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  • Ninja Brain Power: The Mental Health Benefits of Ninja Training!

    It’s a fast paced world out there and the pressure to keep up can feel nearly impossible. Now more than ever, it’s extremely important to prioritize your child’s mental health and overall well being. While many activities can contribute to a child's physical fitness, few offer the comprehensive mental and emotional benefits found at NinjaZone. We’re going to explore how NinjaZone's unique approach to training can positively impact your child's life for years to come. Did you know? Anxiety affects 9.4% of children aged 3-17 years in the US. ( www.cdc.gov ) Let’s get into it…  1. Confidence and Self-Esteem - In NinjaZone, their confidence is #1. The structured challenges encourage kids to set goals, work hard to achieve them, and celebrate their successes! This process helps foster a positive self-image and boosts self-esteem. It let’s them know that they can do hard things! 2. Stress and Anxiety - Being active is a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety. NinjaZone's dynamic and engaging curriculum helps release all the endorphins, aka, our natural mood lifters! The focus required in training also provides a healthy distraction from daily worries and pressures, promoting a sense of calm and balance. Zen, baby! 3. Focus and Concentration - Learning and mastering ninja skills requires ninjas to concentrate and really pay attention to details. This improved focus not only helps them in their training but also translates to better concentration in school and other areas of life! Enhancing cognitive function in this way supports overall mental sharpness and can lead to excelling in academics! That’s an A+ to us.  4. Resilience and Perseverance - Learning to face challenges head-on and push through when things get tough is a core part of NinjaZone. Ninjas learn that failure is just a step toward success. As you can imagine, fostering resilience and perseverance is crucial for mental health. It’s what helps kids handle setbacks with a positive and determined mindset. 5. Social Skills and Community -. Ninjas interact with peers & coaches, build friendships, and learn the importance of teamwork and mutual support–creating their own community. These positive social interactions enhance their sense of belonging and improve their overall social skills. 6. Positive Mindset - The supportive and encouraging environment will help promote a growth mindset. Ninjas learn to view challenges as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles. Kind of ironic, but pretty sweet nonetheless. This positive approach to learning can significantly boost their mental well-being and create a more positive outlook on life. 7. Accomplishment - Every milestone achieved, whether it's mastering a sick new ninja move or completing a challenging obstacle course, gives ninjas a profound sense of accomplishment. This not only boosts their confidence but also imparts progress and success, reinforcing their motivation and self-worth. Ninja Missions set the stage for this!  8. Mind-Body Connection - Creating a connection between mind and body allows kids to learn to control their movements, improve their balance, and understand their physical capabilities. This awareness can improve mindfulness and overall mental clarity.  Bottom Line:   We understand better than most, that an early positive experience is crucial.   Ninja might seem like it’s just another activity for your kiddo, but truly, it’s way bigger than that. NinjaZone is a holistic approach to your child's development - mind & body, physical & mental. And that, my friends, is powerful stuff!

