Monday, October 26, 2009

Creating Memories: Baby's First Halloween

Pictures, albums and home video may be the only way children ever know they even participated in trick or treating as a baby. Who are we kidding? We all know the fun of baby’s first Halloween or two is more for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings. Here are some suggestions for saving money on baby’s first trick or treat experience as well as safety tips to make the night as fun as it can be.

Be Frugal with Baby’s First Halloween Costume

The first Halloween costume should be special, but that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank? Before you go crazy spending out of your budget for a Halloween outfit for baby, try networking with other parents. Many parents save their own children’s first costumes. They may be open to swapping costumes with you or willing to sell their little one’s old costume at a minimal cost. If this isn’t an option for you and you find you need to purchase your baby’s costume, there are lots of children’s thrift stores and boutiques that carry precious Halloween outfits in the month of October. Another option for sure baby’s first costume is to check eBay.

Safety Tips to Keep Baby’s Safe and Sound

• Pass On Inhibiting Costume Items

Babies do not like to wear masks and most will fight and cry in discomfort if you put them in costumes that restrict their movements.

• Avoid Scary Masks and Costumes

Don’t be surprised if older babies are frightened by other people’s masks and costumes as well. This is not a time to instill fear into your baby. Sometimes adults and older children find it funny to show babies "the ropes" without realizing they can inadvertently scare infants.

• Keep Weather Conditions in Mind

When choosing your costume, keep in mind what your weather will most likely be that time of year. Don’t over or undress baby.

• Give Family & Friends a Call Ahead Before Visiting

You have special people in your life that you’ll want to share baby’s first Halloween with. A phone call ahead to these people to be sure they are going to be home will help ensure that pictures (or videos) of baby with this special someone can be taken. Try and make your plans up to a week ahead. You don’t want to be disappointed later when trying to scrapbook your child’s first trick or treat experience and someone is missing.

Celebrate Baby’s First Halloween Again and Again

Just like every other first for your little one, you’ll want to keep record of his or her first Halloween with pictures, video and other keepsake items. One way you can do this is by creating a scrapbook that will preserve these items for years to come. Get creative in how you layout your album. Don’t be afraid to take pictures with props that symbolize the holiday and the season. Hay bails and pumpkins are just a few ideas; you can also check with your local craft store for other embellishments such as stamps, stencils and more.

Memories are something we all have. With some extra care and planning, Halloween and your baby’s first trick or treat experience can be most memorable for everyone involved. Who knows, that adorable first Halloween costume might find its way into the senior year book later.

No matter what costume you choose or how you remember the day, keep the tips and suggestions above in mind for a safe, happy and fun Halloween.

Until next time,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Breakfast Isn't Just For Kids

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Unfortunately, many of us neglect breakfast, just because we stay at home with your kids doesn't mean we have time (or at least we don't think we have time) to eat breakfast. And there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that your body and mind will suffer unless you have a healthy breakfast each morning. You spend six to eight hours sleeping (or at least trying to sleep). After that time, your body needs fuel to keep going.

If you are the type to skip breakfast, here is a solution to starting the day with a good breakfast which will help you keep hunger in check as well as give you the natural energy boost to start your day.

1. Oatmeal – This food makes a good hot meal that contains lots of filling fibre to keep you from getting hungry later on in the morning. Depending on your taste, you can take five minutes to fix it on the stove or use the microwave for instant oatmeal.

2. Fruit smoothies – These are good any morning but particularly on a hot day. You’ll have to blend the ingredients together in the morning, but the prep work can be done at night. Cube your fruit and place it into a container. Instead of frozen yoghurt in the morning, use a cup of plain yoghurt. Add ice cubes, a little water and blend.

3. Egg sandwich – The eggs can be cooked the night before and placed in a sealed container. In the morning, warm up the eggs in the microwave. If you want, add some chopped veggies or shredded cheese. Serve on toasted wheat bread.

4. Yoghurt with granola and fruit – Some people like to eat yoghurt. But, yoghurt by itself won’t keep you from being hungry. Add some granola and a few blueberries to the mix. This makes a great breakfast idea for those mornings when you are running late. Keep small bags of granola and blueberries in the fridge next to the yoghurt so you can grab them and run.

Are you fighting the breakfast battle? To get a filling meal you don’t have to opt for too much fat, calories or carbs. These quick and easy breakfast ideas can be made within minutes and are a much healthier alternative to skipping breakfast or grabbing a high fat alternative.

Until next time,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Family Time Without Breaking The Budget

The time we spend with our families is priceless, unfortunately most popular family activities do have prices (high ones at that). A trip to the movies can put a serious dent in your budget by the time you buy tickets, popcorn and drinks for everyone, a dent the at many can no longer afford.
Fortunately, there are ways you can go out and spend time as a family and pay almost nothing, or even nothing at all.

