• Kindness Elves: A Take on the Elf on the Shelf Tradition

    As the holidays are now upon us, how many of us sit and wonder how we can teach our children the meaning of the old adage, “It’s better to give than to receive”?

    In December 2013, when our first son was 21 months old, we were gifted the ever popular “Elf on the Shelf”. A gift of great fun that encourages a sense of magic and wonder for our children.

    In keeping with what we said we always wanted for our children, to be happy and kind, we came up with a a twist on that tradition in our home.  In our world full of  entitlement and “I want”,  we look for every opportunity to send our children a positive message emphasizing kindness, sharing, and gratitude. And so evolved, “Dot”,  our Kindness Elf.

    Dot arrives in our home each year on the first of December with an empty cradle, straw, and a note for the kids to find and read. Each act of kindness earns them a piece of straw to lay in the baby’s manger, preparing for His arrival at Christmas.

     

    Many are simple, everyday gestures such as smiling at those we pass, saying please and thank you, holding the door open, or playing with a new friend at school.

    Many of our ideas are for celebrating and thanking those in our local community who serve us, such as leaving a box of coffee for our DPW workers, fresh baked cookies for our postal worker, fire and police departments, and sending Christmas cards and socks to the men and women serving our country.

    There are also grander gestures of good will, such as filling a box with unwanted stuffed animals and blankets for our friends in the local animal shelter,  delivering groceries to the food bank and holiday shopping for a family we sponsor, who is in a less fortunate situation than our own.

    Some mornings they may wake up to find their elf has put away their shoes or fixed a broken toy, modeling direct ways to be kind and helpful.

    Of course, kindness is not just for Christmas and I love the open ended way our little friend has left us each year to continue our celebration with a weekly “Thoughtful Thursday”.  Every Thursday for the entire year, we choose something kind to do for someone else.

    The Kindness Elf has been a very valuable tool in helping our children learn and focus on the positive attributes that we try and teach them in everyday life…”love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

  • Beat the Back-to-School Blues

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    Change, whether positive or negative has been rated one of the highest stressors for children. The seasonal schedule change from summer to fall can be enough to create feelings of stress and anxiety. Now add in the early morning rush to school, homework demands, and after school activities, and the entire family can feel overwhelmed.

    Cut down on the chaos and make this school year a smooth transition for both you and your child during the first sensitive weeks:

    Get on a Schedule 

    Begin preparing your child for school at least a week beforehand. Children thrive on routine. Knowing what to expect boosts confidence, provides reassurance and security for your child. Dry erase boards and calendars are great for writing the following day’s schedule. Kids love their own boards and feel less anxiety when they are aware of their schedule. Simply knowing what day they need to wear sneakers for gym can be a relief.

    “Listen” carefully and respectfully to children

    It’s very rare for kids to sit down and talk about their feelings. They show us what’s wrong through their behavior. Sleep trouble, resistance, crying, clinging, throwing tantrums, and increasing aggression are indications of anxiety. Observe what your kids are doing rather than what they’re saying. Encourage your child to have and share their feelings in their safe place of home. No matter how old a child is, loving reassurance and support is invaluable. This makes a positive difference to a child’s well being, and their behavior too.

    Limit your extra curricular activities

    Allow your kids time to adjust to one thing at a time, especially something “big” like school. I recommend choosing one activity per week.  Make sure it’s an activity that creates joy, not stress. There is no sense in heading to a weekly gymnastics class while adjusting to school, if it’s not something your child cares for. For younger ones, like my preschooler, simply going to the playground with new classmates can be enough.

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    Schedule down time

    Have one (or two) days, where there is nothing scheduled. My dear friend coined the phrase “Sleepy Saturdays”.  Use this time to connect with each other. Put your work aside and focus on being with your child. Have a pajama day. Take a walk. Crunch on leaves or collect acorns as you go.  These moments are relationship building and provide much needed stress relief for both adults and children.

    Stay organized

    The simplest organization solutions can save a lot of anxiety and chaos. For example, I love a system for organizing a weeks worth of clothes laid out by day. Get a small vertical shelf system and put the days of the week on it. Place your child’s outfit for the day in the slot and they can easily grab it out each morning without the fuss of “what should I wear?” We use the bottom slot for shoes which has eliminated that dreadful drop zone for misfit shoes!

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    Meal planning is another great way to stay ahead of the game and be organized. Head over to “Get Real Gal” for amazing (and healthy) recipes, shopping lists, prep day tips and freezer meal suggestions.

    Rest and nutrition 

    A well rested child is less irritable, cranky, and better able to respond to stressful situations in a balanced, calm manner.

    Nothing is more important than a sleep schedule, and consistency is key. Whenever possible, keep bedtimes and routines, the same across every night of the week. Avoid letting children stay up later and sleep in longer on the weekends. Any shift in your child’s sleep cycle can set you off course.

    Create a sleep friendly bedroom. Bedrooms should be dark, quiet and free of distractions like television sets and electronics. Avoid using the bedroom for punishment and time outs. It should be a place your child feels comfortable and safe and wants to go to to relax and unwind.