  • NZ Parents: Interview with a NINJA Dad

    We put a lot of pressure on moms, as a culture. Sometimes there’s a lack of credit given to dads. But as we know… Dads. Are. Awesome. Ninja Dads aren’t necessarily a special breed, but let’s be honest, their kids are ninjas. Thus, by association, the dads are equally as special. We sat down with a Ninja Dad, we discussed NinjaZone and his ninja's experiences in class. What we learned is that the NinjaZone program is doing a lot more than promoting physical fitness for kids. It’s changing their lives. Interviewer: Do you have a boy or girl ninja? Ninja Dad: Girl. Interviewer How long has she been a ninja? Ninja Dad: 3 months. Interviewer: What made you decide to enroll her in a NinjaZone class? Ninja Dad: She hasn’t really found a sport for her, and really hasn’t wanted to try any except softball. We wanted to put her in something that was active and might give her a little confidence boost. Interviewer: Have you seen a difference in her or her confidence since she started classes? Ninja Dad: Yes, she is slowly coming out of her shell, but it’s still a challenge.  A good coach can bring out a lot in a child, and when you have a kid who doesn’t want to play sports, it’s hard to accomplish.  This was a perfect fit because she was immediately interested in all the rolling, jumping, kicking, and flipping.  Like any sport, this allows for individual accomplishment and group interaction while having a coach rooting them on.  It’s everything we/she needed when she didn’t want to play a sport.  It’s almost a hidden sport, where it tricks kids into teaching them athleticism and confidence with the small wins during the class. They just think they are having fun, but we know they are learning. Interviewer: How soon after starting classes did you notice a difference in her confidence? Ninja Dad: 2nd class! Our gym has the kids ring a bell when they accomplish something new and hard, and then they perform it for the entire gym.  After the first class, she immediately brought up that she didn’t like the bell (because the last thing an introvert wants is to be on stage).  But during the 2nd class, her trio of girls accomplished a new skill together and she rang the bell.  She may not have liked it, but she did it! Interviewer: What a proud papa! What is the best thing you have seen from a NinjaZone class? Ninja Dad: Skills, listening, fun, confidence, everything you want out of it.  She loves it. Interviewer: From a parent’s perspective, what role do you see the Trainers having in shaping the lives of the ninjas they coach? Ninja Dad: A good coach in anything is an incredible mentor for kids.  The same applies here. NinjaZone helps kids learn and succeed at something, even those kids who have avoided group sports. The awesome thing about NinjaZone is that skills don’t have to look pretty, so even if it looks like a kid is faltering, to the kids and coaches, it can still be celebrated as a success. Interviewer: Was your daughter interested in gymnastics before she started NinjaZone classes? Ninja Dad: Not one bit. We enrolled her in a little program with her sister when she was 4 and she hated it. Interviewer: Interesting. Something that she wasn’t interested in has really become one of her favorite activities. Do you find that your daughter is displaying “ninja characteristics” outside of class? Ninja Dad: Somewhat. She’s always been a climber and jumper, likes to get dirty, and rolls around, so those are not new. I feel like it’s too soon to see if there are other character changes, besides her confidence soaring, which I can see in every class. Interviewer: What is the biggest piece of advice you can give to a parent who is thinking of enrolling their child in a NinjaZone class? Ninja Dad: It doesn’t hurt to try it… you might be surprised.  Just show your child the YouTube videos of what ninjas do in class, and maybe it will connect with them! Thanks Ninja Dads!

  • “My kid is going to be the next...”

    It’s been uttered more times than we could ever count. Heck, it’s probably being said right now! This mindset and similar ones can lead to children and parents pushing to specialize in one sport. Early sport specialization is on the rise and is now beginning to affect even the youngest of athletes in hopes of gaining the competitive edge. However, numerous studies and experts suggest that participating in multiple sports actually offers a range of benefits that can lead to more well-rounded, healthier, and ultimately more successful athletes and humans! Did you know? Fewer than 2 percent of NCAA student-athletes go on to be professional athletes. (www.nfhs.org) Here’s why your athlete should consider embracing a multi-sport experience: 1. Lower Risk of Overuse Injuries - Playing multiple sports allows athletes to develop different muscle groups and reduces the stress being put on specific parts of the body over and over again. This variation helps prevent injuries and ensures a more balanced physical development. 2. Diversify Athletic Skills - Different sports emphasize different skills–coordination, agility, strength, endurance, etc. etc. Participating in multiple sports allows athletes to diversify their skills. 3. Mental Resilience - Different challenges and environments foster adaptability. They are exposed to a wider range of scenarios, strategies, and dynamics, which only strengthens their problem-solving abilities and mental toughness! 4. Avoiding Burnout - Do you like doing the same thing over and over and over again? Maybe, but chances are, probably not. Plus, the intense pressure and focus put on one singular sport can make an athlete fall out of love with it. Their passion for sport can be maintained by keeping things fresh and exciting by being introduced to new sports! 5. Greater Social Development - This may have not even crossed your mind but, different sports = different social circles. That means your kid will have built a broader network of friends and mentors leading to better social, teamwork, and communication skills. Learning to interact with diverse groups of people is so beneficial on and off the field! 6. Long-Term Success - Research indicates that multi-sport athletes are more likely to achieve long-term success. Many professional athletes attribute their success to playing multiple sports during their youth. The diverse skill set provides a solid foundation for excelling later in life.. no matter what that might be! 7. Discovering Their True Passion - Giving them the opportunity to try different sports allows them to discover what they are genuinely passionate about. This can lead to a more fulfilling and enjoyable athletic career… wherever that might lead! Mom… Dad… here’s how you can help … Encourage Variety Balance Schedules Educate Benefits Support Interests Positive Reinforcement At NinjaZone, we love when kiddos come to us to explore something new, broaden their athletic abilities, cross-train, or even as their intro into athletics! The skills your child will undoubtedly gain will transfer over to any sports they choose to pursue! Bottom Line: Encouraging your athlete to explore various sports can provide them with the tools they need for a balanced, rewarding and successful athletic journey!

