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Found 19 results

  1. until
    According to a 2017 APA Stress survey, 83 percent of teens identify school as a major stressor. Pressure to succeed academically in school has been shown to increase overall stress and anxiety in students. Knowing this, NPN will talk with schools about how they are thinking about academic pressures in regards to their middle school and high school programs. What are schools doing to alleviate student stress? What tools are they offering parents and students to set realistic expectations and encourage a balanced school experience? Join us as we tackle this topic with our esteemed panels of presenters. Our Esteemed Presenters Are: Martin Moran, Lead Designer of Middle and Upper School, Bennett Day School Anna Carey, Assistant Headteacher, British International School of Chicago, South Loop Sarah Moon-Sarudi, Assistant Principal of Student Support, Walter Payton College Prep Tiffany Brownridge, Counselor, Whitney Young Magnet High School Thank you to our panelist sponsors: Bennett Day School and British International School of Chicago, South Loop
  2. until
    We're excited to launch Parent Chats! Your monthly virtual opportunity to join in on a casual conversation centered around topics that matter to you. Unlike our monthly webinars that are more structured and have a presenter and topic - you get to lead the discussion, vent about current happenings, or just observe and chime in as you see fit; think of it as our forum in video format! Sitaara and Amy from the NPN staff team will join you. If you've been craving connection but not eager about getting out in the real world for it to happen - we hope you join us. Here are the topics and dates for each Parent Chat this June through August. Participating parents will be automatically entered to win raffle prizes at each chat! In this August chat, focusing on the tween and teen years, you could win: - A college counseling mini package, "College Readiness 101" from Academic Angle - Two tickets to Rooftop Cinema Club June 9th: Chat about the early years: pregnancy - preschool July 14th: Talk about the elementary school years: Kindergarten - 6th grade August 18th: Celebrate the tween-teen years: 7th grade - 12th grade
  3. NPN Amy J.

    Head, Heart, Hand Parenting

    In this video, join Reena Vohra Morgan of Hive Educational Consulting and Parent Coaching as she shares a parent-centric framework grounded in attachment theory, brain science, and responsive parenting strategies. In this introductory workshop, you will learn ten pillars that can help you develop healthier family relationships and bring more peace, calm, and joy to your home. This session is useful for parents with children of any age, from 0 to adulthood. This video was recorded live on 8/11/23.
  4. NPN Amy J.

    Head, Heart, Hand Parenting

    until
    Join Reena Vohra Morgan of Hive Educational Consulting as she shares a parent centric framework grounded in attachment theory, brain science and responsive parenting strategies. In this introductory workshop, you will learn ten pillars that can help you develop healthier family relationships and bring more peace, calm, and joy to your home. This session is useful for parents with children of any age, from 0 to adulthood. Reena Vohra Morgan is a mother to three children and has over twenty years of experience in education. She holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Development, Montessori certificates, and is a Jai Certified Parenting Coach. In combination with theoretical knowledge, practical experience, and compassion, Reena uses a strengths-based, reflective approach to coach and empower educators and parents. She offers concrete strategies, tools, and manageable action plans to support adults who interact directly with children. Reena is certified in positive discipline and Resources for Infant EduCareers (REI). Reena resides in Chicago with her family. Questions? Contact Amy at amy@npnparents.org.
  5. until
    Raising a child is expensive, especially when your child has special needs. Government benefits are helpful however understanding the process can be overwhelming. Well NPN is here to help! In this session, we will discuss what types of benefit programs exist, which benefits programs are available to you, and what is needed for the application process. You will walk away with clarity about government benefits and how to set your child up with financial support as they become an adult. This session is helpful for parents of special needs children from ages 3 to 22. Our Esteemed Presenter: Sherri Schneider, founder, Family Benefit Solutions, Inc For more than 25 years, Sherri has been tirelessly dedicated to helping individuals with special needs and their families. Her career began as a Case Manager in a Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) where she helped those with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses acquire the government benefits they so desperately needed, including SSI, Medicaid, and food stamps. She was instrumental in creating one of the first Community Living Facility (CLF) facilities funded under a Medicaid waiver. Sherri now meets privately with families to thoroughly assess their individual situations and pursue the appropriate benefit assistance program(s), personally guiding them through the application process. Based on her vast experience, she has skillfully established and maintained open, productive relationships with government agencies involved in the decision-making process. Professionals find her in-service expertise to be invaluable as they navigate the government benefit process.
