Let's Do Halloween Safely!
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions in “normal life” in the United States, and that includes Halloween. With just over a month to go until Oct. 31, some major fall festivals and hayrides were canceled long ago, when it was clear that having lots of people in a confined area wasn’t possible because of public health restrictions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines break down low, medium and higher risk activities. Here are some ways to stay safe while still enjoying the holiday and some new activities to try!
An alternative to traditional trick-or-treating is to set up in a large parking lot or other outdoor setting with tables with individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) where participants with a parent/guardian can parade past while still keeping 6-feet of distance and wearing a face covering. It’s suggested to offer reserved time slots to limit everyone showing up at once.
Pumpkin patches, orchards, & hayrides
Try The Good Kind Of Ghosting
Ring the doorbell of a friend, leave a special bag of goodies out front, and then run before anyone can get to the door. Tape a big sign to the bag that says, “You’ve been booed!” along with the recipient’s name and who it’s from so they know exactly who to thank for the sweet surprise.
Host A Reverse Trick-Or-Treat
Choose a worthy organization and find out what non monetary donations they need. Then ask people in your neighborhood to drop those things off. You can watch a family Halloween movie while you prep the items for donation.
Organize A Trunk-Or-Treat
You might still take part in the tradition of dressing up the car trunk and gathering in a parking lot to give and receive candy. Note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls trunk-or-treating a "higher risk" activity, but parents can take steps to make it safer. For example, everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, park in alternate spots, and set out cones 6 feet from the car with a rope between them that’s clipped with candy for trick-or-treaters.
Let's Celebrate Culture & Diversity!
The world is a melting pot. There are so many different types of people, and it’s important that our children know this. There are people with different religions, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds, and children are not always exposed to these different ways of life. It is so great to learn about different cultures and teach your children about them. But if you aren’t married or related to someone from another background, you can still teach your children about the wonderful differences between all of us.
Interact with diverse friends
You can’t always choose who your children become friends with, but if you do have the chance for them to play with kids from other cultures, take advantage. The best way to learn about someone is to spend time with them.Even if your child plays with kids of the opposite sex, this is a wonderful place to start. And of course, if you have friends from different backgrounds, you can set an example by spending time with them in the presence of your children.
Buy toys that promote diversity
Many little ones like playing with dolls, and most often, the dolls that they get are ones that look just like them. But a better idea is to get your child one that looks completely different. Different hair color, different color skin, different eye color, it doesn’t really matter, as long as the doll is different. Showing your child that it’s awesome to embrace a doll with different features will teach your child to love real people who are also different.
Volunteer as a family
Pick a cause to which you and your family feel particularly drawn. It could be taking care of a park, your local library, a museum — any number of organizations need your help to keep the lights on. Volunteering cultivates communication and social skills, and fuels individuals with purpose. It just feels good to help others, and that’s a powerful gift to give our children. Let’s teach our children to cherish and treasure the world’s beautiful, numerous cultures. Show them that we’re not a monoculture, devoid of magnificence and biodiversity. By introducing your kids to a variety of perspectives and experiences, the world will emerge in vast and vibrant ways, rich with stories, songs, cuisine, art and so much more.
Host a festive evening
Once a month, get the family involved in an immersion experience at home. Incorporate music, expand your culinary horizons and explore cultural fables. Ask that everyone share something they know or want to know about the featured culture. To get you brainstorming, imagine a Russian-themed evening of your own. You could have an uzhin (Russian for “dinner”) of borscht, a bright vegetable soup made of red beets, and piroshki, baked buns filled with a variety of vegetables and sometimes egg or meat. Recipes for both dishes are easy to find online. While you’re hard at work in the kitchen, turn up Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” or any of Tchaikovsky’s compositions. Over dessert, share classic Russian folktales.
The most powerful role model
While all of the activities listed above have been found to promote cultural awareness and respect, no activity is as powerful as the role model of a child’s parent(s). Children become culturally sensitive and respectful when they see adults who are culturally sensitive and respectful, and who take a stand against bias, racism or insensitivity. Lastly, it is important for adults to take a “strengths based” perspective when talking with children about those who are different from the child. This perspective focuses on the positive characteristics of a person and her abilities, what that person is able to do or does (as compared to what he cannot) and how differences make our world a better place. By helping your child understand and respect similarities and differences, you will help him realize he is a wonderfully unique person among many other wonderfully unique people on this earth.
