Top 10 Ways to Reduce Summer Stress

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Summer Stress and Keep Kiddos Engaged

It’s hard to believe we’re finishing up another school year. While the first day of summer isn’t until June 21st, technically for anyone who has school age children it starts this month. For me, it’s Friday, June 5th at 3:55 p.m., the moment when those two energetic boys finish their kindergarten and third grade year and meet me in the school lobby. We will have 13 weeks together this summer…for better or worse, in begging for electronics and playing board games, in sweet never to be forgotten moments and sibling heated arguments, to laugh and to cry, till school starts again on September 8th. : )

Fun with my boys at Millennium Gardens, Plymouth, MN

Fun with my boys at Millennium Gardens, Plymouth, MN

By all means do not interpret that I think the summer will be bad, rather I’m looking forward to time together with my sons and making those memories that will warm my heart far after they have left the house, or are living in our basement. ; ) And yet…when my children are in the throws of a fiery argument of “Did you just look at me?” I think…isn’t it bedtime?

When the difficult times roll in, I always have to tell myself, “I’m normal.” I’m like every other parent out there, we’re praying for an abundance of patience, the ability to temper our temper and establish boundaries with our kiddos so that we strike a balance between family fun and our ability to administer a daily dose of self-care to maintain our sanity.

Speaking of sanity, I’ll get to the point of this entry and provide my “Top 10 Ways to Reduce Summer Stress and Keep Kiddos Engaged” this summer. This is my plan to help manage my stress and keep my boys active, engaged and enjoying this novel thing called “down time.”   : )

  1. Prevent Brain Drain During the first week off from school we head over to the Lakeshore Learning store and grab summer reading and math workbooks. Establish time for workbook, daily or a minimum of four times per week. I always expect that each workbook can be completed prior to heading back to school.
  2. Schedule Activities We live in a society that fully supports and pressures parents to over schedule their kids, so when you’re looking for activities to participate in, make sure that it’s not too heavy of a schedule for them or you. Remember, you’re the one that has to chauffer them to all of these activities. ; )
  3. Quiet Time or Downtime Shhh…it’s really important that children know how to self soothe and self entertain. Ensure that there is routine downtime so that they can determine how to spend their time, develop interests, problem solve their own boredom, or do I dare say it – GASP – take a nap.
  4. Fun with Friends If your children are of elementary or middle school age, you’ll want to schedule some fun time with friends. That might mean some time at your local pool/beach, running off physical energy and a picnic at the park or outdoor games of volleyball, croquet, Twister, bocce ball, Chinese jump rope, water balloon fights, etc., at your house.
  5. Create Bookworms Reading not only helps to pass the day, but it increases vocabulary, comprehension and fosters a love for reading. Select a book together and take turns reading it or establish an independent reading time so that you too can sneak in some self-care time. Select a special place for your reading time, under a shady tree, the porch or nook.
  6. Lions, Tigers and Bears Oh My Check out the local attractions where you can spend the day with your kiddos learning, relaxing or having fun! Some great ideas can be found in this article, “100 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer” or check out your local museums, amusement parks, waterparks, parks, zoos, theater, historic landmarks and other attractions. Perhaps planning something once or twice a month is best, keeping costs in mind and not encourage a bad case of the gimmies with your children.
  7. Workday Yes, we all have to do it. Laundry, dusting, vacuuming, washing the car, mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, etc., doesn’t happen on its own. A workday creates ownership, responsibility and establishes each person’s contribution to the household and family unit.
  8. Rainy Day Rain is bound to show up in the forecast and having a list of rainy day activities is a definite must, i.e., movies, cook special meals, bake, board games, house hide and seek, crafts, puzzles, etc. are all possibilities in passing a dreary day.
  9. Craft Day Whether your children are wee young ones or of elementary, middle or high school age, there’s nothing like a good craft day to connect and get in touch with your creative side. While there may be some moans to start, not too soon after most will enjoy being together and making family connections.
  10. Parents Remember to Care for Yourselves In the middle of all the mayhem it’s sometimes difficult for parents to remember they have to take care of themselves too. If you’re taking care and giving all the time to your children, you’ll eventually find yourself depleted, a bit grouchy and short on patience. I’m very lucky to have a husband that recognizes that I need my downtime occasionally. I’m not certain he recognizes downtime for himself, so I push him to do things that will reenergize him. So pick up a book, go for a walk with a friend, exercise, or garden – whatever you find enjoyment in that recharges you. Additionally, don’t forget to get a babysitter. You and your partner need time to reconnect with each other and your friends.

