed with the European style of parenting—in many ways, it works.

American writer and journalist, Pamela Druckerman (who lives with her family in Paris), discovered this about French moms. In her book Bringing up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, she wrote about an epiphany moment in a restaurant when she was wrestling her daughter to eat pasta and bread. When she looked around, however, none of the other parents seemed to be having the same feeding issues as she was. In fact, the French moms seemed to have mealtime well under control as their children behaved and ate the food placed in front of them.

What made the difference? She discovered that French parenting took on approaches that were different from the American way, making a significant impact on their kids’ behavior. Below are some of these differences:

1. What maman eats, bébé eats.

When we say "kid's meal," we refer to fast food, junk food, cereals and absolutely everything else that is colorful, fun to eat and often supremely high in sugar. And if kid food is “fun,” then adult food must be boring for kids. No wonder so many children have zero interest in eating fresh vegetables, lean meats and anything else considered healthy! Health equals serious. Serious equals boring.

But with French moms, a dichotomy does not exist; there is no deliberate line between “kid food” and “adult food.” What parents eat is also what the children eat. The result? French kids develop an appreciation (though in some instances, it might be tolerance rather than appreciation) for different types of food. They learn to eat vegetables at a young age without having their mothers cloak fresh produce in funny names or interesting shapes.

2. Take time before rushing to their crying babies.

French moms are also not quick to rush to their baby’s side when she starts to cry in the middle of the night. The customary practice among Americans moms, on the other hand, is to ensure their child feels safe and secure no matter what and no matter when. This is why most moms will say that sleep disruption is a common occurrence in the early months of parenting.

While ignoring the cries of your baby is difficult and makes you feel like the most horrible parent on the planet, it is important to keep in mind that sleep deprivation can be damaging to moms. Letting your baby cry on his or her own for a short while also trains the baby’s sleep patterns, benefitting the child in the long run. Research shows that if parents let their babies, who are at least 7 months old, cry on their own for a brief time before rushing to their side, babies can learn to soothe themselves. The notion of independence is ingrained very early on.

3. "Yes" to self-expression, but "no" to tantrums or compromises.

In connection to teaching kids about independence whilst still inside their crib, French moms also encourage kids to take part in adult conversations and express themselves. Children are encouraged to spend time cultivating their identity with other kids or by themselves. However, French moms are not afraid to discipline their child in public when he or she throws a tantrum. In contrast, many American parents are prepared to compromise with their kid to stop a tantrum and signal to the child that he or she is being heard. With French parenting, "no" is "no."

4. Don't obsess over the decision to work or stay at home.

A lot of moms in America struggle with the choice of being a career-oriented go-getter or a fully present stay-at-home mom. They try as much as they can to get the benefits of having a work-life balance, but leaving their babies at home can be heart-wrenching. The guilt of leaving one’s child affects the attention women have at work, which creates such a stressful situation. In French culture, the working mom is also the norm, so they feel much less guilt as they return to the workplace post-birth.

In an interview, Druckerman said, “The French view is really one of balance, I think … What French women would tell me over and over is, it's very important that no part of your life—not being a mom, not being a worker, not being a wife—overwhelms the other part."

While the French parenting style is being hailed as “superior” by some, what remains true is that parenting styles will always differ across the board. You do not need to actually pick a side (American or French?) and judge the other as the “wrong kind of parenting." Simply, more styles mean more options for parents, and a bigger opportunity to tailor your parenting based on your preference, personality and most importantly, your child’s needs.

Written by Fairygodboss for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

How to Keep Your Car Clean with Kids: A Simple Guide

It may seem like an impossible task to keep your car clean when you have kids. From spilled juice boxes to more crumbs than you can count, children have a way of making a mess out of any space. There are some tips and tricks you can follow, though, to minimize that mess. Here's how to keep your car clean with kids that will make every passenger (and you) a happy camper.

Clean up spills as soon as they happen When it comes to spills, it's less about if they'll happen and more a matter of when. While it can be a pain to clean them up after a long day, it's important to nip those messes in the bud. Clean them up as soon as you possibly can; that way, unsavory smells and stains won't stick around for the long haul. This can be hard with kids, as they're often ready to jump right out of the car and into the next fun activity, but make sure it's a priority.

