ADHD in Adults: Signs that You Have it and Signs that You Don’t

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We all have trouble concentrating sometimes, but when regular patterns emerge, it’s time to get help.

October is ADHD Awareness Month and so in order to better understand this condition, it’s worth exploring the signs and science around it.  The tricky thing about ADHD is that it’s not a clearly defined condition.  There are types and the psychiatric field has been accused of over diagnosing and over-prescribing the medications used to treat attention deficit1.

Unlike other psychological conditions that have definable parameters, ADHD doesn’t show up in brain scans.  It’s really a highly individualized process of determining if a person exhibits a collection of signs that interfere with quality of life.  These are some of the telltale signs that someone is suffering from ADHD:

  1. Focus. Regular inability to maintain concentration throughout regular tasks can be a sign that a person had ADHD.  The corollary, or flipside is “hyper-attention” where the person fixates on a task to the point of sacrificing other, equally important tasks2.
  2. Forgetfulness.  We all slip sometimes, but when someone routinely fails to remember important, recurring dates, times, or locations to the point where family or career is suffering, this might be a signal2.
  3. Paralyzing self-doubt.  This goes beyond the normal level of indecision or tired decision-making brain, it’s an inability to prioritize to the point where the individual feels unable to act at all.  It happens often enough that it starts to impede on relationships, school, work or any other mainstay in daily life2.
  4. Anxiety.  In psychological circles, professionals often say, “Anxiety and depression are cousins.”  The feelings that start to arise from repeat failures when it comes to organization can compound and drive more impulsive and anxious behaviors2.

Now if at this point, you executive moms are saying to yourselves, “ that sounds like me,” let’s delve a little deeper into these symptoms and look at them from a cultural perspective.  We work longer hours than the rest of the industrialized world3 and absorb more information than any other time in history4.  It’s easy in these times to become overwhelmed, and when we are overwhelmed, our brains don’t do their jobs to the best ability.  Here are some further indicators that you are simply living in a very fast-paced, modern world and you need a vacation rather than a prescription:

  1. You do not work well under pressure.  ADHD patients respond to the adrenaline rush of deadlines and crisis; it snaps them into focus. For the rest of us, chaos is the thing that interferes with our thinking. 
  2. You have recently experienced a trauma.  The body and brain have dramatic responses to trauma, whether that trauma is physical or mental.  The stress response, the release cortisol, literally interferes with decision-making5.  Do not expect your injured self to perform to your normal level when you have sustained trauma.
  3. You are naturally organized and on time.  Time, space, and prioritizing are very challenging daily obstacles for the ADHD sufferer.  If you are good with these things under normal circumstances, you are likely not ADHD.
  4. You feel like you are meeting your potential.  One of the hallmarks of ADHD is low self-esteem with regard to performance.  This develops into a cycle of over-commitment, failure and shame that starts to interfere with all aspects of life.  You might not meet your expectations everyday, but if on the whole, you feel like you put your best foot forward, you probably do not have ADHD.

The good news is that there are many life-style changes that can rectify the symptoms of ADHD for adults.  Reducing or eliminating caffeine, getting plenty of exercise and sleep, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding alcohol can really help to set focus issues straight.  If you or someone you love is experiencing these issues, discuss strategies with a health professional. 

References:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/saving-normal/201605/adhd-is-overdiagnosed-heres-proof
  2. http://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adult-adhd – Overview1http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=93364
  3. http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=93364
  4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/8316534/Welcome-to-the-information-age-174-newspapers-a-day.html
  5. http://healthland.time.com/2013/01/16/childhood-trauma-leaves-legacy-of-brain-changes/

9 Ways to Find Mom Time in a Fast-Paced World

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Welcome to your mental lifesaver: Mommy micro-vacations.

The world expects you to do it all: you need to have a solid career, raise kids, run the house, be a stand up wife and do it all with a smile on your face.  What’s that saying about Ginger Rogers again?  “She did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.”

