Transcript: 10 Tips for Summer Health
Welcome to the US and Kids Podcast. I am your host Jan Talen. I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a wife, a mom, and a grandma. With my own marriage and with my clients, I work to help us avoid that pain of divorce and achieve the grand balance of being married forever while parenting together by using the D.N.A. Method of Communication. We know that working on this is worth the work and is very rewarding.
Welcome to Episode 93 in the history of the Us and Kids Podcast! I'm looking forward to Episode 100 that is going to air around August 3. And, so I wanted to do a bit of a celebration countdown. The upcoming podcasts are going to be about 10 tips. Each will be about a different topic with 10 tips for how to live well. And, when you post your favorite tip on the Us and Kids podcast facebook page you will be entered into a contest with a $50 Amazon gift card!
So today, we're going to start with a topic of 10 Tips for Summer Health. Most of us think, "Summer? I'm going to be healthy all summer. It's warm outside. I don't get a cold. We get to be more active, because it's just easier. Our schedules sometimes are a little more flexible. Maybe we have a vacation planned.
Why do we need a tip for summer health?" Here's why, because sometimes the change in routine can mess us up. And sometimes, while the heat of summer, at least in the Americas here, can feel really good, it can also get really warm. And that warm, can mess up not only how our brains work, but also how our kiddos' brain’s work. And so, we're just going to talk for a little bit about what are some ideas to manage that warmth and still have a really good summer?
I come from this talk from a little bit of my own experience. We lived in California for 15 years, and we lived in the southern San Joaquin Valley of Bakersfield. It was warm. There were days, and days, and days without a cloud. Days where it didn't get below 85. And, for many of those years, I lived in a house that had a swamp cooler. So, this isn't an air conditioner. This is taking hot air, running it through water, and then blowing into your house. So that when it's over 100, it is now wet hot air, instead of dry, hot air. It really wasn't very helpful for me. And, it didn't help my brain. My brain thinks that sweating makes sense if I'm doing something that creates sweat... if I'm digging a ditch; if I'm pushing kids on the swing; if I'm going for a run... that made sense. I should be sweating. But why would I be sweating when I'm sitting on my couch, holding my little one, nursing one of them, or reading them a book? My brain just couldn't quite keep itself balanced. And, I found myself struggling to keep my wits about me.
What I know now, I didn't know back then. But, what I know now is that the neurotransmitters in my brain were going off balance - in essence overheating - and making my problem solving, my emotional control, my decision making, and my interactions with my kiddos, even within my own brain, far more challenging. As if having three littles around was not challenging enough? Delightful but challenging. And when we had our fourth kiddo, at least we had some air conditioning, but it was still hot!
So, based on my experience and some research about what creates good brain health in the middle of summer heat, we're going to talk about 10 tips. These are true for your kids, as well as for adults. Kids overheat too. And so, pay attention to their experience and their brains, as well as to your own.
Here we go... Tip Number One. (These are not in any particular order.) ENJOY NATURE. This is the space for many of us, where it’s important for brain health to get outside. This may not be as comfortable in some of the California places as much, or the desert places, but take time to get outside and enjoy nature. The green and the blue colors are really good for our brains, and they give our brains a different balance just in the amount of colors that's out there. And so, staying inside and looking at your white walls or your grayish walls, and just looking through the window is not the same as getting outside and taking in the smells, and the vast amount of color that is out there. It will help your brain relax a little bit more, because those are calming colors to our brain. When our brain is calm, our anxiety goes down. When our anxiety goes down, we're more able to play. We're more able to have fun. We're also more able to make decisions, even if it's just about "Mom, can I have another snack?" Or, "What are we having for supper?" Get outside. You don't get to stay outside for hours, but take some minutes to get outside and absorb some of the pretty that's around you.
Number Two... NOURISH YOUR BRAIN. Nourish it, huh? What does that mean? The real idea here is to drink water. Eat real food. Sugar creates inflammation. And when we are hot or overheated, our brain also becomes more inflamed. So your sugary drinks, your caffeinated drinks are not necessarily your brain's best friend when it's really warm outside. Cool water is your best friend. And, if you need to, add a drink that has not much sugar but some electrolytes.
