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the

moms m o s om MAGAZINE

keeping you current with all things mom

GIFT BASKET FOR

TEACHER

8 m skincare

Tips

Quick & Healthy

back-to-school Breakfasts

School Transition Years ...and how to survive them

Ask the Doc about:

Back to School 2015

Backpacks

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pointers on

Volunteering at School


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the

moms 8

back to school 2015

Special Features

Book Review: The Drama Years - and the real struggles of middle school girls

8 – Gift Basket 4 Teacher – Surprise your child’s teacher with a back-to-school kit

12 – Quick & Healthy – Back-to-school breakfast

16 – Surviving School Transition Years – Knowing is half the battle

18 – The Drama Years – Advice for moms of middle school girls

Create a gift basket for your teacher!

20 – Volunteering at School – Wisdom from a mom who’s been there and done that

12

Expert Advice 14 – Car Line Skincare Tips – Look

your best even in the school car line

22 – Backpacks – Should you be

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concerned?

Simplify your mornings with these healthy breakfast options

Surviving the transition years

22 Backpack safety

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ON THE COVER

Brees Kearney graduated preschool and as much as I don’t want to admit it, he’s moving on to the big leagues, Kindergarten. He’s very excited about meeting his teacher, making new friends and most importantly, he is thrilled to be packing his lunch in his brand new Paw Patrol lunch box. He is melting my heart in the weeks leading up to his first day, telling me he is going to miss me when he goes to school! I am soaking it up while I can! Sara Kearney - Orange City, FL


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

the

moms

Volume 6, Issue 4 ~

Back to school’s RESET button. This past summer was brutal. I don’t mean to sound like a Debbie Downer, but sheesh, I am THRILLED that school has started back up again. We moved to a new home. We had a plethora of doctor appointments. Surgery. Packing. Follow-up visits. Unpacking. I was completely out of sync with a normal work schedule, and found myself dazed and directionless. Now that school’s in session and my office studio is set up, I’m beginning to feel at peace again. It’s crazy how life can turn upside down for a few months, and then settle back into a normal routine, like we never missed a beat. I remember the days after having a baby. Talk about life getting turned upside down! Then, slowly but surely, you get back into a routine. Back to school is like a reset button for kids and parents alike. Kids get to start with a clean slate – a fresh start. For moms, I like that we can hit that reset button, too. We can rejuvenate a friendship that has grown distant. We can refocus our fitness goals to be healthier. We can renew our love for our husband. We can set new goals to be the best mom we know how.

Back to School 2015

www.TheMomsMagazine.com www.OrlandoMomsBlog.com www.facebook.com/TheMomsMagazine

EDITOR IN CHIEF kristi corley

EDITOR shirley neff

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS mindy black lisa cruzon gregory gordon, m.d. heather isminger heather murphy elizabeth warren

PHOTOGRAPHY sara kearney photography

WEB AND DESIGN andy corley

The reset button is full of grace. It doesn’t look back at your past and say that you’re a bad person. It doesn’t condemn you for choices you’ve made or grumpy attitudes while packing up moving boxes. It’s an opportunity to walk forward with new goals and hopes.

Kristi Corley

editor in chief kristi@TheMomsMagazine.com

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Gift Basket 4 teacher! (aka brown-nosing a little)

By Heather Murphy

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The MOMS Magazine • Back to School 2015 • Subscribe for FREE at www.TheMomsMagazine.com/subscribe


Surprise your child’s teacher with a back-to-school kit! Create a simple, budget-friendly basket with items you can find at your local big-box retailer such as Target, Walmart, a dollar store, or even grocery store. Fill your basket with personal care items, classroom items, or items you think the teacher would enjoy. Mark each item with a special little meaning, and you’re sure to impress! Let your little one’s teacher know why you chose each item. Many of these items you may even have around your home. Others you can easily pick up while doing your child’s back-to-school shopping. Keep it fun and simple. The teacher will LOVE it as a first day of school surprise, and your child will get a kick out of gifting it to him/her. Finally, include your little one; take them along on the shopping trip. (or not!) Gum to help you stick to it throughout the year

Starburst to give you a “burst” of energy when you need it

Stickers to help the class to stick together and be a team

Tissues to wipe away the tears ...yours and the kids’!

