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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

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

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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.

Parents Are Sharing Their Best Hacks For Streamlining Their Morning Routine

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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.

Be A Guide, Not A Guard: How To Raise A Happy And Responsible Kid

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“Be a guide, not a guard” perfectly describes the kinds of parenting behaviors that create happy and responsible children. It’s a term I learned at a recent training session focused on reducing controlling parenting behaviors.

When I ask parents “what have you tried to help change your child’s behavior?” little breaks my heart more than hearing a long list of punishments. The story will go something like, “the rule is that he is to clean up his room but he never does it so we took away his tablet, then banned watching TV, we put him in time out all day, cancelled his play dates with his friends and then grounded him for a month. It doesn’t matter what we do, he doesn’t care.”

This is parenting like a guard. It is inflexible, rules-based parenting that requires punishment when a child doesn’t behave. The most anti-social children are often parented in this way. They don’t care about the meaning of the rules set; instead they decide whether to comply based on whether they will get hurt. Controlling parenting practices are also correlated to poor mental health in children and youth.

When we parent like a guard we are trying to stop behavior through control and dominance. In an attempt to get rid of the behaviors we don’t like, we use consequences. A guard expects trouble and treats people as such. A guard does not care whether you feel sad, confused or don’t feel like you belong. A guard only cares if you comply. As a guard we can’t be flexible and this means if a child doesn’t comply, regardless of the reason, our only option is to escalate the consequences until they do. Even if this means excluding them from the very systems we want them to belong to.

When we parent as a guide we work to encourage behaviors we want to see in our children. We help children belong in our world and all the systems that come with that. We use care and compassion in our parenting practices. When we see unwanted behavior that cannot work or is unacceptable in our systems, we look at what steps we can take to help that child learn to fit better in our world. We don’t use harsh consequences that will exclude the child from the system; instead we see their difficulty as a skill deficit. We don’t use escalating consequences; instead we look for ways for children to want to be part of the system and to want to please us.

As guides, we help children develop internal motivation to do what is right because it’s right, rather than to do what is right to avoid being punished. We want our children to comply because they want to be part of our community, they want to help us and because they understand the value of their chosen behavior.

How To Be A Guide

1. See your child’s perspective.

Being able to hold your child’s perspective is essential to being a guide. It helps parents understand how best to help their child. It helps us identify that difficult behaviors are often related to emotions or skills deficits. This doesn’t mean we accept all behaviors as okay, it means that we understand that there is a meaning to whatever behavior we are seeing.

2. Encourage behavior through praise and noticing.

Children love receiving genuine praise and being noticed. If they feel you genuinely care about them rather than that you are trying to control their behavior, they are more motivated to work for you. Children are less receptive to praise that functions to control behavior such as “aren’t you a good boy for sitting up straight today?” A genuine, “I can really see you are listening, and that makes me feel good,” is more effective.

3. Promote values-based living.

Show your child what matters through the way you live. If you want to raise a kind and responsible child, lead by modeling kind and responsible behavior. Notice when your child is kind and responsible and praise the behavior.

4. Be flexible where possible.

Give your child opportunities to choose. Avoid controlling choices unless there is a good reason not to offer a choice such as safety or legality. Guides raise kids who choose to be responsible. Guards raise kids who conform to avoid a consequence.

5. Promote intrinsic goals over extrinsic goals.

Encourage your child to do things for personal growth, for health, to create meaningful relationships and contribute to their community as opposed to doing things to achieve financial success, popularity, power or for their image. People with intrinsic goals are happier and engage in more pro-social behavior.

Next time you see your child doing something that you don’t like, whisper to yourself: “Be a guide, not a guard.”

Acknowledgement: Thanks and gratitude toDarin Cairnsfor introducing me to the helpful term “Be a guide, not a guard.”

 

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

The Best Summer Activities for Kids in Every Single State

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School is on hiatus ‘til fall, which means you’ve got approximately 10 weeks to keep the youngest members of your household happily entertained. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back with this epic list of the coolest activities for kids of all ages in every single state.

Alligator Alley

Alabama: Alligator Alley

Um, this might be the only place in the U.S. where your kids can safely hold an alligator. (There are 450 on site at this alligator rescue farm in Summerdale and guided and self-guided tours are available.)

Plan Your Visit

Alabama: Gulf State Park

Your kids will love having ample opportunities to unplug as they bike, swim, fish and camp in this gorgeous park on the Gulf of Mexico, complete with two miles of pristine beach. (Just be sure you make campground or cabin reservations in advance.)

Plan Your Visit

Alabama: U.S. Space and Rocket Center

This museum in Huntsville has the largest collection of rockets and space memorabilia anywhere in the world. It also has super-cool simulators like the space shot (kids can rocket 140 feet straight up in less than 2.5 seconds) and the G-force accelerator (so kids can experience three times the force of gravity).

Plan Your Visit

The Reindeer Farm

Alaska: The Reindeer Farm

Sure, it’s not Christmas yet, but just picture the joy on your kids’ faces when they get to pet, feed and ask hard-hitting Santa questions of actual reindeer at this farm, located about 45 minutes northwest of Anchorage. (There are also picnic tables so you can pack a lunch and hang out all day.)

Plan Your Visit

Alaska: Byron Glacier

Come on, where else in the U.S. can your kids get up close and personal with an actual glacier? OK, so it’s a mile-long hike, but once you arrive at this spot on the Prince Island Sound, it’s quite breathtaking. (And thanks to global warming might not be there that much longer, so go now!)

Plan Your Visit

Alaska: Thunderbird Falls

This stroller-accessible hike in Anchorage is just one mile in length and—barring a few steep spots—is very family-friendly. Plus, the pay-off is huge: At the end of the trail is a dramatic, 200-foot waterfall that will leave your kids in complete awe of a different mom: Mother Nature.

Plan Your Visit

We Who Roam

Arizona: Salt River Tubing

For kids ages eight and up, the Tonto National Forest (dubbed a “mini Grand Canyon”) is a sight to be seen, especially from the water. Pack a lunch and relax as you float down the refreshing mountain water stream.

Plan Your Visit

Arizona: Museum of Natural History

In addition to an indoor, three-story Dinosaur mountain with a simulated flash flood, there’s air conditioning at this Mesa museum—a win-win for the dino-lover in your fam.

Plan Your Visit

Arizona: Wet ‘n Wild Phoenix

Did we mention Arizona is hot during the summertime? Wet ‘n Wild is the ultimate cool-off zone, complete with epic water slides, a lazy river and more.

Plan Your Visit

MILB

Arkansas: Arvest Ballpark

Home to minor league baseball team the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, this Springdale ballpark brings over 70 home games—not to mention festivals, fairs and family fun days—for kids to enjoy all season long.

