Author: Carrie Myers
I try to avoid using the saying “The Good Old Days,” but in today’s highly technologically-advanced world, it’s hard not to use it. And yes, here it comes…
When I was kid…
We played outside. We didn’t have a choice. I laughingly recall standing at the front door during summer, face red and sweaty from running around, begging to come inside for a drink. Okay, that’s my child’s mind embellishing it a bit—we didn’t have to beg for a drink—but the point is, we played.
And we played outside—and so did other kids. There was never a scarcity of neighborhood kids to play with.
We played Freeze Tag, TV Tag, hopscotch, hide-and-seek, Red Rover, What Time Is It Mr. Fox, Mother May I, Red Light Green Light, Frisbees, Wiffleball, and Kickball—and dared whoever kicked the ball over the neighbor’s fence to climb over it and snatch the ball before their dog, a Basset Hound named Lightening, came screaming out of his house to chase us, his long, floppy ears flying out behind him.
We climbed trees and swung from the branches. We did cartwheels and round-offs (I have a scar on my knee to prove a bad landing) and rode bikes.
We tossed the baseball around, jumped rope, flew kites, and hula-hooped (well, I attempted to anyway).
We roller-skated and skateboarded down what seemed like a gigantic hill at the end of our street. Going back now, I see it’s just a small noll (hey, everything looks bigger from a kid’s perspective).
If we were at my grandparent’s farm, just four miles from our house, we fished in the ponds, walked through warm cow manure barefoot (you haven’t lived until you’ve had the warm squish of cow poop between your toes!), fed the animals, “helped” my Gramps and aunt milk the cows (and run when milk came squirting at us), swam in the pool, and jumped on the pogo stick.
How many kids do you see playing like this anymore? Probably not many.
Instead, our kids are living in caves, eyes glued to screens, watching garbage that adds nothing but trouble to their brains and bodies.
Case in point: A 2022 report in BMC Public Health suggests that young children who go over the recommended one-hour screen time limit experience developmental deficits, specifically in the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive health domains.
But when parents limit screen time, research suggests positive results. For example, a 2022 study in JAMA Pediatrics links less screen time, instigated by parental interventions, with an increase in physical activity.
But how do you get your kids off the phones and out the door? Here are five tips to get them—and you—moving.
5 Tips for Getting Kids Off the Devices and Moving Outside
Assuming you own the phones, computers, tablets, and gaming systems and pay the bills for them to run, you have a right (and I dare say, a responsibility) to decide how and when those devices are used (and even if your teen is paying for theirs, if they still live under your roof, the same parental rights apply, in my opinion). You also have a right to check those devices. This is made easier by setting clear boundaries—and putting them in writing.
I’m a fan of writing up contracts, especially as kids get older and take on more responsibilities. Lay out the rules for using the devices and make sure everyone understands them, including the consequences of breaking the rules. Then have each one sign the contract, make copies for each person, and also hang a copy of the contract for all to see. Then the tough part—the follow-through. You must follow through with the consequences if they break the rules. Yes, they might “hate” you for a bit…but not for long if they want it back.
Be a Role Model
Parents are kids’ first role models. Don’t give them any ammunition to use against you, claiming that you’re a hypocrite—like telling them to get off the devices and go outside while you’re face-deep in your own devices, scrolling through social media, and never go outside to “play”). And while I do not believe parents should have to entertain the kids, it does help them to become more active if the parents are also active—including together as a family. This can be as simple as going for a walk after dinner most nights or discovering a new swimming hole in your area.
Introduce Them to Games You Played as a Kid
Depending on your age, you may or may not remember or recognize the games I mentioned earlier in this article. Do an internet search of the games, or borrow or buy a book, like 101 Playground Games, to get ideas.
Sit down and design a simple obstacle course with your kids. Have them draw it out and then create it in your yard. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Use what you’ve already got. Or do a nature scavenger hunt. Go camping or hiking. Visit the local park. Plant a garden. Mow the lawn. Rake the lawn. Walk dogs. Stack wood. Assign each kid a housekeeping duty, crank the music, and make it a dance party (yes, I’ve been known to dance with my vacuum). Formal exercise isn’t the only thing that counts as physical activity.
Get a map of the U.S. or another part of the world and map out a route from point “A” to your destination; decide how many miles each family member needs to contribute to the “trip” each week to get to your destination. This is where some inexpensive pedometers come in handy, or measure out a trail in your yard or neighborhood so that you know the distance. Plan a fun, active adventure when you get to your “destination.”
