Have You Played Today? Why Adults Should Embrace Play

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“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

Remember when recess was the best part of the day? Why is it that adults stop playing? Why are we always so serious? If you have been wondering why you are feeling down, consider the last time you played. I’m willing to bet it is has been a long time since you genuinely played. True play uplifts your spirits!

As a working mom, I get it. We are so busy that it is hard to find time to play. Then, when we do have time, we feel a little guilty. No more! According to psychologists, play is vital (especially for adults!). One researcher told the Washington Post, “Play is a basic human need as essential to our well-being as sleep, so when we’re low on play, our minds and bodies notice.”

To help you get past the guilt of playing, check out these five solid reasons for giving childlike play a place in your life.

Play to bond.

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Playing is fun, and if you are having fun with the ones you love, you are making memories. Play creates bonding opportunities between parents and their kids; plus, play is also a wonderful way to bond with your partner or rekindle the flames.

Play to relieve stress.

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Playing is a great way to release tension. When you play, you can escape what is worrying you. If you are facing a stressful situation, you can playful attitude can help you handle it in stride. One study found playful personality types “reported less stress in their lives and possessed better coping skills. Perhaps they have these attributes because they are better able to keep stress in perspective.”

Play to increase overall satisfaction.

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When you key into the type of play you enjoy and find ways to play this way more regularly, you will find more satisfaction in your life overall. Some companies have even embraced the idea by incorporating play into their offices or by taking employees on fun outings where they can play like kids (such as go-karting).

Play to strengthen cognitive skills.

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Numerous studies have proven that playing games improves cognitive skills, which is why older adults are encouraged to play such games. Help Guide explains, “Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function.” But why wait until you are elderly? Start playing puzzle games on your cell phone today!

Play to improve your health.

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According to KCHA, “Playing can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you feel your best.” A natural benefit of physical play is that it is good for your heart and overall health. If you loved riding your bike as a kid or enjoyed roller skating, it is time to bust them out again! Have active fun and stay healthy!

Your assignment for today

Do something you loved doing as a kid. Embrace play — comment below to tell me what you did.

Ways for Families to Embrace Earth Day This April

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Did you know that Earth Day is celebrated each April? Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids the importance of respecting the environment. Not only are there tons of online Earth Day resources from respectable sources like PBS Kids, but there are also several community events taking place around NYC on Earth Day (April 22, 2019).

We all know some moms who are super earthy but teaching our kids to respect the earth doesn’t mean we all have to dress/act the same way. I can embrace my love for fashion as well as my love for the great outdoors. So, with that in mind, I am sharing some ways all moms – from the crunchy moms to the fashionista moms – can teach their children the importance of respecting the earth.

Get Outdoors as a Family

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The easiest and most effective way to teach your kids to love the earth is to spend time outdoors. Kids love playing outside! Their curiosity comes to life when they do something as simple as a hike in the woods. By giving them the chance to explore nature, they will come to love and respect it.

Attend an Earth Day Event

A fun way to celebrate the Earth is to take your kids to EarthFest on April 13, 2019, hosted by the American Museum of Natural History. This all-day event is a celebration of our beautiful earth and will include concerts, yoga, hands-on activities and more.

Earth Day New York 2019 will take place on April 23rd at Union Square. This annual event has several vendors, activities, and performances geared at teaching the public how to take care of the earth.

Plant a Garden

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Many New Yorkers don’t have a ton of space to grow a big garden. However, teaching kids the basics of gardening can go a long way when it comes to respecting Mother Nature. For example, if you don’t have outdoor space, plant an herb garden by a kitchen window. If you do have some outdoor space, plant a tree for each child and watch it grow as your child grows.

Volunteer in a Local Park

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Earth Day is a great day to teach your kids to both respect the Earth and the importance of volunteering. Look for opportunities to volunteer as a family to do park clean-ups. These types of volunteer activities work well for families because kids can be assigned simple tasks. NYC Parks has some Earth Day events that will make this possible.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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I don’t expect you to change your lifestyle radically – I haven’t changed mine! But, if we all do something small, we can do something big for the environment. When it comes to making environmentally-friendly choices, consider the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce your waste. For example, Amazon now allows Amazon Prime members to choose only to receive shipments one day a week. Reuse items when possible such as using reusable grocery bags. And, finally, recycle. Teach your children to recycle items rather than throwing everything into the garbage bin.