Plan Your Visit

Arkansas: Blanchard Springs Caverns

Some parts of these caves, located in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, took shape over 350 million years ago. Your kids will love peeping the rock formations (and tiny cave creatures like salamanders) as they tour the area. Bonus: The underground temp stays at a cool 58 degrees, perfect for summer.

Plan Your Visit

Arkansas: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

This 450+ acre park in Eureka Springs is home to over 100 abused, neglected and abandoned big cats—bobcats, ligers, cougars and leopards included.

Plan Your Visit

Disneyland

California: Disneyland

Steep entry fee aside, you really can’t go wrong planning a day (or week) long trip to the OG home of Mickey Mouse. (PSA: Don’t forget you’ve got California Adventure across the way.)

Plan Your Visit

California: Safari Park

This 1,800-acre wildlife refuge operates next to and in partnership with the San Diego Zoo (another places worth visiting if you have time), but it’s the only spot where you can see animals ranging from cheetahs to lions to zebras roam free, from a safari tour.

Plan Your Visit

California: Yosemite National Park

A national landmark since 1864, there’s no end to the kid adventures—including getting sworn in as junior rangers—that can be had within the park’s 1,200 square miles of valleys, meadows, wilderness and more. Just be sure to plan your visit (and book a campsite) in advance.

Plan Your Visit

Garden of the Gods

Colorado: Garden of the Gods

This popular park in Colorado Springs features breathtaking geological formations, plus rock climbing and nature trails. Just keep in mind that for summer, there’s not a ton of shade.

Plan Your Visit

Colorado: Santa’s Workshop

Visiting Santa in July feels like a misnomer, but it’s actually the perfect time of year for a Christmas-centric theme park filled with a range of outdoor rides. And, hey, if you happen to get a pic with Santa at this Cascade hotspot (located 20 minutes from Colorado Springs), you can nail down your holiday card four months in advance.

Plan Your Visit

Colorado: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park

Located in Estes Park, this campground—named after cartoon character Yogi Bear—is right in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. And while your kids can get their fill of nature, there’s also lots of other activities on site including a heated pool, mini golf, a game room and more.

Plan Your Visit

Mystic Aquarium

Connecticut: Mystic Aquarium

In addition to beluga whales, African penguins and sharks, a special exhibit on dinosaurs—featuring 12 animatronic creatures—just recently opened.

Plan Your Visit

Connecticut: Lake Compounce Theme Park

It’s a summer throwback—take your kids to the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States. (Complete with its own kiddie coaster and antique carousel.)

Plan Your Visit

Connecticut: Southington Drive-In Movie Theater

Speaking of throwbacks, your kids will love the thrill of seeing a movie outdoors from the comfort of your car. The summer lineup was just released with films ranging from The Sandlot to The Princess Bride.

Plan Your Visit

Air Mobility Compound Museum

Delaware: Air Mobility Compound Museum

This free museum at Dover Air Force Base showcases some of the U.S. Air Force’s largest (and no-longer-in-use) aircrafts. Watch your kids lose their minds as they get to the know the ins and outs of aerodynamics while walking all around these massive planes.

Plan Your Visit

Delaware: Gardens at Winterthur

This museum/library/garden is home to one of the biggest collections of Americana in the U.S. It also features 1,000 kid-friendly acres of outdoor space including an area called the “Enchanted Woods,” which gives kids an opportunity to explore the world of fairies with attractions like the Troll’s Bridge.

Plan Your Visit

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach

Known as one of the top beaches in the country, this shoreline features more than just sun and sand. Along the boardwalk, there’s bumper boats, a water slide, lazy river and more.

Plan Your Visit

Disney World

Florida: Disney World

Ten bucks says your kids will be more thrilled by the Monorail than the actual rides.

Plan Your Visit

Florida: Captiva Island

You’ll love the pristine beaches, but your kids will love the one-of-a-kind beachcombing. (This island off the coast near Fort Myers is ranked one of the best for in the country for finding pretty shells.)

Plan Your Visit

Florida: The Kennedy Space Center

It’s the launch center of human spaceflight. And, if you’re kids are lucky, they might be able to catch an actual rocket lift off. (There’s currently one scheduled for July, FYI.)

Plan Your Visit

Lanier Islands Water Park

Georgia: Lanier Islands Water Park

This Paradise Beach theme park puts water activities at the forefront. But it’s not just for the older kids: The Family Fun Zone includes a wave pool with “wiggle waves” and mini water slides.

Plan Your Visit

Georgia: Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Located on Jekyll Island, this education center is focused on the rehabilitation of sea turtles in the wild. Oh, and there are also alligators.

Plan Your Visit

Georgia: The Georgia Aquarium

It’s the world’s largest aquarium (located in Atlanta) with over ten million gallons of water and one hundred thousand animals on site—whales, jellyfish and puffins galore.

Plan Your Visit

Honolulu Zoo

Hawaii: Honolulu Zoo

This 42-acre zoo features tons of species indigenous to Hawaii, like the short-eared owl and the Hawaiian goose. It also features twilight tours (perfect for older kids).

Plan Your Visit

Hawaii: Dole Pineapple Plantation

Come to this Honolulu homage to the pineapple for the Dole Whip (a part of every tour) but stay to get lost in the botanical pineapple maze. (Seriously, it’s huge!)

Plan Your Visit

Hawaii: Lydgate Beach Park

This Kauai-based beach in the city of Kapaa is a local favorite and features two enclosed swimming areas, both protected by boulders, so it’s easy for your kids to safely splash about. It’s also right across the street from the Kamalani Playground, should they need to blow off a little steam.

Plan Your Visit

Silverwood Theme Park

Idaho: Silverwood Theme Park

This amusement park in Athol is home to the first-ever inverting roller coaster (FYI, kids need to be 48 inches tall to ride), but it’s also got a lazy river, carousel and ferris wheel.

Plan Your Visit

Idaho: Bruneau Dunes State Park

As long as the temps aren’t too hot, let your kids run—and surf—the sand dunes at this state park and campground, located just 45 minutes outside of Boise.

Plan Your Visit

Idaho: Discovery Center of Idaho

For an afternoon where you need A/C, head to this STEM-focused hands-on science center in Boise, complete with a summer exhibition that’s all about H2O. (Kids may or may not leave soaking wet.)

Plan Your Visit

MLB

Illinois: Wrigley Field

It’s home to the 2018 World Series-winning Chicago Cubs. What better time than summer to take your kiddos to a game?

