Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: parenting tips

Which Car Is Best For Your Family? 3 Tips When Choosing

(contributed post)

Choosing a family car is not like choosing a car for yourself, when you were single or even before kids. For one thing, you probably don’t have the money to splash out on something fancy when you’ve got a college fund to save for! Instead, think past what you want and focus in on exactly what it is you all need.

There will be time later on when the kids are grown to get a snazzy sports car, but for now, you will need to settle for something a little more practical. Think about how you want to use a car and what your budget is realistically. Though you can get a lot for your money these days, a car is not the be all and end all of family life and should fit in with your other financial obligations.

Why Motorcycles are a No (For You and the Kids)

Obviously, you can’t get a baby seat onto the back of a motorcycle and nor should you try! But, also think about hanging up your helmet, too. Motorcycles can be dangerous, and if you were to get into an accident, you could be in real trouble. As a parent, this could have a massive impact on your family. Even with motorcycle accident lawyers that can help recover the cost of any treatments you require, you will never regain the time you lost with your kids if you are injured.

The thing is, and the reason that this small section is included, is that many men can feel that they are losing who they are when they become parents. While we often talk about how women can maintain their sense of self throughout motherhood, there isn’t as much self-help for the guys. Many men seem to think that the antidote to being a parent is to take risks, and motors can feature highly from the teenager’s moped to the midlife crisis car. The point is that it isn’t the motorcycle that makes the guy who he is.

So, motorcycles out of the way – what are we looking for here?

Car Safety is Your Main Priority

Once upon a time, car safety was mainly about being able to slam on the breaks and swerve in time. These days, it is a lot more technical, and there are all kinds of ways that cars have improved. If you are looking for the safest car, you can easily research consumer safety reports, warnings and tests on the Internet. 

Though many cars advertise the powers of their media center (and, let’s be honest, being able to play DVDs in the backseat is pretty cool), you should be looking at the safety features and working out what is worth the money. What is really cool about a lot of media center screens is that they also have a rearview camera to help you see what is behind you before backing up as well as a proximity alarm, if any car or person is coming near the vehicle. Hands-free calling and voice command will also keep your attention on the road where it belongs.

Older road users might think that all this tech is just a fancy way of making cars more expensive, but look carefully at your insurance because many of these safety features could end up saving you money.

Higher Seats Are Easier to Manage

First things first: if you are going to wrestle a howling toddler into a car seat, it will always be easier to wrestle them into a seat you can easily reach. Saloon cars are great once you are in, but the number of times you will bash your head against the roof of the car while trying to strap all the kids in will get old quickly.

Instead, look for a higher car like a 4×4, which will allow you to get the kids in without a fuss: you won’t bang your head, and everyone will be happier. Another advantage of this kind of car is that you will also be able to pack plenty of stuff into the trunk when you are traveling with your family.

There is a downside, though, and that is simply that bigger cars cost more. So, if you can afford to splash out on a more expensive car and save your back, then do.

Sliding Doors Are Your Friend

If you can find a model of car with sliding doors ,then you are in for a real win. Car doors are definitely high on the list of irritants for parents, especially when there are limited space in a parking lot. With a sliding door, you won’t have to worry so much about having room on either side of the car.

Sliding doors are also great because they are much less likely to catch in the wind or the door closing on a family member accidentally. In other words, you get maximum access with minimum fuss – and what’s not to like in that?

When you think about how much time you spend getting in and out of your family car, ferrying your kids – and other people’s kids – to all kinds of events and just driving yourself, it actually adds up really quickly. It is well worth taking some time to choose carefully and imagine how the cars various features will work for you and your loved ones.

 

One last tip: take a carseat to the showroom with you to see how it will fit in a prospective car. Honestly, some a brilliant and obvious winners but some just look like that until you realise that once the booster seat is in, nothing else will ever fit.

 

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As Parents, What Can We Do to Give Our Children The Best Start in Life?

(contributed post)

When you have a child, your world changes. No longer are you the most important person in your life, you now have a responsibility to look after your child and ensure they’re happy, healthy and grow up to be a functioning member of society. Raising a child can be a minefield, and lots of things will depend on factors like the country you live in, your own personal views, your religion and much more. However there are some things that are common with all of us. Here are some of the ways your child can get off to the best start.

