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The little book with BIG resources!

Who’s Ready For An Autumn Giveaway?!

Autumn is in full swing here in the metro area and we’re so excited for all of the wonderful family fun in store for you in and around Kansas City this fall. To celebrate the season, we’ve got a FUN giveaway valued at OVER $150 RIGHT here on the iFamilyKC blog! Entering is simple, just click on the button in the middle of the page to get in on the action, it’s THAT easy. Want to know what’s in store for you if you win!?

giveaway

Big, Autumn Giveaway!

4-Tickets to Science City

Let curiosity be your guide as you explore this dynamic, hands-on science center! Kids of all ages will experience the amazing world of science first-hand through fun and engaging exhibits and programs. Start your lifelong love of science, learning and discovery at Kansas City’s Science Center, Science City!

Science City is a place of wonder, where kids and adults can find something new with each visit. Throw the don’t touch mindset out the window. There are no tests and no wrong or right answers, just a chance to explore with freedom and pure imagination.

Its magic starts with its location. An architectural and historic marvel, Union Station provides a venue unlike any other science center in the nation. From the moment you pass under the clock tower to your first step inside the cityscape of Science City, the experience sets the stage for making memories.

$25 Gift Card to Rock N’ Brews

While they welcome rockers of all ages, they are doing our part to help foster the next generation of rockers at Rock & Brews.  Their li’l rockers are in the spotlight and enjoy a special children’s menu featuring kid favorites such as Hamburgers, Pizza, Grilled Chicken Kabobs, and Grilled Cheese. They also get swag…in the form of rock-themed coloring templates and other fun activities.

4-Tickets to the Planetarium

Combining interactive astronomy education with spectacular public shows and night sky viewing opportunities, the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium continues to be one of Kansas City’s greatest connections to the night sky.

Built as part of Union Station’s renovations in the late 1990s, the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium’s 60-foot dome and recently upgraded state-of-the-art projection system makes it one of the largest and highest resolution planetariums in the Midwest.

$25 Gift Card to Scheels

Located off of 135th Street between Metcalf and Nall, Scheels is a sporting goods store that offers clothing, sports apparel and gear, home goods, pet goods, camping and fishing gear, and SO much more. Their expansive two story building features an aquarium, indoor ferris wheel, restaurant, mini-bowling alley, playground for the kids, and more.

We’ll wrap up our big Autumn giveaway just in time for the holidays – and we’re excited that one of you will enjoy a family gift from our team here at iFamilyKC!

From iFamily to Yours,

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Football Season Party Dip Recipe

Football season is upon us here in Kansas City and with that, comes the need to know some new recipes to wow your fellow tailgaters. You don’t want to take that same tired dish that you bring every time. Food is meant to be enjoyed…not to be a reputation!  Max, from our iFamily Mom & Dad Squad shares one of his favs with us!

Football Season Party Dip Recipe

Just like the pros use the pre-season to work out the kinks and see what will work, I use the pre-season tailgates to test out some new recipes. My wife and I enjoy taking our girls to the Chiefs pre-season games because they are a bit more low-key, but we get to start the indoctrination process early.

Pre-season brings some unique difficulties to the tailgating process. First, these games are typically on weeknights meaning that most people that are at the tailgate not only have to work the next day but they also likely just came from work as well. This makes it more difficult to have an impressive spread and means that someone else will inevitably swing through their local Hy-Vee to get some roll-ups and a couple bags of chips. While this is certainly the easier route to take, I’d like to think that there is a compromise to be had between store bought snacks and a full-on BBQ spread.

That compromise comes in the form of DIPS. Who doesn’t love a good dip?! For this pre-season tailgate, I made an Enchilada Dip from our leftover ingredients earlier that week. I was in a bit of a bind because I didn’t have the time to go to the store and we had already promised to bring something to the tailgate. The following is the recipe that I can up with and I highly encourage you to use this more as a guide so that you can change it to your specific preference. Like I said, I used ingredients that I already had on hand to make this.