Plan Your Visit

Illinois: Super Museum

Fun fact: Superman’s hometown is Metropolis, Illinois. That’s why your comic book-loving little one will relish a visit to this museum featuring over 20,000 items tied to the Man of Steel’s history and fictional life.

Plan Your Visit

Illinois: The Museum of Science and Industry

It’s one of the largest science museums in the world. Even though school is out for summer, take your kid to this Chicago institution where they can learn all about Planet Earth, robots and more.

Plan Your Visit

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Indiana: Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

It’s the world’s largest kids’ museum and it also has a pretty cool selection of summer exhibits on display, from the Fireworks of Glass to a look at American Pop.

Plan Your Visit

Indiana: Conner Prairie

This interactive history park in Fishers (about 30 minutes north of Indianapolis) is all about exploring science, history and nature in a hands-on way.

Plan Your Visit

Indiana: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park

With over 100 acres of outdoor sculptures built around nature, this Indianapolis park features art you can climb on. (How could your kids resist?)

Plan Your Visit

Iowa State Fair/Facebook

Iowa: State Fair

Not only is this one of the world’s largest livestock shows and food fairs, there’s also a cow sculpted entirely of butter—something your kids will have to see to believe. (FYI, it takes place for 11 days in August in Des Moines.)

Plan Your Visit

Iowa: Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor

This throwback parlor is an activity all in itself thanks to the rooms stocked to the brim with memorabilia. Also, your kids haven’t lived until they’ve tried a classic ice cream soda.

Plan Your Visit

Iowa: National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

This museum-meets aquarium-meets science center in Dubuque is a place where your kids can learn and touch. There’s also a 4D theater with plenty of child-friendly special effects (think: wind, mist and seat movement).

Plan Your Visit

Oz Museum

Kansas: Oz Museum

Introduce your kids to the movie, then plan a day trip to the museum—located about 45 minutes east of Topeka—which features artifacts, history, folk art and collectibles.

Plan Your Visit

Kansas: Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead

Teach your kids where their food comes from with a tour around this farm in Overland Park, complete with lesons in growing veggies, bottle-feeding baby goats and milking cows.

Plan Your Visit

Kansas: Underground Salt Museum

Your kids will love the chance to tunnel 650 feet below the Earth’s surface and touch actual remnants of the inland ocean. Then, when they’re done, they can ride the Salt Mine Express underground railroad at this Hutchinson spot, just outside of Topeka. 

Plan Your Visit

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

Kentucky: Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

The official spot where MLB bats get made, this museum also boasts a 120-foot to-scale replica of the actual bat swung by Babe Ruth. Oh, and there’s a tribute to the 25th anniversary of The Sandlot currently on display.

Plan Your Visit

Kentucky: Mammoth Cave National Park

It’s the world’s longest known cave system with over 400 miles waiting for kids to explore. Beyond touring the complex labyrinths, you can go for a family canoe ride, picnic, horseback ride and more.

Plan Your Visit

Kentucky: The Great American Dollhouse Museum

A fascinating place for kids (and weird grown-ups), this Danville-based museum features over 200 dollhouses, all depicting different parts of American social history. (There’s also air conditioning.)

Plan Your Visit

Shreveport-Bossier/Flickr

Louisiana: Gators and Friends Alligator Park and Exotic Zoo

Not only can kids hold and feed gators at this Greenwood zoo, located 20 minutes from Shreveport, they can zip line over many of the residents—camels, kangaroos and miniature horses.

Plan Your Visit

Louisiana: Blain Kern’s Mardi Gras World

They may be too young to really laissez les bons temps rouler, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get in on the action. At this enormous NOLA warehouse, kids can tour the masks, floats and other Mardi Gras ephemera, and even play dress-up in the big costume closet. 

Plan Your Visit

Louisiana: Creole Nature Trail

Help your kids tackle some next-level beachcombing as they traverse this trail in Lake Charles, filled with driftwood pieces, moon snails and sea beans, all kosher for bringing home. (It’s also adjacent to 26 miles of beach paradise where they can pick up actual shells.)

Plan Your Visit

MILB

Maine: Portland Sea Dogs Game

It’s hard to beat a minor league baseball game in the heart of Portland. Take your kids to a double-header (and make sure they get a pic with the mascot Slugger).

Plan Your Visit

Maine: Acadia National Park

Sign your kids up for the summer-only Junior Ranger Program, where they earn a badges for scouting things like seals, porpoises and birds.

Plan Your Visit

Maine: Sugarloaf Mountain

Sure, during winter, this place is ski central, but during summer your kids can participate in guided moose tours, go mountain biking, zip lining and more.

Plan Your Visit

Chesapeake Pirates/Instagram

Maryland: Pirate Adventure on the Chesapeake

Ahoy! On this Annapolis-based ship, aspiring mateys paint their faces, don their pirate garb and set sail for a 75 minute treasure-finding adventure. (Hint: they always find the treasure.)

Plan Your Visit

Maryland: Larriland Farm

One of the best spots in the state (it’s located in Woodbine) to pick your own cherries or blueberries—an easy summertime kid activity, plus a built-in snack.

Plan Your Visit

Maryland: Billy Goat Trail

Perfect for littles that like the outdoors, this rocky hike goes along the cliffs of the Potomac Gorge. (Just be sure your kids are old enough to have their footing.)

Plan Your Visit

MLB

Massachusetts: Fenway Park

It’s not summer in New England without taking in a Red Sox game. Plan ahead and schedule a 50-minute tour of the ballpark—a historic landmark—before the first pitch is thrown.

Plan Your Visit

Massachusetts: Edgartown

This sandy Martha’s Vineyard destination is accessible by ferry and makes for a great family beach day thanks to the variety of shorelines to choose from, the lack of crowds and the proximity to restrooms—a must for kids. (Plus, fun fact: It’s also the main shooting location for Jaws.)

Plan Your Visit

Massachusetts: The Frog Pond

In the winter, it’s an ice rink, but come summer, this man-made “pond” in the middle of Boston Common becomes a popular wading pool for tots looking to cool off.

Plan Your Visit

Henry Ford Museum/Facebook

Michigan: The Henry Ford Museum

It’s been over 100 years since the Ford Motor Company introduced the Model T. Take your kids to the Dearborn museum where they can learn all about the innovation and spirit of it’s creator, Henry Ford—oh, and actually ride in a restored car.

Plan Your Visit

Michigan: Air Zoo

Experience the science of flight at this aviation museum in Portage (near Kalamazoo) that combines rare aircraft with flight simulators and bi-planes (what the Wright Brothers flew) which your kids can actually steer.

Plan Your Visit

Michigan: National Cherry Festival

It takes place every July in Traverse City. Sign your kids up for the cherry pie eating contest, then stay for the evening fireworks display.

