February: Plant the Seeds of Greatness

January always seem to be the month of new beginnings, making goals, and looking ahead to creating better and healthier habits.   The changes start internally, but hopefully have a lasting effect on our well beings and that of our family, friends, and world around us.   Not surprisingly, by February many of us have moved back into our normal routines and our goals have gone by the wayside.   Or perhaps we were so overwhelmed from the holidays, we never had a chance to focus on ourselves, but were simply in recovery mode.   So I was surprised to find that February is known as the “Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month” and I’m excited I am given another chance to look at the future and perhaps plant my seeds this month.

 

“Awake, arise, and assert yourself, you dreamers of the world. Your star is now in ascendancy.”
― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

At New Jammies our motto is Eat Right, Play Right, Sleep Tight.   These are three areas of our lives that are essential to good health and overall well being.    I’d like to take a look at a few steps we could take to improve these areas and help plant your seeds of greatness.

Eat Right

  1. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.  Our basket should be filled with less packaged/processed goods and more whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, and fish.
  2. Add a new organic or local product to your list.   It can be hard to buy all organic and/or all local due to numerous factors including availability and budget.  Pick one of your regularly purchased items and commit to making sure it is organic, GMO free, or locally produced in a sustainable manner.
  3. Eat your veggies.   Try a new vegetarian or vegan recipe to add to your rotation of regular meals.  There are so many resources now for inspiring vegetarian meals, the world is your oyster. (mushroom, that is..)

Play Right

  1.  Keep it fresh. Get out and try a new activity you’ve never done before.   It seems like there are never ending new options for exercise these days.   Maybe if your a road runner, hit the trail.   You’re a downhill skier: skin uphill.   You’re a yogi, try pilates.    You’re a mountain biker: try road biking.   You love the gym: try a new class, an outdoor group sport (frisbee), golf, or a hike in the woods.   You’ll work your mind and your muscles in a different way and probably feel like a kid again.
  2.  Get outside.   The days are getting longer.   Take your routine outside, even if it means bundling up.
  3.  Just do it. Period!  As parents we often put our children, partners, work, and just sustaining our day to day life before taking time for ourselves.   Commit to one, two, or more days a week to just do an activity for yourselves.   This might mean getting up earlier or asking a spouse, friend, or relative for help, but a healthy body is a healthy mind for us to be the best we can be.

Sleep Tight

  1.  Value Sleep.   This is the time our body and mind needs to heal and be re-energized for a new day.  ” Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance and brain function.” (Healthline-17 Tips to Better Sleep)    Don’t take it for granted and set yourself up for the best sleep possible with a few tips highlighted here.

A. Reduce screen time before bed.

B. Don’t drink caffeine late in the day

C. Think before you drink that relaxing glass of vino or beer.

D. Don’t eat right before bedtime.

I’m sure a lot of these ideas are not completely new to you, but repetition creates good or bad habits.  Sometimes we need a reminder of the good to stay on the right track.    As a parent I constantly think, “Am I doing the right thing for my children” but sometimes we have to step back and do the right thing for ourselves.  If we plant the seeds of greatness for our future, I am certain our children, family, and community will feel the long term effects of our flourishing garden.

 

 

Play Right: Understanding the Real World Through Play

Even in adulthood, New Jammies parents know that the reality of the world can be hard to understand.

As caring and responsible parents, it’s our job to help our kids navigate through 24-7 news reports, social media and word-of-mouth info sharing.

That’s where play comes into, well, play.

According to the Genius of Play, children as young as 3 learn to understand the real world through realistic pretend play. The Genius of Play is a national movement to raise awareness of play’s vital role in child development, spearheaded by The Toy Association.  The movement is rooted in research and facts, and serves as a leading resource on the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of play that serve children throughout their lives. The group promotes play as a way to hone communication skills, important in coping with reality as teens and adults.

“Knowing what people mean isn’t always easy. Kids have to learn to decipher what people are saying — and not saying — by listening, observing, and sometimes picking up on very subtle clues,” says the group.

“By playing with others, children learn the art of communication. They come to recognize facial expressions and body language. They figure out how to strike up and carry on conversations, and how to express their thoughts and desires in a way that won’t cause problems and put a stop to the group game.”

Specifically, the Genius of Play says pretend play is especially important for children’s communication development and literacy.

“The idea that a letter represents a sound is based on symbolism — a concept kids come to understand when they pretend that a cardboard box is a castle, or that a shoe is a race car. Role-play also gives children a chance to use words they’ve heard adults and other kids use, and helps improve their vocabulary. As they grow older, word-based games help reinforce language and literacy skills.”

