Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Why Kids Need Sleep to Learn and Grow

Sleeping-Toddler

For many children, sleep is an obstacle.

Kids of all ages resist sleep, often because they think they have more exciting things to do than rest. At a young age, children don’t want to slow down and sleep, preferring exploring and learning. Teens may have so many commitments, assignments, and social engagements that they don’t feel they have enough time for it all — taking time away from sleep.

Although kids often put sleep at a low priority level, it’s important for parents to encourage healthy sleep habits. Children and teens need sleep to learn and grow healthy, and establishing healthy sleep habits in childhood can help your kids maintain good sleep for a lifetime.

Good sleep is a secret weapon for school success
— and it supports healthy growth as well.

When kids sleep, their bodies work on growing, restoring, and mental processing. Human growth hormone, which supports growth and regeneration, is released late at night and is best supported by deep sleep. New ideas and information are processed into memories during sleep, helping kids retain what they’ve learned each day.

When kids get enough sleep, they’re more alert and able to face the challenges of the day. They can better retain and organize new information learned throughout the day, and they are more emotionally and physically prepared to bounce back from stress.

When kids don’t get enough sleep, everything is more difficult. Children may experience difficulty with alertness, learning, and memory, which can be particularly detrimental at school. They may struggle emotionally, resulting in tantrums and outbursts from feeling too tired to deal well with frustrations throughout the day.

The Trouble With Teen Sleep

Teens, in particular, are in a danger spot for sleep deprivation. Their circadian rhythms shift in puberty, pushing bedtimes back — but they still have to wake up on time for school. Most U.S. middle schools and high schools start the school day before 8:30 a.m. This often leaves teens without enough rest, building up a sleep debt every night.

Teens who don’t sleep well may experience moodiness and are more likely to face poor grades, obesity, and the dangers of drowsy driving. Especially dangerous is the increased risk of anxiety, depression, and suicide associated with sleep deprivation in teens. Teens who are sleep deprived are more likely to engage in unhealthy risk behaviors, such as drinking, smoking, and using drugs.

How Parents Can Support Healthy Sleep

  • Make sleep a priority. It’s easy to let a busy schedule chip away at sleep time, but it’s important that you make sleep a priority. Determine how much time your child needs to sleep at night, and plan your schedule from there. You may need to prioritize sleep over other activities.
  • Create a healthy sleep environment. Give kids a good place to sleep. Make sure their bedroom is clean, comfortable, cool, dark, and quiet. This can support healthy sleep, making their sleep environment relaxing and inviting.
  • Encourage healthy sleep habits. Teach kids good sleep habits at an early age. Encourage them to maintain a regular sleep schedule and bedtime routine. Help them avoid sleep pitfalls that can interfere with good sleep, such as consuming caffeine or heavy meals late at night, or using screens just before bed.
oakville custom home builder

What I Learned Making DIY Backyard Ice Rink

“This isn’t the first time I’ve made a backyard ice rink on my property”, says Keith Travers Eastview Homes, Oakville area contractor, “we’re a hockey family.”

Its a breathtaking accomplishment. As I came through the back of Keith’s suburban bungalow, I spotted the attraction in the backyard. Behold twelve hundred square feet of ice, six inches thick, rimmed with plywood boards.

Keith Travers in his D.I.Y. backyard ice rink in Toronto

Proud of his accomplishment, Keith boasted “You’ve got to come back in the evening when its all lit up and we have all the neighbour kids over playing hockey, and free skating”. He pointed out the mercury vapour lamps (same as in the local arena but smaller) that he has affixed to poles on the perimeter.

“Next year I’m gonna add some benches on both sides.” Keith says, “That’s one thing I learned. There’s always a crowd here by the steps.”

Keith’s backyard is perfect because the contractor made it that way; the area was specially leveled and landscaped and all the small trees were removed when he first bought the property a few years ago.

The rink boards were cut last year. They’re 4×8 plywood sheets ripped lengthwise into eight foot long boards. Keith could have used cheaper materials, particle board OSB, but he had some 3/4 inch plywood left over from a job and he knew the ice rink was a project he’d be repeating for years to come. The braces, two on each board, are more perishable; they’re made from salvage cut from old pallets and other bits of scrap wood.