  6. If you're like me, saving for my children's future is a top priority. But it's more than just saving for college: I want to help my kids have positive relationships with money. And that means talking to them early and often about money and finances so that they are equipped with the tools to make good financial choices as adults. However, in the last 10 years, the financial landscape and possibilities have changed drastically with the introduction of cryptocurrency and the Metaverse. As a parent, this leads me to ask so many questions: What does this mean for our kids and their future? How can I better educate myself so that I can safely introduce the world of web3 to my kids? And most importantly, is there a way that I can leverage crypto to incorporate it into our larger wealth-building journey to benefit both myself and my family? All of these questions led my husband and I to start a company called The CryptoMom App, the premiere destination for all things crypto for women, by women. I wanted to create an inclusive, secure platform for women to learn about crypto and then invest it in products that are meaningful to our lives, like college funds. And with April being Financial Literacy Month, there's no better time than today to start learning about cryptocurrency. Here are three ways to start conversations about financial literacy and web3 with your children: 1. Model good behavior by researching first The best way to learn about the basics of crypto is to start researching. There are really great social media accounts for women that encourage conversations and provide the basics of cryptocurrency; Some of my favorites are CryptoWitchClub on Instagram and Elana @TradingFemale on Twitter. You don’t have to know all of the jargon and buzzwords; It’s more about increasing your exposure to slowly gain familiarity. Then, talk about what you've learned with your kids in a casual setting, like at the dinner table. Your kids will certainly be impressed and you get to flex your 'cool mom' muscles! 2. Read Books Together Kids of all ages love to cuddle up and read books together. You can find books at your local library or online that teach kids the basics of crypto, even board books for infants and toddlers like Bitcoin for Babies. For your teens, offer to start a book club and read the book together. Not only are you learning together but you're also building authentic connections that are often difficult to maintain in the teen years. 3. Take the plunge by purchasing yourself first There's no better teacher than experience so now that you're prepared with research and knowledge, take your first step by purchasing your first coin. Don’t feel the need to invest large amounts of money; Invest what you feel comfortable with, whether it's $20 or $200. Platforms like The CryptoMom App allow you to buy small fractions of bitcoin in just three easy steps. If you're looking to connect with other women on their crypto wealth-building journey, sign up for the waitlist for The CryptoMom App to get exclusive, first access to our product.
  7. Zero to $25 Garfield Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show is here! Send your favorite flower lover off to the Conservatory with a cash donation ready to go. The spring flower show will give children and families the gift of warmth (truly! It’s balmy in there). Add on a disposable camera for fun and see what develops… you may be impressed with what captures the eyes of your nature lover. Bubbles Academy- For the younger child, look no further than Bubbles Academy for everything from drop-in art classes to outdoor classes and a nature playground. Coming this spring for families and children aged up to 7, check out their Silly Space Soiree or a gift card for one of their many fun and developmentally smart activities at any location. Chalk it Up - Chalk is an underestimated resource. Whether traditional or “spray chalk,” create sidewalk games like Hopscotch, Four Square, or more. Check out “Shape Hopscotch” for a fun twist. Birthday message artistry is also a fun treat to wake up to! Spray chalk works on grass and washes out after rain. Bee’s Knees (and butterflies, too!) – For kids or families abuzz to help our favorite little honey-makers, we suggest the gift of a native plant garden. For quickest impact, plant natives from a plug rather than seeds. Because the helpful native plants are hard to find at most big box stores or nurseries, we specifically like Possibility Place Nursery in Monee, (which also offers suggestions for plants to attract butterflies!). Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin also has native plant seeds with the option to ship. For a tree bee lover, we suggest making a donation in name to Southport Corridor Bees, or adding in a jar of local organic honey to the gift. Camping - If your child has their heart set on a camping adventure, we like the idea of sharing a weekend (or just an evening) away. With many camping areas within driving distance, you can make their dream come true easily. Check out Chicago Park District’s Coleman Gear Library, where you can rent everything from tents and sleeping bags to flashlights and much more for free. If your family is new to camping, you can attend a camping experience with Chicago Parks for around $50. Learn basic camping principles, take a nature hike and enjoy an evening around the campfire led by our expert camping