  • In it for the Long Haul: Help Your Kid Set Healthy Boundaries for Sports

    It’s 2024, and the world of sports is nothing short of demanding. Our kids are faced with immense pressure to perform and perform well. Learning how to handle pressure is a great skill to be learned, but what happens when that line gets blurred? The question now becomes, are they dedicated or are they overexerting themselves? As parents we want what’s best for our kids (obvs) so it’s imperative that we help our kiddos establish healthy boundaries to sustain success and well-being–physically & mentally. Here’s why… 1. Preventing Burnout Getting ample rest and recovery will maintain their enthusiasm and consistent performance. We say it all the time… if it’s not fun, it doesn’t stick. 2. Maintaining Physical Health Making sure training schedules, nutrition, and sleep are in harmonious balance. This will prevent over-training and (hopefully) prevent long-term injuries. 3. Ensuring Mental Well-Being Balancing sports with hobbies, social activities, and downtime promotes mental resilience and a well-rounded life–reducing anxiety and managing unneeded stress. Who needs more stress? Not us. 4. Building Healthy Relationships Maintaining strong personal connections by fostering respectful relationships with coaches, teammates, friends and family. Talk about a supportive environment to raise your kid in! 5. Encouraging Personal Growth Allowing kids to explore interests and skills outside their sport. This only adds to their personal development, creating a more balanced identity. We love a well-rounded kid! 6. Enhancing Performance Some R&R is good for the soul and body. It allows your athlete to recharge, improving the training effectiveness when they are on the field. They can focus better during practice and competitions! “So, how do I help them set healthy boundaries?” ...We're so glad you asked! Encourage athletes to understand their needs and limits by reflecting on what works best for THEM–every kid is different! Maintain open dialogues about the importance of boundaries. Creating an open line of communication lets your kiddo know you are always in their corner. Make sure your athlete knows the signs of burnout and over-training. You don’t want them to figure out the hard way if you can help it. Develop consistent routines that include rest, nutrition, and downtime. And, If needed, sports psychologists and other professionals are always there to help! Putting It All Together Healthy boundaries are not about limiting an athlete’s potential; they are about safeguarding their well-being to ensure they can be in it for the long run. The sooner we can recognize and respect their limits (physical & mental), the longer athletes can have a healthier, more successful and FUN career. Remember, the goal here is to nurture a lifetime of love for sport, not just winning the next game. Encouraging boundaries is the first step in the right direction. You got this.

  • Diversify Your Y... M-C-A!

