The PANK Perspective: First Day of Kindergarten

My 4 year old nephew had his first day at public school the other day. In the weeks leading up to his first day, his parents said his mood changed from excitement to hesitation as the days drew nearer. Going to full day kindergarten is a big transition for any kid, and with my nephew being somewhat reserved at times, I was worried that he would have anxiety about attending. You see, I’m a worry-wart. I think about things that I just shouldn’t spend time thinking about.

“What if some of the kids are mean to him?”

“What if he has an accident because he’s too nervous to speak up about going to use the washroom?”

“Will he like his teachers?”

Then I thought, if I feel like this as his aunt, how the heck does his mother feel? She uses humor to express her emotions and laughed about how “he will be someone else’s worry for a few hours a day.” With having an 8 month old to look after she joked about having a break from my oldest nephew. But I know that she’s struggling with letting him go and wondering some of the same things I am. How could she not?

On the first day of full day kindergarten my nephew was excited, and all of his questions and potential fears of going to school faded as soon as he met some of his classmates. I needed to remember that he’s not the only 4 year old entering the big world of public school (and of germs and lice…eek!) Many parents had to bid adieu to the fact that their child was no longer confined to the family ‘bubble’. Their teachers, classmates and even parents of their classmates will have an effect on them. They will learn new things along with bad habits and manners. They will become more independent. They will stumble, but they will also climb.

I read an article the other day from Huffington Post that was written by a Mom of a kid going to Kindergarten for the first time. She wrote about the transition of being pregnant to caring for a newborn, then a toddler and now for a child that is entering the education system. She asked, “How did we get here?” and I have wondered that this summer as I watched my nephew play. How is he old enough to be going to school? How did he get so big so fast? I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. So much has changed in my life since that wonderful day, but it sure doesn’t feel like 4 years ago.

Where did the time go?

Time flies.

Did you have a child that started full day kindergarten this year? How did you feel about this transition?

 

About the Author:

Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.

Back to School Healthy Habits That Last All Year Long

Dear whomever is in charge,

Please help me through another back to school season; I know that summer’s freedom and lazy ways are about to be replaced by the hectic juggle of school schedules, homework, making lunches, extracurricular activities, work and stress. If you have tips to keep my family on track without resorting to using words of the four letter variety, packing processed lunches and providing drive-thru dinners, I am all ears!

Signed,

Parenting is hard enough

 

Dear Parenting,

Yes, this time of year can be hectic, and it can be difficult to serve your family healthy lunches and dinners. As a nutritionist I am inundated with food products that sent to me by organizations who want my endorsement. And well many are convenient most of them get tossed because they are unhealthy, and I can’t in all good conscience recommend them. As a nutritionist, I know that there are shortcuts though when you’re pressed for time to rush out the door in the morning, and out in the evening for after school activities. Here are some of my tried and true back to school systems that will help you plan, and give healthy meals, all year long.

Back to School systems:

  • Get kids to make a chart of what they will enjoy for lunches. The chart must be filled in under these categories: Protein, Vegetables, Fruits, Carbohydrates. Dairy can be a protein in a pinch and carbohydrates must be whole grain otherwise they are “treats” and that is a different category. You can change this list monthly as the lunches begin to becoming boring.
  • Prep veggies and fruits on the weekends. This way, they are ready to be lunchbox loaded.
  • Double up on dinners. Baked chicken, barbecued pork or beef and grilled tofu are all great cubed as protein for the following day as leftovers or packed for lunch.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Fruit is best if it is whole but if you are looking for a packaged product, it should be sugar free. You need to know that even fruit juice or peeled fruit can spike blood sugar levels and that can create behaviour or fatigue issues. Be sure to serve these products with some kind of protein or good fat like cheese to slow them down.
  • Consider using ingredients other than bread for sandwiches and wraps such as: rice paper, sushi nori, lettuce leaves, steamed cabbage or kale leaves. They are just as good at holding fillings as bread but contain more nutrients and less sugar and salt.

Treats and Snacks:

  • Pure, unadulterated treats are fine once a week, like an ice cream on the weekends.  But, there is more evidence that daily sugar consumption isn’t just about cavities anymore. A diet too high in sugar can be directly related to diabetes, obesity but also dementia. In fact, the World Health Organization has reduced the recommendation of sugar consumption to about 6 teaspoons per day for an adult and less for children. One “fruit filled” snack bar can contain about 3 teaspoons if you don’t make the right choice.

 

  • I am frequently asked if there are any treat bars that I will endorse and I have discovered Nature’s Path Envirokidz line.  They are made with whole grain flours, natural sweeteners (like brown rice syrup, cane sugar and molasses) and are low sodium non-gmo, wheat and gluten free. These treats have an average of 1.5 teaspoons of sugar per bar, less than half of some of the more popular ones. Since they contain fibre and protein the sugar is slower on the uptake so your kid won’t be. Don’t be fooled by some products that say they are “naturally sweetened” but still contain too much sugar.

 

 

  • Consider using Xyla (often referred to as Xylitol) as a sweetener instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. It is a natural sweetener derived from the sugar molecule but only has one portion of the entire composition. The net result is that it is lower on the glycemic index which makes it safe for diabetics and it has 33% fewer calories.  Canadian born, Xyla is derived from hardwood and looks like sugar, tastes like sugar and bakes like sugar and can be swapped 1:1 in any recipe. Yet unlike sugar, there are actually benefits to its consumption. It blew me away to discover that Xyla actually protects tooth enamel by changing the PH of saliva. It has also been shown to prevent ear infections in children. Xyla is available in a free pour bag but it is also used in products like sugar free ketchup (the ubiquitous kid dip), toothpaste and mouthwash.

And finally here are some of my personal food rules I consider non-negotiable no matter what time of year it is as I believe they help kids to become adults that can feed themselves well!

  • Parents decide what gets served, kids can decide how much.
  • Food is the fuel for our cells allowing us to function, think and grow. It shall be respected.
  • We will not fight or finagle over food.
  • The goal is to get kids to grow into adults who can feed themselves well when they are on their own (in a few short years…believe me)

Back-to-school blues or celebration? + Contest!

It’s nearly here. It’s really happening. The day many parents have been waiting for – the day the children return to school. Elementary school, or high school, it makes no difference, this time of year is fraught with mixed emotions. Children and parents everywhere are both excited and nervous.

So, as a mama who has six kids to get out the door, I thought I’d take what I’ve learned over the years and create a FREE e-book to help other parents out. Because let’s face it we all like to get free stuff and we could all use a little help this time of year! Yes there are many free books online but this one is chock full of great advice such as transitioning from summer mode to back to school, how to deal with social issues and of course, some of my favourite products for back to school shopping.

Make this the year that back to school goes smoothly with school organization tips! Download your free Ultimate Back to School Guide here!

 

More free stuff – a contest!

Another product that makes back to school easier of course, are our labels. But if you haven’t already bought your Ultimate Back to School Combo or are in need of another don’t panic! Since time is running out on this combo offered only until Sept 30th, I’ve decided to have a give-away.

Simply comment below and let us know how you’re feeling about sending the kids back to school and you’ll be entered to win your very own Ultimate Back to School Combo!

This contest is open from 8pm EST August 31 to 11:59pm EST September 1, 2014

 

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