Physical Activity Inside Counts, Too
While I love seeing kids getting outdoors more, I know that sometimes that’s not possible. What are some ways to be more active indoors? There are all kinds of exercise, yoga, tai chi, and boot camp types of videos out there. You could teach your kids very basic exercises that only require their own body weight, like push-ups, squats, and planks. Get some fun, kid-friendly exercise equipment and teach a “class” a couple of times a week.
Becoming more active doesn’t have to be a burden or “one more thing” you need to add to your plate. By cutting down on screen and device time, you make space for physical activity. And by adding music (and maybe a little competition) to activities you already do, you can sneak movement into your family’s day without them knowing that they’re exercising. Make movement fun again!
Here are a few ideas to keep your kids busy, off the screens—and out of the overwhelming, headache-producing lights and noises pizza joint—that won’t break the bank.
Author: Ashley Wentworth
You've probably seen the headlines or heard the news stories about inflammation inside our bodies. This can be a tough concept to grasp, because you can't necessarily see the inflammation. It's not like a cut that becomes inflamed with infection or a sprained ankle that's swollen and inflamed. But there are signs of chronic, internal inflammation if you know what to look for.
Acute inflammation is a very normal reaction that takes place in your body when there's been an injury or illness (like that sprained ankle or when you have a virus). It's simply your immune system's way of removing something in your body that is harmful or just shouldn't be there.
Chronic inflammation, however, is another story.
Sometimes, the body is unable to overcome or repair the damage. This can lead to the body slowly building up an internal inflammatory response that can last months or years. Scientists now believe that inflammation is behind many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, allergies, COPD, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer's, irritable bowl disease, and arthritis.
So while you might not be able to see signs on the outside of the body, there can be signs and symptoms that you experience as a result of chronic inflammation, including:
Chronic fatigue and insomnia
Depression, anxiety and mood disorders
Gastrointestinal complications like constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux
Weight gain or weight loss
Frequent infections (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/)
Stop Fanning the Flames of Inflammation
The good news is that you can calm the inflammation inside your body.
- Reduce your processed sugar intake. This doesn't mean avoid sugar at all costs, and it definitely doesn't mean avoid natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables! But if your normal go-to's tend to be highly processed foods with added sugar, maybe consider swapping them for something more sustaining and less inflammatory, like whole grains, fruits, and veggies with a protein or healthier fats (like avocados and tuna). Side note: Beware assuming that "healthy" food is healthy for you. Even healthy foods can react in unhealthy ways inside your body. Get into the habit of paying attention to how you're feeling after you eat and as the day wears on. Do you feel bloated and "puffy"? Inflammation could be a culprit.
- Move Your Body. Studies show that consistently moving your body can help decrease inflammation. The type of exercise matters, though. When you engage in high intensity exercise without giving your body ample time to recover, it can increase inflammation and deal your immune system an unhealthy blow (we do have a solution for those of you who like your high intensity exercise, so keep reading...).
- Get your ZZZZs. You may be laughing right now, especially if you have little ones, but sleep deprivation is no laughing matter. Getting the sleep you need (ideally 7-9 hours/night for adults), will help in the long run. It's during sleep that human growth hormone is produced (hence, why it's also important for your little ones to be getting the shut eye they need, too), and your body heals and regenerates new cells (among a host of other things!). Create a bedtime routine for both you and your kiddos. You'll all be happier...and less inflamed.
- Master your stress. Have you read the VitaMom Club blog post on stress? If not, go read it now. Chronic stress is one of the leading contributors of chronic inflammation and can lead to depression, heart disease, and decreased immunity.
Lastly, chew on this. Turmeric (curcumin) has been shown to have major anti-inflammatory properties. But here's the thing. It's difficult to get enough of the curcumin that's found in turmeric to really make a difference in inflammation. That's why we've packaged it in a yummy gummy (sorry, couldn't resist that rhyme haha). We include black pepper in our formulation, because our bodies absorb curcumin better when it's combined with black pepper.
While it's impossible to fully avoid inflammation, it's important to start taking control of it where you can. Include daily self-care--no matter how small--as practicing consistently is what produces progress. Here's to you mom! xo
Author: Carrie Myers
We hear you on this one!