Look After Their Health

As parents, our children’s health is of the utmost importance. However, we’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic, and even well-meaning parents can find that their children are a little heavier than guidelines suggest they should be. This can be a mixture of a lack of knowledge, easy access to convenient foods and things like technology making kids more sedentary. A decade or two ago, children would be running around outside, playing on their bikes and being active to curb boredom. These days, they can access the world at their fingertips using their phones, computers or TV. One of the best things you can do to promote good health in children is to make it fun. Encourage them to prepare healthy meals with you, choose good ingredients while shopping and even grow some of your own foods together. Make exercise enjoyable- hire a bouncy castle on a summer’s weekend or purchase a trampoline. Have water fights and play active games together. Go on family hikes and bike rides together , which are great for bonding as well as getting in some all-important exercise. When it’s fun, kids are more likely to get on board, and eventually healthy living will become an ingrained habit. It allows them to make healthy choices for themselves as they get older, which can set them up for success in their life in future.

Invest in Their Education

Being well educated can give you so many more opportunities in life. It means you can apply for better jobs, get on a good career path and have the ability to earn money, which can give you financial freedom and a much more comfortable lifestyle. Making sure they get access to good education, and encouraging a love of learning are two of the very best things you can do for your child’s future. Studies have found that the quality of education that children receive has more of an influence than gender or even their family’s income. Your child’s attitude, their friends and peers, their knowledge and job prospects for the future will all be influenced by the school you pick. On top of finding a good school, you could focus on their education in other ways. Take them on educational trips such as to museums and galleries. Teach them around the home about nutrition, cooking, baking, DIY and crafts for example. Take them camping, fishing, teach them map reading and orienteering, and introduce them to lots of extracurricular activities, such as sports and exercise. There’s much more to learn in life that just what’s in school textbooks. Giving them a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning are so beneficial.

Think About Where You Will Live

You child’s home and school life are incredibly important, but they will also be influenced by the place that they live. Somewhere rife with poverty, crime and unemployment, for example, is never going to be the most positive environment for your child to grow up in. Of course, they can still do well and better their lives, but dysfunction can seem normal to them when they’re surrounded by it. If it’s in your power to move to a nicer area to better yours and your child’s life, then take that opportunity. Look for somewhere with good resources: activities for youth, high employment levels and good education.  Even a small apartment or HDB resale in a nice area would be beneficial compared with a larger house in an area that isn’t great. It’s certainly something to take into consideration when you’re looking for a place to rent or own.

Take Discipline Seriously

Being a parent isn’t just about providing for your child and giving them everything they need. It’s about equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to be a successful member of society. This allows them to form lasting relationships and friendships, and become a well-rounded individual who can navigate life feeling happy and secure. One thing that can help children is discipline. Discipline allows your child to become civilized in society; it’s not all about punishment. It’s a way of teaching that allows them to learn from mistakes without repeating them, and giving them the cognitive tools to be able to learn better behavior and do better next time around.  It’s about being clear on the rules and boundaries. It’s about accepting that they won’t be perfect, but acknowledging that all behavior has consequences–positive and negative. Children crave attention, rules and boundaries; they thrive when they know what it is they can and can’t do– even if they do push their boundaries at times. Remain firm but fair, and any punishment should reflect the severity of what they have done as well as their age and understanding. For example, very young children throwing tantrums aren’t going to understand or benefit from long time- outs or revoking of certain privileges.

Work on Their Self-Esteem

Again, parenting is about equipping children with the skills and understanding they need to get through life independently. And self-esteem and confidence is an essential asset. When you’re confident in yourself and your abilities, you aren’t held back from trying new things. You can smile in the face of adversity and know that even if you fail, you can keep at it until you eventually reach your goal. Children need to know that it’s ok to fail or go wrong, but that sticking with it means they will eventually achieve their goal and be proud of themselves when they do. Children with good levels of confidence and self esteem tend to be happier and more optimistic compared with those who don’t. Children with low self-esteem find challenges to be frustrating and can be a huge source of anxiety for them.  Praise your child’s accomplishments, and let them work out things themselves. For example, instead of doing everything for them, let them try themselves until they work out a solution. When playing a game, don’t let them win every time- that way when they do win, it will be well earned and they can feel proud of their accomplishments. It’s easy to want to give them everything they want, but understanding that not everything will go their way, and how to be a gracious loser when they don’t, is a fantastic skill to have. Be aware of your own words and behavior too. Criticizing yourself, others or your child can stick with them; remain upbeat and positive and realistic when things go wrong.

