Housing, RentAssistance

Homelessness and Families

Photo provided by UNICEF

Homelessness is lacking stable and appropriate housing. People can be categorized as homeless if they are: living on the streets; moving between temporary shelters, including houses of friends, family and emergency accommodation; living in private boarding houses without a private bathroom or security of tenure. Homelessness is a major issue in the United States. Moreso, this is an issue for those living in poverty. There are three types of homelessness.

Photo provided by the National Research Foundation For the Homeless

Primary homelessness – living on the streets, in parks, in deserted buildings.

Secondary homelessness – living in temporary shelters such as refuges, emergency accommodation or sleeping on a friend or families couch.

Tertiary homelessness – living in a boarding room.

As stated, homelessness and poverty are interrelated. According to data collected by HUD, 17 out of 10,000 people experienced homelessness every night. HUD’s Point in Time (PIT) count identified 567,715 homeless people on a single night, in January 2019. About 63% of individuals counted were sheltered, and 37% were unsheltered. They are associated with every region of the country, family status, gender category, and racial/ethnic group. Some groups are more likely to become homeless, according to data. Groups that are most at risk include the African American population and Hispanic population. In fact, the pandemic brought shown a light on the number of homeless families in America.

When governors and mayors delivered stay-at-home orders, many Americans—likely more than one million—had nowhere to go.”-Bloomberg

As a result, those living on the streets became linked to the well-being of others, given the risk of spreading coronavirus. While many could quarantine inside their homes, homelessness brought about another level of exposure for those without adequate shelter for themselves and families.

The National Coalition for the Homelessness defines why people are experiencing homelessness as the following:

  • Housing- A lack of affordable housing and the limited scale of housing assistance programs have contributed to the current housing crisis and to homelessness. Recent evictions and foreclosures have increased the number of people experiencing homelessness.
  • Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities.
    • In many situations, if housing absorbs a majority of income, you are essentially homeless.
  • Lack of Employment Opportunities- With unemployment rates remaining high, jobs are hard to find in the current economy. Even if people can find work, this does not automatically provide an escape from poverty.
  • Decline in Public Assistance- This includes loss of wages, benefits, and unstable employment.
  • Lack of Affordable Healthcare- Families with children or family members with a disability, the struggle to maintain rent payments and insurance coverage can result in homelessness. One event, such as losing a job can create this decline.
  • Domestic Violence- Victims of abuse are often made to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness.
  • Mental Illness- Approximately 16% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness.
  • Addiction- Those individuals battling with addiction often face homelessness too as the addiction takes precedent over adequate housing.

Homelessness is often categorized in urban communities such as metropolitan cities. However, homelessness also occurs within rural areas such as small towns and districts. The risk of becoming homeless is much higher in non-metropolitan areas compared to metropolitan cities. The rate is 1-2 times higher. The demographics of those experiencing homelessness in rural communities include white, female, first time homeless, married individuals living in rural communities. This group tends to experience homelessness for a shorter period of time. African Americans experience homelessness at a rate five times greater than whites.

Photo by National Alliance to End Homelessness

People who identify as LGBTQ are another over-represented demographic among the homeless. About 40% of unsheltered youth nationwide identify as LGBTQ and in need of adequate housing.

Pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of becoming homeless, and pregnant women face significantly greater health risks while unstably housed. Homelessness and unstable housing during pregnancy are associated with low birthweight and preterm delivery. Learn more here.

Veterans have seen a decline in homelessness in the recent years due to support of government funded veteran housing associations.

Nighttime Routines, Parenting

Healthy Sleeping Patterns for Children

The Sleep Foundation describes the role of a healthy sleeping pattern is a key contributor to the development of young minds. Also, there is a direct relation to healthy sleeping patterns and overall happiness, as sleep has an effect on cognitive performance, mood, resiliency, learning and memory.

Image provided by The American Academy of Pediatrics.

As always, parents are encouraged to consult with a medical professional if there is a concern. The evidence within in this article are for factual purposes only and not intended for medical advice.

