{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

5 Easy Ways to Sneak STEM Lessons into Your Kid’s Day

download (1).png

Creative ways to turn your child into a little scientist.

There’s a growing public conversation about the importance of getting kids more engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), to prepare them for their futures. Our economy, workplaces and society require more women and men who excel in these fields and can drive the innovations that will make our world a better place. Despite its obvious importance, it isn’t always easy to get children excited about STEM education.

That’s why I penned The Imagine It Book: Discover, Create and Invent Our Amazing Future, which offers some tips on fun ways you can get your children excited about STEM learning. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Encourage Curiosity

Kids ask a lot of questions, and sometimes we just don’t have the time to field them all in the moment. Buy a small journal or spiral bound notebook that you can keep with you when at home, in the car or out and about in your community. When your children ask questions that relate to science, technology or how things work, write them down. Set aside time each week to sit down with the book and a computer and find the answers to those questions. This experience not only informs children, but also helps them understand the research process so they can answer their own questions and fully embrace their curiosity and drive to discover new things.

2. Plan a Field Trip

We don’t all have the knowledge or experience to be informed STEM educators for our children. Luckily, most communities have institutions and experiences that can help with this process. Museums and libraries often have programs for children to help them experience STEM topics firsthand. Plan field trips to places or events in your community that your children will find interesting. Create fun research assignments for your kids prior to the field trip so they are flexing their curiosity muscles and preparing their minds to fully engage in the experience and understand the information being presented. Afterward, let them share pictures and stories from the experience with the family at meal time or when everyone is together.

3. Take it Apart

We don’t generally encourage the kids in our lives to destroy their things, but it can be a good exercise from time to time to let children really dig into how things are made and put together. Some examples of items that are fun to take apart include clocks, radios, typewriters, old computers, toasters or mechanical toys. For safety, make sure wires are completely cut off from electronic items and that there is no power source for the item. For ideas and guidance, search “take things apart” in YouTube for a ton of tutorial videos. Some kids may really get into watching these videos even if they aren’t disassembling the items themselves.

4. Make Them Reporters

Most children have someone in their lives who creates things or works in the fields of science and technology. Arrange for your child to interview one of these people. Help them do research on the family member or friend’s area of expertise and put together a list of questions. You can also help them video the interview so it can be shared with others via your social media or at a family event.

5. Make the World a Better Place

It’s important to help children identify issues that are important to them and develop a lifelong habit of giving back and making a difference. Help your children identify a cause or issue that is close to their heart like helping animals, the environment or developing cures to diseases. Then supervise them as they do research on the internet to find organizations that are working on the frontline of these issues. Most nonprofit organizations have interactive materials or videos that help explain how their research or innovation is making a difference in their area of focus. You can also help kids set aside a portion of their allowance each week to support the organization’s work so they can feel like an active part of the solution while they are learning.


Ellen Sabin is the founder of Watering Can Press and the author of a series of award-winning books that “grow kids with character.” Watering Can Press books are used widely by companies to support employees (through ERGs, Events, EAPs and other touch-points), clients (giving branded copies to connect with the family market for brand outreach, marketing and sales) and communities (through foundations, CSR, volunteer programs or donations to partner nonprofits). Ellen speaks at conferences and events to adults and hosts reading events with children on the topics of her books.

 

This article was written by Ellen Sabin from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Easiest Ever No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

download.png

These no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas are insanely cool—and there’s no gooey mess to clean up when you’re finished!

Set that knife aside, and resist the urge to toss a carving kit in your cart the next time you’re at the store, because these no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas are worthy of displaying in your home this fall. With just a little imagination and simple art supplies, you will wow the neighborhood, and have fun doing it! Plus, you’ll not only spare your kitchen table from a stringy, gooey mess, you’re bound to get more bang for your buck with no-carve pumpkins because they last longer. Did we convince you yet? Hope so. Here are 7 no-carve pumpkin ideas we love.

1. In a Web of Glue

Nothing beats the awesomeness of a hot glue gun when it comes to crafting (it’s easy to use, too!). You won’t care about any of those excess glue strings with this pumpkin design because the more melted glue and glue strings, the better. The hot glue gun is like a stencil you don’t have to pre-cut or stick on—just let your hands squeeze the trigger, and start designing—the hot glue gun will do the rest!