A 2014 study in the UK says the average mom has about 17 minutes of “me” time to herself1.  If you are laughing right now it’s because that probably seems like a lot to you if you are currently a working mom.  And if that is you, you probably laugh when people say, “you just need more ‘you’ time!”

Well, you do, but that probably feels impossible with the breakneck speed of life at its current pace.  However, with the holidays quickly approaching, consider the concept of micro-breaks that you can book in advance.  Here are some pointers to get that well-deserved downtime away from work and kids.

  1. Put your foot down.  Before you do anything else and before that cracking, high-pitched tone comes into your voice, tell everyone you need a break and you are going to take it.  Dishes be damned, you need a micro-vacation.  Give them notice, plan it out but make everyone understand that while you are gone there will be no calls, no change of plans and they are on their own.  The ship will not sink for the next three hours. 
  2. Schedule it in.  Think about little blocks of time when you can do something that feeds your soul.  Mark it on the calendar and give yourself permission to use that time as you need it. 
  3. Go for a walk.  Even 15-20 minutes is a huge refresher that doesn’t involve driving, talking, or any other kind of processing.  Listen to music or just the sound of birds in the park.
  4. Catch a movie.  Not Angry Birds, either. Go to a rom com, a classic or a thriller. 
  5. Day spa.  A good soak in the tub and a massage will do wonders for your piece of mind. 
  6. Start a new book.  You know you are an adult when your idea of a good time is grabbing a latte and reading in a café.  That’s a luxury you can afford in terms of time and money.
  7. Hit the flea market.  Most towns have a weekly rummage sale where all kinds of fascinating bit and bobs turn up.  If you have a project at home that is collecting dust, some nifty fixtures might be the perfect inspiration for cleaning up that old dresser.
  8. Take a yoga class. You never walk out of a yoga class and think: that was a waste of time.  There are so many styles out there that you can find one for your level.  Hint: Nidra is a super-mellow relaxing style that is practiced mostly lying down.  You feel absolutely dreamy afterwards. 
  9. Get an ice cream.  Sometimes you just need a sweet treat.  Go to the bakery or get some of that gourmet ice ream that is all the rage these days. 

The point is that there are little but important choices that you can make to get that me time in.  And if you don’t make the time, the strain of juggling so many different aspects of life can really sink you.  It’s so hard for moms who always put themselves first, but really, the dishes will get done, the laundry will get folded, the deliverables will make it to the right desk.  So go on, take the time.  You deserve it, Mom. 

References:

  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2552188/The-average-mother-gets-just-17-minutes-time-day.html

Call of the Wild: 9 Valuable Tips for Camping with Kids

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Make your child’s first summer camping trip a revelatory one.

For city dwellers, this is the time of year when some campfire and starlight is an irresistible prospect.  Who doesn’t love the anticipation of packing the car with gear and food to set out on an adventure?  Well, if you have toddlers or a new baby, there is a right way and a wrong way to go camping.

We want our kids to get that epic dose of nature, be comfortable, and feel alive without the constant drum of traffic and stimulation of the screens.  So starting early is a good idea, but there are some things you might want to try as preparation for your family’s upcoming camping trip if they are new to the process.

