The Advantages of Being a Working Mother

Though many women believe that a long maternity leave and lots of rest are essential to the process of bringing a baby home, recent studies have shown that returning to work shortly after the change may in fact be better for a woman’s health. The research implies that working women have better physical and psychological health than stay-at-home moms.

According to specialists from the University of Akron and Penn State University, women involved in both careers and family lives have been found to have higher energy levels and mobility, as well as confidence and contentment. They are also less likely to go through depression.

The study states that the results are especially accurate among first-time parents. The financial independence and social interaction at the workplace reduce stress, sadness and worry, experts explain.

Adrianne Frech, lead researcher and professor, said:

“Work is good for your health, both mentally and physically. It gives women a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, control and autonomy. They have a place where they are an expert on something, and they’re paid a wage.”

The study’s results reveal that 28% of unemployed mothers consider themselves depressed, while only 17% of working mothers feel similarly. Housewives are apparently more likely to be overweight, and women with inconsistent job situations were found to be the unhealthiest.

“Struggling to hold on to a job or being in constant job-search mode wears on their health, especially mentally, but also physically,” Frech explained. “It is harder to enter the workforce if you don’t have a solid work history. Don’t give up on work and education.”

She encouraged women to establish a stable work history before starting a family, so that they can easily return to the lifestyle later on.


Get Warm with Hot Ice Cream in North Wales

Ben & Jerry, from blustery and frigid Burlington, Vermont, may want to take note. Vermonters just might enjoy their next Vermonster with warm ice cream.  That’s right. Destination Conwy and Baravellis have recently teamed up to present Llandudno with quite an unusual concoction – warm ice cream.

The flavor was inspired by a recipe for Welsh cakes and it is spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon. They are advertising that the ice cream has a “warming quality” that can help those living in harsh climates to have their ice cream and eat it too…even in the winter.

As Sam Nayar from Destination Conwy explained,

“Ice cream is a summer essential, so we wanted to create a flavor that could be eaten come rain or shine whilst including something traditionally Welsh. Kids and adults alike have gone wild for the product so far here in Llandudno. Lancashire has its hot pot, Cornwall a pasty, Yorkshire its pudding and now North Wales has its very own signature dish.”

Certainly, many ice cream companies and stores have been offering unusual ice cream flavors over the last few years. The Humphry Slocombe shop in San Francisco, for instance, offers a bourbon and cornflakes ice cream called Secret Breakfast and a “Red Hot”Banana flavor filled with bananas and crushed Red Hot candies.  The Rehoboth Ice Cream shop in Delaware offers you a flavor called Better Than Sex which includes African vanilla, cake batter and a swirl of fudge. Their Bacon ice cream uses Bac-O-Bits for an intense flavor.

One lick of any of these and they say you’re hooked…maybe.

Reading, A Dose of Medicine for the Mind and Body

Of course, we all know in theory that reading is good for us. Now, however, researchers are proving just how good it is and how much benefit may be derived for those bookworms out there. Neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield explains that reading helps to lengthen attention spans and to improve a child’s ability to think clearly.

As she explains,

“Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end – a structure that encourages our brains to think in sequence, to link cause, effect and significance. It is essential to learn this skill as a small child, while the brain has more plasticity, which is why it’s so important for parents to read to their children. The more we do it, the better we get at it.’

As John Stein, emeritus professor of neuroscience at Magdalen College, Oxford, explains, “Reading exercises the whole brain.”

A study in 2009 found that reading actually helps us to create new neural pathways, as our brains process the experiences that we read about. This does not occur from watching television, playing computer games or engaging in other passive activities.

Another fascinating study from the University of Sussex in 2009 found that a mere six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds. They found that this amount of reading was more beneficial than listening to music or going for a walk.