staff. At night campers will enjoy hot dogs and s’mores over the fire, and a light breakfast in the morning. Art lovers - While the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute have daily admission or membership options, we find that children and adults alike enjoy spending time and money at the gift shops and surrounding restaurants. Check out specifically MCA’s Family Days and The Art Exchange at The Art Institute of Chicago. Send them with a calendar of upcoming events, and maybe some art supplies and snacks to supplement their fun. $25-50 Movie Theater- Many families have not been to the theater since 2019/early 2020, which means that some young kids have never seen a movie on the big screen at all. Make their day with a gift card to their nearest movie theater or IMAX location. Bonus points if you throw in cash for snacks! Chicago Children’s Theatre - offers drop-in day camps for performers and performance-curious. We also love their unique Red Kite Program, which has special offerings for children on the autism spectrum. They even offer financial aid options for those who need it. Indoor Play - Fit City Kids offers something from everything from crawlers to big kids. Parents can relax while children run, jump, slide, and dive around the massive play zone. Daily visit passes are available online. Personal and small-group training is also available for the more serious athlete. They even have pickleball classes for kids! You can also check out Climb Zone or Brooklyn Boulders; Trampoline parks like Altitude or Urban Air. And if you’re gifting for a grown-up 21+, check out Altitude’s Adult Nights, where tickets include a drink. $50-$100 Date Night - Who wouldn’t love to be gifted a date night with childcare covered? Send parents the gift of child care: whether by covering their babysitting costs, or gifting a “Parent Survival Night” at The Little Gym. If you’re feeling generous, send them with a gift card to a nearby restaurant for grownup conversation. Near The Little Gym in Lakeview, we suggest: El Tapatio, Volo, Coda Di Volpe, or Ella Elli. Over $100 Private food experience – For the foodie families in your life, consider giving a private or small-group class or dining experience. Who wouldn’t want to experience a cooking class with French Chef Vincent at Cook Au Vin? Cooking classes are BYOB, so feel free to package your gift certificate with a bottle of their favorite wine. We hear that private catering options are also available, which may be the perfect gift for small dinner parties or romantic special occasions. Sleep - Can you really gift sleep? We sure think so. Kelly Murray Sleep Consulting offers services for new and not-so-new parents. Professional sleep consultants offer free consultations and packages range from from program guides with online support to private in-home coaching. Bulls and Bears and Blackhawks, oh my - Tickets to a Chicago Bears, Bulls, or Blackhawks game are wonderful starting points. Chicago’s WNBA team, Chicago Sky, is also a fantastic idea. And for anyone who caught the soccer bug with last years’ World Cup, check out a match for the Chicago Fire (at Soldier Field) or Chicago Stars (Bridgeview). Family Photos – For families who are so busy making memories that they may forget to capture them, consider a family photo package. Various mini-shoots are available online around holidays. Little Bear Photography and TK Photography are both well-known for their high quality and ease to work with. Next-Level Sleepovers - The Shedd Aquarium offers many specialty events for families, including add-on events such as encounters with Sea Otter, Beluga, or even a shark feeding tour! The Aquarium offers impressive overnight events, from sleeping around the Caribbean Reef to Oceanarium, where you can wake up next to penguins, whales and even dolphins. The Field Museum has regular “Dozin’ with the Dinos,” where families with children ages 6 to 12 can spend the night in the museum. Even better, you can prepay for overnight parking! Museum of Science and Industry has the unique overnight “Snoozeum” The Getaway – The getaway gift is staple for a reason. Whether it’s your family or another, most enjoy the gift of a hotel overnight. For those with older children, consider offering a small party or sleepover for them at a cool rental property. While this gift may be reserved for very special occasions, it can be the memory of a lifetime. Imagine hosting a sixteenth birthday party at a rental property with a pool table and a hot tub. Families with younger children may appreciate being sent to an indoor water park or even to the spa for mani-pedis together. Priceless: The Gift of Cereal The best gift you can possibly give someone may not be one you could predict. A recommendation shared with me recently was this: Give the child something that they ask for often but usually don’t get. Maybe it’s something you would never think of. Maybe they want to wear mismatched socks one day, or have a parent say yes to their request for a popsicle at the beach or donut at the store. Ask the child’s parent for ideas of what the child is constantly asking for, and find out if you can give the child that. Perhaps it takes the shape of cash for the parent to keep on hand at the beach. In the case of one friend I know, it was cereal. The best gifts come from the heart, creative and even wacky gift ideas can be the most memorable.