Football Dip Recipe

-1lb browned hamburger meat

-1cup enchilada sauce

-1cup shredded cheese

-1/2cup rice

-1 can black beans

-3tblspn taco seasoning

-salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown and season the meat with taco seasoning, salt, and pepper. You will need to cook your rice while you’re browning the meat. Once both are cooked, simply dump the ingredients into an oven safe bowl. Pop it into the oven until it’s warm. I heated it in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  If needed you can turn up the heat if you need it to be done sooner.

This pre-season dish is perfect for the regular season, too, or any other entertaining that you have to o throughout the year. It’s a perfect complement to your homemade guac and salsa for taco night, too!

From iFamily to Yours,


Keep Your Family Healthy & Happy With These 5 Simple Tips

Keeping your family happy and healthy can sometimes be a challenge with all the chaos going on in your life.  Ruth, from our iFamily Mom & Dad Squad gives us 5 simple tips to help you keep your family happy and healthy!

family healthy

Keep Your Family Healthy & Happy With These Simple Tips

If you have multiple children, you may struggle with this even more while shifting from activity to activity in addition to the hustle and bustle of school and work.  So what can you do to help relieve the daily stresses? Here are some tips to get you started.

Self-Care Is Necessary

Remember that it IS OKAY to take a little time for yourself every now and then. That may be a 30-minute bath/shower without while your significant other helps supervise the kids or it could be a weekly hobby that you enjoy or just time to focus on something you care about. The point is that even parents deserve a break sometimes!

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

Share the load at home. Household chores can’t be covered all by one person when both parents are working and even if only one parent works, it can be stressful to do alone. Splitting child rearing responsibilities is key to a successful family. I am sure you have heard that it takes a village, right? When you share the home responsibilities it helps to prevent some stresses and burn out.

Flexibility is a Good Thing

Kids thrive on routine and families need some for stability. However, your family deserves a little flexibility too! Remember that routines are good as long as they are not so rigid that you miss out on life. It is okay to change things up now and then. You nor your child will be harmed by staying up a little later to read …one…more…story…past their bed time or by eating dessert first! Memories are too precious to waste.

Things Are Better When You’re Together

Get outside and explore or go on an adventure. Do something regularly as a family. Choose something that you all will enjoy. It should be an activity to encourage family bonding with only parents and kids. You can have other activities later that include friends and other relatives. As a family, it is important to share some memories alone. It can be something simple like a picnic and playtime at the park or a family vacation. Just spend time together, doing something that makes everyone happy!

Know When to Hold Them, Know When to Fold Them

Pick your battles, change your plan and reduce the stress. Some things are worth worrying about and others are not. If you are chronically struggling with something at home, find a new approach. Avoid fighting the same battle over and over again. Change your routine if you’re always running late.  If your child can’t seem to remember their spelling words, try having them sing and spell. If you have tried one strategy over and over…it’s time to move on.

It takes team work to build a family and a team to keep it going! It only takes one unhappy person to rock the boat. Remember work together, stay together and be happy together!

From iFamily to Yours,


From Freezer to Crock Pot!

With the business of back to school, thinking about dinner is sometimes the last thing on your mind!  These freezer to crock pot meals from Liz, with our iFamily Mom Squad, will help make dinners easy and delicious!

Crock Pot Meals

FROM FREEZER TO CROCK POT!

This whole straight from the freezer to crockpot situation is A-MAZING.
Moms- this is a game-changer. As a mom of a small family of 4 who doesn’t care much for cooking, freezer meals make me feel like a super hero. Why spend more time in the kitchen when you can throw food in the crock pot and it smells like you have been slaving in the kitchen all day?

1- All you do is prep your food.
2- Throw contents in a 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag. Label your bag with the name of meal, cooking instructions and “use by date”. Standard is 3 months from prep date. Remove as much air from bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your freezer.
3- Freeze.
4-The night before cooking, move it to the refrigerator to thaw.
5- Dump it into your crock pot and wait.