Peanut M&M’s thanks for taking care of our little peanut

Animal Crackers for when your class feels like a zoo

Erasers to remind you that everyone makes mistakes

Aleve to alleviate all of those aches and pains

Chocolate Hugs to tell you that my little guy loves to give hugs

Life Savers for when you’ve had “one of those days”

Lint Roller to help you “roll with the punches”

Crayons to color your world bright and happy

Sanitizer to keep cooties at bay

Lotion when things get a little rough

Rubber Bands to add extra flexibility

Paper Clips to hold it all together

The MOMS Magazine • Back to School 2015 • Subscribe for FREE at www.TheMomsMagazine.com/subscribe

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Would you like to connect with moms online, as well as offline through playdates and events? Orlando can seem a little overwhelming, so we would like to make it feel a little smaller by creating neighborhood playgroups! Whether you’re a new mom, new to the city, or just want to meet new friends, Neighborhood Mom Groups are the perfect way to connect with moms in your area.

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closes Aug. 18th We currently have 14 neighborhood groups available to join. Don’t see your neighborhood? Let us know so we can get your area covered. Get connected with your neighborhood by searching Facebook for your neighborhood’s group name, and then ask to join!

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PB & Go Bites Excellent grab-n-go bites that provide a perfect amount of carbs and protein to keep those minds sharp until lunch time. Pair with a fruit or a smoothie and you’ve got an excellent start to the day! For a twist, pour milk over the bites as a fun way to spice up your oatmeal routine. 1 Cup oats ½ Cup (heaping) peanut butter 1 Tbsp chia seeds 1 Tbsp flax meal 1 tsp vanilla 1/8 tsp cinnamon 2/3 Cup shredded unsweetened coconut 1/3 Cup honey

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and then form into small, round balls. Place balls on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and set in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to harden. After hardened, place in an air tight container and keep refrigerated. Makes about 14–16 1-inch balls. To mix things up, toss in some dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, brown rice cereal, chocolate chips or ground ginger!


Quick & Healthy

back-to-school Breakfasts By Lisa Curzon

In our house, mornings were greeted with grumbles and groans – and not just from the children. My parents passed on their night owl tendencies to their kiddos,

so we all struggled to welcome the morning with exuberance. I even remember figuring out what was the quickest way for us to make breakfast so I could sleep in, wake up at the last minute and then eat breakfast in the car to make it to school on time. I must admit that this practice stayed with me until my college and working days. My roommates were always amazed at my ability to show up to work with clean attire after eating a full course breakfast in traffic. As we all jump back into the busy school morning routine, I thought I would share a few of my favorite quick and healthy breakfast options. These are easily adjustable for extra variety, and will keep your morning schedule intact, too!

Bee’s Grilled Cheese Who says you can’t have lunch for breakfast?! Grilled cheese is a simple, quick meal that you can add all sorts of healthy bits to and make it all the more delicious. Two slices of multi-grain bread Your favorite cheese, sliced Butter or ghee Half an avocado, mashed Honey Place cheese inside bread, and butter both outer sides of bread. Warm both sides in hot sauté’ pan until cheese is melted. Smear mashed avocado on top and drizzle with honey. Not a honey lover? Mash up the avocado with one half of a ripe banana to get that yummy sweet boost!