Teach Them the Importance of Respect

When we respect others, it shows that we value another as an individual. Respect allows us to honor the personal rights of other humans and allows them to keep their dignity. Because kids aren’t born with the ability to respect others, it’s something that as parents we have to teach them. Babies learn to manipulate the world they live in to get their needs met, so as they mature into a little person, it’s important to show them that this isn’t something they can do later on in their lives. They have to learn to respect their elders and those in a position of authority such as police and teachers. They need to be taught how to share with siblings and peers. They have to understand that sometimes they have to be patient and wait their turn for the things that they want. These are difficult lessons to learn as a child, and aren’t always things that they will thank you for in the moment! However they’re important things to understand and are crucial if they’re going to go on and be successful adults. You don’t have to be your child’s friend- you’re their teacher and guide!

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Raising Toddlers: 3 Tricks for Home-Based Parents

Guest Post by Cady Calhousie

The toddler years are a time of rapid development as the little ones reach so many milestones in a short span of time. It’s no wonder there’s a growing trend of parents opting to work from home more or permanently to make sure they witness and participate in these milestones.

But making that leap from cubicle to home office comes with unique challenges; and while you have a vague idea that the transition won’t be perfect, nothing can quite prepare you for what lies ahead. Here are three basic and practical ways to help you in this journey:

Have a discipline strategy

Children begin to develop their own personality at this stage; they start to have a sense of autonomy, and they become incredibly attached to the word no – with matching tantrums like ripping off their favorite baby bows and throwing them away. They start to push back and challenge boundaries. In finding your own approach to discipline, the best standard is to be firm but fair. What worked for you may not work for your child because you have different personalities and belong to different generations. Prepare to go through a lot of trial and error until you find the right balance.

Establish a shared reading habit

75% of brain development occurs in ages one to three. At this stage, the child begins to develop thoughts and feelings, and as parents we want to maximize our children’s potential. Studies show that a child’s physical brain progress is enhanced when the child is given the appropriate external stimulation – and the best stimulation comes from reading.  Studies also show that shared reading is better than passive reading because you engage the child. Another benefit of shared reading is the additional cuddle time strengthens your parent and child bond. So set aside time each day to share a book and make sure there are no distractions like television, tablets, and other similar gadgets.

Don’t be overprotective

As parents, we are naturally protective of our children. The younger the child, the more protective we are.  But countless studies show that being overprotective can be as harmful as being negligent. Some parents these days are reluctant to let their children outside and play because they are worried about accidents, children getting dirty, or being bullied by other children. Here are some of the more common consequences of being overprotective: obesity, addiction to gadgets and computer games, asthma and allergies, and lack of social skills. Our toddlers need to interact with their environment and other children as part of their healthy development. We can lessen our worries by being vigilant and prepared, learning first aid, supervising scheduled play times, and picking child-safe environments.

The toddler years are exciting and full of surprises, making them worth transitioning to work from home for the parents. The fact that there’s no single correct way to raise our children makes the journey a time of rapid growth for both toddlers and their parents.  

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Spending Quality Time With Your Little Ones

(contributed article)

Whether you’re a single parent or not, life with kids is busy and hectic, but also full of fun and adventure, too. It’s crucial that you’re in a great routine with your little ones, so that they feel happy and secure, and they know what to expect. However, sometimes the routine can overtake the fun stuff; and spontaneity can get pushed aside, replaced with homework, dinner time, and bedtime. Therefore, when it comes to the weekends or school holidays, it’s time to step away from the rut and make an effort to enjoy more quality time with your children as they grow up, which will happen way too fast. There is definitely no harm in mixing things up a little and making some great memories together.

During the free time with your little one, it’s your chance to teach and educate them about all the stuff they don’t learn at school. Perhaps it’s about getting outside and appreciating the environment more or a trip to where you grew up, so they can learn more about their family history. Whatever you choose to do, it will be time well spent. Therefore, it’s worth thinking about how best to spend your free time, writing a list of places you’d like to visit and things you want to do and going over in your mind the values you want to instill in your kids. Sometimes, getting it all down on paper and writing a to-do list can help you implement activities and make them happen. The following are some tips for busy parents who want to focus more on spending quality free time with their kids.

