How to Teach Your Kids That Voting Matters — but So Does Compassion

Look, we know. We really know. It’s 2018, and you don’t know what to tell your kids about the actual state of the union anymore. Your Facebook feed is clogged with politics and nasty word wars about immigration and border control. You’re dreading Thanksgiving dinner because it’s pretty much a given Uncle Frank will get drunk and talk about arming preschool teachers and rabbis while your sister and her wife rage-cry into the mashed potatoes. Some mornings, you can’t remember why you thought it was a good idea to bring kids into this world. 

And that’s exactly why your vote matters today more than ever. Take your kids. Slap on an "I Voted" sticker. Just keep caring, OK? Caring is a revolutionary act when you’re slipping into a CNN or Fox News coma and all seems hopeless.

And no matter what your politics are, no matter what your religion is, you can choose to care — actively. Even if you’re feeling like your vote doesn’t count for much, your compassion still does. And there are many ways to help create a world for our children that is kinder and far better than this one. But it takes action — and one simple rule most of us were taught as children: Treat others as you would want to be treated. 

So on this voting day, put yourselves in the shoes of parents who are fleeing appalling, dangerous conditions in Central America. Whatever you feel about immigration, remember the caravan you’ve heard about is made up of families just like you and yours. Like you, these are parents who love their children more than anything. They are trekking hundreds and thousands of miles to try to keep their children safe and out of harm’s way. They are trying to escape poverty, violence, hunger and homelessness and find a better life for their families. 

Will the U.S. grant them asylum? It seems doubtful. But you can help these families. You can choose nonpartisan kindness today. Because kindness isn’t red or blue. 

Make compassion your platform. 

Here’s how:

Educate yourself & your kids 

Read about the caravan and reject xenophobia and fearmongering. Our country is better than that. Our kids deserve better than that.

Donate together 

Here are just a few nonprofit humanitarian organizations offering assistance and care on the frontlines. 

  • Save the Children’s Border Crisis Children’s Relief Fund: This fund provides emergency services and legal aid and works to reunite families.
  • UNICEFThis organization is working with the government of our neighbor Mexico to provide safe drinking and bathing water, hygiene essentials, sunscreen, access to support and much-needed training to authorities on child welfare, protection and nutrition.
  • Amnesty International Americas: Amnesty International is working overtime to document and monitor the situations and devastating conditions the families in the caravan are fighting against.
  • Pueblo Sin Fronteras: This immigrant rights group organized the caravan.

Help your kids call or email your congressperson or senator

If you’re not sure where to start, go to the U.S. House of Representatives website and enter your zip code. Looking for a senator? Just choose your state here. These sites will provide your elected officials’ names and contact information. 

Another route: Identify your reps at Democracy.io, and email with ease.

Voting matters. But compassion might matter even more these days. Make kindness your platform, and you’ll raise kids who care too. 

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Health Tip: Use Petroleum Jelly to Protect Your Skin

— The skin is the largest organ in the human body. And petroleum jelly is an inexpensive, readily available way to help protect it.

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests:

  • Apply petroleum jelly to damp skin, including lips and eyelids.
  • Apply it to minor cuts, scrapes and scratches to keep nearby skin from drying out.
  • Apply it to body areas prone to chafing.
  • Apply it after a diaper change if your child is prone to a rash.
  • Apply it to nails and cuticles between polishes. This will minimize brittleness and help prevent chipping.

Posted: November 2018

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What are this summer's shoe trends doing to your feet?

While we make so much fuss about children's school shoes, the footwear adult women spend most of their time in tends to be less heavily scrutinised. Your typical women's shoe is often flimsy, occasionally blister-inducing and, concerningly, can be capable of causing some serious damage to your foot.

So, with new season styles now in stores – and the weather too warm for your trusty ankle boots (alas) – which shoes are best for regular wear over the summer months? Sydney podiatrist Charlotte Bodell gives her verdict.