  1. Try a dry run. Kids often love this prospect and it’s a good way to see if they will manage with being outside in a tent.  You can set one up in the backyard and let them hang out in it, set up their own sleeping bags, and give them flashlights for nighttime.  If we are talking about small children, you obviously want to stay in the tent with them.
  2. Put them in charge of their personal effects.  By giving your children a little task and a personal duffel, you help them contain their things and give them a job.  It makes them feel important and gets them in the habit of returning their things to the proper place. 
  3. Get them in on the preparation and explain what it’s going to be like to camp out.  Not only should the kids help, it’s also an easy way to inspire excitement.  Consider writing up a list of basic things everyone should pack for themselves that includes stuff like socks, extra shoes, underwear, toothbrush, etc.  Before you start to pack the car, just read off the list and everyone can check off the items.  It’s kind of like the army, but more fun.
  4. Do your homework and choose wisely.  For best results, assure your camping spot is kid-friendly.  Sometimes it can be hard to tell and your new “neighbors” might be up all night drinking beer and playing heavy metal.  The best way to ensure you find a park that is suitable is to call the on-site manager.  These folks usually live on the property and they can tell you what the expectations are. 
  5. Always look up the fire conditions and educate your family about the rules.  This is so crucial in hazard areas; often people don’t realize that their little bonfire is a potential forest fire.  Look up your location with the fire service and follow their guidelines.  Instruct your children about adult-only tools like lighters, coal, and lighter fluid.  Your dream vacation can quickly turn into a trip to the ER if the kids don’t understand about hot barbeque pits, hot lanterns, and other dangers.
  6. Bring friends.  One great strategy for taking your kids on their first camping trip is to go with another family.  It doubles the excitement and means there are more adult eyes on the kids.  This way, the grownups can take turns supervising, and everyone actually has a chance to relax. 
  7. Talk to everyone about the wildlife.  Depending on where you go, there may be all manner of fauna and flora, some of them dangerous, some of them harmless.  Don’t be that Yosemite tourist who painted honey on her husband’s face so a bear could lick it off.  True story!  Explain to everyone that the animals are in their habitat and all of you are visiting.  That means don’t feed, don’t approach, and don’t leave food or garbage around as an open invitation for raccoons. 
  8. Some essentials: Flashlights, DEET-free bug repellant, sunscreen, aloe, first aid kit, books or magazines, frisbees or paddleball, and heck, why not bring some glow sticks too?
  9. Remember to chill.  The best part of camping is…the nothing.  Don’t hyper-schedule, or the kids will miss the point about relaxing and being schedule-free.  Lounge by the water, read a good book, take a hike, and really revel in your leisure time.  Keep meals really basic; everything tastes better in the fresh air, and again, the kids can help with the food prep and the clean up.

It’s work, but if everyone does their part, no matter how small, your children will take to camping like fish to water.  Remember that the prep and organization is part of the fun, and remind everyone that they have to help out on the return as well.  These summer excursions are the ones kids remember throughout their lives, so do your best to make those memory glorious. 

Breast Cancer News and Prevention Tips

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Staying on top of the latest research and recommendations can be life saving.

It’s likely that someone you know has gotten breast cancer; the current rate is one out of every eight women, approximately 246,000 people are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer every year.1  Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.  These statistics are scary, but the key to prevention is knowledge.

It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so check out the following quick facts and guidelines sourced from the latest data and the experts on the frontlines. 

  • The good news is that breast cancer rates are decreasing. There are a few reasons cases of breast cancer are dropping.  In 2002-2003, doctors found a link between HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and breast cancer.  Just that abating of HRT saw a 7% drop in that year.1 
  • Mortality rates continue to decline since 1989, a shift that researchers credit to early intervention.  Cancer can be detected when it is the size of pin head, and with fast-growing cancer, that can be the life-or-death difference.
  • Because we are able to see far deeper into the genes, we understand contributing factors more comprehensively, for example, 5-10% of breast cancer patients can attribute it to a mutated gene, called BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Women born with these genes run roughly 50% more likely of developing breast cancer.  In a bold move a few years ago, Angelina Jolie announced she was getting a double mastectomy because she was genetically predisposed toward breast and ovarian cancer1.
  • Advances in more strategic and selective anti-cancer drugs provide promise.  Recent development of a group of enzymes called KDM5 histone demethylases appear to inhibit regrowth of cancer cells at Emory University School of Medicine.2breast-cancer-IMG3
  • The latest data suggests women perform self-exam at least once a week from the age of 20 on. Women over 45 should get a mammogram once a year, according to the American Cancer Society.3
  • Signs include lumps, changes in color, a rash around the nipple, a change in shape or discharge.  If you see these signs, book a doctor’s appointment.
  • The biggest factors in prevention are diet and exercise.  In fact, even if you have cancer in your genes, you can turn that predisposition around in one generation through staying active and eating right.  Reason number 1001 to take care of yourself. 