Finally, one more study, from the University of California, Berkeley, that was published in the Archives of Neurology, showed that reading from a young age can actually help in the prevention of Alzheimer’s. It inhibits the formation of amyloid (protein) plaques which are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. The scientists who conducted this study found that people who had been doing brain-stimulating activities like reading, playing chess, writing letters and more since the age of six showed very low levels of amyloid plaques as they aged. For those who hadn’t engaged in such activities, the plaque levels were heightened.

Family Movie Night- How to Do it Right

Summer is coming to a close, with one more week until school starts. With little time and nothing left to do, family members of all ages are getting restless and edgy.

TLC puts forth a few ideas for ‘Family Night’ in an effort to help parents end the summer with a happy bang.

The first is movie marathon night. Though is sounds pretty standard, there are a bunch of ways to shake things up:

  • Choose a theme. Whether its spy movies, Disney classics, musicals or Western, design tickets and a ticket booth to add to the atmosphere.
  • Spend the afternoon building a concession stand in preparation for the big night. Use Monopoly money, some cardboard and theater-style popcorn containers to serve the best snacks. Don’t forget the soda, boxed candy and cracker jacks!
  • Make it competitive. Try a trivia game or a quick lesson in the history or making of the chosen movie. Think: special effect facts, sketches and artwork, trivia and more!
  • Dress up. Have both children and parents come to the showing dressed up as their favorite character. Include face paint, props and accents as needed.

Scientists Discover Tiny Photosynthetic Insect

A Pea Aphid

Scientists have discovered what might be one of the only creatures to use photosynthesis like a plant. Called the pea aphid, this tiny insect seems to turn sunlight into energy for daily use.

While most animals rely on energy from food to obtain adenoise triphosphate, studies have suggested that the pea aphid traps sunlight within its body to generate ATP. This complex is the cellular energy that enables the body to perform biochemical processes.

Aphids are already recognized as different from most animals in that they produce their own carotenoids- pigments that are generated by plants, microorganisms and fungi. Though the ability was originally attributed to a gene swap between the bugs and fungi, new information implies that the substance is related to the aphid’s photosynthetic abilities.

Carotenoids are one of the primary factors in an aphid’s color. Recent research has found that the aphids’ color, and carotenoid production, changes depending on environmental factors. Colder temperatures result in greener aphids with high levels of carotenoids, optimal conditions bred orange aphids with medium levels of carotenoids, and oppressive, limited environments bred white, pigment-less aphids.

A test of ATP levels in each color of aphid showed that the green ones produced more than the white, while the orange produced more when exposed to sunlight than when kept in the dark. A detailed report was published in the Scientific Reports journal just this month.

The 5 Best Beach Getaways

Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the boutique travel advisors, recently published a list of the best beach getaways in the world. It includes secluded, white-sandy shores as well as trendy Riviera:

The number one beach is that of Lizard Island at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. This spot features amazing surf breaks and spotless white shores. A secluded boutique with more than 20 remote coves, the island is one of the country’s most beautiful secrets. Perfect for romantic picnics, snorkeling and kayaking, the beaches are filled with the unbelievable scenery of the reef.

Next is the French Riviera, with stylish venues and pebbled shores. With nearby hotels like Cap d’Antibes Beach Hotel, the beach draws billionaires, fashionistas, celebrities and so many more.

Honolulu comes next, being the ultimate spot for wave-lovers with its Waikiki and Maui breaks. The atmosphere is also more relaxed and quirky, welcoming all types of visitors and adventure seekers.

Indonesia’s Seminyak is easily the most exciting strip in Bali. Locating right on the Ocean, the area is filled with luxury venues, sports clubs, and stylish getaways.

Next are the Fiji Islands. Mr. and Mrs. Smith recommend the Qamea Resort & Spa Fiji for a barefoot, natural vacation. Located on the tiny Qamea Island, the venue features traditional thatched huts, palm trees, impossibly white beaches, and crystal clear water. Diving courses and gear allow visitors to admire the coral just offshore, while spas use natural ingredients from the island to help tourists truly relax.