These meals taste amazing and work great for leftovers! I finally gave into trying this when I was 38 weeks pregnant earlier this year and now freezer meals are my life. And so far they have all been toddler approved.

Here are some of my favorites! Enjoy!

Cheesy Tortellini with Ground Beef (serve with steamed broccoli)

Yields: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small yellow onion, diced (one cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (19-ounce) package frozen cheese tortellini *not needed until day of cooking
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (one cup) *not needed until day of cooking
2 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded (1/2 cup) *not needed until day of cooking

PREP:
1. Add all ingredients to freezer bag except tortellini and cheeses.

COOK:
1.On “low” setting for 8 hours or until beef is cooked through.
2. Break apart beef and stir.
3. Add tortellini and top with cheeses. Cover and cook on low heat for an additional 15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.

Serve with steamed broccoli.

Note: You can also freeze shredded cheese in a separate freezer bag. Thaw it overnight and store in the refrigerator until it’s time to add it to the crockpot.

Honey Dijon Pork Chops with Green Beans (serve with brown rice)

Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS
1 pound boneless pork chops
1 pound frozen green beans
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 cup water* not needed until day of cooking

PREP
1. Add all ingredients to your freezer bag (except water).

COOK
1. Add contents and water.
2. Cook on “low” setting for 4-6 hours or until pork is cooked through.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Chicken (serve with brown rice and green beans)

Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS
1 small onion, diced
14oz can whole cranberry sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

PREP:
1. Add chicken to the freezer bag last so it’s the first ingredient poured into your crockpot.

COOK:
1. Cook on “low” setting for 4-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and diced (4 large)
1 cup celery, diced (2 large ribs or 4 small ribs)
1 small yellow onion, diced (one cup)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 oz. wide egg noodles *not needed until day of cooking
8 cups fat-free low sodium chicken broth *not needed until day of cooking

PREP:
1. Add all ingredients except noodles and broth.

COOK:
1. Add contents to crockpot with 8 cups of chicken broth.
2. Cook for 6-8 hours on “low” setting or until carrots are soft.
3. Add pasta and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
4. Remove bay leaf.

Enjoy!

From iFamily to Yours,

 


The Funny Things Kids Say… and The Mom Workout

Kids say the darnedest things, the say… just not always at the right moment!  Ruth, from the iFamily Mom Squad, is here to share with us some of the funny, and embarrassing things that her kids have said and done!

 

The Funny Things Kids Say

Sitting at the table the other day with my kids proved to be a bit humorous. This happens often as I have three at varying ages of 9, 6 and 3.  It just so happened on this day we were splitting a pepperoni pizza for lunch; a staple item in our house but usually not a topic of discussion. Today was different. After a few random topics of discussion, I stumbled upon a rare moment where my son also my oldest decided to educate his sister’s about the origin of pepperoni.

Now before I move ahead…

Let me say that this was funny because my 6 year old daughter seems to think she is a comedian lately and decided to show him up. My son relayed and I quote, “Do you know where pepperoni comes from?” My daughter said no, and he proceeded to tell her in the most serious of voices….”Pepperoni grows on a pepperoni plant. People pick it, cut it and put it on their pizza.” I had stepped out of the room to refill drinks and happened to walk in at this moment. Looking dumbfounded, I asked him, “What? Who told you that?”. To which he replied, “I thought because it had pepper in it, it grows off a pepper plant”.  I proceeded to tell him that pepperoni is a sausage and I threw out there, “Where does sausage come from?” My little comedian chimed in, “Oink, Oink!”

This just happens to be one of those embarrassing moments for my kids that I choose to remember.

It is a funny memory from a couple weeks ago that will be fun to remind him of when he starts dating! I have a special place to store these funny memories and it is known as an app called Little Hoots. This app is a fun discovery that I stumbled upon during the Turn the page KC event last month at The Sprint Center. If you want to know more about that event, be sure to look it up! It was free and the kids had a great time! Anyway, while walking around talking to vendors, I found a table sponsored by Little Hoots. The founder Lacey Ellis created this app as a way to help keep track of all the silly things her kids said. In this app, parents are able to record memories, modify design, font and color and save them on their device. This app became available to others so other families could have a safe way to store memories and connect them to social media as well. If you would like to learn more about Little Hoots, check out the app on your device (free) or check out their Facebook page!

