When people think of “busy” the image of a parent with a full schedule is usually a common image. With more and more families containing working parents these days, it is no wonder parents are seen as the busy ones. Between taking care of the family, running errands, keeping up with a career - and not to mention hobbies or passions if one has the time - parents are often running around, maintaining their hectic lives. But when people think of kids, they tend to think of bygone, carefree days full of imagination and play time, right?

Along with busy parents, there are busy kids. With more social and academic pressures in our society urging parents to keep their kids active, to have them participate in sports, after school activities, take up an instrument, learn a language, or join a variety of different clubs, kids may be overworked, too.

For teens, activities are a great way to bolster a college application and is something that many establishments look for when it comes to choosing prospective students. Younger kids may be along for the ride, especially if mom and dad, as well as their siblings, are constantly busy.

Whether kids are part of a club because their friends are or simply because there is no one to pick them up after school until one parent or the other becomes available, kids may feel stress and pressure from constantly running around as much as their older family members do.

Some kids are simply active and energetic, and that is completely normal, so how can you tell whether your child is stressed? Here are some warning signs:

If your child often expresses or visibly shows symptoms of tiredness, anxiety, or even depression (loss of interest, appetite, apathy, etc.)
If they complain of headaches or stomachaches (these can be due to stress, missed meals or lack of sleep)
If they fall behind on school work, if their grades drop

If you notice these issues, then it is important to take action - but what is there to do? If your child’s busy schedule relies on the general activeness of the rest of the family, then you may need to make some adjustments, but overall it is important that you discuss these things with your child and understand what it is that they want. Here are some things that you can do to help:

Agree on activities and arrangements ahead of time, and check in with them periodically to see how things are going
Establish carpools and other things that can help make life easier
Try to balance activities for your kids, and yourself
Make room for quality family time
Set shared priorities
Know when to say no

However, keep in mind that it is important to SLOW IT DOWN.  Take a moment and think about your child's life and what they may be experiencing. If it's hectic, sit down together and decide where you can cut back. If it's overly structured, set aside time for blowing off some steam.  Downtime is crucial for these times and staying home, relaxing, reading a book together is probably much needed rest a child needs.

Why Reading Aloud is Important

Reading is an essential skill to have. It allows people to learn, it gives them access to information and ideas, it allows them to communicate with others and become an active and productive part of their living community. So how do you go about teaching your child to read at their full potential?

One of the best things you can do is read aloud with them.

Reading to children, or having them read aloud along with you, can yield a great many benefits when it comes to reading, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Reading to your child is often their first experience with reading itself. It is important that children develop relationships with books early on. This can be accomplished with books read to children as well as allowing children to play with baby books, typically of the plastic or thick cardboard variety that allows kids to chomp and play with them physically. While kids grow comfortable with books as objects from the standpoint of a plaything, reading to children will help familiarize them with the action.  It will also help boost vocabulary and communication skills as well.

As children get older, reading aloud to them remains important. Reading out loud can help boost their reading comprehension skills on several levels.  "Children learn when they make connections between what they hear and what they know. One method parents can use to help make these connections is called a think aloud, where you talk through your thoughts as you read (Gold, Gibson - Reading Rockets)." This method utilizes their imagination in order to visualize the story being told. If your child is reading along with you, they can begin to familiarize words by sight with their sound, making them much more effective readers. Books personalized for children can boost the read aloud, think aloud, method.  As you verbalize thoughts when reading, children can associate with the story as they become the stars of the storyline.  These types of customized books can be especially helpful with reluctant readers or struggling readers as well.

Your Child is the Star of Each Story!
Having your child read aloud to you can be helpful for them, too. You can hear where their strengths are and where they may be having trouble, but having your child read aloud to you on their own can help build their confidence, find their own voice, and learn how to build their own vocabulary, enunciation and other basic communication aspects as well.

Above all, as beneficial as reading aloud can be, it ultimately provides you and your child with ample quality time that you will cherish for years to come. Setting aside time for reading with your child will help build your relationship and can allow you to share interests, stories and imaginative ideas.

Kids and Sleep: What Parents Should Know

Sleep is essential. It plays a vital role in our physical health. Not only does it allow your body to rest and recharge, but sleep is also involved in healing and in the repairing of your heart and blood vessels, too. Sleep problems is a deficiency or lack of restful sleep, which has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. In children, sleep is essential for growth and development. A child’s body and mind are working overtime and they are developing at a rather rapid rate. In order for children to be healthy and to develop normally, it is important that children are sleeping as often and as deeply as they should for their age.

