Meditation and Mindfulness for the Family

We’ve been hearing more and more about mindfulness, and the benefits it has to offer those who practice it, but what exactly is it? In essence, it’s the ability to be fully present in our world, and to take news and information in stride; avoiding overly reactive or defensive responses. The beautiful thing about mindfulness is that we all have it. The tough thing about mindfulness is that it takes practice to make sure your ability to be mindful is readily accessible. And that’s where we’d like to help! Here are some tips on how to bring a more mindful approach into your home, for the entire family.

 

Breaking down conditioned responses
As a human, it is only natural that your brain develops conditioned responses to what goes on around you. If you hear your phone ring, you rush to answer it; when someone says something you strongly disagree with, you immediately become annoyed and retort. Whatever the conditioned response, mindfulness can help you take a step back and may help you reassess your reaction.

This can come especially handy when it comes to your children. Teaching children to be more reflective and pensive, could mean less tantrums, fights, or emotional outbreaks. Mindfulness can teach children how to deal with being upset, frustrated, or plain angry in a more productive manner. Instead of crying when you tell your child no, your child can learn to listen to your answer, and to then take time to understand the answer more fully in the present.

 

Mindfulness Basics—how-to:

  • Set aside time on a daily basis to practice mindfulness. Start with 10 minutes, and then work up from there. You don’t need to find a special location, but you do need to commit to that time, 100%
  • During those 10 minutes (or longer) spend time focusing on the present. The goal is not to clear your mind, but instead to focus on what is happening at present, without judgment, nothing else
  • Take note of any judgement you make during this time, set it aside, and move on, back to focusing on the present
  • Be patient with yourself, and don’t judge yourself for letting your mind wander. Instead, acknowledge its wandered, and bring your mind back to the present, again and again

That’s the practice! Yes, like most things, it’s easier said than done, but in time, you’ll come to fall into this practice more and more naturally.

 

Mindful Breathing:
Relaxing your mind, and focusing on your breath can be one way to practice mindfulness. Because of this, there are a variety of breathing exercises designed for both children and adults available online. Below are instructions for a 5 minute breathing exercise we recommend!

 

5-minute Mindful Breathing Exercise

1.) Sit comfortably or lie on your back. Allow your back to be straight but not rigid, and let your arms and hands hang in a relaxed position. PAUSE.

2.) Close your eyes, if it feels comfortable. If not, soften your gaze. PAUSE.

3.) Bring your attention to the present by focusing on how you’re feeling physically. Scan your body from head to toe and consciously try to let any tension slip away. PAUSE.

4.) Notice your environment – any sounds you might hear in the background, what the temperature feels like in the room, etc. PAUSE.

5.) Bring your attention to your breathing from three vantage points: 1. Notice the sensation of your breath going in/out of your nostrils or mouth, 2. pay attention to the rise/fall of your chest, 3. notice the rise/fall of your belly as you breath. PAUSE.

6.) Choose a vantage point to focus on. Follow the breath for its full duration, from start to finish. Some breaths may be slow, some fast, some shallow or deep. You don’t need to control the breath, just notice it. PAUSE.

7.) Each time your mind wanders away from the breath (and this will happen many times!), notice where it goes and then gently bring your attention back to the feeling of the breath going in and out. PAUSE.

8.) Your mind may wander hundreds of times or more during these 5 minutes – that’s ok and natural! Your “job” is to catch yourself when you’ve wandered and to gently bring your focus back to the breath every time, without judging yourself for how “well” or “poorly” you’re doing the exercise. PAUSE.

9.) Try to practice this exercise for 5 minutes (or longer if you’d like) every day, for at least one week. Notice how it feels to spend some time each day just being with your breath.

Practice this as often as you can, daily even! Invite your partner to join you, or see if you can guide you and your little one through this exercise together. In time, you’ll start to feel the benefits of this simple breathing exercise in your day to day lives! There are some excellent videos available on YouTube.com, that focus on children and meditation, and other websites offer mindfulness exercises that focus on sight and sound.

We hope these exercises will come in handy for you and your family! Let us know how it goes, and it you have any advice to share with us on mindfulness, please do leave a comment! We’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Relax, take a sip of this smoothie

Getting the household ready every morning can be quite the challenge. From getting the kids dressed for school, making sure they’ve got all their supplies, and getting them out of the house on time, things can get crazy. And more often than not, that morning whirlwind could mean breakfast gets forgotten. Worry not! We’ve got some smoothie recipes below that can turn all that craziness into every-morning yumminess!

