Tag Archives: kids

Holiday Food Fun with Kids

When many of us think about Christmastime, we immediately start thinking about Christmas dresses, holiday plays and parties, how many Christmas gifts we have left to buy and a host of other things that have to get done (or attended) during this crazy time of year. However, while we’re worrying about everything we have to do before the holiday season is over, those of us with kids often forget that this is a magical time of year for them. The three or four weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with excitement for kids. So, why not take advantage of this excitement and use it to create fun, lasting memories with your kids? One of the most fun ways to do this is by gathering together in the kitchen and making yummy treats the entire family can enjoy. Shoot, why limit it to family? Why not share the treats you make with your friends and/or neighbors? Below are some fun holiday food suggestions that you can make with your kids for a little additional holiday fun.

  • Jello Jigglers – There’s really nothing to this fun treat. All you need is a small baking pan and some jello mix. Spray a very light mist of cooking spray over the baking sheet. Next, prepare the jello as directed on the box but DO NOT add the cold water. (Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you may need two or three boxes of jello) Once mixed, pour the mixture in the baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for three hours or until the jello is completely set up. Finally, get out your favorite holiday cookie cutters and let the kids cut out jello jigglers. Not only is this a fun activity for the kids, but it also makes for an easy snack too!
  • Caramel Marshmallows –  This is another easy (and fun) snack to make with the kids. You will need a bag of Kraft Caramels, a bag of large marshmallows and a box of rice crispy cereal. Simply unwrap and melt the caramels in a large bowl (don’t forget to add a little milk to ensure the caramel stays soft and edible). Once melted, let the kids dip the marshmallows in the caramel and then the rice crispy cereal. Place dipped marshmallows on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. You can refrigerate these treats or, if they are going to be eaten quickly, leave them at room temperature. Just make sure the caramel has cooled before eating.
  • Cookies, Breads and Candy – Three of the most popular things to make during the holidays are cookies, breads and holiday candy. If you are trying to figure out a nice gift for the neighbors, make these three things and take to the neighbors in a cute festive basket…they’ll love it. Be sure to include the kids in the process in order to make holiday memories and encourage the spirit of giving. Sugar cookies, banana bread and peppermint bark are a few of the easiest holiday treats you can make with kids!

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.

Keeping Kids Happy

When first-time expecting parents first find out that they’ve got a little one on the way, they are generally overjoyed at the thought. Shortly after, they begin making trips to Babies ‘R Us and other popular baby stores making lists of all the things they need to keep their little one happy and content. Then, once they find out the sex of the little one on the way, little baby girl dresses and little boy outfits soon begin filling the closet shelves.

This is just part of the fun of having a baby. It’s fun to look through all the adorable baby items for sale and to envision how your life will be with a new family member. However, the problem that many of us have is getting out of this “our kids must have _____ in order to be happy.” It’s just a way of thinking that we get into from the time we find out we’re expecting. After all, our kids aren’t able to talk and express themselves fully for a good two years, which only encourages this way of thinking as we want to please them before a full-blown temper tantrum occurs.

My son is 4 ½ now and I can tell you that I’ve learned quite a few things from him and what it takes to keep him truly happy. Below are some of the things my son (and most other kids) needs to be happy.

  • A clear set of rules. One of the things I’ve learned over the past four years is how easy it is to be inconsistent when it comes to rules and following through with them. For instance, what I may not allow out in public, I may let slide a little at home when I’m busy. All this has done is confused my son which makes him very frustrated when he does get in trouble for the offense. Once my husband and I created a clear set of rules for him (and stuck to it regardless of where we were), we noticed a huge difference in his attitude when we had to get on to him for misbehaving.
  • One-on-one attention. As adults, our lives are incredibly busy and my husband and I often find ourselves rushing around in the evening trying to get caught up before morning comes. The problem is that when we rush around like this, our little guy feels left out and forgotten about. Now, my husband and I make it a point to spend a little one-on-one time with our son in the evenings regardless of the things left on our “to-do” list. It may be that we go for a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood or we spend some time playing in the backyard or we read a book to him before bedtime – whatever it is, as long as we spend at least 20 minutes of one-on-one time with him, he is a much happier guy because he feels loved and appreciated.
  • Plenty of play time. As mentioned above, my husband and I (and I suspect you do as well) lead pretty busy lives. There are many days when I find myself running errands constantly, all day long with my son in tow. This can make my little guy pretty grumpy and he has even said before, “I haven’t even got to play today!” After hearing this a couple of times, I got to thinking about how tiring it must be for a 4 year old to ride in a car all day without time to actually play. Since then, I have purposely slowed down my schedule by prioritizing the errands I have to do and I end up spreading my errands out over a couple of days. My little man’s disposition is much better and easier to get along with when he is able to spend some time at home playing with his toys.