Regular vacuuming is a must For any family on the go, you know eating and spending time in the car practically go hand in hand. Whether your little ones eat some French fries or have a full-out meal, a mess is likely to happen. Beyond crumbs just being an annoyance, they can even usher in some rather nasty critters. All those little bits of debris can quickly add up, so be sure to vacuum your car regularly before it becomes a full-blown problem.

Use a trash can With the amount of wrappers, food scraps, and garbage that accumulates in a car, it only makes sense to put a trash can in your vehicle. If you don't have one already, implement a trash can, garbage bag, or another kind of receptacle your kids can throw their trash in. It will help bring some order to your kid's car routine, and it will make clean up much easier. This way, you don't need to haul a garbage bag out to your car every week or two, and cleanup can happen easily every day.

Wipe down surfaces regularly An essential trick on how to keep your car clean with kids is to give any and all surfaces a regular wipe down. There's nothing more uncomfortable than sticky seats and smudgy windows, so give them a regular once over. Use wet cloths to clean and a  microfiber towel;to dry. It will make your driving experience much more pleasant.

Use car cleanup as a learning opportunity If you want your child to develop better cleaning habits, the car is a great place to start. Rather than letting the mess happen and just cleaning it up yourself, take the extra time to teach your kids about proper cleanup. They won't do it every time, but something as simple as reinforcing that they put trash in the bin will help teach them the importance of cleaning up after themselves. It's also important to establish good cleaning habits young; that way, it's much more likely to become a good habit they keep through adulthood.

Written by LouAnn Moss for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Is it Safe for Babies to Chew on Keys? No, Keys are Dangerous for Babies – Guest Post from The Modern Mindful Mom

An alternative for babies who love keys

Is it safe for my baby to chew on keys? Is it safe for my baby to play with keys?

No and No.

But what about my toddler? They don’t put things in their mouth. So that’s harmless, right?

Wrong.

Children (of any age) should not be playing with or handling keys. It goes beyond the dirt and grime that is found on most keys, though that may be reason enough not to let your child play with them. If you’re like me, your keys often end up at the bottom of your bag, which definitely isn’t the cleanest place in the world!

The bigger reason why you should not let your child play with your keys, especially babies who put things in their mouth, is because of lead.

Yes, lead.

DANGERS OF LEAD EXPOSURE FOR CHILDREN

According to the EPA, “lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead”. Even low levels of lead in children can result in a slew of problems including:

  • lower IQ, 
  • hyperactivity, 
  • slowed growth,
  • anemia,
  • hearing problems, and 
  • behavior problems

“In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.”

REGULATION RELATED TO LEAD

The law does limit the amount of lead that can be present in children’s toys to 90 parts per million. 

However, keys are not considered toys. There are currently no regulations on the amount of lead that can be found in keys (or most other products meant for adults, for that matter). 

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY KEYS HAVE LEAD? 

It’s better to err on the side of caution and just assume that one or more of your keys is leaded. 

There is a special machine that tests lead levels in products (XFR), but unless you buy one (they’re tens of thousands of dollars, by the way!), rent one, or hire someone who has one, you won’t know for sure how much lead is in your keys.

One such person you can hire is Tamara Rubin, an internationally recognized, award winning lead-poisoning prevention advocate. 

As part of her advocacy work, she tests tons of products for lead and shares the results on her site. You can see the results of the various keys Tamara Rubin has tested for lead here. Spoiler alert: they all have shockingly high levels of lead. 

Promise me you’ll never let your child play with or chew on your keys ever again!

ALTERNATIVES FOR BABIES WHO LOVE KEYS

It’s understandable why our keys are so appealing for babies and young children. Among other reason, keys are:

  • shiny
  • fun to manipulate
  • jingle when you shake them
  • cool to the touch, so feel great on the gums when teething

They are often given to babies by unsuspecting parents because they are so readily available. In the grocery store? At a restaurant? You always have your keys on you so it’s an easy trap to fall into if you didn’t know any better.  But now you know better. Keys are not safe for babies.

If your baby loves keys, I highly recommend toy keys from a company called Kleynimals. They are the perfect replacement for real keys. They provide all the same features that babies and young children are drawn to in real keys, but these are safe

Kleynimals are made (in America!) with 100% food-grade stainless steel. They also come with a muslin pouch so you can toss them in your bag without them getting dirty.

