4 Best Pets for Kids

Best Pets for Kids - Dogs that are good with kidsWhen it’s time to introduce a new four-legged friend to your family, you may be wondering what would be the right choice for your kids. There is a wide range of pets available, but some are more child-friendly than others. Here is a list of our top 4 favorite pets for kids.

1. Dogs

Everybody loves the family dog. Breeds such as golden retrievers, labradors, and Irish setters are traditional family favorites due to their high energy and mild temperament. If your space requires a smaller breed, pugs, bull terriers, and beagles make great kid-friendly choices. If allergies are a problem, choose a breed such as the poodle that has minimal shedding, or you can even find breeds such as the labradoodle that are considered hypoallergenic!

2. Rodents

Small rodents like rats, gerbils, and hamsters make great pets for children. They are very low maintenance and require only a little space, making them a perfect choice for a child’s first pet. Rats, especially, have earned a bad rap from their wild relatives—domesticated rats are actually very affectionate and smart enough to learn their name and even a few simple tricks. However, while their size is convenient for housing, it does make these animals susceptible to being dropped and lost or injured by rough play, so smaller children should always be supervised when handling their pet.

3. Snakes

While they may not be traditionally cute or cuddly, many types of snakes make excellent pets for children. Breeds such as the corn snake are very docile, and only need to be fed once a week! These pets are gaining in popularity and can be found in most pet stores, or you can visit a local reptile show for a wide variety of species at lower costs. Look for breeds such as the corn snake, king snake, or ball python, as these stay relatively small, and are easily tamed with a little handling.

4. Fish

 Fish are a great staple for childhood pet. Every member of the family can enjoy a fish tank, and a simple goldfish can teach even a young child the responsibilities of caring for an animal. Small koi or beta fish can be purchased for only a few dollars at a local pet store and will live quite comfortably in a small tank for many years.


3 Questions You Should Never Ask A New Mom

Lioness and Cub

Lioness not eating her cub....yet.

Being a new mom is one of the toughest jobs around. Sleepless nights, crashing hormones, and frayed nerves can quickly take their toll on even the hardiest of women. Unfortunately, when it comes to motherhood, everyone has their own opinion as to how it should be going, and they are never afraid to share it. Here is a list of the top three questions to avoid when talking to a new mom.

1. Are you breastfeeding?

Just the word “breastfeeding” can quickly become a source of stress or embarrassment to a new mother. We all know the adage, “Breast is Best,” but how a woman decides to feed her child is a personal choice, and one in which she sometimes has no control. Some women struggle with breastfeeding, so making remarks such as, “If you love your baby you will breastfeed her,” “Breastfed babies are smarter,” and “If you feed your baby formula, she will be fat later in life,” will only add to the anxiety. After all, it really is none of your business anyway.

2. When are you going back to work?

In the first few weeks of motherhood, a mom is only concerned about when her next meal/shower/nap will be. The last thing she wants to do is think ahead to a prospect of juggling even more stress into her already overwhelming life. So give these ladies a break, and let them enjoy a little time off. And be grateful you aren’t the one up at 3 a.m. changing diapers or soothing a screaming infant.

3. Are you enjoying being a mom?

Questions like this amaze me. One that often goes along with this is, “Are your mothering instincts coming in yet?” I’m not sure what the expected answer is: “No, it’s miserable, I wish I could just eat my infant like a lion and be done with it.” Of course, I enjoy it! Of course, it’s also miserable! No matter how much you love your child, no first-time mom can ever be prepared for the challenges or the emotional rollercoaster bringing your baby home will invoke. So a simple, “How are you?” will do just fine, especially if you are just a casual acquaintance. After all, you might not like what you hear if you ask a sleep-deprived, stressed-out mother an intimate question.


Finding a Good Daycare or Nanny

Making the decision to return to work after having a baby is complicated. There are a lot of factors to consider. While you might be eagerly anticipating adult conversation and avoiding diaper duty for a full 8 hours a day, it is important to carefully consider all of your childcare options.

You aren’t the first mama to desire (or require) a job outside of the home. From part-time to full-time, countless women have done this before you and there are a number of different childcare options available to choose from. You’ll want to consider your budget, lifestyle, and personal preference before making a final decision.

Identify

Figure out what you and your family want and need. Is it more convenient for you to have a daycare near work? Or do you need a nanny that can accommodate your off-cycle work hours? Are there particular values or religious beliefs you want the childcare center to embody? Would you prefer a classroom-style daycare with structured routine that will prepare them for school or the more casual environment of a home?

