Austin Kids' Directory Blog

Creating Healthy Habits for Your Family

Creating Healthy Habits for Your Family

With the coming of the new year, parents are often looking for ways to help their families lead healthier lifestyles. While there are no magic tricks, there are a number of simple ways to help create the habits that lead to good health – in spirit, mind and body.

Be a Role Model – Our kids model our behavior so be your child’s role model. If you want them to be more active, be more active yourself. If you want them to eat more fruits and vegetables, buy and prepare them. They will follow your lead, so guide them.

Start small - Make resolutions that you think you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or two days a week at the gym instead of seven. The key is consistency. If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt, instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment. Just focus on small, sustainable behavior change and you’ll see a big difference over time.

Pick One – If you’re still having trouble, just pick one thing. Where’s a good place to start? Pick an area of your health that you feel most in control of, like your lunch, morning meditation, evening walk or something else. Then zero in on a small aspect of that goal that would help you feel successful at the end of the day. For example, your goal could be to include a vegetable in every weekday lunch for a month. Set targets like these for yourself to meet, and then check in regularly to see how you are progressing.

Focus on Fun – Being healthy doesn’t have to mean sacrifice. Find an activity that you and your family enjoy, and do it together every week. It doesn’t exclusively have to be working out. Sports, games, gardening, bike rides, walking and swimming are all fun ways to be active. Just move!

Get Outside – Fortunately, winter in Austin offers some of the most comfortable weather all year, so find opportunities to be active outdoors. As a bonus, studies show being outside reduces stress and puts you in a better mood.

Give Back – Helping others nourishes your mind and your spirit. Not only is it a personally rewarding experience to help others in need, but it's also a way to meet new people or discover an interest. Find an opportunity in your community, such as reading to children at the library or distributing food at a local food bank. Nonprofit organizations like the YMCA also welcome volunteers to enhance programs and events.

Get Help - Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking help from friends or professionals. Organizations like the YMCA of Austin can also offer assistance – not only in the form of group or personal training – but in the form of financial assistance through our Membership for All program, which provides reduced rates that are based on household income. You can find more information at www.austinymca.org.

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Benefits of Early Swimming

Benefits of Early Swimming

We have many parents ask us, “When should my child start lessons?” And while asking your pediatrician if your baby is ready for swimming is the first step, our recommendation is to begin as young as six months.

There are a few main reasons we chose this age to introduce babies to the water. The six-month marker is about the time baby’s immune system has become robust enough to handle more public spaces as well as chlorinated pool water. Younger infants may be more sensitive in this environment and benefit less from exposure.

Six-month olds are also beginning to develop motor skills! According to the CDC’s milestone tracker, six months is the age that children master sitting independently, as well as beginning to scoot, pull to stand, and roll. As your baby’s brain is working hard to develop the balance and gross motor movements on land, introducing baby to the water can help grow muscles, improve joint development, and make lungs and heart stronger!

Additionally, swimming makes children smarter! According to research led by Griffiths University found that “[The] children were anywhere from six to 15 months ahead of the normal population when it came to cognitive skills, problem solving in mathematics, counting, language and following instructions.”

We all know the main benefit of having a child learn to swim is to prevent the leading cause of accidental death among children: drowning. Early swim lessons can aide in this goal by overcoming fear and unease in the water, teaching babies boundaries in and around water, and teaching beginning survival techniques.

All of our Waterloo Babies and Toddlers classes focus on building a safe and positive relationship between your child and the water and parent participation is a big piece of that! Being in the water with your baby promotes the boundary of “Never swim without a parent” as well as provides a fun and engaging atmosphere to bond with your baby. It’s also vital that you, the parent, know your baby’s abilities in the water and is educated on what is safe for baby when playing in or near water. Our goal is for each class to build your baby’s confidence and safety in the pool and give you tips and tricks to use when you spend time in the water with your baby.

We’d love to get to know you and your little one in any of our Waterloo Babies and Toddler classes and look forward to sharing all the wonderful benefits of swimming with your family. Visit our website for a complete list of classes and lessons!

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Top 5 Back to School Hacks for Busy Parents

Top 5 Back to School Hacks for Busy Parents

School is back in session and it is sometimes so hard for busy parents (are there any other kind?) to keep up with the daily tasks. Meals, laundry, getting the kids to and from school... all of the details that are necessary to keep a busy family in sync can be overwhelming. It's easy to feel like you need to streamline your daily routine to manage everything effectively. That's why this free printable morning routine can be a lifesaver. Not only does it help teach your kids to get ready in a timely manner each day, but it helps save you time, too.

Click here to download the free printable and hack your morning routine! (Bonus: Read the accompanying blog post to find out why Au Pairs are the #1 back-to-school hack!)