What You’ll Need:

  • Pumpkins
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
  • Spray paint, dark blue, teal and aqua

How-To:

  1. Using a hot glue gun, create spider web designs on the pumpkin. You can create large, medium, and small webs, and even a spider hanging from a web. You will find the hot glue ooze is really fun to make webs with.
  2. The glue will quickly dry, so once the design is set, spray the spray paint in a well-ventilated area over the webs. You can make each web a different color, or create an ombré effect over one large web.
  3. Wait about 20 minutes for the paint to dry, and then carefully remove the hot glue gun webs. It will easily peel off the pumpkin to reveal your cool web design.

2. Thumb Print Monsters

Grab the entire family to partake in this pumpkin decorating activity. It’s time to let the kids get messy, and leave their fingerprints all over the pumpkin. There are no fingerprints too small large, small, round, or thin for this project—every fingerprint makes the cutest, more colorful monsters ever!

What You’ll Need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Acrylic paint, pink, yellow, green, blue, purple, red
  • Paintbrush
  • Sharpie, black

How-To:

  1. Paint a thin to medium layer of paint on your thumb, or any fingertips with the colors of your choice, and press it on to the pumpkin.
  2. Continue until the pumpkin is covered in polka dots of fingerprints.
  3. Once the paint is dry, begin to make silly faces, eyeballs, feet, and wobbly hands with a Sharpie marker on the fingerprints to make mini monsters.

3. Flower Power

Trendy foliage inspired by a non-traditional fall color palette makes this pumpkin centerpiece swoon worthy. There is no watering necessary with this arrangement. The cotton stem is a nod to the farmhouse chic designer Joanna Gaines—we all want to have a little Gaines in us when it comes to our home decor, right? An added bonus is that this pumpkin can be made prior to company arriving, and the flowers will last forever.

What You’ll Need:

How-To:

  1. With the foam paintbrush, paint the pumpkin with chalk paint. Let dry and paint one more layer.
  2. Once the chalk paint is dry, use the bristle brush and paint the pumpkin with the Cactus color. Be sure to wipe the excess paint on a paper towel before painting—this will create a texture all over the pumpkin.
  3. Begin to hot glue the flowers on top of the pumpkin. Start with the leaves, and when the base is full, glue the cotton stem, and finally top it off with the flowers. This arrangement can be made however you like, so play around with it until you like what you see, and begin to glue in layers.

4. Black and White Chic

Just because your decorating pumpkins in the fall, it doesn’t mean you have to keep the pumpkins orange. You can have a chic, modern pumpkin by swapping the carving tool for a paintbrush. Create a woodland scene like this one, or add your favorite quote, pattern, or a monogram. The classic black and white colors will catch everyone’s eye.

What You’ll Need:

  • Pumpkins
  • Spray paint, white
  • Acrylic paint, black
  • Sharpie oil-based paint marker
  • Paintbrush

How-To:

  1. Spray paint the pumpkin white.
  2. With a fine-tipped paintbrush in hand, paint a woodland scene on the pumpkin with black paint. The pumpkin is your canvas to make a beautiful piece of art! The white Sharpie paint marker is a great tool if you need to paint white on top of the black, like we did for the fur and eyelashes on the mama bear.

5. Can’t Touch This

Planting cacti is a fantastic low-maintenance plant option for those who lack a green thumb. Well, just like a garden, this DIY mini pumpkin cacti garden is a great option for those who lack artistic skill. This simple no-carve pumpkin is made with cacti pattern napkins, and the end result is a lovely cacti garden that won’t poke anyone!

What You’ll Need:

  • Mini pumpkins
  • Acrylic paint, white
  • Foam paintbrush
  • Cactus napkins
  • Mod Podge
  • Scissors

How-to:

  1. Paint the pumpkins with two coats of white acrylic paint.
  2. Separate the thin, top layer of the napkin from the other layers. It’s likely a 2 to 3 ply napkin, and each layer can be easily separated.
  3. Cut out the mini cactus. The cut does not need to be perfect. You can cut around the cactus, leaving some of the excess napkin.
  4. Once the paint on the pumpkin is completely dry, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge (the size of the cactus) and gently press the cactus on to the pumpkin. Smooth out all edges and bubbles with your finger without tearing the napkin.
  5. Paint a moderate layer of Mod Podge over the entire cactus. Initially it will appear milky white, but don’t worry, it dries clear.

