Browsing Tag

parenting tips

6 ways to budget for having children

There’s an old adage that says if you wait to have children until you can afford them, you’ll never have them. While it’s true that raising kids in today’s world costs a pretty penny, it’s also true that making some budget cuts and reallocating funds can make it possible to survive without breaking the bank. If you’re thinking about making your first addition to the family or have recently learned about a surprise bundle of joy, here are a few tips that can help you save money on the earliest baby expenses.

1. Take Your Income Changes into Consideration
Before you can make a budget for your household that includes room for a new addition, you’ll have to figure out exactly what you’re working with as far as money goes. If one parent will be staying home after the birth of a child, Mom will be losing a bit of her earning power during maternity leave or someone will be taking on a second job, you’ll need to factor those things into your new budget. The first step to making your new budget baby-friendly is to determine where you stand and how the changes that a baby will bring to your lifestyle will affect your income after she’s born.
2. Consider the Basics
You can’t leave the hospital with your new baby unless you have a suitable car seat installed, and you can’t keep her warm if you don’t have clothes. You may be surprised to realize just how many of the other “must-have” baby items can wait for a while, or even be skipped altogether. When every penny counts, you may find that it’s more cost-effective and convenient to keep Baby in her own bassinet in the master bedroom for a few months before springing for an expensive, full-sized crib. Opting for cloth diapers over those of the disposable variety may also save you a bit of money in the long run, especially if you wash them yourself rather than sending them out to a diaper service. Formula can be expensive, but breastfeeding is essentially free. Look at all of the “essential” basics with a critical eye, determining what can be safely purchased more frugally.
3. Work Out a Childcare Plan
In some cases, forgoing daycare in favor of having one parent stay home with a new baby can be less damaging to the family budget than having two working parents. Other times, a private nanny is more cost-effective than center-based care. In order to determine what the best course of action is for your family so that you can budget accordingly, you’ll need to take a critical look at your finances and the costs of each option.

4. Explore Your Health Insurance Options
According to CostHelper.com, a birth in a hospital setting can cost the average uninsured family between $5,000 and $20,000. One of the most important steps that a couple considering the addition of their first baby to the family can take is the acquisition of quality healthcare coverage. If you’re still in the family planning stages, it’s wise to start shopping for the best coverage now.

5. Remember the Unseen Expenses
You know that you’ll need diapers, clothes and plenty of gear to navigate modern parenthood, but you may not be taking the less obvious expenses into consideration. Obtaining or increasing the pay-out levels of parental life insurance policies and the legal expenses associated with estate planning and will creation can be expenses that add up quickly, too.
6. Eliminate Non-Essential Spending
Cash-strapped young couples that are starting their family may be surprised by how much money they can save by cutting out the non-essential spending on small items each day. Try dropping an expensive coffee habit, packing a lunch instead of buying it and dropping some little luxury items from the monthly budget. Those “little things” can add up in a big way over time and can help you save up more money for the expansion of your family.
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Mother’s Day: 24 Websites with DIY Gift Ideas for Mom

Mother’s Day is around the corner. If you are thinking of ideas including some DIY and homemade gift ideas, you might want to check out one of these 24 sites via AuPairJobs.com for suggestions. Good luck!

Wearable Art
Mom would be proud to

wear a butterfly ring that her child made her or maybe a funky necklace with

interchangeable felt roses to match every outfit.  Grab the kids and a few

craft supplies and make some wearable art for mom.  Your daughter may want

to make one for herself too so that she can match her mom.  These six blog

posts will show you how to do these and more.

DEMO! 3D Fabric Butterfly Ring

Recycled Scraps

Interchangeable Felt Necklace
Is mom into being green

and recycling?  Maybe you should create an eco-friendly Mother’s Day

present for her?  How about stopping by the thrift store and picking up a

candle stick and an old plate to make her a pedestal cake stand?  Grab the

spray paint and give it a good coat of mom’s favorite color and you are home

free.  Maybe that project is a little too involved; you could always

create a room air freshener using stuff you already have around the

house.  Find instructions for these and other eco-friendly gift ideas in

these six blog articles.

Repurposed Candlesticks

Wheel of


Plantable Seeded Paper Flowers
No Crafting Involved
Some dads aren’t that

crafty and that is okay.  You can still help your child come up with a

heartfelt gift for mom.  Print out some Mother’s Day coupons using free

printables or a geometric word art piece with words to describe mom put into a

frame.  These ideas still make gifts that mom will be excited to receive

and you didn’t even have to break out the glue.  Take a look at these six

blogs for more, non-crafty gift ideas.

