Kids and School

Kids and School

It’s the middle of August, which means that most of us have already sent our kids back to school. If you haven’t, then it’s not too far off. It doesn’t matter whether you’re sending your kids to school for the first time (pre-K or Kindergarten) or if they’ve been in school for a while now…there is always an adjustment period for kids when school starts. As parents, it’s our job to help make this adjustment time easier for the kids. Below are some tips for how you can help your kids adjust to school.

  • Talk about changes. Have a family meeting where you and your spouse are able to sit down with the kids and talk about the changes that will happen as a result of school starting back up. For example, my son is going to pre-K this year. One of the changes that we’ve discussed with him is his new bed time (8 pm). Children will adjust better to school and all of the changes that go with it, if they are given a “heads up” about the changes that are about to occur. As resilient as kids are, they don’t usually handle instant changes that well…so take the time to talk to them!
  • Get into a routine fast. As mentioned above, kids don’t handle instant changes well. Therefore, it’s important that you get your kids into a routine as quickly as possible when school starts. For example, have a designated time for doing homework, taking showers, eating dinner and going to bed. If school hasn’t started for your kiddos yet, you may want to go ahead and start the new “school” routine now, before it starts. If it’s already started back up for the year, don’t hesitate to get a routine going.
  • Give them something to look forward to. This one is mainly for those of you with young children. As I mentioned, my son is in pre-K. The first day of school was pretty scary for him because it was a new school, there were people he didn’t know and I was leaving him all day. So, I had to give him something to look forward to in order to help him make it through the day. I promised to take him to his favorite fruit and yogurt bar if he had fun and kept a good attitude at school that day. That got him through the day and he was all smiles when I picked him up on the first day. When sending young children off to school for the first time, it often helps to give them something to look forward to because it helps make the school day go by faster and it also reassures them that you’ll be coming back for them at the end of the day.

The Benefits of Summer Activities

I have several friends with young children who have mentioned that they don’t have any summer activities planned for their kids over the summer. Instead, they just “play it by ear” and go with it. Basically, if something comes up that they want to do with their kids, they do, but otherwise the kids have an unstructured summer.

While I believe that children should be allowed more down time in the summer, I still strongly believe that scheduling some summer activities is important as well. For example, my son will be attending three half-day camps this summer (each last five days), as well as, swimming lessons – and we just finished up t-ball. That may sound like a lot, but none of the activities I have planned for my son last longer than a half-day, and he won’t be doing more than one activity per day. I just have it planned where he has something to do throughout the whole summer.

So, what are the benefits of having your kids enrolled in summer activities?

  • Make New Friends. When you sign kids up to do one or more activities over the summer, more than likely, they will be meeting new people and making new friends. This is especially true for those of us with young children as meeting new people and making new friends helps them develop their social skills as they learn how to interact with other kids.
  • Keeps Them Busy. One of the constant complaints kids have during the summer is, “I’m bored.” When you have summer activities planned, this isn’t going to be something you hear very often. Even if you only have an activity scheduled that lasts half a day or less, your kids aren’t going to be bored. Keeping kids busy during the summer is important because it help keeps them out of trouble.
  • Provides Structure. Even though most of us are pretty lax during the summer months with our schedules, having summer activities planned for kids is beneficial because it does keep them on some type of a schedule. This is important because once school starts back up, they’ll be adjusting to the normal “school” schedule (getting homework done, eating dinner, taking a shower, getting in bed on time and waking up in time for the bus).

So, what types of summer activities should you get your kids involved in? It honestly depends on your kids and what their interests are. Of course swimming lessons are good for every child, but aside from that there are summer bowling leagues, art camps, horseback riding lessons, summer softball/baseball leagues, cooking classes and many more things available. Just look to your kids and find things that go with their interests.

For example, if you have a daughter who enjoys participating in beauty pageants, then look for a pageant coach and sign her up for lessons over the summer. There will undoubtedly be summer beauty pageants your daughter can compete in, but the regular lessons will help her learn how to interview better, model her pageant dresses better and perform her “talent” better. As long as you’ve got your kids enrolled in summer activities that support their interests, then your kids will reap the benefits of these activities.

Great Wedding Gift Ideas

Okay, so you have a friend, relative or an acquaintance getting married but have no idea what to get them for a gift. If you’re like me, you put off getting wedding gifts until the last minute. I don’t do it on purpose, but other things just get in the way and I generally find myself scrambling at the last minute to find a gift. For example, in a couple of days I’m going to be the matron of honor for one of my best friends and while I’ve got my dress and my son’s ring bearer suit ready to go, I completely forgot about a gift!

You would have thought I got one for the bridal shower I hosted for her, but I just went in on the hostess gift and decided to bring her the gift from my husband and I to the wedding. So, what do I find myself doing today in between getting my eyebrows waxed, a spray tan and my hair cut? That’s right…looking for the perfect wedding gift. Well, I’ve compiled a list of some pretty great wedding gift ideas to help you out in the future…some are great for last-minute people (like myself) and others are perfect if you’ve got a little time!