6. Boo-tiful Pumpkin

Your pumpkin will be glowing in no time with this DIY neon sign pumpkin. You don’t have to be an electrician to make this. If you can curve wire, use a hot glue gun and load batteries in a small battery pack, you can make this DIY neon sign in no time. Light up the night (and your pumpkin) this fall. Boo!

What You’ll Need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Acrylic paint, black
  • Wire, pliable with hands
  • Neon el wire, 9 feet
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue

How-To:

  1. Design the word Boo on Microsoft Word in a script font, and then print.
  2. With the wire in hand, follow the lines of the word Boo. In other words, your tracing each letter of the word Boo with the wire, so the wire will look just like the printed word.
  3. Hot glue the el wire to the boo script wire. You will have excess el wire. You can cut it (not at the battery pack end), or wrap the wire to the back of the pumpkin. To keep the wire sign in place on the pumpkin, make small hoops with the end of the wire on each side of the word, and use a tack to hold it in place.
  4. Velcro the battery pack to the back of the pumpkin, or set the battery pack behind the pumpkin on the table.
  5. Turn it on, and watch it glow.

7. Totally Rad

The ’80s are back. This totally rad pumpkin is made with bright vinyl cut into geometric shapes. Put on some good 80’s tunes, such as Bon Jovi, Madonna, Michael Jackson or Journey, and unleash the ’80s in you to decorate this pumpkin with color, pattern and funk. It may or may not help to wear neon leg warmers or sweat bands while you design the pumpkin…just saying.

What You’ll Need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Vinyl, bright multi color pack
  • Scissors

How-To:

  1. Cut the vinyl into geometric shapes such as triangles, rectangles and circles. If you want to layer the shapes with black, cut the color vinyl and black at the same time so the shape is the same.
  2. Peel the backing off the vinyl, and begin to press onto the pumpkin. The more colors and shapes, the better!

 

This article was written by Jessica Gregg from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Entrepreneur Mom’s Secret for Controlling Chaos Will Give You More Time with Your Kids

download (8).png

Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

It might seem crazy, but it’s totally worth it.

It’s 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and my phone rings. I interrupt my midweek recap with my assistant and best friend, Erin, to take the call. We’ve closed on 12 homes this month, and I have the late-night call log to prove it. This is my busy season, as spring and summer usually are. Business aside, I have one daughter moving into college this week, I’m planning my Nan’s 90th birthday, and I have a radio segment this weekend to discuss the market.

This is my life in all its chaos. Among my many titles: multi-million-dollar real-estate producer with Coldwell Banker, owner of real estate brand the Pittsburgh Property Diva, fashionista and animal lover, but I am first and foremost wife and mother. Together with my husband, Chris Klein, we have a blended family of SEVEN children ranging from the ages of 10 to 25, three dogs and three cats. That’s right. There are nine humans and six furs in this modern Brady Bunch.

While my career is flexible and allows time for my family, it’s demanding. There are no set office hours, and we work around the clock. Just this week I’m launching five new listings along with my property showings, and I have a closing scheduled for Friday and seven open houses on Sunday. Seven open houses! I wasn’t lying when I told you we work around the clock.

Real estate doesn’t exactly offer a set schedule, and the time when you’d like to wind down for an evening with your children doing homework, running errands or carpooling is often overlapping with business. A set schedule isn’t offered, but it’s what I’ve had to create to juggle both roles as mom and agent. So, what’s my secret? How do I keep the chaos in order? I have a plan of action and stay routine-oriented each day. But I’ll let you in on the real secret … boundaries. Unapologetic boundaries.

Women seem to fear this word. So many of us struggle with boundaries out of guilt, fear or mere pride. Reason being that today’s woman is simply expected to be it all. We live in a world where we’re no longer “homemaker or working woman;” usually we’re both. We’re the modern-day superwoman rocking many hats as mom, wife and career woman. These expectations we put on ourselves forbid us from setting healthy boundaries, sometimes to our own detriment.

When I learned that the secret to being it all really was dividing and conquering, these barriers I set didn’t seem as crazy. Over the years, I had a really strict schedule in order to accommodate my children’s needs. I’d only show houses on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for many years. Sometimes that meant seeing four different clients in one night just so I had openings throughout the week. This term gave me some sense of normalcy and routine in an otherwise fast-paced industry.