Time Management

As previously mentioned, it’s tough to juggle life and all the things that kids bring with them; but with a little planning, your time can be divided up successfully. If you co-parent with an ex-partner and had the best law firm for divorce, you’ll already have figured out the exact times and dates you’ll have with your kids, well in advance. This is great for your plan; you can utilize a large monthly calendar and start popping down the things you’re going to do, how much it may (or may not) cost, and any details needed to make each fun activity work out. Whatever your parenting situation may be, you can still utilize a plan like this,  which while having fun, will also help you think about those needs kids have, such as napping and healthy choices for meals. 

Appreciate The Little Things

Kids might not remember the exact zoo, park, or fun fair you took them to, but they’ll remember how they felt at the time and specific things you’ve done or said to them. Therefore, make sure that you’re praising them for great behavior, noticing the little things they do and say, and take loads of photos! Even on an average morning, when everyone’s trying to eat breakfast and get ready for school, make it a moment to remember and take a picture. Your kids know how much you love them, so give them plenty more memories to take into their future and show their kids.

How do you like to spend time with your kids or grandkids? Do you have a list of stuff you want to do this spring and summer?

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Organizing Your To-Do List and the $10,000 Idea

I love a good to-do list. Who’s with me here? Without my daily/weekly/monthly list, I’m not sure I would get anything done. Actually, I think I may be a little addicted to my lists! I love to finish something and cross it off the list. Not only is it good to finish it, but it’s also rewarding to see all those items crossed off! Plus, as many of you know, in 2016, my word of the year was organization, so this all fits together. But where am I going with this post and what is a $10,000 idea? (It’s not, by the way, an idea that will make you $10,000! But don’t stop reading.)

The way I have chosen to organize the tasks I need to accomplish each day and week is on my weekly desk calendar, where there is plenty of room to write several items on each day. But last week, even this wasn’t working for me. I felt like some of these tasks I was simply moving from week to week, and they also fit in different categories in my life. There were tasks I needed to do for the house, for my day job, for creative writing, for freelancing, for Katie and Chester, and so on. So I took five blank sheets of 8.5 x 11.5-inch paper and labeled them:

  • Freelancing
  • Cleaning/House/Bills/Paperwork
  • Personal
  • Writing/Blogging
  • Day Job

Then I put the tasks that I needed to accomplish (some new, some left from my calendar) on the sheets in the appropriate category, so I could wrap my head around what I needed to do and what area of my life it would benefit. For some reason, this made my stress level go WAY down, and I felt like I could accomplish many of these things. Some of the items needed to happen immediately (like the laundry, critiquing my writing group’s work, and finishing my day job’s publications), and some of them were things that could be finished at some point (like writing a blog post and cleaning out my email inbox).

And then there were the $10,000 ideas. 

I noticed on each page, there were some ambitious goals, projects like: cleaning out the basement and finishing my novel that weren’t going to be done in a day or a week. They were also items that would make my life better and richer, and so I decided to call those my $10,000 ideas. I drew a spiky circle around each of these and wrote $10,000 idea next to it

This is very similar to making New Year’s goals; with these ideas, I’m saying: these are things I want to do, and they will make my life better, and I will do them eventually. I love how I have them on these lists in categories; and how every time I look at my list, I am reminded of these BIG TICKET items that will improve my life.

So if you see me around, ask me: how are your $10,000 ideas coming this year? And…of course, I must ask…do you have any of these ideas on your to-do lists?

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The Lessons Kids Won’t Learn In School But Need Teaching At Home

(contributed article)

School is an essential part of a child’s life. For one thing, it teaches children the value of learning and how knowledge is power. Secondly, it helps them mix with other kids and learn how to socialize. Still, parenting never stops, of course, and there are areas teachers don’t cover because they aren’t in the curriculum, and there’s not enough time in the school day. They are life lessons, and they are vital in the later years of a child’s progression.