Plan Your Visit

National Eagle Center

Minnesota: National Eagle Center

Give your kids the chance to catch a rare sighting of an American Bald Eagle up close, but also in the wild at this nonprofit located in Wabasha.

Plan Your Visit

Minnesota: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Canoe between the cliffs, crags and canyons of this epic route, located in the northern third of the Superior National Forest.

Plan Your Visit

Minnesota: Mall of America

Forget about shopping — this indoor amusement park at America’s largest mall (in Bloomington) features games, water rides, an aquarium, and an adventure course.

Plan Your Visit

Tupelo Automobile Museum/Facebook

Mississippi: Tupelo Automobile Museum

Enough with Lightening McQueen. Take your little guy to see over 100 antique automobiles, all displayed and laid out to illustrate the history of car design and engineering.

Plan Your Visit

Mississippi: The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies

Dolphin encounters abound at this research institution in Gulfport near Mississippi City, the perfect spot for your kids to learn about the humane animal treatment and conservation efforts of this aquatic creature.

Plan Your Visit

Mississippi: Infinity Science Center

Your kids will relish the chance to see first-hand what an international space station set-up looks like at this Pearlington-based site. The motion and cockpit simulators are another crowd pleaser. And for older ones, so is the bus tour of a NASA rocket-testing facility.

Plan Your Visit

Legoland Discovery Center North America/Instagram

Missouri: Legoland Discovery Center

The Lego-lover in your household will go nuts at this Lego “experience” in Kansas City, complete with a Lego master builder academy and Lego ideas studio.

Plan Your Visit

Missouri: Big Surf Waterpark

This water park in Linn Creek is the place to cool off come summer with food, rides and slides—not to mention a lazy river for younger kids who just want to float and chill.

Plan Your Visit

Missouri: Johnson Shut-Ins State Park

Pitch a tent or rent a cabin at this park in Middle Brook (90 minutes south of St. Louis), which is filled with natural swimming areas, hiking trails and spots to roast s’mores, away from it all.

Plan Your Visit

Visit Montana

Montana: Flathead Lake

It’s the largest natural freshwater lake in the U.S. (with an entry point in Lakeside), which means there’s plenty of room for tubing, canoeing and swimming.

Plan Your Visit

Montana: Big Dipper

Prepare your kids ahead of time: There will almost definitely be a line wrapping around the block just to get a scoop (or two) of ice cream at this Missoula spot, famous for their homemade flavors like cardamom and huckleberry.

Plan Your Visit

Montana: Museum of the Rockies

Home to the largest collection of dinosaur fossils, this museum in Bozeman will pique your kid’s curiosity in the prehistoric creatures and give them a chance to play paleontologist for the day.

Plan Your Visit

Mark Reinstein/Getty Images

Nebraska: Hutchinson Buffalo Ranch

Make your kids turn off their tech and travel back in time at this ranch just a few hours west of Omaha in Rose—a “last frontier” of sorts where you can see actual bison as you tour the area on conestoga wagons. (Canoeing, tubing, sailing and paddleboats are also available to guests who stay on site.)

Plan Your Visit

Nebraska: Fossil Freeway

Over 30 million years ago, a river actually flowed through this area in the Panhandle now filled with remnants in the form of bulky sandstone blocks. Send your kids on a scavenger hunt for imprints left behind by now-extinct animals including saber-toothed cats and rhinos.

Plan Your Visit

Nebraska: Get Tanked Tubing

Pack lunch for the family and float down the scenic Cedar River in an apparatus designed for water-lovers: An eight-foot plastic stock tank with a picnic table built in.

Plan Your Visit

Valley of Fire/Facebook

Nevada: Valley of Fire

Quite seriously, this state park in Overton might be one of the coolest campgrounds your kids have ever seen. It features over 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec Sandstone, perfect for daytime hikes.

Plan Your Visit

Nevada: Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada

There’s a rotating climbing wall, train simulation and airplane teeter totter, all at this popular museum in Carson City.

Plan Your Visit

Nevada: Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat

You don’t have to stay at the Mirage hotel to book tickets to this unique Vegas experience: A chance for kids to come face-to-face with dolphins, white tigers, white lions and leopards.

Plan Your Visit

Wildcat Mountain

New Hampshire: Wildcat Mountain

As long as your little ones don’t mind heights, take them on a scenic gondola ride where they can check out sweeping views—or simply plan a nature hike instead. (Thompson Falls is just a 45-minute climb.)

Plan Your Visit

New Hampshire: Clark’s Trading Post

Come summer, this Lincoln theme park’s main focus is family fun—take your kids to the black bear show (with actual bears), ride a steam train or cool off on the water blaster boats.

Plan Your Visit

New Hampshire: Hampton Beach

Even if all you do is grab an ice cream cone at Stillwell’s Surfside Scoop and walk the boardwalk, your kids will be happily entertained.

Plan Your Visit

Jersey Shore Pirates

New Jersey: Jersey Shore Pirates

Get this: At this North Jersey spot, Your kids get to dress up as pirates and learn pirate lingo before setting sail on an action-packed, hour and 15-minute adventure that has them following a treasure map to their booty.

Plan Your Visit

New Jersey: Cape May Point Historic Park

Go for the beachcombing, stay for the mini golf. Located on the southern tip of New Jersey, it’s a go-to spot for families looking to escape the heat without the Jersey shore riff-raff.

Plan Your Visit

New Jersey: Fosterfields Living Historical Farm

Expose your kids to farming as it was done 100 years ago and enlist them to help with daily tasks like collecting eggs, grinding corn, feeding chickens and cleaning a horse’s harness at this working farm in Morristown.

Plan Your Visit

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Sign up for a slew of activities including ranger-guided stargazing and a bat flight program. (Basically, a guided narration of bats’ nocturnal activities.)

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New Mexico: Four Corners Monument

A chance for your kids to stand in four states (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado) all at once. (They’ll think it’s the coolest…or the lamest, but who cares as long as you have a photo.)

Plan Your Visit

New Mexico: Roswell UFO Festival

Every July, this festival draws kids and adults from all over the country for live entertainment, a costume contest, parade—and *fingers crossed* an alien sighting.

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American Museum of Natural History

New York: American Museum of Natural History

Get ready for a massive collection of dinosaur fossils, to-scale whales and a hall of American mammals (all stuffed) at this famed Manhattan museum. Just don’t forget a stop at the planetarium before you depart.

Plan Your Visit

New York: Fire Island National Seashore

The fact that no cars are allowed on this island makes it an incredibly kid-friendly place where you can bike to the beach, dinner or for a post-dinner ice cream cone. (Just take a ferry to get there.)