    Attention all YMCA decision makers and leaders... this one's for you! The YMCA has long been a trusted community partner, granting opportunities for families all around the US and beyond to improve their health and well-being. BUT, that doesn't mean there hasn't been challenges along the way. At NinjaZone, we’ve partnered with hundreds of community centers, gyms and YMCAs (40+) around the country to launch and scale successful youth programs following our proven process. Through these ninja endeavors, we've spoken to A LOT of YMCA leaders and they've all expressed two common challenges. Can you guess what they are? Take a second. Think about it. Ok, let's go... Two of the Y's biggest challenges: 1. Diversifying offerings to set themselves apart from the competition, and 2. Capitalizing on underutilized space. Yep, we thought these might have sounded familiar. Geesh, wouldn’t it be nice to provide a great experience for your community that engages them, doesn’t require a ton of effort, utilizes your square footage and has high-margin operations??? Oh boy, do we have a solution for youth programming that will TRULY be a game-changer for your community center. Que, NinjaZone. You might be wondering, so, what is NinjaZone? We’re so glad you asked! NinjaZone is a super-dynamic program that blends elements of gymnastics, parkour, tricking, and obstacle course racing. BUT… that’s not all! We’ve made it our mission to empower kiddos of all ages to push their limits, focus their energy, build confidence, and have a blast doing it! This mind/body connection is crucial for every child’s lifelong development. OK, so why NinjaZone? NinjaZone is training, educating, and teaching ninjas how to flip in over 250 gyms worldwide and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon! We have committed ourselves to supporting centers like yours, families, athletes, and coaches by seeing the program through their eyes: what it means to them, what it looks like, and where it’s going. Here’s what we mean by that: Parents: Through unparalleled brand strength and top-notch marketing strategies, there’s zero question that their child is in capable hands. We understand parents' desires for their children to achieve their goals, gain confidence, and, most importantly, have fun! (Spoiler alert: If it’s not fun, it doesn’t stick!) Coaches: Our sustainable training systems make staff transitions a breeze, ensuring continuity and excellence in coaching. Additionally, our supportive ninja coach community fosters collaboration, growth, and a shared passion for empowering ninjas to reach their full potential! Decision Makers & Business Owners: We prioritize the individual needs of each center, offering tailored solutions to convert underutilized spaces into thriving opportunities. Programming that not only meets the demand for enrichment activities but also enhances the center's appeal, upping the coolness factor and attracting a broader audience. Kids: All ninjas are celebrated–whether they're beginners just starting their movement journey or seasoned ninjas mastering advanced techniques. Kids get hooked on NinjaZone, in large part, due to gamified programming that turns physical activity into a real-life video game! How sweet is that?! We believe wholeheartedly that NinjaZone aligns perfectly with the YMCA’s mission to promote health, wellness, and community by providing innovative and high-quality programming. We're excited about the impact it will have on your members, families, kiddos and beyond! Ready to learn even more? Book a discovery call today! 📍NinjaZone Racquetball Court @ Littleton YMCA, Denver, CO! The Y just got even more fun! Be safe, have fun and ninja on!

  • Sidewalk Chalk Obstacle Course Ideas for Kids!

    Ready to ditch the cold weather and leave cabin fever in the dust? Yeah, us too! How about a good old fashioned obstacle course...in your driveway?! It’s so tried and true, and is one of the most versatile tools you can have in your back pocket as a parent this spring & summer… and beyond! Plus, you’ll get cool points for dayzzz. Oh, and the clean-up? Easy peasy! We must say, making it is half the fun! So grab some chalk & some friends, head outside and let your imagination run wild! Here's some sidewalk chalk inspo for your epic obstacle course! Okay, Let's goooo! Ready for more?! Here's some quick and easy add-ins for your course that are sure to keep your kiddo(s) movin! Playing outside just got way more fun! Be safe, have fun and ninja on!

  • Ninjafy your Nugget!