    Age:                    Sleep Needed:

    3-12 mos           14-15 hours

    1-3 years           12-14 hours

    3-5 years           11-13 hours

    5-12 years         10-11 hours

    12-18 years       8-9 hours

    Nutrition is also hugely important. Sugar, caffeine and food coloring can increase jitters and should be limited. A good balanced breakfast with protein can help your child start the day calmly. My favorite go-to are what my children call “Mommy Pancakes”:

    2 eggs (can use flax eggs)

    1 ripe banana

    1-2 Tbsp bone broth

    1/4 cup vegetable (spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potato are some favorites)

    Combine in blender and cook and flip on the griddle like pancakes!

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    Relaxation techniques

    It is never too early to introduce your child to relaxation techniques. It is a stress filled world and we need to show our children how to counteract that stress. Let them see you taking a few minutes to sit still and concentrate on your breathing. Tell them what you are doing. Children copy what they see and don’t be surprised if even your youngest child climbs up on your lap to experience belly breathing.

    Kids as young as three can practice belly breathing. It’s important to have kids first practice when they are in a relaxed state. Bedtime is a great place  to practice belly breathing. Once they have the feel of belly breathing mastered, then they can apply it to when they’re feeling stressed.

    1. Start by having your child breathe normally. Ask them if they notice anything about it. What parts of their body move as they breathe? What does it feel like?
    2. Now have them lie on their backs and place their hands on their bellies.
    3. With their mouths closed, have them breathe in for four seconds or until they feel their whole chest fill with air all the way down to their belly.
    4. Have them hold in the air for four seconds.
    5. Then have them slowly blow all the air out until it’s all gone.
    6. Repeat until the body feels relaxed.

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    Words of affirmation can be very beneficial for kids of all ages. From self-esteem building to reinforcing kindness and friendship, positive affirmations are a great tool to practice to help your child feel confident in tackling a new school year. Like watching you take a time out and breathe, kids will also mimic affirming themselves. Just yesterday, I overheard my little preschooler from the back seat saying, “I am brave. I am kind. And I got this!”

    Transitional items

    A child who seeks comfort with a security object is often one whose need for love and attention has been met consistently by his parents. Not only are these objects a sign of healthy development, but they serve a valuable purpose. Transitional items are helpful in any situation where a child feels anxiety or stress. When your child is separated from you — at day care, school, or for that first sleepover, for example — it allows him to take along a little piece of home that reminds him of his mom, dad, or in our family’s case….big brother.

    My sweet 5 year old, who struggled with separation anxiety himself, made a transitional object for his little 2 year-old brother when he headed off to his first day of nursery school. Drawing from his own experience, and remembering what helped him , this sweet boy drew a picture of himself with a big heart, symbolizing his love for his little brother. Our little one lovingly referred to this as his “brave newspaper” and brought it to school every day forward, without shedding one more tear.

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    Megan Jolin of Mother Earth Mama is a board certified Holistic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner whose passion is to bring health and wellness to the whole child.

    Megan provides evidenced-based, family centered care in:
    -prenatal health and wellness
    -lactation counseling
    -newborn care
    -infant feeding
    -infant massage
    -vaccine consultation
    -nutritional analysis and counseling
    -toxin free home environment
    -self care for parents and children
    -natural/integrative approach to common childhood illnesses

    Disclaimer: Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not a substitute for advice from your health care professional. You should not rely solely on this content, and Mother Earth Mama assumes no liability for inaccuracies. These products and recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.

     

  • Build a Better Beach Bag: 10 Natural Remedies for a Healthy Summer

    Happy summer everyone! I’ve had a lot of questions lately about how to treat summer’s most common ailments. Here’s a glimpse of what I keep in my beach bag during these dog days of summer.

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    SUNBURN

    While 15-30 minutes of unprotected sunlight per day (for children over 6 months) is always helpful to boost our ever-deficient vitamin D levels, it is still important to protect against sunburn.

    Did you know that nearly three quarters of all sunscreens are either ineffective or contain chemicals that are harmful to your health? Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, are two natural and safe ingredients to look for in sunscreen – they protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

    The easiest way to relieve sunburn, of course, is to avoid it altogether by applying plenty of natural sunscreen. But sometimes, despite our best intentions, even the most liberal application is no match for the sun’s harsh rays. If that happens, taking a cool bath right after the burn starts to appear is a good idea. Add 5-7 drops of anti-inflammatory peppermint oil or one cup of apple cider vinegar to a tepid bath.

    As with every summer day, keep your child hydrated with plenty of water and cooling foods like cucumber and celery, which can help lower their body temperature. You can apply cucumber or potato slices to more localized burns.

    POISON IVY

    The key with poison ivy is to wash your child’s skin and clothes right away after exposure to remove the plant’s oils. Then, apply a paste made of equal parts water and either baking soda or apple cider vinegar—two natural antiseptics that can help ease inflammation—to the affected areas. When looking for a topical ointment, I try to avoid steroid creams, like cortisone. Instead, try homeopathic Calendula cream  The flowers of the Calendula officinalis plant, also known as Garden marigold, have been used topically for generations to heal skin irritations, such as minor burns and scrapes.

    BUG BITES

    No one repellent will work every single time, against every ornery pest. The repellent you might use for a Lyme-infested area might be different from the one that would suffice for a picnic on the beach.  So, it’s a good idea to do research about the diseases carried by insects specific to where you plan to spend time outside with your family.