Go Ahead, Eat Dessert First

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I love a good dessert, and I am all about indulging now and then. But, I recently came across some new information about desserts that has radically changed things for me as a woman and a mom. I bet you are going to feel the same way.

Have you ever found yourself forcing your way through a meal just because you are anxious to get to the dessert? Have you ever told your kid they had to eat all that is on their plate before they get dessert? Have you ever treated dessert like a prize?

Guess what? When you view dessert this way, you run the risk over actually overeating (or making your kids overeat). When you stop forcing yourself to say “no” to sweets, you will be surprised to find you don’t binge eat the way you did before. It’s true!

Eat Like a European

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Did you know that it is common to start your meal with a pastry or tart in European countries? Since Europeans are not quite as obese as Americans, this is an interesting tidbit. They treat desserts differently than we do.

Stop Treating Dessert Like a Reward

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What would happen if you stopped treated dessert like a reward and treated it more like a normal part of a balanced diet? When we treat desserts like an indulgence, it makes it easier to overindulge. Think about it. We always want more of the things we aren’t supposed to have. If we took the danger out of desserts, maybe we wouldn’t allow them to put us in the danger zone.

Even Science Agrees

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The American Psychological Association has studied it, and even they say eat dessert first! In their report aptly titled If I Indulge First, I Will Eat Less Overall: The Unexpected Interaction Effect of Indulgence and Presentation Order on Consumption, they found that individuals who started their meal with their highest-calorie dish first tend to eat less calories overall.

From the report: “The results of four experiments consistently showed that when the first item in a sequence is indulgent, individuals subsequently choose healthier foods and consume fewer calories.” It makes sense to me. If I choose to begin with a dessert, I will likely not stuff myself with other high-calorie foods after.

Moderation is Key

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” - Charles M. Schulz

Like all things in life, moderation is key. While Europeans and scientists may agree that dessert comes first, I don’t think it means dessert comes first at every meal. Or that every dessert should be super indulgent. Some desserts are better than others.

Ultimately, the key is to let go of dessert guilt. When you eat what you want when you want it, you are less likely to overindulge. By taking away the prize of dessert and treating it like a regular part of a balanced diet, we are less likely to feel like we “need” a dessert to satisfy us.

What do you think? Are desserts worth it?

 

These Small Changes Changed Everything About the Way I Eat

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At the start of a new year, there is always so much pressure to lose more weight and get healthier. For most women, this turns into a cycle of dieting where we lose weight, gain weight, and feel less than. I’m over it.

Being healthy matters. But eating well and living a life you enjoy matters just as much. If we are not careful, we can develop a negative attitude towards food, which will make life harder and less enjoyable. This is why it is so important to have a positive attitude toward food.

Today, I’m sharing some of the small changes I made regarding the way I view food and dieting. These small changes have made such a big difference in my life. I bet you’ll notice a positive change when you change your attitude about food, too.

Dieting for the Sake of Dieting – No Thank You!

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If you are dieting to get healthy, good for you! If you are dieting simply because everyone around you is dieting, just stop. While it is important to eat healthy, there is no reason to go overboard with juice cleanses and diets.

Let Go of Food Guilt

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Please, once and for all, can we get over food guilt? There is already so much pressure on women to look the right way that we don’t need to feel pressure to eat the right way all the time. If you eat something not on the health menu, don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is a new day.

Stop Saying Never – Eat Some Treats!

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Along with the above attitude, stop telling yourself you can “never” eat certain things. This will only make you want them more. It is perfectly fine to indulge in the occasional treats. Many nutritionists recommend following the 80/20 rule – try to eat healthy 80% of the time with a 20% cushion.