Genius of Play lists these games as great communication-building ideas for play:

Jumping Jack Syllables (ages 4 1/2 – 5)
Teach the child to do a simple jumping jack. In one smooth movement, jump and land with feet spread apart, raise hands over the head and clap. Share with them that a syllable is a separate count or beat in a word. Then by using the days of the week or months of the year, use jumping jacks to play out the number of syllables per word. For instance, using Saturday, the child will have three movements to the word, ending with his arms over his head.

Courtesy BestBeginningsAlaska.org

Balloon Ball (for ages 4+)

INGREDIENTS:

• An air-filled balloon or beach ball
• A broomstick or row of pillows
PREP TIME:
5 minutes

Lay a broomstick or row of pillows on the floor to act as the ‘net.’ Have your child hit the balloon over the ‘net,’ then run to the other side to hit it back before it touches the ground. Score 1 each time your child hits the ball without it hitting the floor. If two children, have them hit the ball over the ‘net.’ The game ends when the ball hits the floor. The child who hit that ball wins.

Kick the Can (ages 5+)

INGREDIENTS:
A large, empty can or bucket to be kicked
PREP TIME:
2 minutes

Choose one person to be “IT” and a “home base” for the children to gather (when playing outside, a fire hydrant or familiar tree are great spots). Place the can in a safe, open space. To start, have IT count to 50 with his/her eyes closed while the other players hide. Upon opening their eyes, IT should start searching for the hiders. When IT finds a hider, he/she calls out the player’s name and that player goes to jail (home base). Another player can risk capture to save jailbirds by kicking over the can and calling out “Home Free” without getting tagged by IT, after which the jailbirds are free to run and hide from IT again. The game continues until everyone has been captured. If jailbreaks keep the game going too long, the first person caught 3 times becomes IT and a new game begins.

Crafts Cards (ages 3+, requites adult help)

INGREDIENTS:
• Multiple sheets of construction paper for each child
• Old magazines
• Glue
• Safety scissors
• Magic markers and crayons
• Extras: stencils, stickers, feathers, glitter

PREP TIME:
10 minutes

Nothing says “you’re special” like a homemade card. Give each child some paper folded in half, magazine pages, markers and crayons. You can leave additional magazines, the stencils, stickers, feathers, and glitter where each child can reach them to use. Allow their imaginations run wild as the kids use the supplies to make cards for their friends, their families, even their favorite pet!

Parentingscience.com agrees that playful experiences are learning experiences. An evolutionary anthropologist created the online parenting resource for critical thinkers who want to understand child development from the perspectives of psychology, anthropology, evolution, and cognitive neuroscience.

“Most play involves exploration, and exploration is, by definition, an act of investigation. It’s easy to see how this applies to a budding scientist who is playing with magnets, but it also applies to far less intellectual pursuits, like the rough-and-tumble play in puppies,” says parentingscience.com. “The animals are testing social bonds and learning how to control their impulses, so that friendly wrestling doesn’t turn into anti-social aggression. Play is learning.”

Parentingscience.com reminds us that play is self-motivated and fun, as well as important for understanding the real world.

“These arguments aside, there is also empirical evidence that kids treat play as a tutorial for coping with real life challenges,” says the site. “All around the world, children engage in pretend play that simulates the sorts of activities they will need to master as adults, suggesting such play is a form of practice.”

Parentingscience.com adds that when kids are fed information during pretend play — from more knowledgeable peers or adults — they take it in.

“Experiments on American preschoolers suggest that children as young as 3 understand make distinctions between realistic and fanciful pretending, and use information learned from realistic pretend scenarios to understand the real world.”

Find more information on why play is essential to learning and development at Mom Loves Best

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

 

Play Right: Back-to-School Games for the Active

New Jammies kids are making a fresh start going back to school, and there are some fun play-time routines, games and puzzles that can refresh their memories and spark creativity.

For younger, preschool-aged children, play itself becomes more physical at that age. So “why just walk when you can hop, jump, or skip?” says the kidshealth.org website.

KidsHealth says smart toys for preschoolers include arts and crafts, and anything that help kids sharpen fine motor skills that are constantly improving.

“Activities like holding a crayon, drawing pictures of family members, and using a pair of safety scissors to cut and paste strengthen coordination, encourage creativity, and foster self-esteem,” kidshealth.org says.

The site’s childhood development experts suggest that blocks and construction sets, including building towers (and figuring out how to stop them from toppling over) encourage problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination.

“Preschoolers will use their imaginations to create buildings, vehicles, animals, and more from simple construction sets,” KidsHealth says.

Jigsaw puzzles, to help with coordination and dexterity that teach about spatial relationships and logical thinking, and pretend play are also key for preschoolers to practice as they embrace school.

Big Knob First Puzzle Set

Wooden puzzles for kids from Lakeshore, a California-based company that applies real-world classroom experience to every product it develops, inspire little learners by using the power of play to make learning fun. We love the Big Knob First Puzzle Set for infants to pre-k toddlers.