Keith learned last year to run the hydro for the lights first- the power cords are safe from sharp skates under snow and ice, right on the ground. Keith also evolved a sound system this winter; he has two small stereo speakers plugged into a radio in the kitchen.

TIMELINE of a backyard ice rink – first you clear the area and run power for lights and put up the boards.

“I leave the grass long in the fall in case we get a good snowfall, and I can do the snow pack method to save the liner.’ There are two methods of making a liner. First, if there’s a lot of snow the you can use the snow pack method, which involves tramping down the snow with your boots until its hard packed and will hold the water.

Or you can buy some very large sheets of thin plastic and fashion your own pool liner or in this case a ‘rink liner’. Painters’ drop sheets are too thin and the wrong size. They won’t work unless you can figure out how to bind them together with duct tape to create a watertight surface. The thicker the plastic, the easier the tape applies, right up until the plastic is too thick.

The hardest part for Keith this year was just waiting for the ground to freeze as the weather by the lake is so variable.

It wasn’t until late December before Keith had the courage to call the water truck service. He ordered three thousand gallons of water to make a six inch slab, and if readers are seeking to replicate this rink they can use this handy pool volume calculator to calculate their own needs. Keith learned last year that six inches is the ideal (or most efficient) ice thickness to avoid pressure cracks and create an immovable solid ice mass.

pool volume calculator

 

 

Safety is always top-of-mind when making a kid friendly backyard attraction.

Keith has evolved a more kid-friendly ice rink this year even though he claims his rink is entirely injury free. Despite the flawless safety record, or maybe to help ensure it continues, the building contractor took the time to eliminate protruding stakes and sharp edges that can cause more harm to anyone slipping, losing their balance and falling. The wooden perimeter rises about a foot above the ice surface and this year the corners and top edges are smoother and all the stakes have been hammered down flush with the top of the boards.

And finally, lets not forget, ice rink makers have to think ahead to the spring melt. Where is all that water going to go? Keith runs a line to his neighbour’s in-ground swimming pool, which is right next door and downhill. He made a deal with this friend after concerns were raised that the melting ice rink could otherwise flood both their basements.

Keith Travers – DIY Ice Rink in backyard.

Does having a property with a big backyard improve the quality of life for a young family in the summer and in wintertime? Absolutely.

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Outdoor activity, even napping, in winter leads to happier, healthier and more resilient kids…

kids-tobagganning-in-winter

Kids of all ages love to ride the toboggan down slippery, snowy hills


Well, its finally happening…

The cool, crisp air of yet another onset of winter has finally arrived. While it would be easy to light the fireplace and snuggle up inside for another long, cold winter— rather than retreat inside, we should actually be spending more time outdoors. Walking, hiking, playing, skiing, snowboarding, learning, exploring discovering and even… napping. Yes, napping. Outside.

kids-nordic-skiing

Nordic (or Cross Country) Skiing is a great way to have fun, get fit and actually enjoy winter.


While it is easy to think that winter is long, and cold and hard to endure year after year, it really is more of a state of mind than a set of circumstances we have to endure. When you take the time to actively engage in activities that force you to dress up and get outside and move around for extended periods of time, winter can actually be really fun. If you set your mind to it, it becomes a great opportunity to seek out and find ways and things to do that build resilience, shorten the season, and put you in great shape emotionally, physically and mentally.

Outdoor learning is alive and well in Sweden – a priority even. The team at the Swedish think tank Movium has been able to advance a national agenda in support of outdoor play and learning, mobility and independence.

girls-nordic-skiing

Get the kids outside skiing early on in life and you will give them a gift that lasts a lifetime.


Here in Canada, we see signs of movement in that direction. More schools and school boards are encouraging play and learning outside and creating school grounds that are healthy for kids living in cities.

girls-jumping-winter

Running, jumping and all around tomfoolery in the powdery snow is a great way to burn off steam and get plenty of fresh air. Dress them up right and they won’t even notice its cold outside.