When my children were really young, I had to learn not to be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people who would love to just sit and hold a baby for two hours while you take a nap and that doesn’t make you any less of a mother. Our health and wellbeing is most important as moms, so when your kids nap or are at school, try to be easy with yourself: rest, eat, exercise, connect with friends. How else will we run the show if we’re not revitalized, ourselves?

The thing is, moms, sometimes life has to be on your terms. The way I see it, we’re the ringmaster of this circus, and it’s our job to coordinate and collaborate to keep things running smoothly. Is it always easy? No. But balance and boundaries run hand in hand. I haven’t exactly mastered the natural “zen” we all seek from in life, but I can say that things run fairly smoothly at Diva HQ after years of experience. I manage to juggle life as mom, wife and agent while still making time to treat myself to a spa day here and there, guilt-free.

Setting your own guidelines can be a scary thing. I get it. The mom guilt is real. But if we want to breeze through this world without losing our sanity, we have to drop the guilt and get used to the word boundaries. The take-all? Take time for you. Time for your children. Time to connect with your hubby. Just two weeks ago, Chris and I fled off to Chicago to see Pearl Jam for our anniversary. Maybe I wouldn’t have that luxury now without those years of practicing the balance. Or maybe it’s all because I gave up cooking three years ago. You make the call.


Lauren Klein is a multi-million-dollar real estate producer with Coldwell Banker, and the owner of Pittsburgh Property Diva. Her successful real-estate career lit a passion in her for mentoring and empowering women in business, and she does so with her new networking series #DivasDoingBusiness.

 

This article was written by Lauren Klein from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

9 First-Aid Items Every Parent Should Have in the House

download (5).png

No matter how closely parents watch their children, accidents and unexpected medical curveballs are unavoidable. From scratches to splinters to allergic reactions, we want to be prepared for any situation — and that’s why it’s so important to have first-aid items in the house. 

Putting together the most thorough first-aid kit can be a daunting task, but don’t despair if you’re not sure where to start — we’ve got you covered. 

1. Triple-antibiotic ointment

Cuts and scrapes are a normal part of childhood, so it’s always handy to have some triple-antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin) around.

“Kids will always find a way to injure their skin, which happens to be the body’s largest organ and our first line of defense against infection,” Dr. Ashanti Woods, attending pediatrician at Mercy Medical Center, tells SheKnows. Although the majority of these cuts heal without complications, there’s always the possibility of infection — and some children are at greater risk for bacterial infections. 

“To prevent these infections, Neosporin or any triple-antibiotic ointment should be applied to the skin following a moderate to severe skin injury,” Woods advises. 

 

2. Antihistamine

Allergic reactions in children can potentially be life-threatening, so Woods says that an antihistamine that’s safe for children (like Benadryl and it’s generic versions) is definitely an essential item to have on hand at all times. 

“In the event a parent suspects their child (or a visiting child) is having an allergic reaction to something, the first step should be to give a healthy dose of Benadryl,” he advises. If an allergic reaction is severe, parents should call 911 and an epinephrine injection should be administered. 

3. Adhesive bandages

If you think of items essential for any first-aid kit, adhesive bandages are probably first on the list. Dr. Rachel Dawkins, a board certified pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, tells SheKnows that it’s important to stick with the basics. “Band-Aids are great for minor cuts and scrapes,” Dawkins says. “Also, kids love putting Band-Aids on — even when their injury is small or nonexistent.” 

Because children go through adhesive bandages quickly, Dawkins recommends buying in bulk or getting the novelty ones at a dollar store. “You could also consider putting gauze, nonstick bandages and an elastic [ACE] bandage in your kit,” she adds. 

4. Thermometer

As a pediatrician, Dawkins says she thinks having a working thermometer is the most important tool to have in your first-aid kit, noting that it’s common for children to feel like they have a fever when they don’t.

“The most accurate temperature is a rectal temperature and is the preferred way to take an infant’s temperature,” Dawkins explains. “Temporal artery or ear thermometers are fine options for older babies and children.” 

5. Tweezers

If you’re lucky enough to be sprouting chin hair, you probably already have a pair of tweezers sitting around, but it’s probably a good idea to get a pair specifically for your first-aid kit.

