Let’s wrap this entire month up in a red, velvet bow and pay special attention to caring for our own hearts and our loved ones. The news has been bleak, the weather is grey, and our moods are blah at best at this time of year. We’ll check in with what truly makes us happy, look for gentle and nourishing ways to protect our families, and boost our moods by staying active. There’s never been a better time celebrate love, and the chocolate doesn’t hurt either.
Why? Instead of saying yes to organizing yet another bake sale or to volunteering at the school, say yes to your kids. Say yes to messy science experiments. Say yes to baking. Say yes to glitter crafts and snowball fights and building the tallest Lego tower ever. Too often, we say no simply because we are too tired, busy, or overwhelmed. Making a conscious effort to relax and have fun with our kids (even if you are tired and it will make a mess) makes everyone feel more loved and connected. Then go ahead and say yes to that night out with your friends while you’re at it.
Very special valentines
Why? Some years there’s just no getting around it. It’s a box of Valentine’s Day cards from a store thrust into your child’s hand with the class list and a pen: ‘Here, sign these.’ But if your kids are excited about making their own cards this year, this is one of those times it’s especially nice to say ‘yes’. Depending on the time (and patience) you have available, you might want to save the homemade valentines like these beautiful heart-shaped cutouts for special friends and family. Or go for the whole class and remember that cute and easy really can go hand-in-hand.
An energy light
Why? If the winter blues have you feeling down, there’s now an easy and relatively affordable fix. Energy lights that mimic daylight and promise to improve your mood and energy are popping up all over. People who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, in which the shorter daylight hours of winter usher in a season-long depression, have found relief in the form of full-spectrum desk-top lights and many of our friends swear by them. This Verilux model offers 10,000 LUX (enough to be effective) and UV protection for your eyes at a moderate price.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Why? If you haven’t yet read this inspirational bestseller with your kid, now is the time. Into the Rainbow, a movie adaptation of the novel, is opening in April and comparing the two would make a great topic for a family discussion. It’s the moving story of Auggie, boy with facial abnormalities, starting school for the first time in grade five after having been homeschooled. Auggie is thrown into the high-drama environment that is middle school while contending with all sorts of reactions to his appearances. There is a lot of sadness here, but it is ultimately a story filled with hope and love.
Why? Kids need to burn energy every single day—even if you’re sick in bed, have to work late, or it’s freezing outside. Games that combine screen time with physical activity are a win-win for every member of the family. The GoNoodle Kids free iOS app helps kids access hundreds of fun and engaging videos that will keep them on their feet. This is already a popular tool for teachers to help students shake their wiggles out, and parents can start their own dance parties on a phone or tablet wherever and whenever.
Caring For Kids
Why? We all use Dr. Google to research basic symptoms and behavioural concerns for our kids; there’s no shame. But there is uncertainty! With so much conflicting advice about health, nutrition, and best parenting practices floating around, most parents really just want one reliable source. Caring For Kids is a website developed by the Canadian Paediatric Society that provides up-to-date information for parents about their children’s and teens’ health. There are articles and resources on everything from bedwetting to self-esteem. It will quickly become a go-to site for (almost) all your worries.
Eat more sauerkraut
Why? We strive to create a healthy and sustainable ecosystem and environment through our daily actions. This month, we’re taking that same goal to a microscopic level and focusing on microbes that live in our homes and, especially, in our tummies. Mounting evidence suggests that our over-reliance on antibiotics, antibacterial soap, and antiseptic cleaning products has destroyed the delicate balance of the microbes we live with—effectively wiping out the good with the bad. The best way to restore the balance in our own guts is to eat something fermented every day. Unpasteurized sauerkraut is the best source for a multitude of probiotic strains. You can make it yourself or pick it up at your local health or organic food store. Kimchi, kefir, and probiotic yogurts are also great foods to help you eat something fermented every day.
Why? This super simple, classic game gets the whole family moving and laughing in no time flat. One person (like a parent or a too-cool teen, for example) is in charge of the music and everybody else is out on the dance floor. When the music starts everyone needs to dance like crazy for a minute or so. Then it will suddenly stop and anyone who doesn’t freeze on the spot gets eliminated. The last dancer standing is the winner. You can make up twists on the rules that suit your own family, too. Maybe anyone under five gets an extra chance or you also give out titles for fastest or silliest dance.