As for me, I am going to go back to storing memories in Little Hoots and stocking up embarrassing moments for when my kids start dating…in hopefully no less than another 20 years! A mom can dream right?

And Then There Was… The Mom Workout

Last week I got this brilliant idea to start working out as part of my daily routine.

I am not talking about chunking out 30 plus minutes of my day to take a class or miserably fail at a yoga DVD, I am talking about building it into what I am already doing at home or out and about in my daily life. I decided that it would be easy and fun to do lunges in the hallway while putting away laundry,  squats while microwaving lunch and crunches during commercials.  This plan seemed fool proof and simple. I am sure I am not the only one to come to this conclusion either. So with an unknown success rate and a bit of motivation I decided to give it a try. Let me tell ya, the motivation DID NOT LAST. However, it did lead to a funny story.

I am sure many of you decided to check out the 59 cent pancake deal at IHOP on July 18th. Well…our family joined the parade, got a big table and started downing pancake meals. Despite taking my youngest to the potty right before dinner, she decided that she needed to go again when I was about 5 bites from finishing my short stack. Being a dedicated Mom, we ran to the bathroom as fast as we could. Thinking that this would be a quick visit, I helped her settle on the potty and then she proclaimed that she needed to pee and poop! In my head I am thinking, “Great…” but I tell her, “Okay honey, go ahead”. It was a small stall and I had nothing better to do for at least the next ten minutes, so I decided that it would be the perfect time for a mini workout.

It was wall push up time!

I straddled my legs, leaned forward and began doing pushups on the wall. It wasn’t the most sanitary of activities, but what was a Mom to do besides smell her daughter’s poo? I tried two handed and single handed. Not too difficult. My daughter, curious as always asked, “What are you doing?” “Exercise, sweetie.”, I said. I explained a bit more while trying to coach her to finish going potty. I did manage to get a bit of an arm workout and then finally she was done! It was my turn to take a tinkle. I sit down and my daughter starts doing her own version of pushups on the wall with her pants still down! Only, they don’t look like pushups. She is bopping her hips back and forth singing, “Poopy town, poopy town, poopy town!”, just as someone else walks in. Meanwhile I am trying to convince her to finish pulling up her pants and shhh so we can leave. She of course being my little stinker thinks that she is hilarious and keeps right on singing. I finish up and yoink her pants up so we can wash our hands. All the while, the mystery person in the bathroom is snickering in the stall next to us. Embarrassed, I hoist her up on the sink to wash her hands and get the heck out of there. The last thing I want is to see this person face to face. Needless to say, I haven’t gone back to that workout routine.

Have you had a funny or embarrassing moment with your kids?

Share it with us!

From iFamily to Yours,

 


Popcorn And Other Fun Things To Do In The Car

Gabrielle, from the iFamily Mom Squad, shares some great tips for fun car games that will encourage communication with your kiddos!  Take a look…

 

Popcorn and Other Fun Things to Do in the Car

“How was your day?” I’d ask from behind the steering wheel.

My daughter would always have a story about something  that happened that day, but I noticed that my son tended  to be a bit less talkative than his sister.  I found an article that said in order to encourage communication, that I should stop asking that question, as it generally elicits a one or two word response.  The article suggested asking questions that would require a different answer every day.

“What did you have for lunch?”

“What was the best (or worst) thing that happened at school today?

I took those ideas and ran with them.  We made up games to play in the car that required better communication skills.  Here are a few you might want to play with your family.

Popcorn

In elementary school, we used to play this game during read aloud time.  We’d all sit in a circle with the same book.  The teacher would call on someone to read. At any given moment that student could stop reading, say “Popcorn” and call on another student to continue the story.  It was a good way to see who was actually paying attention.