Tweezers are an essential tool for removing splinters and stingers,” Woods says. Once the splinter or stinger is removed from a child’s skin, the symptoms almost always resolve quickly, and typically no medicines are necessary, she adds. 

6. A small flashlight

Dawkins recommends keeping a small flashlight on hand for those times when you need to remove something small from your child’s skin and need better lighting. She also notes that you could use the flashlight on your phone. 

7. ACE Wrap

Because children are so active, it is not uncommon for them to get a bump, bruise, sprain or strain in their daily activities, Woods says. “These injuries involve an overstretching of muscles and ligaments near the big joints, [which] cause quite a bit of pain,” she explains. 

The most common way to treat a sprain or a strain is RICE: rest, ice, compression (that’s where the ACE wrap comes in) and elevation, she adds. With this type of treatment, Woods says you can typically count on your child being back to running around after three to seven days. 

8. Ice packs

Dawkins recommends keeping some form of ice pack in the freezer just in case. If you don’t have one, she suggests using a bag of frozen vegetables or a wet sponge that has been frozen in a freezer bag. “Alternatively, wrap ice in a paper towel or put it in a freezer bag,” she says. 

“The usual rule of thumb when using ice on an injury is 20 minutes on then 20 minutes off,” Dawkins continues. “I also recommend putting something between the ice pack and your child’s skin to prevent injury to the skin from the cold.”  

9. Medications & creams

Your home first-aid kit should contain a couple of medications and creams, Dawkins explains, and suggests the following (in addition to the ones mentioned above):

In addition to these first-aid items, Dawkins suggests that parents keep emergency numbers handy and in an easily accessible location. These numbers include their pediatrician’s office, poison control (1-800-222-1222) and a couple of emergency contacts. 

Chances are you probably have a lot of these items already in your house — you might as well take the next step and assemble them in an easy-to-reach kit to make treating your kids’ minor injuries and pain easier the next time they occur.

 

This article was written by Caitlin Flynn from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

I Hate Exercise, so How Do I Get My Kid to Do It?

download.png

If you don’t exercise, it can be hard for your kids to be all that into it either. After all, they imitate you from the practically the moment you bring them home — they learn how to smile, how to talk and how to act from their parents. Unfortunately, as many parents know all too well, they also pick up on our bad habits, which can include a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise. If you’re like me, and not all that into exercising (or have health reasons that limit your ability to exercise), how do you get your kids to pick it up? 

We spoke with a few experts to get some tips on how to get your kids moving this summer and the rest of the year as well. 

Enroll them in sports

One way to get your kids to exercise is to be a little bit sneaky, but we don’t really mean that you need to lie to them. Instead, sign them up for a sport, like soccer, martial arts, gymnastics or basketball, Franklin Antoian, personal trainer and founder iBodyFit, tells SheKnows. 

“Your kid will have fun and get plenty of exercise during practice and games,” he says. In addition to regular bouts of running around, your child will also benefit from learning how to be a good teammate and can develop new friendships.

Get the whole family involved

Also, you don’t need to model actual workout behavior (such as lifting weights or running on a treadmill) to get your child to exercise, he notes. There are tons of family-centered activities that are plenty of fun, and they also have the added benefits of exercise. 

“Go hiking, biking and swimming with your child,” he explains. He says that they’re all fantastic forms of cardio, but you’re having so much fun, you don’t realize you’re getting a good workout. 

Take a walk

Also, consider methods of exercise that aren’t necessarily traditional. “It can be hard to get into a routine of exercising, especially if you do not enjoy the traditional routes of exercising, such as going for a run or going to the gym,” Dr. Alex Tauberg, sports chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SheKnows. 

He explains that exercise can be any activity that gets your heart rate up for at least 20 minutes. Neighborhood walks are an excellent way to get your heart pumping, and kids love going out and about. Walk around for a half hour, and guess what? Both you — and your kids — have exercised. 

Encourage your kids to exercise — the right way

It’s not just a matter of simply telling your kids that exercise is good for you, Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SheKnows. 

For starters, she says it’s vital that parents don’t let on that they hate exercise. Instead, she has a few other recommendations. 