Plan Your Visit

New York: State Fair

This 13-day showcase—featuring food, music, carnival rides and oh-so-many butter sculptures—takes place in Syracuse between August 22 and September 3. Hello, summer send-off.

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The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

North Carolina: The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

The planetarium here in Chapel Hill was once used to train real live NASA astronauts, a fact worth dropping on your kids right as a show like the Solar System Odyssey (a crowd favorite) is about to begin.

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North Carolina: Lazy Five Ranch

Home to over 750 animals from six different continents, this “farm” in Mooresville showcases everything from wild mustangs to antelope.

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North Carolina: Pirate Invasion

Save the date for this annual Beaufort event—held this year on August 10 and 11—where people come from all over to reenact the pirate heritage of the area. Your kids will love the treasure hunting, sword fighting and cannon firing, all a spectacle worth seeing.

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Enchanted Highway

North Dakota: Enchanted Highway

Instead of playing the alphabet game, pile the kids into the car and drive this 32-mile stretch of roadway enlisting them to help spot the fancy (and whimsical) metal sculptures dotting the landscape.

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North Dakota: Graham’s Island State Park

Fishing is a beloved pastime for anyone here. Introduce your kids to it where they’re certain to catch something—at Devil’s Lake, the largest natural water body in the state.

Plan Your Visit

North Dakota: Pitchfork Steak Fondue

A summertime tradition, this outdoor cowboy cookout combines all the thrills of the wild west. After dinner, stay for the Medora Musical, a western-style variety show set against the backdrop of the Dakota Badlands.

Plan Your Visit

Columbus Zoo

Ohio: Columbus Zoo

In addition to the usual suspects—lions, tigers and bears—your kids will get to see the likes of the American bison and African Gray parrot while on a Congo expedition (aka a super-cool guided tour).

Plan Your Visit

Ohio: Mid Ohio Sports Car Course

The ideal spot to take the car-lover in your fam, this race track offers plenty of spectator experiences (in addition to actual races) featuring vintage automobiles, rugged trucks, motorcyles and more.

Plan Your Visit

Ohio: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Teens will love combing through this Cleveland museum for relics of a distant past. (You know…one where people played guitars.)

Plan Your Visit

Beavers Bend State Park/Facebook

Oklahoma: Beavers Bend State Park

One of the best places in McCurtain County to hike, bike, swim and fish. (Speaking of which, there are two well-stocked catch and release trout streams, the perfect place for your kids to learn the sport.)

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Oklahoma: Orr Family Farm

In addition to riding the vintage carousel and replica transcontinental locomotive, kids can zipline across this farm in Oklahoma City to take in the views from above.

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Oklahoma: Tiger Safari

Your kids will never forget the summer they got to hold (and feed) baby tigers at this “zoo” in Tuttle, complete with actual safari tours.

Plan Your Visit

Lincoln City Summer Kite Festival/Facebook

Oregon: Lincoln City Kite Festival

This annual kite festival held every June is not to be missed—but if you pop by the beaches in the area on, say, a random Tuesday, the chances are still good that you’ll see plenty of families testing the wind with their own kite, bought at local favorite Catch the Wind Kite Shop.

Plan Your Visit

Oregon: Oregon Zoo

This 64-acre zoo in Portland will entertain your kids all afternoon. Then, if you can swing it, stick around for the evening concert series—a summer-only event.

Plan Your Visit

Oregon: Silver Falls State Park

Depending on how ambitious your family is feeling, there’s an eight-mile hike that allows you to see 10 waterfalls in a single day. (There’s also a much shorter loop you can take with younger kids.)

Plan Your Visit

Sesame Place

Pennsylvania: Sesame Place

Bring on the Elmo freaks: This theme park an hour outside of Philadelphia includes rides, water attractions and live entertainment and is a great bet for littler guys who might get overwhelmed by bigger amusement parks.

Plan Your Visit

Pennsylvania: Crayola Experience

Kids see first-hand how crayons get made at this Easton warehouse, just an hour and a half north of Philly. Then, when they’re done, they can take home a souvenir set named after themselves.

Plan Your Visit

Pennsylvania: Hershey Park

There are 14 roller coasters and a zoo at this epic amusement park that also offers ample opportunities to taste-test chocolate.

Plan Your Visit

Sky Zone

Rhode Island: Sky Zone

Summer is the best time to nab a good deal at this indoor trampoline park located in East Providence.

Plan Your Visit

Rhode Island: Pawtucket Red Socks

Another minor league team worth checking out. Keep in mind, if you go on a Saturday night, there will be be post-game fireworks, win or lose.

Plan Your Visit

Rhode Island: Roger Williams Park Zoo

This time of year, Food Truck Fridays are all the rage at this popular 40-acre zoo in Providence, one of the oldest in the country.

Plan Your Visit

Frankie’s Fun Park

South Carolina: Frankie’s Fun Park

There are locations all over the state for this amusement park, known for its arcade games, rides and—soon to be your kid’s favorite—a go-kart race track.

Plan Your Visit

South Carolina: Alligator Adventure

Located in North Myrtle Beach, it’s one of the largest facilities for reptile life in the U.S. After watching a live feeding, your kids can pose alligator-related questions to the staff veterinarian, aptly nicknamed “the croc doc”.

Plan Your Visit

South Carolina: Myrtle Beach

Let’s just say there are over 50 miniature golf courses to choose from in the area. (And Myrtle Waves Water Park is just a stone’s throw from the beach.)

Plan Your Visit

1880 Train

South Dakota: 1880 Train

This working vintage steam train in Hill City will captivate your child—and you—as you take it on a historic route through the state’s most famed gold-panning spots.

Plan Your Visit

South Dakota: Custer State Park

Your kids will love keeping their eyes peeled for cool animals—think deer, sheep, elk, even burros—as you take a scenic drive through the park. (Bring a picnic lunch for a pit stop.)

Plan Your Visit

South Dakota: Mammoth Site & Museum

Get this: An actual sink hole in Hot Springs uncovered a treasure trove of fossils—including woolly mammoths—from the ice age. Your kids will go berserk.

Plan Your Visit

Discovery Park of America

Tennessee: Discovery Park of America

Impress your kids with this 50-acre complex in Union City, complete with a 20,000-gallon aquarium, an actual earthquake simulator and train station.

Plan Your Visit

Tennessee: Tennessee Aquarium

There’s a shark touch pool at this Chattanooga spot, not to mention three living forests, a 3D IMAX theater and more.

Plan Your Visit

Tennessee: Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

This “moving” museum in Chattanooga offers experiences (most under an hour in length) that will give your kids the chance to understand railroad travel as it was in the past.