    • Ticks

    As a general rule, it’s a good idea to take extra precautions to avoid tick bites. Cover your child with long sleeves and long pants, tucked into socks, when going for a hike or venturing into heavy brush where tick infestations are more common.  Do a frequent “tick check,” taking care to examine the scalp and ears where ticks tend to hide. If you search the EWG’s guide to insect repellents, specifically for repellents for ticks, you’ll find it lists three natural active ingredients catnip (Nepeta cataria), citronella (Cymbopogon winterianus) and lemon eucalyptus  (Eucalyptus citriodora).

    If you’re a DIY person, you can certainly make your own essential oil-based sprays or lotions. The recipe I use is specifically targeted toward ticks, but is also helpful with mosquitos. It is safe for children 3 and older and pregnant/nursing moms. (Note: The EWG and Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on children under 3.  Please note that Natural lemon and eucalyptus oil is not the same as Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Although I don’t apply this directly to my 2 year old, I do spray it on his clothes and on the stroller when we are going outside.)

    Ingredients

    2 oz. apple cider vinegar or witch hazel

    2 oz. water

    20-40 drops total: geranium bourbon essential oil, citronella essential oil, and lemon eucalyptus oil. I don’t love the smell of catnip oil, so I omit that one, but if you can tolerate it, it’s certainly worth adding.

    Add to a spray bottle, preferably one made of glass or PET plastic.

    Shake well before use. Spray on skin or clothes before going outside.

    If you prefer something ready-made, I like Badger Bug or Nanucket Spider spray. Badger Bug is an organic and natural repellent uses essential oils to naturally keep bugs, mosquitoes and insects away from you and your children. It contains no DEET, petroleum products, or synthetic chemicals, and has been independently lab tested for safety. Even the aluminum bottle is recyclable!

    Nantucket Spider Deet-free Bug Repellant is best for flies and mosquitoes and will    also repel ticks (but doesn’t last as long as their Extra Strength Tick repellent!  Both are light and refreshing sprays (people ask me what perfume I’m wearing!) made with a broad range of  essential oils including cedarwood, citronella, clove,geranium, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, and spearmint.

    NantucketSpider

    Regardless of which product you choose to use, the key is to apply frequently, every 2-3 hours, more frequently if sweating or swimming. When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands first and then rub it onto the child. Avoid the child’s eyes and mouth and take care not to apply to hands as children may put their hands in their mouths.

    • Bee stings

    If you’re dealing with a bee sting, be sure to remove the stinger with a sterilized pair of tweezers. Then, apply the same water and baking soda or apple cider vinegar combination used to ease poison ivy. The paste will help reduce bee sting swelling and discomfort.

    • Mosquito bites

    For a mosquito bite, apply Witch Hazel,  a natural astringent, to draw out the inflammatory fluid that causes swelling: Soak a piece of gauze in Witch Hazel and apply it to the skin, leaving it on as long as necessary until the itching stops. For multiple bites, a baking soda or apple cider vinegar bath can provide all-over relief.

    SEE YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF  your child is having a more serious allergic reaction:  swelling of the lips and tongue, or your child is having difficulty speaking, swallowing or breathing.

    SWIMMER’S EAR

    Swimmers ear, or otitis externa, is an infection of the outer ear that is most often due to moisture being trapped in the ear which results in inflammation and infection. Pain is often the first sign of otitis externa. So if your child complains of pain, it is important to have them evaluated by their healthcare provider in the event an infection has occurred. Swimmer’s ear is treated with antibiotics. Those with frequent infections my try a homemade solution of half rubbing alcohol and half vinegar. The alcohol combines with water in the ear and then evaporates, removing the water, while the acidity of the vinegar keeps bacteria from growing. Apply 3 drops of solution in each ear three times per day. You may also want to use the homemade remedy after daily showers. The best way to avoid otitis externa is to keep ears clean and dry.

    BUMPS AND BRUISES

    Arnica, derived from the arnica montana plant, has anti-inflammatory properties when diluted for homeopathic treatments. Arnica is a common homeopathic remedy for bruising, swelling, and inflammation. It can be used up to three times a day as a topical gel applied directly to an injury or bruise. The key is to apply or treat within an hour of the injury, to stimulate the body’s healing mechanism as quickly as possible. Do not use on open wounds.

    HYDRATION

    Coconut water is a natural electrolyte drink rich in sodium and natural sugar, which is crucial for rehydration. I like to add a few drops of lemon essential oil to our big jug so we can enjoy a “lemonade” treat on those extra hot days.

    SANDY TOES

    Sandy feet

    There is no greater feeling than getting your feet in the sand at the beginning of summer. But that darn black sand is nearly impossible to get off! Many recommend baby power as the miracle means for removing sand from in between toes. Talc is an ingredient used in many cosmetics, including baby powder. However questions about baby powder’s safety are always a concern, as studies have shown talc to contain contaminants, such as asbestos, which is a known carcinogen. Instead, I pack a Norwex Dusting Mitt. It miraculously removes every last piece of sand on those little beach bodies! With its plush fibers the dusting mitt can be used dry to attract and pick up sand, dust, and allergens for quick, chemical free cleaning throughout the house, and dust those little sandy feet before heading back home. Used wet, the patented BacLock™ (a micro silver antibacterial agent) goes to work to lift and inhibit bacteria, virus, protein, mold and mildew growth. Perfect for washing hands before that ice cream cone on the boardwalk!

    And of course my Tidal flip flops! Not only are they Made in the USA of domestically sourced material, but over half of Tidal’s staff are veterans.  They continue to hire and train veterans as they expand and every pair purchased helps to support this effort.