I bought these for my 8 month old when I was looking to offer my baby a variety of textures and materials to teeth on. She loves chewing on her Kleynimals and I love that they are safe and non-toxic. Not to mention, they are super cute! The ‘keys’ are shaped like a lion, giraffe, and elephant!

For more articles on non-toxic toys, check out: The Modern Mindful Mom

Five Self-Care Strategies for Your Toughest Days

And how to find your center.

Yesterday morning I found myself inert on the couch, trying to find the energy to shower and head to the office (I had slept very little due to a tough parenting patch). I know I’m not alone. Lately, I’ve watched many of my friends and clients struggle to stay afloat. Whether it’s swimming through collective stress brought on by the current political/economic climate, navigating a health crisis or loss, feeling isolated in the midst of a career transition or dealing with a difficult relationship challenge–many are living hour to hour and having a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

On a recent walk, my dear friend Nicole asked me, “Based on everything you’ve learned over the last 20 years about calming the brain and body and helping to reduce stress/anxiety, what are the top self-care practices you recommend to help people find their center on their toughest days?“ Ahhh, it felt good just to be able to pause and remind myself what I do when I’m struggling. Here’s what I shared with Nicole:

Get grateful

Voicing what we’re grateful for heightens our mood, floods our body with endorphins, shifts and broadens how we see the world and supports us in remembering what really matters. Try starting each day with a gratitude bomb; before you even step out of bed, give thanks, and then get your friends and family to voice what they appreciate.

Do less

Navigating uncertain times requires more space to breathe, feel, digest and discern. We need time to just be so we can integrate what’s happening around us and re-calibrate. Say no; overdoing is depleting. Give yourself full permission to do less.

Go outside

Time in nature–the ultimate antidepressant–positively affects our physical, mental and emotional well-being. It reduces stress, enhances our mood, helps us to “reset,” promotes creativity and problem solving, and supports work/life balance. Plant your bare feet on the ground, lie on a blanket in your backyard or have lunch under a tree. Change your environment and you’ll change your thoughts.

Move your body & breathe

Ever heard the phrase, “The issues are in the tissues”? Conscious movement gets us out of our heads and into the present moment. Yoga, qi gong, NIA and walking are particularly fortifying. Try this detoxifying breathing exercise (through your nose, mouth closed): breathe in for three, hold for three, breathe out for three. Repeat ten times

Ask for help

Cultivating the ability to ask for and receive support–whether it’s from a coach, therapist, mentor, neighbor, or co-worker–helps you feel more connected, calm and confident when facing tough times. Learning this skill can be life changing!

Written by Renee Peterson Trudeau for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

How We Raise Liars and What to Do About It

No parent wants to consciously and purposefully raise a child who lies, but the truth is our kids lie. They lie often and they lie well. Dr Victoria Talwar, a leading expert on children’s lying behavior, has proven that as parents we only do slightly better than chance (60%) at telling whether our children are actually lying to us. Where do these lies come from, and what are we, as parents and adults around them, doing to promote this behavior?

First of all, let me reassure you. All kids lie, even yours, no matter what you might think. In fact, by their 4th birthday, 9 out 10 children will be experimenting with lying. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a developmental milestone to lie. Think about it, a kid has to know the truth, be able to invent a lie that is an alternative to the truth and then deliver it convincingly to the right audience. It’s an impressive accomplishment.

Kids start lying for two reasons: they want to avoid punishment or they want to make you happy. As they get older, lying becomes a way to vent frustration, gain status at school or cope with life’s stressors.

Some kids grow to be lifelong liars while others eventually stop. How do they develop into liars and why? The short answer is, we train them into it.

Sometime back I was sitting at the American embassy waiting to get a new passport for my son. The family behind me had a boy who looked to be 7 or 8. Old enough anyway to have some logic. I guess they’d been there a while because the child was getting restless and telling his parents he wanted to leave. As a response to the constant nagging his father told him ‘look, look our number is coming up!’ The kid could obviously read the numbers and as he pointed to the screen, he told his father no, there are still 4 people before us! The father, denying completely the fact that numbers are called in order and the fact that his son could actually figure out the calling system, insisted that their number was going to be called next.

More recently, I took my daughter to the pediatrician’s office to have her shots. She’s only 4 and was terrified. As the elderly man came closer with the needle, she cringed and started to cry. To reassure her, he blatantly lied: ” Don’t worry you won’t feel a thing. It’s not going to hurt at all.” He pinched her arm and inserted the needle. Her eyes widened with surprise as a scream tore from her throat.