Stir Fry Egg Bake An easy way to enjoy a variety of veggies – and the fact that they can be made ahead of time makes these the perfect quick and healthy breakfast. 5 large eggs 1 Cup milk (almond or coconut milk works too!) 1 tsp lemon pepper ½ Cup frozen stir fry veggie mix (broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, red peppers, and green beans – or whatever veggies your family loves!) ½ Cup shredded cheese Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Place in a greased pie pan or 12 lined muffin tins. Bake at 400 F for 20-25 minutes. Refrigerate and serve throughout the week. The MOMS Magazine • Back to School 2015 • Subscribe for FREE at www.TheMomsMagazine.com/subscribe

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Car Line Skincare Tips } { By Mindy Black Licensed Esthetician and CEO of Inner Beauty Skin Care

Moms, are you guilty of reapplying makeup in the school pick-up line to fight the look of exhaustion? Then these tips are for you! We’ve got you covered with eight simple ways to wake up tired-looking skin and to fake the awake look all school year long: Moisturize

Whether you’re dropping your kids off at school or heading to work, don’t ever leave home without moisturizer (better yet – don’t leave home without your moisturizer with SPF!). The application is like a mini massage for your face, which increases blood flow and circulation to your skin, giving you that instant fake-awake look.

Take care of your hardworking eyes It’s a fact that your eyes blink 10,000 times a day. This takes a huge toll on the tender skin surrounding your eyes, which is

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If there’s one thing moms are short on, it’s time. For many mothers, beauty treatments, highlights and freshly painted nails unfortunately aren’t a priority in general, let alone when gearing up for back-to-school. Instead, they’ve been replaced with work, packing school lunches, family dinners, cheering at soccer games and late-night homework sessions. We know these activities are top priority and don’t leave much time for mom.

10 times thinner than that on the rest of your face. Because this area is so thin and sensitive, eye problems are common; and often times puffy eyes can be a symptom of something more serious than just lack of sleep. Allergies, thyroid disorder, eye infections and diabetes, just to name a few, all have undereye puffiness as a common symptom. If your puffy eyes are severe and persistent, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.

Reduce morning under-eye puffiness

Swelling in the under-eye area is made worse by eating salty foods, yawning, sleeping positions, dehydration, poor circulation and lack of sleep. While eating less popcorn at night or propping your head up with pillows can help with drainage of fluid around the eyes and prevent some puffiness, sadly it’s impossible to completely avoid. To minimize the appearance of unwanted “bags,” splash your face with cold water first thing in the morning – or place a frozen spoon over each eye. The cold will constrict blood vessels, preventing the flow of fluid into

surrounding tissues, minimizing puffiness in the process.

A good eye cream goes a long way

Invest in eye care products that contain peptides. Peptides are antioxidants that renew skin’s firming mechanisms to lift and tighten the eye area. Our client-favorite eye cream, G.M. Collin Bota Peptide Eye Contour, is a multi-peptide eye contour cream that visibly smooths with a unique 4-in-1 action: it reduces the appearance of expression lines, wrinkles, dark circles and puffiness (hallelujah!). Whatever you choose to use for your eye cream, invest in quality – don’t skimp – and apply daily.

Hemorrhoid cream is a good substitute

Is your eye cream on back order? Don’t worry, mom! Just pick up some hemorrhoid cream – yes, we’re serious – from your neighborhood pharmacy (it’s Inner Beauty Skin Care approved). The main ingredient, phenylephrine, constricts blood vessels, shrinks under-eye tissue and lightens dark shadows.

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Camouflage with color

The secret is in the shimmer! Illuminating shimmer bricks and sticks have light, reflective pigments that camouflage dark circles and bags. Go for pink and coral hues of blush, and apply high on your cheekbones. Skin gym tip: We suggest avoiding yellow tones of both makeup and clothing, because it can make you look sallow and washed out.

Mist yourself

Facial mists are a quick way to wake up your skin. They hydrate and sooth skin while reactivating your makeup. This will prevent you from reapplying makeup throughout the day, which only leads to that dull, dry look.

Stay hydrated

The best thing about this beauty tip is that it requires no time at all – just a little self-discipline; so drink up! Dehydration can drain your energy and make you look tired. Drink at least eight, 8-oz. glasses of water per day to keep your skin looking (and feeling) healthy. You are super mom, you already know this!


