Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Beginning A Great New Year! (And Month.)

Happy New Year's Day, everyone! Lets get this year of blogging started!
As we start the new year, many of us like to think about how we can improve our lives and become better people. The month of January happens to include some special, but not well-known, celebrations! Take a look at this list, to help you plan a wonderful month!
Book Blitz Month: This month, fill your days with as much reading as possible! If you haven't already, investigate your local libraries and bookstores. Most libraries and bookstores have special events, like story times and character visits, to encourage kids to read! These places can also be wonderful places to just hang out and read. Try looking for different kinds of books! Make a goal of reading one new book together each day this month. (Or if the kids in your life are older and are reading longer books, you may have to shorten the number of books for your goal!) For some interesting book recommendations for kids of all different ages, check out the blog called A Readable Feast!

Family Fit Lifestyle Month: Make an effort to live a healthier lifestyle as a family! Try out new and different healthy foods this month and see if you can find some new favorites for you and the kids in your lives! Try to do one physical activity a week with the children in your life. (Sledding is a very active, and fun, passtime for snowy weather!)

International Creativity Month: Encourage the children in your life to explore their creativity! Invest in some new art supplies, or take an art class, a writing class, or a drama class together! When you or the kids have a problem to solve, sit down and make a list of as many ideas as possible for solving it... the sky is the limit! Even if the ideas are incredibly silly, or impossible, write them down!

National Mentoring Month: Anyone can be a mentor, because everyone has something they can teach, or a quality they can share, with someone else. If you can find the time, maybe this is the month you should sign up to be a mentor for a child or teenager! You can search for mentoring opportunities at Mentoring.org, or Volunteer Match, just by entoring your zip code. You might also want to see if your community has a Big Brothers And Big Sisters organization.
Kids can be mentors too, and being a mentor to someone else can help kids of all ages in so many ways! Many schools have programs where kids can become mentors to a younger child or a child with special needs.
Kids can even be mentors to their younger siblings, cousins, or neighborhood kids. I once worked for a summer camp that adopted the word "BARM," which was short for "Be A Role Model." We would explain to the kids that the younger children lookup to them and watch them to see examples of how to behave. When an older child was acting out, often all we had to say was, "BARM!" and the child would change his behavior, knowing how important it was to be a mentor to the smaller kids!

National Personal Self-Defense Month: Learning self-defense not only helps to ensure that a person will be able to defend himself in an emergency, but it does a lot of other things to! Learning self-defense helps people of all ages to improve balance, reflexes and coordination. It also helps teach kids respect for themselves and others, and helps them set and meet realistic goals for themselves. And every self-defense method is a physical activity... so maybe you and the kids in your life can take a self-defense class as part of Family Fit Lifestyle Month!
My favorite type of self-defense is aikido, because it focuses more on defending oneself from an attack, and less on being the actual attacker.

Resolve To Eat Breakfast Month: Its really true... breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Nutritionists often recommend that people eat a large breakfast, a medium-sized lunch, and a small dinner. This makes sense, because when you eat breakfast, you're fueling your body in preparation for a whole day ahead of you... and lunch is really a mid-day pick-me-up. But what do people do after dinner? Sit around and watch TV, usually, and then go to bed? Your body doesn't need as much fuel for that. But strangely, most people eat the opposite way... a large dinner, a medium-sized lunch, and very little breakfast or none at all.
Having a good breakfast is especially important for children, so encourage the kids in your life to do it! Many kids don't eat breakfast because, when they first wake up in the morning, they don't feel hungry. Other kids don't eat breakfast because they have no time in the morning. However, chances are, an hour or two into the morning, their stomachs will begin to growl. Hungry kids have trouble staying awake and concentrating! To solve this problem, consider packing a breakfast for your kids, so they can eat it in the car, on the bus ride, or at school as they wait for class to begin. Easy-to-pack breakfasts can include single serving boxes of cold cereal, fresh fruit, whole-grain muffin, trail mix, hard-boiled eggs (boil a whole bunch ahead of time and keep them in your fridge!) single-serve cottage cheese, cereal bars, etc. Some kids may prefer things like leftover pizza or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! (Those items actually make great breakfasts, nutrition-wise!)
If you have a little more time in the mornings, serve already-made pancakes, french toast or waffles (you can make them yourself on the weekends, freeze them, and pop them in the toaster as needed), oatmeal with any variety of toppings, etc. Stay away from things like donuts or sugary cereal... the sugar burns off fast and will leave kids just as tired and hungry as if they had nothing at all! For more ideas on quick, healthy and delicous breakfasts, try this Ivillage article, Nutrition Explorations, or this FamilyFun.com site.
With all these ideas, lets all start 2008 off on the right foot! Have a great month and a great year!

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