What these kids are learning, is that adults lie to them, and that if those adults are in positions of authority, like parents and doctors, then lying is clearly acceptable.

Parents are masters of the mixed messages to kids. We tell them not to lie, then we angrily whisper at them to be polite about a present they hate; we claim they’re six when in actual fact, they haven’t celebrated their 6th birthday yet (unless we’re trying to get them in to an event for free in which case they’re under 6 long after their 6th birthday!); we encourage them not to tell on friends or siblings when someone does something wrong, teaching them that withholding the truth is in actual fact honorable.

We obviously have the best intentions. We are being empathetic, approximating, and using teachable moment to develop their integrity. They don’t see out intentions. To them, we are just blatantly lying. We don’t realize is that it takes the same emotional acuity to tell white lies as it does for the bigger lies and by modeling it for them, we are training our kids to be really good liars.

To make matters worse, when our kids are obviously lying to us or use flimsy cover ups, we find it funny or cute and we let these little lies slide (honestly, it’s exhausting to stay on top of house, kids, life and then to nit pick and how we react to a lying four-year-old).

“Did you spill chocolate milk everywhere?” You ask the child with chocolate milk dripping from her chin and covering her dress.

“No!” she says. “It fell by itself”.

“Ah! It must be the chocolate milk monster then” you reply. Which makes you much cooler than launching into a lecture. But our kids don’t recognize the coolness. They just get the message that some lies are ok.

The fact is, kids actually lie more as they get older, not less. We punish bad behavior and we let the little lies slide, so they practice telling us what we want to hear and they get better at it.

According to Dr. Bella De Paulo who studied adult deception, as parents, the way we react to our children’s lies can affect lifelong lying. So if you don’t want to raise liars, here’s a quick list of what to do and what not to do!

  1. Don’t enforce sweeping punishments for your child’s behavior. If they tell the truth, reward that over all else.
  2. Reinforce the importance of truth-telling over making you happy. They may not tell you what you want to hear, so fix your face and make sure your reaction doesn’t tell them you’re angry. Help them not repeat their mistakes instead of showing them when to lie.
  3. Applaud them when they do tell the truth and let them know you’re proud of them for that.
  4. Never turn a blind eye on the small lies they make up. Don’t laugh and dismiss them. Make sure you address the tiniest lie by letting them know lies are not acceptable.
  5. Try not to lie in front of your kids. Remember, kids do what you do, not what you say.
  6. Don’t try to entrap them or test their honesty. That will just degrade your relationship.
  7. Attenuate your tone of voice so it doesn’t carry a threat of consequences. For example, instead of, “Who on earth got red marker all over this wall?!?” try “Hey honey, this looks like your red marker on the wall. Shall we clean it up because you know we don’t write on walls.”

Written by Kat Shalhoub, PHD for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

7 Baby Book Ideas to Preserve Your Memories of Your Little One

Have you ever looked at your baby and wished you could press pause? Maybe wish the baby wouldn't grow so fast? As conventional moms, more likely than not, we share photos and videos of our kids on social media.

Read the amazing comments and acknowledge the likes, but it's not enough. You want to capture that moment, that milestone. Well, there's something you can do about that; create a baby memory book.

While it might seem traditional and unconventional, it's a fantastic opportunity for you to capture major milestones in their lives, their first birthday, first vacation, and the likes.

Are you looking for creative baby book ideas? Well, look no further, here are seven unique ways to keep track of your little one's milestones, and preserve every precious moment.

Baby Book Ideas

The best thing about having a baby memory book is that you can relive that moment again, recreate the experience. Plus, you can easily tell your narrative or story of that day. Besides, your baby will be glad to see themselves once they grow up.

Let's dive right into these creative baby memories ideas.

1. The Story of You

Every pregnancy is different. Nausea, mood swings, and changes in the body. The best way to rekindle the moments is to start right from the beginning, at conception. They say kids develop from a pea to grapefruit and slowly to a fist, and before you know it, its nine months and the baby's out.

It will be a pleasant experience to write about your experiences from the time the baby was inside you. The first sonogram to when you knew the baby is a boy or a girl, and the last prenatal exam.

