Best Holiday Season

How to Create a Good Morning Routine
to Make for the Best Holiday Season

A good morning routine is essential for setting you and your family up for a successful and enjoyable day. However,during the holidays, it’s easy to let your family routine fall by the way side amid the school breaks, dinners, seasonal activities, and other special events.Alas, this can make for a stressful season. Fortunately, there are ways to fully embrace the holidays while maintaining structure and keeping the stress to a minimum:

Maintain a clean home

The first part of establishing a holiday morning routine is maintaining the cleanliness of your home. A clean and clutter-free living space is critical to keeping stress levels down. And no matter how busy your schedule may get during this time, you can still keep your home in tip-top shape. Start by de cluttering your home before you decorate, and keep your decorations to a minimum. Try to keep all your items in their designated place, keep all surfaces clear (i.e. tabletops,counters, shelves, etc.), spend 10 minutes a day getting rid of clutter, and make sure everyone in the home participates in these tasks.

 If your budget allows for it, consider hiring a cleaning service to come in during the holidays. A little extra help cleaning can save you major time while ensuring your home stays in pristine condition and ready for guests. Right now  the costs for a one-time cleaning service runs from $110-$227 — a worthy investment for your holiday sanity.

Keep a decent bedtime.

 Another thing you want to do is establish a realistic bedtime for your kids. School may be on a hiatus, but you don’t want their sleep habits to go completely haywire.Even if it looks a little different for the holidays, it’s important  for your children to go to bed at the same time each night. This helps ensure they get enough sleep, as well as make it easier to transition when school starts back up. Furthermore, it’s critical that parents get enough sleep; otherwise, stress will quickly overtake your holidays.

 Plan for the next day.

 helps to wake up to some sort of plan in the morning. Whether it’s preparing breakfast, delegating chores, or packing things up in the car for a trip,consider planning the night before. Also, be sure to schedule adequate time for things like personal hygiene, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. Not having to rush is key to avoiding the stress of a chaotic morning. If you really want to start off on the right foot, wake up before the kids to do something relaxing, such as reading with a cup of coffee or meditating.

 Be flexible.

 Having some level of flexibility is always helpful in life. But during the holidays, you can’t really survive without it. Your family’s schedules are likely to be more different and demanding than ever, and you will need to work hard at maintaining order while staying open to the changes. For         instance, try to be consistent with bedtimes, but don’t let that keep you from going to see The Nutcracker with your kids one evening. Or if your morning doesn’t go as planned and it gets stressful, don’t let the rest of the season turn upside-down by giving up on your routine. Take it a day at a time.

When you have a routine for the family, it reduces stress and allows you to fully embrace the holidays. Remember to keep your home clean by spending a little time on it each day. Make sure everyone is getting enough sleep, and start planning for your morning the night before.Finally, remain flexible as you adhere to your routine. Keeping a solid routine will make for a better holiday season for the whole family.

Photo Credit: Pexels

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5 Kid-Tested Tips for Healthy Eating

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve healthy eating, but then again, so do some of my worst memories.  So how do you get your kids to remember eating their veggies as a good memory instead of the traumatizing them for life?

Bad childhood memory time…please don’t serve Lima beans straight out of a can on a regular basis or mounds of steamed brussels sprouts the size of golf balls. Why not?  Because of you do this I can almost guarantee that all of your efforts to get your kids to eat healthy will be in vain.  Think about it, even if they manage to stomach them now, of all the vegetables you will serve them in their lifetime these bad experiences will probably be what stands out in their minds when they are adults, making them shy away from nutritional powerhouses like brussels sprouts in the future.

Even myself who pretty much loves eating every fruit or vegetable still struggle when I get to lima beans and ugh steamed whole Brussels sprouts really…can I get a side of cheese sauce with that.  The smell of Brussel sprouts steaming alone is enough to clear the table.  Try a fresh shredded brussels sprout and apple salad or even sautéed chopped brussels sprouts with onions and garlic as a sandwich topping instead.

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My husband liking his Brussel sprout salad….30 years later and a Sauteed Brussel Sprout Sandwich mmm…

So what else can you do to make healthy eating a good childhood memory?  The following 5 tips are what worked for my parents when they were raising me and what has worked for me so far with my kids, check them out.

