Screen time tipping point?

Researchers studying the relationship between young children and their screens continue to trigger emotionally driven conversation between parents.

What is the optimal amount of screen time for a child during the early childhood years?

I believe a key question underlines all the conversations:
When a child sits in front of a screen, what is the screen time replacing?

Too often, the answer is obvious: talking, running, imagining, reading and laughing.

Researchers haven’t nailed a single “optimal” amount of screen time during early childhood, but until then, I surely hope kids are investing their time in play.

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More than a play kitchen

If kids are starting to drag (get bored?) with summer, call them back to the kitchen. After all, it’s the safest place for them to get messy.

Plus, they can eat, which is a big attraction. And unless you have a pink smoothie maker, the space is gender neutral.

Invite kids to shop with you at the farmer’s market. Challenge them to design a printed menu based on what you’re cooking for supper. Invite them to prepare a healthy snack for the neighbor next door. Work alongside to prepare an entirely finger-friendly supper. (Summer foods make it easy.)

When food is the launching point, amazing things happen!

Bundled up for school

Look for new opportunities to buy discounted uniforms as back-to-school sales roll out in the next few weeks.

Last year, a couple of grocery store chains bundled polo shirts, sweatshirts and shorts or skirts, then tagged them with bargain prices.

Although many parents prefer to purchase items individually, you can’t beat the lower cost or convenience of the bundles.

Celebrate summer

The simple memories of shucking corn and making s’mores for a backyard picnic have been transformed into labor intensive food prep.

Kids might not appreciate the extra effort that goes into grilled corn, home-made hummus, mango salsa and fruited beverages, but fancy, clean and fresh has replaced simple this summer.

But will children eat the shrimp and ribs that have replaced hot dogs and burgers?

You are what you drink

I remember feeling surprised the first time I walked into a classroom in which not only the teacher, but the students, had water bottles.

Of course, carrying a beverage has become not only socially acceptable almost everywhere, but our choices have become a means of self-expression. If you stop at Starbuck’s after dropping off the kids at school each morning, in some areas, you’re obviously a cool mom (with expendable income.)

I’ve been relieved to see youth coaches recognize the need for hydration during practices and games, especially as summer temperatures hit ballparks and fields. Our little guys often need reminders to hydrate – they simply don’t remember to take a drink. Those of us in the stands need to drink up, too.

Not your average snack

Have you seen the “Kashi by Kids” line-up on the cereal shelf?

Three cereals were created and launched last summer with input from a group of kids. Now, they’re introducing a new snack.

That’s a granola bar with an encouraging back story for kidpreneurs!

Realness

Swimsuit season is a good time to judge whether or not the Dove campaign has made a healthy shift in our cultural definition of physical attractiveness.

The commercials, which launched years ago, focused on “real beauty.” Since then, females with “real bodies” have appeared more regularly in advertisements from many companies.

But has the definition of physical attractiveness become so inclusive that girls who are growing up today feel comfortable at the pool this summer?

Or is the authenticity message still not “real” enough?