It will be an interactive journal where you can express to your baby how it felt when they kicked inside you and on the day they decided to brace the world with their presence. You can call it the baby keepsake memory book.

2. The First year

Statistics reveal that in the first year, the growth rate of a baby is double any other time of their life. Every month, the baby grows at least one inch and gains about seven ounces every week. You wouldn't want to miss out on this incredible time.

You can on easily capture them as they grow, as they sit for the first time, as they learn to stand, crawl, and probably walk. With such growth rates, the baby outgrows their clothes so fast, all the more reason you should capture such moments.

3. Baby's First Birthday

Before you know it, the baby is one year old. What an amazing first year it was, and now it's time to celebrate. Take pictures of them in their best outfit, carrying their favorite stuffed animal.

Reaching to one year is one of the most significant milestones. That feeling of accomplishment as a mother because many others don't get to see that day. Take pictures with the rest of the family and every one of your supporters.

The baby won't remember this day. But with the memory book and a few pictures, they can relive that time again.

4. Baby's First Christmas

Ah yes! The baby's first Christmas. The time to set in the family traditions. A special time when family comes together, cook up some cinnamon rolls, and cookies with a warm cup of tea as you await Santa.

With such an abundance of joy, it would be the perfect time to get them into the festive mood. Dress them in those red elf clothes and takes as many pictures as you want. Visit Santa and take even more photos.

Capture that special moment when you're decorating the tree and playing in the snow filled with love and happiness. This will always keep the spirit of Christmas within them as they grow up.

5. My Family and Me Book

Over the years, the baby grows and loses touch with their extended family. Sometimes by bad luck, the family loses a member. That's why it's essential for you to remind your baby of the time they spent with family.

Introduce them to their uncles and aunts, cousins, grandparents, and other extended family members. Let the baby have a reminder of the time they spent with every one of them.

6. Digital Milestones

At least not all the baby book ideas have to be traditional. The famous actor Ashton Kutcher and his wife had this great idea of email milestones. This is where you create a digital account for the baby.

You can send videos, voice notes, and messages about the baby's growth over the years. The idea here us to be able to personalize every milestone in the baby's life and keeping it alive somewhere.

While some people may prefer to blog about their baby, a simple digital account can be a good idea. All the data will remain private, and when your baby is of age, you can share login details. Let them revisit their life.

7. An Alphabet Book

A great idea for a homemade baby book is an ABC book. When your baby turns three or four, they'll learn the alphabet. What a great way for them to read about the letters in the form of pictures they took with such an alphabet.

For example, you could take pictures of them in animals like the owl for letter O, a dog for letter D, a horse for H, and much more. Let them have something relatable with them in the future.

Relive the Precious Moments

The journey of motherhood starts hard but still precious, and before you know it, the baby is a tween, then a teenager, and they're off to campus. Some moments are meant to be felt more than once, so embrace these baby book ideas and create something special for that special person.

Written by Tammy Jones for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

A Chef’s Best Tips for Raising Non-Picky Eaters

Letting them help in the kitchen may be the key.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the existence of restaurant kid’s menus. Why limit children to a basic menu of mac and cheese, chicken fingers and burgers? Kids shouldn’t automatically be put into a box that shapes them as selective eaters, when they really do not have to be. With more than 225,000 students passing through our doors each year at Young Chefs Academy, the kids' cooking school I founded, we’ve come to learn that there are many things that can be done to promote an adventurous palate and help raise non-picky eaters.

Children can become fussy eaters for a number of reasons. It can be from a parent’s influence, the style that food is served, kids being made fun of for something they brought in their lunch—the list goes on. In addition, there are many accidental things adults do that can cause pickiness. A prime example is parents who label their kids, especially in front of them. When kids are told they are picky eaters, they will believe it’s true and use the label as an excuse to not eat something.

Just as important, parents shouldn’t make a big deal when kids do eat a certain food. If they choose to eat broccoli, don’t applaud them—they should be eating broccoli! I’d veer away from making food associated with a reward process for your children.

If your kids do not like a specific food, suggest they choose how to prepare it the next time. For example, show them how to chop and sauté mushrooms instead of serving them raw. Changing the texture and consistency of a certain food can completely change one’s perception of it.