Cam Collyer, Director of Programs at Evergreen, shares what Canadians can learn from outdoor education around the world…

backyard-hockey

Back Yard Hockey rinks are a bit of work in the fall, winter and spring, but well worth the effort if you can get a cold enough winter in your area. Here in Toronto, it is hard to believe we can actually do this in the city, but it is possible if you roll up your sleeves and are dedicated to the cause.


What are you waiting for? Bundle up the kids and get outside!

 

7-eleven

Five Best Franchises for Familypreneurs

7-elevenA familypreneur is an entrepreneur who runs a business with his family.  This means their business decisions are made while considering their family’s needs, and by considering how their enterprise affects their loved ones. A familypreneurship is born from a deep consideration of the opportunity available, and what limitations or expansion of the family dynamic that such a mercantile operation might impose on their lives. One thing is certain, familypreneurs always put their families first.  This from Top Five Business Models for Entrepreneur Families which was written up in the Toronto Entrepreneur’s Blog in October 2014.

While there are many paths leading to the decision to own a business, and to striking out on one’s own to be an entrepreneur, the path to familyprenuership is always intriguingly different. It usually comes as a solution to a massive life problem, for example, chronic unemployment, a painful divorce, or forced migration to another country etc. But sometimes the business decision is born out of the realization that their lives are not fulfilling, and their careers are not be leading them to where they want to go in life.

Here are the top five familypreneur franchise business models, measured in terms profitability, scalability and quality of life.

Open a Family Owned Retail Store

Buying a retail stores with the intention of providing meaningful employment for everyone in the family is the number one choice of new Canadians who become defacto familypreneurs to better adjust to this society.  In many cases they have just survived a Grape-of-Wrath style life altering journey, and so now the demands of managing a general store in Canada seems easy by comparison.
An increasingly popular choice in franchises are dollar stores, and Canadian dollar stores in particular are popping up more and more which is a sure sign that people are doing well in the model.  Also becoming more and more prominent are Bulk Barns, Party Max, and 7-11 stores. These retail chains all advertise on the internet to find applicants, and in their brochures they stress quality of life and employment for the whole family. The 7/11 store owner program in particular makes it very easy to manage this complicated retail venue by providing  daily, weekly and monthly checklists to follow and phone numbers to call for further guidance.

Become a Compact Refreshment Centre Operator

Compact Refreshment CenterYou’ve seen vending machines that are absolute life savers for hungry people waiting in hospitals, automotive repair centers, airports and shopping malls, have you ever wondered what it might be like to own such a machine? or ten? or two hundred?  Anywhere there’s a safe, sizable, reputable waiting room you’re sure to find a vending machine filled with tasty snacks.  Depending on the branding and the products inside, stocking that machine could be a family business.
The Compact Refreshment Centre vending machine doesn’t look like the big bulky combo snack and drink machines that you usually see. It has been designed to be small and attractive (with no advertising or logos), and fits into almost any office environment.
Families that stock their own compact refreshment centers and who work together every day, enjoy great lives together with lots of personal freedom. They only have to work a few hours a day, and because they work with each other they feel more connected to their families than any of their neighbors do, because of their shared responsibility and social interaction within their circle, sharing their circle’s perspective with the community at large
compact refreshment center family with PepsiThe Compact Refreshment Centre program offers a sensible way to start and grow a business that yourself and your family can enjoy for future decades. Becoming a successful Compact Refreshment Centre Operator will change your life and bring a mental, physical and financial security to decisions – it fuels bigger and even more lucrative daydreams
There are lots of jobs for family members of all ages in a CRC venture, including accounting, buying food (dry goods to stick the machine), the labour of stocking machines, collecting the coins, and sorting the coins and then rolling them up for the bank are all jobs for eager teenagers.  The term “Familypreneuring” has been recently popularized by John and Michelle Humphrey of Familyprenuering.com. Based out of San Diego, CA. the couple have created a webinar and ebook on the subject.

Open a Frozen Yogurt Franchise!

