June 6th, 2012
With the weather warming up outside, more and more kids and parents are heading out to their local parks. Itís a good chance for little ones to run around and work off their abundant energy (energy I wouldnít mind having) and to meet and play with other kids their age.
Playgrounds are a great resource for many parents, but there are risks involved. Every year more than 200,000 kids are treated in the ER for playground-related injuries. Many of these injuries could have been prevented.
With a few precautions in place, each trip to the playground can be not only fun, but safe.
May 29th, 2012
Itís that time of year where parents look back and wonder ďWhere did the time go?Ē One day, you are looking into the face of your innocent newborn and the next day, you're watching him or her walk the line to get a high school diploma. When you are in the trenches of teething, temper tantrums, and bad attitudes, it is hard to see that one day your little baby will be a young adult, ready to take on the world.
Thereís a lot to think about with graduation. We think prom is stressful, and it is, but graduation brings a whole new set of things to think about and get done.
May 21st, 2012
Last year our school district proposed new plans for the 2011-2012 school year that left me feeling apprehensive and a bit unsure. In order to save money, the school proposed a 4-day school week. While it sounded cool at first, it meant longer school days. I wasnít concerned for my last teenager still in school, but I was worried about my 10-year-old, 8-year-old, and newly entering kindergartner.
My 10-year-old has ADD, so school days have always been a struggle for him. His teachers used to joke that if a fly made a noise a mile away, he would hear it and lose his focus, and by the end of the day he was literally jumping out of his seat. We have kept him medication free, as we felt it was best, but it does pose challenges for him and for his amazing teachers.
Then there was my newly turned 5-year-old. He turned 5 a mere two days before kindergarten started. Most parents of 5-year-olds will tell you that sometimes they are just not emotionally where they need to be. This was true in my son's case. I knew he was very capable of the work, but was he emotionally ready? These questions and concerns left me wondering if there was another choice, another option.
May 17th, 2012
For many parents, setting up the nursery includes setting up the crib. The walls are painted the perfect color, the furniture is picked, and the theme is settled on. Then there is the crib.
Heirloom or new? The idea of passing on a crib is one thing many parents dream of. They have been saving it for years just waiting for their future grandchildren, but is it the right choice and what about second-hand cribs? With tough economic times, many parents are finding themselves looking at gently used cribs. Here are things to consider before making a choice.
May 5th, 2012
f you're a new special needs parent, you will be crossing into some unfamiliar territory that your friends and peers may be ill equipped to help you with.
One specific item that is on my mind is the Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. When you enroll your kids in school, you will be asked to sign and return a letter that outlines your rights as the parent of a special needs child and includes information about the IEP. You will also be given a copy for your records. It's important to read and understand this. If it is unclear, ask for clarification until it is crystal clear.
The IEP meeting revolves around Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), which is part of fulfilling the state's obligation and is required in the US. I personally take charge of this meeting. I control the direction it goes and get it back on track if it gets derailed. I also try to do it in the same order each time because I have found that I am less likely to forget or leave something out when it's standardized.
All of our experiences and our children needs are different, but I have a few recommendations to make the most of your meeting.
April 30th, 2012
Today while I was a little bored, I went surfing the internet. I didnít have any of the kids home, and without constant chaos going on around me, I get very easily bored and feel the need to fill my time doing something. I wasnít looking for anything in particular, just following links here and there. Anything that caught my eye was fair game for me and my mouse. Then I came across helmets for toddlers. At first I thought they were for when toddlers are learning to ride bikes or maybe for when they are sitting behind their parents on a bike.
But I was wrong. It is for infants and toddlers who are learning to walk and crawl. On the surface it seems like a good idea, but the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous the idea became to me. I understand that we all want to protect our children; it hurts us when they get hurt. No parent in their right mind enjoys seeing their toddler fall and get hurt; besides, head injuries can be scary.
What I kept coming back to was the thought that part of growing up is falling down.
As scary as it may be to see our toddlers fall over and hit their heads, the truth is that most bounce back as if nothing has ever happened. Itís usually scarier for us than it is for them. I also believe that many parents are undereducated when it comes to things to look for if their young children do hit their heads. Here are things that parents should know:
April 24th, 2012
Itís that time of year again, a time when parents watch their once young sons and daughters turn into prince and princesses. No longer can we deny that they are growing up and for many parents of teenagers, prom is a huge milestone. This year as I was planning out my daughter's final prom, I got to thinking about what proms across the country cost and wondered what things parents could do to keep the costs down.
What I found was pretty surprising. A recent study found that where you live and how much your annual income is play a big role in how much prom will cost. If you lived in the Northeast, for example, you could spend approximately $1,944. Those in the South could expect to spend around $1,047, Western families $744, and rounding out the bottom are Midwestern families at $696. In addition:
*Parents who make less than $20,000 per year will spend an average of $1,200
*Parents who make $20,000-$29,999 per year will spend an average of $2,635
*Parents who make $30,000-$39,999 per year will spend an average of $801
*Parents who make $40,000-$49,999 per year will spend an average of $695
*Parents who make over $50,000 per year will spend an average of $988
*Parents who make over $75,000 per year will spend an average of $842
One can only speculate as to why income plays a role in how much a parent will pay for prom, and there are some things you canít do much about. The cost of tickets is one factor that isn't in your control. I have seen some schools charging $200 for a pair of prom tickets. What happened to doing up the school gym, hiring a band or DJ, and filling up the place with balloons and twinkling lights? Maybe schools need to step back and re-evaluate cost effectiveness also. Having a senior in high school is already expensive enough - do parents really need to break the bank leading up to graduation?