Yes. Enjoy nature and now feed your brain real food that it needs.
Tip Number Three. We know that summer often can change our ROUTINES around. Often daycare changes a little bit. Work schedules... people are on vacation, so we're covering shifts for others. Then we're hoping to get this weekend off or that weekend off. Things like that. Maybe bedtime is a little later. Maybe we're getting up a little bit earlier. It can throw us off, changing routines. And keeping some routines and rules steady can really help us stay in sync.
So, write down what the new routine is. Talk together with your spouse, with your partner, and with your kiddos about what's new and how it's going to be. And then, practice it. When your kids are just crabby it’s often because the routine and expectations are confusing to them. They're used to going to daycare or to school and being entertained by friends and all sorts of activities. And now they're home, and maybe bored. There's only one, or two, or three of them, and they don't want to play with their sibs. They want to see their friends. Hmmm...These are new routines. Help your kids know what the structure is by having a routine. Don't just play everyday unstructured with a kind of laissez-faire kind of attitude because it’s summer. Have some routine to it. Make sure you're getting breakfast, lunch, and supper, and some snacks in between. Make sure that your kids know that there's a rest time. That there's still a storytime. There's still a bath time. Because these routines keep brains better balanced and the kids less worried about what to do and what the expectations are.
Number Four... when people ask you to do something, you DON’T HAVE TO SAY YES. Summer is often a time for more socializing. We hang out with our neighbors more. Our friends have more cookouts, and kids stay up later. But it might be your fourth night of messing up bedtime or of staying up late, and then trying to get up early, because your littles are waking up at 5:30am. It might be okay to remember, and to talk together as a couple about your limits and boundaries. Where do we put priorities this summer? Listening to your body, and what your body can do is important. Also paying attention to what can your kids do is wise. It might be fun for you to be out until 10, but if they're really ready for bed at 6:30 or 7:00, then it's really not too fun for them to keep trying to push their body for another three or four hours of being awake and not being naughty. Their brains can't hold it together. So listen to your body. Listen to your kids, and then move on to Number Five.
Number Five: LESS ALCOHOL. We mentioned it briefly. It goes, sort of, with the socializing part, because often that includes alcohol and things that are really sugary. And don't get me wrong, I like sugar. I like chocolate. I like a bit of alcohol. We're gonna watch what we do for our kids and for us. More alcohol makes it far more challenging to parent and to think clearly and calmly. It confuses our kids when they don't recognize the tone of voice or the look in your eye when you've had one too many. So in that socialization, be sure that drinking water is included in that, so that you are still available for your kids. So that your brain still works well, and your kids can stay connected.
Number Six. It's a tip. It's one that I used frequently in California. I could do it in less than three minutes. TAKE A COLD SHOWER. I could run upstairs, throw my little one... I put my newborn on the floor, and I jumped into that cold shower. Sometimes, I got my hair wet. Sometimes I didn't. And, I just let my whole body come back down to a regular temperature. Toweled off. Put my clothes back on. Sometimes I got clean clothes. Sometimes I didn't. The idea was to find a way to cool down. Now sometimes, you know I got lucky. I put a bucket out, and I’d tell the kids to fill it up with cool water from the hose, and I'd sit in a chair. And, I stick my feet in the cool water. And sometimes, that felt really good because sometimes there was going to be no time for the quick, cold shower. The other option for me to cool down was to go upstairs and run cold water over my forearms, splashed my face, and take some long slow breaths. What am I saying? Some ways to know if your body temperature is too high is when you realize you can’t hardly think, or keep your mouth under control. Often the desire to scream or cry at the same time can over take our normally self-controlled and contained self.. Take a breath. Get a few minutes away, and COOL DOWN.
Number Seven. REMEMBER TO DO SOMETHING RELAXING, perhaps in air conditioning. Now if that means just walking through the mall, leaving all things that we purchased in the car, and just getting into somebody else's air conditioning. Do it. If it means just chilling and sitting at home; putting a fan on you; and watching a movie, then do it. Make sure that your body temperature and your brain is coming down, and also that you're giving yourself a little space to enjoy something pleasant.