As elementary school-aged kids are accomplished in ways they never were before, KidsHeath suggests activities that cultivate new talents and interests beginning to take hold.

“They’ve grasped an understanding of the world around them and are now moving toward mastering skills that once challenged them, like catching a football or braiding a friend’s hair,” says kidshealth.org. “A 4-year-old who enjoyed story time may grow to love reading; a 5-year-old who listened to music might want to play piano.”

With the refinement of physical abilities, including large and fine motor skills, elementary school is the time when kids learn to ride two-wheel bicycles and glide on skateboards, says KidsHealth. An appreciation of arts and the humanities also sparks.

“Arts and crafts become more intricate, and a child might spend hours weaving friendship bracelets or drawing comic strips, says the children’s-focused resource.”

KidsHealth suggests these smart toys and activities for big kids going back to school:

• Jump rope. By skipping rope with friends, kids learn to take turns and get along with peers. All that jumping, and the coordination it requires, encourages large motor development and problem-solving skills.

• Card and board games. Card games like “war” or “crazy eights” and board games like checkers or chess teach about strategy, turn-taking, negotiating rules, and fair play. Encourage cooperation and help your child learn to manage the emotions that come with winning as well as losing.

New Jammies Whales

• Musical instruments. Learning to play the piano, violin, guitar, or another instrument encourages listening and fine motor skills and helps build attention skills.
Science toys. Chemistry sets, binoculars, telescopes, or other toys that promote discovery and problem-solving help improve math and science skills, and help develop imagination.

KidsHealth also reminds parents and caregivers that students of all ages can learn from scavenger hunts, outdoors or indoors when it’s raining or the weather turns cold, to encourage problem-solving and teamwork. Just gather easily recognizable objects and hide them around the yard or house. Give each child a list of items to look for and clues to help them find the objects. Adults can pair kids up or assign teams to play.

“This game also works well outdoors provided you set some boundaries (the edges of the yard, certain spots in the park) for the kids to work inside,” kidshealth.org says.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: “Up & Active” Toy Trends Perfect for Summer

New Jammies Trains Collection

Early this year, the Toy Industry Association announced its top trends at the New York Toy Fair, and New Jammies was happy to see popularity of the “Up & Active” theme.

“With more room for innovation and a greater willingness to take risks, toymakers are pulling out all the stops to create highly ground-breaking products, reinvent play patterns, and refresh classic brands with cutting-edge technologies and exciting new licenses,” says Adrienne Appell, a trend expert at TIA. “Best of all, these toys build children’s developmental skills through collaborative, hands-on, and imaginative play.”

Collectible toys were also among the hot forecasted trends, which help children develop lifelong skills, including social skills (when negotiating and trading with friends), organization skills (as they maintain their collections), and perseverance (not giving up on the “hunt”), according to the Toy Industry Association.

The “Up & Active” category features toys to encourage kids to get up and move – both indoors and outdoors.

“The latest active toys not only motivate kids to burn off excess energy, they are also engaging for the whole family and are more seamlessly integrated into other types of play,” says the Toy Industry Association. “This trend includes tech toys that weave in active components, classic outdoor ride-ons, traditional games that incorporate physical activity, and digital toys that foster face-to-face play.”

The Toy Industry Association notes that toys which encourage kids to move are a part of a larger health-and-wellness trend that spans multiple industries.

“We see consumers making healthy lifestyle choices, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, athleisure, wearable devices, and natural-looking beauty options, so I believe the outdoor and sports toys trend will continue into the near future as well,” says Juli Lennett, NPD’s senior vice president and U.S. toys industry analyst.

Toy companies are launching toys and games designed to motivate kids to move – both indoors and outdoors – particularly as they respond to the demands of millennial parents seeking more engaging toys for their kids, such as offering educational or more active play, says the Association.

“Toys that encourage kids to get up and move are on both kids’ and parents’ wish lists,” says Adrienne Appell, TIA trend expert. “It’s not just classic outdoor toys that are popular; we are seeing toy companies innovate with tech toys that weave in active components, educational toys that incorporate physical activity, new exciting ride-ons, and traditional games that require kids to move around in order to play.”

One toy that help kids enjoy the Great Outdoors is the Regatta Swing. The nautical -themed swing is developed exclusively for Magic Cabin, which specializes in open-ended, nature-inspired toys and crafts to nurture children’s innate sense of wonder and curiosity. The swing, for ages 3–6 and older, holds up to 200 pounds and features an innovative design to sits two sailors on two heavy-duty mesh seats. The mesh bottom means water won’t get trapped inside while not in use. The simple concept of the bowline knot creates a secure hanging apparatus of adjustable height that’s easy to use.