1.  Get cooking…..together.

My best childhood memories are set in the kitchen, cooking with my grandma.  Not that everything she taught me to cook was “healthy” but it sure was fun.  All kids want to “help.” Yes, I know 6 year olds may not seem like the best helpers, especially after they spill a pitcher of fresh squeezed juice all over the floor, but that is just part of being a parent.  When learning about food and healthy eating it is important to know what goes into your meals. What better way to teach kids what is in their meal than by having them help prepare it.  Kids are more likely to taste something new if they had a hand in making it because not only are they are proud of their creation but they are curious.  A few ways my son helps me in the kitchen are…

  • gathering ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator.
  • washing the produce.
  • chopping soft foods (such as mushrooms) with a butter knife.
  • mixing and measuring.
  • layering ingredients (sandwiches, pizza, lasagna…pretty much anything that has to be assembled in layers).
  • pressing the button (on the blender, toaster, food processor, juicer, etc) with adult supervision of course.
  • setting the table.
  • and my favorite, cleaning-up.

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My oldest son “helping” make fresh squeezed juice

2.  Serve the rainbow.

You hear this over and over but what does it mean? No you don’t have to spend hours making your food look like perfectly sculpted rainbows, animals and such. Just add a splash of color to each meal. How do you do this?

  • Serve a side of fruit or veggies.
  • Add finely chopped veggies to family favorites.  (Put some avocado or diced tomatoes next to your quesadilla.)
  • Use a variety of fruits and vegetables. (After a while even favorites get boring, you can only eat broccoli so many ways in a week.)
  • Make burgers.  After-all, eating burgers and fries is not the unhealthy mistake most people make, scarfing down greasy take out on a regular basis is the mistake.  Burgers should be layered with color green guacamole and lettuce, purple onions, and juicy red tomatoes, and surrounded by crispy baked sweet potato fries.

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Dinner and some lovely rainbow chard at the farmer’s market

3.  Take your kids shopping.

Who loves going grocery shopping?….Um not me. But for some reason picking, counting and weighing produce is fun, to my son. That is probably because he doesn’t notice the 1,000 other people trying to get to the tomatoes on Sunday evening at HEB. Yeah, I go to the grocery store and not everything in my house is organic because really I do have a life and driving to 20 different places to buy the things on my list is just not realistic.

The goal is to know what to buy when you are at the store, if it comes in a box with a long list of ingredients you don’t understand….it is probably not the healthiest choice.  You should shop for ingredients to make meals; not packaged meals.  Frozen veggies are a better substitute for fresh than canned veggies.  For one, they just come out looking better plus they don’t have as many preservatives.

Make it a goal to go to the local farmer’s market (as a family) at least once a month, taste what the vendors are offering, and buy a couple of your fresh seasonal favorites.  Click here for a listing of RGV Farmer’s Markets.

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Fresh cherry tomatoes and serrano peppers.

4.  Make eating a family affair.

Who really likes eating alone, come on, that is just sad and you know it. Even if it is just me and my 11 month old at home and he is not hungry but it is lunch time for mama, guess who is going to sit in his high chair and have a bowl of diced fruit. Yeah it may mean your meal is not very peaceful and that you will slip on a slobbery piece of apple when you stand up but seriously they are so cute even when they are a mess. Make a goal for how many times you will eat as a family this week.

Teach older kids how to set the table and and enjoy mealtime conversation without the TV blaring. Yeah, it may take some time before your 6 year old learns how to eat with his mouth closed and not to speak with a jaw full of spaghetti; but this is the time to teach them.

Eating together also means eating the same food together. I know lots of parents who let their kids eat first because their food is ready first….because what they serve themselves is different than what they serve their kids….sorry guys but this is not cool. It is just more work for you now and more importantly, in the long run because bad habits are hard to break. Growing up if I said I wanted frozen chicken nuggets instead of wherever was cooking, it would not have been received favorably because my mom and dad were not short order cooks. Plus, if you want your kid to eat a variety of foods and have a sophisticated palette….serve them real food that you want to eat too and eat it together.