As they won’t learn them in class, it’s your job to cover the topics at home. Here are the ones to consider:

Relationship Dos and Don’ts

It’s human nature to find a partner and to share life’s journey. But this is not always easy, especially when we are young, and sadly, relationships don’t go to plan all of the time. In fact, many of them won’t end amicably and that is an essential lesson to learn.  You can recover and move on to find new love. Hollywood often promotes the idea that people meet a guy or a girl and live happily ever after. Understanding this isn’t the case will help teenagers prepare emotionally. Also, this knowledge can help them to enjoy life while single instead of feeling the need to always be searching for a partner. Hopefully, it will teach them to be ready for a healthy relationship before committing to someone, too.

Digital Manners

Social media is taking over, and children and teens are the ones who are the most involved. They often don’t understand the dangers or consequences of social media interactions. Obviously, predators exist online, and it’s crucial to teach kids to be safe and secure. However, there is also a social etiquette on the Web, which they should acknowledge. Cyberbullying and nasty comments are not clever and may come back to bite them in the future. For example, employers will check social media accounts before they offer an applicant a job.

Financial Awareness

Money makes the world spin, yet it’s one thing teachers often don’t teach in school. Credit cards and student loans come thick and fast, and children need to understand how these tools work. So, it is important to show kids the value of using a credit card, and paying off the balance is a fantastic life lesson. Also, don’t forget to tell them about the contingency plans if they do make mistakes. Pieces of plastic can ruin finances, but sites like http://repair.credit can help put them back together. Apart from repairing credit, you can focus on how to get out of debt, too.

The Art Of The Deal

Before Donald Trump was president,  he wrote that book. But you can find helpful helpful hints from https://www.entrepreneur.com  if your children are interested in business. Most modern men and women don’t haggle, yet learning how to make deals can be the difference between success and failure. And, that doesn’t just mean in a car dealership either. Learning how to negotiate in the office or with potential contacts can impact everything from careers to wages. The best hagglers know when to speak, when to listen, and when to shake hands on a deal.

These are just four lessons to learn, but can you think of any more?

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Great Parenting Needn’t Be Expensive

(contributed article)

The start of the new year is a lean time for many as we awaken, bleary eyed from the excess of late December and face the challenges of the new year. The trouble is that the view can be pretty grim through the lens of a New Year’s hangover (literally, metaphorically, or all of the above). After what seems like an eternity of seasonal spending, your bank balance aches, and your credit score looks grimmer than your father-in-law when he unwrapped yet another pair of socks for Christmas. Maybe you maxed out your credit cards to pay for the Christmas season; and though the memories will last a lifetime, they certainly won’t pay the bills. Soon the kids will be back at school and a whole new avenue of expense will open itself up to you.

If you’re recovering from the spend-a-thon of the festive season, it can feel like your personal finances simply won’t allow you to spend money on quality time with your children. For all their wonderful new Christmas presents, eventually they will grow tired of them, and you will be hearing, “I’m bored.” While there are lenders out there who specialize in personal loans for bad credit, your parenting needn’t go hand in hand with your expenditure. Sometimes, the most meaningful gifts you can give your children involve no to little expense whatsoever.

Be forthcoming with your affection

All the iPhones, xBoxes, and designer shoes in the world amount to nothing when you are comparing them to your child feeling loved. While your kids are unlikely to ask for hugs and kisses, they crave them far more than the superficial trappings, which they’re far more vocal about. Tell them that you love them and you’re proud of them. Kiss and hug them every day. If you don’t engage with them on this level (despite their protestations), it’s one of the ways to impede their interpersonal development when they grow up.

Nourish them

Nourishment is one of the most important duties of a parent. This means not only giving them the emotional nourishment they need but ensuring that they eat a balanced diet. While they’ll never thank you for it, a good diet is one of the most important gifts you can give a child. It will ensure that they grow up as healthy and nutritionally aware adults who lead long and healthy lives. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to load up on cheaply made pre-packaged foods just because money’s tight. Filling your fridge with fresh veggies and researching nutritious and delicious recipes that enable your kids to actually enjoy them is not only great parenting, it’s surprisingly easy on the household budget.

Treat them like an adult

Maybe don’t offer them a cigarette and a shot of vodka before sitting down to your favorite zombie flick 🙂 HA! HA! , but treating your kids with the same respect and transparency as you’d treat, say, a work colleague, is tremendously empowering for them and is likely to engender maturity.

While it’s perfectly fine to spoil your kids over the festive period, it’s important to remember, especially in the thrifty aftermath, that the most meaningful gifts you can give your kids won’t cost you a penny.