We have to walk the walk when it comes to disease prevention.  Breast cancer will one day be history, but right now, our most powerful weapon is taking charge of our own personal health and science.

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References:

  1. http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160714134757.htm
  3. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/breastcancerearlydetection/breast-cancer-early-detection-acs-recs
  4. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/dietandphysicalactivity/diet-and-physical-activity

True or False: Surprising Facts About How Raising the Minimum Wage Will Affect the SMB

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With all the shouting going on around raising the minimum wage, how can you tell what the implications will be for your business?

Every few years, the debate about raising the minimum raise comes up and depending on whom you ask, it’s a great idea, or a terrible one.  An economy is an ecosystem, and you cannot flood one area without another area feeling the impact,whether that impact is immediate or spread out over the long term.  

From entrepreneurs with fledgling startups to old-world institutions, this is a big conversation.  Employers must always walk a fine line between wanting to pay their quality people well and maintaining operating costs.  This line can fluctuate wildly depending on the kind of business you run.  

Yet, the public is often misled about the larger implications of raising pay,historically speaking, so it’s worth examining what economists, small business owners, and other experts in the field have to say about it.  

True or False: Raising employee pay will force many businesses to lay off their labor.

False: During the last round of debate in April of 2014, seven Nobel Laureates inEconomics joined 75 other advocates to present an argument in favor of raising theFederal rate from $7.25 per hour to $10.10.  Simply stated, upping the minimum means workers have more money to spend, which acts as a boost to the economy.In the past, businesses have seen little to no impact on their labor force and the key is to index the living wage according to inflation1.  Because the cost of living has shot up so dramatically in many American cities, places like Seattle and San Francisco have set the bar at $15.00 per hour.  Those new rates have yet to go into effect and so the outcome is unclear.[2]

True or False: A higher hourly wage will force businesses to raise their prices.

True: But it varies widely.  Take for example the restaurant industry, which relies on minimum wage workers and requires high overhead.  Even if a restaurant reorganizes for more efficiency, it often cannot afford to let employees go, so the cost gets passed onto the customer.  By contrast, law firms won’t be affected as directly since these types of businesses don’t have many or any minimum wageworkers at all.

True or False: Businesses will have access to a more skilled labor pool.

True: Another advantage that more diversified businesses (companies that have both minimum wage earners and skilled labor) will see is that they can start people at entry level with a more broad skill set.  It potentially opens up the field of available candidates for entry-level positions.  However, the downside is that management positions will also require adjustment, but business owners say that the long-term costs associated with raising pay will balance out with hiring a more skilled and specialized workforce [3].  
True or False: New businesses and startups will get hurt the most.
False: Older, more established businesses are often less flexible in their business practices, where young companies are prepared to scale accordingly.  That elasticity is key in responding to the pressures of the market, so new companies are often better-prepared, and willing to pay workers more.  
The business owners in America are split on the subject, but it’s interesting to note that the smallest businesses with 1-9 employees are overwhelmingly in favor of a national pay hike, where large companies would like to keep labor prices where they are [4].
It’s important to consider the intangibles when upping your workers’ pay; it’s great for morale and employee retention.  Also, more effort on your employees’ parts will likely mean gains in productivity.  One of the key decisions entrepreneurs must make is what to pay employers for the work in order to sustain and grow their companies.  If you are starting a business right now, factor it into your business plan that the price you pay for labor is likely going to change.    

Single and Working: 7 Ways to Balance Your Dating Life and Professional Life

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Somewhere around the age of 27, it may seem like you’re attending a wedding every other weekend.  This new “hobby” can take up half of the free time you have, particularly in the warmer months.  Gifts, questionable bridesmaid dresses, travel arrangements, etc….you get the picture, and let’s just say the effort and dollars add up quickly.