15 Dessert Recipes in a Jar
Homemade with Love
Most kids love to craft

so it’s a no brainer to let them make something for mom for Mother’s Day. 

Check out these six blog entries for simple crafting ideas that kids can do

with a little help from dad or other adult.  Make a photo collage for mom

using pictures of the kids.  Moms love to look at pictures of their

babies.  No matter how big or small the gift is mom will love it because

the kids made it especially for her.

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10 Easter Activities and Projects

Easter brings images of bunnies, jelly beans, crosses and spring to mind! Most families do the traditional Easter basket, egg hunt and church routine, but this Easter shake things up a bit by thinking outside of the box and incorporating a few more meaningful activities into your Easter traditions.
  1.     Natural egg dyes – Did you know that you can dye your eggs without chemicals? Annie’s Eats provides a list of different colors that you can easily create at home by using food to provide the color. You can find recipes for grey-blue, blue, yellow, pink and lavender.
  2.     Egg dying techniques – Why not make egg dying an artistic process? Spoonful has various techniques to use for your egg dying experience, including using tin foil, string, bubble wrap, thumbprints and tissue paper.
  3.     Easter egg hunts – Egg hunts are a traditional Easter activity for most Christian families. A lot of towns or churches will host an egg hunt, but if they don’t you should consider arranging one for your neighborhood or family! You can use real eggs (make sure they are hard-boiled first!) or use plastic eggs filled with various items, such as money, candy or other small trinkets.
  4.     Tissue paper egg art – Egg art is an easy way to decorate your house for Easter. This simple project requires some poster board, tissue paper, a pencil and a bit of glue. Have your child cut out an egg shape from poster board, draw a design on the egg with pencil, and then, using small squares of tissue paper, the eraser end of the pencil and a bit of glue, fill in the spaces with the tissue paper to create your Easter egg!
  5.     Stained glass crosses – You can easily create a stained glass cross to hang in your window with your child using tissue paper and clear contact paper. Cut the tissue paper into small shapes (have your child help, if it’s age appropriate) and cut out a sheet of contact paper. Draw a cross on the non-sticky side of the contact paper, remove the paper, and have your child fill in the cross with the tissue paper shapes. Once they are done, place another sheet of contact paper over the tissue paper and then cut inside the lines of the cross you drew on the first sheet of contact paper. Hang your creation in the window for the entire family to enjoy!
  6.     The jelly bean story – The jelly bean story is a great way to represent what Jesus gave his people and why Easter is celebrated. There is a short story to print out to go along with the project and each jelly bean color represents different things, such as the sun, grace or sorrow.
  7.     Envelope bunnies – Envelope bunnies are a great way to welcome guests to your home during the Easter season. Have your children help create them and then fill them with treats!
  8.     Egg chickens – Egg chickens are a cute way to spruce up a hard-boiled egg for a centerpiece at your table! You can create other animals too, so let your imaginations go wild!
  9.     Egg relay races – If you live in a climate that makes it possible to head outside on Easter day, consider doing some active outdoor activities with the kids. Who doesn’t love an egg relay race? You can place the eggs (hard-boiled!) on spoons and run with them (if they fall, you have to stop and pick it up). You can also pass off the egg to each other or pass the eggs down the line using only your elbows! The possibilities are endless, and the entire family can get involved!
  10.     Egg bocce ball – Use your leftover hard-boiled eggs to play a game of egg bocce ball. You’ll need one white egg (the pallino) and each player will need two of the same colors of eggs to play. Roll the pallino in the grass and have players take turns trying to roll their eggs as close to the pallino as possible. The closest egg wins!


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5 Tips to Keep Kids Brushing Daily