I’ve shared my view with you; please leave a comment and share your thoughts with me.

Happy Summer!
Kristin

My Son Forgot His Epinephrine: A+ Problem Solving

The title pretty much tells it all doesn’t it?

There isn’t a quick fix to this problem, is there? There isn’t a handy dandy saying to help you, like “Stop, Drop and Roll.” You can’t cross your arms like Jeannie, blink and have Epinephrine in hand.

Key to solving a problem? Staying calm and think about your options.

Key to solving a problem? Staying calm and think about your options.

My son is a Student Council representative. In this role, it requires him to be at school early in the morning for meetings or to work at the school store. Per his Anaphylaxis Action Plan our son is not permitted to regularly self-carry his epinephrine, only under certain conditions defined by his parents. Student Council is one of those conditions where we permit him to self-carry.

The evening prior to a Student Council morning our son takes his Emergency Medication Pack from his sports duffle bag and places it into his school backpack. On these mornings, my husband drops our son off at school. Two schoolteachers, who are familiar with our son’s food allergies and the location of the Emergency Medication Pack, staff the council meetings. Continue reading

Every Day is a Clean Slate

I sense my eldest son is working on a marvelous Mother’s Day gift in his Technology class. Technology is a fancy word for computer class.

First he asked for a picture of me in a jpg format – checkkristin-color-corrected-cropped250

Then I had to answer a few questions:

What is my job title? – Mom, Queen of the Toilet Scepter…ok I won’t tease you anymore I just said Consultant / Licensed Trainer ; )

What do I consider my greatest accomplishment? – Being a mom to my two beautiful boys.

What is something that a say all the time? I put that question back in his court…what do you think I say all the time?

I wanted to know what he thinks I say all the time. I wanted to know what he remembers. We mothers say so much that we wonder what is retained. I realize that was a risky question to put back in his court. He could say, “Eat your vegetables,” Clean up your room,” “Will you two stop arguing with one another,” “Did you do your chores?” “Is your homework done?” While I know it was risky, I had some confidence he would remember something more important, more philosophical…something that’s a tool for life.

CleanSlateHe was very proud of his choice, “Every day is a clean slate.”

I hope he always remembers that…no matter how difficult life can be…every single day is a clean slate for all of us. There’s power in knowing that things can always be turned around, that second chances are humbly given to each of us and that trying our very best is never out of our reach.

How will you spend your clean slate each day?

Book Review: My Food Allergies

Editor’s Note

It was truly an honor to have Amber DeVore, R.D. contact me to review her new book, My Food Allergies. In a straightforward manner, Amber recounts the story of her son’s first anaphylactic reaction, allowing readers to learn and have a better understanding about food allergies and anaphylaxis. The story, combined with David Robinson’s cute illustrations, creates an excellent resource to educate children about the risks and necessary care for someone with a food allergy.

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The book has two main characters, a young boy named Kieran and his mom. After a hard day of playing baseball, Kieran comes home to eat a snack of yogurt with granola. He unfortunately has an allergic reaction, his face swells and breaks out in hives. His mom calls 911 and he is taken to the hospital via ambulance. The doctor at the hospital determines that he is allergic to nuts, which was in the granola.

Once the diagnosis is determined, the family gathers the knowledge on how to stay safe: learns what foods to avoid, how to read ingredient and manufacturing labels, carries epinephrine wherever they go, does not share food, and how to safely and positively participate in life’s activities where food is served, i.e., bring your own safe, nut-free snacks and treats.