New Jammies’ Pirates collection of PJs, which can double as comfy play wear to stay cool in the summer, would be a fun addition to this imagination-building play. Sailboat n’Waves would also be cute to rock in the Regatta Swing.

Antsy Pants’ line of Build and Play kits are designed to let kids’ imaginations run wild and get kids and families creating, imagining and building together. With each product purchased, sold exclusively at Target, Antsy Pants helps support KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all kids get a childhood filled with the balanced and active play they need to thrive.

“Antsy Pants will make a donation to KaBOOM! for each product purchased, and is projected to give more than $150,000 in the first year to build playgrounds for kids across America,” says the product’s website.

The Antsy Pants Build and Play Obstacle Course  gets the whole family moving with toss rings, jump hurdles and a race to the finish for fun-and-friendly competition. The easy-to-build Obstacle Course Kit comes with an agility ring course, start and finish flags, adjustable height hurdles, and weave pole course. No tools necessary!

New Jammies’ Star Spangled collection would be a patriotic, America-themed way to celebrate the Fourth of July while running through the Obstacle Course this summer.

USA! USA! USA!

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New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Moms & Kids Get Moving in the New Year

StripesNew Jammies knows that motherhood brings us all the feels. With a range of emotions from joy and happiness to fatigue and sadness, our hormones play a big role in how body and mind adjusts to postpartum life. There’s also the weight gain and feelings of being overwhelmed that are hard to battle.

That’s where exercise can come into play — and involve mom and babies and kids at the same time.

There are many Mommy and Me-type fitness classes available online and in-person that incorporate cardio and strength training into an exercise routine for two. Positive Health Wellness (positivehealthwellness.com), a site for those seeking information to help live a more positive, healthier and happier life, offers helpful tips to build kids into an exercise routine.

“Involving your baby into exercise has become a popular way for moms to get fit,” says Positive Health Wellness blogger Karen Reed in “A New Mom’s Guide on Post Natal Fitness and Nutrition. “There is certainly nothing wrong with doing it yourself, once your doctor has cleared you for exercise.”

Reed says one of the most common exercises to add into your plan is buggy running, or walking to start, and it is just as it sounds: you run with the buggy.

“There are even running groups around the country offering moms to get together and run with their little ones, and then there will be socializing afterwards or during different days,” she says. “Make sure you have a buggy that is suitable for buggy running. There are now specific runner buggies designed, usually with three wheels to make it easier to turn corners and remain stable at faster paces. The last thing you want is to find you have to come to a halt just to get your buggy around a corner or risk affecting your child’s health.”

Reed also suggests playing a game of peek-a-boo while exercising.

“Put your child where he/she can see you as you do a sit up. Say peek-a-book and then lay back down. As your child gets older, they’ll join in with the game much more,” Reed says.

Yoga is also a fun way to strengthen and tone muscles and help moms mentally adjust with meditation and relaxing breathing techniques. Many local yoga studios, community centers and churches host in-person mom-and-baby yoga classes, and you can also find exercises online.

The What to Expect website includes Mommy-and-Me Yoga 101 information, featuring tips and a list of benefits for both baby and mom. There’s also a quick video of a playful baby yoga move, Butterfly Pose with Baby (Baddha Konasana), to try at home. What to Expect says to keep in mind that it’s best to do mommy-and-me yoga in a class with an experienced yoga teacher who can help ensure you’re doing the poses correctly and safely.

Good Night YogaOne way to introduce yoga to little ones is through colorfully illustrated books. Author and innovative educator Mariam Gates’ “Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story” is a beautiful tool for parents and caregivers to teach kids about yoga, and is a fun and effective new routine for bedtime.

The full-color book, illustrated by graphic artist Sarah Jane Hinder, tells the story of the natural world as it closes down for the night, while teaching children a simple flow of yoga postures inspired by their favorite characters from nature.

Good Morning YogaThe book’s follow-up, “Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story” invites young readers to practice a morning yoga routine to jumpstart the day and shows them how to focus, relax, self-monitor, and self-soothe.

Gates holds a master’s in education from Harvard University and has more than 20 years’ experience working with children. Her renowned Kid Power Yoga™ program combines her love of yoga with teaching to help children access their inner gifts. Learn more at kidpoweryoga.com/pages/home.html.

Yoga for FamiliesThe entire family can join in the fun of yoga with the “Yoga For Families: Connect With Your Kids” DVD, available on Amazon.

Yoga instructors to the stars Ingrid Von Burg and Tom Morley lead the workout, for ages 4 and older, that encourages time to jump, breathe, laugh, dance, sing and relax.

“Yoga provides us with clarity of thought, and allows us to communicate easier,” says the product description. “When we do that with our family, it gives us confidence.”

Special Features include a choice of music for the dynamic sections: Relaxing/Meditative or High Energy/Silly.

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.