According to Stanford Children’s Health, parents can help their children develop healthy sleeping patterns by focusing on what’s important when it comes to sleep. Below are tips to establish healthy sleeping patterns for your children.

The Effects of Not Receiving Enough Sleep on Children

  • There is a direct correlation to a child experiencing sleep deprivation and the behavior patterns of a child with ADHD- The Sleep Foundation
  • Lack of sleep can cause many problems including decreased brain development, learning problems and more frequent negative emotions. It can also contribute to weight management problems, growth issues and increased frequency of illnesses- The Children’s Hospital of Colorado
  • Lack of sleep can cause stress and lowered motivation. Over time, children can begin to develop anxiety and depression- About Kids Health
Image credits- Good Night Baby Moon Bedtime Story

Tips To Establish Healthy Sleeping Patterns

1. Turn off computer screens and lights well in advance. It is suggested that children “power down” well enough in advance so that children have enough winding down time.

2. Establishing a bedtime routine with the help of your child. Let them decide which thing you both should do first (such as taking a bath, reading, and brushing teeth).

3. Allow your child to choose their favorite bedtime bear or stuffed animal.

4. Take a bath, read a story, or sing a song. For more information on bedtime story book lists, read 90 Of The Best Bedtime Stories. To help your child relax, read The Best Bedtime Stories To Relax Your Child Before Bedtime for an age by age guide to bedtime stories for children.

5. Stay positive and keep practicing! It is suggested that parents do not punish their children for getting up during bedtime. Avoid negative associations with bedtime and reward your child when he or she stays in bed and falls asleep.

Clever Kids Corner, Outdoor Activities

Side Walk Chalk Inspiration Ideas

Sidewalk chalk is an inexpensive activity that provides hours of fun and encourages creativity!

Look below for some of my favorite sidewalk chalk ideas.

Trolls

Mystical Reading

Fish Out of Water

Future Fire Lady

Up, Up and Away!

Swinging the Day Away

Floating in Thin Air

Me and My Pet Dragon

Over the Rainbow

Photo Credits: NJ Family, Popsugar, S & S Blog

#Healthy, Nighttime Routines, Parenting, Sleep, Toddlers

18 Tips For Parents- Establishing Healthy Sleeping Patterns For Children At Home

The Sleep Foundation describes the role of a healthy sleeping pattern is a key contributor to the development of young minds. Also, there is a direct relation to healthy sleeping patterns and overall happiness, as sleep has an effect on cognitive performance, mood, resiliency, learning and memory. To learn more about Healthy Sleeping Patterns for Young Children and The Effects of Not Receiving Enough Sleep, click the link here.

18 Tips For Parents- Establishing Healthy Sleeping Patterns For Children At Home

1. Turn off computer screens and lights well in advance. It is suggested that children “power down” well enough in advance so that children have enough winding down time.

2. Establishing a bedtime routine with the help of your child. Let them decide which thing you both should do first (such as taking a bath, reading, and brushing teeth). 

3. Allow your child to choose their favorite bedtime bear or stuffed animal

4. Take a bath, read a story, or sing a song. For more information on bedtime story book lists, read 90 Of The Best Bedtime Stories. To help your child relax, read The Best Bedtime Stories To Relax Your Child Before Bedtime for an age by age guide to bedtime stories for children. 

5. Stay positive and keep practicing! It is suggested that parents do not punish their children for getting up during bedtime. Avoid negative associations with bedtime and reward your child when he or she stays in bed and falls asleep.

6. Newborns do not have a set bedtime. Children this age sleep on demand and it is important that parents keep this in mind, as it is part of their development.

7. Start a quiet time, such as listening to quiet music or reading a book, 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime.

8. After the scheduled time, children should follow up with brush teeth. This time can also be used for changing diapers, toileting, and bath time.

9. Allow your child to take security items to bed, where age appropriate. These items sometime includes stuffed animals and security blankets.