A classic with a twist

Strawberry Banana Flaxseed Smoothie

Ingredients:
1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
2 medium bananas
1 cup of strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup of ground flaxseed
1 cup of spinach, fresh or frozen

 

 

Directions:
– Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender
— For weaker blenders, add small amounts of water (or almond milk) until it begins to blend, making sure you keep the smoothie as thick as possible
– Serve in a glass and maybe add a piece of wheat toast with peanut butter on it on the side.
Yum!

Something a little different


Cherry Avocado Smoothie (large portion)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup of plain yogurt (any kind you and your little one likes!)
1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup of frozen cherries
1/4 medium avocado
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

 

Directions:
– Combine yogurt, cherries, cocoa, avocado, syrup and salt in a blender (If you like, feel free to add collagen and/or probiotics)
– Blend on high until pureed and smooth
– OPTIONAL: Add chocolate chips, flax and/or chia, and blend for a few seconds to break down but not fully puree

Optional items to add to smoothie:

  • 1 Tbsp. chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp. grass-fed collagen
  • 2 tsp. flax seeds or chia seeds
  • 1 dose of powdered probiotics

Fancy-looking, but super tasty

Double Layer Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie

Ingredients (Kiwi Layer):
3 kiwis
1 medium banana
1/3 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of milk

Ingredients (Strawberry layer)
1 cup of frozen unsweetened strawberries
1 medium banana
1 1/2 cups of milk

 

 

Directions:
KIWI:
– Place all the kiwi ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth
– Add a little milk if your blender is having a hard time processing it
– Pour this layer into 2 to 4 cups (depending on serving size desired)

STRAWBERRY:
– Put all strawberry ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth
– Add a little milk if your blender is having a hard time processing it
– Gently pour this layer on top of the kiwi layer
– Serve!

These smoothie recipes should only take 5-10 minutes to make, so hopefully it can make your morning routine a little easier on you, and yummy for your kids! And if you have a sitter helping out in the morning, it’s an easy task to ask them to assist with! Give these recipes a try, and let us know how it goes! Maybe you have a recipe you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear it!

Which Stroller is Right for YOU?!

If you’re in the market for a stroller, then you’re looking to buy more than just a pushcart. You’re searching for something easy to use, lightweight, and more importantly, something to keep your little one safe throughout your city escapades together. With the huge variety of stroller options out there, it may seem like an overwhelming task to find one that’s right for you. So we’ve created a list of recommended strollers and their features to help you pick your very own perfect stroller, stress free.

Newborn to 6 months

Traveling with a newborn means having to provide them with a reclining stroller model, to safely provide the support the baby needs. For a newborn to a 6 month-old baby, we recommend the All-In-One (travel system stroller). This stroller is made of 3 parts. An infant car seat, a car-seat base, and a stroller. These can be heavy, and take up more space than a regular stroller frame, but once 6 months comes around and your little one can sit up, you’ll have more options! To start, you’ll have the ability to use the all-in-one stroller without the infant seat snapped in. An all-in-one travel system stroller is more expensive, but it’s a good value since the stroller can then be used after your child outgrows the infant car seat, unlike a car seat carrier frame.

 

6 months to 3+ years

Single Traditional Strollers are well-known and loved in the stroller world. Mainly because they have a long life, and many last from birth until you and your little one have no need for a stroller any longer. Most styles in this category are maneuverable and work in a variety of city or suburban situations, like on busy sidewalks and paved streets or even in a park, or on a trail. They run the gamut between options with fully-reclining seats that allow infants to ride safely to options that are infant car seat-compatible. Better yet, many of them are able to offer both options. They are sturdy, solid, and easy to use. These strollers provide durability, and end up being a smart long-term stroller investment.

Single Combination Strollers adapt to the changing needs of a growing child. Some models do accept an infant car seat, but more often than not you’ll have to buy the car seat separately, in addition to the adapter used to secure the car seat to the stroller. There are many options in this category, some offer a removable seat that reclines nearly flat providing your baby with a sleeping area similar to that of a bassinet. Other options offer reversible seats, so the baby can face forward or back, looking in the direction of the person pushing. Some models in this style can be used from the first day of baby’s life, and can last until you and the baby outgrow the stroller.