Central Florida photographer specializing in children, families, maternity, newborn, engagement, and birth photography www.SaraKearneyPhotography.com 386.960.3551 • SarakKearneyPhotography@gmail.com

Sara Kearney Photography


Surviving School Transition Years by Heather Iseminger

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The MOMS Magazine • Back to School 2015 • Subscribe for FREE at www.TheMomsMagazine.com/subscribe


There are three school years that hit harder than the rest. These three years have the ability to drive parents insane, frustrate teachers and sharply define students. The third, sixth and ninth grades are known by teachers as the transition years. Major academic and emotional shifts take place at these levels. As parents, my husband and I are readying ourselves for my daughter’s entry into sixth grade this year. As a teacher, I’ve had experience with each of these three grades and the students who survive them. While my observations aren’t scientific, they are based on the anecdotal reflections from time spent in the trenches.

3 6 9

Third graders experience more independence in the classroom than in years previous. Teachers expect a greater amount of self-sufficiency. Math is more abstract as fractions and multiplication generally enter the curriculum. Friendships take on deeper meaning. Third grade transitions a child from early elementary years to final elementary years. Sixth grade and puberty coexist. That alone is enough to ellicit nightmares for parents. But there are other transitions for the baby middle schooler. Sixth grade comes with a new school and new friends. Territory wars are stamped out in hallways while your child changes classes and teachers six or more times in the day. This year is a whirlwind of wow. The freshman year is scary for all. I describe the ninth grader like this: an eighth grader without goals. Most ninth graders aren’t any more emotionally developed than an eighth grader, yet we thrust them into high school expecting them to understand that what they do now can and will affect them four years later, as their permanent academic record has begun. Typically these three years are more about weathering the storm than gliding smoothly through. As with any oncoming storm, preparation is the key. We want our children to experience success. We are desperate to help them and maintain our sanity at the same time. While it may look bleak, we can help our children through these transition years. Try to understand what your child is going though. Do a bit of your own research on brain development for the stage your child is experiencing. This goes a long way in having the right expectations for your baby. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Try to remember what life was like, especially as a pre-teen and teen. While the world is vastly different now than when we were young, emotions are the same. Remember how it felt to face an unknown grade and unfriendly peers.

Realize that struggle can teach. Our natural instinct as parents is to rescue. But when we swoop in to solve our children’s problems, we prevent them from learning how to solve them on their own – a skill they will need as adults. There will be times they need saving and times they don’t. Discern wisely. Teach organizational skills. Whether paper-based or electronic, requiring your child to have a planner is a fantastic way to help him manage his own academic success. Teach the benefits of writing down assignments and the accomplished feeling of crossing them out. Allow independence whenever possible. It seems as if our children leave the womb wanting to leave home. I suppose that’s the way life is, even if we dread it. Still, it’s important to allow ageappropriate independence for our children. And with independence comes responsibility. Teach responsibility. Again, with ageappropriateness in mind, allow your children to experience the consequences of irresponsibility. A ninth-grader who forgets his football pads is a ninth grader that needs to face his coach without them. Provide accountability. Check your child’s grades if there’s an online grade book. A delicate balance exists between allowing independence and pulling the reigns back if trust is broken. Openly discuss this with your child. Talk to your child’s teacher. And not just when there is a problem. The parent-teacher relationship can have a direct impact on the success of your child. Open, respectful communication is paramount. Talk to other parents. It takes a village – if only for us as parents to know we’re not alone. Look at grounded children who are older than your own. Then find the parents of those children and talk to them. What are they doing that you can do too? Talk to your child. Never stop talking to them. If your children are young, lay the groundwork now. Go past the how-was-your-day questions to specifics. You will be amazed at the answers if you’re consistent and give them space by listening. If they’re older? It may take more work, and you may be shut out more than allowed in. But never stop trying. The transition years can be painful, difficult, and overwhelming. There will be joy too. Storms always blow over. In their wake lies new growth and a beautiful fragrance. You can do this, Momma.