We modify the game by making up the story as we go along, and once a person says popcorn, they give up their rights to the story.  The best thing about this game is that it requires everyone to listen first, and speak second.

Besties

This game is one of my favorites.  In this game, we ask the rest of our family to answer questions about ourselves. We ask things like “What’s my favorite color?”  or “What’s my favorite restaurant?” Sometimes the answers are downright comical.  Other times, you’ll be surprised at the accuracy of the answers you get.  Your children are watching more closely than you think.   It’s also a great way to  figure out what makes your kids tick, without having to ask directly. A word of caution.  Do not ask your kids when your birthday is.  Depending on how old they are, they may not get it right.   A mad mommy pretty much sucks all the fun out of that game.

Would You Rather

This game teaches children to compare and contrast.  It also teaches them decision-making.    One person asks everyone else in the car would they rather do one thing or the other.  The rest of us make our choices and sometimes we debate the merits of those choices.  For instance, a common question is:  “Would you rather have chocolate ice cream or vanilla ice cream?”  The questions can get repetitive.  My toddler says the same thing every time she gets to pose a question.  But every now and then, the kids are hit with a creative burst, and all of us are caught off guard.

My son is no longer the quietest person in the car.  In fact, he’s usually the one asking to play one of the games.  The games created a fun and safe way for him to express himself.  They teach him skills he will use the rest of his life. They have also provided the rest of us with hours of family entertainment.  I hope they will do the same for you.

From iFamily to Yours,

Gabrielle


6 Super Easy Potty Training Tips!

When it comes to potty training success, timing and preparation are key!  If you think your little one is ready for the task it’s time to get started!  Erin, from our iFamily Mom Squad is here to help with her 6 easy potty training tips!

Potty Training

6 Super Easy Potty Training Tips!

I am excited to share with you guys that my youngest son, who is 2 1/2, is fully potty trained!! No more diapers in this house! Yes!!! Still wiping bottoms? Yes, BUT we are going to be saving quite a bit of money by not using diapers AND the overflowing landfills will thank us!  I wanted to share with you a few things I learned along the way that will hopefully help you when it comes time to train your little one.

Wait until they show signs of readiness

If there is one thing you take away from this post, THIS is it.  Trust me, it will be much easier and faster to potty train a little guy or gal who wants to do it!  So, how do you know they are ready?  If they stay dry for 2 hours or longer, show interest in you going to the bathroom or start talking about going in their diaper or letting you know they have to go.

Use underwear

You may want to skip pull ups and go straight to underwear unless they are in the swimming pool.  In my opinion, underwear worked better for us because when he has an accident, he feels that “yucky” feeling and hopefully doesn’t want to feel that again.  With pull ups, they might just want to keep going potty as if they were wearing a diaper.  Also, you take into account the cost of pull ups versus underwear. Seems like a no-brainer to me!

Pro tip:Get them EXCITED about potty training by taking them to pick out their favorite character underwear or color/design!  Little Joey won’t want to pee or poop on Thomas the Train!!

Rewards  

Set your child up for success! Small rewards such as stickers or small candies right after they go in the potty is an excellent motivator for 2 and 3 year olds.  We made a sticker chart and if he went potty a certain number of times with few accidents, at the end of the week we took him to the toy store to pick out something special.

Don’t expect perfection  

They are still young and learning. There WILL still be accidents.  Don’t make a huge deal or punish your kid if he has an accident. Focus on rewarding the times he makes it to the potty.

Preparation is key

When your child gets up in the morning or a nap, take them straight to the potty.  Don’t ask them if they need to go just take them to the potty every 2 hours or so. The asking part can come later.  Before you leave the house, pack an extra change of clothes, underwear, socks, wipes, and a plastic bag to put wet clothes in. Also, right before you leave, sit your child on the potty.

Pro tip:If you have an area outside your main bathroom that you hang out such as your living room or family room, place a little potty chair in that room so that when he has to go, he doesn’t have to go running upstairs or down a long hall.

Don’t stress

It’s going to be ok.  It’s only going to make it more stressful on you and your child if you try to rush into potty training and stress over it. I promise you, this too shall pass.  Your child won’t be 22 and pooping in his pants!