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Practical Parenting: Making Bedtime and Sleeping Better For Your Child at Any Age

When it comes to babies and really young children, it’s undeniable that routine is king. With the world so big and unpredictable, routines help to bring order to the chaos and are highly beneficial for establishing good sleep patterns. With night times sorted, day times tend to flow much easier – kids and parents are in a better mood and have more energy for active play and creativity. It’s never too early to start with introducing a bedtime routine that works for you, your baby and their siblings. The key is simply consistency. Here’s how to create a restful routine that works.

Where do I start?

You can get started with introducing a routine from as early as six weeks old. It may not stick right away, of course, but you’re putting in strong foundations for the future. If you think about it, we all need time to unwind before falling asleep, and babies are no different. With older children, it’s helpful to explain what you’re doing and why. So tell them: “We are having a story, and then we’re going to bed, so that we can get up in the morning and play.” Find advice from Mothers and More on the safest sleeping positions to introduce.

Make Bedtime Special

Many small children get anxious at the thought of being separated from you, and that’s perfectly natural. So spending some one on one time before bed is a great way of relaxing them. Reading a storybook, singing a bedtime song, and having plenty of cuddles before they get into bed helps to take away the fear factor. Many parents try a white noise machine – babies are used to background noise and motion from their time in the womb and often like the sound of a fan or even a washing machine or dryer to help them fall asleep!

Try a Transition Activity

Before you go straight into pre-bedtime, it’s useful to use a transition activity to move from active play into a more relaxed state. This can start with a quieter kids program centered around rest, like In The Night Garden; it can be taking a bath with bubbles; or it can be playing quietly in their room for a while. Easing gently into the routine is much better than expecting them to immediately feel sleepy the second their pjs are on.

Put Them Down Drowsy

Make sure that you put babies especially down to sleep when they are drowsy, and not fully asleep. This helps to manage “micro-wakeups” during the night. Imagine if you went to sleep in a nice, soft bed and woke up on the lawn outside. You’d be really freaked out, right? You might yell. You’d definitely want to know what had happened. And you’d probably have a hard time getting back to sleep again. The exact same is true with babies that fall asleep being rocked or cradled in your arms. When they “come to” during the night, they may realize that they are not in the situation they were when they fell asleep – and they’re likely to protest about that! Teaching them to fall asleep in their own environment is really important and helps to make sure they’re able to get themselves back to sleep if they do wake up.

Create the Right Environment for Sleep

Just as it is for adults, creating the right environment to promote sleep is very important for babies and young children. So check that you have a comfortable mattress, that the room is the right temperature, and that your baby has comfortable sleepwear, like a swaddle or a sleep sack. Lighting is also important – it doesn’t have to be pitch-black; you can add in a soft night light if your child needs it for comfort. Make sure they also go to bed without feeling hungry – so a last feed or bottle can be given around 20 minutes before you put them down to sleep, and toddlers may want a bedtime snack – although avoid giving them any sweets or fruit juice.

Never Use Bed As A Threat

Resist turning bedtime into a negative by steering away from telling your children they’ll go to bed if they’re naughty. Focus on reducing their stress and anxiety over going to bed by keeping your tone of voice positive and calm; babies are very quick to pick up on tension and anger. Taking the softly-softly approach can work wonders.

Make Daytime Naps a Priority

A lot of parents think that if their child doesn’t sleep well during the day, the sleep will get made up at night, but the reverse is usually true. Getting overtired can mean that sending children off to sleep simply doesn’t work as well and may lead to more wake-ups during the night. At least one nap each day in their crib or toddler bed helps them get more used to the same sleeping environment when it’s time for bed.

How do you establish a nighttime routine?

(contributed post)

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5 Parenting Products You Didn’t Know You Needed

There are all the expected items you need for the new arrival in your life. You know what we’re talking about… bottles, diapers, high chair, etc. You will be spending more on your child than you do yourself, and that probably won’t change for the next 18 years or more. However, there are some items that you may not have thought about. They will definitely make your life easier; so when planning your baby’s shopping list, consider the following five items. You will thank us later on when you realize how useful they are.

A diaper pail
Can you smell something? Yes, of course you can. You have another full diaper on your hands, but what are you supposed to do with it? You could stick it in the garbage can, but they don’t always mask the smell. That’s why you need a special pail for the diapers. They are designed to hide those unsavory odors, so buying one is a near necessity–if you want to keep your home smelling fresh and fragrant.