10. Never allow an infant to fall asleep with a bottle. This will reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

The CDC recommends the following tips for parents seeking to establish a bedtime routine:

1. Set bed and wake-up times at the same time each day, including weekends.

2. Keep the bedroom quiet and a comfortable temperature.

3. Remove electronic devices from the bedroom.

4. Avoid large meals and caffeine before bedtime.

5. Make sure kids are active during the day so they can fall asleep at night.

6. Model good sleep behaviors for kids.

7. Have a bedtime routine like taking a warm bath, brushing teeth, and reading a bedtime story.

8. Turn the lights out at bedtime.

Check out this visual from the CDC- Do Your Children Get Enough Sleep?

#Healthy, Parenting, Positive Home Environment

Creating a Stable, Structured, and Supportive Home Environment for Children

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Dean via Unsplash

“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” ― Dr. Seuss

Children thrive in consistency, predictability and follow through. Creating a stable, structured, and supportive home environment is the goal. Stable homes produce successful children.

Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and
environments are essential to prevent
early adversity, including child abuse and
neglect, and to assure that all children
reach their full potential
.
The CDC

If you want to raise a child who is caring, organized, goal-oriented, and successful, you must provide a stable environment in which he can experience a childhood filled with both love and bonding experiences. Dr. Gail Gross, Human Behavior, Parenting, and Education Expert, Speaker, Author. Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed.

Dr. Gross provides insight on how parents can focus on providing a stable and supportive home environments. As parents, centering on the child helps promote wellbeing and positive experiences in the child’s life. The CDC states that child abuse and neglect are top public health problems being faced in the United States. Child abuse ranges from physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. Providing a safe, stable, and supportive environment prevents these types of abuse from happening in the home. According to science, children who experience instability in the early years are under stress. When a child experiences stressors relating to poverty, abuse, divorce, or insecurity, he or she produces stress hormone cortisol. This changes the architecture of the child’s brain and affects their impulse control. These same stressors also have a profound effect on a child’s ability to navigate through school successfully and the ability to interact with peers positively. In fact, stress can be a central cause for both emotional and physical illness, impacting your child’s overall health, school attendance and school performance.

What Are Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships?

All definitions are provided by the CDC.

Safety: The extent to which an individual is free from fear and secure from physical or psychological harm within their social, physical, and work environments.

Stability: The degree of predictability and consistency in one’s relationships as well as the social, emotional, and physical environments.

Nurturing: The extent to which parents and children have access to individuals who are able to sensitively and consistently respond to and meet their needs.

The experiences of children are centered around the three elements listed. Moreso, children experience the world through their relationship with nurturing and caring adults. Parents that are looking to strengthen the relationship between themselves and their children are encouraged to focus on understanding, helping, and enjoying them. Parents are also encouraged to devote uninterrupted attention to their children, everyday. This allows for serve and return interactions and for the child share their new ideas, thoughts and feelings. When children experience their feelings being validated, they are more comfortable with sharing with the adults in their life. Children need to know that their parents will respect, accept, and not minimize their feelings. As a result, children are more prone to demonstrate healthy serve and return interactions with their parents.

Raising a Healthy and Happy Child is The Ultimate Goal

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” — Dr. Seuss

Yes, that’s right. I don’t know one parent that does not want their child to be happy and healthy. This is the ultimate goal for most parents. Many times, parents focus on providing a home and the other elements (nurture and support) are overlooked. Children who consistently receive stability, support and structure are more likely to grow into successful adults. Parents are encouraged to focus on follow through when considering the aspect of consistency. For parents seeking to establish consistency, predictability and follow through, see the definitions of each below:

Consistency means that you respond to your child’s behavior the same way every time no matter what is going on or how you’re feeling. Consistency is doing the same thing every time.

Predictability means your child knows what will happen and how you will respond. Predictability is expecting or knowing what is going to happen.