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease.
While many parents are aware that proper and frequent brushing is one of the most important steps in protecting their tot’s pearly whites, getting kids into the bathroom to brush – without kicking and screaming – can sometimes be a challenge.
The makers of Coral Kids Toothpaste, a fluoride-free formula made with EcoSafe™ ionic calcium from above-sea coral, knows that yummy toothpaste may not be the only trick parents need up their sleeves to sustain little ones’ interest in clean teeth. The makers share some of its favorite tips for getting kids keen on the teeth brushing routine: 
1.       Pick the perfect toothbrush. Take your little one shopping to select a special toothbrush. Favorite animated characters, spinning heads and flashing lights are just some of the enticing possibilities that may pique their interest. Letting them choose will boost their “big kid” confidence and make them more vested in brushing.
2.       Offer toothpaste that tastes like a treat. Appeal to small senses with a healthy toothpaste that tastes extra special, like Coral Kids’ in Xylitol-sweetened, safe-to-swallow berry bubblegum. But beware bells and whistles created with harmful chemicals, such as artificial colors and sweeteners, which may entice but can also lead to serious health concerns.
3.       Bring fun into the bathroom. Brushing should be taken seriously, but it doesn’t have to be serious. Encourage kids to make big, circular brush strokes like train wheels; create as many “mouth bubbles” as they can; or pretend they need to clean their “big dinosaur teeth.” When brushing is playful, there’s less pressure.
4.       Find a kid-friendly dentist. Make first trips to the dentist fun by choosing a provider who caters to children with music, puppets, toys and more. If the experience is positive, they’ll be more prone to want to impress the dentist (and possibly get a special treat) with their good at-home brushing habits.
5.       Set a good example. Show your kids that brushing is an easy, everyday routine by modeling frequent and scheduled brushings, such as right after breakfast, before bed or following a sweet treat. It can even be a family affair! When little ones see brushing as a simple daily habit instead of a chore, there will be less protest.

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Top 12 Family Vacation Attractions and Destinations

If you’re planning for Spring or Summer vacation, consider one of the top twelve vacation attractions that are part of Family Fun magazine’s Travel Awards.  In a survey of over 2,000 respondents in four regions of the US – West, Midwest, South and Northeast, a few spots stood out among of the over 400 in six categories. 
Among the top destinations by Type (Family Museums, Historic Sites, Kid-Friendly Cities, National Parks and Preservations, Zoos and Aquariums, Theme Parks) were:
1.     Magic Kingdom Park, Orlando, FL

2.     Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, FL

3.     Orlando, FL

4.     The Strong, Rochester, NY

5.     Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD

6.     Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC & TN

7.     Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, NE

8.     Toledo Zoo, Toledo, OH

9.     Yellowstone National Park, WY, MT, & ID

10.  National Mall & Memorial Parks, Washington, DC

11.  San Antonio, TX

12.  Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL

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Arby’s – FREE Curly Fries on 4/15.  Download coupon HERE.
Boston Market – Get two half chicken meals for $10.40 on 4/15.  This offer includes a half rotisserie chicken, two sides, and cornbread. No coupon is necessary.  No coupon needed! Visit their Facebook page HERE.
California Tortilla. Declaring that “Queso Makes Life Less Taxing,” California Tortilla is offering free chips and queso with any purchase on April 15, 2014, while supplies last. No coupon is needed: just say “Taxes, Schmaxes” to the cashier to claim your deal. Click HERE to find a location near you.
Chili’s: Purchase an adult entree and get a free appetizer or free kid’s meal; expires Wednesday. Find location HERE.
Dunkin’ Donuts: Free Turbo Shot on Tuesday with coupon on the Dunkin’ Donut app for Android and iPhone. Details HERE.
Fandango.com: Comcast free $12 movie ticket offer when you buy one online through April 21 or while supplies last. Details HERE.
Great American Cookies – Each person can get one FREE Chocolate Chip Cookie when you stop in on 4/15 Go HERE to view the details from their Facebook page.

Hard Rock Cafe – Sing for your FREE meal! Tuesday, 4/15 only. Complete a song in its entirety and receive a FREE dinner from their New Menu. 
HydroMassage – Get a FREE Massage from 4/1 through 4/18!  Call ahead . Click HERE to find a 
Tampa Bay Area McDonald’s restaurants are offering a ‘Buy one Big Mac and Get One for a Penny’ deal at participating locations on Tuesday, April 15. Call your store and see if they are participating.
Mimi’s Café – BOGO Breakfast or Lunch Entrée when you purchase two beverages. You must have a printed coupon with you to qualify for this deal. Deal is valid through April 19, 2014. Find your location HERE.Mimi’s Cafe
Office Depot – Office Depot will shred up to 5 pounds of paper for you for FREE now through 4/29 with this coupon.
Pinkberry From now until April 20, Pinkberry customers can bring in proof of purchase from the day before and get half-off an equivalent frozen yogurt.
Sonic – All Day you can get half price Drinks, Teas and Slushes 4/15 at All Sonic locations. No coupon required! See details HERE.Sonic Tax Day
Sonny’s BBQ – Enjoy Half-Priced platters of Sweet & Smokey or Dry-Rubbed Ribs with two sides and bread on 4/15. Participating locations only. See details HERE.
Steak ‘n Shake – Get a free shake when you make a $10 gift card purchase. No coupon is required. {Offer valid through May 31, 2014.} Find a location HERE
Schlotzsky’s – FREE Original small sandwich with purchase of 32 oz fountain drink and chips.  Offer good all day, 4/15 only. No Coupon Needed! Find your location HERE. 
*Not valid with any other offer, sandwich or kids meal.
Sprinkles – Get one cupcake free when you buy one at a regular price and whisper the words “tax-free” during check out. Only good on  April 15, 2014. (OUTSIDE of FL. Locations  in GA, TX, CA, AZ, NV, NY IL & D.C. ) For all participating locations, click HERE.
Wawa After staying up all night to complete your taxes, head over to WaWas for a FREE cup of coffee in honor of its 50th anniversary of opening. Find a location HERE.
or maybe you’d like a sweet cool treat
Kona Ice. Head over to Kona Ice is serving up a frozen cup of tax day relief for tense taxpayers in all areas of the country. On April 16th, the day after Tax Day, the brand will have trucks parked at community parks in all corners of the country to hand out FREE cups of fluffy snow and complimentary Hawaiian lei’s to all who stop by. 