As a parent, it is important to ensure that your child’s sleep is as beneficial as possible. There are plenty of ways to maximize the advantages of your child’s sleep and there are things that you should know for each stage of your child’s young life.

Infants and Newborns
Babies who have just been born have not yet developed their internal clocks, so their naps and periods of sleep will generally vary by night and day, which may be a challenge for some adults who are used to the day/night sleep cycle. In general, babies need to sleep about 18 hours per day, spread across various naps and other stretches of time. Within the first few weeks after birth, you should generally wake your child up every 3 to 4 hours until they have good weight gain. After that, babies can sleep for longer periods of time.

Slowly, infants will begin to sleep for longer stretches of time on their own as well. Babies will generally make noises or cry while sleeping, and in most cases they will only be awake for a few minutes before falling silent and drifting back off to sleep. If your child persists, however, then they are likely uncomfortable due to being hungry, wet, cold, etc. Make sure to attend to their needs quickly and quietly and not to add any additional stimulation if necessary.

It is never too early to begin a bedtime routine. Once your child begins to fall into more predictable sleeping patterns, you can begin to establish such a routine. Incorporate soothing activities such as reading, bathing, singing, etc. just before bed. Placing your child in the crib before they actually fall asleep can help introduce the idea of a bedtime and help the nighttime routine stick and become more like second-nature.

Toddlers generally need to sleep 12-14 hours per day, spread between 1-2 naps during the day and one stretch of sleeping at night. Setting specific bedtime and nap time hours is essential, and it helps that you stick to them, too. Some parents may think that letting their kids stay awake through nap time will make them sleepier later on, but they may only grow overtired which will have the opposite effect and they will have a harder time sleeping instead.

It is important to establish quiet time during this stage, whether around nap time or bedtime. Encouraging quiet activities around nap time can help calm kids down and may even guide them into napping. When it comes to establishing a bedtime routine during the night, it helps to encourage the same soothing activities recommended for infants. Bathing, reading, and other quiet activities can help soothe kids and help kids relax and give in to sleep much more easily.

Preschool and School-Age Kids
Bedtime Stories
Some preschools and kindergarten programs feature a dedicated naptime or quiet time during the day, though this often depends on whether the school schedule is a full day or a half-day. At home, children should be getting about 11-12 hours at the preschool age and then about 10-11 as they get into the upper elementary grades. It is important to pay attention to your child’s behavior at this stage. Some kids may need more sleep than others, for instance some kids may still need naps whereas others may be fine with quiet time or other calm activities. Kids who are not sleeping enough, or sleep deprived, can become hyper or irritable, which can cause problems with attention and focus while in school.

Technology and overstimulation is becoming more and more of a problem when it comes to sleep, especially with older children. Make sure to establish a TV and mobile device free period of time before bed. This is generally a good habit for adults as well, as looking at screens can interfere with the quality of sleep. Specialists recommend that you turn off any and all screens about an hour before bedtime so that you can wind down. Try reading, writing in a journal, bathing, or any other activity that does not involve a screen and can be soothing as well.

General Tips
Aside from setting a sufficient sleep schedule, it is essential that kids sleep well. There are many healthy habits that can help keep you physically healthy but can also maximize the general restfulness of sleep as well.

Keep a consistent sleep schedule: this makes it easier to sleep as well as helps to prevent a loss of lack of good sleep.
Exercise every day: activity is important when it comes to being healthy in general, but staying active can also make it much easier to sleep restfully at night as well.
Don’t go to bed hungry: while eating a heavy meal 1-2 hours before sleep can interfere with the quality of your sleep, going to bed hungry can lead to a restless night, too. Just as infants wake up and cry from naps due to hunger, older children may find it difficult to sleep if they are hungry enough to notice it. Try to provide a light snack before bedtime to prevent this from occurring, such as a glass of milk, some fruit or a small bowl of cereal.

For more great tips and parenting resources don't forget to subscribe to the KD Novelties Blog.

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  • Are Your Kids Too Busy? February 3, 2016
    When people think of “busy” the image of a parent with a full schedule is usually a common image. With more and more families containing working parents these days, it is no wonder parents are seen as the busy ones. Between taking care of the family, running errands, keeping up with a career - and […]

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