     

     

    Megan Jolin of Mother Earth Mama is a board certified Holistic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner whose passion is to bring health and wellness to the whole child. Megan provides consultation in:

    -prenatal health and wellness

    -Lactation counseling

    -newborn care

    -infant feeding

    -infant massage

    -vaccine consultation

    -nutritional analysis and counseling

    -toxin free home environment

    -self care for parents and children

    -natural/integrative approach to common childhood illnesses

    Disclaimer: Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not a substitute for advice from your health care professional. You should not rely solely on this content, and Mother Earth Mama assumes no liability for inaccuracies. These products and recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.

  • Healthy and Happy Easter 🐣

    Spring is upon us and Easter is here!
    Easter can be one of those occasions that can easily become excessive and overly commercialized. I thought I would share with you some healthy, ethical and natural ideas to ensure you and your little ones have a healthy and happy Easter celebration!

    The basket

    Finding a basket you can re-use year after year is a great eco-friendly option. One that is biodegradable that you can reuse for toy storage and pop in the compost bin when you no longer need it is even better. Support a local artist and head over to Etsy to find one that’s perfect for you.9C18556F-A140-4637-B09E-07B40FE46895

    Easter grass

    Traditional petroleum-based Easter grass generates tons of emission and landfill waste each year. Eco grass is made of 100% renewable content, is fully biodegradable or can be reused for years to come. It is available in a 1.25 oz bag size that fills a standard-size Easter basket and comes in 3 colors: pink, yellow, and green. Even better? It’s made in the USA!

    The eggs

    Traditional plastic Easter eggs also add to our carbon footprint.  Consider using eco eggs which are made in the USA from non-toxic, durable, plant-based plastic and have a secure closure, so you can safely fill them to the brim for those Easter egg hunts.  Eco eggs come in two sizes and 5 assorted colors: pink, yellow, green, blue, and purple. They can be stored and reused for many Easters or disposed in industrial compost.

    Dyeing and decorating eggs is a favorite Easter tradition! Decorative and symbolic for both at Easter and Passover, here are instructions from Nourishing our Children on how to dye eggs naturally…using food as dye!

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    A prize

    A book for every occasion- that’s the motto in our house! Our friends at The Little Bean introduced us to this gem that both of my kids adore! Shop local and pick up your own copy or another Easter favorite at The Curious Reader.

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    The CANDY!

    Chocolate is so much more than candy. It’s a superfood packed with antioxidants and cardiovascular benefits, and studies show chocolate boosts energy, reduces stress, increases concentration and even improves maternal health. WIN!

    So we know chocolate is good for us, but is it equally as good for the farmers who grow it? The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 250 million child slaves working to produce many of our everyday purchases such as coffee and cocoa. They are exploited for their work, forced to work long hours with little or no pay and have little rights. When we choose to buy Fair Trade products, we are casting a vote for the ethical treatment of the laborers around the world who are responsible for the food we eat. Fair Trade certification means not only that workers are paid fairly but also those farmers have safe and environmentally-friendly working conditions.

    UnReal is on a mission to unjunk the world by reinventing America’s favorite foods…candy!  Every ingredient they use is non-GMO, and made without gluten, corn, or soy.  UnReal uses sustainably sourced and fair trade ingredients.

    3D4AB305-E563-496F-9B69-C424F0587A8AChoc Zero is a fair trade, gluten free, soy free, non-GMO and sugar alcohol free company. They’re also Kosher certified. They use an exclusive monk fruit formula to make a line of products with absolutely no added sugar for the every day sugar junkie in your life! Their Fair-trade, ethically sourced, premium cocoa beans are some of South America’s finest and they use real Madagascar vanilla beans.

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    Feel good about enjoying gummy bears this Easter! SmartSweets is tackling one of the largest and most concerning problems hidden in our everyday sweets — sugar. SmartSweets has innovated the first candy ever that kicks sugar—naturally! Every ingredient they use is non-GMO, free from sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners and colors. They use fruit and vegetable juice for color and natural fruit flavor for that sweet and sour taste.

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    Surf Sweets Jelly Beans are made with organic fruit juice and organic sweeteners, are Non GMO verified, and include 100% of Vitamin C per serving.  They are produced and packaged in dedicated facilities free of the top 10 allergens, making them a top choice for safe treats to share with family and friends. In addition, Surf Sweets is a proud member of 1% for the Planet and will donate a minimum of 1% of the sales from their products to a number of organizations that support environmental causes, including Climate Cycle, Healthy Child Healthy World and EcoMom Alliance.

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    A toothbrush

    Brushing those teeth is important after indulging in all of those Easter treats!
    Did you know the most common bacteria found on toothbrushes are the same ones that cause plaque, cavities, gingivitis and bad breath? The solution? Use a Norwex Silver Care Toothbrush. On contact with water, the silver covering the toothbrush’s base releases active ions that eliminate 99.9% of the bacteria commonly found on toothbrushes. This natural, self-sanitizing process also prevents the growth of these bacteria. The unique, replaceable Silver Care Plus Head snaps in and out, and the plastic handle is reusable. Find it here.

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    The belly-ache

    Nux vomica is the main remedy to have on standby during this festive season to treat signs such as overindulgence and hangover. After gobbling up that Easter candy and the like, you may have some digestive issues. Reach for homeopathic remedy, Nux vomica by Boiron to relieve symptoms of heartburn or drowsiness caused by overeating or over drinking.

