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7 Ways to Make the Holidays Special for Your Children

7 Ways to Make the Holidays Special for Your Children
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This time of year can be challenging for any parent. As schools, businesses, churches and communities everywhere are gearing up to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas, the days and weeks ahead can become crammed with activities that will wear out any child and their parents.

But a conscientious parent will search for ways to teach their children the true meaning of the holidays, so they don’t get lost and confused by the commercialism promoted by retail stores.

Instead of focusing on the self-absorbed attitude of deciding what they want to get out of it, (like how many toys will Santa bring me) maybe you would prefer that your child learn about why we celebrate these holidays to begin with.

Here are some simple things you can do to help your child learn the traditional meaning of the holidays, while giving them something they can treasure about the upcoming events.

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1. Bake something

This is one of the easiest ways to show your kids what a special time the holidays are.  You can teach them how to bake cookies. Maybe you can pass on an old family recipe, as you show them step-by-step how to do it. Of course, with younger children, you will need to take precautions, and show them how to be safe when using sharp instruments and doing things near hot ovens.

Pink Sherbet on flickr

    2. Find magic in the holidays

    Wherever you live, your children should be able to see the splendor of all the lights and trees and decorations that are put up in your area. Maybe you can take them to see a water fountain in a park nearby that is illuminated at night by colorful lights. Just going for a drive in the car to see how other people decorate their houses and put up lights, or a trip to the city for a festive event can be a fun outing for them. And the joy that you express over the holidays is something your children will see and appreciate along with you.

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    by DncnH at Flickr

      Alisha Vargas at Flickr

        3. Make something

        Here is one of the easiest things for any child to do, because there are so many different kinds of crafts they can try. You can help them by coming up with creative ideas. They can make different things for Thanksgiving and then other types of things for Christmas. Each child should be able to make something all by themselves, or with a little bit of your help, that they can give to someone else, like a friend at school or daycare. Or, they may find it fun to just make it and give it to you.

        Terren in Virginia at Flickr

          4. Help someone in need

          One of the most important and valuable lessons any parent can teach a child is for them to learn how to do something to help others. Whether it is helping a friend do their homework, or helping an elderly person with yard work, doesn’t matter. What really matters is that they learn to give some of their time and energy in a way that will help someone else. They learn to give, rather than take. And, in the process, they will learn to value how it makes them feel good inside to do it.

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          Torrey Wiley on flickr

            5. Learn holiday songs

            Much of the fun during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays comes from the joyous sound of people singing. Maybe you can spend some family time singing songs while gathered around the firepit in the backyard. You can teach your children how to sing or play some of your favorite and traditional songs, or you can take them to an event where there is singing and or dancing. The viewing of cultural events during the holidays is something that every child should have an opportunity to do. Even if you are away from home and  traveling with your children, you can still sing holiday songs with them wherever you are.

            6. Write what it means to them

            As your children grow from toddlers to school age youngsters, an important part of their learning, is learning how to express themselves. You can make plans to have family discussions about the meaning of the holidays and they can talk about their feelings, or share their ideas. Writing them down in a notebook or in cards to mail out to friends and family is a great thing to teach your children, that they can carry on throughout their lives.

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            Photopin

              7. Take them to a holiday movie

              Going to a holiday movie with your child is another fun thing to do this time of year. There are usually a few animated Disney movies that come out in the winter time, especially for young people. Going to a movie will show your children that they can enjoy doing things with you that will benefit them. This can be one way that they learn to enjoy doing things that are fun and important to them, and not just having to always do what grownups do.

              Watching a movie can spark their imaginations and creativity and show them what a fun time they can have with the family.

              Taber Andrew Baln at Flickr

                You may find the holidays a lot more enjoyable if you remember  these 7 simple ways to have fun with your kids. When they get a chance to bake something, look for joy, make something, help someone in need, learn holiday songs, write what the holidays mean to them, and enjoy a favorite holiday movie, they will probably come away with more of the magic of the season and less of the materialism.

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                Featured photo credit: Ambuja Saxena at Flickr via flickr.com

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                Karen Bresnahan

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                Published on July 22, 2021

                20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week

                20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week
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                It’s 5 p.m., and you’re exhausted. The kids are hungry, but no one knows what they want to eat for dinner. With very little energy, you force yourself into the kitchen and look through every cabinet, hoping for a spark of inspiration. Eventually, you toss a few ingredients together and hope for the best. It won’t win any prizes and falls short of what you consider “healthy,” but it fills everyone’s stomachs.

                Feeding a family can be stressful, even tiresome. It’s hard to find the energy and creativity needed to cook healthy but simple family meals. It’s easy to fall into the “anything goes” mentality. When you’ve got a busy lifestyle, meals become more about survival and less about nutrition.

                Here are 20 quick and healthy—but tasty—recipes followed by tips on making these family meals more nutritious. These recipes can help you have a healthy family meal on the table in an hour or less. Remember, swap ingredients out if someone in your family has dietary restrictions or if you avoid certain foods.

                1. Mini Meatloaves With Green Beans and Potatoes

                  These miniature meatloaves come together quickly and cook faster, too. You can have a family favorite on the table, paired with seasoned potatoes and fresh green beans, in just 40 minutes.

                  Get the recipe here.

                  2. One-Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta

                    This classic will taste like you spent hours cooking, but the preparation and clean-up couldn’t be quicker. One-pot cooking makes this dish practical, while fresh basil, parmesan, and garlic add a special touch.

                    To try this recipe, go here.

                    3. Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

                      Skip the restaurant and make fajitas at home. The ingredients go on one sheet pan, meaning you won’t spend all night cleaning. Zesty chicken, bell peppers, and warm tortillas can be on the table in 40 minutes. Add sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, diced tomato, and any other favorite toppings.