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8 Steps to being a Happier person at Home

Given all the somber news recently, today is a great day to have discovered a wonderful article from the Apartment Therapy blog, “10 to Simple things to make you Happier at Home.”
I’d like to share this find which I have adapted by selecting my favorite 8 from the list and adding some personal insight. 
Here are 8 ways to be happier at home: 
1. Make your bed everyday. Actually, my aunt taught me this late in my life, telling me that it’s a simple and quick thing to do as soon as you rise. She was right. First, it gives you a straight crisp pallet to lay your clothes out on before you shower and get dressed. Second, you will feel much better knowing that when you are exhausted at the end of the day you get to come back to an un-feathered sleeping quarter.
2. Bring every room back to “ready.” I do this already because I am an anal Virgo, Type 1, First Born with a self-diagnosed case of some mild OCD. I prefer to leave each room in the house uncluttered, and my house close to clean as possible before I leave it. It may be a pain to do, but coming back to a clean home at the end of the day also lifts the mood and unburdens the mind which may be consumed and is probably preoccupied with a bunch of other things. 
3. Display sentimental items around your home. If you get nostalgic every time you think about your trip to the Vineyards a few years ago, imagine you can relive those moments moments daily by having photos from the trip framed and displayed around the house. In our digital world, most of our positive memories are holedup on a Facebook album. Get them in your daily life. 

4. Start a one-line-a-day gratitude journal.  Make time before you hit the hay to write down a happy memory from the day in a journal you keep by your bed. Before bed, simply jot down one happy memory from that day. Ask the kids too. Their fave part of today can be yours too. Reflection is an important part of happiness, and pausing to reflect on a positive event from each day cultivates gratitude. When you’ve had a rough day, forcing yourself to do this will help you gain some perspective and refocus on the positives. 

5. Before you get up each morning, set an intention for the day. In “The Art of Happiness” book, the Dali Lama is quoted as saying  “”Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.”  How prolific. But your intention doesn’t have to be a big ole philosophical or lofty intention either. Your daily intent could be something like “be productive” or “enjoy today’s delicious moments” or it could be something more specific like “say thank you to my loved ones today.” But it should not be another “to do” item on your list. Now that would be adding stress.
But in no time your journal of good memories from the day and intentions could be used to brighten your mood and make a great keepsake. It could even help to get you out of a dark moment. 
6. Spend money on things that cultivate experiences at home. Save money for a new grill for parties or a new DVD for family movie night — something that will encourage you to have people over and entertain. Plan a summer barbeque, invite your closest friends, kick back and relax. (And don’t forget to print out the pictures to remember the good times.)

7. Call at least one friend or family member a day. You can do this while you clean, while you make the bed, or while you walk the dog. Texts and emails do not count! Make an actual phone call to a loved one, just to chat and catch up. You’ll be glad you did because life is too short and you never know who may or may not be around anymore the next time you want to talk with them. It may be too late. 

8. Spend a few minutes each day connecting with something greater than yourself. Finally, whether you believe in God, the ancestors, the spirit world or nothing at all, studies show that connecting to a high power is correlated with happiness. Just stepping back can help you  realize that we are part of an enormous universe can put some perspective on your life and day. Before bed, spend just a few minutes contemplating something larger than yourself. Take a walk in nature. Write in a journal. Create a sacred space in your home. (Or if spirituality is really not your thing, create a home spa: light some candles, soak in a hot bath, delve into a good book… are you feeling better yet?)