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    Blessed and Happy Easter!

    Megan Jolin of Mother Earth Mama is a board certified Holistic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner whose passion is to bring health and wellness to the whole child.
    Megan provides evidenced-based, family centered care in prenatal health and wellness, lactation counseling
, newborn care
-infant feeding
, infant massage
, vaccine consultation
, nutritional analysis and counseling
, toxin free home environment
, self care for parents and children, children’s yoga
 and a natural/integrative approach to common childhood illnesses. Contact

    Disclaimer: Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not a substitute for advice from your health care professional. You should not rely solely on this content, and Mother Earth Mama assumes no liability for inaccuracies. These products and recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.

     

  • Is it a cold or the flu?

    You’ve got the sniffles, you’re tired, and you can’t stop sneezing. Is it a common cold or the dreaded flu? Because the common cold and the flu have overlapping symptoms, it’s easy to mistake one for the other.

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    Common cold

    A cold is a viral upper respiratory tract infection that typically affects the nasal part of the respiratory system. The infection is usually mild and goes away without treatment. Symptoms may include a runny nose, sore throat, cough and fever. Colds are most common in winter and spring months, and usually last 7-10 days. You can help prevent a cold with frequent handwashing and by avoiding contact with people who have a cold. Since research has shown that triclosan, commonly found in antibacterial soap, can negatively affect the immune and hormone systems, choose traditional soap and water. When flu prevention experts advise you to wash your hands, they don’t mean a light drizzle of water. They recommend washing for at least 15 to 20 seconds; that’s about as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

    Flu symptoms

    The flu is caused by the influenza virus and lasts about 5-7 days. Symptoms of seasonal flu typically include fever, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. The best way to avoid getting the flu is by getting a flu shot, which takes about 2 weeks after injection to start protecting you from the flu virus. The flu season varies every year, and health officials must choose the influenza strains that should be targeted for an upcoming season, months in advance, when it is hard to know what strains might be circulating. When flu vaccines are well matched to circulating viruses, effectiveness is, at best, around 60 percent.

    If you get your flu vaccine before the flu season starts, it not only reduces your risk of the flu, it can mitigate the symptoms and protect more vulnerable people around you who may not have good immunity, such as the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, or small children.

    Think you have the flu?

    Starting homeopathic and herbal preparations at the very beginning of flu symptoms can significantly shorten the duration and severity of illness.

    Oscillococcinum

    Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic remedy made to treat aching of the body with upper respiratory symptoms, fever and coughing. It’s available over the counter at grocery and health food stores. And If taken early enough in the illness cycle, studies have shown that taking Oscillococcinum at the onset of flu significantly reduces symptoms and shortens the duration of illness.

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    The recommended dosage is one vial 3 times/day preferably at the very beginning of flu symptoms. The dosage is the same for children and adults. For an infant, you can dissolve the pellets in water and give with a syringe or in their bottle or sippy cup.

    My family takes one vial weekly as a preventative measure, and because I am in the field of nursing and exposed to flu on a daily basis, I take it daily. Check out their website for coupons!

    Elderberry

    The herb elderberry is my favorite for recurrent respiratory tract infections. The dried berries of the Sambucis Nigra plant are naturally high in immune-boosting compounds that are specifically shown to help beat the cold and flu more quickly.  They can be used to make a simple elderberry syrup.

    We like the sugar free option: Natures Sunshine Elderberry Immune chews.

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    Sinusalia

    Sinusalia works naturally with your body to temporarily relieve nasal congestion, sinus pain and headache due to the common cold. Paired with a Neti pot, you can say goodbye to sinus infections forever!!

    Coldcalm

    Boiron’s Coldcalm is a combination homeopathic formula that is great for general cold/flu symptoms, especially when you’re not sure which specific medicine to give. We start it here in our home at the very first sniffle or runny nose.

    Sinusalia

    Throat Coat Tea

    Sore throat got you down?

    Throat Coat Tea contains pharmacopoeial grade herbs (a ‘medicinal’ rather than a ‘food’ grade of herb) slippery elm and licorice, with hints of orange, peppermint and cinnamon. The makers, Traditional Medicinals, have put through this tea through the rigors and even published a clinical study. Hands down this the best remedy for sore throat!

    throatcoat

    Get that fresh air by opening windows for a bit every day. Florence Nightingale noted the virtues of open windows bakc in 1859. “True nursing ignores infection, except to prevent it. Cleanliness, fresh air from open windows, are the only defence a true nurse either asks or needs,” she wrote.

    Keep your home clean and germ free by using Norwex towels, specifically on doorknobs, faucets, remote controls. And get those essential oils diffusing! I like Thieves or On Guard for their cleaning power and immune-boasting abilities!

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    See my post from October for more natural ways to prevent the flu. Here’s to a healthy, happy 2018!

    Megan Jolin of Mother Earth Mama is a board certified Holistic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner whose passion is to bring health and wellness to the whole child.
    Megan provides evidenced-based, family centered care in prenatal health and wellness, lactation counseling
, newborn care
-infant feeding
, infant massage
, vaccine consultation
, nutritional analysis and counseling
, toxin free home environment
, self care for parents and children, children’s yoga
 and a natural/integrative approach to common childhood illnesses. Contact

    Disclaimer: Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not a substitute for advice from your health care professional. You should not rely solely on this content, and Mother Earth Mama assumes no liability for inaccuracies. These products and recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.