Tip Number Eight... as you plan your vacation, your weekend away, your week away, whatever that might be, remember that it's important often for kiddos and for you to HAVE A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN BE INDOORS AND COOL OFF AND GO OUTDOORS AND ABSORB THE GREENS AND BLUES. Right? So that both can happen. Make sure that you have things as you travel that your kiddos can do indoors, so that if they're overheated at three in the afternoon, they can go indoors and cool down. Now sometimes, that's just let's watch a show for 20 minutes. And sometimes, somebody just needs to build something, or color, or just listen to music, or play with their dollies and pretend. Make sure that your vacation space has good places for your brain both indoors and outdoors. If you're camping sometimes this is a little trickier. But, think about what can happen in a car. If somebody is just too hot, you just turn on your car for a few minutes and run that air conditioner. Let them get cooled down. Let yourself get cooled down, while doing something that your brain and your body enjoy. I know it's a lot of thinking ahead of time, but it also has a really, really good payoff. Right?
ip Number Nine... This is about MOVING YOUR BODY, because this is important to do. It helps our brains reset. It clears away some of that cortisol and adrenaline that flows so quickly when we become a little stressed. And remember, heat is part of what can make us stressed. So now, I'm going to say take a walk. Don't pick your walk time at two in the afternoon in the heat of the sun. Take your walk in a cooler part of the day. If your little one is in a stroller, they're wrapped up pretty snug often without much breeze to really help them cool down.
And so, part one is sunscreen and a hat.
But, part two is remembering that a stroller can really be quite warm. So can being carried in the front pack. Take a walk and find ways to do that when it's cool. Find a way to be outside and move your body fast enough so that: the breeze can blow your hair a little bit; so that you can move and work those muscles. Sometimes heat makes us really lethargic, but lethargy is really the best trick for keeping our brains healthy and happy. Getting a little bit of body movement out there is a good idea. So maybe you don't take a walk, but maybe you have a 10 minute dance party. Okay. Maybe you say, "I didn't take a walk, but I had to pack up the whole camper, and clean up the campsite, and walk to the beach, and back, and here we go." Yes. Okay. All of those things. Do them and remember to absorb those pretty colors and to take some deep breaths to relax.
Tip Number 10... We're almost there. Look at this. Here it is. SET A TIME LIMIT FOR HEAT AND SUN EXPOSURE. This is wise for yourself and wise for your kiddos. They can become very, very tired if they get some sunburn and overexposure and that could well make them crabby. They often don't have words for it of, "I'm too hot. I'm hot all the way through me."
You and I know what it feels like to have a little bit of sunburn. To a little kid it can feel a bit hotter. When they get some sunburn on their shoulders, or on their face, around their arms and legs, and that's a good percentage of their body, because it's just smaller. And, their (less developed) brain has to manage it. So much for a little one to try to figure out and manage emotionally. Try to watch that heat and sun exposure, so that by the end of the day you will have had a good day, both for yourself and for your kiddos.
Finally, this is not anything that's really of a tip, but a funny little information piece that I found from Fitness magazine. And, it says this, "Chocolate milk. Yes, chocolate milk was the best way to rehydrate between intense exercise sessions." If you're lacking electrolytes, water won't have any effect. You'll need a sports drink or water with a bit of salt. If your kids are really, really thirsty, they have some heat related fatigue. (They need) a cool area and to drink water or something with a bit of salt. Find them with delicious chocolate milk. Who knew?? Maybe that's a tip. That would be Tip Number 11. I just thought it was a fun fact.
Anyways, you know that I'm always cheering for you and wishing you the best and hoping that one of these fun tips is just exactly what you needed to make it through a really, hot summer day.
Feel free to share your favorite tips on either Instagram at usandkids, or on our Facebook page (at) Us and Kids Podcast. I look forward to hearing from you.
And, I'm going to share lots more 10 Tips in the weeks ahead.
Take care and have a great start of summer with this 10 tips printable!