Plan Your Visit

Enchanted Springs Ranch

Texas: Enchanted Springs Ranch

A throwback to the old west, your kids can enjoy horseback rides, eat out of a chuckwagon and learn all about cowboy culture when they visit this theme park in Boerne.

Plan Your Visit

Texas: Dallas World Aquarium

This Dallas-based aquarium has a rainforest vibe, but also plenty of endangered species like Orinoco crocodiles. There’s even an underwater tunnel where sharks swim over your head.

Plan Your Visit

Texas: Dinosaur Valley State Park

Arm your kids with the tools they need (binoculars, a magnifying glass, an animal tracking key—all available on site), then embark on a family mission to locate prehistoric dino tracks, at this state park in Glen Rose.

Plan Your Visit

Utah Olympic Park/Facebook

Utah: Olympic Park

The former site of the 2002 Winter Games, this Park City spot has tons of summer-themed activities, like zip lining, extreme tubing and water polo.

Plan Your Visit

Utah: Arches National Park

With over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, this national park located just north of Moab is great for your natural-born climber.

Plan Your Visit

Utah: George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park

There are over 100 life-like dinosaur sculptures at this eight-acre outdoor park in Ogden—go on a scheduled tour or roam free (like the dinos did).

Plan Your Visit

Ben& Jerry’s

Vermont: Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour

This Waterbury spot is where the famous pints (Cherry Garcia, anyone?) get made. Take your kids on a 30-minute tour and treat them to a scoop—or two—at the end.

Plan Your Visit

Vermont: Shelburne Farms

The best place to help your kids learn about a more sustainable future, this farm in Shelburne (a suburb of Burlington) offers hands-on educational experiences like brushing sheep and milking goats.

Plan Your Visit

Vermont: Smuggler’s Notch

Plan ahead for lunch at Smugglers’ Notch Picnic Area (located in a narrow pass through the Green Mountains) then stroll along the wetlands boardwalk all afternoon.

Plan Your Visit

Natural Bridge Caverns

Virginia: Natural Bridge Caverns

A tour at these caverns, located west of Richmond, takes just 45 minutes, but on it, you and your family can descend more than 34 stories deep within the earth.

Plan Your Visit

Virginia: Go Ape Freedom Park

Kids have to be 10 or older, but once they are, they’ll absolutely love traversing this treetop obstacle course in Williamsburg that offers Tarzan swings and a ropes course.

Plan Your Visit

Virginia: TwinCreeks Llamas

Hiking is cool and all, but what if you could bring a llama along for company and to carry your gear? Your kids will get a kick out of spending a day with the creature, domesticated 6,000 years ago at this animal reserve outside of Washington D.C. in Bentonville. (Reservations required.)

Plan Your Visit

Washington: Bryant Blueberries

It’s pick your own blueberries at this well-known farm in New Salisbury, which also has a petting zoo and playground.

Plan Your Visit

Wolf Haven International

Washington: Wolf Haven International

Home to about 250 displaced wolves, this spot in Tenino, just south of Olympia, is designed with kids in mind: There’s a 50-minute tour designed to remove the storybook stigma and a chance to glimpse these beautiful creatures up close.

Plan Your Visit

Washington: Museum of Flight

It’s the largest air and space museum in the world (located in Seattle)—and also your kid’s chance to hop in a flight simulator and play pilot for the day.

Plan Your Visit

MILB

West Virginia: West Virginia Black Bears

It’s not summer without a trip to the ballpark—this minor league team (which plays its games in Granville) is all kinds of nostalgic.

Plan Your Visit

West Virginia: Mystery Hole

Give your kids the chance to question the laws of gravity with a visit to this roadside attraction (it’s found in Ansted, which is 15 minutes north of Fayetteville) where the gravitational pull seems to be a bit off. (No one can explain it!)

Plan Your Visit

West Virginia: River Riders

The ultimate way to cool off in the summer is a guided (and family-friendly) white water rafting tour, which takes off from Harper’s Ferry.

Plan Your Visit

Bookworm Gardens

Wisconsin: Bookworm Gardens

This Sheboygan botanic garden (located midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay) is inspired by your kid’s favorite children’s books and uses imaginative landscaping skills to bring classics like Harold and the Purple Crayon and Goldilocks and the Three Bears to life.

Plan Your Visit

Wisconsin: Cranberry Discovery Center

Total day trip material, this experiential center in Warrens (outside of Madison) will teach your kids everything they need to know about the cranberry industry…and the history of the state fruit.

Plan Your Visit

Wisconsin: Madison Children’s Museum

While there’s no limit to the range of activities your kids can enjoy at this museum, we’re partial to the inventive city of Possible-opolis which is filled with interactive puzzles, games and a giant gerbil wheel.

Plan Your Visit 

7D Ranch

Wyoming: 7D Ranch

This Cody-based ranch is the perfect place for your kids to experience cowboy life and learn all about the Yellowstone ecosystem. The kids program (aimed at children six and older) even offers the chance to saddle up.

Plan Your Visit

Wyoming: Continental Divide Dogsled Adventures

It’s one of the largest dog sled kennels in North America (and located in Dubois). Sign up the family for a one hour tour.

Plan Your Visit

Wyoming: Hot Springs State Park

Plan to BYO lunch and picnic by the all-natural mineral hot springs while actual bison roam nearby. There’s even a free bath house if your kids want to dip their toe in the water.

Plan Your Visit

International Spy Museum

Washington, D.C.: International Spy Museum

As soon as you enter, each family member will be given a secret identity and your kids will have to work hard to assume their undercover persona. (Not kidding, there’s a test at the end.)

Plan Your Visit

Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Your kids will flip walking around this working facility on the National Mall where actual U.S. dollars get printed. There’s a film and gallery tour, but you can also head straight to the production floor for a clear view of all the cash.

Plan Your Visit

Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian National Zoo

There are more than 2,000 animals to spot at this free zoo, but after your little ones are done keeping a distance from the gorillas and lions and bears, they’ll love visiting the kid’s farm for a chance to meet and greet cows, alpacas and donkeys.

Plan Your Visit

 

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

How to Get Everyone to the Table for a Family Meal

 

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Real-world ideas for making dinner together happen—even when everyone has a different schedule.