     

  • 12 Days to a Green, Clean 2018

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    On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, one croupy toddler, and the dreaded stomach virus!

    Tis the season, they say! The season that brings warm tidings and visions of sugarplums, often brings sniffles, stomach viruses, and flu. Over the next 12 days (did you know the 12 days of Christmas are actually 25 December – 5 January?) I will count down to reveal how you can keep your home clean and green in 2018!

    Join me on Sunday Jan 7, 2018 at 8 PM from the comfort of your own home as I introduce the most effective way to keep your home green and clean.

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    3. We saved $364 the first year we switched to Norwex….744CD96B-63CD-4E08-8072-F6C2BDEDFB17

    4. Oh and…..it’s completely chemical free so your kids can use it! 🙌🏻1C0B65E4-E3DE-4D5A-B612-7D5DBA8DDCC5

    5. Even good ol’ “clean” bleach 

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    6. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. Some phthalates are used as solvents (dissolving agents) for other materials like detergents and cleaning products.

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    8. 023D6E08-76EA-410E-9A67-6F9AB28E5245

    9. I can’t even tolerate the smell, let alone the work involved! 63F715C5-DBCF-474A-969C-8110BED200F5

    10. That nice clean “smell” you get from your cleaning products? They’re VOC’s…..Volatile Organic Compounds….in your home. Once these chemicals are in our homes, they are released into the indoor air we breathe.A7B676C6-A3C5-4EA6-BBD6-D4A31FDEEFF3

    11. 122FE415-4C67-49D7-BD41-53D4C2BBD4F4

    12.Join me on Sunday Jan 7, 2018 at 8 PM from the comfort of your own home as I introduce the most effective way to keep your home green and clean.0D8B0EB4-251B-4943-BBFE-5E36678C6BF6

    For those of you who missed the online event but want to learn how to keep your home clean and green in 2018, read on…..

    As a Holistic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and mom, I am asked about safe cleaning products and how to rid homes of chemicals that illness and exacerbate conditions such as asthma and eczema nearly every day.  When I was  introduced to this incredible little cloth that can rid your house of every chemical based cleaning product you have ever used…using just water….I had to join the movement to have a true impact.

    It was important to me to spread the mission of Norwex , “To improve quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes,” with my patients, family and friends.

    With Norwex you will
    A) Eliminate chemicals, making your home a Safe Haven for you and your family
    B) Help save the environment (and your carbon footprint) by eliminating waste
    C) Save money $$$ We saved $668 last year🙌
    E) Cut cleaning time in at least half!
    F) Reduce allergens
    Oh! And they’re FDA and EPA approved, by the way.

    The Norwex Microfiber System: Cleaning with just water and a cloth!

    The Norwex Microfiber is 1/200th of a human hair and can hold up to 7 times its weight, making it incredibly absorbent. Using only water (no more toxic chemicals) it removes 99% of what is on the surface, including dust, bacteria, allergens and virus and collects it within the cloth. Because of the tight weave of the microfiber, these pathogens get locked into the cloth and can’t come back out, so you can’t cross-contaminate. There is a microsilver agent that is embedded deep inside the microfibers that deactivates the bacteria and virus that you just picked up. It self purifies as it dries so you really only have to wash them every 1-2 weeks. The silver in the cloths has been tested effective for 500 washings, so washing once/week, is 10 years with proper care.

    Norwex Chicken Demo…hold onto your hats!

    I challenge you to make bacon or something REALLY greasy on your stove. Or hairspray!  Get out your Envirocloth with water–No streaks or residue!

    Green the Clean: Butter Demo

    Here are a few pictures my friends have sent me of their Norwex success…

    Do you know what the most toxic thing we have in our homes is? Hint: it’s not even these horrifying “chore baskets” 🙈

    chorebasketFABRIC SOFTENER is most toxic thing you can have in your home!!!

    FabricSoftener

    Instead, choose a laundry detergent that is biodegradable, phosphate and filler free – and say “bye bye” to chemicals and lint build up in your dryer!  You will notice your lint screen in your dryer is cleaner (6-7 loads before you have to clean it out).

    No fillers Detergent

    Got kids?! I do

    Green the Clean: Sharpie demo

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    Are their any eczema sufferers out there? The body cloth has been a game changer for my patients with eczema, acne and diaper rash.

    NorwexEczema

    My favorite product of all….and how I got here

    The Norwex Mop

    Aside from the obvious, ridding our home environment of chemicals, this was huge for me. We used to buy the Costco pack of paper towels and use it up in 1 WEEK! I was so upset with the waste I was creating but just couldn’t get into using with the stinky, bacteria laden sponge in the sink!

    Papertowels

    Ready to turn your home into a Safe Haven? Here’s how….

    Making your home a safe haven

    You can browse Norwex here
    http://meganjolin.norwex.biz

    Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to speak with myself or one of my friends or patients that swear by these.