A fan
Okay, so a fan may be useful for removing the smelly odors mentioned above. However, that’s not all a fan is good for. Some babies have a struggle with sleeping, as all frazzled parents will testify to. Thankfully, there are a number of solutions, and one of these is white noise. Place the fan near your baby’s bed (not blowing directly into his face), and the quiet whirring of the fan will hopefully send them into slumberland. Alternatively, you can download designated “white noise” apps on your tablet or smartphone that will do the job just as well.

A video baby monitor
Audio baby monitors are fine; but for added protection of your baby, you may want to invest in this luxury item. When you hear your baby crying (or not crying), you may fear the worst. From heads stuck in crib railings to sudden illnesses, you will want to make sure your baby is safe and well. A video baby monitor will let you know exactly what is going on with your baby, giving you the peace of mind you need.

A bug net for your stroller
You know how annoying those pesky bugs can be when they fly in front of your face? So imagine how your baby feels when you are pushing him along in the stroller. He won’t have the motor skills to swat away those blasted bugs, and you will get yourself into a dither trying to protect him. Therefore, a bug net is the perfect solution. While you may get covered in bug bites on the daily walk unless you use bug spray, you can at least have the assurance that your baby is perfectly safe within their netted bubble.

An all-in-one dinner mat
It’s like feeding time at the zoo in some houses, as babies are especially messy eaters. Avoid the cleanup woes with something like this Happy Mat. It sticks to the table and has useful holders for your baby’s bowls and plates. So the next time your little one gets the urge to throw his food around the place, this plastic marvel will contain your child’s mess without causing you extra work afterwards.

These are just some examples of what we think you will find useful, but be sure to let us know if you have any helpful tips for all the parents reading.

(contributed article)

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Scandinavia: The Ultimate Family Winter Getaway?

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If you get the chance to go away in winter, you have two basic choices: either run away from the cold or embrace it. And one of the best places on earth to enjoy a winter vacation with the kids is, without doubt, Scandinavia. It’s a beautiful part of the world at the best of times; but when the cold season and snow arrive, it becomes quite magical. Here are some ideas for you to ponder over if you plan on a breakaway this – or next – holiday season!

Live it up in Lapland

Lapland – in the very northernmost part of Finland – is one of the best winter family snow destinations, for all the reasons you are probably thinking right now. It’s about as close to Narnia as you can get, regarding scenery, and of course, there is a significant connection with the Father Christmas story. But there’s more to this glorious part of the world than just Santa and snow-capped trees. Riding a husky-driven sled or going on a reindeer sleigh ride is about as exhilarating as it gets for you and the kids, and you can go even faster if you want to swap dogs for an engine and a snowmobile. There’s plenty of skiing options, too, and let’s not forget about the Northern Lights – a spectacular attraction for this part of the world and perfect if you get the chance to take some time out for yourself.

Akureyri, Iceland

Iceland is more famous for its capital Reykjavik. But if you are looking for something a little different, Akureyri is an excellent alternative. It’s a small city that takes in plenty of culture and leisure and is an exceptional choice for either a city break or week-long trip when you need to keep the kids entertained. Make sure you go to watch whales in Husavik, and check out the remarkable and impressive lava fields, too. There are some stunning geothermal mud pools to locate: head out to the Lake Myvatn area for some magnificent views. Finally, if you need any other reason to head to Iceland in the winter months, as it’s one of the best locations in the world for seeing the spectacular Northern Lights.

Stay in A Swedish Ice Hotel

Want to give the kids a unique experience they will remember forever? Sweden is such an incredible place in the winter; but if you make the trip over, dedicate some time to finding one of their spectacular ice hotels. There are plenty around, up and down the country; but if you make your way up to Jukkasjarvi, you’ll find the somewhat simply named Ice Hotel. It’s incredibly popular, so book a fair while in advance. Jukkasjarvi is in the northern half of Sweden and is a fantastic location to visit during the winter months. The vast forests and woods are filled with bears and wolves – you’ll rarely spot them, but they are there! – and there’s a real sense of being somewhere that is 100% otherworldly.

Have you been to Scandinavia – or any other location for a winter break? Share your thoughts and favorite places with everyone in the comments section below! 

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