Frozen Yogurt is a dessert made with yogurt and sometimes other dairy products. It’s more tart than ice cream, and is lower in fat content. For whatever reason, North America’s hunger for frozen yogurt has become insatiable, and stores that specialize in serving this food stuff have become very popular in the 21st century shopping mall-scape.
Buying such a franchise, although it does have some seasonal limitations depending on the location, can be a very profitable venture over the long term, simply because the ingredients are so cheap to procure and customer satisfaction is so high. The staff requires very little training, and the stores tend to become social hang-outs for teens with lots of money to spend on other things. And because frozen yogurt products taste delicious. they can become synonymous with ‘good times’ forming very positive brand experiences. The restaurants there’s always a job for everyone in the family; even the youngest children can distribute flyers, prep vegetables and wash kitchen equipment.

Buy a Food Delivery Franchise

Organic food delivery business
In the shadow of bio engineered food, plague and pestilence, the Canadian organic food industry has grown at a rate of 300% since 2006, making it one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. As more people become aware of the dangers of conventional farming practices, the demand for access to clean, safe, chemical free food has absolutely exploded.
A rapidly expanding service sector in the internet age is the grocery delivery business. Lots of consumers find it ultra convenient to be able to go online and customize a grocery order for immediate delivery rather than take two or three hours to go there themselves.

Organic’s Live is an organic food delivery business that was founded by a group of concerned dads who believe communities can eat good food that has been produced with environmental, health and economic stewardship at the fore. They market food that has been grown free of chemicals and in harmony with its surroundings. There are several food delivery food franchises businesses to choose from, but the demand for organic food is higher because obtaining certified organic commodities is usually only possible at organic markets or at traveling farmers’ markets which are hard for working parents to find and effectively access.

Start a Niche Service Business

molly maid franchise logoIf you walk through any residential neighborhood in any city in Canada during business hours, you will spot many different service businesses at work in other people’s homes.  There are various trucks painted different colours with ladders, tools and machines doing eavestrough cleaning, driveway sealing, snow removal, grass cutting etc and these are some of the less imaginative examples. Many different types of  cleaning businesses are available as franchises now, and people specialize in cleaning ventilation ducts, carpets, drains, vegetation, pools … An office cleaning business may not be exactly glamorous, but it can be very profitable.
This quote is from a testimonials on the Molly Maid website’s franchise page“As my children were growing older, I felt it was time to return to the work force. I wasn’t interested in working for someone else, so I started looking at the possibilities of buying a Franchise. I wasn’t interested in working evenings and weekends, and wanted something I could operate out of my house.”
This above quote reads like a textbook example of a familypreneur at the starting point, making a decision to put the people they love foremost in their lives while they work for success.
These are the Top Five Franchises for Familypreneurs and although they are all very different, they are all rather similar in one respect: the founders don’t necessarily want to get rich, but rather they just want to be their own bosses, and savor the thrill of making it, or breaking it in the real world alongside their families, working in business as a team.

Teaching Children about Arthritis in Dogs

Heads up Dad if you have a senior dog in your family’s home, you may wish to read up on these helpful tips to managing arthritis in dogs to make everyone’s lives a little easier. Raising awareness in children for a dog’s deteriorating physical state will help parents explain and hopefully prevent troubling behaviour. It doesn’t take much thought or action to make a big difference in the quality of a senior dog’s day-to-day existence.

Kids Dog Walk 2013

Generally speaking for most young couples the dog is the first family member.
Hip dysplasia with arthritisIt is important to remember that dogs get arthritis same as humans, and its more frequent in big dogs than it is in humans, and its more painful too. In a great many cases the dog’s pain is unmitigated by any medication or treatment. But there are things you can do, including raise awareness in your children for a senior dog’s condition, and affect diet and lifestyle adjustments around the house to improve the quality of life for this animal companion.

Learning Remedies for Dogs with Arthritis
Arthritis is a common health issue with older dogs and esp larger dogs. Although they work on different species, doctors and veterinarians both call arthritis by its technical name: osteoarthritis or its hospital name, degenerative joint disease. This condition is caused by the slippery stuff coming away from the bones in the joints and the wear and tear of bone on bone causes inflammation (as the blood fights to get to the ailment) which causes pain.