Find Another Time

Don’t focus on the meal; focus on the time to come together. It can be breakfast, after-school snacks, dinner—find what works for your family. I did 10 p.m. snacks when my girls were in high school because that was when they’d be getting home from sports or work or hanging out with friends. We had 15 to 30 minutes to just catch up on the day and the dramas that make up teenage life.
—Rhonda Mccreary-Utledge, Fort Worth, Texas

Serve a Big Batch

Make the healthiest casserole you know. Arrange whole fresh fruit on the table and call it a day. (My secret chili contains a big bunch of pureed kale, and no one has yet to discover it!)
—Pat Satterfield, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania

Aim for Healthy

I have two kids in two different schools and on multiple sports teams, so there are days when we’re not all home to eat together. I’ve learned to make soup and/or salad with leftover chicken on those nights. That way we get veggies and protein, and we aren’t spending too much money or compromising nutrition by eating fast food.
Heather Sustman Golden, Houston

Make It a Must

Family dinner is a priority in our house. Even if it’s for cereal or sandwiches, we sit together. We eat when everyone is home—6 p.m. some nights, 9 p.m. other nights.
Jenn Mcavoy Fahy, Lagrange, New York

Tacos Always Win

I make a batch of taco meat and all the fixings and have tortillas ready to be warmed up when people are ready to eat.
Kristin Lupo, Stratford, Connecticut

Don’t Overthink It

Order. Pizza. Done.
Rachel Ross Faris, Erlanger, Kentucky

 

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.

Save Time and Keep Your Family Healthy with These Quick Tips

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Most moms are aware of the need to keep their children healthy to ensure proper growth and development. However, when the demands of the day limit your time, sometimes being healthy isn’t as convenient. When you’re at work all day, it can be easy to develop poor habits just to ease the stress. Things like preparing healthy meals, making sure the kids stay active, and even keeping up with doctor’s appointments do require a bit of time and effort, but are important. If time prevents you from being able to keep your family healthy, consider these time-saving tips below.

Pick One Day of the Week for Meal Prep

Any mom would agree that when you’re pressed for time, one of the most time-consuming tasks is preparing meals for the family. Bogged down by demands from work, household chores, and perhaps running the kids around to their after-school activities, it’s much easier to order takeout or grab a kids meal from a fast food restaurant and keep moving.

Though a treat every now and again won’t do the kids any harm, often time the quickest meal solutions are the unhealthiest for them. To cut back on time and the number of processed foods and saturated fats your family is consuming, why not pick one day to prep meals? Choose a day where you have the most time and cook all your meals. You can then place them in plastic containers and freeze them for the week.

Schedule Appointments Together

Visiting the doctor periodically – especially during school-age is imperative for children. Annual physicals, vaccines, and shots, as well as other medical services, allow doctors to provide you with the best child development & nutrition resources to ensure your child is developing properly. Doctors can also recommend adjustments in nutrition, supplements, and ways to help your child grow in confidence, like giving your child Healthy Height’s nutritional shakes that promote growth in height. Be that as it may, most working mothers are plagued with minimal time off from work. Not to mention, a scheduled doctor’s appointment tends to last longer than anticipated, which can cause conflict.

If you work in an environment where time isn’t flexible, try to kill a few birds with one stone. Take off one day instead of trying to break it up into hours. Schedule the entire family’s appointments for the same day. While it will mean sitting in waiting rooms all day, it eliminates the need to take off several hours every few months.

Work Out Together

It can be tempting to let the kids sit in front of the television or on the computer all day while you tend to the household chores (or take a break), however, too much screen time is detrimental to your child’s health. It is important for all of you to get active to remain healthy. If time prevents you from being able to get the kids out, consider working out together. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym together or sit in front of the television doing exercise video moves either. There are a lot of fun activities you could try indoors or outdoors to get active. Whether you go outside and play basketball or stay in the house and rock out to your favorite dance simulation game, you’re moving, sweating, and working out. Not to mention, you’re creating fun memories with your family.

Unfortunately, time isn’t something we can make more of. All you can do is learn how to make the most of the time you have. If you’ve been trying to prioritize your family’s health, but find time to always get in the way, utilize the above-mentioned tips. They are all convenient solutions that not only save you time but allow you to ensure your family is as healthy as they can be.

 

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.

4 Ways to Raise Siblings Who Love Each Other

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Siblings who fight a lot gain surprising advantages, from thicker skins to sharper negotiating skills. Plus, “Savvy parents know that a conflict-free relationship between siblings is not the same as a close-knit relationship,” writes Chicago Tribune parenting columnist Heidi Stevens. The goal is to have kids who love as hard as they battle. Here, four tips for raising lifelong best friends who share everything—including you.

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kupicoo/Getty Images

Fight smart in front of them

When parents handle conflict and anger with each other in a healthy, respectful way, they are modeling how their kids should face off. If you slam doors, hurl insults or, um, actual household items, it’s a safe bet they’ll mimic you the next time someone pushes their buttons. Added incentive to hit above the (emotional) belt? Kids cannot keep secrets. Ask anyone who’s died a little inside while her kid told the dentist how Mommy threw her egg sandwich at Daddy.

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Twenty20

When in doubt, let them work it out

Unless your kids’ fights are about to enter the realm of bloodshed or bullying, or they’re stuck in a pattern where an older child seems to always dominate a younger one, give them a minute before you get involved. Per experts, siblings’ fights are valuable opportunities for growth. Hair-trigger intervention only perpetuates their reliance on you as a referee. Also, stepping in may mean taking sides—a surefire way to stir up sibling rivalry. “It can be more difficult to hang back and observe emotional situations than to try to solve problems for your kids on the spot,” writes parenting expert Michelle Woo, citing research on how kids in Germany and Japan become self-reliant by problem-solving amongst themselves. “[What kids] need is consistent guidance, a place to explore their feelings, a model of kindness. What they probably don’t need is a referee monitoring every single play.” As Jeffrey Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us, told NPR: “One of the most profound effects siblings have on you is that area of conflict resolution skills, that area of relationship formation and maintenance.” 

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Twenty20

Or don’t! Try this instead

A growing number of psychologists and educators swears by a conflict resolution method called Restorative Circles. You step in at the start of a fight and ask your kids to take a deep breath and sit down with you calmly in a circle. (Obviously, for screaming banshee fights, separation and soothing come first.) For just a few minutes, each child gets a chance to speak their grievance (You ask: “What do you want your brother to know?”), and the other child(ren) is asked to interpret what they’ve just heard (“What did you hear your sister saying?”). Then you go back to the first child (“Is that what you meant?”) until a mutual understanding is reached/all kids feel heard. Then everyone brainstorms ideas to find an agreeable solution.

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Twenty20

The family that plays together, stays together

Even—especially—if your kids are like oil and water, or more than a few years apart, it can be tempting to let them lead separate lives. Try not to. Choose toys that appeal to all age groups (Marry us, Bristle Blocks!), group activities on weekends or family vacations, and require them to show up for each other’s games or recitals. No matter how much they fight, research shows reason to be optimistic. “About 10, 15 percent of sibling relationships truly are so toxic that they’re irreparable,” says Kluger. “But 85 percent are anywhere from fixable to terrific.” After all, he notes: “Our parents leave us too soon, our spouses and our kids come along too late…Siblings are the longest relationships we’ll ever have in our lives.”