  8. Where did the time go? All of a sudden your preschooler is now in 7th or 8th grade, and it is time to think about high school. There are so many things to think about. How do you support them as they commute to school on their own, navigate a larger building, get to class on time and carry a heavier class load? How do you support the social emotional changes around fitting in, making new friends, staying true to themselves, and building healthy peer relationships? How do you prepare your child for all these changes to come? Well, NPN is here as a resource. Hear from some of Chicago's best middle schools and high schools on how they support their students during the transition from middle to high school. You will walk away understanding, when to start discussing the transition with your child, what social emotional supports schools have in place, how to help your child with organization and time management and how to be supportive but not overbearing. Thank you to our panelist, Martin Moran, Lead Designer Middle and Upper School, Bennett Day School, Melanie Ahmad, Director of Enrollment & Tuition Assistance, The Ancona School and Alison Melton, Director of Guidance, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School A special thank you to our Presenting Sponsor & Panelist: Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School and we appreciate our Supporting Sponsor & Panelist: Daystar Academy
  9. until
    Where did the time go? All of a sudden your preschooler is now in 7th or 8th grade, and it is time to think about high school. There are so many things to think about. How do you support them as they commute to school on their own, navigate a larger building, get to class on time and carry a heavier class load? How do you support the social emotional changes around fitting in, making new friends, staying true to themselves, and building healthy peer relationships? How do you prepare your child for all these changes to come? Well, NPN is here as a resource. Hear from some of Chicago's best middle schools and high schools on how they support their students during the transition from middle to high school. You will walk away understanding: When to start discussing the transition with your child What social emotional supports schools have in place How to help your child with organization and time management How to be supportive but not overbearing Our Esteemed Panelists are: Elizabeth Jamison - Dunn, Principal, Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School Tami Doig, Head of School, Daystar Academy Martin Moran, Lead Designer Middle and Upper School, Bennett Day School Melanie Ahmad, Director of Enrollment & Tuition Assistance, The Ancona School Alison Melton, Director of Guidance, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School A special thank you to our Presenting Sponsor: Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School and we appreciate our Supporting Sponsor: Daystar Academy By registering for this event, you agree that NPN may share your name and email address with our presenting sponsor. This special event is free and open to NPN members and non-members. Future sessions will be free for members and a fee for non-members. Not a NPN member? Join NPN for $30 using promocode NPNschool22 and attend all of our upcoming sessions for free! Thank you to our media partner:
  10. As parents it is hard to imagine our kids as adults, especially if your child is developmentally different. Will they go to college, trade school or get a job? Are there employment opportunities and, if so, what type? Will they be able to live independently? The panelists on this webinar can help you prepare for the many different options for your child so they can live the most fulfilling life possible. PEERS Chicago will discuss their social coaching program for young adults and Urban Autism Solutions will present their residences, transition academy and farm solution program. We will also learn about Elmhurst University's Learning and Success Academy and Anixter Center will discuss their pathway to college and employment programs. Our esteemed panel consists of: Diane Gould, CEO & Owner, PEERS Chicago, Heather Tarczan, Executive Director, Urban Autism Solutions, Tim Ahlberg, Assistant Director of Admissions, Elmhurst University ELSA and Dina Donohue-Chase, Vice President of Growth & Innovation, Anixter Center
  11. until
    Have you noticed a regression in your child—behaviorally, developmentally or socially—since the start of the pandemic? You're far from alone. Join NPN for a webinar on how to detect and manage COVID regression, whether you have a child with special needs or a typically developing child in the crucial development years of 2–5. In this discussion, you will hear from behavioral specialists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, and psychologists about the typical signs that your child may be experiencing developmental regression due to the pandemic. You will also learn about the strategies professionals are using, services that are available, and what activities you can do in the home to combat COVID-19 regression. Our esteemed panel consists of: Dr. Shay McManus, Neuropsychologist, Eyas Landing Dr. Chrisna M. Perry, PhD, Founder & Director, Comprehensive Learning Services Lorell Marin, Founder, CEO & Therapist, LEEP Forward Nicole Cissell, Clinical Director, BGF Children's Therapy Jason Wetherbee, Director of Clinical Services & Program Development, EB Pediatric Resources Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor, Eyas Landing Thank you to our Supporting Sponsors, Comprehensive Learning Services and LEEP Forward By registering for this event, you agree that NPN may share your name and email address with our presenting sponsors.