  • Personalized Sign. This is one of my favorites, and I’ve actually got one on order for my friend for a house warming gift. These are the little wooden signs you can have hand made that have your friends’ last name on it with the “Est. August 4, 2012” (or whatever their wedding date is). My favorite place to shop for these is at Etsy.com because there are so many people who make them that you’re sure to find one that fits your friends style perfectly!
  • Crystal or Silver Picture Frames. Almost everyone enjoys putting their favorite wedding picture up in a beautiful picture framer. However, a lot of people don’t think to register for these items because there are so many other items they need instead. The great thing is that when you find a pretty crystal or silver picture frame for your friend’s wedding, they’ll most definitely use it and not even think about returning it.
  • Kitchenware. If you are a practical gift giver and can’t bear the thought of giving a gift that you don’t think will get used, then stick to the kitchenware items. It doesn’t matter if it’s a nice frying pan or a set of mixing bowls or an iced tea maker…these are the items that will definitely get used. Therefore, you won’t be wasting your money when you give a gift in this section of the registry.
  • Monogramed Blanket. One of my favorite wedding gifts was given to my husband and I by one of my mother’s friends. It was a beautiful blanket that had our names monogramed in the corner with the date of our wedding. I still love to position this throw just right out on the couch when we have company coming over.

Keeping Kids Cool This Summer

As many of you know, most of the United States is experiencing an unusually high heat wave that extends from the Midwest all the way to the east coast and even into some of the Northern states. While a lot of people from the central U.S. are used to the triple digit heat, there are many more who are not…and regardless of where people are from, many don’t take the heat seriously. This is when heat strokes and even death can occur.

Just today, a four year old little boy was left in a van outside his daycare in Dallas and died as a result. While this is an extreme case (forgetting a child in a vehicle when temps are 100+), it happens every year. You don’t have to forget your child in the vehicle to put him/her in danger with the summer heat. Children do not have the heat tolerance that adults do and special care needs to be taken with kids when temperatures begin to rise – no matter where you are. Below are a few tips.

  • Stay Hydrated – It’s important that you keep your kids hydrated at all times, but especially so during the summer as temperatures begin to rise. This does not mean keeping them full of pop or other sugary drinks. You need to increase the amount of water your children get and when you’re going to be outside for a prolonged period of time, some Gatorade is good too.
  • Avoid Afternoon Outdoor Activities – Depending on where you live, temperatures may easily reach the 90s by 11:00 a.m. and by 1:00 p.m., you’re looking at triple digit temperatures again. If you have young children at home, it’s best to avoid outdoor activities that take place during the afternoon. If you have fun outdoor activities that you want to enjoy with your kids, plan them either before 11:00 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m., when temperatures are cooler (or are beginning to cool off).
  • Always Double Check Your Vehicles – When you get home, always double check your vehicle to make sure everyone is out of the car and has made it inside the house. Day cares and those responsible for large groups of children are not the only people who accidentally leave children in vehicles. The risk rises when you are transporting a child you wouldn’t normally be transporting, whether it’s your own child or someone else’s. Deviating from our normal routines can cause us to forget,  especially if a small child has fallen asleep in the vehicle and isn’t heard.
  • Monitor Children When Playing Outside – Don’t just let your children go outside and play in the backyard without checking on them. Even if it is before the temperatures have reached their max, check on your kids regularly when they are playing outside. Better yet, be outside with them while they are playing outside. And, always have cold water available to them!

It doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re doing or how long you’re going to be doing it for – always take the summer heat seriously, especially with young children. Follow the tips above to ensure your children remain safe throughout the summer and don’t suffer from any heat-related illnesses.

Cheap Summer Activities for Young Children

If you have young children and stay home most of the time with them, then you know how hard it can be to get through the summer months. It’s just difficult finding activities that will keep your children entertained on their days off, while sticking to your budget. And sticking to a budget is a big deal for most families during the summer because of all the extra summer “events” that have to be attended. For example, you may have to buy a baby dress to bring to a friend’s (or two or three) baby shower, or maybe you’ve got a wedding to attend and your son is the ring bearer and you’ve got to purchase a tuxedo or you could just be planning a nice family vacation – whatever the deal is, making your money stretch out over the summer is probably a priority this time of year.

To help with this, below are a few ideas of cheap summer activities that should help you and your kiddos make it through the long days of summer.

  • Backyard Water Fun. One of the things a lot of kids love to do during the hot months of summer is to go swimming and play in the pool. However, memberships to the local water park and/or pool can be expensive. This doesn’t mean your kids can’t enjoy the water. You’ll just have to create your own “water park” in the back yard. You can always get a swimming pool of your own if you wish, but that’s not a necessity. For young kids, water balloons, water guns and sprinklers are generally enough to keep them entertained for hours!
  • Having Friends Over. If your children are old enough (ages 7 and up) then allowing them to have a friend over for an afternoon can help break the boredom of being home for your kids. You don’t have to do it often, but once every couple of weeks will help your kids adjust to the loneliness that summer can often bring. If you live in a neighborhood where there are other kids around the same ages as your kids, and you are okay with it, encourage your kids to get out and make new friends. Let them go ride their bikes around the neighborhood with the other kids in the area.
  • Make Coke Floats and S’mores. If you’re looking for a fun way to pass the evening and you’re not in a fire ban, then get the family together and start a fire in the outdoor fire pit (a grill works too) and make s’mores. Once everyone has had enough s’mores, go in the house and finish off the occasion with some coke floats! This is a simple and affordable activity that is pleasurable for all ages.