The Pinewood Derby is an annual Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Cub Scout event in which kids build and race pine cars. Every year, Cub Scouts — with some help from their families — assemble pine cars from scratch. And though participating itself is fun, winning races earns them a trophy, bragging rights and a huge sense of accomplishment. [Read more…] about 5 Steps To Building A Fast Pine Car — Without Breaking The Rules
As a parent, you shape how your children will remember Christmas. Will it be a time for hosting friends and throwing lavish parties? Will it be a family-only affair? Are there certain movies you’ll always watch? Activities that you’ll always do, and food you’ll always eat?
Before you answer those questions, you might want to examine what will make the holidays brighter for youngsters. Pick and choose from this list and include your own ideas for new traditions to give your kids the best holiday ever!
You can obviously go the macaroni or construction paper route, but it’s also fun to have kids do a more lasting ornament. Buy clear bulbs, or simply bleach out the insides of a colored bulb that you no longer have a set for. Give kids their choice of photos of them from the year to put inside the ornament and let them pick ribbon colors. Roll up the photo, insert it inside the bulb with tweezers and then let it unfold naturally. Add a curled ribbon behind the photo to hold it upright. You’ll have a matching set of ornaments that will hold great memories.
Decorate the tree
So many families miss out on decorating the tree together. If your family tends to get frustrated at certain aspects, simply remove those obstacles. Fans of not having to string lights can look into pre-lit models, and those who hate the trek in the cold to find a tree can get an artificial Christmas tree. Let kids take turns picking out ornaments, and make sure they don’t try to put any glass ornaments too high above their heads!
Go on a Christmas lights tour
Your neighbors work hard to decorate their yards — it’s time to take an evening to appreciate that! Make hot chocolate in thermoses and pile in the car to get a sample of the local Christmas creativity. End the evening by driving to the center of town, or wherever the best lights in your area are. Kids will love listening to holiday music and pointing out the best lights.
Have a traditional dinner
Dinner is always too rushed. This year, set your family down for one nice meal where no one texts during the meal. Use the fancy china (you or your partner can serve the meal if you’re worried about the nice dishes!), and teach the kids which forks to use. The evening can be multicourse and have a dessert at the end, or you can just make your usual favorites and put it in a flashier package. Either way will be special!
Help the community
Teach kids the meaning of the season, whether it’s about love or a religious aspect. Your family can work in a soup kitchen or food pantry in the weeks before Christmas, or plan a visit to a nursing home to cheer up lonely residents. You can also participate in an “Adopt a Family” campaign, and assign one of your children the job of picking out and wrapping a child in need’s gift. This will help them learn the importance of giving and make them appreciate what they have. You can find a family to donate to through local organizations or your local United Way.
This holiday can stand out from the others, or begin a series of new traditions, with a little prep work. Make this holiday special for the kids and learn to enjoy it more yourself by picking activities that will be fun for your whole family.
A swing set is a great addition to any backyard. It provides hours of entertainment for energy-filled kids and gets them away from the TV for a while. The best part — if you’re into DIY projects — is that you can build it yourself.
But how do you make sure that when you build it, it will last until your kids are grown — or even until your grandkids can have their turn spending quality time outdoors?
First, you’ll need to figure out the size of your swing set — not just how tall it will be, but how much space it will take up in your yard, how much room you’ll have between the swings, etc. If the ground is particularly tough, putting a sandbox around the swing set can provide a softer landing for the kids.
Next, you’ll need to gather materials and tools. Supplies include the following: [Read more…] about Build A Playground That Lasts: Prolonging The Life Of Your Swing Set
No matter how old your children get, they’ll always be your kids. Preparing to send kids to college is hard enough, but preparing to send them overseas to study for a semester or even for a longer period of time is an even bigger adjustment. Whether you’re dealing with empty nest syndrome, this is your first child to leave home or you’re somewhere in between, coping with the departure can be hard. Here are six ways you can prepare to see them off and adjust to a new lifestyle:
1. Start prepping early. The earlier the better. As soon as you find out your child is going abroad, you can help with preparing details for the trip and mentally prepping yourself for the change as well. The more time you give yourself to get used to the idea, the easier it may be when the time actually comes. Early preparation for their trip will give you plenty of time to arrange logistics like student international health insurance and also give you the peace of mind of knowing your child has everything needed for a safe trip to another country.
2. Have a plan for communication. Create a plan for communication, as well as maybe one or two backup plans. Whether you plan to use Skype, Google+ Hangout an international calling card or another method of international communication, establish how you’re going to communicate and test it out a few times beforehand. Test it on different devices and with different Internet connection speeds. Test your backup plans as well and purchase any necessary Skype or international calling credits.
3. Research the destination. You’ll have an easier time saying goodbye if you better understand what life will be like for your child in the study abroad destination. Do your research about the university, housing, neighborhoods, nearby surroundings, popular hangouts and transportation options. Ask for a copy of your child’s class schedule so you’ll have a better idea of what an average day will look like. Knowing what he’ll likely experience might help put your mind at ease.
4. Find ways to keep busy. If the departure will leave you with more spare time than you’ve previously had, you might consider finding new ways to keep busy. You could find a volunteer opportunity, join a book club or start your own, take up a new hobby, learn a new skill or get involved at your church or your child’s former school.
5. Have a talk to set expectations. Even though your child is more or less independent now, it’s always a good idea to have one last talk to set expectations about behavior. Don’t lecture, but just remind your child that in the real world, actions have consequences. Remind your child to stay safe, make wise decisions and to call if trouble arises. Encourage a good parent-adult child open communication pattern where your child feels comfortable to come to you with problems, but you’ll have to treat your child as an adult and not an adolescent.