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My two little boys at the dinner table

5.  Be a food role-model.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to go on a strict diet.  A healthy relationship with food is beneficial for every member of the family. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too….just not at every meal. So what could you do?

  • Model eating a well-balanced diet throughout the day.
  • Choose fresh local foods when you can.
  • Make good restaurant choices
  • Enjoy meal time as family time.
  • Plan your meals. Not that you have to stick to a rigid plan but having an idea of what you are going to cook saves a lot of shopping time and money spent on things that sit in the pantry unused before getting sent to the food bank before it is too late.
  • Educate yourself.  For you this may mean learning about the food pyramid on choosemyplate.gov, taking a cooking class  at the McAllen Culinary Academy or making a new recipe board on Pinterest.  Whatever you do, take some time to reflect on your eating habits and make a couple healthy goals for you and your family.

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Orange Cranberry Muffins and Breakfast crepes are oh so sweet!

Check out my food blog and follow me on Instagram for more of my healthy eating ideas.

 Enjoy!

Audrey Cisneros

www.chileylimon.com

www.theimaginaryshop.com

 

P.S. Don’t forget to check out the McAllen Culinary Academy

2900 N 10th St McAllen TX 78501

(956) 683-0021

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KeepSakes with Traditions!

Ifamily KC and  Tots-Tweens  attended the  ABC Kids Expo  in Las Vegas for the 2nd time!  We attended one of the largest shows for juvenile products in one place. Over 1 million square feet for back to back products and it some was AWESOME! Here are 2 great keepsake books kids and parents will enjoy

Help your kiddos with their FEARS:

Kids will always be afraid of something and why not help them cope with their fears with The Magnificent Sprinkles! Winner of the 2014 Creative Child Magazine Product of the year award and 2014  Creative Child Magazine Media award! The Sprinkles NEA, CAZI, SAM and LACI are each blessed with a special power that helps children to be brave and strong. With a spin and a song, the Magnificent Sprinkles bring comfort and joy to you! Now Available on Amazon!

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For the Holiday Season:

A must for all families that LOVE tradition! Heartfelt Letters from Santa To You.  Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards! Take milk and cookies to the next level and get feedback from the kiddos! Take a peak on what the author’s has to say Letters From Santa.

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Awesome books to start a traditions and spend quality time with the kiddos! Stay Tuned for your chance to WIN one of these Keep Sakes!

Photos Credit: Heartfelt Letters From Santa To You, The Sprinkles

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How to prevent a holiday meltdown

Do you feel stressed around the holiday season?
Well don’t let this time of year get the best of you. This is a time filled with love and laughter and finger lickin food! Don’t let a batch of burnt cookies get you down. Hug your little ones, laugh off the little things and don’t stress the storm you can’t control.

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This is not a movie scene or a picture perfect moment in time… your holiday get together will be full rowdy kids, rambunctious pets, and those infamous “OOPS!”. Take a deep breath and accept the holidays are not perfect. What is perfect is spending time with the ones you love and seeing the smile on your child’s face when they open their first gift from Santa this year. Don’t set the bar so high with expectations and simply go with the flow. Especially if you’re the host of this year’s holiday celebration… if you have expected guests, then I’m positive you have a willing helping hand close by!

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With the holidays comes a handful of invitations… and to dos and deadline and who and where to bring the kids. It’s easy to find yourself being dragged in every direction this time of year. To prevent this from happening and bring your stress level from 10 to 2, don’t overbook yourself. Say no… I know… easier said than done. Organize your time with those tasks you HAVE to do with some of those holiday activities you enjoy.

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The holidays can put a toll on relationships. Or the mere fact of just seeing that relative may make you cringe. Don’t let the unaccepting in-laws or overbearing siblings spoil your time. Interact with them in small doses, otherwise surround yourself with those who make you smile.

Don’t substitute your sleep in order to be the first in line at the toy store. Manage your time better to get both your wrapping done AND a good night rest. They’ll forgive you for just tossing their toy in a gift bag… but nobody likes a grumpy parent.

Keep calm and enjoy your holiday!
Stephanie Falcone

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