  12. until
    As parents it is hard to imagine our kids as adults, especially if your child is developmentally different. Will they go to college, trade school or get a job? Are there employment opportunities and, if so, what type? Will they be able to live independently? The panelists on this webinar can help you prepare for the many different options for your child so they can live the most fulfilling life possible. PEERS Chicago will discuss their social coaching program for young adults and Urban Autism Solutions will present their residences, transition academy and farm solution program. We will also learn about Elmhurst University's Learning and Success Academy and Anixter Center will discuss their pathway to college and employment programs. Our esteemed panel consists of: Diane Gould, CEO and Owner, PEERS Chicago Heather Tarczan, Executive Director, Urban Autism Solutions Tim Ahlberg, Assistant Director of Admissions, Elmhurst University ELSA Dina Donohue-Chase, Vice President of Growth & Innovation, Anixter Center
  13. NPN Tareema

    College Admissions 101

    Do you have a young child and you are thinking about their college career? Or do you have a high schooler and you need to figure out the college application process quickly? Either way, this is the session for you. If you wonder how to determine which colleges are a good fit for your child, where to start in applying for financial aid and scholarships, and how to approach standardized tests like the ACT and SAT, NPN can help. In College Admissions 101, presented by Grace Lee Sawin of Chicago School GPS College Search Guidance, you will learn: -How and where to begin your college search -What colleges look for in an applicant -The timeline for a smooth college application process Recorded February 2022
  14. One night my family was standing around the kitchen island talking, and my 15-year-old daughter casually said, “I know: Mom basically has an eating disorder.” Excuse me? I do not have an eating disorder. I am an extremely healthy 49 year-old. I have done CrossFit-style workouts for the last 10 years, and as a result I’m in good shape. I went on a rigorous diet five years ago that I’ve never really stopped, and as part of that I weigh my portions, eat lots of protein and vegetables, eat very little fat and allow myself a “treat” of some sort of moderate portion of a carbohydrate at dinnertime. I never snack, I never let myself eat things that I want to eat, I never let myself eat as much as I’d like to eat, and I never eat when I’m hungry. Does that behavior constitute an eating disorder? The answer to that question doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I thought I was setting an excellent example of healthy eating, and my daughter thinks I have an eating disorder. This is not the first time as a parent that I thought I was setting a shining example but found out I was setting a sh*tty one, instead. [Related: Moms, you're the key to your daughters' positive body images] I talk a lot about “healthy eating habits” in my house, like eating lots of fruits and vegetables, eating balanced portions, and not eating too many sweets. But when I asked my daughter more about her comment, she said, “I think that all of this 'healthy food talk' is more about how you look than actually being healthy.” Ouch. As I thought about what she said, I became confused. Isn’t monitoring and limiting my food intake what I’m supposed to be doing? Doesn’t healthy behavior involve controlling your portions and limiting the amount of unhealthy food that you eat? Isn’t it our society that has a disordered relationship with food by making large portions and salty, sugary food so readily available? It’s not me; it’s society! I’m the one who’s normal! Right? [Related: The social media mom: How social media can influence the way we feel] When I took a hard look at my relationship with food, I saw what my daughter saw, which is that my approach isn’t all that “healthy.” I am obsessed with weight. I think about it — the weight I’ve gained, the weight I’d like to lose, how every morsel of food I put into my mouth will affect that battle — all the time. I thought this was just a running dialogue I was having internally, but apparently it wasn’t. It was obvious for the world to see, and especially for my four daughters — the people I wanted to see it the least. I preach body positivity in my house and I talk to them about it for their own bodies all the time. But when it comes to my own body, none of that applies. I thought I was setting an example of how to maintain a healthy weight and body image into middle age. Instead, I've been setting an example of ordering my life around looking a certain way and constantly denying myself pleasure to maintain it. That example sucks. Many times as a member of Gen X, I thought that just by telling my children a different message than the one I got growing up, that things would be different for them. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too: impose on myself all of the obsessions about weight that I’d grown up with while telling them to be different. But they see that as the hypocritical position it is. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, but letting go of my obsession with my weight? Not so fast. I’ve been in an ongoing conversation with myself about my weight for at least 30 years. Would I be able to love myself, or even like myself, if I gained weight? Not without a lot of hard work. Frankly, it’s a lot easier and very tempting to stay a hypocrite. But I don’t want to set that example for my daughters. I want to have a healthy body image and a healthy relationship with food. I don’t want them to obsess about their weight, and I don’t want them to waste the monumental time and effort that I have obsessing over staying thin. I’ve got to do better. So how will I unpack and unlearn 30 years of internalized beauty standards? I haven’t a clue. That’s a topic for another essay.