But this isn’t a problem.  You want to celebrate with your in-love friends, and your evolving career with paid time off is supporting the costs as well as your availability to not miss a thing.  But that very career brings up a really good point – as a single person with a focus on your professional success, how in the world do you yourself have time for a little romance?  How exactly did that happy couple whose wedding you’re attending this week get there themselves?

Dating is challenging enough at anytime in life, but when you’re in, say, college, at least the social environment seems to lend itself to meeting new people on the regular basis.  It’s not always the same as a hard-working adult, especially as a number of your peers are quickly marrying off.  You actually have to put forth effort into finding and keeping eligible dates, and the process requires time, effort, and even a little courage.

If you’re finding yourself at this crossroads, here’s a little insight to help you on your dating path, as you navigate through the daily demands of your career:

  1. Online dating can work. We understand if you’re rolling your eyes at this one, but consider a few points.  If you don’t have time to regularly hit up the latest restaurants or something along those lines, perusing others looking to date online can be a much faster route.  Also, according to a 2013 study from the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” individuals using online dating sites tend to be better educated, employed, and have a higher rate of marital success if they find a partner through an online dating service.  Remember, always initially meet up with a first-time online date in a public place; be smart and keep it safe.
  2. Make time for at least one regular activity. Even with a busy work schedule, it’s imperative to your mental health that you enjoy other aspects of your life, as it only boosts your productivity while on the job anyways.  Whether it’s a weekly happy hour with some friends, volunteering, church involvement, a fitness class, or some other social venue, these types of comfortable environments can be a great way to meet possible dates while also doing something positive for yourself.
  3. Consider a lunch date. Do both of you work downtown?  Does one of you work from home?  If hours are long and/or you’ve got a laundry list of stuff to do in the evenings, lunch break may offer the flexibility to meet up for a date.  Better yet, if it doesn’t go well, you have the truthful out of saying, “I have to get back to work now.”  There are even dating services that support first meeting people midday; check out It’s Just Lunch.
  4. Who let the dogs out? Have a furry friend that is cooped up a lot while you work long hours?  Taking your pooch to a dog park on a Saturday morning is not only beneficial to you both, but it’s also a great place to meet other singles.  Men and women who have dogs make particularly good partners, as they demonstrate the ability to care for another being, offer a sense of responsibility, and are able to form emotional attachments. 
  5. Try speed dating! This approach was made for the busy professional.  Kind of like a musical chairs with human chemistry, speed dating is a proven and time effective way to meet a future partner.  At an event, all participants are given a numbered badge, and will rotate around to spend time with everyone there.  When the activity is over, everybody writes down the badge numbers of who they were interested in, and any mutual matches are then informed so that they can go from there.
  6. Having multiple priorities is okay. So maybe thanks to speed dating or the dog park, you met a person you really like and enjoy being around.  In order to spend regular, valuable time with this person to get to know him/her better, something’s gotta give in your busy life.  This doesn’t necessarily mean a sacrifice, but rather a readjustment.  Between work and your daily responsibilities, though, you may be wondering, “When can I even see this person?”  Remember, if developing a relationship is important to you, just like your career is, you’re going to have to make it a priority in order for it to work.  This may mean moving your exercise session to before work, reducing time spent on an activity, or blocking out one evening per week where you are unavailable to work late.  Your whole life is a balance, and you’re doing your company no favor if you’re selling yourself short in other important aspects.
  7. Compartmentalize! If enjoying a healthy dating life and an advancing career would be the best of both worlds for you, the best way to keep these two separate worlds happy is by in fact keeping them separate.  This means when you are on the job, fully commit yourself to the tasks at hand, and when you’re on that date you set aside the time for, make the most of it, leaving work concerns at the office (and that includes not looking at your phone!).

So whether you’re a 20something or not, if you’re a wedding guest for the umpteenth time this summer, remember to keep it all in perspective.  Just like your career, a successful relationship wasn’t built in a day.  It has to be well established and nurtured; the whole process takes effort from the start.  At work, you’ve already demonstrated your intelligence, as well as your time management, cooperation, and creative skills, and these all can translate to also finding happiness in your dating life.  Clearly the trick is keeping everything balanced, and with some of the tips discussed today, it is possible, and maybe before you even know it, that next wedding you’re attending could be your own.

