Get an A+ Packing Teeth-Friendly School Lunches This Year

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Teeth-Friendly School Lunch Ideas


The school lunch packing season is in high gear this time of year and I am sure most of us do our best to pack healthy lunches for our kids’ bodies.

But do you know the healthiest foods for your child’s teeth?

A local dentist wrote a great post on teeth-friendly school lunch ideas to give us some food for thought.

Go For the Grade in Dental Health:
How to Pack Healthy A+ School Lunches

By Richard Mungo, DDS, Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County

Indulging in summer sweets is a rite of passage for many children. This means many of them start a new school year with an unwanted souvenir of the season: cavities caused by the less healthy high sugar drinks and foods children eat while away from the routine of healthy school lunches.

At Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County, one of the largest nonprofit dental health providers for children, we often see an increase in cavities among our patients and a decrease in their oral health practices at this time of year.

With a new school year starting, how can parents support healthy dental habits while still allowing their kids to savor some of their snack favorites?

The answer is in the bag. The brown lunch bag, that is.

The good news is that parents can prevent the dangers of dental decay by selecting lunch choices that teach children how to make wise food choices on their own — two lessons that can add up to healthy teeth and mouths all year long.

What’s in Your Lunch? 

Let’s start with foods that children should avoid completely or eat in extreme moderation. For many parents, their memories of school lunch fare include meals that consisted of fried foods and lots of carbohydrates, or trading their home packed nutritious lunches for candy and other sweets.  It’s time we replace these memories with healthier alternatives for this generation of children.

Sugary and starchy foods promote the formation of bacteria in the mouth. Stubborn, sticky foods and high acid drinks can also erode tooth enamel, creating a prime environment for tooth decay. Review your child’s lunch menu with them and guide them in their choices pointing out why the choice is more or less healthy. When the menu does not offer something the child will enjoy offer an alternative with a bag lunch.

Teeth-Friendly School Lunch Ideas

With an abundance of fresh foods and a little creativity, brown-bagged school lunches can be naturally delicious and appealing. Here is a list of foods we suggest to parents who visit Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County to pack in their children’s’ lunches:

~ Fun-to-eat crunchy vegetables (cut into interesting shapes for variety)

~ Low-fructose fruit, such as apples, pears, grapes and strawberries

~ Low-fat yogurt or string cheese

~ Graham crackers

~ Hard-boiled eggs

~ Bite-size sandwiches made with whole-grain bread and chicken (cut with cookie cutters for interesting shapes)

~ Bottles of water for hydration and finish up a meal with a swish and swallow to remove food particles and acids

~ And don’t forget the extras: A temperature controlled bag or sticker as a surprise once in a while!

Don’t Forget the Dental Health Basics

Teeth-friendly lunches only can go so far in promoting positive oral health. Children can’t slack on the basics of dental hygiene during the school year. This includes brushing their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes and flossing, especially at bedtime.

Reaching milestones during the school year, such as earning a good grade, might be a fun time to give your child a new toothbrush, as toothbrushes wear out every three-to-four months. Toothbrushes with colors and music add to the fun of brushing, especially for the younger children.

One last tip for parents: The school year always is jammed-packed with activities, so book your child’s appointment now for a dental checkup, which should occur every six months.

About the Author:

Richard Mungo, DDS, a founding board member for Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County and a pediatric dentist in Huntington Beach, brings 28 years of experience to the oral health care field. He also serves as part-time faculty at the USC School of Dentistry and is a lecturer at UCLA School of Dentistry. Because of his position as a leading pediatric dentist who brings accessible oral health care services to underserved and special needs children in Orange County, the Regional Center of Orange County and other organizations have awarded him multiple honors.

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Treat Your Boobies to a Coobie

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Please excuse my adolescent humor in the title, but it made me giggle and it ensures you remember the name of the most comfortable bra you will EVER wear, the Coobie (

One early weekend morning before the kids were up I was reading a People Magazine and came across a Coobie ad claiming it to be the most comfortable bra in the world.