Movies and Music:

Kids are often itching to see the newest releases at the movie theatre. One alternative in some areas is the drive-in. Admission is usually much cheaper than it is at a regular theatre and some let you bring your own drinks and snacks. Drive-ins usually show fairly new releases so you can see something before it comes to DVD.

Some theatres offer reduced-price matinees during the day. Some even have free kid-oriented movies on weekend days. These options offer the theatre experience without the outrageous cost.

Kids often want to go to concerts, but tickets to see the most famous bands are far from cheap. Check your local paper for free concerts in the park. Many areas have them during the warm months. Young children can enjoy the music without the huge crowds and deafening sound systems and older children might gain an appreciation for less well-known bands.

The Great Outdoors:

Nature offers a wealth of possibilities for family outings. Camping is a wonderful activity for families, and it doesn't have to be expensive. It can be as simple as pitching a tent in the back yard, or you can spring for a camper and rent space at a campground. Bring the grill and some hamburgers or hot dogs, or catch some fish to fry.

Parks are great for day trips. Those with playground equipment can keep youngsters entertained for hours on end. Hiking trails offer opportunities for exercise and exploration. Most parks have picnic facilities, so you can pack a lunch instead of eating out.
Other Ideas

Here are some more inexpensive family activities to consider:

* Play miniature golf. Admission is usually quite reasonable, and it provides the opportunity for relaxed yet engaging family competition.

* Visit a petting zoo. These small zoos do not have the exotic animals you see at larger ones, but kids can feed and pet the animals.

* Go to a museum. Some offer cheap or free admission, while others cost more. But the larger and more expensive ones often sell season passes, so if you live close by, you can visit numerous times for one low price. Some even have one day or evening a week were the admission price is waived.

* Go boating. If you're fortunate enough to live near a body of water, boating is fun and relaxing. Canoe and paddleboat rentals are inexpensive, and when you're done boating there are usually other cheap or free activities in the area.

* Attend events at a nearby college. These may include plays, concerts, dance recitals and movie showings. Prices are low, and student discounts usually apply to kids, too.

Having fun as a family doesn't require a six-figure income. If you look hard enough, you can find lots of free or cheap activities that parents and kids can enjoy just about anywhere.

Until next time,

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tantrams: How To Deal

Parents get scared when they hear stories about the "terrible twos." Take courage, though, you will survive the toddler stage. It’s not easy to understand why your toddler has a tantrum but at such a young age, a child is consumed with thoughts of themselves. Everything is about them and how they feel. Until they are taught how to share, every toy or piece of food they see automatically belongs to them.

Toddler temper tantrums can have a variety of effects. Your first thought might be that everyone is focused on you and your screaming child, but getting embarrassed won’t diffuse the situation. Besides, as a parent, you have many more years of embarrassing situations to look forward to courtesy of your children. So worrying about what others think during this situation is simply going to stress you and make you feel worse.

Here are a few tips to help you cope during tantrums:

1. Ignore the tantrum. This technique works best when at home. In public places, you don’t want to ever leave your child unattended as a form of punishment. Good behavior in public begins at home. Ignoring a toddler is not harsh. If your child is squirming on the floor screaming for a cookie, continue to talk to them as if you never noticed. Eventually, they will get the hint and stop screaming.

2. Avoid instant gratification. In public, toddlers throw tantrums when they are denied something that they want. Some parents give in to keep their child quiet but a child learns quickly. Tantrums will continue if they know you will cave. Simply tell them "no" and keep moving.

3. Don’t get angry. When you scream and they scream the situation is wildly out of control. You’ll end up crying and your toddler will still be screaming. In any situation, raised voices mean civilized conversation has ended in favor of basic primal instincts. Don’t revert back to the days of early man. Keep using the same calm voice you use when they are behaving to get your child to calm down as well.

4. Praise your toddler when they behave well. Positive reinforcement is better than negative. In the absence of positive attention a child will behave badly just to get some attention at all. Acting out and throwing tantrums may be a cry for attention. Don’t let it get to this point. Clap and celebrate when they go to the potty successfully and when they put away their toys. Good manners such as saying "please" and "thank you" deserve a smile and a hand clap as well.

5. Run errands after nap time. Kids get punchy when they get tired. A toddler misbehaves more often if they are dragged around when they are tired.

6. Carry snacks with you. Low blood sugar can lead to tantrums. If you are out longer than anticipated and lunch or dinner time is close at hand, let them eat a healthy snack to keep their hunger pains at bay and sugar levels stable.

7. Be consistent in your punishment. At home, you might use "time out" to deal with a tantrum for bad behavior. In public do the same. Sit your child on a bench for five minutes or take them to the car. Eventually they will learn that you are not a pushover and they will begin to behave.
You will survive the toddler years.

Nip temper tantrums in the bud with the above tips.

Until next time,