  15. NPN Tareema

    College Admissions 101

    until
    Do you have a young child and you are thinking about their college career? Or do you have a high schooler and you need to figure out the college application process quickly? Either way, this is the session for you. If you wonder how to determine which colleges are a good fit for your child, where to start in applying for financial aid and scholarships, and how to approach standardized tests like the ACT and SAT, NPN can help. In College Admissions 101, presented by Grace Lee Sawin of Chicago School GPS College Search Guidance, you will learn: -How and where to begin your college search -What colleges look for in an applicant -The timeline for a smooth college application process This event is FREE and exclusive to NPN members only. Join now!
  16. On my way home from dropping my oldest daughter at college, I realized that for the first time in 18 years and 66 days, I would not know the intimate details of her life. I didn’t know what she was going to eat for dinner that night or whom she would eat with. I didn’t know what she was going to wear the next day, what kind of mood she would be in, where she was going to go and who she was going to meet. Had she made any new friends yet? Would she be able to fall asleep easily in her new dorm room? I wouldn’t know. Our society often portrays parents as deliriously happy and relieved when their children leave for college. I get that because parenting a teenager is intense: it’s exhausting, terrifying, frustrating, humbling and bewildering. But all summer before she left, I shared with friends that I while I was so excited for her, I was at the same time very sad that she was leaving. In return I would get bemused and sort of confused half-smiles in return, as if they were saying: You’ll see, it will be great. [Related: What if I put my parenting experience on my resume?] Parts of it are great. I have three other daughters, so one less person in the house has given me additional time and mental space. And there are parts of parenting a teenager that I don’t miss (like wondering what time she will be home on a weekend night). My daughter is thriving in college — she’s loving her new school, new friends, new freedom and life. She’s the happiest she’s ever been, and I’m so proud of how she’s adjusted and run headlong with open arms into this next phase. All of that brings me intense joy, relief, pride and peace. But there is loss and grief too. There’s a pain point that you have as a parent that only gets activated by your relationship to your child. You know the pain point I’m talking about: the one that doubles you over, knocks the wind out of you, bruises your soul. My parental pain point is sore and aching. I’m grieving that the 18 years and 66 days I had of knowing the intimate details of my daughter’s life are over. I always knew that this time was a finite gift and a privilege. In her young life (particularly from ages 3-5) I never thought this time would end. But it did. And I miss her. I really, really miss her. [Related: Preparing for your child's first overnight summer camp] When looking back over these 18 years and 66 days, I’ve thought that parenting is really a cruel trajectory. At the beginning of your relationship with your child, you cannot leave them unattended for a second: their life literally depends on you. Slowly your relationship becomes less and less intense so that eventually you’re just sending heart emojis to show you love them. It seems like a sick joke. But with every ending, there’s also a beginning. The last time that my daughter wasn’t part of my day-to-day life, I was 28. Who am I now at 47? What will I do with the extra mental space and time that is not filled by my daughter? I’ll admit that I’ve been watching a lot of episodes of Sex and the City, just like I did at age 28 (although seeing it through a very different lens now — wow), and maybe I’ve been doing that to connect with my younger self. I know that eventually I’ll answer the “What am I going to do?” question, but first I’m going to allow myself to grieve. Parenting is always a mix of intense emotions at the same time, so there’s comfort in knowing that at least that part hasn’t changed.