                      Check out the recipe here.

                      4. Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

                        Lose the carbs but keep the cheesesteak flavors with this quick family meal. Kids will love the pepper “bowls,” and you’ll love giving them a meal full of veggies and protein to keep them healthy.

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                        Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                        5. Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl

                          This veggie-packed meal adds an extra boost by using the superfood quinoa instead of rice. Flavorful yet simple, this meal makes an excellent packable lunch or dinner for your whole family.

                          Find the recipe here.

                          6. Spinach and Chicken Skillet With Lemon and Parmesan

                            The complex flavors of lemon and parmesan come together nicely in this gourmet-like dish, but you don’t have to exert the effort or spend as much as a gourmet meal.

                            Get the recipe for this dish here.

                            7. Oven-Fried Fish and Chips

                              Fish and chips can also sometimes be healthy as evident in this oven-fried version. You won’t miss the calories with this favorite family meal.

                              You can find the recipe here.

                              8. Pineapple-Teriyaki Chicken

                                Tangy pineapple and sweet teriyaki will have everyone coming back for seconds. Frozen vegetables make this simple family dish even easier to make and enjoy.

                                Find the recipe here.

                                9. Mozzarella, Basil, and Zucchini Frittata

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                                  This egg dish is usually served for breakfast, but a frittata can make a fantastic dinner, too. High in protein, packed with zucchini, and delicious, there’s no reason to wait until morning.

                                  Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                  10. Chicken and Sweet Potato Grill Packets

                                    Skip the pans and throw everything into foil with this fun family recipe. Kids will love loading ingredients into their pack, and you’ll love its versatility and simplicity.

                                    The recipe for this meal can be found here.

                                    11. Chicken and Spanish “Rice”

                                      Cauliflower takes the place of rice in this low-carb family meal, but it’s so flavorful and filling, no one will miss it.

                                      Find the recipe here.

                                      12. Honey Chicken Stir Fry

                                        This honey chicken stir fry is the healthier version of a restaurant favorite that can be served up quicker than you can order it.

                                        Find the recipe here.

                                        13. Chicken Skewers With Tzatziki

                                          Greek chicken and tzatziki sauce will have you yearning for the Mediterranean, but you can make this recipe at home for your family to enjoy.

                                          This easy recipe can be found here.

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                                          14. Healthy Walking Tacos

                                            Traditional walking tacos are a party favorite, but they’re not usually healthy. However, this recipe keeps it fun while making it more nutritious.

                                            Find out how to make it here.

                                            15. Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

                                              This classic comfort meal can be ready when you walk in the door. All you have to do is add noodles, and it’s ready to serve.

                                              The recipe can be found here.

                                              16. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

                                                This usually takes a little over an hour, but the preparation time is only 30 minutes. You’ll love how easy it is, and the cheesy rice is sure to please.

                                                Find the recipe here.

                                                17. Crockpot Rotisserie-Style Chicken

                                                  Skip the checkout line and have a rotisserie-style chicken ready at home. A staple in many quick meals, you might find this family meal recipe among your most-used.

                                                  Get the recipe for this flavorful chicken here.

                                                  18. Santa Monica Street Tacos

                                                    Named after a simple taco found on the streets of California, you’ll be surprised that something with only a few ingredients can be so flavorful. Your kids will surely enjoy them.

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                                                    Find the recipe here.

                                                    19. Pizza Pasta Salad

                                                      Enjoy the flavor of pizza without the hassle of making a crust. Use a fun pasta shape to make this even more appealing to your family, especially kids.

                                                      Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                                      20. Slow-Cooker Lasagna Soup

                                                        Everyone loves lasagna, but it can be time-consuming and messy to make. However, this soup version has the taste you want but with the ease of a crockpot.

                                                        Get the recipe here.

                                                        Bonus: 3 Simple Ways to Make Meals Healthier

                                                        Eating healthy doesn’t have to take a lot of money, time, or thought. Any improvements are a big step in the right direction.

                                                        Here are three easy ways you can make meals healthier for your family.

                                                        1. Lose the Sugar

                                                        Are you looking to improve your health? Cut processed sugars from your diet—the more, the better, and that includes artificial sweeteners.[1] Why? Studies show that sugar increases the risks for weight gain, heart disease, acne, type-2 diabetes, depression, cancer, fatty liver disease, cellular aging, and low energy levels.[2]

                                                        2. Avoid Highly Processed Foods

                                                        Many processed foods are fine to eat. Even fresh fruit and vegetables go through some processing to stay fresh longer. However, highly processed foods have added salt, sweeteners, saturated fats, preservatives, and artificial colors. These types of food have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.[3]

                                                        3. Replace Simple Carbs for Complex Carbs

                                                        Lowering daily carbs can do wonders for your health. Studies show that low-carb diets lead to lower insulin levels, lower bad cholesterol levels, visceral fat loss, weight loss, reduced appetite, and can be therapeutic for many brain disorders.[4]

                                                        When eating carbs, choose complex carbs over simple carbs. Simple carbs, such as white flour, rice, and degermed cornmeal, lack nutrients and spike blood sugar levels. Complex carbs, such as sweet potato, brown rice, and oats, are usually more nutritious and aren’t digested as quickly, giving more sustained energy and less of an insulin spike.[5]

                                                        Enjoy Family Meals With Less Stress!

                                                        Dinner can be enjoyable again now that you’re armed with simple and nutritious recipes for your family. These healthy and tasty family meal recipes can help you feel even better about what you serve. Best of all, you’ll have the extra time and energy you saved from cooking and spend more time with your family.

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                                                        More Healthy Eating Tips

                                                        Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

                                                        Reference

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