Are the Holidays Stressful for Kids?

Are the Holidays Stressful for Kids?

The holiday season is meant to be the most wonderful time of the year, and it certainly can be. However, for many children (and adults), the holiday season also brings with it some stress. Routines are disrupted as you plan for visitors, stay up late preparing for parties, and get home late from holiday gatherings. How can you thwart this holiday stress and keep this season magical and wonderful for your little ones? Start by following these tips.

Stick With Routines As Much As Possible

As much as your child may complain when you insist they go to bed on time or brush their teeth first thing each morning, kids really thrive with routine. Maintaining their routine throughout the busy holiday season will help prevent stress. Send them to bed on time, even if this means leaving a party a little early or putting off a few planned holiday tasks until tomorrow.

Schedule Family Time

You’re probably busy wrapping presents, cleaning the house in preparation for guests, and so forth. As you rush about, your kids may start to feel a little distanced from you, which can lead to stress. Combat this problem by scheduling some quiet, laidback family activities throughout the holiday season. For example, you could dub Tuesday night “Movie Night” and watch a classic holiday film together. Or you could simply go for a walk around the neighborhood together, taking a complete break from the holiday chaos.

Have Kids Help You With Preparation

Instead of leaving your kids to entertain themselves while you complete your to-do list, invite them to help you. This way, they will feel more involved in the holiday preparation, rather than feeling like it’s something that’s disrupting their lives. Even little kids can help with tasks like putting bows on presents, putting sprinkles on cookies, and decorating the tree. Put on some holiday music, and make these prep tasks part of the fun!

Keep Your Own Stress Levels Under Control

Your children know you better than anyone else, and they can tell when you’re feeling stressed and anxious. By keeping your own stress under control, you can help them feel more settled, too. Keep your own holiday stress levels low by:

  • Saying “no” to parties and activities you really don’t have time to attend
  • Taking a little time out each day to read, take a warm bath, or otherwise care for your own needs
  • Accepting help from friends and family members who offer to help you

Focus on Eating Healthy Foods

Sugary treats abound over the holidays, but eating too many can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, which make kids cranky. You don’t have to forbid your children from touching holiday treats, but do practice moderation. Let them have one or two pieces of candy or cookies per day, and otherwise, provide plenty of healthy foods to munch on. Cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, and sliced fruit are all perfectly tasty and healthy party fare.

With the tips above, you can combat holiday stress and truly enjoy the holiday season. We wish all the best to you and yours.

4 Family Activities to Enjoy This Fall

4 Family Activities to Enjoy This Fall

Fall is in the air. The kids are back in school, leaves are changing color, and temperatures are falling. It’s the perfect time of year to spend some quality time together as a family, and a great way to do that is to plan some fun family activities on the weekends. Here are some fall activities for kids that you will also enjoy.

1. Apple Picking

Apple season runs through the end of October in the Holland area. Picking apples is a great way to get outside and enjoy the fall air, and it is healthy, too. Not only will you get exercise walking through the orchards and reaching for apples, but you’ll go home with a big basket of healthy snacks.

There are a few good places to pick apples near Holland. Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery is one of them. They do not charge an entrance fee; you just pay for the apples that you pick. In addition to apple picking, they also offer hayrides, and they also operate a cider mill.

2. Corn Mazes

Does getting lost in a field of corn and then spending an hour finding your way out sound like fun? The kids will love it. Corn mazes have become increasingly popular over the years. Basically, the farmers create a series of paths through a cornfield. There is only one way out, and it can take a while to find it since the corn is so tall and you can’t see where you’re going. You and the kids can try to navigate the maze together, or you can split up and see who gets out the fastest!

Crane Orchards operates a good corn maze in Fennville. It encompasses over 20 acres, and admission is only $5 for children ages 6 – 10 or $7 for anyone aged 11 or older.

3. Hiking

This is the perfect season for hiking. The weather is cool, and you can watch the leaves change color! Holland State Park is a great place to hike with the kids. The Stu Visser Trails feature raised boardwalks and easy terrain for little feet. Dogs are welcome to join you, and you’re sure to see plenty of wildlife in the wetlands.

4. Camping

Why not take one last camping trip before it gets any colder outside? Fall camping can be really fun since you get to cuddle around the fire for warmth and snuggle up inside sleeping bags at night. Oak Grove Resort Camp Ground is a fun place to camp near Holland. They have both modern and rustic cabins, and they also have RV sites if you happen to have your own camper. There are a lot of other fun fall activities for kids at the campground, too — like bike rentals and hiking trails.

These fall activities for kids will keep everyone entertained as the days grow shorter. Enjoy your weekend, and don’t forget to book those fall dental appointments to keep everyone’s teeth in good health.