What I found to be the most endearing aspect of this book is the interactive guide at the end. The questions posed, encourage the reader to think about and discuss how they stay safe and navigate food allergies in their own life. By including a discussion, a dialogue is created between a child and the reader, most likely a parent, family member or caregiver. The dialogue create a teaching moment where the child learns how to keep safe, care for him/herself, participate positively in his/her life, and finally, provides the opportunity for a child to discuss his/her feelings regarding having a food allergy.

My Food Allergies is an excellent selection to teach, to share and just plain enjoy!

You can find My Food Allergies on Amazon.

Epinephrine Accessibility Bill in MN Legislature

BREAKING NEWS

A bill to allow restaurants, museums, zoos, sports leagues, camps, and other venues to stock non-patient specific epinephrine has been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature this session. Commonly called an “entity bill,” HF1604 would allow various entities to store epinephrine on-site without a physician’s prescription and use it in the event of an emergency.

If the bill passes through the Legislature and is signed into law by the governor, the Minnesota Department of Health will evaluate applications from venues that wish to stock epinephrine and ensure that their staff is trained in anaphylaxis recognition and epinephrine administration by approved trainers.

The bill sponsor in the MN House of Representatives is Rep. Nick Zerwas of Elk River. “I equate it to the AED (automated external defibrillator),” said Zerwas. AEDs are found in public places and available for anyone to use in an emergency.

Senator Jim Carlson of Eagan is the Senate sponsor.   Carlson has worked on epinephrine legislation in the past, such as the school accessibility bill spearheaded by the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota (AFAA) in 2004.

AFAA has reviewed the bill language and offered suggestions for amendments that can offered during committee hearings.  AFAA will work to organize witnesses to testify in committee hearings, and to rally public support and communication from constituents to their legislators.

The bill is anticipated to have a hearing this Friday in the House of Representatives Health and Human Services Reform Committee.  Supporters who are constituents of committee members are encouraged to contact committee members to express their support.

Stay tuned to your email in-box, my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages for upcoming legislative developments.

Book Review: Why can’t I have a Cupcake?

Editor’s Notes:
1) I was so happy that Betsy Childs contacted me to review her new book about food intolerances, Why can’t I have a Cupcake? Her simple, yet meaningful, story along with Dan Olson’s illustrations was a great hit with my sons.

2) When you have a food allergy, it is required that you have two doses of epinephrine in your possession as a second dose may need administered five minutes after the first dose.

Review

My son is attending a birthday party this weekend…a place where tasty treats are always in abundance along with the token slice of “za” (pizza). These social situations are sometimes challenging for those dealing with food allergies, celiac disease or intolerances as assimilation is so important. No matter the challenge, we must teach our children that the celebration is the time we spend together having fun, and much more important than any food.

51odpxI41hL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_In this thoughtful book, Rory, a six-year-old boy, was excited to be going to his friend Poppy’s birthday party where they will have delicious cupcakes. Rory L-O-V-E-S cupcakes, but he is gluten intolerant. He remembers having a stomach ache after eating foods like cupcakes and pancakes.

Rory’s mother dropped him off at the party, hands him his crispy bar and he is off to have some fun! Not only did Rory have an enjoyable time participating in the fun activity and watching Poppy open her birthday presents, he learned that he was not the only one bringing his own treat or an item to keep safe. Celia can’t have peanuts so she came prepared with a tuna sandwich, in case PB & J sandwiches were served. Mason brought an EpiPen® because he’s allergic to bee stings. Lewis has a popsicle because he can’t have ice cream, he’s allergic to dairy. Continue reading

What To Do When Your 504 Plan is Violated, 3

And we’re back for the third and final installment in this series of blog entries covering preparing for school and 504 violations. Even after all of the best food allergy management planning, expect to have a snag or two. Most issues are misunderstandings or miscommunications and are easily fixed by an email, telephone call or short meeting with the teacher, principal and/or 504 coordinator. Remember to stay the collaborative and creative parent you are, and partner to resolve these types of issues.