    Talk about versatility. It’s a toy, it’s furniture… it’s a springboard for your kiddo’s imagination! Which makes those neurological pathways light up... And we love that! 👏🏽👏🏽 Check out these ways to Ninjafy your Nugget at home! Playtime just got way more fun! Be safe, have fun and ninja on! Don't have a Nugget? We are not affiliated, we just love the product. Check out their website! nuggetcomfort.com

  • Sweet Dreams Disrupted: The Influence of Developmental Milestones on Sleep

    By Anna Clifford- Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Tummy Time Instructor The influence of developmental milestones on sleep is imperative to understand for our children. Development milestones can significantly impact a child's sleep patterns, leading to what is commonly known as sleep regressions. These milestones encompass various physical, social, emotional, and cognitive advancements that a child achieves during their growth journey. A sleep regression occurs when your child, who has been sleeping well, suddenly experiences difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Does this sound familiar for your little one? Interestingly, sleep regressions often align with major developmental milestones in a child's growth journey. As infants and toddlers reach developmental milestones such as rolling over, crawling, teething, or learning to walk, their brains undergo significant changes. While these advancements are crucial for their overall development, they can disrupt established sleep routines. The process of mastering new skills may result in increased nighttime awakenings, changes in sleep duration, or difficulty falling asleep. Understanding this relationship between sleep and development is essential for parents, as it allows them to anticipate potential sleep challenges during periods of significant developmental progress. Here are some of the physical skills your little one is learning at each sleep regression age: 4 months- bring hands to mouth, pushes up on elbows during tummy time, holds head steady when being held, transitions to more sleep cycles similar to adults (5 rather than 2 newborn sleep cycles) 6 months- rolls from tummy to back, pushes up with straight arms, learning to sit up by leaning on hands, 9 months- beginning stages of talking (mamama, dadada), gets to sitting position by themself, passes objects from one hand to the other, sits up without support, beginning stages of crawling 12 months- pulls up to standing, walks while holding onto furniture, picks objects up with pointer finger and thumb (pincer grasp), saying “mama” & “dada” 18 months- walks without any assistance, feeds themselves with fingers, climbs on and off couch or chair without help 2-2.5 years old- kicks a ball, runs, walks up a few stairs, eats with a spoon Source: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html While there are numerous social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones, our emphasis will remain on the physical aspects. Infants and toddlers are perpetual learners, consistently exploring the world around them, which provides constant stimulation to their developing brains. Could you imagine learning and exploring a new world as soon as you’re awake and until you fall asleep? Every day? This is what your little one is experiencing even through toddlerhood! Continuous brain stimulation throughout the day can naturally induce fatigue, paving the way for the potential of better quality sleep. While learning is inherently stimulating and can enhance sleep quality, excessive stimulation can disrupt sleep patterns. As we learn new skills, the brain retains information during sleep, processing it for enhanced memory and skill performance. During a sleep regression, the brain works overtime due to the demands of acquiring and mastering new skills. Therefore, a sleep regression and/or developmental milestone can affect sleep due to the brain working overtime during the day and can’t switch off when it's time to sleep. Sleep regressions, lasting for 2+ weeks, can be attributed to the challenge of acquiring new skills. When a child doesn't receive the recommended amount of sleep, the brain's processing and retention capabilities are compromised, delaying the learning process. This phenomenon explains why it takes days, weeks, or even months for children to master new skills and why sleep can be affected over an extended period during these developmental phases. Here are my top tips to survive during your little one’s (many) sleep regressions: Ideal sleep environment Age-appropriate daytime AND nighttime schedule Stay as consistent as possible with a routine and daily schedule Put your child to sleep the same way every time (including bedtime, middle of the night, early mornings, and naps) DO NOT add in a bunch of desperate additions to the routine in order to help them fall asleep DO NOT add in anything that you don’t want to become a new habit if they didn’t already need it to fall asleep (i.e. feeding/motion to sleep, co-sleeping if didn’t do it before, etc) Give yourself grace! Early exposure to activities like NinjaZone can significantly contribute to the development of coordination, balance, gross motor skills, strength, and confidence in your little one. Providing ample opportunities for practicing these skills during the day can mitigate potential sleep disruptions, fostering a healthier sleep routine. At NinjaZone, your little one will learn to explore and understand their body's movements at their own pace, fostering a sense of self-awareness and safety. In essence, understanding the intricate connection between learning, developmental milestones, and sleep is crucial for fostering well-rounded and healthy growth for your little one. Activities like NinjaZone not only enhance physical abilities but also contribute to overall well-being by instilling confidence, safety awareness, and the joy of movement. As your child navigates the exciting process of acquiring new skills, maintaining a supportive environment with ample opportunities for practice during the day can positively influence their sleep, fostering a harmonious and thriving developmental experience. Anna Clifford, with Happy Little Ones, is a pediatric sleep consultant, wife, and mom of 3 based in Johnson City, Tennessee. With over two decades of gymnastics teaching experience, Anna draws on her expertise to support families navigating sleep challenges. Anna specializes in toddler sleep, offering her expertise to families in East Tennessee and nationwide. Her goal is to guide parents in creating enjoyable bedtime routines, reducing night wakings, conquering naps, and waking up to happy little ones. In addition, Anna has developed her own Tummy Time virtual class, making valuable information about tummy time and its benefits easily accessible for parents seeking to enhance their child's development. Find me on Social! @happylittleonesllc happylittleonesllc.com Wishing you sleep-full nights, Anna Clifford