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The Children’s Business Fair of Southwest Austin

The Children’s Business Fair of Southwest Austin The Children’s Business Fair of Southwest Austin

COULD A TEN-YEAR-OLD INVENT THE NEXT AIRBNB?

Find out at the Children’s Business Fair Southwest Austin, showcasing kids’ entrepreneurial spirit genius! On September 28th from 10:00 AM -1:00PM , the 1st Annual Southwest Austin Children’s Business Fair will host 30 young entrepreneurs at Austin Ridge 7416 W TX-71 Austin, Texas 78735. This event is FREE and open to the public.

Kids create a product or service, develop a brand, build a marketing strategy, and then open for customers at this one-day marketplace. The children are responsible for the setup, sales, and interacting with customers, and any parent seen selling to the customer or promoting the child’s product will result in disqualification from the competition.

This event is sponsored by Acton Academy Southwest Austin, i9sports, Figment Creative, Me & The Bees and Austin Ridge Bible Church SW and the generous support of our donors and volunteers, who all believe that principled entrepreneurs are heroes and role models for the next generation. Whether an entrepreneur is famous, like Elon Musk or Oprah Winfrey, or one of the thousands of unsung business owners across this country, these entrepreneurs are the people who make sacrifices to innovate, create jobs, and serve their communities. “Today’s youth are tomorrow’s business innovators and leaders. The Children’s Business Fair gives students the opportunity to spread their entrepreneurial wings and get a head start on promising business careers,” said Jeff Sandefer, founder of the Acton School of Business, one of the sponsors of the fair. Awards will be presented for “Most Business Potential,” “Most Creative Idea,” and “Most Impressive Presentation.”Both adult sponsors and shockingly articulate kids are available for interviews on camera or off.

For more information, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or visit https://www.childrensbusinessfair.org/.

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10 Tips & Tricks to Tackle the Summer Heat

10 Tips & Tricks to Tackle the Summer Heat

Don’t let the heat keep you and your family from having a great summer. Although temperatures can soar into the triple digits, there are still plenty of opportunities to stay active in the mornings and evenings, in the shade, in the water or even indoors. By following a few simple tips, you and your family can stay safe while creating a lifetime of great summer memories.

1. Time Your Outside Play – Set times to play outside, when it’s not too hot. Staying active helps release built-up energy. But be on the lookout for signs of overheating, and know what to do when your child gets too hot.

2. Wear Sunscreen – Always use sunscreen when outside, whether it’s sunny or cloudy. UV rays can still burn skin even with no sun. Reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, especially if you’re sweating or in the water.

3. Stay hydrated! - It’s easy to get distracted with playing and having a good time, but always take time to have a drink. Carry a water bottle, especially when doing outdoor activities.

4. Be Water Aware – Kids love going to the pool during summer, so it’s important they know how to be safe in and around water. Parents also have a responsibility to watch their kids at all times, even if a lifeguard is on duty. The YMCA offers swimming and water safety classes that give children the skills they need. Financial assistance is also available. To register or find more information, visit www.SinkTheStats.org.

5. Bug Off! – If your child attends summer camp or is just playing outside, make sure they apply bug repellant. Insects can carry illness and bites or stings can be painful. Be cautious around unusual bugs, and don’t let your kids touch them.

6. Stay Nourished – Be sure to pack healthy, nutritious foods to fuel your summer adventures. But don’t forget the opportunities to let kids be involved with cooking meals. Summer is a great time for kids to learn their way around the kitchen. Although, children may not be ready to cook completely on their own, it’s good for them to know the basics and even experiment. The YMCA has parent/child cooking classes to teach kitchen safety and a few basic recipes. To sign up for a class, visit https://www.austinymca.org/programs/nutrition-programs.

7. Summer & Sports Camps – Summer camps and leagues sports are fun ways to stay active and try out new activities. The YMCA offers multiple sports camps and summer leagues for children 4-15 years old. The Y also offers summer day camps or mini camps for kids 4-14 years old at more than 20 area locations. For more information about the camps visit https://www.austinymca.org/programs/camp-information; For sports, visit: https://www.austinymca.org/programs/youth-sports

8. Give Back – Volunteering at food banks or animal shelters teaches responsibility and the importance of giving back to the community. To find family volunteer opportunities, visit https://www.generationserve.org/.

9. Check It Out – Go to the library every week and check out an armful of books. Set aside reading time to read to your child or on their own. Keeping your child’s mind sharp and educated will help prevent summer learning loss.

10. Take It Inside – For those rainy, summer days be ready with a list of fun things to do inside. Collect some cardboard and get creative: build a fort or a rocket ship or castle. Plan an arts and crafts project. Read a book or watch a fun family-friendly movie.

With a little planning, and a focus on safety, kids and families will be guaranteed to have a great summer.

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