I am not a proponent of making a different meal for a child, based off of their seeming likes and dislikes, aside from what the rest of the family is eating. Encourage kids to experiment with food they may not initially like, but don't force them to taste anything. I'm a big fan of having fun and interacting with children. Their tasting of new food tends to follow naturally.

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. Working Mother

Pickiness often comes from attention-seeking behaviors. One of the best remedies is to involve kids in the food-making process. Children will become immersed in the creation and steps of making a meal and their perception of certain foods takes a back seat. The focus is taken off the food itself and shifts to the child creating their own meal for themselves. Never in a million years would a parent think that their child would come home after one of our classes and proclaim their new love for lemon grass soup or rhubarb! This stems from utilizing children’s sensory experiences. Have them pick out the veggies from the store, wash them, chop them and prepare them. You will be amazed at what they will end up eating—and thoroughly enjoying.

Also, encourage your child to cook with other kids. Children will listen well and get onboard with an idea if it comes from their peers. Sign up for your own kids’ cooking class, host a cooking birthday party or have a cooking playdate. Kids can experiment and encourage each other to try something new together.

Lastly, never forget that it is okay to not like certain ingredients. Adults are just the same! Pickiness will fade away naturally. A great way for children to expand their palates is through trying new foods with the family. Choose new ingredients from the grocery store to test at home. Experiment with new and adventurous ways to prepare different ingredients and get involved in the kitchen together. Most importantly, have fun!


Julie Burleson has served as Young Chefs Academy Founder and CEO for 14 years. Julie owned and operated two culinary businesses prior to franchising the Young Chefs Academy model and set out on a mission to teach children the joy and value of cooking. She was the recipient of Best Feasibility Plan from Baylor University’s John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship and is a proud member of the IFA (International Franchise Association).

Written by Julie Burleson for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Kleynimals and Baby Development – Guest Post from Dr. Patricia Bast

Tummy Time with Jangles

As parents something we always wonder and question is whether our baby is developing at a healthy rate. Here is a little glimpse at what to expect over the first 3 years. The Kleynimals toys are wonderful to encourage these developmental milestones. For example, the large ring of the Rattle is perfect for tiny hands to grasp, the Keys soothe sore teething gums while stimulating imaginations, and the Jangles keep busy little fingers occupied! 

Starting at 4 months old your baby may reach for toys with one hand, batting at hanging toys, and shaking toys with their hands. This is the beginning of using their hands and eyes together. This is also the stage where many babies will start bringing hands to their mouth and following items from side to side. This is the perfect time to introduce the Kleynimals rattle, with a large ring it is easy for tiny hands to grasp and explore.

At 6 months old your baby will start to focus on nearby objects and is now capable of bringing objects to their mouth. Baby may also reach for objects that are just out of reach and will begin to pass toys from one hand to the other. This is when I find my babies start to love their keys, the cold metal is soothing on the gums while the sound they make is beautiful. Learning they can make noise when they shake an object is huge for their development. 

By 9 months old babies develop preference for favorite toys, point to what they want, and may even look for things you hide. They can also now smoothly transfer toys from one hand to the other. All of the Kleynimals toys are perfect for hide and go seek. Shake the toy to draw baby’s attention and place it under a small lovey, baby will love peeking under the blanket to find their beloved toys.

Next, at 12 months old, babies will find hidden objects. In addition to placing objects into containers and taking them back out, this is also when babies love to bang objects together. With their increased awareness, babies love placing their toys into small baskets and dumping them out repeatedly. Another favorite activity is clapping hands together with bangles on their wrist. The musical nature of stainless steel captivates their attention while the cold texture stimulates their attention. 

At 18 months pretend play comes to life. This is such a fun time and the perfect opportunity to introduce the Kleynimals keys as keys. Model them for starting a toy car or opening a door, place them into a purse or backpack, the possibilities are endless. 

At 24 months your toddler will be able to find objects hidden under 2-3 covers, and begins to sort shapes and colors. Simple make-believe games are popular. Hand dominance may be apparent. The Kleynimals toys make the perfect objects for hide-and-go-seek.

Finally, at 36 months old your toddler can work with toys, buttons, and moving parts. They may also play make-believe with dolls, animals, and people. I find this is when jangles are the most enjoyed. The small beads and interlocking rings are perfect to keep fidgety little fingers busy. 

If you are looking for more than toys Kleynimals also makes the most beautiful stainless steel utensils, I highly recommend them!