  • Indoor Games for When Outdoors is Lame (i.e. it's freezing)

    Keeping high-energy kiddos entertained during the winter months can be, well, quite the challenge. The combination of colder weather, limited daylight, and the inevitable cabin fever can leave parents desperately searching for creative and engaging activities for their kiddos! You already know, we’ve got you covered! Here are some free and/or low-cost options to create some ninja fun at your home! Challenge 1: Floor Maze- Make it through the obstacle course like a Ninja! PREP/SUPPLIES - Open Floor Space, Painter's Tape, Stuffies Use the painter's tape and map out your obstacle course on the floor! Straight lines, zig-zags, x’s, boxes, arrows, dashes, you name it. Use stuffies or floor pillows to create obstacles to jump over or weave through. Challenge 2: Super Spidey Ninja - Sneak through the laser beams without getting caught! PREP/SUPPLIES - Hallway, Yarn/String/Streamers, Tape Tape each piece of string/yarn to each side of the hallway walls creating a laser-like obstacle course. Challenge 3: Don’t Touch the Balloons - Crawl underneath and through the balloons without touching any of them! PREP/SUPPLIES - Dining Room Table, Yarn/String, Tape, Balloons Use yarn and masking tape to attach the balloons to the underside of the table and have your kiddos crawl under without touching the balloons!  Up the ante and drape a  sheet over the table, give your kiddo a flashlight so they can make it through in the dark! Challenge 4: Touch All the Balloons - Run and jump and try to tap the hanging balloons. PREP/SUPPLIES - Ceiling, Yarn/String, Tape, Balloons Hang balloons by a string from your doorways or ceilings at different heights. Challenge your ninja to jump and tap it with their hand. See how many they can touch! You can even mark them with different numbers and keep score! Alternative: Count how many they can touch one hanging balloon in a row without missing (they will feel the burn!). Up the ante by seeing if they can jump and touch the balloon with the top of their head! Challenge 5: Jumpin’ Through Hoops - Jump from one hoop to the next without touching the floor outside of the hoop. PREP/SUPPLIES - Open Floor Space, Hula Hoops Take your kiddo's collection of hula hoops and lay them on the floor in different patterns for them to jump through. Make it more challenging by spreading them further apart or by having them jump through on one leg! You can even switch it up and play hopscotch! Challenge 6: Ninja Limbo - ninjas will crawl from one end to the other under the sticks without touching them. PREP/SUPPLIES - Chairs, Sticks/Brooms/Swiffers/Pool Noodles Line up chairs across from one another and place your limbo sticks across them. Make it extra tricky by lowering the sticks each time they pass through! Challenge 7: Sweaty Ninja - Complete each exercise of the training circuit to get ready for their Ninja mission! PREP/SUPPLIES - Open Space, Paper, Marker, Stickers Write down 5 - 10 movements (& reps)  on a piece of paper, spread them around the house, and have your ninja complete each exercise. Each ninja earns a sticker at each station! Movement Ideas: Jumping Jacks, Mountain Climbers, Hops, Squats, Push-Ups, Sit-Ups, Lunges, Star Jumps, High Knees, Burpees, etc. Challenge 8: It’s a Zoo in Here - Go from exhibit to exhibit and act like their favorite animals at the zoo! PREP/SUPPLIES - Open space, stuffies Create animal-themed stations with their favorite stuffies! Set up exhibits (stations) and have your kiddo act and move like that animal from one end of the room to the other. Kids can hop like frogs, crawl like bears, slither like snakes, run like cheetahs… you get it! Challenge 9: Puzzle Dash Flash - See how fast they can run to each puzzle piece (one at a time) as fast as they can and run back to the puzzle board to place the puzzle piece in the correct place until the puzzle is finished. PREP/SUPPLIES - Open Space, Small wooden puzzle (no more than 20 pieces), timer Spread the puzzle pieces around the room and make a central home base for the puzzle board. You can even hide the pieces if you want! This one will get them moving, and their brain working at the same time! Win-win, baby! Check out these flashcards you can print at home to help your little one choose which game they want to play!