 

Cook This Not That: Kid Friendly Takes on Adult Favorites

Cook This Not That: Kid Friendly Takes on Adult Favorites

Are you tired of cooking delicious and healthy meals, only to have your child turn up their nose and request PB&J instead? Or perhaps you’ve been making do with chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese for weeks because at least your kids will eat it. Adults and children have different tastes — but you don’t need to keep cooking two meals every night just to satisfy everyone. Here are some creative ways to transform adult favorites into more kid-friendly meals.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders: An Alternative to Processed Chicken Tenders

Kids love chicken tenders, but the processed kind you buy in the frozen aisle is not exactly healthy—and they don’t quite appeal to the adult palate. Try making your own Parmesan-crusted chicken tenders instead. Cut chicken breasts into strips. Dip each strip into some whisked egg, then into a mixture of half Parmesan cheese and half Panko breadcrumbs. Bake the chicken strips on a lightly greased baking sheet for 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. The kids can dip them into barbecue sauce and ranch, and you can enjoy them over a salad.

Build-Your-Own Soup: A Replacement for Chunky Soups and Stews

Kids often love the idea of soup, but if there are too many ingredients in the soup, they may pick them out or refuse to eat the soup altogether. A good way around this is to make a basic soup with just stock and meat. Then, set out bowls of sides to be individually added to the soup. Cooked carrots, chopped green onions, cooked brown rice, and cooked corn are all good choices. Kids are more likely to eat ingredients they add themselves. You can enjoy the soup your way, and they can enjoy it their way.

Turkey Meatballs: A Replacement for Beef Meatballs

Kids love meatballs, but you may not want to eat so much red meat. Turkey meatballs are a good substitute. Combine one pound of ground turkey with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1 whisked egg, a half teaspoon each of onion and garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano leaves. Divide the meat into 16 portions, and shape each portion into a ball. Bake the meatballs at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes. You can serve them on whole-wheat sub rolls, over whole-grain pasta, or even alongside fresh veggies and dip.

Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry: A Replacement for Spicy Stir-Fries

Kids aren’t always big fans of stir-fries because they can be spicy and overly salty. But teriyaki chicken stir fry has a milder, sweeter flavor that most kids enjoy. There are numerous bottled teriyaki sauces available in the Asian sections of most grocery stores. Look for one with a lower sugar and salt content. To make the stir fry, simply saute some diced chicken breast with sliced carrots, onions, and snow peas. Add the teriyaki sauce during the last few minutes of cooking. Serve the stir fry over brown rice for a healthy, tasty meal.

Say goodbye to chicken nuggets without the tears! With the compromise meals above, you can prepare dishes that children and adults alike can look forward to.

 

4 Quick, Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids

4 Quick, Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids

Coming up with breakfast ideas for kids can be tough during this busy time of year. When everyone needs to be out of the house and ready for the bus at 7 am, you don’t have time to sit down to a full breakfast of oatmeal, eggs, and fresh fruit. But that does not mean you can’t still get off to a healthy start. Here are four quick and healthy breakfast ideas for your little ones — and you can enjoy them, too!

Apples and Peanut Butter

With an all-in-one apple corer and slicer, you can slice up an apple in 5 seconds or less. Sit your child down with the sliced apple and a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter, and let them crunch away. Apples are full of soluble fiber, which helps keep the digestive tract working well, and they’re also high in vitamins and minerals. Peanut butter is a good source of protein to keep them full throughout the morning. Choose a low-sugar, all-natural peanut butter so you’re not putting them at risk for cavities.

Smoothies: Breakfast Ideas for Kids On-the-Go

For a truly on-the-go breakfast, make a smoothie. You can make enough smoothie in the average blender to feed three or four. Some smoothies are really high in sugar, but you can avoid this if you use the right ingredients. Here’s a simple, lower-sugar smoothie recipe to try:

  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice

This smoothie is packed with vitamins and minerals from the berries, but strawberries and blueberries contain a lot less sugar than bananas, orange juice, and other common smoothie ingredients. The almond milk and yogurt add creaminess and protein. This recipe makes enough for two and is easy to sip from a thermos on the school bus.

Homemade Trail Mix

Some store-bought trail mixes are coated in sugar or contain a lot of sugary chocolate chips. Try making your own healthy trail mix by combining equal parts roasted almonds, unshelled sunflower seeds, unsweetened raisins, and tiny pretzels. Toss in just a few chocolate chips for fun. Pre-fill Ziplock baggies for your child to grab on their way out the door.

Freeze-Ahead Oatmeal Pancakes

This is one of those breakfast ideas for kids that requires a little prep on the weekend but really saves you time later in the week. Oatmeal pancakes are higher in fiber and more filling than traditional pancakes, making them a healthier option. Mix the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fry the pancakes on a skillet. Stack them, and freeze them in a Ziplock bag. Your child can pull one or two out, microwave them for 30 seconds, and enjoy.