Eat When You are Hungry – Not for the Sake of Staying Busy

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Many women fall into the habit of eating just to stay busy. Women get bored, and it feels better to be doing something – even something as simple as snacking. Instead, aim to eat when you are hungry. Before you pull a snack out of the pantry, ask yourself if you are actually hungry.

Enjoy Eating and Engage Your Senses

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The more you enjoy eating, the better your relationship with food will become. For instance, take time to taste your food rather than rushing through a meal. Engage your senses. Notice the aromas and taste the different flavors. Marvel at the beautiful display on the plate before you at the restaurant – isn’t that half the pics on Insta? We love looking at beautiful food. Now, take the time to enjoy eating it!

Be a Positive Food Role Model

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As a mom, it is important that I am a positive food role model for my daughters. Bad food habits can cause big problems like obesity and eating disorders. That’s why I believe it is important to teach them to eat well and enjoy every bite.

My New Year’s Resolution for 2019 – Be More Selfish

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The end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 is the perfect time to reflect and make changes. It is for this obvious reason that many people make new year’s resolutions. But, we all have had a year when we’ve made too many resolutions (or just the wrong ones) and failed miserably.

So, this year I am going in a different direction. Rather than making resolutions to lose X number of pounds, work out X number of times a week, or save X amount of money, I’ve decided to resolve to do something for me. This is the year I am going to be more selfish. I am making resolutions to help me be my best self. And, to be my best self might mean I need to make some selfish choices - choices that prioritize my own needs.

Hear me out – I do not think we should aim to be selfish people. That isn’t exactly a good quality. However, there will be years when you are simply tired after juggling so much. And, this year I am ready to let go of some of the busyness that comes from doing so much for so many. This is the year of me.

I’m going to quit my full-time job.

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My major goal for this year is to quit my full-time job. I love to work, but I am at a point in my life where I would like to work a bit less. I want more space in my schedule to do things. Even better – I believe this is a goal I will achieve.

I’m going to a take a long vacation.

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This will be the year I take a true, long vacation. On my longer vacations in the past, I tend to end up having to do some work — not this year. I will find time to take a true vacation that will leave me feeling completely rejuvenated.

I’m going to practice radical self-care.

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This year I am going to prioritize my own health. That means if I have to let someone down because it is more important for me to go to yoga, so be it. If I feel overwhelmed, I will say no easily and readily. I am stocking up on self-care supplies – everything from healthy options to wine and chocolate – and using these things whenever I am feeling depleted.

I’m going to do more of what makes me happy.

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In 2019, I want to spend more time doing things that make me happy. I am going to invest in experiences that make me smile and laugh. I am going to go places that leave me awestruck. I am going to enjoy the hobbies I love.

I’m going to prioritize spending time with my family.

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I am going to prioritize spending time with my family – even when that means saying no to a work requirement or an added event on the calendar. I plan to spend time with my loved ones doing the things that remind of us of the best things about family life.

I’m going to let go of guilt.

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Finally, I will not feel guilty for being selfish. I will not feel guilty for politely saying no when something asks me for something that I cannot give. I will not feel guilty for loving my “me time” or my time alone with my family.

What is your 2019 resolution? Let me know in the comments1

I Took a Mental Health Day and It Was Glorious!

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Life is crazy. This is why I think it is important every now and then to totally check out and have a day away from everything. I’m not talking about a vacation – I am talking about a day for you to take care of yourself. Some people refer to these as “mental health days.”

As more professionals are stressing the importance of self-care, it is more acceptable to take mental health days than it was before. Now, employers understand that if they want their workers to do their best work, they need downtime to get refreshed.

As a working mom, it is super important that I practice self-care. I have to take care of myself so that I can take care of my family. And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a day to myself. Recently, I took a mental health day, and it was glorious!

Here is What I Did on My Day Off

Below, I am recounting some of the things I did on my last day to myself. I hope these inspire you to take your own day off and enjoy some much-needed time for yourself.

Let the in-laws handle the kids.

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As a mom, I rarely ever have true “days off.” Moms are always on duty – even when we have a day off work. However, it is important now and then to take a mom break, too. On my day off, my in-laws generously offered to take the girls for the day. That even included them handling school drop-offs and pick-ups. It was ah-mazing!

