Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kristi Yamaguchi shares her tips for busy families

Kristi Yamaguchi and her family.

Raise your hand if you want the conductor to stop the train. That would be me and a zillion other people who spent last year zipping around from work to home and home to work or some family activity. Don't get me wrong, busy lives are fun but they require work and, most important, a plan.
"Like so many parents, it can be a challenge to keep my active family organized, especially on the go," said Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic gold medal figure skater and mom of two who offered to share with other moms and dads her favorite tips for surviving the roller-coast ride 2012 is sure to be.
Yamaguchi would know, too. Following her victories at the 1992 Winter Olympics and World Championships, she toured with Stars on Ice, appeared as a guest speaker on numerous television specials and helped to support children's charities through her Always Dream Foundation She has published an inspirational children's picture book, "Dream Big, Little Pig," an exercise DVD, "Kristi Yamaguchi: Power Workout," and, on top of that, manages a busy household that includes her husband, Bret Hedican, a retired professional hockey player and fellow Olympian, and their two daughters, Kear, 7, and Emma, 5. How does she do it all? Below are a few of Yamaguchi's tips for unstoppable families:

* Keep track of daily activities
On the refrigerator in our house is a giant calendar that keeps track of our family's weekly activities. Yamaguchi said unstoppable families are always on the move and posting a calendar in the kitchen or family room is one way to know where everyone is going next. "Assign a different colored marker to each member of the family," said Yamaguchi. "This will help keep everyone on time and in line."

* Think multipurpose
"Encourage creativity by finding ways to repurpose everyday items into fun activities," Yamaguchi said. For example: tie a ribbon to a drinking straw so that it can serve as a magic wand when the drink is all gone. Store away used paper towel rolls. Then pull them out on a snowy day when your children have nothing to do and show them how they can be glued together to create a pair of binoculars. "Reuse magazines to make colorful collages and other fun art projects," Yamaguchi said.

* Make time to be together
"Sometimes fast-paced weekdays leave little time for family fun," said Yamaguchi. "Set aside time each weekend to enjoy the outdoors with each other's company. Plan hiking trips and bike riding adventures that will appeal to everyone." Before you venture out, create a scavenger list with fun things to look for along the way such as a yellow flower, red mailbox, blue truck and other outdoor items.

* Road trips can be fun
Even something as mundane as heading to the grocery store can be fun when it includes a sing along or guessing game. Go online and look for travel games you can learn. "Store books, games, markers and paper in the car to keep kids entertained on the road or in-between events.” If you're going on a trip that requires the children to ride along in the car for long periods of time pack a travel bag that includes on-the-go snacks such as bananas. My children loved Cheerios. Yamaguchi suggested Smucker's Uncrustables, which are ready to serve pocket-like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

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* Stay fit as a family
Proving fitness club memberships for the entire family can be pricey. Instead, check with your local recreation department regarding upcoming fitness classes that the family might be able to take together. Yoga, swimming, tai chi and even aerobics are all activities that suit a variety of ages.

* Think outside the toy box
"An old blanket quickly transforms into a magic carpet when spread across the living room floor," said Yamaguchi. "Couch cushions and bed sheets always make the best forts. A simple flashlight becomes a projector for shadow puppets in a dark playroom."
If you've got teens, consider a game of charades or an activity or board game that they enjoy. If and when the ice freezes, consider a winter picnic. Pack the skates along with a Thermos of hot chocolate and brownies and spend the day ice skating.

Finally, when an opportunity to teach your children one of life's lessons arises, take advantage of it.

"My family spends a lot of time on the ice and it has shown us the importance of teamwork," Yamaguchi said. 

Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing – Thomas Edison.

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