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Middle school. The awkward years. The growing up years. The drama years. Do you remember EVERY detail from middle school? I do. Back in my day, it was called Jr. High. I remember my locker location. I remember the popular hangout spot. I remember my ESPRIT book bag, my ice blue eye shadow, and my big teased bangs. And yes, oh yes – the school dance ... pause a moment for the butterflies to settle as I sing Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There For You" and "Sweet Child O' Mine" in my head ... sigh. I can also vividly remember my crush. J.J. Bonar. He was one of the popular kids. I wasn't. We never dated. I don't even think we talked. We smiled as we passed each other in the hall. Then one day we started sharing notes. You know. Those notes that we meticulously folded in the shape of a rectangle with the little fold-under tab? He was smooth. He could woo you with his words. Then "It's not easy to be one day, my Jr. High world came to a stand still. J.J. Bonar photocopied one of my notes and decided to hang it up all a middle school around school ... WHY?! Because that's what middle school girl today. In the boys do! At the time I was crushed. But then I did what any mature Jr. High girl would do; I returned the gesture with few years between photocopies of one of his notes. Somehow that relationship grade school and didn't go anywhere. Middle School = Brands. Bullies. Body Image. My youngest daughter Kaitlyn entered middle school last year, and even though I felt like I had all of the answers for her, I didn't. I discovered a gem of a book, The Drama Years by Haley Kilpatrick, and I will be referencing it OFTEN because ... well ... she pretty much nails it! (Direct quotes will be in italics.) We don't realize it until it's upon us, but the transition into middle school forces our daughters to face grown-up things to worry about, like dealing with crushes and negotiating with how she feels about her body and appearances. What group will she fit into?

high school, girls go through an incredible number of changes, making this the most formative – and riskiest – time in their lives."

FITTING IN (and my #momfail) My daughter Kaitlyn doesn't fit a mold. In fact, she is put off by people who conform, you know, the kids who all dress the same. So it didn't surprise me when she decided that she would create her own style of clothes. Not preppy. Not goth. Just Kaitlyn. It took a little while for me to get used to her middle school style. There were even days that I pushed her to look more "modern – current – 2015" ... One of my darkest mornings as a mom was when I forced her to change into a different outfit. I still remember her words ... "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO CHANGE ME?"

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By Kristi Corley

UGH ... I just wanted her to fit in. I remember in Jr. High desperately trying to fit in. Remember my ESPRIT book bag? Well, mine was homemade. Looking back on it now, I'm pretty impressed that my mom was able to create a knock-off that fooled my classmates. Very Pinterest-y, if you ask me. But at the time, I was terrified that someone would notice the hand-stitching or the painted letters. "It's hard to just be myself. I don't want to fit in 100 percent and end up wearing what everyone else is wearing, but I don't want to stand out a lot of the time, because then you'll feel weird for being totally different" – Charlotte, twelve, California. STRESS "More than ever before, girls feel they must be ‘perfect’ – in school, in sports and other afterschool activities, and at home."

THE INTERNET AND LIVING IN THE SOCIAL WORLD "Without question, the biggest shift in the world of middle school girls is technological. With smart phones, Skype, Gchat, texting, and Facebook, girls in sixth through eighth grate today have more opportunities to connect with others than any previous generation." Here I thought my photocopied hand-written note was devastating ... imagine if that was an e-mail or text that went viral over the internet. There's no taking back words or photos that go online ... and unfortunately this young generation is finding out the hard way. We need to be involved. Stay involved. We can’t ignore!