  • New Year. Same Family. New Process.

    So, the time has come once again. The time for resolutions, promises, changes, and the proverbial turning over of new leaves. What does that mean for you? What does it mean for your kids? What does it mean for your family? Do you have the best intentions, but deep down, you know that there’s a good chance life will get in the way, and your resolutions will fall by the wayside? Check it. I’m here to tell you to throw it all out the window. Statistics support staggering numbers, which show most people don’t hang with their own resolutions. Solution? Don’t make them. Instead, make a monthly goal calendar. But the kicker is this: MAKE IT NOW. If you only go one month at a time, you may be a totally kick-ass person who really has it together and will update it monthly. Orrrrr…. you might be like me. I need to have it mapped out ahead of time, or it’s not happening. Just bein’ honest. I am sharing my New Year’s plan with you. Feel free to take it, copy it, change it, or just use it as a template. Whatever works for you. Or, ya know, don’t use it at all. This won’t work for everyone, but I have found this to be an excellent way to make resolutions stick. I’m basically psyching myself out, and I’m totally ok with that. The goals I am looking to achieve for my FAMILY for 2024: Keep the kids active. Eat healthier. Increase my family’s water intake. Go on vacation. Eat at home more, and eat dinner before 8 pm! This is gonna be rough… Here is how I am mapping out my calendar: I have a Google calendar set up for my 2024 goals. It’s free. It’s simple. No excuses. Some events are set to reoccur. Some are one-timers. Some have the flexibility to be moved if necessary. I have shared this calendar with my spouse, and I will have it pulled up every day when I sign onto my laptop. I have set reminders to pop up at me so I can’t ignore anything! My recurring calendar events: Every 2 weeks on Friday, I’ll order my groceries online. I’ll pick it up on Saturday. This allows me to shop from my computer and stay home with the kids. It also saves us a trip to the grocery with 2 kids in tow. Every Monday and Wednesday: Cook a crockpot meal for dinner. Every Monday: How much water did we drink over the weekend? If I haven’t changed the water cooler bottle since before Friday, we’re not drinking enough! Every Saturday: Dinner out with the family, no excuses. One Saturday a month: Date night among adults, no excuses Every Friday: Take $40 out of the account. Put in an envelope for vacation spending money. Additional dates per month: Jan: Set a reminder on the 15th to assess progress so far. Must check myself before I wreck myself. Feb: The new gym schedule should now be routine. Set reminders for gut checks. Mar: Pick a date during the month have a freezer meal party and get new recipes. April: Start looking into summer camps for the kids to keep them busy. May: Set a reminder to start planning a vacation: book a hotel, plan a budget, and figure out travel plans. June: Be intentional. Set up an overnight date with the hubs. The. kids. will. be. fine. with. grandma. for. a. night. July: Back to school next month—take a long weekend for family time. Aug: Progress check—ready for the holidays?! Sept: Pick a date for another freezer meal party. The last one was fun, and I love to entertain! Oct: Vacation! Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits…we’re outta here. Nov: Reminder to set up 2 dates to give back to the community or volunteer this month.#ninjasgiveback Dec: Reevaluate the year: how can I switch it up for next year? Happy New Year, friends! Let us know what you are up to in 2024!

