Reading Can Save Lives

When it comes to reading things carefully, I am not a natural to begin with. Since I’ve had kids? I’m damn near hopeless. After all, what’s more distracting than kids? Nothing. When my kids are around I can barely think straight. Hours after cleaning up from breakfast, I’ve found boxes of cereal in my fridge and containers of milk in my pantry – testaments to how much my kids have ruined my mind.

OK, so there’s one thing more distracting than kids, and that’s sick kids. A child whose burning up with fever or vomiting? THE WORST. Holding a screaming toddler in one arm while trying to read the Drug Facts label on your bottle of Acetaminophen, after a sleepless night with the sick child, is no easy task.

Despite my general state of distraction, one thing I’m now always careful to read is the labels on medications. Ever since that time I had a UTI and my doctor called in a prescription for Pyridium. (That’s the stuff that makes it not hurt to go, and it turns your pee a garish orange color.) Anyway, as I was about to gratefully swallow my first dose I happened to take a second glance at the prescription label. The pharmacy had given me a prescription for progesterone instead! That’s a hormone that I did not need. Holy shit! I almost took the wrong medication based on a pharmacy error! Ever since then, I always carefully check my prescription labels and you should too because clearly pharmacists are also sometimes distracted.

It’s not just prescription medications that one has to be careful with. Even over the counter medications can be dangerous if used incorrectly. And considering the distracted state that parents usually find ourselves in, we should take a few moments to ensure we are administering the correct medication, at the correct dosage, and not creating any adverse interactions with other medications or supplements. It’s easy to overlook those supplements!

I make sure to read the Drug Facts label every time I administer any medication to my kids. I look for usage, active ingredients, and dosage information. No need to use a cold medication with added decongestants simply to reduce a fever, and one has to be careful not to double dose if using a combination medication (like a cold medicine) in addition to a fever reducer.

I usually discuss with my kids what I’m looking for when I read the Drug Facts labels. I want to impress upon them that while medicine can be helpful, it does not cure illnesses and it can be dangerous if used incorrectly. I never dispense medications to my kids unnecessarily or for the wrong reasons.

Drug Facts labels can be confusing to understand. For more information about how to properly read and understand Drug Facts, check out this helpful interactive guide from Know Your OTCs:

Drug Facts Label

If you are ever concerned that a child has gotten into an OTC medication accidentally, call poison control immediately: 1-800-222-1222

Now that the kids are heading back to school, the germs will be heading home. It’s a good time of year to check your medicine cabinet and make sure you’re well stocked with the essentials. Fevers, tummy aches, mysterious rashes, coughs, and colds are all right around the corner. Don’t forget about lice! (Yikes!)


Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KnowYourOTCs educational program which has provided me compensation to write about the safe and appropriate use of OTCs. All content, views, and opinions are my own.

Visit Consumer Healthcare Products Association’s profile on Pinterest.

Actual Fun vs. Parental Fun

There are two distinct funs once you become a parent: actual fun and parental fun. Actual fun is the life I had before kids. It’s travel, adventure, bike rides, hikes, sunsets, big waves, a great meal, a great movie, a great book. Actual fun is conversations that wander and take unexpected turns with people who can make me laugh until I cry. Is it possible that my children are becoming those people? Am I trading in parental fun (baby giggles from the baby swings) for actual fun (squeals from beside me on a roller coaster)? Is it possible that I can once again be the person I was before people wiped their noses on my shirt?

More and more often lately I notice myself having actual fun. Sure, I enjoyed watching my toddlers toddle; no sound is as sweet as baby giggles; and I’ll always miss dimpled knuckles, wet baby kisses, and those hilarious early mispronunciations. I loved a lot about those days, but there was little actual fun. Those days were mostly work, flecked with moments of sometimes transcendent bliss, usually interrupted by disgusting bodily emissions. But not actual fun. 

At eight and nearly six, my kids are (sometimes) actually fun to be around. They’re engaging, happy, and keen to try new things. They might still have a hundred annoying conversations to every interesting one, but at least it’s not a thousand. They’re big enough for so many things, but at the same time, they’re little enough to still think I’m awesome. I sufficiently remember my childhood to know that this stage must be fleeting.

After all those years of doing things I hated, (I’m looking at you, Music Together,) for the sake of my children’s happiness and to ward off the tedium of spending all day with illiterate, inarticulate, incontinent, uncivilized companions, I can’t believe my luck when I get to simultaneously experience actual fun and parental fun.

Actual Fun

Suddenly, we can do things together like go for bike rides in the woods, one of my favorite actual fun activities. I get the actual fun of riding through sun-dappled trails, breeze on my face, and the bonus parental fun of sharing something I love with these little people I love, of watching them steel their nerves to try something new, of seeing their tongue-in-teeth effort and concentration, of those bright-eyed smiles and unbridled whoops when they make it. It is so much ACTUAL fun!