When children learn about a culture different from their own, a world of possibilities opens up. New sounds, language, dress, cuisine, songs and stories — all arouse curiosity and inspire exploration. Even more importantly, learning about a new culture cultivates an enthusiasm for understanding and appreciating diverse ways of living, facilitating positive regard and sharing an implicit message: Our differences are valuable and honorable.
Apple Picking Time!
There’s something magical about any changing season, but fall is especially enchanting with it’s cool crisp air, warm spicy beverages and the promise of many feasts and gatherings to soon come. It’s the perfect marriage between snuggling inside and exploring outside and apple picking is a perfect reason to do both! Apple picking is a great activity that the whole family can enjoy together, however, including kids in any activity inevitably makes it more difficult. With that said, here are some tips for making apple picking the wonderful experience it’s meant to be for the whole family.
-DO YOUR RESEARCH
When choosing an orchard, consider what apples they offer, how much walking is involved and whether there are extras like a playground or snack bar, etc. You should also call ahead because crops vary from season to season and you will want to be sure that the orchard is open for picking on the day you want to go. Also, remember that some apples are better for applesauce while others are better for cider and still others are best for baking. Make sure you have a plan to use the apples that are in season.
-CHOOSE THE BEST TIME TO GO
Many people don’t think about apple picking until it starts getting cold out. If you choose to go in the beginning of the season ,you may find that there are fewer people picking and a greater variety of apples to choose from. Plus depending on where you live, picking season might end before the apple season does. Weekends are obviously busier for apple picking than the rest of the week, so you may want to go apple picking on a weekday when the orchard won’t be as busy. You can also consider the time of day. Orchards are usually busiest in the middle of the day. Going early or late might be a good way to avoid crowds.
-CHOOSE YOUR TIME WISELY
If your household cannot bear to skip the precious afternoon nap time for the tinies at your home, get out of bed and get to those shiny red apples first thing in the morning. It is wise to avoid weekends if you can. The orchards naturally become very crowded on Saturdays and Sundays. Your best bet is mid-week if you can wrangle it. Maybe a mid-morning option is best for you and yours. Pack a picnic for after you’ve filled your belly and your baskets with apples. A pb&j never tastes as good at home as it does in a picturesque orchard, with fresh, cold apple cider to wash it down, an apple to go with it and an apple donut for dessert.
-DISCUSS RULES BEFORE YOU GO
Before you even get into the car, talk about what you’ll do at the orchard and go over the rules. Some topics you may want to address are:
- BRING YOUR CAMERA!
Or cell phones. Take lots of pictures of the trip, including scenery, and enjoy the day!
Remember that trips like apple picking are opportunities to have fun – view them as an adventure (complete with unexpected twists and turns) and I promise you’ll have a great time!
A important 2020 apple picking tip: Don’t forget to pack your family’s masks! Due to COVID-19, many of the orchards are asking guests, along with staff, to wear masks and practice social distancing when in their farm stands. Also, some activities, such as jumping pillows, may be closed. For more information about orchards’ responses to COVID-19, we recommend giving the orchard a call or send them a Facebook message.
Getting kids excited about brushing their teeth and taking care of their oral health seems impossible for many parents. It can be a challenge to get your kids to enjoy brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist, but it doesn’t have to be! There are some easy ways to get your kids to care more about their oral health.
Make it part of the daily routine.
This is really the most important step to start getting your toddler practicing good brushing. Make sure you include brushing teeth as a main part of your morning or bedtime routines. Kids need consistency to learn pretty much anything so whether that means setting a timer for them to brush right before the bath-books-bedtime routine or reminding them to do so in the morning, make brushing part of their normal schedule so they can get used to it.
Brush twice a day — and make it fun!
