How to Cruise Through Your Kids’ Eating During the Summer Vacation

Summer. Warm weather, daylight hours getting longer, and no more homework and school projects. What a relief! But for many children and parents, living outside the well-predicted school year routine could be profoundly stressful. When homework, soccer classes and ballet rehearsals fill up the family’s schedule, many parents find it easier to structure other areas in their children’s life, such as eating well, being physically active, and getting enough sleep.

But, when the kids go out of their routine, these important aspects of healthy living, may easily become deregulated. For many families, the longer hours together demand more flexibility in eating and sleep habits, but often this flexibility can result in an unbalanced schedule, greater parental concerns, repeated boundary testing, confusion and resentment.

Children are accustomed to having a regular routine, and most of them thrive when the expectations are simple and clear. For children’s developing brains, it is quite difficult to differentiate between a “rules included” time and a “no-rules” period. As adults, we often celebrate the opportunity of being less strict and planned with our time. In a vacation context, adults would find it easy to detect when they are hungry or full and when they need to go to bed.

However, children have a lower ability to correctly recognize their bodily situation. Consequently, they are more susceptible to overexertion. Parents are often surprised of their children’s melt-downs. Often, a child gradually becomes hungry or tired, but this information is missed when everyone is busy having fun. In addition, more social gatherings, trips, and spontaneity call for unregulated behavior and more eating out. Some parents are concerned that their children will gain extra weight or will eat an excessive amount of unhealthy foods during the summer. Additionally, more light outside may clash with regular bedtime hours, leading children to have less sleeping hours than usual.

How can parents make sure their kids eat, exercise and sleep well during summer vacation? As a child psychologist, and as the mother of three kids who has been making efforts to enjoy fun and healthy family vacations for more than a decade now, I have found the following ideas helpful in balancing the innate freedom of a vacation and children’s developmental need of a well-planned and expected routine:


Figure out what your vision is for the summer break: Is it more important for you to take the kids on trips, or to hang out more locally with friends and relatives that you do not get to spend time with during the year? How much work and other engagements could you postpone until the end of August? How many hours of fun physical activity are reasonable? What is most important to you in terms of regular sleeping hours, the nutrients your children receive, and the structure of meals?

For some parents, for example, 8-10 pm are important working hours in which they complete many projects, and thus keeping the bedtime routine is a must, whereas other families do not mind eating their dinner while picnicking at the park. Concentrate on the healthy habits you would like mostly to preserve over the summer break. For instance, traveling more with kids may result in eating more fast food than you typically do. These situations call for some values to take precedence over others, based on the parents’ standards.


Think ahead of the approaches you intend to use when faced with these events, and make sure your parental toolbox of efficient responses is wide enough. Have more easy-to-go food with you, decide on a bedtime, tell the kids how much TV and sweets they are allowed to have each week and help them plan accordingly. Ahead of time, make sure you know what your plans are and make the necessary arrangements.

Many children, for instance, are surprisingly hungry after a short swim in the pool, or have a harder time leaving home for an activity when they have been watching TV more than usual. When I see parents’ interactions with their children, I try to collect ideas for additional tactics that I like, add them to my repertoire, and use them appropriately.


You had an idea how your day would look like, and then things went differently than expected? Don’t worry about it! Go with the flow and adapt your plans accordingly. For example, if you are planning to meet friends in the park but they are running late, a relative arrives late for a visit, kids request eating something different than you prepared them – instead of pushing life to be what you had planned, allow yourself to adapt more easily and quickly to changes.

Too many days of our lives are rushed in running to work and school, doing chores, and this may cause us to not eat right, not exercising enough and not sleeping enough, due to the overwhelming plethora of responsibilities we have. The summer break is a wonderful opportunity to recalibrate your schedule to your family needs as well as reevaluate your own routine health-wise. I am often reminded by my kids and by my sometimes-jumbled schedule of a five-person family, the importance of spontaneity and adaptations in life.


Being a parent who tries to make healthy choices for your family, you are probably over-burdened and exhausted by this time of the year. Embrace the privilege of being able to rest, hang out with your family, and have homework-stress-free time! Embrace the breaks you are forced to take due to your children’ time off. Perceive summer vacation as leisure time that allows your family and yourself to reconnect with your bodies more healthily, to eat better, sleep more, exercise regularly, meditate and just chill out.

Enjoying yourself and treating your body as well as your children’s respectfully will promise you a better year once you return to being busy with emails, phone calls and additional assignments.

Living healthily and educating our children to do so themselves, is an important value for all parents, however many are unsure of what the best ways are to accomplish this. Although summer break is too often coined with boundary breaking and lack of structure, it should be better perceived as an opening for a healthier family lifestyle and an opportunity to support our children’s adaptation and healthier development.

Open Challenge to Donald Trump

donald 3I challenge Donald Trump to fight ISIS for 30 days.

“Claiming that the Islamic State is competing with his wealth, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he will ‘bomb the hell’ out of the extremist group if elected to the White House in November 2016.”

“Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump. Nobody,” said Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“I’ve been dealing with politicians all my life. They are all talk, no action,” Trump said.  “Never going to get done. They’re controlled by the lobbyists, they’re controlled by donors, and they’re controlled by special interests.”

Mr. Trump, “put your money where your mouth is.”

I challenge Donald Trump to go to the Middle East to fight ISIS for 30 days and to engage the enemy in a minimum of 10 fire fights during those 30 days.  Should he accept my challenge I will join him.  Furthermore I will find ten illegal immigrants willing to fight along side Trump and myself for freedom and security.

Ten illegal immigrants willing to put their lives on the line for freedom, prosperity and America. “Mr. Trump are you willing to put your life on the line for freedom, prosperity and America Mr. Trump or do you want the poor sons and daughters of Appalachia and inner city neighborhoods to put their lives on the line in order to increase your profit margin?”

Mr. Trump is 69 years old.  By all appearances he has lived an extremely prosperous and enjoyable life.  Why should an 18 or 20 year old who has not had the opportunity to reap the rewards of American freedom give up his/her life just so Trump can enjoy another 10 to 30 years of hedonistic living?

donald 1Furthermore, it appears that Trump dodged the Vietnam war through a medical deferment that topped off several student deferments.  Trump was an athlete who loves the military, surely the army could have stuck him in a helicopter as a door gunner.

Mr. Trump called Ms. Universe a hypocrite for keeping her crown in response to her disdain over his uninformed remarks regarding illegal immigrants.  Mr. Trump is on record wanting to put young American men and women’s lives on line by attacking ISIS in order to protect his wealth.  He is willing to sacrifice the lives of 18 and 20 year-olds so that he can continue to enjoy the pleasures of his wealth and the freedom and security which provides his ability to obtain that wealth.

Trump calls Miss Universe Paulina Vega a hypocrite “Miss Universe, Paulina Vega, criticized me for telling the truth about illegal immigration, but then said she would keep the crown-Hypocrite,” he wrote on Twitter Sunday.



First Mr. Trump blames Mexico for the loss of American jobs to Mexico and then he claims that illegal immigration from Mexico is destroying America with crime and drugs.

Trump opines, “They’re, (immigrants),”They’re bringing drugs, bringing crime; they’re rapists and some I assume are good people.”  “They’re (Mexico’s government) sending us not the right people.”  “The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States.”  “They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”

First off Mexico can only take that which America allows it to take.  American economic policies that stripped American workers of their power is what sent jobs to Mexico all in order to lower American corporations’ labor costs.  the failure of NAFTA and GATT to raise worker’s incomes and quality of life in the United States and other countries has been a colossal failure.

According to Pew Research there were 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2012 5.9 million of whom were from Mexico.  Of that 11.2 million 8.1 million were working or looking for work in the U.S. labor force.  Given that a good percentage of the 3.1 million not looking for work are children a person must conclude that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are law abiding citizens.

At its core, Mr. Trump’s statement about illegal immigrants is false and therefore misleading.  Mr. Trump blatantly ignores decades of U.S. foreign, economic and drug policies as being the true cause of the cancers that are eating away the American dream for most.

“Harvest of Empire,” is a book and video documentary that examines the direct correlation between the exodus of people from Latin American countries to the United States and the U.S.’s direct intervention in those countries that has brought about that exodus.

The jobs that American corporations could not and cannot outsource to cheaper labor regions they have decreased costs by importing an over supply of labor to decrease labor costs and thereby increasing profits for the owners at the expense of workers here and abroad.

The net effect of these policies has been the loss of the living wage for the average U.S., Mexican and Latin American citizens resulting in the the widest income and wealth gap between CEOs/wealthy and workers/poor since 1928.

Awash in workers, employers have been able to rid themselves of the collective bargaining power that unions provided which not only raised compensation for their own members but those workers who worked at non-union jobs due to non-union employers being forced to compete with union compensation packages.  In the town that I live in there is a chain of a national retailer that has about a thirty to fifty percent turn-over of its work force every year.  How can it turn over the majority of its work force every two to three years?  It can because workers have absolutely zero power to negotiate with the owners for better, for living-wage compensation.

According to the Economic Policy Institute had the federal minimum wage kept pace with productivity as it relates to inflation over the last forty years it would have been $18.67 in 2013 and $18.97 or more today.  Had the median income kept pace with inflation over the last forty years it would be $28.87 today instead of the actual $16.56.

The bottom line is that workers are being paid half of what they were being paid in 1968 for producing the same amount of work.  Many Democratic and Republican businessmen/women and corporations have reaped the fruit of other people’s labor and therefor have an incentive to maintain the current status quo.

Democrats want to fix the problems by increasing the minimum wage and providing social services.  Republicans will correct the deficiencies by erecting a wall and enacting the Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP, economic policy.  Social services are nothing more than a double drain sucking money out of the economy and raising the minimum wage will have little lasting effect as those labor costs are summarily passed on to necessity costs, (housing, food transportation and medical), of the very workers who received the income increase.  As Bill O’Reilly has pointed out, a wall along the southern border will not keep out all of the illegal immigrants, most likely just the good ones, and the TPP will be another significant blow to workers bearing the fruit of their labor here in the Americas and the other half of the world around the Pacific.