I thought that to be a bold claim, but the ad and special offer inspired me to check out the website to learn more.  I found it hard to believe one size fit 32A – 36D, but I would see for myself because I loved all the cute colors and was already adding three Coobie bras to my cart. (Incidentally, they also have Coobie Bras Full Size for those of you blessed with bigger busts.)

All it took was wearing a Coobie bra for one day and I was HOOKED (no pun intended). It truly is the most comfortable bra I have ever worn.

Here’s what I LOVE about the Coobie!

1. They are super soft, seamless and have no clasp.

2. The removable pads give you a little “oomph” and don’t squish you down like a sports bra.

3. The colors also make it look like a cute cami under things a little too cleavage-y for day-to-day mom life.

4. It has now also become my favorite Pilates and yoga bra. I wayyyyyy prefer to wear my Coobies now instead of a sports bra.

5. They are cheap! There was a People Magazine offer in the ad for $20 off 3+ bras (which made my 3 only $40!) and I saw when writing this a Friday special using promo code TGIF for the same deal.  So keep your eye out on Fridays just in case.

You know that feeling at the end of the day when you take off your bra and think, “Oh, the relief! How on Earth was I wearing that all day?” Not so with the Coobie, it’s so comfortable you can lounge around all day in it.

Ladies, your boobies will love the Coobie seamless bra!  One of my new favorite finds ever, had to share. xoxo

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Healthy Homework Habits

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School is back in session.  Finally.  YES!!!!  (Okay, maybe I just “yelled” that too loud.)

We had a fabulous summer, but everyone (and I mean everyone) was ready for school to start. Our daughter has at least a half hour of homework every day now, so establishing good study habits is essential to her success, confidence and well being.  And my sanity.

So I thought this was the perfect time to talk about healthy homework habits, and establishing good study habits with your kids.

I’ll share what works for our family, and I’d love for you to share your tips, too!

1. Healthy snack time

I know what I send my daughter to school with for lunch.  I have no idea what (or how much) she actually eats!  So when I pick her up from school, I am armed with healthy snacks.  I always make sure she has a full tummy and some water before she starts her homework.

2. Homework comes first.  Then, play time.

For my daughter, this works best.  We’ve tried it all different ways – rest first, then homework.  Homework after dinner.  For us, homework right when we get home from school is the most successful.  She is the most engaged at this point.  If I let her rest or play first, I lose her. She mentally checks out, and it is a challenge to get her to focus on homework.

Every kid is different…and maybe your kiddo needs that rest first to re-energize.  Whatever works best!

3. Stay in school clothes

Since she does her homework as soon as she gets home from school, I ask that she stays in her school clothes until her homework is done.  Once complete, she’s free to change, play, rest, read…her choice!

I find that keeping her in her school clothes helps her to stay in “school mode.”

4. Set up a designated homework area

I bought cute little homework caddies from The Dollar Tree..and you can find them almost anywhere. I stock them with crayons, markers, colored pencils, glue sticks, kid scissors, tape, pencils, pens, erasers…and anything else that she may need for her specific homework assignment.

She does her homework at our kitchen table – ample light, room to spread out, and comfy chair.  I would suggest wherever your child is most comfortable – and being able to spread out all supplies and homework papers is key.

Here’s a great article on that talks about creating the perfect homework station.

You can also check out Pinterest – always adorable ideas to implement on here!  And here is Jen’s adorable Homework Station she created for her daughters.

5. Consistency is key

Barring any sickness or kid crisis, she does her homework at the same time every day.  Just like she has a dinner time and bedtime, she has a homework time.  She knows what to expect.  Which means minimal (if any) whining.