" In interviews with both tweens and their parents, a few things stood out. Most parents said they want to help their daughters With more and keep a strong sense of self these years, but many more girls reporting throughout are too busy to spend a lot of time helping their daughters on that that they feel journey of self-discovery – or they severely stressed, don't know just how important it is." this increasing

My daughter has always been happygo-lucky. Nothing rattled her. Then out of the blue, she started expressing how stressed she was. Stressed about pressure is having a Do YOU have a daughter who her grades. Stressed about school. Stressed negative effect on is about to enter middle school? about her friends' Or maybe she’s in the thick of their emotional and the drama, and you don’t know being bullied. It took me back a few steps. what to do? I honestly have just physical health. My daughter, who scratched the surface to the last year didn't mind advice and eye-opening facts in if she got a B or C, is The Drama Years. Would you now stressing if she doesn't get straight A's. like to continue on this journey of discovering the key to their hearts and emotions? We will "Parents can help by recognizing their tween begin a book club in mid-September. Follow girl's stress for what it is: not waving it away or along with our fans on Orlando Moms Blog. assuming that only adults experience stress." Dates and details will be announced on the Facebook page. *Direct quotes from The Drama Years in italics

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Volunteering @ school By Elizabeth Warren

It can be tricky to navigate the social waters at school, to find a group of friends, and to find activities that are right for you. Mom, I'm talking about you here, not your child! Volunteering at school can be a win-win for you, for your child and for the school. But, before adding your name to too many signup sheets, give some real thought to your likes and limitations. Most schools require volunteers to have fingerprint clearance. I learned from experience to do this before the school year begins, because it can take several weeks for the school to receive the results. Encourage grandparents who may want to volunteer to get fingerprinted, too. Many schools require a certain number of volunteer hours per family per year – it's 20 hours at our school. I found it easy to reach that goal when my girls were in the lower grades, because there were so many requests for volunteer help in the classroom. But beyond those years, there seem to be fewer opportunities. It took me several years to find the right balance when it comes to volunteering at school. I made the rookie mistakes of agreeing to do more than my schedule allowed – and volunteering for activities that didn't suit my personality or skill set – just because another mom asked me to help. I'm writing this hoping that others may benefit from my experiences. Give realistic thought to your schedule before you commit. Are you able to volunteer for ongoing commitments like a weekly or monthly shift in the lunch room, the library, or at recess? Or, would you rather spend

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more concentrated hours volunteering to help with a larger one-time event? If your job or preschool children at home prevent you from committing to a set volunteer schedule, consider taking a role in a school fund-raiser, helping with a class party, or chaperoning a field trip. Depending on your level of commitment (chairperson or committee member), those events will require more concentrated time, but for a limited duration. And, don't forget to consider your other obligations before you agree to help. If you host Thanksgiving dinner for your extended family, don't sign up to help with the school's Thanksgiving feast. This may seem obvious, but take it from someone who has made these mistakes, when the room mother sends out a desperate third and fourth plea for help, it's easy to say yes and underestimate the demands on your time.

perhaps making new friends? If so, look for committee opportunities, or volunteer for large events that typically require planning meetings.

Look for volunteer opportunities that match your skills. I'm good at organizing, writing and photography, so I look for ways to contribute that require those skills. Do you enjoy sports? Volunteer for field day or to help with P.E. classes. Do you enjoy working one-on-one with children? Volunteer to help tutor or read with students. Are you crafty? Volunteer to help decorate for events or for classroom centers. I've found that I enjoy volunteering far more when the activity is in my comfort zone.

On one hand, volunteering can be a great way to meet other moms and make friends, particularly if you are new to the school or the community. On the other hand, overexposure to the inner workings of school is not always a good thing. As my twins enter sixth grade, I can say that over the last few years I've found the right level of involvement for me. I have lots of mom friends and acquaintances, but I try to avoid the cliques. I'm involved at school enough to feel like part of the community, but not so much that I'm privy to all the drama. All schools have drama. I'm a happier parent when I'm not in the middle of it. I'm also quite appreciative of those moms who are the PTO officers, who chair the big events and who are fixtures at school. Schools depend on volunteers, so find your niche and enjoy the time. The years really do fly by.