Doubling Up: the Unique Joy of Parenting Twins

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Out on the playground, parents will observe twins playing and say to each other, “that must be exhausting. Double Trouble.” To outsiders it looks like twice the work, twice the clean up and twice the discipline.

And truth be told, that is sometimes the case, but parents of twins will also tell you that having two at a time solves some problems too. “You are already doing it for one baby,” a mother of identical girls explained. “And now we don’t have to think about another pregnancy, another birth, another sex. It solves the sibling problem.”

Yes, there are more diapers, there are two sets of needs that don’t always correspond, but by the same token, developing side-by-side, twins can also adapt easier, they can socialize faster, learn how to share, feel empathy and communicate. Once they get the hang of the sleeping thing, they are more likely to sleep through the night because they have a buddy.

And whether or not twins are close together in terms of personality, size and physical appearance, their individual natures will emerge and often complement each other. In fact, often twins bond so fiercely that entertaining them is not such an issue. They have a built in playmate!

As far as learning goes, there is some overlap; it’s not like parents have to relay two sets of instructions all the time and there is some sharing of information because twins really delight in teaching each other. It’s an amazing experience to watch their unique preferences and personalities form in tandem.

If you are a first time parent, there is leverage in raising two at a time. You have a sort of “control group” where you can experiment with certain foods, the bouncy chair, and the nightlight. You can see what is working without the feeling of failure that goes along with having no comparison. One kid may love it, the other, not so much. It lightens the load.

Twins also elicit help from other people at the grocery or DMV where single babies may not. When someone sees a mother struggling to get two carriers through the door, they feel duty bound to help.

Children are hard work but it may be the most rewarding work in the world and twins are no different. If you are lucky enough to have them, you really do get a double dose of parenting wonder.

1. http://twiniversity.com/2014/08/the-benefits-of-having-twins/
2. http://parenting.allwomenstalk.com/7-advantages-of-having-twins/
3. http://mommyshorts.com/2013/01/5-reasons-having-twins-is-easier-than-one.html

How Are We Doing With Saving the Planet? Surprising Facts about Eco-Friendly Consumer Practices

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We are all on-board with working towards a cleaner, healthier earth, but is it working?

In the last thirty years, society has seen a seismic shift in consciousness when it comes to caring for the planet. We all buy the green products, recycle, and conserve water in this new era of climate change, but is it actually helping?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the messages we receive about what is good for us and what is good for the planet. On the one hand, all this relatively new information makes us feel a little more in control, and having options is great, but it’s hard to know if any of this is having an impact. Here are some telling facts about the shifts in consumer behavior around the environment.

Fact: Consumers are more likely to pay more for eco-friendly products. Though green products represent a small slice of the market (around 3% in 2014), bigger retailers have taken on leading green brands like Seventh Generation and Method, pushing brands like Clorox to develop competing environmentally safe offerings [1].

Fact: Recycling has dramatically reduced waste. Between 1960 and 2013, Americans went from recycling 6% of their waste to 34.5% [2].

The moral: keep up the good work.

Fact: Organic matter makes up a huge component of our garbage. “In 2013, America recovered about 67 percent (5.7 million tons) of newspaper/mechanical paper and about 60 percent of yard trimmings. Organic materials continue to be the largest component of MSW,” according to the EPA. That amounted to 87.2 million tons of material ending up as landfill [3].

The moral: separating compost, recycling, and yard trimmings is an easy way to reduce waste.

Fact: Not all green products are actually green. A study in March of 2015 conducted by the Journal of Air Quality, Atmosphere, and Health concluded that of the 37 items analyzed, 17 of which were “green,” the study found 42 different chemicals determined to be toxic by the EPA. 100% of the products labeled “green,” “organic,” and non-toxic had at least one toxic chemical.

The moral: look up your trusted brand and make sure it is worthy of your trust.