  17. As a busy parent, achieving “peace and ease” may often feel outside of your reach. But with the strategic implementation of routine, you may find that they are closer than you think. Here are three simple tips to get started. 1. Start with one small routine. A homework routine is a great cornerstone routine that you can build upon. The first step is to ensure that your kids’ homework spaces are quiet and clutter-free. Next, establish homework rules. I suggest that kids come home, eat a snack, and get straight to work. Thereafter, removing snacks, devices or other distractions can really help to narrow focus. Depending on a child’s age and amount of homework, set a timer for an appropriate amount of work time (30 minutes for elementary students, 50 for middle schoolers and high schoolers). When the timer goes off, permit them to take a 5-10 minute break before resuming the work. Don’t forget that they will need you to impose the structure at the start, but they may not need that forever. [Related: Transition from summer to school year with these tips] 2. Experiment and build upon your successes. Establishing routine is a process, so don’t be afraid to experiment. For example, if your kids need more down time when they get home from school, give them that break. If you find this leads to late-night homework meltdowns, revisit that assessment and tweak it. Once the homework routine is second-nature, redirect your attention to another time of day that feels particularly inefficient, frazzled, or frustrating. Outline what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and what kind of time restraints are to be imposed. Make sure you communicate clearly with job charts, checklists, and/or to-do lists to ensure that your entire family is on the same page. Utilize alarms and device reminders as necessary to keep everyone on track. The good news is that once one routine in place, it is much easier to build upon your existing routines. You may even find that after some initial pushback, your kids crave and maintain the structure independently. [Related: Helping your anxious child handle homework] 3. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough. Routines are more of an art than a science, and they are definitely a practice. Some days the routine will be seamless, and other days, it will be a mess. That is OK. Use that data as feedback to make decisions about how to formulate or adjust as necessary. Continue to come back to the routine and to implement it with as much consistency as possible, but if you must stray or tweak it, don’t fret. The whole idea is that the routine should work for you — not the other way around. Personally, I don’t love starting new routines, but once a new routine is in place, I don’t know how I lived without it. Put in a little extra work at the beginning of this school year to establish those good routines, and I promise that in the end, it will make your family’s life a whole lot easier.
  18. 2020 was truly a very difficult year with regards to the coronavirus pandemic. There is a lot we know now that we didn’t know at its start and still so much to learn. Scientists and medical researchers are working hard to develop therapeutic medications and vaccines to help protect us from the harms this virus can cause. Families everywhere have had to make sacrifices in their personal lives, work lives and the ways they enjoy sports and recreation, all the while trying to find new ways to stay healthy and active. While spectator sports are an exciting pastime in the fall and winter months, we have all heard over and over again about COVID infections and spread amongst professional athletes. These individuals have made personal decisions about participating in these sports as it is their job. Sports participation at the student level is clearly a different issue. The American Academy of Pediatrics values sports and physical fitness in their guidance of healthy living and good mental health during this pandemic. The safest sports last summer were noted to be golf, running, baseball and tennis — activities in which we’re able to maintain distance and minimize sharing equipment. Keep following the rules The underlying guidance across all activities is the ability to maintain social distancing, perform good hand hygiene, and wear a mask when you can’t maintain a 6-foot distance. For safety, masks may not be required in active elite level exercise, water sports, or where it poses a risk of getting caught on equipment, covering one’s eyes, or choking. Each athlete should have their own mask, access to hand sanitizer, and their own water bottles and towels. [Related: Free or cheap ways to entertain your kids on winter weekends] Recreational sports for young children can be challenging because mask-wearing may be difficult to enforce. Competitive or high school level sports for older children pose additional problems because the severity of coronavirus illness in children in their teen years may mimic that in adults. New information about the effects of COVID infection on the heart poses even more concern. Watch-outs: cardiac conditions The current recommendations by pediatricians and cardiologists include looking for signs of cardiac