 

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

Bored Kids Are Distracting: Things Your Child Can Do While You Work

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Identifying activities for your kids to do while you’re busy with other things can be a daunting task. This is why work-at-home parents need all the help they can get.

A majority of kids lack knowledge of how to engage in solo play. Typically, kids appreciate having access to a daily routine of exciting things to do, but they require gentle encouragement and training. Providing your children with exciting and enjoyable activities helps them extend their attention span as well as experience in keeping themselves busy.

According to Linda Acredolo, a psychology professor at the University of California, play is an important activity during childhood. Although you might regard it as mere child’s play, childhood play involves several interrelated undertakings, ranging from problem-solving and learning new skills to mental and physical challenges.

Below are some few things you can do to foster your child’s learning.

Stretch Your Child’s Imagination

It’s been noted that kids who engage in make-believe play are often good at keeping themselves busy according to Dr. Willard. Children typically have their imagination even when participating in boring activities. You could try engaging your child’s imagination. Perhaps, you could provide your child with beads and string for making keychain animals. Doing so helps improve your child’s ability to count and make patterns.

Introduce technology

You can give your child an iPad for a few minutes and let them play with an educational app. This way, your child can play and learn at the same time.

Letting them occupy their time with mobile apps can provide tremendous benefits. Nonetheless, kids need guidance on the use of mobile applications. For this reason, you need to keep close tabs on how your kids are using or interacting with any mobile apps you choose for them.

Reward Your Kid for Playing Alone

Keep in mind that your kid has many playmates at school. But at home, they are denied this opportunity or only have access to their siblings. This is why your kid may resort to the B word. To resolve this problem, you need to create a plan that lets your kid hang out alone.

Try engaging your kid in activities such as playing Lego, puzzles, or browsing through picture books. You can improve this process by letting your kid come up with his own ideas instead of dictating what he ought to do. Jennifer Kolari the author of Connected Parenting recommends rewarding your kids every time they play alone in their bedroom. For instance, you could go out on a date with your kids.

Be Creative

Often, it seems convenient suggesting activities for your kid whenever they are bored, and they can’t seem to come up with something on their own. Note that the most common entertainment platforms teach kids to expect instant gratification. In the short term, these distractions-be it TV, movies, or mobile apps- will keep your kid temporarily occupied. However, in the long term, your kids will become intolerant of quiet moments as they induce hypertensive states. Instead, you should engage your children in summertime long projects. Perhaps, you can encourage them to tend a windowsill, flower, or vegetable garden to occupy their free time.

 

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.

10 fun & free things to do with kids in a heatwave

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Ever noticed how a rise in temperature seems to directly correspond with a rise in the amount of loose change flying out of your purse?

What with ice creams, drinks and whatever else they’re begging you for I feel like I shell out money hand over fist as soon as the sun comes out.

 

With three little people now pretty much eating and drinking and costing the same as each other days out can get expensive, so when the mercury rises how can you enjoy the warm weather without breaking the bank?

It is possible – this weekend we had huge fun with the garden hose on our allotment – such a simple thing but such fun!

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With that in mind I asked 10 mums and dads to share their favourite fun and free things to do with kids in a heatwave that won’t cost you a penny and here’s what they said.

10 fun & free things to do with kids in a heatwave

1. Head to the nearest beach. “Sandcastles, splashing in the sea, collecting shells and rock pooling – hours of fun and all for free!” says Sally at The Happy Home.

2. Hold a good old-fashioned water fight. “Kids versus adults is so much fun (and wears us all out!) says Charlie at Our Altered Life.

 

3. Freeze toys in a tub of water. “Give them a knife and some salt and tell them to get their toys out,” says Emma at The Money Whisperer. “They love it!” (Adult supervision might be a good idea for this one!)

4. Make edible flower ice cubes. “They look so good (especially in mama’s gin!) and it’s something to look forward to if the hot weather stays for a few days,” says Emma at Ready Freddie Go.


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5. Fill a paddling pool with Orbeez (that’s colourful beads which grow 100 times their original size when they come into contact with water, in case you had to google it like I did). “Fill a paddling pool full of water and chuck in a couple of big packs of orbeez – it’s great fun like a huge jelly bath!” says Nikki at Yorkshire Wonders.

6. Make a den with the washing line. “Making a den with bedsheets and pegs using the washing line was always a favourite of mine!” says Fran at Back With A Bump. “Probably not so much for my mum who I probably left to tidy it all away!”


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7. Set up a car wash. “We have a Little Tikes plastic car which my daughter washes,” says Lauren at Sophie’s Nursery. “We give her a washing up bowl filled with soapy water and a sponge and she loves it! It doesn’t have to be a car – we have also done a baby wash with plastic dolls.”

8. Turn on the garden sprinklers, sit back and relax. “When it gets too hot we get the sprinklers on – George loves running between the sprinklers to cool down,” says Carla-Marie at My Bump 2 Baby.


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9. Go stream dipping. “It’s loads of fun and keeps them cool,” says Lianne at Anklebiters Adventures.

10. Play hide and seek in the woods. “We would run off ahead of our parents and leave them clues along the way in the form of arrows made of sticks,” says Ben at Wood Create. “Then we would find a good spot and draw a circle on the floor with a number in it. The number would relate to the amount of steps to the hiding place, but it could be in any direction – then wait to be found! Great fun as a kid!”


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Are you in the middle of a heatwave where you are? Do you have any fun and free activities you can recommend? I’d love to hear what they are!

 

The post 10 fun & free things to do with kids in a heatwave appeared first on Confessions Of A Crummy Mummy.

 

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Backyard Camping Trip

Plan a family camping trip to your backyard.

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Enjoy the wonderful feeling of family bonding while only being feet away from your own home. A backyard camping trip can be a unique idea, and it’s great for family togetherness. Your children won’t be afraid while having the security of being so close to their safe place: their home. You can enjoy all that is involved with camping while still being able to use your own bathroom. What a great camping experience! To ensure this feels like a legitimate camping trip, remember all the necessary equipment, such as a flashlight, non-perishable food, water and a tent.

You can include the following activities:

  • Create a small campfire and roast hotdogs and marshmallows;
  • Sing campfire songs;
  • Play catch, hula-hoop or jump-rope;
  • Have a nature scavenger hunt;
  • Hold a yoga session during sunset for a soothing end to the day;
  • Catch fireflies (depending on the season); Stargaze and teach your child about the constellations.