On the other hand, when your child’s specified accommodation is not received on a consistent and conscientious basis, then a more direct and formal approach is necessary. What might a violation look like? Perhaps your teacher is having your child sit out in the hall during snack time. Maybe unsafe curriculum projects are continuously being used in the classroom without notice or accommodation. It could be that a student, teacher or school staff member is repeatedly harassing your child about his/her food allergies.

No matter what has transpired in a 504 violation, it’s a terrifying and angering experience simply because your child is at his/her most vulnerable outside of your care. In addition, it is always our hope that adults will behave as mature and responsible individuals, and when that doesn’t happen, it creates a mistrust that is not easily rebuilt.

Here are my Top 10 Tips for 504 Violation Resolution: Continue reading

Preparing for School with a Food Allergy, 2

And…we’re back. : ) Thanks for joining me again for Part 2 in the series of three discussing school preparation and 504 violation. In case you missed it, check out the first post Preparing for School with a Food Allergy, Part 1 which has my Top 10 Tips to prepare for school. In this entry, I’ll share my Top 5 Tips of what not to do when preparing for school. Don’t forget, there’s one more in this series to come, What To Do When Your 504 Plan Is Violated, Part 3.

1.  Don’t Sign A Release of Medical Records

Man's Hands Signing DocumentMedical Information is extremely private and not meant for public consumption. Never sign a release of medical records to your school; there’s nothing worse than school staff or even a school nurse or health paraprofessional interpreting your physician’s diagnosis and notes and drawing conclusions regarding your child’s medical information. A letter from your allergist is sufficient. See the first in the series entitled, Preparing for School with a Food Allergy, Part 1. Continue reading

Preparing for School with a Food Allergy, 1

When my son was small and preparing for kindergarten, I remember the January prior to his entry was the month that I began conversations with my school on food allergy accommodations. With each new year, it causes me to think about how I can help families just like you prepare for the great meeting of the minds. I decided to do this series of posts: Preparing for School with a Food Allergy, Part 1 Preparing for School with a Food Allergy Part 2 (The Don’ts), and What To Do When Your 504 Plan Is Violated, Part 3. I hope you find them to be helpful as you start a new chapter with your child.

1.  Investigate and Learn About Food Allergy Rights and Guidelines

Get to know the existing resources that are out there to support you:FAN2031482BusinessL

 

2.  It Takes Nine Months to Have a Baby; Take Nine Months to Forge a Food Allergy Partnership with Your School

The January prior to the start of school, contact your school principal and district/school nurse/health paraprofessional to introduce yourself and your child. Make it a priority to discuss what school staff members will assist in the development of your child’s Food Allergy Management Plan. Collaborate with staff to finalize the plan prior to the first day of school.

  • Typical 504 Team, i.e.: Principal, District and/or School Nurses, 504 Coordinator, Teacher, Specialists, Cafeteria and Recess Monitors, Transportation Company, etc. The titles of individuals will vary from district to district and school to school.
    • If your school is public, request a 504 Evaluation Meeting.
    • If your school is private, determine if the school receives any federal funding. If yes, then request a 504 Evaluation Meeting.
    • If your school is private and receives no Federal funding, then request a Food Allergy Management meeting so accommodations can be determined.

Continue reading

A Gift of Miles Launches New Website

Website Details a Holistic Approach to Food Allergy Education For Families, Childcare Providers and Schools

a-gift-of-miles-food-allergy-consultingA Gift of Miles is pleased to announce the launch of a new website that details Kristin Beltaos’ holistic approach to food allergy consulting and education for families, childcare providers and schools. The updated website more clearly outlines Kristin’s services including customized food allergy management life skills, education and plans utilizing evidenced-based practices. Ultimately, clients learn how to proactively manage food allergies in their environment while keeping children with food allergies safe, happy and included.

Taking your life or organization to the next level has never been easier. Leverage Kristin’s customized consulting, expertise and training programs to help you identify your goals, develop strategies and action plans that establish a new order.

Whether you’re in Minnesota, nationally or internationally, visit the new website and make a selection under Food Allergy Consulting or Other Services to learn more about how you can find support and assistance that will help you transition to your new chapter.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post.

I wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy new year!

Thoughtfully,
Kristin