Fact: Cell phones are a serious problem when it comes to disposal. The boom in device use over the last 10 years has had a dramatic impact on waste management. Because the lifecycle of a typical cell phone is somewhere around two to three years, e-waste is now a huge concern. A test simulating the deterioration of a cell phone in a landfill illustrated the leaching of lead at levels 17x more than the acceptable federal threshold[4].

The moral: recycle your old phone!
Fact: Electric Cars are the most solid choice in terms of carbon reduction. There is plenty of back and forth on the electric car model: it is after all, not technically zero emissions because it relies on electricity to charge its battery, so depending on where you are, your Tesla could be powered primarily by coal. However, a survey of studies conducted at various universities found with all the energy considerations, that electric vehicles still perform better than hybrid, and exponentially better than combustion engine vehicles[5].

The moral: plan for your next car to be an electric vehicle; it’s the wave of the future.

Fact: Slow is the new green. The slow food movement that has emerged globally emphasizes the health benefits to consumers and the environment by sourcing food from local farms, cooking at home, and dining at local restaurants versus big chains or eating processed fast food. As a result, you are seeing “slow fashion” where in-house designers deal directly with their shoppers, and while the price tag is higher, the quality of the merchandise is built to last. Eco or slow tourism hopes to reduce the impact of traveling and tourism on local economies while maintaining the revenue stream.

As consumers, we need to continue to use our spending power to influence the market, by supporting companies that are acting responsibly and redefining the paradigm for buying and selling. The good news is that it is working. The even better news is that we can do better.
References:
1. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/report-growth-opportunities-remain-for-green-household-cleaning-products-market-300075221.html

2. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-
09/smm_graphic_recyclingrates.jpg

3. https://www.epa.gov/smm/advancing-sustainable-materials-management-facts-and-figures

4. http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/the-environmental-costs-and-benefits-of-our-cell-phones.html

5. https://environment.yale.edu/yer/article/electrified-vehicles-a-solid-choice

5 Reasons that the Library is a Priceless Resource for Your Children

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Most busy, modern parents understand the value of reading. But in our current, commercial climate, we also automatically buy books, DVDs and games without a second thought. There is nothing wrong with wanting your child to have a library of their own; books are like friends we always want to spend time with.

The library is not simply about accessing these fun and educational stories; it is it’s own experience. Here are five reasons you may not have considered that your public library is an untapped treasure trove.

  1. It Ain’t Your Mom’s Library. Sure, you have a clear memory of stepping inside a cool, quiet place surrounded by readers. And that is still true. But the library today is a transformed place. Gone is the Dewey Decimal System– libraries have faced out their juicier titles like a retail space and organized their titles by subject to make them easier to find.
  2. It’s More than Just Reading. Today, local libraries have developed all kinds of useful classes, craft workshops, story hours and music programs to encourage children. Most of them have a website or post their activity schedules. This is not only fun for kids, but it brings talented community members into the library setting.
  3. Meet Other Moms and Dads. If you are a new parent, or new to your area, the library is the go-to place to for your kids to make friends, and you too!
  4. A Lesson in Sharing. This is a golden opportunity to introduce your kids to the value of borrowing and returning. Just like we teach them to take turns and share, the library magically lets us take home these great books and movies, just as long as we return them.
  5. You Already Paid for It. As a taxpayer, you have already invested in this precious service, why wouldn’t you take advantage? The exploration of a new author, genre or subject doesn’t have to be an expensive purchase; it can be a loaner. Discovering whether or not your kid is actually into the topic or illustrations is a smart move. If they love it, and really need to own it, then you can buy it.

Libraries are the hallmark of civilization, and somehow they always end up on the chopping block when the conversation turns to budget. Aside from the fact that libraries represent a drop in the bucket in terms of public cost, part of the problem is that people just don’t know how much amazing stuff their neighborhood branch contains. Our kids can develop a healthy appreciation for the library culture. All it takes is a little help from us.