 

Umbrella (AKA lightweight) Strollers are the most lightweight strollers available. These strollers often have curved handles like an umbrella, and are easy to fold and stow. These were made for travel, or for quick trips with babies who can sit up. It’s possible to find these lightweight options with car-seat compatibility (though an adapter may be needed). This style of stroller offers families a lightweight and convenient option that is usually easy to fold. You may even find newer models that feature seats that recline completely flat, or others models that may accept a car seat.

 

 

Stroll with Confidence

Now that you’ have the breakdown on strollers, you can make an educated decision on which model to choose based on your needs. Taking time to decide which stroller you choose is actually important! This is your baby’s car, so you want to make sure it’ll achieve the mileage you’re planning for, can provide the safety measures you demand, and frankly, that your little one will be comfortable no matter what situation you’re in. We hope you can stroll away from this blog post feeling secure about the decision you’re about to make. Good luck!

 

Finding Your Inner Mary Poppins

Fun Easy Crafting Ideas

From New York’s Easy Care Sitter, Britney

Just as we adults become bored with our daily routines, children too become bored with the same toys, games, and crafts.  No matter how many toys a child may have, there is still the possibility of boredom. We’ve all experienced it!

Babysitter: Jacob would you like to play tag?
Child: No thank you.
Babysitter: How about coloring?
Child: No thank you –I did that yesterday.
Babysitter: How about we go outside and play soccer?
Child: No, I have soccer practice tonight.
Babysitter: I see you have tons of fun games here, would you like to play Clue, Sorry, or Scrabble?
Child: I don’t like board games. I play them all the time.

So what do you do when the child doesn’t want to play with any of the things at home?

Luckily, some children have the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Easy Care Sitters with whom children NEVER become bored!!! But how do you guarantee fun and not an ounce of boredom while babysitting?

It’s simple! Just grab a spoonful of sugar and become a real life Mary Poppins! Well not exactly! My trick to handling the possibility of boredom is to come prepared.

Whenever I babysit a young child, ages 2 years- 8 years old, I almost always pack a few handy crafting tools –paper plates and brown paper bags.  I bring these two tools with me to turn arts and crafts into an extraordinary unforgettable experience. There is something about coming to a job equipped with your own nifty tools and ideas for craft projects that make the youngsters thrilled. 

Below I have outlined instructions for two of my favorite Arts and Crafts activities to do with younger children. I have done these activities with children as young as 2 years old. 

1: The Paper Bag Puppet, Created By One of  Easy Care Sitter’s Favorite 4 year old!

What you’ll need:
2 Brown paper bags (One for you and one for the youngster)
3 Sheets of white paper
Scissors
Markers
Glitter and beads

Draw, color, and cut out any facial features such as ears, eyes, whiskers, hair, tongue or nose that you want to use. If you have additional art supplies, you can get creative and use pipe cleaners for whiskers or yarn for hair. I personally used felt paper to help construct the ears.

Lay the bag in front of you with the folded flap facing upward.

Begin by adding each of the facial features in the appropriate locations. I would recommended using a glue stick when possible though tape and liquid glue work as well.image1

Personalize your puppet with glitter, paint, beads, and any other crafting tools available –this is my favorite part!

Allow the puppet to dry as needed.

Stick your hand inside your puppet and put on your own imaginative puppet show with the youngster using the puppets that you each created.

2: The Spirally Flying Snake, Created by One of Easy Care Sitter’s Most Crafty 2 year old!

What you’ll need:
1 Paper plate
1 piece of paper
Scissors
Markers
Yarn

Draw a large spiral on the bottom of the paper plate –this will guide you and the youngster in later steps.

IMG_6756Color both sides of your paper plate completely.  If you choose to paint, allow approximately 30 minutes for paint to dry.

Use your sheet of paper to cut out eyes (or use googley eyes!) and a tongue for your snake.

Make a small hole in the center of the plate and tie a piece of yarn. This is so that you can bounce and fly your spirally snake around.

Cut the paper along the spiraled line.IMG_6753

Add the eyes, tongue, and any last minutes decorations. 

Allow the snake to dry as needed.