Six Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

1. Reduced Activity, withdrawn from family life
2. Limping after exercise, stiffness after morning walks
3. Difficulty getting up from a lying down position
4. Difficulty climbing up stairs, or jumping into cars
5. Chewing or licking at joints
6. Showing personality changes and being ‘grumpy’

Is your dog wetting its bed?
Fritz in HD, dog wet bed, dog with arthritisOlder pets, often find it hard to get up to follow you outside to relieve themselves. In some cases they just do it right there in bed – that’s why its important to set a routine and make sure that your dog goes outside before bedtime at night whether they want to or not. Often female dogs benefit when given phenylpropanolamine PPA in relation to a medical condition that is related to flabbiness of the sphincter muscles of their lower urinary tract. In other female dogs, chronic urinary tract infections are the cause. Still others are over-drinking due to kidney deterioration. Some are diabetic, and others are simply losing their minds.

How to manage young kids around senior dogs?
Young children will sometime hit dogs thinking they are petting it, and loving hugs can become eternal death squeezes. Senior dogs may snap. Trainers will tell you that young kids and dogs should never be left alone together. Also give the dog a place where they can escape small children. Sometimes dogs need a room of their own and just some cardboard moving boxes behind a living room couch or chair can offer shelter to persecuted animals.

Watch what the kids feed the dog!
Children should be told to never feed the dog strange foods. Never ever feed chocolate or sweets or ice cream, which dogs will eat, and these substances will pass through their bodies, but at some cost to their livers and kidneys.

Feed a Senior Dog Food Brand
Boy and DogAll major pet food manufacturers offer “Senior” brands of food. They tend to be lower in calories, higher in fiber, with added glucosamine. What your pet eats and how much it eats throughout its life will affect arthritis in later years. Is your dog overweight? Reducing your dog’s weight to a healthy level is one of the most important things you can do to reduce its discomfort – same as humans.

Keep Dog Toenails Trim, Walk the Dog on Leash
Keep your senior dog’s toenails clipped properly so it walks and runs normal. Having overgrown toenails is a lot like being forced to wear uncomfortable shoes; extra long toenails place abnormal stress on the joints and ligaments of the feet. But when cutting these toenails be sure never remove too much nail at once; the animal’s toenails should just touch the floor when your pet is standing. When walking the dog be extra careful around traveled surfaces as recent dashcam videos show dogs being hit by hybrid (quieter) cars.

Build ramps around the house to help pets manage inclined surfaces
If you have a set of stairs that the dog must walk everyday consider putting in a ramp, and cover the ramp with carpet. Add more carpets and rugs to the house. Arthritic dogs find it difficult to walk on slippery floors such as tiled or hardwood floors. By placing carpet or rugs on these floors will help secure your dog’s footing and make their lives a little easier.

Don’t be shy about massaging the dog’s muscles in hot water dog baths
In certain special circumstances, if a senior dog had a particularly active day keeping up with younger dogs, then it might be advisable to pour a hot bath and massage its hips and leg muscles. Added heat from heating pads and soaks in heated water relax muscles, increase circulation in the affected areas. We put our dogs’ beds in the sun room which is warmer than the rest of the house during the day, even in the wintertime. but on cold winter nights we do bring them into the living room by the fireplace.
Yogurt dog, what dogs eat affects arthritis

Convenient Dish And Water Bowl Placement
Senior pets are often more comfortable eating and drinking from slightly elevated containers. Older, larger breeds are more susceptible to gastric bloat and the exercise of eating and swallowing upwards doesn’t help the digestive system. So feeding your elderly pet multiple small meals, rather than one or two large ones, is also a wise idea.

Top ‘Companion’ Breeds for Young Families:
American Water Spaniel
Appenzeller Sennenhunde
Basset Hound
Beagle
Berger Picard
Bernese Mountain Dog
Boston Terrier
Boykin Spaniel
Brittany
Brussels Griffon
Bull Terrier
English Setter
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Flat-Coated Retriever
Golden Retriever
Harrier
Irish Wolfhound
Labrador Retriever
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Pharaoh Hound
Puggle
Pyrenean Shepherd
Pointer
Sussex Spaniel
 

 

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on Teaching Gratitude to Children

Hi Dads!

I am so thrilled and excited to be here with you all, and to be able to write for HeadsUpDad.