Mules are not a good option for daily wear.

Mules are not a good option for daily wear.Credit:Shutterstock

Mules

Mules in every style and hue are certainly this summer's default. Gucci's black Princetown mules (with the gold bar on the front – you know the ones) have trickled down from Zara, to Kmart, to the feet of every woman looking for a slightly casual corporate shoe.

But, what effect does wearing a shoe with no back support have on your feet? Quite a large and unpleasant one, says Bodell, who does not recommend mules as an everyday shoe.

"What you will definitely get is hammered toes from [your foot] clawing forward, corns on the apex of your toes [underneath the toes], and you will get corns on the tops of your toes, because the shoe is tapering down."

There is also a slightly more cosmetic problem which can result from the frequent wearing of mules, which Bodell says she has been observing in her clients since the '90s throwback shoes reached mainstream popularity last summer.

"Because there's no back to the shoe, the fat pad of the skin is hanging over the heel itself, and people are getting hard skin and cracks on the heel," she explains, adding there is an easy fix.

"Get a foot file and file the skin off, then put some heel balm cream on a nighttime with a pair of socks."

Slingbacks

Throw a strap around the back of a mule and you have the slingback. Often seen with a flat or a kitten heel, slingback styles are everywhere.

"It's good that there is a strap, because it's keeping the shoe on," Bodell says, although there is a catch.

The slingback is a slightly better option for daily wear, provided the fit is right.

The slingback is a slightly better option for daily wear, provided the fit is right.Credit:Shutterstock

"For [the strap] to stay on, you need to push your foot forward in the shoe. So, if the shoe is a little bit too small for you, your toes are going to be crunched up, and hammered, and curling under."

If that happens, you can end up clawing onto the front of the shoe with your toes, just like in a pair of mules. The key is to make sure your slingbacks are a nice fit.

Pointed-toe shoes

Shoe trends tend to oscillate between blunt and pointy (a helpful quirk to ensure we part with our money regularly and unnecessarily). A scan of the shops reveals it's currently pointy season. Unfortunately, this is not a season known for comfort.

"You're more likely to get the bunion formation on your big toe joint," Bodell warns of shoes which make your toes squish close together.

In more extreme cases, putting your non-triangular foot in a triangular shoe can lead to a painful condition called Morton's neuroma, which feels like you permanently have a rock stuck under the ball of your foot.

"You've got nerves on your metatarsal joints," Bodell explains. "And, when they're pushed together you get fibrous tissue that forms on the nerves. Then, when you squeeze the foot, it brings on a nerve pain."

Ouch.

Kitten heels

We might think that heels are worse than flats for our feet, but Bodell says a slight heel, like a kitten heel, can actually be better than a totally flat shoe.

"It helps the ankle joint get into position," she says. "If you have tight calves, it helps to take the pressure off your arch and off your calf."

However, the stiletto style of most kitten heels on the market is not ideal.

"They can be quite unstable; you're better off with a block heel. And, if you're prone to rolling your ankle, these will increase the likelihood of that."

Plastic shoes

"But, what about my favourite see-through plastic shoes?" I hear literally no one ask.

Probably popularised by Kim Kardashian (who wore high, transparent plastic boots from her husband Kanye West’s fashion line two years ago, prompting a number of knock-offs), shoes with transparent plastic uppers are around again this summer. And, as will probably not shock, they are neither comfortable nor sanitary.

"[The plastic] doesn't bend and it doesn't soften, so if you're using those shoes and it's hot in the afternoon, your feet will swell and you will get blisters," Bodell says, adding that "all the moisture and the sweat" can also create a nasty fungal situation.

The ideal summer workday shoe

So, which shoes should you be wearing this summer?

Bodell recommends a heel somewhere between 2-5cm high, ideally in the 2-3cm range.

"If you're wearing a flat shoe, the mid foot will roll through because you haven't got any cushioning or support on your arch," she says.