Following through means that you do what you say you will do in response to your child’s behaviors. This is often called the “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

Parents can create structure and predictability at any age with their children. However, it is advised to start in the early years. Parents can begin with routines for important activities of the day, like meals, bedtime, or in the morning. Structure allows children to feel safe and secure, simply because they know what to expect. Children are able to be within the established rules and routines.

Creating a Positive Home and Positive Atmosphere

Alright, I’m not saying be overly positive. That’s not genuine and your children will be able to tell the difference. However, creating a positive home does allow for genuine and supportive interactions. Parents set the tone. Here are a few tips for parents looking to create a positive home and positive home environment:

Provide Praise and Encouragement

Children need to know when they have done something good! Praise them! Reward their efforts. Balance is needed with providing praise, as children need to feel supported when they struggle. Maintaining positivity is one way to support children during this time.

Instill a Positive Mindset

Build the mindset of your children up through positive affirmations. Children quickly learn “I” statements by doing so. “I CAN”, “I WILL,” “I AM”

Model the Behavior You Would Like to See

Using soft words and demonstrating soft actions demonstrates positive behaviors for your child. Children should not witness harse language and tones as this makes it okay for them to use.

Encourage Confidence

When children see their parents acting in a confident manner, they are likely to pick up the behavior. Parents are also encouraged to support your child’s confidence.

#Healthy, Clever Kids Corner, Cooking, Nighttime Routines, Outdoor Activities, Parenting, Toddlers

13 Ways to Spend Quality Times With Your Children

Morning Routines

Our morning’s are extremely fast. Extremely. As I was thinking about how to spend more time with my children, it dawned on me that I was already doing that in the morning’s. In the morning’s when they brush their teeth and forget to mouthwash. In the morning’s when they lose one shoe or cannot find their homework. That’s the time. But I had to figure out how to make it quality. So I started asking questions. I’d ask questions like, what are you looking forward to most today? My oldest tends to give me an answer about hanging with her friends at recess or how she’s excited to discuss a recent TikTok with her classroom best friend. My youngest almost always looks forward to seeing her teacher. On the drive to school, we talk. Some days, they talk and I just turn the radio down and listen. They hop out and that’s it. It seems so little but that’s the quality time needed for them to start their days, everyday.

Nighttime Routines

Nights are a little different. This is because we’ve all had the chance to go into the world and come back home with the results of that day. Nights are not as rushed. They are calm. Nights are our moments to decompress and reflect. Again, they talk and I listen. They talk about their friends and who got into trouble. They talk about who burped in class and who tripped them at daycare. They talk and I listen. Sometimes I’ll ask a question and I almost always get a response. I accept both the good and bad responses. Some of the not so good responses are followed by a question by one of my children. They want to know ‘why.’ They eat dinner and talk and I listen. They get ready for bed and talk and I listen. Bedtime stories and bedtime videos on YouTube happen, sometimes by request. We all sit in bed and read or listen to a video and it’s calm. They search for sleep music on their TVs (yes, they have to sleep to sleep music every night). We hug before bed and off they go to dreamland to begin again the next morning. And that’s it. That’s the quality time.

Take Videos and Pictures Everyday

I am the mom with the camera aimed and ready 365 and 24/7. I have been taking pictures of my little ones for a decade and I don’t see that changing one bit. Take pictures. Take videos. Strangers will look at you strange. Do it anyways. You will look back at every picture and think of the good times. Both of my daughters absolutely love the camera! They have been in front of it since birth and it has become our version of quality time. We pose in strange locations and take pictures. We make silly faces. We make funny videos. We crack up at each other and that’s our quality time.

Movie Nights and Days

Lazy days. We all need them. We have our days when we just lay around and watch movies. They love it and I love it. The days turn into nights and we spend lots of time together on those days. I learn all about their new interests and ideas. I witness all of their new artwork. We watch movies and paint nails. They wash their dolls hair and they borrow my brush and comb to do the hair. We take naps. That’s the quality time needed. They are able to just be and still be accepted for the little children they are.