Give some thought to why you want to volunteer. Do you want to spend time with your child at school? If so, look for opportunities to participate in classroom activities or field trips where you interact with your child and his or her classmates. Do you want to spend time with other parents,

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Remember, when you commit to a volunteer activity, teachers, students and other parents are depending on you to show up and do your part. If your schedule is unpredictable due to work, small children or other commitments, there are still many other ways to contribute. My work schedule is difficult to predict in advance, but I've found lots of ways to help that do not require me to commit to being somewhere at a certain time. In fact, lots of my volunteering is done after my girls are in bed – like cutting box tops, working on the yearbook, helping the teachers with assembling packets for centers, and doing the program for the school play.


the

moms ASK THE PEDIATRICIAN

Backpacks Back to school means backpacks. Parents often worry about the weight of their child’s backpack and potential back problems. In 1999, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported more that 8,500 school aged children (5 to 18 years old) sought medical care for backpack-related injuries. That same year a survey of Orthopaedic surgeons found that 58% of them had treated a pediatric patient for back or shoulder pain caused by backpack use. Unfortunately, trusted medical groups do not currently have guidelines on children and backpacks. Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Orthopaedic surgeons nor the Pediatric Society of North America have a current policy in place to help parents with these concerns. As I began to dig into the medical research surrounding backpacks, children and back problems, I began to understand why there were no clear guidelines. The research itself is unclear and rare. Much of the research focuses on the search for clear guidelines, but most of it was limited or inconclusive. What do we know?

By Dr. Gregory Gordon Pediatric Associates of Orlando

compared to the child – most often stating that their backpack should not weigh more than 10% of the child’s weight. This means that a 100 pound child should not carry a backpack weighing more than 10 pounds. Unfortunately, some authors recommend 15%, 20% or even 25% as an upper limit. Several authors even question the safety of a 10% load. Students often carry backpacks beyond the proposed 10% rule. Several studies conclude that only 40% of students carried backpacks at or below 10% of their weight. Younger students seem to suffer with relatively heavier loads. Another study found that young students in particular exceed these weight-based guidelines. This study found that 78% of grade one, 43% grade two and 40% of grade three students carried backpacks beyond the 10% weight rule. It is interesting to note that while younger children do seem to carry relatively heavier loads, teenagers have the highest rate of back pain complaints. There must be additional risk factors other than simply the weight or relative weight of a child’s backpack.

Tips to avoid backpack problems: • Purchase a backpack with padding. • Choose a backpack with wide, padded straps and belt support. • When choosing a backpack, consider the actual weight of the backpack. • Pack the heaviest material closest to the front. • Use both shoulder straps. • Make use of lockers or classroom sets of books. • Exercise. Children (like adults) need to exercise to help avoid injuries. Experts often recommend backpacks with wheels to avoid back issues. Before purchasing one, please ask your school if they allow rolling backpacks. Many schools in our area have rules prohibiting rolling backpacks. I don’t think we will ever have clear backpack guidelines for children. We definitely need more definitive research, and research takes time. Each year an increasing number of schools are transitioning to iPads or laptops over traditional text books. As such, backpacks are getting lighter. Hopefully, that will translate into fewer children suffering from back pain.

1. Children who carried the heaviest backpacks were 50% more likely to develop back pain. 2. Teenage girls have the highest number of complaints of back and shoulder pain. 3. There is no link between scoliosis and backpacks. Several studies investigated proposed guidelines for backpacks based on the child’s weight. These recommendations are often based on the relative weight of the backpack

Dr. Gordon is the proud father of nine children. He is the Vice President of “The Gift of Swimming” (a local charity that provides swim lessons to Orlando’s needy children). In early 2010 Dr. Gordon started gregorygordonmd.com to share his pediatric and parenting experience.

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The Moms Magazine, Back to School 2015  

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