Steamboat event to teach ways parents can improve time with children
January 10, 2011
Maneuvering through New York City's LaGuardia Airport with his two young children while answering a call on his cell phone Sunday, Kenny Reisman didn't take long to think of an example of when, as a parent, he feels a little more stress than he'd like.
"Maybe right now," Reisman joked.
Reisman, a Steamboat Springs City Councilman, was at the start of a homeward journey after visiting family with Charlie, 5, and Macy, 7. Meanwhile, his wife, Dr. Kristen Race, was experiencing a rare feeling at home in Steamboat.
"I've had three days of just silence," Race said Sunday. "I've actually gotten quite a bit done around here."
How to find the best of both those worlds — peaceful, quality time at home with the children — is the topic of a Tuesday night event hosted by Race and First Impressions of Routt County. "Creating Peaceful Homes" is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Strawberry Park Elementary School, with free dinner and child care provided by First Impressions. The event is part of a larger effort by Mindful Life, which is the new name — and larger umbrella — for Race and Reisman's Smart Dreamzzz business. That business produces CDs to help children have better bedtime experiences and sleep. Race said Mindful Life will continue to sell Smart Dreamzzz CDs, but the business now does much more.
Race is teaching yoga for kids classes in schools across Routt County, for example, and plans to train teachers on yoga for kids in May. Later this month, Mindful Life will lead a Hang Up & Hang Out program in local elementary schools, challenging parents to not talk on cell phones in the presence of their children for one week. An assembly is planned for Jan. 20 in Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools, which will start a curriculum component to involve children in the Hang Up & Hang Out program along with their parents.
Tuesday night's event is a prelude to that effort.
Race said much of Tuesday's discussion will focus on parents and things they can do to simplify their lives and create less stressful environments for their children.
"Families are living in a very time-pressed, tech-driven, often over-scheduled and over-stimulated world," Race said, noting that parents' stress can affect their children's stress. "There are little things (parents) can do that can make a big difference."
As an example, Race suggested modifying children's stimulation through "all kinds of entertainment screen media," including TV, smart phones, computer games, "the Internet in general," video games and more. Race noted that while watching TV might seem like a relaxing activity for children, it actually can stimulate areas of the brain that cause stress, while leaving other parts of the brain — such as rational thinking and problem solving — idle.
She and Reisman also suggested thinking seriously about the amount of activities in which a child is involved — and how much could be too much.
"You think you live in a small town and life's simple, then the next thing you know, you have your kids involved in three or four activities a week — and you've lost the simplicity, to a degree, that you thought was inherent in Steamboat," Reisman said.
Race said Tuesday night's event also will include suggested conversation starters around the dinner table and other communication tips, such as leaving your cell phone behind when you take your children to and from school.
But what if your child calls while you're on the way to the school, to tell you they're running a few minutes late?
Race brushed off the scenario, calling it an example of the very reason technological simplification is needed.
"We all grew up in an age where we didn't have cell phones at our disposal. There's a lot of other ways to handle the situation," Race said. "I think we've gotten to the point where we feel just lost without our phones. We've become overly attached to our gadgets."
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