Did you notice out of the three tips above, not one of them talks about how I have to make sure my son has all of the latest toys or always be dressed in name-brand clothing? No, you didn’t and that’s because kids don’t really need those things to be happy. Sure, marketers are great about making kids think that they have to have those things, but what truly makes kids happy is knowing that they have parents who love them and enjoy spending time with them. Giving kids a clear set of rules to follow, one-on-one attention every day and allowing them time to play and be kids all work together and show kids how much they are loved and cared for by their parents.

Does this mean you shouldn’t ever purchase name-brand clothing or the latest toys for your kids? Absolutely not, all I’m trying to get across is that those are not the things that will keep your kids happy and content as material items (fancy dresses, nice tuxedos, iPhones, video games, etc.) lose their appeal after a little while. Being loved and having a good relationship with your parents never gets old.

Are the Kids Ready for Preschool?

While the school year is coming to a close for the majority of parents, there are many more who are getting their little ones enrolled in preschool for the 2017-2018 school year. For those of you who are enrolling your first child in preschool, you are probably experiencing various levels of fear, anxiety and excitement all at once. I know, because I’m right there with you!

The school district where we live is one of the best respected school districts in the area. Since preschool isn’t a requirement, there are only 40 spots available, making it a first-come, first-serve program. So, enrollment was set to start at 5p.m. and people start lining up at 4 a.m.! Yes, you can mark my husband and I as one of the crazies out there. Our philosophy was, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” That was yesterday…today, I’m happy to say that our son has an official spot in the school’s pre-k program.

That being said, I’m now getting excited, nervous and anxious about school starting next year. These feelings have left me scrambling for more information about how I can make sure my son is ready for preschool. Here is what I’ve found:

  • Using the Restroom – By the time children enter preschool, they should be potty trained. However, this doesn’t mean they won’t ever have an accident. Before school starts, work with your child about using the bathroom. Make sure your child understands that (s)he needs to tell an adult when (s)he feels the urge to go. Also, this summer is a great time to start teaching your child how to manage his/her clothing when using the restroom. For instance, if your daughter wears a lot of girl dresses, skirts and/or leggings in addition to the normal pants, you might help her get used to undressing/dressing herself over the summer during potty breaks.
  • Making Introductions Easier – For many kids, preschool is the first chance they get to work on their social skills with other kids their age (on a day-to-day basis). This can make the first few days, weeks or months of school nerve-wracking for them. So, help ease this stressor by teaching your child how to introduce himself/herself to others. Start by talking about introductions at home and then when you’re out and about, help your child introduce himself/herself to others. Then, when school starts, making new friends will be easier.
  • Dining Etiquette – Eating at school can be a whole new experience for kids who haven’t ever been in a group setting like this before. Help ease their discomfort by working diligently at home with them over the summer. Teach them how to properly hold their utensils and if you will be packing lunches, teach them how to open and close containers without spilling the contents.

Starting Kids Off on the Right Foot

It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is or whether or not kids are in school, it’s important that they are fed a good breakfast to start their day off right. The tough thing for many people is adjusting to feeding kids breakfast while they are on summer break because many kids eat breakfast at school now. The good news is that feeding kids a good breakfast doesn’t mean that you have to spend an hour preparing it. Below are some breakfast ideas to help you get your kids started off on the right foot this summer.
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  • Toast with Fresh Fruit – Keeping fresh fruit on hand is a must for those with kids. Fruits provide so many nutrients that kids (and even adults) need, including important antioxidants which help in keeping our immune systems strong. Plus, most kids love the taste of fresh fruits. You may think that a bowl of fresh fruit for breakfast isn’t going to be very filling. If this is the case, simply add a piece (or two) of whole grain toast with jelly to the plate.
  • Fresh fruits are great foods and are very versatile as they can be eaten at practically any time of the day whether it’s for a meal, a snack or as a side dish to a meal. Due to this versatility, consider purchasing some of the pre-cut fresh fruit at the grocery store (still in the produce section) and bringing it along with you on trips. For example, you may have to leave early for a wedding and don’t want to stop at McDonald’s along the way. If you have some fresh fruit, your kids can eat that at the hotel (or wherever the wedding is) before they slip into their formal suit/tuxedo or flower girl dress!
  • Healthy Bowl of Cereal – When I say, a bowl of cereal I’m talking about healthy cereals…not the sugary cereals that line the majority of the cereal aisle these days. One of my favorite cereals is Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, but my four year old enjoys some of the healthy cereals containing granola. Just be sure to read the over the nutritional information thoroughly before purchasing any box of cereal for your kids to eat. If it’s full of sugars, skip it and choose another because sugar is not going to help your kids throughout the day.
  • Yogurt, Cheese and a Bagel – This one sounds a little odd, but it makes for a quick, well-rounded breakfast! A small container of yogurt (greek yogurt is supposed to be a healthier choice) with a stick of cheese is a great way to start off the day. Since the density of these two items isn’t that heavy, adding a whole grain bagel topped with a fruity cream cheese finishes off the meal perfectly!