It’s not that there are too many immigrants in the United States, it’s that the U.S. economic policy is built to ensure that there are more workers than living wage jobs.  Whoever has the courage to write an economic policy that ensures that every U.S. worker receives a living wage in the town and city they live then it wouldn’t matter if there were only 100 illegal immigrants in the U.S.  If someone had the courage to write up a living wage economic policy then the U.S. could actually absorb another 90 million immigrants and if someone doesn’t do this soon the U.S. will be supplanted by China as the world’s leader in GDP.

Bill O’Reilly said the United States’ major supplier of illegal drugs is from drug cartels in Mexico.  “So Trump is correct in saying that only a massive wall will stop the chaos and even then drugs and people will get through although not to the extent they do now,” O’Reilly explained.

Well Bill there wouldn’t be a supplier if there wasn’t a customer.  If the United States wasn’t demanding illicit drugs then there would be no Mexican drug cartels providing those drugs and therefore there wouldn’t be much of the violent and secondary crimes associated with drug cartels and gangs in Mexico and here in the U.S.  And I am not the one who says this, some of the United States’ and the world’s most distinguished law enforcement personnel, LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION, LEAP, are the ones saying this.

With a stroke of a pen POTUS could legalize marijuana and decriminalize all other illicit drugs and thereby eliminate the drug cartels and all of their killings over night.  Drug users and addicts would be treated as if they strictly they had a medical problem, addiction, removing them from the severely over crowded and expensive justice system.  According to 1.5 million people were arrested for non-violent drug offenses 609,423 of whom were for marijuana possession.  The U.S. spends $51,000,000,000 a year on the drug war that the U.S. has lost.  Why keep throwing that money away and the lives of the innocents in the process?  Your own people are the ones saying it, not me.

According to LEAP there have been more than 39 million arrests for nonviolent drug offenses in the last 40 years. Those incarcerated over a 20-year period quadrupled so that now more than 2.3 million US citizens are in prison or jail. The US spends 70 billion dollars a year on incarcerating 22.5 percent of the entire world’s prisoners even though the U.S. only has 4.6 percent of the world’s population.  LEAP has concluded that not one U.S. drug policy goal of lowering crime, addiction, drug availability or juvenile drug use has been achieved over the last 40 years, but rather the drug war has exacerbated all of the problems associated with drug use. Drugs are cheaper, more potent and more accessible to adults and juveniles then what they were 40 years ago. Powerful drug cartels and inner city gangs are created due to the illegality of the drug trade which is beyond authorities’ supervision because it is not regulated. These cartels and gangs perpetrate all kinds of violent crimes against each other as well as innocent bystanders to maintain control over regions and aspects of the black market. Most of these unnecessary secondary crimes would disappear if drugs were legalized and regulated reducing the incidents of addiction in the process.

A new study, “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States” released by the American Immigration Policy Center found that:
foreign born people are much less likely to commit crime than native born residents;
each successive generation becomes more likely to commit crimes;
foreign born people make up 17 percent of the prison population  yet are approximately 35 percent of California’s total adult population.

Lead researcher, Walter Ewing, concluded that immigrants, (legal or illegal), “is a group motivated to not get in trouble with the law and blow it all,” he said.

Despite the facts that contradict Trump, other anti-immigrant activists and politicians who justify their get tough on immigrants because they are dangerous criminals and steal Americans’ jobs by relying upon unsubstantiated information and the over sensationalism of uncommon events they are able to mislead the masses by repeating these fallacies over and over rather than address the true causes to the ailments of American society.

Those who hold to restrictive immigration policies because immigrants are stealing American jobs are often times the same people who are “pro-life” regarding abortion.

According to the “National Right to Life” organization there have been over 57 million abortions performed in the United States since 1973.

According to the United States Census Bureau there were approximately 54.5 million Hispanic or Latino people living in the United States in 2014 making up 17.1 percent of the 318.8 million total population.  Throw in the other 12 million undocumented immigrants and you have a total of 66.5 million Latino immigrants of first to fourth generation living in the United States.

There were approximately 30 million abortions from 1973 to 1993; assuming that half of these people would have entered into a marriage and had children of their own it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that another 10 million children would have been born to these 7.5 million married couples by today’s date.  So in reality there would be 67 million more citizen residents living in the United States if zero abortions had occurred over the last 43 years.  Statistically speaking, for every aborted child in the United States an immigrant took his/her place, no more no less.  The question I pose to those who claim that immigrants are stealing American jobs, “if there were zero immigration to the United States from Mexico and Latin America over the last 43 years and zero abortions over that same time period would you be blaming the 67 million un-aborted fetuses for taking your jobs and committing crime, or would you blame the failed economic, justice and drug policies instituted by the politicians whom you elected to office and who are running for office once again behind the facade of a different name and a different suit?”

It’s your move Donald.