6. Organize a proper sendoff. When the departure time finally arrives, be sure you’ve arranged a going away party. Have a themed party based on the study destination, encourage your child’s closest friends to prepare a short speech or ask each guest to write a going away message that you can compile into a scrapbook.
You’ve always taught your kids to plan ahead, and now it’s your time to follow your own advice. Preparing and planning for the departure will give you time to let go, be supportive and begin to look forward to the next step in your child’s life.
Once you’ve decided to move to Atlanta, the next thing to do is choose a neighborhood. Everyone wants a good neighborhood, but defining that term can take a bit more thinking. Of course you want an area that has low crime and charming local restaurants, but you’ll need to take your family’s lifestyle into consideration when searching for the perfect new home.
Here are some neighborhoods that are great for families with children. They offer plenty of family-friendly activities, easy access to public transportation and plenty of kid-friendly destinations within walking or biking distance. [Read more…] about Finding Family-Friendly Neighborhoods in Atlanta
The last day of school usually brings excitement and high energy to those children looking forward to their summer break. But for some kids the end of the school year can result in anxiety and sadness. They might be worried about missing their friends, their teacher or are already feeling anxious about the next school year. No matter which reaction your kids are having, there are several steps you can take to make sure their last day of school is fun and memorable.
If your child is acting out, gets moody when you talk about school coming to an end or seems anxious, encourage him to talk about his feelings. Let him know it’s alright to be sad about school ending – lots of kids feel the same way. Going over the summer schedule or making solid plans for play dates with his friends may help him feel more secure. [Read more…] about How to Help Your Children have a Memorable Last Day of School
Young girls especially need constant encouragement and support to follow their dreams and aspirations. As parents, you can support your daughter by giving her the tools she needs to get inspired and let her imagination run wild. There are plenty of modern tools to choose from in our digital world, but I think the best option is one that dates back to when we were kids: a dress-up trunk. From wearing mom’s high heels to playing doctor, here are five cool ideas to start your daughter’s very own dress-up trunk.
After watching you bandage owies and administer children’s medicine on sick days, your little girl might be curious about playing this caregiver role herself. A stethoscope is one instrument kids seem to find endlessly fascinating, which can encourage her curiosity about the medical field. Use this opportunity to teach her about key health concepts like washing hands, disinfecting injuries, eating healthy foods and exercising. You can also include a miniature white coat and a child’s doctor kit with plastic syringes, bandages and thermometers. [Read more…] about Encourage Your Daughter to Follow Her Dreams: 5 Dress-Up Ideas
Your teenager has been excited about it for months but for a dad, the high school prom can be something to dread. Dads might view prom as a dangerous night when teens are likely to break the rules, break the bank and maybe even break hearts. Some prom-night rules are evergreen but a lot has changed since your senior year, Dad. It may be time for some new information. [Read more…] about A Prom Guide for Dads
Alright, I admit it – I am not a supermom. I can’t do it all myself, at least not without losing my mind, and I’m glad I don’t have to. With a full-time job, a toddler and a new baby I’m grateful to have a mother-in-law who’s willing and able to provide daycare. My husband and I are lucky to both have flexible schedules, but the kids are still at Grandma’s about four hours every day. Since it looks like this is going to be a semi-permanent arrangement I think it’s time to buy Grandma a few baby-care essentials instead of hauling everything back and forth.
The hubs and I made a list of the most important items his mom should have at her house. Since she’s already providing free childcare we don’t want her spending money on things the kids need every day. Here’s what we came up with:
1. Car Seats
Sometimes Dad drops the kids off and I pick them up, sometimes Grandma comes to get them; the constant shuffling of car seats gets confusing and it’s only a matter of time until someone who needs the car seats won’t have them. We need to furnish Grandma’s car with a new car seat for each of the kids. Besides, it’s a hassle for her to lug those seats in and out of her SUV all the time.
2. A Crib
Grandma has a fun foldout bed for our toddler to sleep on, but the baby really needs a crib. Portable cribs aren’t that expensive and I think my mother-in-law would be able to actually relax when the kids are napping if she didn’t have to keep checking to make sure the baby was alright. Plus, we could always use it if we ever get to travel anywhere again.
There are always some toys that are favorites, especially for our toddler. Buying an extra set of building blocks or an activity center to leave at Grandma’s house would make things easier and may prevent a meltdown in the future. Oh, and those favorite books too. Naptime is a lot easier with “Goodnight Moon” on your side.
4. First-Aid Kit
Of course she’s an experienced mother and I literally trust her with my children’s lives, but I know I’d feel better if we put together a first-aid kit that included all the same things we use at home. Our kit has the basics like bandages and ice packs, and also some children’s Tylenol for pain or fevers, some children’s Benadryl, those natural teething tablets we like, a thermometer, antibiotic cream and emergency numbers.
5. Storage Units
OK it may not be essential, but I know my mother-in-law is used to having a neat house. If we’re going to bring all these extra things to live at her home we should also supply her with some organizational strategies. A few of those stacking bins would be great; they don’t take up much space and their light enough that she could carry them around the house as they’re needed.
I know we’re lucky to have family helping us with the kids, but we don’t want to take complete advantage of Grandma. Making sure she’s equipped with all the basics will make things easier for everyone and we’ll feel better knowing she’s not out spending her Bingo money on baby wipes!
Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area and she writes on behalf of Sears and other deserving brands. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.