Friday, October 4, 2013

Let's go ride a bike!

Halloween candy has invaded the stores. It will soon be followed by more holiday treats. Do your kids need some help down from the Halloween sugar high? Get them outside and moving to burn off that extra energy.

This is a great time of year for a bike ride. The temperature is cool, but you’re not as likely to get caught in a rain storm as you are in the spring. On a sunny day you should be able to get away with a light jacket or sweatshirt for your ride. It should be about to tie around your waist in case you too warm. Also bring a pair of knit gloves since your hands can get cold easily holding on to the handlebars.

The warmest part of the day is, of course, late afternoon. It also gets dark early so you’ll want to plan on being done with your ride by around 5:30. Plan to ride for about 30 minutes to an hour. How far you go will depend on how big/small, fast/slow your kids are and how big their bikes are. When just out joy riding, most bikers average 10 to 15 mph.

You can ride just around the neighborhood or check out local bike trails. You can contact your city parks and recreation department, ask around for suggestions from friends, or ask about trails at a local bike shop. Think about how you will transport bikes to the trail if you decide to go on a designated bike path.

You may want to run through the route yourself before hand to scope out any potential problems for your kids (like hills that are too steep or roads that are too busy to cross). Make sure to bring helmets and water for everyone. It’s also a good idea to bring a small pump, bike tool kit, and a cell phone.

Enjoy the ride. Worry less about time and covering a certain distance and more about enjoying the outdoors. Take breaks to look at scenery, collect rocks and leaves, and stay hydrated.

Learning to ride well is a confidence booster for kids and can give them a measure of independence. Consider letting them bike to school, practice, or other activities. It’s better for their bodies and the environment.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sleep tight!

Bedtime, kids hate it -- parents crave it. One of the easiest ways to improve your children's school performance is to make sure they are getting enough sleep.

An American Academy of Pediatrics study showed that when children ages 7 - 11 added just 27 minutes of sleep to their night they saw a significant improvement in not only absorbing curriculum, but regulating their emotions and controlling their impulses.On the flip side, children whose sleep time was decreased, had decreased function in these same areas.

Emotion and impulse control are areas looked at to diagnose some behavioral issues, like ADHD, so it's important to make sure more sleep isn't a simple solution to behavior problems.

How much sleep does your child need? The National Sleep Foundation says children
1-3 years need 12 - 14 hours
3 -5 years need 11 - 13 hours
5-12 years need 10-11 hours and
12 and up need 8 - 9 hours of sleep each night.

Tips for an easy bedtime:

  • Keep a consistent bedtime (it doesn't have to be immovable, just regular).
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Turn off electronic stimulation an hour before bed and keep TVs and computers out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Once your children have been put to bed, be firm -- don't let your kids stall or get out of bed.