“Encourage them by telling them how proud you are of them when they are exercising,” she explains. “Children are influenced by telling them about the benefits they will gain in their everyday lives. For example, if they exercise, they will be able to run faster and jump higher. They most likely will not be convinced to exercise by telling them that it helps their blood pressures, cholesterol and weight.”

It’s all in how you talk about it

While it’s not quite as easy as directing your kids to get moving while you’re on the couch, getting involved and moving around yourself, if you’re able, will help your child, even if you’re not hitting the weights or going for a run every day. And keep those positive words and encouragements coming, especially if exercise is hard for you due to health problems. Paint exercise in a positive light, and your kids may be keener to try something new. 

 

This article was written by Monica Beyer from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

This Trick for Getting Kids to Do Their Chores Just Blew Our Mind

download (9).png

Some parents pay kids to do chores. Some wouldn’t dream of paying them. After all, helping out around the house is as non-negotiable as brushing their teeth—and no one gets paid for that. Some families weave table clearing and toy pickup into the fabric of daily routines. Others prioritize homework and getting to bed early, so they choose to just live with Magna-Tiles strewn across the living room rug. But no matter what your stance on chores, everyone can agree that kids suck at them—at least when they’re little.

This, it turns out, is something we must get over ASAP, if we want to raise competent, capable adults. Here’s why:

“Sure, toddlers may want to help, but let’s face reality here,” writes NPR’s Michaeleen Doucleff. “They can be clumsy, destructive and even enraging. Their involvement in chores often slows things down or makes a mess. For this reason, many parents…rebuff a toddler’s offer to help.” Some of us have even been known to stick kids in front of a screen so we can do dishes or a load of laundry. This is the mother lode of missed opportunity. Even if kids pour half a bottle of detergent into the dishwasher, even they drench you while watering the garden, even if you have to scream into a terribly folded towel, you need to let them help.

The moms who understand this see the momentary frustration “as an investment,” writes Doucleff. “Encourage the messy, incompetent toddler who really wants to do the dishes now, and over time, he’ll turn into the competent seven-year-old who still wants to help.” She quotes University of New Hampshire education professor Andrew Coppens, who says: “Early opportunities to collaborate with parents likely sets off a developmental trajectory that leads to children voluntarily helping and pitching in at home.”

Stick them in front of Netflix so you can wash glitter glue off the dog and you’ll be de-glittering things on your own for the next decade. Warns Doucleff: “If you tell a child enough times, ‘No, you’re not involved in this chore,’ eventually they will believe you.”

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

17 Genius Shortcuts to Help You Save Time While Cooking

download (8).png

Real Simple readers reveal how they make mealtime less of a chore each day.

I live by the words “It’s never too early to start prepping dinner.” Whenever I have a few minutes during the day or on the weekend, I do something for dinner ahead of time, whether it’s chopping an onion, throwing together a quick salad, or making pasta or quinoa. —Emily Smith, Greenville, South Carolina

I use what I have in the kitchen and create meals that are loosely based on a recipe, or no recipe at all. —?@paulajsheldon

Make sure the tools, pots, and food items you use the most are the most accessible items on every surface and in every cabinet and drawer. While you’re at it, put everything you haven’t used in a year up high. —?Liora Seltzer, New York City

Keep your staple ingredients on hand at all times. Fresh herbs, good olive oil, lemon, Parmesan, capers—if the pantry is stocked with versatile and quality ingredients, you are guaranteed a good meal every night of the week. —Tig Filson, Cumberland, Maine

While I’m cooking, I keep a “garbage bowl” on the counter (for veggie scraps, wrappers, egg shells, etc.) to cut down on trips to the trash can. I put everything in something that’s already dirty, like an empty spinach container or gently used Tupperware, so I’m not adding to the dirty-dish pile. —Ariana Lake, Stephentown, New York

Rotisserie chicken. I take it home and repackage it: It’s ready when I need to make quiche, chicken soup, chicken salad, you name it. It saves so much time and is easy and economical! —?Amy Tooley Radachi, Dayton, Ohio

I have my two teenagers each cook one night a week. They have to include a vegetable, and dinner can’t be takeout. During the school year, it’s typically some variation of pasta or tacos. But it doesn’t matter—I get to come home to a fully cooked meal. —Janet Kinard, Atlanta