We Go To Church

We go to church. We sing and laugh and listen. Sometimes they sit with me and sometimes they visit the kids church. When they sit with me, they just listen. They absorb. They sometimes ask questions and listen more. We take pictures afterwards. We eat lunch and they laugh. My oldest makes jokes and the little one laughs hysterically. Most church days, they are full of energy!

Shopping and Ice Cream

Weekends! We get up and GO! We go shopping or browsing. We ride around and go into different stores. We walk around and they bring me random items they want or are curious about. We talk and laugh. My oldest pushes the basket and runs into shelves and people (sometimes). My youngest almost always gets in the basket (although, we all know she’s a little tall for the front part). They sneak stuff into the basket. My youngest hides under clothing racks and giggles. My oldest picks stuff up and plays dress up in the middle of the store. They both do cartwheels in the frozen food aisles. Sometimes, I just push the basket cluelessly because I know they are okay and they are just being children. We check out and they always fight over who will pull my card from the machine. My youngest loves putting groceries away and she’s quite good at it. I just let them be and that’s our quality time.

Game Night

We have game nights. I always lose. But both of my girls are very good! I’m not sure if I lose because I’m helping them each turn but somehow they manage to beat me, and that’s okay. We play Candyland. We play MyLife. We have karaoke competitions-for hours. They make jokes and laugh. When one of them starts the pout over losing, I pep talk them and they are okay again. They argue over turns. Sometimes tears. But then, we always end the night peacefully, somehow.

No Technology

Yes, that’s right. We have blackouts. No TV’s, no laptops or tablets. Even if it’s only for a few hours. Most times, this happens when tensions are high and I can tell we all need to decompress. Their first response is, ‘ahhhh nooo.’ After about 30 minutes, they are settled into the quiet. I might find one doing a crossword and the other washing her dolls hair. During this time, they are calm and present. My oldest tells me all kinds of facts, stories and ideas on her mind. My youngest likes to cuddle and tends to nap off and on.

I Cook, They Eat.

I’m not the best cook but they eat happily. They put their requests in early in the morning and I attempt to make it. It’s not always a winner but it’s a chicken dinner! Ha. They almost always compliment dinner. We talk and laugh. They waste food on the floor and on their clothes and on the table. They clean and keep talking my ear off. We laugh when someone burps or when it comes out the other end haha. Quality time.

1 On 1 Time During Dance Classes

Both of my girls have separate dance classes on separate days. This means one on one time! We go get our nails painted. We ride around. We jam out to music. Most importantly, we talk.

Going to Nana’s

Off to Nana’s we go! Nana always has the good snacks so they (and me) are always happy. They run around aimlessly. They play with bubbles. We play with water guns. We talk and laugh. They play outside and run away from bugs. My youngest cries. My oldest runs faster. We play with the baby cousin, neighbors and with dogs and house birds. We record videos. We eat. They talk and laugh.

Laundry and Clean Up Days

We have clean up days where we have to get everything back in order. They groan. I play music..loud, when needed. Sometimes, they jump right in. We compete to see who finishes first. My oldest always wins. They dance and clean. They sing and clean. They sometimes cry and clean. They complain and pout and clean. When it’s all clean, we relax. Everyone is back at peace when it is clean and all is well again. My oldest apologizes for pouting most times. My youngest could care less. Ha!

Park Days

On park days, they bring their bikes while I exercise. They play on the playground and sometimes asks to be recorded as they do flips. I record. They race on the track with their bikes and zoom past me. I challenge them to go faster by passing them on the track and they always pass me. I help my youngest on the monkey bars. My oldest pretends to climb across the monkey bars. They introduce me to their new buddies that they meet on the playground. We have picnics. We play with bubbles. We leave before dark, tired and wore out but happy. This is our quality time.

In a Nutshell

Hopefully you’re able to leave with new ideas to spend quality time with your little ones. Or maybe you could just relate to this post. Did I leave any out?

Comment below!