While my shirt might still suffer other people’s snot on occasion, I find myself feeling more like myself lately because I’m doing the things I used to do. Instead of activities that I hate and they like, we can watch movies we all enjoy, read books we all enjoy, and play games we all enjoy. So long, Go Fish! Luke can play Rummy 500 and Sally plays a mean game of chess.

Gone are the baby days, the toddler days, the cry-over-the-wrong-color-cup days. Ahead are the tween days, the teen days, the ugh-my-mom-is-so-embarrassing days. We seem to be in a sweet spot. How long do I have here?

They Can’t Live on Watermelon and Corn Alone

I love summer foods. The variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables can keep me fed and happy all summer. My kids, however, don’t appreciate the bounty quite as much. Summer squash, eggplant, asparagus, bell peppers, and tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes do nothing for them. How many times can I feed them watermelon and corn on the cob? (Answer: infinity) Sure, they’d eat fresh berries all day every day, but I’m not made of money so they can’t.

I need to get healthy fruits and veggies into them because a diet made strictly of hot dogs, watermelon, corn on the cob, and ice cream is only good for so long. With our summer schedules, I’m often not home thinking about dinner until ten minutes after my kids tell me they are starving for dinner, so perfectly square meals are out. With this in mind, I try to get their veggies in early in the day.

I have a two-pronged approach:

1) I grow a small, selective vegetable garden. Generally, I only grow things that my kids enjoy eating straight out of the garden. Namely: snap peas, string beans, and carrots. I’ll ask my kids to check to see if we have enough beans to collect for dinner. They then stand in the garden and eat all the beans, and report back that we don’t. “Oh, really? That’s too bad. Do we have any peas?” A few minutes later, “Crunch, crunch, crunch. Nope!” Done. Kids have consumed their veggies and I don’t have to worry about it again.

2) Smoothies! In one fell swoop I can fill them up with healthy fruits and vegetables and then not think twice about the fact that we’re having breakfast for dinner again. Smoothies are extremely forgiving- they don’t require any measuring, particular kitchen prowess, or exactitude- and my kids love them.

6 Tips for Better Smoothies

1. A good blender is key! 

  • I love my Ninja blender. Before it came into my life, I didn’t know one could love a blender. I’ve had joe-schmo blenders before, but this thing is different, better, and worth every penny. I can put such a giant handful of spinach into this blender and know that it will be blended into undetectable smithereens within any smoothie. Trust me, this blender is ah-mazing.

2. Spinach!

  • I usually keep a large container of fresh baby spinach in my fridge so it’s easy to grab a handful to throw into every smoothie. Just in case, I keep bags of chopped spinach in the freezer which also can be easily (and stealthily) added to smoothies. You can also portion out and freeze fresh spinach if you happen to have a ton of it.

3. Frozen fruit

  • You can buy large bags of frozen mixed berries in the supermarket. I avoid the bags that contain strawberries because they are often huge and don’t have much flavor, whereas the raspberry, blackberry, blueberry combos provide a powerful punch of nutrition and flavor. Try frozen peaches or mangoes too! Did you go fruit picking and come home with 12 lbs of blueberries? Freeze them!

4. Bananas

  • Bananas provide a wonderful texture for smoothies and help make them more filling. Have bananas getting too ripe on your counter? Peel and freeze them. A frozen banana is no challenge to the Ninja blender! I always have a bag of peeled bananas in my freezer, which is handy for when the fruit bowl runs low.

5. Greek yogurt

  • Packed full of protein, greek yogurt is a great addition to smoothies. You can avoid having to add any additional sweeteners to your smoothies if you start with a base of flavored greek yogurt. My kids’ favorite is Honey Vanilla. (I buy the full fat version for my kids because they need the extra energy, but low fat or fat free versions can easily be substituted.)

6. Get Creative!

  • Need a smoothie that will stick to their bones a bit longer? Add a tablespoon of peanut butter.
  • Want to get some healthy fiber and oils into your kiddos? Add some chia or flax seeds.
  • Only have plain yogurt on hand? Add some honey or juice for sweetness.
  • Add ice to thicken up a smoothie, milk to thin it out.
  • Add any fruits you have on hand, fresh or frozen.
  • Make freezer smoothie packs – in individual ziplock bags add your favorite combos: a handful of spinach, a peeled banana (or half), a handful of berries or sliced peaches, etc. Simply add the freezer pack to some yogurt and milk in the blender and voila! Your kids’ daily dose of fruits and veggies in one delicious drink!

Between my garden and my blender, I know my kids are getting enough fruits and veggies every day no matter how unstructured our summer gets. How do you make sure your kids get the nutrients they need, assuming they need more than just watermelon and corn on the cob? Do your kids willingly eat veggies? Do you hide them? Or do you use dietary supplements to make sure their nutritional needs are met?

Vitamins Infographic

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KnowYourOTCs educational program which has provided me compensation to write about the safe and appropriate use of OTCs. All content, views, and opinions are my own.

Visit Consumer Healthcare Products Association’s profile on Pinterest.