  • Ninja Inspired Sugar Cookie Recipe

    Do you have a child with sweet ninja moves and a little bit…a huge sweet tooth? Well here is a fun and sweet, ninja inspired sugar cookie recipe for you. The recipe is nice and simple and can be done with your kiddo! You are going to need a few ingredients and some imagination as well. Let’s start off with all the ingredients you will need for this recipe! Ingredients 2 cups of all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened 1 cup of sugar 1 egg, beaten 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract Optional: colored icing Recipe: In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking, powder, and salt. In another bowl, take an electric mixer and slowly mix in the sugar and softened butter until light and fluffy. Next, mix in the egg and vanilla extract in the same bowl as the sugar and butter mix. Then, slowly begin to pour in the flour mixture with the mixture on low. Mix everything together until completely combined. Split the dough in half and flatten into disks. Wrap them with plastic wrap. Let the dough freeze for 20 minutes or until firm. The dough is good frozen for up to 3 months. Make sure to thaw before use. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Take the dough and let it sit out for 5 minutes before rolling out the dough 1/8 inch thick. For easier and cleaner rolling use parchment paper sprinkled with flour to keep the dough from sticking. Okay so here comes the fun part of the recipe! After you have your dough rolled out, take a star-shaped cookie cutter and begin pressing into the dough with it. Take the cut-out dough and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the cookies for 10-18 minutes or until golden brown. Finally, let cool completely and you and your kiddo can begin decorating with icing or colored sugar! After decorating you can enjoy your handmade, ninja inspired sugar cookies! Such a fun, easy recipe, but you probably shouldn’t try throwing them though…that will get messy!

  • Gymnastics and Parkour: Growing the Cognitive Development of Active Kids

    Cognitive learning and listening skills are key abilities that are built in most children, from a very young age. While it’s true that kids are all different, and you will never find two kids that are exactly alike, studies have shown that children involved in gymnastics or parkour share a common trait: their cognitive learning and listening abilities are well refined. Here are a few key points to consider: 1. Children involved in gymnastics or parkour exhibit stimulated interests with a range of activities within a class session. 2. There are multiple studies equated to the amount of screen time a child should be exposed to daily. When kids are in the gym, they can’t help themselves but to move and exercise. Even if they are in the gym for one activity on a weekly basis, it is still one less hour that they could potentially spend in front of a device, where they may not receive any one-on-one interaction. 3. Gymnastics and parkour test a child’s physical abilities, thus building grit and confidence. 4. A safe environment provides children with a literal and physical soft place to fall. While children inherently want to jump, run, and flip, a gym provides the correct setting for these activities, and children’s interests are heightened, knowing that they are being encouraged to jump and play in a safe, disciplined, and controlled environment. 5. Social skills are at their peak when kids are in the gym. They’re encouraging classmates, and being cheered on by coaches. They are gaining confidence with each session, and blossoming into capable and interactive kids. Their listening and learning skills are being honed, and they are engaging with others as they learn new skills. While it’s true that kids benefit from all athletics and sports, there is something special about a gym. The enthusiasm and desire to learn are palpable. The chalk, the sweat, the energy, and the work ethic are more than just observations to an outsider. They are the heart of the gym.

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