Meal delivery services. It’s the new date night! —Katherine Mooney, Sedona, Arizona

I always fill the sink with hot soapy water for cleaning as I go. I can wash and reuse utensils, and when I’m done, the kitchen doesn’t have to be cleaned. —Helen Bouslaugh, Woodland, California

While prepping meals, we chop extra onions, garlic, or tomatoes and store them in small, lidded containers. For the next few days, we can use them for omelets and garnishes without having to prep again. —Tina Hom Chen, Redding, Connecticut

I married a man who loves to cook. —Megan Waite, Fredericksburg, Virginia

I use two Instant Pots: one for the main or meat dish and the other for the side or dessert. They cook quickly, and clean- up is a snap. —Chris Stephens, Luttrell, Tennessee

I’ve accepted that I’m in a season of life when I need to spend a little bit more money to buy the prechopped produce. My prep work is minimal, and I can spend time with my son and husband instead! —Kristin Jones, Turner, Montana

I’ve learned to turn leftovers into something completely different. Meatloaf becomes taco meat; chili becomes tamale pie. The trick is to add fresh elements and stay within the same flavor family. —?Mary Pielenz Hampton, Bozeman, Montana

Whoever gets off work first has to cook dinner. The kids clean up afterward. This works well for our family because my husband and I work various shifts throughout the week. —Brandy Biswell, Puyallup, Washington

I do the shopping and the prep, and my spouse executes the meal! —Caitlin Zinsser, Oak Park, Illinois

I order groceries online and pick them up at my local store. —Nancy Harris, Mansfield, Texas

 

This article was written by Real Simple Staff from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The (Proven) Best Activity You Should Be Doing with Your Kids

3434.png

Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

There have been numerous research studies demonstrating that one of the most beneficial activities you can do with your children is consistently eating dinner together. The benefits of eating dinner together as a family are wide-ranging and important.

Eating dinner together helps improve the vocabulary of young children because the children are exposed to a wider and more difficult set of words than in their usual environments. To be fair, the study included all family meals together, not just dinner. It also showed that frequent meals together boosted vocabulary even more than being read to aloud. Young children were exposed to more than 1,000 rare words at meal time, compared to only 143 from parents reading books out loud. As an added benefit, kids with larger vocabularies start reading at an earlier age and with less difficulty than other children. Mealtime talk, especially during dinner:

“often incorporates discussions and explanations of current events, world knowledge, and even abstract general principles…mealtime talk constitutes an opportunity for the problems of everyday life and proposed solutions to be discussed, often in the context of stories.”

Older children also benefit intellectually and emotionally from family dinners. Enjoying regular family dinners is a powerful predictor of high test scores – it’s a better predictor than time spent in school, doing homework, or time playing sports.

Most importantly, it’s also hugely beneficial to the emotional state of adolescents and teenagers. There are a number of studies demonstrating regular family dinners reduce a number of high risk teen behaviors. In one study, entitled Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors, there is a significant reduction in high risk behaviors – alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, sexual intercourse, depression-suicide, antisocial behavior, violence, school problems, binge/purge eating, and excessive weight-loss – all from consistent family dinners. Another study demonstrated a lower rate of depression and suicidal thoughts is associated with regular family dinners.

Aside from the prevention or reduction of negative behaviors, there is a strong association between regular family dinners and good behaviors, such as a strong association with good moods in teenagers, an optimistic outlook of the future.

Now that we know how important family mealtimes are for children, what’s the best way to institute this in a household with working mothers or a household where both parents work? The key is to cut down on time spent preparing the meal and cleaning up after the meal is over, in order to maximize the time and quality of the meal.

One of the best ways to save time preparing the meal and cleaning up, and maximizing the time spent actually enjoying dinner with your family, is to look at the large catering platters and party platters from grocery stores. For example, Walmart party tray prices are extremely reasonably priced when looked at on a per-meal basis. A typical party tray will feed my family for 2-3 dinners, and has a wide variety of items so no one gets bored. The cost per person per meal can be as low as $1-2.

The best part is that there is almost no cleanup and no preparation time. This helps create a stress free environment where I can focus on listening to my children and learning about their lives, while sharing stories at dinnertime. On days where I do cook dinner, I usually end up being stuck in the kitchen and missing out on most of the conversation, and at the same time, it takes much longer for me to prepare the food and then cleanup afterwards.