    I wish you peace and good health in 2018! ~ Megan of Mother Earth Mama
    NorwexChristas

    Megan Jolin of Mother Earth Mama is a board certified Holistic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner whose passion is to bring health and wellness to the whole child.
    Megan provides evidenced-based, family centered care in:

    -Prenatal health and wellness

    -Lactation counseling

    -Newborn care

    -Infant feeding

    -Infant massage

    -Vaccine consultation

    -Nutritional analysis and counseling

    -Toxin free home environment

    -Self care for parents and children

    -Children’s yoga

    -Natural/integrative approach to common childhood illnesses

    Disclaimer: Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not a substitute for advice from your health care professional. You should not rely solely on this content, and Mother Earth Mama assumes no liability for inaccuracies. These products and recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.

  • Kindness Elves: A Take on the Elf on the Shelf Tradition

    As the holidays are now upon us, how many of us sit and wonder how we can teach our children the meaning of the old adage, “It’s better to give than to receive”?

    In December 2013, when our first son was 21 months old, we were gifted the ever popular “Elf on the Shelf”. A gift of great fun that encourages a sense of magic and wonder for our children.

    In keeping with what we said we always wanted for our children, to be happy and kind, we came up with a a twist on that tradition in our home.  In our world full of  entitlement and “I want”,  we look for every opportunity to send our children a positive message emphasizing kindness, sharing, and gratitude. And so evolved, “Dot”,  our Kindness Elf.

    Dot arrives in our home each year on the first of December with an empty cradle, straw, and a note for the kids to find and read. Each act of kindness earns them a piece of straw to lay in the baby’s manger, preparing for His arrival at Christmas.

     

    Many are simple, everyday gestures such as smiling at those we pass, saying please and thank you, holding the door open, or playing with a new friend at school.

    Many of our ideas are for celebrating and thanking those in our local community who serve us, such as leaving a box of coffee for our DPW workers, fresh baked cookies for our postal worker, fire and police departments, and sending Christmas cards and socks to the men and women serving our country.

    There are also grander gestures of good will, such as filling a box with unwanted stuffed animals and blankets for our friends in the local animal shelter,  delivering groceries to the food bank and holiday shopping for a family we sponsor, who is in a less fortunate situation than our own.

    Some mornings they may wake up to find their elf has put away their shoes or fixed a broken toy, modeling direct ways to be kind and helpful.

    Of course, kindness is not just for Christmas and I love the open ended way our little friend has left us each year to continue our celebration with a weekly “Thoughtful Thursday”.  Every Thursday for the entire year, we choose something kind to do for someone else.

    The Kindness Elf has been a very valuable tool in helping our children learn and focus on the positive attributes that we try and teach them in everyday life…”love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

  • Lessons from a Duck

    Why try to explain miracles to kids when you can just have them hatch their own duckling?

    Providing children with opportunities to interact with mother nature in a safe way is one of the best ways to spark a love and concern for the natural world. As we embrace longer days, sunshine, and new life, spring is the perfect opportunity to connect children to their local environment and their interaction with it. Incubating duck eggs is a great place to start!

    Attempting to nurture eggs into ducklings can stir the same excitement in your children as Christmas morning! And it offers learning opportunities that no written curriculum can match. This, is authentic education. I know this because I am the proud mother of a five-year-old, a two-year-old, and 4 ducklings.

    For the project I picked up 6 duck eggs and an incubator from our treasured, Abma’s Farm.http://abmasfarm.com/egg-incubators/
    This is an educational process that brings life into the world, and they encourage hatching them responsibly.
    Here is what we learned.

    1. Life is a beautiful, precious miracle. Each and every little one.
    Because of the supply and demand dynamic in nature, and because eggs often simply never hatch, we’ve set an expectation that we might expect to eventually see one duckling swimming in our baby pool this summer. We’ve told our kids, some eggs hatch, and some don’t. We will love, protect, and care for these eggs as much as we can, and pray that mother nature will take its course and provide us with a duckling.

    2. Patience
    The ducklings hatch at around 28 days. We put the hatch day on our calendar so that we wouldn’t miss the big event. I filled the wait by reading stories and educating my little ones through play all about ducks. We read “Dear Children of the Earth” and “ The Golden Egg Book” . We made duck crafts and letter D pancakes. We talked a lot about what we would name them, and what they might look like. The 28-day incubation is not the only wait time. Even when we saw the first chip in the egg we still had to wait a few hours for the duckling to fully hatch. My son sweetly cheered the tired little ones on as they mustered their strength for the next big crack. “C’mon nature!” “You got this, nature!”
    My heart swells and my eyes fill as I recount this.

    3. Responsibility
    The water in the incubator needed to be monitored daily to ensure there was enough humidification for the eggs to be able to hatch. Both my boys helped me check and fill this every day. We also needed to monitor the internal temperature of the incubator. It needed to remain around 100 degrees. This was a good lesson in number recognition as well as understanding that when the incubator opened, the temperature dropped. When the incubator remained closed, it kept the internal temperature at a safe 100 degrees. My oldest son got very protective of this and made sure no one unnecessarily opened the incubator! As we checked on the safety and incubation process we engaged in valuable discussions.

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    Once the ducklings arrived, and they fluffed up, they were placed in a box where their water and food needed to be filled daily. Whether they offered the ducklings food from their little hands, or filled their dish, these boys made sure their ducklings were well fed. They had fun coming up with treats for them and laughed watching them devour watermelon!

