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Published on December 16, 2020

How To Make Your Bored Kids’ Time More Meaningful At Home

How To Make Your Bored Kids’ Time More Meaningful At Home

While having children is a blessing, it does come with its own kind of struggles. We want the best for our kids and for them to spend their time in a meaningful way. However, there is currently a pandemic forcing children to stay at home all day. And even outside of this pandemic, it’s very often that kids feel bored around the house as well despite having homework or various toys to play with.

It can seem like a futile and frustrating endeavour to entertain a child through other methods, however, there is a simple solution around that. Through this guide, our goal is to provide you with possible solutions to having your kids have a more meaningful time while at home. This will also help alleviate the stress on you too.

Stay Entertained And Keep Learning With Amazon Kids

Back in September, Amazon announced a name change to two of their popular kids offerings as well as new experiences. These changes are geared towards older kids and introduced various features that are designed to help families stay on track for this school year.

They called it Amazon Kids while their premium was Amazon Kids+ and with it, came a series of features. These features being:

  • New Home Screen Experience: A new home screen theme within Amazon Kids that looks and feels more like a grown-up tablet. This is ideal for children aged 8 or more.
  • Announcements: If you have an Echo device in your home, bored kids will now be able to use their Fire tablet to broadcast a message in their voice to everyone in the home. This feature needs to be enabled and parental consent is required.
  • More Videos and Music: Now bored kids can enjoy hundreds of new video titles hand-selected for kids ages 6 to 12, including gaming playthrough videos and PG and live-action titles. Kids also now have easy access to music stations from iHeartRadio Family.

On top of that, families can use Amazon Devices and Alexa to stay organized further with features such as:

  • Coursework Updates Directly from School: Alexa Skills are now available to match the learning platform used by your school system, including Canvas, Infinite Campus, Coursera, ParentSquare and Kickboard. Parents and students 13+ can ask, “Alexa, do I have any homework?” to get all your upcoming due dates.
  • Personalized Schedules: With the Alexa Skill School Schedule Blueprint, just fill out an easy-to-use template from the Alexa app or online to build a personalized schedule that Alexa will read aloud each day, like reminders for class and school activities.
  • Worksheets On-Demand: With the new Jumpstart Alexa Skill, you can ask Alexa to print math, vocabulary, science and writing worksheets, coloring sheets, and more via your wireless printer for every supplemental at-home learning need.

Beneficial for Kids and Parents

With Amazon’s new platform for kids, these new features can provide a tonne of benefits.

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First of all, Amazon Kids is free with Amazon Kids+ being subscription based ($2.99 for Prime members and $4.99 for non-Prime members), making it affordable for parents to get this.

On top of providing educational and entertaining content, each new feature brings benefits to bored kids and parents alike.

Easy Navigation

The newer home screen makes for easier navigation for parents since the display is not that different from other streaming service menus. So if your child is looking for something in particular, it’ll be easier for you to navigate it.

For the child, it allows them to feel older and can bring a sense of maturity to them while they’re still developing. It can also make things easier for them to navigate since children 12 or older have likely surfed Netflix or other streaming platforms as well and this menu makes it easier for them to navigate through these too.

The new announcement feature can be used in all kinds of different ways. Provided that you have an Alexa Echo, you can use this feature as a way of calling your child and vice versa for anything at all.

An Expanded Library of Content

While the free version does have a good library of music and videos, having an expanded library of content can provide for more hours of entertainment and education.

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Beyond that, the music can be good for school work and focus.

Keep Your Child’s Learning on Track

The coursework updates are crucial for a child to ensure not only are they doing their homework in the first place, but also to ensure there aren’t any surprises for what’s due and what isn’t. With this feature, you can ensure that you are up to speed with what needs to be worked on so you can stay prepared.

The worksheets on-demand feature is fantastic as it allows the chance for children to have further study material in certain subjects that they’re struggling with. This allows children to reinforce what they learned in various areas and develop themselves further in that aspect.

Flexible Learning Schedule

Personalized schedules also remove a lot of stress as children are informed of what sort of events or activities are planned for the day. This makes preparation for the day easier for everyone.

How To Tackle the Potential Downsides

While these new features provide a tonne of benefits, there are naturally some downsides to these products you must keep in mind. Some of them being:

  • Screen time reduces the quality of family time spent together.
  • Prolonged exposure to television can cause overeating and weight gain.
  • The fact that television causes children to lead a more sedentary lifestyle overall.
  • Technology addiction leading to superficial friendships or children being less social.
  • Become addicted to dopamine (a feel good drug that can be induced from activities that one enjoys. Some are good but others are bad such as watching television) and thus reduce productivity.

However, as a parent, you can control these aspects and there are many different ways that you can go about this to mitigate the risks of too much television.

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1. See Television As A Band-Aid Fix

The first thing is that a television can never be a parent and shouldn’t be treated as such. Yes, there are great programs on television to teach children, but there are some things that tv shows can’t teach kids all that well. At the end of the day, the relationship that you share with your kid(s) is invaluable.

As such, see these features as an opportunity to keep children entertained for a few hours at a time. Spend time with them and guide them on how to be interacting with programs and devices while also doing other activities too.

2. Place Screen Time Limits To Curb Addiction

While technology is helpful, there are such things as too much of a good thing. As mentioned above, too much television – even if it’s educational – can lead to bad habits of watching too much TV.

One way that you can limit this is by placing hard limits on how much screen time is allowed for children. What this does is that it changes the children’s perception of technology and allows them to develop further.

The reason you want to do this is that as a child develops, the more screen time they have on something, the more they’ll use it as a replacement effect for something else. This is one of the reasons for why those used to being in front of a TV screen all the time associate more with the characters they see on the screen rather than those in their lives. Overall, TV addiction can lead to children being more introverted and struggle in social situations.

By placing hard limits, it prompts children to come up with other ways to entertain themselves and can lead to them having more meaningful times.

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3. Prioritize Your Relationship

The last thing that you can do is make an effort to be reaching out to your children. One of the beauties with these features is that you’re able to know what’s generally going on in your child’s life. Even though this pandemic has forced many people to stay indoors, this pandemic will be over soon enough and people will go back to a usual routine.

Use those features to your advantage as a means of encouraging your child to ask questions and to spark conversations. If you know a project is due soon, ask them about their progress and what they’re learning. Get them to explain concepts or things they’re learning. Beyond that, you’d also have access to their watch history for shows. You can easily ask them topics revolving around that too.

By showing interest in your child, they’re more likely to open up to you and make an effort to grow that relationship too.

Bottom Line

These new features change the playing field a lot. With a new look, it’s easier for kids and parents alike to navigate the menu. Beyond that, you can ensure your child stays on top of their school work and can give them more studying and learning material. Even the announcement features allow you or your child to call around the house if necessary.

There are a tons of benefits, however you want to make sure you’re using this program to the best of your ability. To do so, it’s a matter of mitigating how much time is spent using this program and putting effort into the bond that you have with your bored kids.

Featured photo credit: stem.T4L via unsplash.com

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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

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

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