 

From iFamily to Yours,

 


Tips For Flying With An Infant

Flying with an infant can be stressful, but with a little planning ahead you can make sure your trip runs smoothly.  Check out these 8 tips from Liz, from our iFamily Mom Squad on how to make flying with an infant easy!

Tips For Flying With An Infant This Summer

With summer vacation in full swing right now, it’s important to know what to expect when heading to the airport with your little babe. I recently traveled with my 10 week old infant on a  non-stop flight on Southwest.  These are my biggest take-aways that I learned!

1. When flying with your baby (2 and under), make sure to have a copy of their birth certificate.

2. The stroller and car seat do not count against your 2 free bags! Yay!

3. The baby can  ride in the stroller all the way to the gate.

4. When going through security, an adult carries the  baby while the stroller and car seat go through the X Ray machine or patted down manually.

5. If bringing breast milk and formula through security, allow time for extra screening.

6. Any ice pack that is used to keep your milk cold MUST be frozen while going through security.

7. Stroller and car seats are not allowed on the plane, (unless you have purchased a seat for your baby, then a car seat is allowed). Before actually boarding the plane, leave the stroller and car seat at the end of the jetway.  It will be safety loaded under the plane.  When de-planing, the stroller and car seat will be on the jetway for you to pick up.

8. During take off and descending, ease your baby’s ear pressure by nursing or giving a bottle (swallowing helps relieve the pressure).

When flying an airline other than Southwest, make sure to check your airlines website and the TSA guides regarding traveling with a baby.

Don’t stress at all about the thought of flying with an infant. You can maintain your sanity just by being prepared.  Honestly, flying with a young baby is super easy given you don’t have the extra baggage of toys and snacks yet.  Give your baby a good feeding during take off and enjoy the snuggles flying high.

From iFamily to Yours,

Play Unrestricted: Another Way Of Learning

This week we are welcoming Ruth to the iFamily Mom Squad team!  Ruth is sharing with us how unrestricted play time can help our kids to learn and develop creativity!

Take a look…

 

Unrestricted Play

Play unrestricted: another way of learning

You don’t need a workbook, a teacher or a camp to keep kids learning and exploring. All you need is a little imagination and your child of course. Actually, the imagination doesn’t even have to be yours! Let your child be the creator, the inventor and the visionary. All you need are household items and let your child take care of the rest. Most of us have seen how small children can be entertained by tissue paper, cardboard boxes and bubble wrap. Believe it or not, kids can create out of almost anything. Give it a try for an afternoon. Put away all the play dough (an obsession in my home), toys, coloring books and definitely the electronic devices. Give them a bunch of random things and give them a topic or choose on their own and see where it goes. Maybe they will start a band, turn a laundry basket into a car or turn your plastic storage containers into a train.

There is no wrong answer

While they are creating, they are learning. Kids don’t need fancy toys to have fun and imagination is something often lost as we get older. The best part is that they are learning. Yes, exploration with spoons, boxes, tape, chairs, rocks, grass, and string are all things that children can learn from. You don’t need flashcards andworkbooks to boost their education. Actually, flashcards and workbooks do the opposite because they are BORING. Yes, I said it and I am a licensed teacher. Those tools don’t engage kids because children learn best through play.

So what are kids learning when they play?

They learn a lot more than we recognize. When my 3 year old turns our laundry basket into a car, she is not only developing her imagination, but she is fostering her problem solving skills. As my 6 year old is mixing food colors with water, bowls, spoons and cornstarch she is learning about simple chemistry and cooking. When all three of them are together outside in the sand box or in the yard with the sprinkler or with a pile of sticks they are developing their social skills through all their bickering over who does what, but they are learning to work together, share, problem solve and play unrestricted. By Unrestricted Play I mean that they aren’t confined by a box with directions or a game with rules. They learn best because they are developing their own rules as they go and using their mind to become great thinkers.