Make sure kids are brushing in the morning and at night. To make it fun, use products, like toothbrushes and toothpastes that are colorful and feature their favorite characters. Also try adding a fun, memorable song is an easy way to get your kids more excited about brushing. Use a twist of a familiar song like “Brush, brush, brush your teeth, every single day.” instead of “Row, row, row your boat.”
Okay, this is an important step most parents sometimes forget. Because it seems so basic. We often just tell our kids to brush their teeth, pointing to where they should brush. But when you start to actually brush your own teeth at the same time your kids were brushing, you’ll find that it helped them better understand how to do it. Modeling is so important!
Add incentives & limit the sugary snacks.
People use reward charts for almost everything in their homes. Potty-training, behavior issues and meal times. It’s a no-brainer to add brushing teeth to the list. Limit sugary and acidic foods that can wear away tooth enamel and contribute to cavities. Fruits, cheeses, and yogurt are just some examples of healthy snacks that don’t pose a big risk for little teeth.
Here Comes Fall!
It might feel like the first day of fall when your favorite coffee shop starts selling pumpkin-flavored lattes and apple cider doughnuts, but that’s just wishful thinking. Fall officially starts when the autumn equinox arrives, which is tomorrow! This year, fall begins on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in the United States and everywhere else in the northern hemisphere. The autumn equinox — also known as the autumnal equinox, the fall equinox or the September equinox — occurs when the sun moves directly over the Earth’s equator, bringing virtually the same amount of daylight and darkness on that particular day. The word equinox comes from the Latin words "aequus," which means "equal," and "nox," which means night. That's led to the perception that everyone worldwide sees the same amount of daylight and nighttime, but it's not the absolute truth. To be precise, daylight lasts about 8 minutes longer than nighttime on the day of the equinox. Another definition of fall is “nights of below-freezing temperatures combined with days of temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21°C)”. From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop. Fall is the perfect season to do fun activities! According to visitnj.org here are are some fun things to do this fall!
Take a scenic drive.
Enjoy fall’s blissfully mild weather with a drive along one of New Jersey’s eight scenic byways. On the Delaware River Scenic Byway, you’ll pass by important historic sites—such as Washington Crossing, where George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War—as well as charming small towns lined with shops and restaurants, and lush state parks, such as the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park—perfect for pulling over and stretching your legs. Meanwhile, the Bayshore Heritage Byway is a 122-mile stretch featuring picturesque lighthouses, historic sites and ocean views, offering plenty to explore along the drive.
See fall foliage.
Fall means blazing colors of crimson, gold and orange washing across the mountainsides. Take in the breathtaking foliage at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, where you can hike part of the iconic Appalachian Trail to take in the views. At High Point State Park in Sussex, trek to the top of High Point State Monument for sweeping views of the Pocono Mountains, Catskill Mountains and the Wallkill River Valley. Allamuchy Mountain State Park near Hackettstown offers several lakes, so you can enjoy the peaceful sounds of water while enjoying the display of dazzling fall colors.
Pick your own apples.
Feel the sun on your face and take part in a Garden State fall tradition when you pick your own bushel of fresh apples right from the orchards. At the family-owned Battleview Orchards in Freehold, take your pick—quite literally—of flavorful apple varieties such from early September through the end of October, whether you enjoy Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Cortland, Gala, Golden Delicious or others.
Visit a pumpkin patch.
There’s nothing like picking out the perfect pumpkin for your Halloween jack ‘o’ lantern. At Cheesequake Farms in Matawan, wander acres of fields to choose from gourds and pumpkins of all sizes, shapes and colors to find the best ones for your harvest décor. In Montville, take in sweeping views of the sunflower fields at Conklin Farm U-Pick, and choose from thousands of pumpkins in an array of sizes. Before leaving, stop by the farm store for a selection of painted pumpkins, as well as Indian corn, scarecrows and straw for fall decorating.
Fall also brings some wonderful holidays, including Halloween and Thanksgiving, which carry us through the season until temperatures begin to drop, nights begin to get longer, and all the woodland critters start storing up for the long haul of winter. And don’t forget about the end of Daylight Saving Time, when we “fall” back, setting our clocks back one hour and regaining an hour of precious sleep!
Posts written by the Team ELM family!
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