How one parent used her kid’s superhero to prevent bullying

guest post by Danita Dawson
As a parent in the age of video games, You Tube, and cyberbullying, I often wonder, almost to the point of obsession, about ways to impact my child’s development.  I believe that superior parenting has always included a touch of creativity but with Generation X, Y, Z (or whatever they’re calling the current generation nowadays), creativity is the cornerstone of even remedial parenting.  
To reach your children on the most basic of issues requires ingenuity, but it almost takes pure wizardry when it comes to lofty, esoteric issues like character, empathy and spirituality. Until Oprah comes up with Super Sick Sunday for kids, we as parents need to find ways to encourage soulful growth within our children. I have found such a tactic. 
I have developed a very close relationship with the superheroes in my son’s life.  By getting to know the ones he relates to the most, I am able to use their personas to teach him life lessons.   
When my son was younger, he didn’t fit in.  He generally was gentle and compassionate which probably came off as soft to other boys his age, and it didn’t help that he wasn’t into sports when most of the boys around our neighborhood were. Sometimes, he was bullied or just felt left out.  Things got even worse once he starting middle school.  He often begged me to drive him to school because of the school-bus fighting he often witnessed. 
However, one day he did a rap about his favorite element for a science project.  Once he performed it for the class and half the school, he became Mr. Popularity overnight. All of a sudden he was a 6th grader that 8th graders wanted to know.
Now, needless to say, I was concerned when he didn’t fit in and was getting bullied, but I became even more concerned now that he had become Mr. Popularity.  I didn’t want him to turn into the child that bullied less popular children, or teased them and made them feel left out like others often had done him. 
Therefore, I turned to his favorite superhero, Spiderman, for help. 
It wasn’t enough to make sure he didn’t abuse others. I wanted to teach him to discourage others from doing so as well, now that he had this newfound popularity.  So, I borrowed Spiderman’s motto, “With great power comes great responsibility”.      I used this to teach him that as one of the popular kids (that used to be bullied) he had the responsibility to encourage kids to treat others well.  
Usually when teaching my son, I never really know if he’s quietly listening to me or quietly ignoring me, and this time was no different since I got no immediate response.  I even forgot we had this talk until the day he told me that on the way home a school-bus fight broke out and he stopped it.  
Instead of cheering it on or taking pictures like many children in today’s media-crazed world, he got between the two boys and stopped them from fighting.  I was astounded!
Just a few months before he was cowering; now he was intervening.  

After that, I knew that at least in part, I had Spiderman to thank because while I’ll admit my son was naturally a peacekeeper before this incident, Spiderman helped that part of his nature flourish in what seemed to be overnight.
Since then superheroes have become one of my best teaching tools.  It has even helped me have a new outlook on issues.  Once, my son and I were having a conversation about one of his other favorites, Batman.  
He was trying to get me to understand the reason that Batman wasn’t as nice as the other superheroes and didn’t always get along with them.  He empathetically explained that, “Batman was messed up because he saw his parents die in front of him and he never got over it”. 
I was so touched by this gentle and forgiving view of my eleven-year-old son that I decided to use it to remind myself along with him that when difficult people come into our lives such as bullies or mean coworkers, we should view them in the same non-judgmental way he views Batman, by looking beyond their actions and trying to understand their pain, and it actually works.
So, get to know the superheroes in your child’s life.  It will give you insight into your child’s psyche. Then, you can develop methods to encourage his strengths and to overcome his weaknesses.  And you may learn a few things to help yourself along the way.
Danita Dawson is a loving parent with a creative look on life and parenting. 

Is the “Common Core” curriculum ruining your child’s life? (INFOGRAPHIC)

To better enable American kids to compete globally with other “First World” nations that have been surpassing the US in reading, math, science and other subjects, a curriculum change called “Common Core State Standards” became popular. The new paradigm focuses on training children to be critical thinkers, analytic and objective. 
Further, some in the business community complained that the caliber of students graduating from various US high schools lacked essential skills to be competent workers. Common Core proponents want close to standardization of the curriculum in all states so that all children learned the same level or way, irrespective if they were from a wealthy district in Connecticut or a poor one in Alabama. The initiative was backed by the business industry and many jurisdictions began implementing the changes. Some states adopted it and others didn’t. 
It faced a swift backlash from parents who complained that the curriculum put too much pressure on children, taught them how to take a test rather than to learn and enjoy the learning experience, and was uneccessary. Many felt that state and local differences exist for a reason and schooling should remain a local issue. 
Supporters maintain that states are free to opt in or out, and that the challenging coursework creates smarter and more equipped children. They also state the program is flexible and can accommodate teachers and local schools’ styles and preferences. 
The folks at BestGraduateSchools.com created an infographic which presents Common Core from the position of those who are against the curriculum. Take a look and share your thoughts.

Common Core

Source: BestMastersinEducation.com

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