A strap across the front of the foot is also a good feature ("so you don't have to do any clawing"), while arch support and a little platform on the front should also help your feet wear a style for a long period.

"You want a little platform on the front to give you a bit of padding on the ball of your foot, which should prevent any sort of stress fractures if you're prone to pounding the streets."

But, if you are pounding the streets – either on your commute or your lunch break – Bodell says the best thing to do is to bring a pair of sneakers.

"There are lots of trendy ones out there now," she says. "You don't need to wear your boring trainers. But, if you're going to walk longer than 15-20 minutes in the morning, do not wear your regular strappy shoe you would wear to work: you will get problems."

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Sunday Is ‘Fall Back’ Time for Your Clock — Sleep Experts Offer Tips

FRIDAY, Nov. 2, 2018 — The hour you “lost” with daylight savings time in the spring you “gain back” on Sunday, when clocks are set an hour back.

And every time shift takes a subtle toll on the human mind and body, experts say.

Still, “for most people, it is easier to stay up an hour later than to go to bed an hour earlier,” said Dr. Steven Feinsilver, who directs sleep medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “This is thought to be because for most of us our ‘internal clock’ is closer to a 25-hour cycle than a 24-hour cycle.”

He said the furthest you can comfortably shift your internal clock is about an hour a day, and “what sets [your] clock is the wake time more than the bedtime.”

Feinsilver said that to get back to a normal sleep rhythm, “set the alarm for your target time and get out of bed when it goes off, even if your night sleep was not perfect.

“For the time change, set the alarm for Monday — for most of us the Sunday morning wake-up is less critical — and enjoy the extra hour,” Feinsilver said.

A single night of imperfect sleep is easily gotten over — “it is when bad sleep becomes a habit we get into trouble,” he said. Feinsilver’s advice is to try to sleep a regular seven to eight hours — and “stick to a constant wake time.”

Triggers such as light, food and exercise are the cues that tell your body what time it is.

“Getting exposed to light early in the day wakes us up,” Feinsilver said. “This is harder in the winter when there is less and later light, but the autumn time shift helps a bit.”

Dr. Daniel Barone is a neurologist and sleep medicine expert at the Center for Sleep Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. He said that people shouldn’t expect that the extra hour of sleep they’ll get on Sunday will erase any accumulated “sleep debt.”

“We as a society sleep one hour less than we did 100 years ago, so we are still ‘behind the clock’ so to speak when it comes to being sleep-deprived,” Barone said.

He said the body’s sleep clock can be directly affected as autumn days grow shorter and people spend more time indoors. The body manufactures vitamin D via sunlight’s action on the skin, and too little vitamin D can affect sleep and emotions.

“When you’re not getting as much sunlight, it has an effect on your mood,” Barone said. For some people, this can even mean the onset of a kind of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Barone offered these tips for better sleep:

  • Switch to LED lightbulbs. They’re made to simulate sunlight and can help you maintain a healthy circadian rhythm as seasons change.
  • Cut out the evening nap. Dozing off after dinner sends confusing signals to your brain that can make bedtime later more challenging.
  • Try mindful meditation. It can cut stress and encourage healthy sleep.
  • Ban TVs, smartphones and laptops from the bedroom. The backlight display can disrupt sleep if used before lights-out.
  • Keep bedrooms dark. Light creeping in can send a wake-up signal to the brain.

If you’re still having trouble sleeping, consult a sleep specialist for testing, Barone said.

“If you’re continually waking up in the night or you’re constantly waking up tired, a sleep test is definitely warranted,” he said.

“We should view sleep as something that’s sacred,” Barone said. “Our bodies are designed to get seven to nine hours. In this 24-hour society, a lot of times the amount of sleep we get suffers. We should focus on getting good-quality sleep and dealing with any problems that exist.”

More information

There’s more on getting good sleep at the National Sleep Foundation.

Posted: November 2018

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