The truth is it really doesn’t matter what they are playing with (safe items of course), they are always learning. Offering your child many opportunities to play and create unrestricted helps their minds develop. As parents we want our kids to be successful adults, so why not encourage that way of thinking while they are young. They will most likely need those skills when they grow up!

Check out my Munchkins Page.

From iFamily to Yours,


6 Things to Expect On Your First Day at Gymnastics

Autumn is right around the corner here in the metro area and, like you, many parents are looking for fun activities to enroll their kids in for the upcoming school year. If gymnastics is your child’s preferred sport for the upcoming school year, you’re in for a treat today. We have a guest post submitted by our friend at Champions Gymnastics Academy on six things you should expect to see and experience on your first day at gymnastics. Take a look…

 

Things To Expect On Your First Day at Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a fun, dynamic sport that lets kids feed their dreams to let their inner circus performer, daredevil or Olympian shine. Pro Tips highlights 6 key things to know when beginning gymnastics.

How do they do that? Watching gymnasts hurl their bodies through the air while twisting and spinning, all the while under complete control, is an awe-inspiring thing. Being able to do it is another. While spunky students may, indeed, try to launch themselves in the air during that first class, the goal of the coach or instructor is to teach kids the fundamentals and have fun, so they will fall in love with the sport and therefore further develop their skills.

Don’t expect any Yurchenkos or full-in back-outs on day one. Use this guide to prepare your child, find out what to expect and pick up a few tips on making this a rewarding experience for all of you. Let’s get tumbling!

#1 Sights, Sounds, & Smells!

When you first walk into a gymnastics facility, it can be overwhelming and exciting. Something you may notice right away is a lot more equipment than when you watch a gymnastics competition on TV.  Do not be surprised to see mats shaped like over-sized building blocks — wedges, cylinders, bridges, rectangles — or even a “pit” filled with foam blocks.

Sound

The overall murmur of a gym filled with multiple classes taking place, punctuated by athletes punching off of beatboards, may feel like chaos. However, there is order to the rotations of gymnasts moving from event to event, activity to activity. If your child is easily overwhelmed, it may be helpful to have them watch a class or two before signing up to ensure they are excited about the opportunity and are able to deal with the environment.

Smell

Another thing you may notice is the somewhat “locker room” smell. Gymnasts at all levels work hard and a facility training athlete will often remind you of this the moment you enter.  Kids usually are not fazed, and for former gymnasts, that smell is the smell of “home.” So, whether you personally thrive on that aroma or not, just don’t be taken aback.

Sight

If the classes you have decided to enroll in take place at a community center or school gym, you may encounter a slightly different set up. For example, folding mats might replace a full floor exercise.

Equipment may need to be set up and broke down for each class or might be a bit sparser due to sharing the space with other activities. Generally, fewer classes take place simultaneously at any given time, and your class may be the only one happening in that window. This does not mean the instruction you receive will be better or worse than that of a dedicated gymnastics facility. The coach’s style and philosophy, how many students are enrolled and what works best for your own child’s temperament are what should drive your choice when you are just starting out.

#2 Down to the Basics

Much of an introductory-level class session will focus on developing strength and flexibility, as well as good listening skills. It will also help youngsters become comfortable with the gym equipment — and the often-discombobulating sensation of being upside down!

The types of skills taught can vary based on the age of the children in the class. For example, older students are able to understand complex instruction better than 2-4-year old’s. An experienced coach will tailor the instruction to the age group.

Generally, the class will start with a warm-up that often includes stretches and other exercises. Gymnastics for both men and women requires flexibility, and this is something that even elite competitors work on constantly. Many programs will make warm-ups a set routine so that eventually students can take turns leading the warm-up. After, the class typically moves on to instruction and practice.