For health conscious mothers, Costco offers similar party platters and has recently become the world’s largest seller of organic foods, prime meats and other high quality food products. I’ve spoken to Costco staff and it’s clear to me that they use the same high quality ingredients in their platters as they sell on their shelves.

Eating family dinners together as frequently as possible is clearly one of the best activities you can do with your children. As a working mother, it’s critical to prioritize and maximize high quality activities with the family. In the case of dinner time, the most important activity isn’t food prep or cleaning, it’s actually sitting down with your children during the meal, chatting with them and listening to them. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to do this is to shop in the catering isles at large grocers.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How Hot Is Too Hot for Your Kids to Play Outside?

download (4).png

Summer is here, and many of us want to be outside and enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts — especially if we live in a cooler climate. However, it important to remember our children can get very hot in a short amount of time, especially when they run around and play. But how hot is too hot?

To find out, we spoke with some doctors about when it’s too hot for our kids to be outside in the summer months, what we can do to protect them before going out in the warm weather and signs to look for if we think kids might be getting overheated.

It varies depending on your child’s activity level

Activity level plays a huge factor, Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SheKnows. If it’s 100 degrees and your kids are swimming, playing with water toys and in the shade, going outside is perfectly fine if you are keeping a close eye on them. However, If they are running around in direct sunlight, a lot of kids will overheat — even if the temperature is just in the 80s, says Posner.

A good rule of thumb is, “If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your kids,” Dr. S. Daniel Ganjian, a pediatrician at John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SheKnows. 

Pay attention to the heat index

Caitlin Hoff, a health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, says you shouldn’t just pay attention to the temperature on the thermometer. Make sure to keep an eye on the humidity by looking at the heat index factor too. 

“When the heat index is 100 degrees or more (over 90 degrees with 60 percent humidity), heat exhaustion is much more probable without safety measures taken,” Hoff tells SheKnows.

Age does matter

Younger children are more susceptible to heat exhaustion because “they produce less sweat” and “are less likely to feel and understand the dangers of extreme heat,” Hoff says.

Never skimp on water, shade or sunscreen

One of the most important things to remember is to keep your kids out of direct sunlight for long periods of time in the summer. They need shade, plenty of water and sunscreen whenever they are outside, Ganjian says. He also recommends dressing your children in light, long-sleeve clothing and always applying a safe sunscreen on children over 6-moths old (and then reapplying it every two hours and after water play). For babies under 6 months, Ganjian says they should avoid sun exposure all together. 

Warning signs to look for

Posner and Ganjian both say to pay attention to the warning signs of overheating, which include fever, decreased number of wet diapers, cranky behavior or being overly tired. If you notice these symptoms, they suggest a lukewarm bath, plenty of fluids and a call to your pediatrician.

There is a lot to enjoy outdoors during the summer months, but it’s best to take the necessary precautions to make sure you and your family stay safe.

 

This article was written by Katie Smith from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Parents Are Sharing Their Best Hacks For Streamlining Their Morning Routine

download (3).png

Because nobody wants to be completely stressed out that early.

Between getting yourself ready for work and getting your kids ready for school, mornings can be a real nightmare for parents. But as one mom on Reddit shared, even small shortcuts can help make a world of difference.

In a thread on the r/Parenting board, user sandarthegreat posted her tip for freezing pancakes in advance to make breakfasts simple and easy. The mom also asked other parents to share their best hacks for streamlining their morning routine. “Now that I’m a single parent, I need all the help I can get,” she wrote. “Parents who’ve been here before, what are the tips and tricks you can’t live without? What is something you wish you’d known? What’s one thing that always makes your mornings run smoothly?”

Fellow parents then replied with their own smart strategies to minimize the pre-work madness. Here are some of the best pieces of advice from the thread:

Freezing ahead is your friend.

Give your kids more responsibility.

Take a tip from boxers.

Have your kids race against a song.

Defrost breakfast AND lunch.

Plan a “menu” for lunches.

Take care of as much as possible the night before.

Start the week on a high note.

Invest in an Instant Pot.

Skip PJs.

Trick your kids into eating healthier (and quicker).

Meal prep for the whole family.

Have all of the small tasks taken care of.

Get a head start on your kids.

 

This article was written by Joseph Barberio from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.