First, cut yourself some slack! You’ve housed and birthed a human being (and yes, sex is what put you in that position to begin with, but still…). And if you’re breastfeeding, you may feel like your breasts’ purpose has changed from sexual to baby feeding vessels. OK, they kind of have, but they can be both (hear us out…).
For women especially, libido (a.k.a. sex drive) is part mental. If your head isn’t in the game, your body won’t be either. For example, one recent study suggests that for women, getting sexually aroused or “turned on” starts in the mind. As you start thinking about sex, what you’d like your partner to do, what you’d like to do to them…your body in turn becomes aroused.
(Cue a skidding car…) But let’s get real. You have young children. You might have older children. No matter how old your kids are, life with them brings stress—and plenty of it. And stress is one obstacle to a budding libido.
Decreasing your stress is important—for many reasons—but you don’t have to get rid of your kids to get rid of the stress (although some days…). There are many things you can do right now, including blasting your favorite music and dancing around like a mad woman (add a vacuum and microfiber cleaning cloths to your performance and you could be accused of multi-tasking and having a clean house…but I digress…), sipping on some green tea, and locking yourself in the bathroom with your earbuds in (so you can’t hear the pounding and “Moooommmy!” on the other side of the door) with some soothing music and just…breathe…
Joining stress is fear—as in fear of getting pregnant again. If you had a high-risk pregnancy, if this whole pregnancy and baby situation has just been plain stressful on every aspect of your life, or if you just hated being pregnant…the thought of doing the act that put you in that position in the first place can seem freaking scary, undesirable, and impossible to relax enough to enjoy it. There are many ways to address your fears and anxiety, so try them out.
Experts will also tell you that being physically and mentally exhausted is also detrimental to libido, so make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
OK, so right now you’re rolling your eyes or laughing your butt off, but as difficult as a good night’s sleep might be at this point in your life, it’s still important to do what you can to get one. Kids have bedtime routines. Adults need bedtime routines, too!
Start preparing your body an hour or so before you plan on hitting the hay. Lower the lights in your house—darkness is good, because it allows your body to produce melatonin, the hormone necessary to get and keep you asleep.
Get off your devices! Not only do they blast light in your face (read the previous tip), but they’re also stimulating. C’mon! Your brain needs a break! If you insist on being on a device, use the nighttime setting or blue light glasses to relieve the eyes from the type of light that keeps you up. Try to stay away from news stories, conversations, or movies that rev you up.
Use bedtime to show a little gratitude. Writing down what you’re thankful for in a journal at bedtime has several benefits, including falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. This is a great exercise to start with your kiddos, too…even on those days when the baby wouldn’t stop crying, the kids wouldn’t stop fighting, the laundry and dish bombs went off in your house, and you were on your fourth day with no shower…there is still something to be thankful for.
Making sure you’re eating a well-rounded, balanced diet (and not just the “mom diet” of foraging off your kids’ plates…) goes a long way in helping boost your sex drive, too. Adding a little insurance with a vitamin supplement won’t hurt, either.
Exercise has also been shown to help improve a woman's libido. Of course, if you have an aversion to it, it might seem about as appealing as having sex right now. But exercise has also been shown to help you better deal with your stress, sleep better, and improve body image. Our tip: avoid exercising to burn calories and lose weight (seriously, it makes it more of a chore). Instead, do it for the other reasons, including healing your body after pregnancy and delivery, and staying strong enough to carry the infant carrier, diaper bag, 10 bags of groceries, and the pizza for tonight's dinner all at once...and still be able to open the door with your teeth.
Birth control and other medications, including antidepressants, can also send your libido to MIA status. I remember going on one form of birth control and thinking, “Wow, this is some amazing stuff! No worries about getting pregnant. I have no desire to have sex at all!”
Lastly, consider your beliefs about your body. Have they changed—for better or worse—since having a baby? Do you feel sexy? Do you feel desirable? How has your body changed? Do you now have stretch marks or varicose veins? Are your boobs leaking milk? Do you feel anything but a sex machine?
Pssst…it’s all normal!
Try having a conversation with your partner about how you're feeling regarding your body. Chances are, they'll help put your mind at ease.
Show your body—the one that houses, births, and feeds other human beings—some respect! Seriously! Stop hating on it and honor it by taking good care of it. Self-care is not selfish! Even super heroes need a little time to recharge—including a little action in the sack when you feel like getting back in the game.
*As always, we recommend seeing your healthcare provider if this really becomes an issue for you and your relationship.