inflammation or myocarditis in athletes who had significant symptoms of COVID as part of clearing them to return to their sport. This can mean a minimum of a 2-3 week absence from their sport if they don’t have any cardiac concerns, or of course much longer if they have significant cardiac compromise. It is recommended to be in touch with your healthcare provider before making the decision to return to sports. What to avoid During sports practice or games, athletes need to avoid huddles, high fives, handshakes or fist bumps. They shouldn’t share any food or drinks with their teammates. Cheering each other on should be limited to when they are greater than 6-8 feet apart and they should always use a tissue when spitting or blowing their nose. [Related: Coat or no? Car seat safety during the cold winter months] Low-risk activities So the question remains, what can you and your children do to keep healthy and active and be as safe as possible? Here are some suggestions that allow social distancing, mask-wearing and minimal equipment sharing: Walking, hiking and running, fishing, golf, tennis, baseball, swimming and diving, dancing and yoga, and skating and cycling. Higher-risk activities The higher risk sports which involve more contact — soccer, football, basketball, gymnastics, cheerleading and hockey — should be undertaken only if you and your athletes, coaches and sports associations appreciate and follow the best guidance they can to minimize risk. There are no easy answers to the questions parents have about participation in sports. We know robust physical activity contributes to good mental and physical health. Knowing the risks may help you determine good options for your child. Of course, always consider discussing the health risks and benefits with your individual pediatrician. And while this may not be the ideal year for your athlete, we hope that there are good protective vaccines available in the near future which can help protect us all, and allow for a more active lifestyle again! Anita Chandra-Puri, MD, is a Chicago pediatrician with Northwestern Medical Group Pediatrics, as well as a mom and NPN board member. To ask Dr. Anita a question, email newsletter@npnparents.org with the subject line, “Ask a Doctor.”
  19. When our oldest son was just three years old, we found ourselves at the University of Chicago – our son groggy from anesthesia due to a necessary endoscopy and the doctor telling us, “The pathology and blood tests all confirm celiac disease.” I was relieved because we now had an answer as to why he wasn’t growing or developing. Once we removed the gluten from his diet, that all improved, but my head was also spinning because I had no idea how to deal with this diagnosis. No more birthday cakes, pizza, donut runs on Sunday mornings. Fast forward 10 years, and that all seems like a very distant memory. [Related: Help kids with food allergies enjoy the holidays] Celiac in the city with a teen Now that our oldest is 13, I no longer know where he is every moment and I’m not dictating his every meal. Luckily, we live in a city with a lot of gluten-free options. With celiac disease, one has to be very careful regarding cross-contamination. At home for example, I keep separate peanut butters, butters, and cream cheeses because we don’t all eat gluten free, and if you dip the knife in one of those and then gluten crumbs get into the product, he could get very ill. About 10 milligrams of gluten is what it takes to get sick, and that is about the size of a bread crumb. You’re probably wondering how we ever trust a restaurant or go out to eat. With age and experience has also come his level of risk tolerance for his body. For example, many restaurants don’t have a dedicated fryer for french fries, but he’s realized that this doesn’t seem to impact him, so he is OK to eat the fries, usually. This likely isn’t best practice per his doctors, but he also has to have some “food freedom” in life. Our favorite gluten-free friendly restaurants in Chicago As a family, we love to go out to eat. Below are some restaurants that my son loves – and that I trust: D’Agostino’s — He loves the pizza and the restaurant even went through a celiac certification process Jersey Mike’s – The company uses Udi’s sub rolls and will even clean off the deli slicers before making his sandwich Lettuce Entertain You – Takes celiac disease very seriously and have separate menus in most of their restaurants Wheat’s End – A dedicated gluten-free restaurant with amazing pancakes Zia’s Lakeview – Dedicated gluten-free menu and he loves their octopus appetizer Corridor on Southport – Amazing burgers that he orders without a bun and fantastic fries As my son gets older, it will be up to him to keep his body healthy. He fully understands how awful he feels if he ingests gluten, but I also know he will make mistakes either intentionally or not. Thankfully, there are many great options in Chicago, and he has a great group of friends and parents that all support him. To learn more about gluten threshold levels for teens and others, check out the National Celiac Association's helpful graphic here. Photo: gluten-free doughnut at Wheat's End Cafe

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