In fact, I feel so grateful about it that I think I’d like to write about Gratitude. Gratitude and Appreciation are enormously important qualities for parents to instill in their kids, but most often all that folks can manage to teach them is polite manners. And while it’s nice to see a kid say “Thanks” when someone passes him the butter, that’s not exactly what I mean here. This is especially true today, because parents don’t spend as much effort teaching polite behavior as they once did.  But your grandparents probably didn’t care too much about how deeply their kids felt appreciation – they just washed your parents’ mouths out with soap if they happened to not use the right words at the right times! No, this generation really tends to care a lot more about teaching values, rather than just prescribed behavior. But the problem is, how can anyone teach that?! The crazy answer is – you really can’t. Kids are kids, and there’s a certain level of unthinking selfishness that just comes with the territory (along with incredible sweetness, as you know). And if little Julie finds exactly what she wanted under her Christmas tree, she’s going to be a lot more interested in the immediate joy of playing with it than she is in the deeper pleasure of writing a beautiful thank you letter for it!

Your job, since you can’t really teach gratitude, is to help foster a growth of that sense for when the child matures.

Here are a few suggestions on how to do just that:

1. Teach by example.

Papas, you’ll hear me say this one over and over and over.  About 90% of what kids learn from their parents comes from observation (which is, of course, how kids manage to learn to walk and talk, two of the most astounding achievements of any human’s life).  If you live with a sense of gratitude, your children will pick up on that. When your babysitter makes the kids dinner because you forgot to leave something in the fridge, do you just accept that, or really thank her for going the extra mile?  When someone in traffic lets you cut in, do you give a ‘thank you’ wave?  Your kid will see what you do, and learn from it.  And even more importantly, do you show gratitude to your kid when they do something kind?  That’s the best lesson of all.

2. Talk about Gratitude when it is expressed by others.

When you throw a poker party for some buddies, and one of them emails you the next morning to thank you for it, mention to your kid how good that made you feel.

3. Let them help you with acts of gratefulness.

I know this is a bit phony, but it’s still good:  Let’s say you want to send out a bunch of letters thanking people who’ve helped you in your work this year.  Have your kid stuff the envelopes or put the stamps on.  They’ll get the idea that thank you letters are what cool grownups like Daddy do.

4. Apologize when you forget to be grateful yourself.

All humans make mistakes, and there will always be times when you forget to thank someone, or even to feel as grateful as you should. Let your child see you catch yourself in that error. And let them see you apologize and try to make up for it. That’s a huge teacher.

5. Teach them gratitude by rote.

Okay, and the boring one: Yes, I’m saying that you should teach your ungrateful little brats to say “Thank You” for getting the butter passed to them, and to write letters thanking Aunt Martha for the boring book she gave them, and even to thank their teacher for giving them extra homework to help them master something they’re having trouble with in school.  No, they won’t feel the gratitude at all.  But they will learn the right ways and times to express it when they do.

And then, I also want to add a big “Don’t” to this list.  Do Not Guilt Trip!  Children live in a world that’s all about themselves.  They’ll grow out of it, and you should encourage that, but don’t make them feel bad for not being there yet.  Telling them things like “You ought to feel more grateful” or “You’re too self-centered,” or worst of all “You’re spoiled, you got too many presents” don’t teach Gratitude; they teach Shame, which is the total opposite (If you really feel your kid got too many presents for her birthday, then be the adult and tell her there’s simply been a mistake, and she needs to give five of her toys to others.  It’s not her fault!).

Then, of course, the best role model any kid can ever have for Gratitude is one of us!  We dogs will show how much we appreciate every treat, every scratch on the head, and every time you let us in the house – every time!  And oh do we let you know we appreciate you humans when you come home from school or work!  And the more that your kid sees us do that, and senses how much they love the way our gratitude makes them feel (yes I’m emphasizing that thought!), the sooner they’ll develop a healthy sense of empathy, which will lead them to the true sense of gratitude you want them to own.

So those are my thoughts. Good luck with them. And in the meantime, from the bottom of my heart…

Thanks for reading!

 

About the author:

Shirelle is a busy dog. In between her posts from the Dog House at HeadsUpDad, she hosts a great web site offering friendly, down-to-earth advice for kids, teens, and parents called AskShirelle. Please check it out.