Need more convincing? Check out these great resources on child literacy and supporting libraries:

http://www.ilovelibraries.org/

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/advocacyuniversity/toolkit/talkingpoints

In Harmony: Helping Twins Strike a Balance Between Bonding and Independence

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Twins have their own unique development experience that is awe-inspiring. Unlike the rest of us, they have a real life mirror, even if they are not identical, they have another character cast right alongside them in their story. And to extend that metaphor further, sometimes we look in the mirror and we like what we see, and sometimes we don’t.

Research on twins is abundant; it has illustrated just how much our genetics plays a role in behavior. A study at the University of Turin and the University of Parma in Italy concluded that twins become aware of each other when they are still in the womb. Unlike solo babies, they spend a large portion of their gestational time communicating with their roommate. This discovery indicates that social behavior starts much earlier for twins.1

What this means is that that twins emerge into the world with a sense of connection, and that connection can either flourish or cause problems. Parents who understand the distinct parameters of raising twins are better set up to tackle the obstacles they are likely to encounter.

Here is a funny home video of some toddler twins having a very animated “conversation”:

Dr. Barbara Klein blogs extensively about twins and common challenges that occur for parents. As a twin herself, she has first-hand understanding of the fine line between nurturing the bond between twins and fostering codependence. Here are some of the ways she recommends parents can diffuse potential problems, or as she refers to it, Double Trouble:

1. Know each of your children as an individual and help them develop their strengths and work on their challenges.
2. Make sure that you understand how your twins are relying on one another. If you see that one twin is taking care of the other “too much,” then understand why, and help the child that needs help so the brother or sister is not burdened with this responsibility.
3. Develop realistic parent rules that establish a child-centered structure that can be understood and followed. Have realistic consequences when children do not listen to you.2

Twins move at their own developmental pace, but because of their intimate, ongoing conversation, they often aid each other in adapting, problem solving and learning. That is a beautiful thing to witness, but there is a downside: they can collude against their authority figures. Remember The Parent Trap where Hailey Mills meets her twin at summer camp and they switch places? It might not be as dramatic, but twins have been known to see if they can test those boundaries. Fortunately, as they age, identical twins are rarely perfect doppelgangers. But any parent of multiples will tell you, they quickly learn how to team up and circumvent their caregivers.

Twins that do not get the support they need can become insular, and even adversarial toward the world around them. There is a story about a pair of identicals that had a mother with Alzheimer’s Disease, who regularly neglected and misidentified her children; as adults, those twins lived together, got the same education, the same job and never dated or ventured out on their own. They were distrustful of anyone outside their relationship.

Parents can strike a balance between protecting the primary bond and helping their children to individuate in a healthy way. This means encouraging communication between them, but also exploring their individual natures, interests and strengths. Avoiding direct comparisons and supporting separate social relationships is another way to guide a balanced upbringing for multiples.

Another pitfall with twins, especially triplets or more, is infighting. All siblings compete for attention from their parents and with twins, that competition can become magnified. So just like with sibs, parents can address this but divvying up the parental attention i.e., today, Dad is taking twin A to the park and Mom is taking twin B to the zoo.

For twins to cultivate sharing skills, they must also have a sense of ownership. Here’s Dr. Klein again: “One way to encourage sharing is to teach them the difference between mine and yours. For example, designate some important objects in the non-share zone. Parents can see which toys, clothing, and friends are special and keep them as separate.”3

It also helps to give them their own space, even if they share a room, they should have assigned areas for their own belongings and parents should protect ownership.

Twins are a magical anomaly that has taught us so much about humanity. In no other relationship do people find such harmonized resonance and a kindred ally in the complex process of becoming adults. Parenting this special occurrence presents different challenges, but the rewards are greater than the sum of their parts.

References:

  1. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/social-before-birth/
  2. http://drbarbaraklein.squarespace.com/double-double-trouble-advice-o
  3. http://drbarbaraklein.squarespace.com/the-no-share-zone-in-twin-rela/

ABOUT SUSIE ALMANEIH

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.