You can expect skills such as rolls, handstands, bridges, cartwheels, as well as leaps and jumps, to be covered. If your child desperately wants to learn how to “flip,” let them know that the skills they are learning now are the foundation to build up to that skill. Before you can land a back tuck, you need to learn a backwards tuck roll. Before you go for an aerial, you must master the cartwheel. Each skill is a building block towards a more advanced skill. They should not try advanced skills on their own until their coach lets them know they are ready

#3 Come Prepared

This sounds a bit like stating the obvious, however coaches will tell you it is worth repeating: it starts with arriving on time. Being late may mean the athlete will not have had the time to warm up properly, not to mention the disruption to the other students when someone joins in late.

Bring your child to class clean, dressed and ready to participate.  Wear fitted clothes. Kids will be going upside down. You do not want them trying to hold their shirt down when they should be focused on their form and the safe execution of the skill at hand. For girls, a leotard and compression shorts are recommended. Avoid tights as the footing can be slippery. Leggings and footless tights are generally fine. For boys, a compression shirt or t-shirt which can tuck in and athletic shorts or compression shorts should work. Gymnasts may wear socks; if they find them slippery, they can be easily removed. At the beginner stage, special accessories such as grips or beam shoes are not necessary unless specifically directed by your coach.

  • No Jewelry

    If ears are newly pierced and earrings cannot be taken out, they must be low-profile studs. Rings, necklaces, bracelets (excluding medical) and dangling earrings should be left at home.

  • Pull Hair Back

    Since kids will be rolling, they may find a bun to be an obstacle on their head. Some kids prefer a braid so that on twisting moves their hair does not whip them in the face. Your child will quickly find what styles work best for them, but most kids will be fine with a simple pony tail or pig tails. The key is to keep it out of the face so it is not a distraction or something they need to swipe aside when they finish a skill. Elastic headbands can be another help here, so long as they have enough grip to not fly off when practicing.

  • Eat Long Before Class

    As stated before, kids will be going upside down. Upset tummies lead to a mess for the instructor, so ensure your child has had proper time to digest their meal before class starts.

  • Bring Water

    Even if the class is only 30-45 minutes, it sets a good habit for your child on the importance of hydration as an athlete.

  • Bathroom Before Class

    Finally, have them use the bathroom before class. Especially with the youngest students, when one kid has to go during class, suddenly they all need to go!

#4 On Spotting

Gymnastics is a sport that requires a great deal of hands-on help from the coach. And this is a literal hands-on. Spotting can range from nudging the gymnast to completely carrying the gymnast through the motion. Most of the time, in order to best support a child and be there in case they bobble or fall, the coach will guide the athlete at their midsection — sides, stomach, back and shoulders. The arms and legs are also spotted to help move a gymnast through a new skill. This not only helps the athlete feel the proper form and technique, it also helps provide a safer experience as new skills are being developed.

#5 What Parents Can Expect 

Many gymnastics facilities will have an area set aside for parents to hang out while class is in session. It is important to stay within these designated areas.

For some little ones, an audience is a big distraction. If they are constantly looking over to see if mom or dad are watching, instead of focusing on what the instructor is saying or what skills they are doing, you may want to consider using class time to run an errand or two.

At any age, avoid gesturing to the child to pay attention, or stepping in when the child is nervous about a skill. Well-meaning parents can quickly become a distraction for the coach, as well as the kids. If the coach does need your assistance, they will reach out and ask.

Generally, programs without viewing areas will offer specific days in the session to observe, typically the first, middle and final class. This way, parents can see progress and gymnasts can show-off what they have learned.

The rules and philosophies vary by gym, so ask questions if you are unsure of proper protocols.

#6 Be Prepared for Fun

Gymnastics should be fun from the beginning, filled with new friends and new experiences. And while there may be challenging moments as the gymnast progresses and the skills become more difficult, it’s hard to top that feeling when you learn — then master — something new!

Fair warning: the fun usually does not end at the gym. Many a parent has been dismayed to find the arm of a couch being used as a vault, the bed a perfect crash pad and walls filled with feet marks from “spotting” handstands. The whirling dervish of arms and legs going every which way is just a tell-tale sign that your son or daughter has fallen for gymnastics!

For more information on Champions Gymnastics’ incredible programs, camps, and classes, visit them online at cgakc.com or call (816) 360-9879.