If it’s a nice day out, head outside and test out the spirally flying snake. Hold the yarn, run around in a circle, and watch your snake twirl and twist behind you.

Fellow sitters, don’t be afraid to find your inner Mary Poppins—if you have a talent or craft, come prepared to share!

 

 


Written by Britney W, Easy Care Sitter since March 2015.

Favorite Music Class with Kids – EVER!

Awesome Music Classes for kids in NYC

Music can be a beautiful, inspiring, and fun activity to share with your children! In fact, one of my favorite activities with kids is dancing and music classes!  New York has a lot to choose from, but my favorite, by far is Musical Theatre with Audra Rox. As a sitter, I enjoyed taking toddlers to their music classes at Jalopy in Red Hook.  Music for Aardvarks (and other animals)  is an interactive and fun class for kids, sitters, and parents. Through music, movement, playing instruments and singing, children in these classes enjoy the silly and powerful ways music teaches them words, creativity, and connection to new friends. And through the songs written especially for them, kids focus on the joys of being a city kid!  The weekly classes are offered all around Brooklyn, and you and your kiddos will not be disappointed! So next time you’re in a pinch and aren’t sure what to do, check out a local music class. Your kids will be singing their praises before you know it (pun intended).

Written by:
Nichole D.
Easy Care Sitter since June 2013

Learn to be a Birthday Bash Pro!

How to throw the Perfect Birthday Party!

A simple guide for an epic birthday celebration

Having a birthday party for your little one can be a daunting task. It’s hard to know what to do to entertain the kiddos, how long the party should last, or whether you should have a party in the first place. Hopefully these tips will help take some of the stress away, and you’ll be able to plan a fun, and carefree party for your kids.

First, don’t invite more than 15 guests. That’s a manageable number and not everybody will come, so the idea is to end up with around 12 guests.
Second, hire 2 sitters (Easy Care Sitters can help!) or 2 friends you trust who will listen to instructions you give; this will be essential in making the party fun for the kids, and hassle-free for you.
Third, the party should only last 2 hours, that’s a great amount of time to allow guests to arrive, have playtime, do some crafts, have the birthday cake, and then say goodbye.

Finally, create a schedule, and stick to it:
12p: Party Starts, guests arrive, open play time.
12:30p: Have 1 sitter/friend guide a craft project, something simple and age appropriate, something they can finish and then take home. Meanwhile, the 2nd sitter/friend sets up the food/drinks.
1p: Food! Finger foods are best, and to be less wasteful buy gallons of juice/water as opposed to juice boxes/water bottles.
1p: Some kids might not want to eat, or will eat quickly. Have one of you sitter/friends ready with another activity, like a sing-along or a game like duck-duck-goose, to keep them entertained while others eat.
1:30p: Cake! Gather all the guests, have one of the sitter/friends lead the singing, and help with distributing cake.
2p: Goodbye! Hand out party favors (if you have them) and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Check back for ideas on simple arts and crafts projects! We hope this helps you plan a party your whole family can get excited about.

And the Easy Care Sitters Blog, begins…

Childcare is one of the most rewarding, frustrating, exhausting, and exhilarating jobs of all time. From poopy diapers, to a child’s profession of love—we experience it all. And in the end, we’re better for it. Before even starting Easy Care Sitters, I went through my fair share of babysitting gigs, and I feel all those experiences contributed to who I am today. I’m more patient because I know how to deal with a stubborn 4 year-old who thinks he knows best. I’m creative because I had to entertain 3 kids for 5 hours with only paper as my tool. And I’m nurturing because there’s nothing quite like being that beacon of hope when the child you’re caring for has a boo-boo, and you’re the one reassuring them.

I opened Easy Care Sitters on whim, not thinking too much of what it would lead to, and here we are today, 5 years old and growing. We pride ourselves in being a small company, offering families a personal touch in a world that’s gone entirely too tech-driven and detached.

So now we’re starting a new chapter for Easy Care Sitters. A blog written by myself and my many amazing sitters, with all things childcare! Be it tips for child-friendly activities around the city, or memorable babysitting stories, we have it here. We hope you’ll come to learn with us, and if you have something you’d like to contribute, let us know! We’d love to have you share your stories with us.

Thank you for making us who we are. Easy Care Sitters. Always Easy. Always Reliable.

Cristina Twigg
Owner
Easy Care Sitters, NYC