These breakfast ideas for kids will save you time and headaches while ensuring your child gets the nutrition they need. Enjoy!

 

5 Things to Do in Holland, Michigan This September

5 Things to Do in Holland, Michigan This September

September is a month of comfortable weather and new beginnings, and it’s also a month packed full of fun, Holland events. Between back-to-school and raking your leaves, make sure you leave a little time to enjoy these upcoming, family-friendly activities and festivals.

Labor Day BoardWALK

September 2, 2019 

Celebrate Labor Day with a fun walk and pancake breakfast. Participants will meet at the Heinz Waterfront Walkway at 8:00 am and enjoy a beautiful, 4-mile walk along the water, followed by a pancake breakfast at the Windmill Island Gardens. The cost is just $5 per adult and $3 per child. What a nice way to get some exercise and enjoy the fall air.

Rock, Mineral, and Jewelry Show

September 13 – 15, 2019

If you have a child who is interested in rock collecting, this is the event for you. The show is being held at the Soccer Stop Sportsplex on River Hills Drive. You’ll browse unique displays of minerals, fossils, and unique rocks. There will be hands-on games for the kids and educational demonstrations throughout the day.

Live Mannequin Night

September 13, 2019

There’s something so interesting about mannequins. They just seem so real… and on this night, they will be. On Live Mannequin Night, downtown Holland will be taken over by real-life mannequins standing in the windows of the local shops. The mannequins will be recreating scenes from comic books and cartoons. Stroll down the street and admire this unique art form while also enjoying the fresh air. The event lasts from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., and all in attendance are invited to vote for the best mannequin.

Van Raalte Farm Civil War Muster

September 21 – 22, 2019

This reenactment will give you an up-close look at what life during the Civil War was like. You can watch live portrayals of battle scenes and medical scenarios. Food and refreshments will be available for purchase on-site, and admission is free for children and adults. This is a great way for your kids to learn about history, perhaps in preparation for the upcoming school year.

Holland Hospital Park Half-Marathon & 5K Race

September 28, 2019

Start getting in shape now for this fun race to benefit Holland Hospital. September’s cool weather makes it a great time for running. The half marathon course winds through Holland College Park, the Ottawa County Fairgrounds, and downtown Holland. The 5K course traverses Waukazoo Woods and the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. There will be overall awards as well as age group awards. Children under the age of 12 must run with an adult. The half marathon starts at 8:00 am, and the 5K at 8:30 am.

Whether you love admiring gems, walking along the waterfront, or running through town, these Holland events offer something for everyone. Get out there and have fun this September! And if you do attend one of these Holland events, let us know what you thought.

Are We There Yet? Boredom Busting Activities for Car Trips

Are We There Yet? Boredom Busting Activities for Car Trips

Car activities for kids can be a real lifesaver when summer road trip season rolls in. Whether it will be 2 hours or 10 hours until you reach your destination, boredom will set in as soon as you leave town. But the drive does not have to be a drag! With these fun car ride activities, it can be an entertaining adventure.

Make Edible Necklaces

This activity comes in two parts. First, you have the kids make the necklaces by stringing ring-shaped pretzels, Cheerios, Lifesaver Candies, apple rings, and other ring-shaped snacks onto a long piece of string or yarn. Then, you let the kids wear the necklaces throughout the rest of the voyage, snacking as they go.

Play “Guess That Song”

This one works really well with older kids who have a broader music knowledge. Start playing a song, and see who can guess the song’s title and artist the fastest. You can get even more creative by choosing all music within a certain genre or from a certain decade. The kids might win the 2010s round, but the parents will dominate the 90s music round!

Pass Around a Book

Find a short novel that will appeal to all or most of the family members, and pass it around the car. Each passenger should read a designated number of pages out loud before passing it on to the next family member. This is the perfect way to sharpen your kids’ reading skills, and if the book selection is spot-on, you’ll want to keep reading even after you reach your destination.

Play “I Spy”

This is one of those classic car activities for kids that never gets old. You say “I spy something red” with a certain item in mind. The kids guess what the item is, and you answer “yes” or “no” as they guess. You then repeat the game with another adjective, such as “I spy something fast.”

Play “I’m Going on a Picnic”

“I’m Going on a Picnic” is another classic car game. You start by saying, “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing cheese.” (You can choose whatever item you want to bring.) The next person repeats what you said, adding their own item. So, for example, they would say “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing cheese and carrots.” The next person repeats what the second person said, again adding their own item. You see how many times you can go around, adding more and more items to the list, before someone forgets.

Car Activities for Kids: A Healthy Spin

If you’ve been looking for ways to get your kids more interested in dental health, or in health in general, you can put a health-related spin on most of these car activities for kids. Require that picnic items for “I’m going on a picnic” be good for teeth. Pass around a book to read that is related to dental health. The sky is the limit. Have a great car trip!