So what can parents do?
April 16th, 2012
From the moment of birth, babies love to be close to their parents. They love to be cuddled, snuggled, and held close to those who love them. Baby carriers can offer parents a great way of doing this while still being able to have use of their hands. During fussy periods this can be a godsend, and it is something most parents can sympathize with. There is a house that needs to be cleaned, laundry that needs to be done, and the list can go on and on, but what carrier is the right fit for you?
Baby carriers are broken down first into four categories/styles and then by brand. The first step in choosing which carrier to go with is deciding which style would work best for your family. Some have the ability to grow with you, others will have a specific weight limit, and still others will be somewhere in between.
The first option is a wrap. This is probably the most versatile of all the options out there. A wrap is a long piece of cloth that you wrap around your shoulders and then knot in a way that the baby has a seat to sit in. Because the child's weight is carried on both of the adult's shoulders, it is a great option for parents who have neck and shoulder concerns. With a little practice, this wrap could be the perfect fit for a growing baby.
Your next option is the sling, a one-shoulder wrap that is also great for babies starting from day one. The only drawback is that it is not as ergonomically friendly, but it can be the perfect fit for a new parent who is looking for quick and easy access to soothe and calm a crying baby. This type of sling is no longer being recommended due to some concerns over its safety, though, so please take that into consideration.
Another option is an Asian Back Carrier or ABC. This is a great option for breastfeeding moms. Since the wrap goes over the shoulders, pressure is removed from the breast. It also has great flexibility; it can be used not only as a front carrier but as a back carrier. Because these wraps are made of lighter fabric, they can be great options for people living in warmer climates. Some of these can be safe for newborns, but they are really recommended for older infants. Make sure to read the manufacturer's recommendations before buying.
The most recognizable option are pre-shaped carriers. As the name suggests, these are pre-shaped carriers that a parent straps on and places the baby in. On average, these are recommended for babies that are 2-4 months and sometimes even 6 months of age. In comparison to a wrap, sling, and ABC, pre-shaped carriers can be bulky, so they're not the best option for storage-minded families. If space is a concern, any one of the other carriers would be a better option.
Now that you have a little more information, get out there and find the one that is the perfect fit for you and your new baby. With so many colors and designs, the options are endless. Have fun with it, enjoy, and don’t forget to add an extra one for dad.
April 4th, 2012
With the creation of laptops and netbooks, learning can happen just about anywhere there is a WiFi connection. Smartphones offer this, but with smaller screens they arenít always practical for routine and constant use. While these devices are great for in the car, sitting in a doctor's office, or grocery shopping, many cannot do everything a laptop or desktop does; they can be limiting and even restricting at times. Standard laptops have value, but they can be cumbersome and with a low battery life they can be frustrating. Similar to phones, there is a need to always know where a power outlet is.
What if there was another option? One like Intelís new Ultrabook! Its smaller size offers greater portability and because of its all-in-one design and efficiency, it has a longer battery life. It has everything a desktop has, but think tablet on a larger scale, and standard laptop on a smaller scale. This offers greater convenience for parents who like a little more than what is currently on the market.
With Rapid Start Technology the Ultrabook starts up, even from the deepest sleep, within a matter of seconds. To help make the experience even more enjoyable, Intel has added Smart Response Technology to its Ultrabooks, which lets you access your favorite sites faster because it automatically recognizes and stores the information for you. This is an added bonus for parents who are only able to find a few minutes here and there to get reconnected with friends and family or attend to important emails.
I love my tablet and I love my phone, but there are times where neither device can accomplish what I need. In those times I find myself heading for my laptop, but it can be heavy and not always very convenient so I end up having to wait for a good time. In my world that means when the kids are asleep and the house is quiet. While I am putting them to bed, I turn it on so that way by the time they are laid down, it is up and ready to go. The sad fact is that by the time I usually get to the computer, I have forgotten half of what I wanted to do.
I can only imagine what I could get down with faster start up times on an Ultrabook. I wouldnít have to wait for the kids to be in bed; with a click of the power button it would be up and running. I would no longer have to forget what I needed to get done, and I would no longer have to make sure an outlet was readily available.
March 14th, 2012
A few weeks ago, we asked you to tell us what role technology plays in your parenting. And based on the responses, it's quite clear that children are as technologically savvy as their parents. With iPhones, iPods, and iPads, not to mention laptops and desktops, children are literally surrounded by technology of all kinds. Is it any wonder that they can maneuver around today's devices as if they were born with one in their hands?
Children are being introduced to technology at a younger age than ever before. The positive to that is that there are a lot of great learning tools and apps out there for young minds that are in their learning prime. Instead of parents using television to entertain their children, they are now placing them in front of a different type of screen, one where anything is possible. With a few strokes of the computer keyboard, children can learn about a new country or how to sing their ABCs.
While it is evident that technology is playing a big role in young childrenís lives today, there is one tool that parents are finding priceless. A childís education is always of the upmost importance to a parent, and schools have found a way to make sure parents have almost 24-hour access to their childrenís grades. What this means for parents is that they no longer have to wait between each six-week interval to find out whether or not their child is succeeding. Now seeing where their child is at is as easy as a inputting a password and logging in. This may not be so great for kids, but it's very effective in keeping parents informed so that they can make the best choices for their children.
As with anything, there are negatives. How much is too much is a question often asked by parents. The truth is, as with many other things in life, moderation is the key. If computers are used in conjunction with hands-on parenting, the amount of time in front a screen can be a rewarding learning experience.