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    4. Hygiene
    Getting small children to wash their hands regularly and to cover their sneezes can be a chore. But our rule was that you could not handle the eggs or the ducklings unless you washed your hands before and after. You’ve never seen children run so fast to the bathroom sink!
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    5. Loss
    Our third duckling, Old McDonald was definitely the runt-of-the-litter and struggled greatly with his hatch. It took him almost 3 days to finally arrive and when he did he was weak and lethargic. I literally felt pain for my little feathered friend that very first night and set my alarm every two hours so that I could hand feed him food and water and give him every chance to survive. I felt sad in those moments that he didn’t have his own mother and hoped I was doing as well a job as she would have. Old McDonald perked right up the next day and joined his buddies Donny and Joe, and later, Baby Boots. One duckling never quite made it out of his shell. We monitored the water and temperature, and made sure no one opened the incubator during this time. My five year old wanted desperately to help chip him out, but I explained to him that sometimes help isn’t actually helpful and that this was all part of Mother Nature. Alas nature ran its course, despite our feeble human attempts to alter its plan.

    After about 2 weeks our ducklings were big enough to bring outside to roam for a bit. I reminded the children that while it may seem unfair, other animals need to eat to survive too and that perhaps there is a mother raccoon or hawk that may also be caring for her spring family. So we needed to protect Donny, Joe, Old McDonald and Baby Boots as best we could but that nature provides a necessary cycle for a reason and while it might seem unfair, it is necessary too and there is often a bigger picture.

    It is time for us now to find them a lifetime home. Our friends are moving to a new property in August with a private pond for our boys to splash and swim. Until then, we will keep watching, learning, loving, protecting and appreciating these beautiful life lessons from our ducklings. We feel honored to have had our home chosen as a safe haven for these little fellas, and take seriously the gift that life is.

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    Megan Jolin of Mother Earth Mama is a board certified Holistic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner whose passion is to bring health and wellness to the whole child. Megan provides evidenced-based, family centered care in:

    -prenatal health and wellness

    -Lactation counseling

    -newborn care

    -infant feeding

    -infant massage

    -vaccine consultation

    -nutritional analysis and counseling

    -toxin free home environment

    -self care for parents and children

    -natural/integrative approach to common childhood illnesses

    Disclaimer: Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not a substitute for advice from your health care professional. You should not rely solely on this content, and Mother Earth Mama assumes no liability for inaccuracies. These products and recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.

     

  • Mother Earth Mama

    I am the mother of two, a pediatric nurse practitioner, and yogi.  I am passionate about taking care of children and the Mother Earth, as I know ultimately we can not do one without the other.

    My clients have asked me about resources they can access quickly and while on the go. So I decided to add a monthly blog feature. If you can’t join me locally for workshops and consultation, then I hope I can help you from wherever you may be finding me.

    When did you get started working with children?

    Honestly, I don’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t feel the passion for taking care of children. When I was very young, I played with dolls. Not Barbies or small figures in doll houses, real life-like baby dolls.  I used to daydream about having children…A LOT of them.  I would think about how I would care for them and what kind of mom I would be.  I remember fantasizing about taking up a full pew in church, rocking my youngest in my arms, while quietly hushing the rest of my brood to pay attention.  This continued for many years, into middle school, when my best friend and I started a summer “Kids Kamp” for neighborhood children. This led to babysitting, a volunteer respite assignment for children with chronic illness, raising money for childhood cancer, Villanova University Nursing School, and ultimately traveling the world with Operation Smile.

    Do you have any advice for the working mom?

    My understanding of how to be a working mom has changed over the years. I used to think I had to do it all: be present for my children all day long and then try to balance “me time” and “spouse time” only when – and if – the kids were sleeping. But that proved to be impossible, and my personal time quickly went by the wayside.

    I realized the time I spent with my children was more harmonious when I was well rested. So I had to let go of being “everything to everyone” and trust and be grateful for my community tribe, which consists of an incredible set of grandparents and our beloved babysitter.  I cherish absolutely every ounce of  time I have with my children. So now my goal is to be as present as possible when I am with them, and above all be kind to myself when that balance isn’t perfect…a continual work in progress.

    What is the most common advice you give to parents?

    It is the same advice I give them for the care of their child: Empower yourself with tools you need to heal. Optimize your well being with food, sleep, exercise, and spiritual and emotional practices, remembering that you can recover from conditions when you nurture your mind-body connection (even the ones that traditional medicine has thought to be chronic and permanently fixed).

    What are some practices that you believe all parents can engage in for the overall well-being of their children?

    It would be difficult to answer in a simple mantra, as boiling it down doesn’t seem to do it justice. So I will take this opportunity to discuss ways to encourage your child’s well-being in this space over the course of this year. But if I had to make it a mantra, I would say:

    Have predictable rhythms and rituals, decrease sensory overload, let food be thy medicine, get good sleep, be a model of self-care, and spend quality, intentional time together.

    Megan Jolin of Mother Earth Mama is a board certified Holistic Pediatric Nurse Practitioner whose passion is to bring health and wellness to the whole child. Megan provides evidenced-based, family centered care:

    • Prenatal health and wellness
    • Lactation counseling
    • Newborn care
    • Infant feeding
    • Infant massage
    • Vaccine consultation
    • Nutritional analysis and counseling
    • Toxin free home environment
    • Self care for parents and children
    • Natural/integrative approach to common childhood illnesses

    Mother Earth Mama offers workshops and one-on-one consultation, including phone consultation. 

    For more information please contact: 201-838-9100 or meganjolin@gmail.com