Ate lunch and dinner with my husband.

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I enjoyed grown-up meals with my hubby without having to rush. I didn’t have to choose a restaurant that was kid-friendly. My husband and I ate leisurely and enjoyed great adult conversation.

Went for a massage and facial.

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While my husband took a much-needed nap, I headed to the spa for a massage and facial. It felt wonderful to have someone taking care of me for a change! With a busy work schedule and family events, it can be difficult to squeeze in time for the spa, so it is always a special treat when I get to go.

Sat in the coffee shop.

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Most moms know the difficulty of enjoying a hot cup of coffee. With everything on our plates, we seldom get to simply sit and enjoy a cup of coffee – let alone in a coffee shop! On my off day, I made sure to go to my favorite coffee shop and enjoy my drink while it was still hot.

Did not check in virtually.

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The whole point of a mental health day is to take care of your mental health by stepping away from work. For me, this means I need to check out virtually. On my day off, I made sure I left my devices at home. I did not check my phone, my email, or my social media. And, you know what? It was awesome!

Enjoyed the world around me without rushing.

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Finally, I simply took the time to enjoy the beauty of the world around me. I stopped and smelled the roses. Too often, we get too busy to look around and admire the beauty surrounding us. On this day, I took my time and looked around with eyes and heart wide open.

Simple Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

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With Thanksgiving coming next week, I’ve been thinking about a lot about gratitude. I want to be a person who is known for her attitude of gratitude. But, that’s easier said than done, right? We live in a time where it is becoming easier to be self-sufficient and also selfish. As we strive to do things on our own, we should not forget to thank those who helped us get where we were.

That’s one of those things that sounds good, and we know it is right, but something we don’t put into practice as we should. I can admit that there are many days when I focus more on the negative than the positive. I see the thorns instead of the roses.

And, it is time to stop. I want to be a person that strives to live out Thanksgiving not only on the holiday but throughout the year. I want to extend gratitude and thankfulness to others and to pass this trait on to my kids.

Here are just a few of the things I plan to do to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Write it down.

Let’s bring back the practice of writing thank you notes. Writing a thank you note forces you to think about what someone else has done for (or given) you. This practice inspires gratitude. While there are all sorts of etiquette rules about formal thank you notes, I say let’s simple embrace writing someone a simple thank you note – even if it is a quick thank you on a post-it note.

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Additionally, try keeping a gratitude journal. Rather than writing about the various things that happen in your day, a gratitude journal is a place where you record the things you are grateful for. This is another great way to inspire grateful hearts.

Say it aloud.

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The easiest way to become known as a grateful person is to express thanks aloud! By simply saying, “Thank you” when it is deserved, you can make a big difference. Your thank you may be just what the person needs to hear, and it will help you to focus on others instead of yourself.

Give and serve.

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We all take things for granted. Maybe the best way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude is to serve those less fortunate. In doing so, we will see how much we have to be thankful for. During the holiday season, there are numerous ways to give back in your local communities.

Make it part of your routine.

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Add intentional moments of gratitude to your daily routine. This will look different for everyone. Some women use a time of meditation or prayer to reflect on the things they are thankful for in their lives. Others take time to name something they are thankful for with their families around the dinner table. There are also women who make finding gratitude a part of their daily exercise routine by thinking on the things they are grateful for motivation. The point is to make it normal and natural to reflect on the things you have to be thankful for each day.

Create a gratitude jar.

For the Pinterest-crowd, you can create a gratitude jar. A gratitude jar is simply a jar that you fill throughout the year with written tokens of gratitude. For instance, some women place a small notepad and a pen next to a jar. Then, they write down something they are grateful for and drop it in the jar whenever the mood hits. At the end of the year, you can dump the contents and reflect on the many reasons you are grateful.

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For those of you who would rather buy a gratitude jar, you can purchase Gratitude Glass Jars which were named one of Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2017. In addition to the beautiful jars, they come with 365 gratitude cards.

What are some ways you are striving to create an attitude of gratitude?