6. Be present

Especially when they are little, it’s important to be available (or have someone be available!) during homework time. Yes, it is their responsibility to complete their homework.  But it is also our responsibility as parents to guide them.  Be there for questions.  Help keep them on task.  And teach them positive and healthy study habits.  If you get home after their homework is complete, take a few minutes and ask them about their homework…ask them to show you their work, if they have any questions for you, and praise them for a job well done.  It will go a long way!

7. Teach work ethic

This means emphasizing that neatness counts.  Taking your time counts.  Completing her day’s homework in its entirety counts. And asking questions is absolutely okay!

8. Communicate with their teacher

Homework shouldn’t be about meltdowns, constant frustrations, and daily tears.  If you notice that your kiddo is consistently struggling or getting easily frustrated with their homework, I suggest communicating with your child’s teacher.  Ideally, you and your kiddo’s teacher should work together as a team, right?  It’s worth a conversation – whether by phone, email or conference – to talk about how to best help your child be successful with their homework.

9. Give positive praise!!!

Praise, compliment and high-five your kiddo for a job well done…and for trying their best!

10. Consider a Homework Reward Chart

I am a big fan of reward charts for kids. If your kids are incentivized by a little “carrot” so to speak, consider making them a chart where they can earn a sticker each day they do their homework.  Then at the end of the week, month, or whatever timeframe works for you, reward them with a little something.  It’s surprising how stocking a paper bag with dollar store trinkets can be so motivating…

What are your best homework tips?  Study tips?  What works well for your child?  Please share below!

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In Memoriam

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Show Your Room Mom Some Love This Year

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room mom appreciation ideas

Oh, back-to-school time is in full swing. Soccer has started, carpools are in motion, and some moms will be putting their name down to volunteer to be your fearless leader as “room mom” this year. Bless them.

I am dedicating this post on room mom appreciation ideas to those room moms everywhere and want to share some little things, LITTLE things you can do to make their role easier this school year.

Anyone have anything to add? Please share in the comments below!

What You Can Do To Help Your Room Mom

First off, remember these ladies (or men!) are volunteers. Endless hours will be spent planning your child’s class parties and organizing thoughtful gifts for your teacher. I mean, aren’t the following the least we can do?

1. Every now and again, email back. 

On numerous times I would email the entire class about an upcoming party or class event and hear, crickets. Not one response.

Many times I even wondered if anyone received it or if it got stuck in my outbox or cyberspace.

It’s so easy to do a quick email back to the room mom, with a short, “Thanks!” Done and done.  At least they know someone got it.

Just remember to REPLY, not REPLY ALL!

2. Volunteer for something. Anything. 

Most times it was the same 5 moms volunteering for everything.

Now I understand many moms work and physically being there for the class events is not feasible and you don’t have to be.

However, you can sign up to contribute something to the party. Even a pack of paper napkins is appreciated.

 3. If you want to participate in the class gift, send in your money before she has to ask you again. 

The class gift where everyone pitches in and room mom goes out and buys something adorable from the group is actually a gift to you.  Because it’s taken care of.

If you want to do this, please send in your money, like the next day, in an envelope clearly marked with your child’s name and what it’s for.

You have no idea how many reminders it would take to collect all the money for the gift. It’s a lot of time and a lot of emails.

Make her life easier by being the first one to send in your money. As a bonus, you won’t have to think about it again.

4. Write a quick note…

Let’s take it a step further, consider writing a note of thanks with your money. Even just a note on scratch paper saying, “Thanks so much for coordinating the gift! I appreciate it!!” will mean a lot to her.

Come holiday time it is another thing on room mom’s list to add to holiday stress. A little note of appreciation goes a long way.

5. Remember room mom at the end of the year 

Come end of the year, room mom is likely really busy organizing the last week of school festivities and coordinating the end of the year gift for your teacher.

It’s so thoughtful to give your room mom a little something as a thanks. A personal card, $5 gift card to buy her a coffee, or even consider getting $1 or $2 per family and buy her a mani/pedi and a little note of thanks for the class.

Just good lucking collecting the money…!

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