Research Reputations

Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to find a daycare or nanny that you trust. If you live in a new city or don’t have those resources, the next best bet is the Internet. Online resources such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children can be great tools. You should be able to find parent reviews (both positive and negative) regarding the daycare or nanny service you are considering by spending a little bit of time conducting some online research.

Visit or Interview

Although word-of-mouth is great, nothing compares to the first impression and gut instinct you can get by visiting a daycare or interviewing a potential nanny. Inquire about the caregiver to child ratio, evaluate the cleanliness of the location, and discuss your personal priorities.

Returning to the workforce should be an enjoyable and rewarding choice for mothers. By taking the time to ensure that your children are in a fun, safe environment during the day, you can free your mind from worry and focus on the beneficial aspects of your job.


Family Game Night

It can be difficult to set aside time to spend together as a family. But, a traditional family game night might be just what you need! Regularly spending time together can help improve communication with your kids, in addition to fostering a positive environment. Here are a few tips for making family game night fun for everyone involved.

Pick an evening that works for everyone.

This is probably going to be the toughest step for some families. It can be difficult to try to coordinate your teenager’s part-time job schedule with you or your spouse’s work schedule. And that doesn’t even take hobbies and the like into account. So, put it on the calendar far in advance and stick to it.

Tell everyone to pick a game.

It is important that all family members are involved in this step. Each week you can play a different game that a different family member suggested. That way, there is plenty of variety and each person’s preferences will be included.

Add food.

Every family event is better with food! Similar to choosing games, have every family member pick a favorite snack. Write all of the recipes on pieces of paper and draw one each week to make.

Include prizes.

Other than bragging rights (which can often be enough), consider creating unique prizes for non-first-place winners. Maybe someone could get a Good Sport prize or a Most Helpful Player award.

Get rid of cell phones.

While the first step may be the toughest, this step is probably the most important. Make sure that your family is actually spending time together by putting those cell phones away!

Start a new tradition in your home this week! Pick a family game night and get your kids involved in the planning process. It may be difficult to get everyone on the same page at first, but the effort will be well worth it in the long run.


Teaching Your Kids Manners

“What do you say when you want something?”
“And what do you say now?”

I feel like I’m forever reminding my toddler to insert “please” and “thank you” into his everyday language. As exhausting and repetitive as it may seem, I am trying my best to enforce a habit that should be automatic. I would love it if my two-year-old really and truly felt thankful that I just poured him another glass of juice, but in the meantime, I’ll have to settle for memorization of the social script.

If you have been trying to teach your kids manners and you are wondering why the lesson isn’t sticking, take a look at your own behavior. One of the best ways to get the behavior you desire is to model it yourself.

Are you saying “please” and “thank you” with family members and strangers? Are your table manners what you would expect of your kids? The “do as I say, not as I do” approach may work when you’re around, but it will definitely lack the foundation to carry through the teenage years and beyond.

Take notice when they remember their manners! Kids who don’t get attention when they are being good could try to get that attention in other, negative ways. Don’t just gloss over the fact that your toddler thanked you for the string cheese. Instead, applaud him or praise her! The lesson is more likely to stick if it is associated with good feelings.

Lastly, make any corrections on the spot. If you think that your mama memory is short, try on toddler shoes for a day. Bringing up the fact that your four-year-old didn’t say “thank you” at the ice cream store will not help to change his behavior. Prompt him at the counter to mind his manners and make sure the ice cream isn’t handed over until he does.


Tips for Traveling with Teens

If you have survived the toddler years, you might think that your days of tiresome travel are behind you. However, teenagers are their own breed and often pose a unique set of challenges that can put any family vacation on a one-way track to frustration. However, with a little bit of planning ahead, you can keep your trip on track.

Plan with them.

Make sure that your teenager is part of the decision process when it comes to deciding where to go and what to do. He or she will feel more involved, and they are more likely to be aware of the bigger picture even in the midst of minor setbacks like a flight delay.

Be flexible.

Now is the time to bend the rules a little. Let them sleep longer or stay up late, for example. Yes, your teenager still needs discipline and shouldn’t be allowed to run wild, but it’s important to remember that they are on vacation too. If a major meltdown does occur, address the issue promptly and put it behind you. Don’t dwell on the situation or bring it up later in the trip. Instead, focus on making the most of the rest of the vacation.

Bring a friend.

If it is in your budget, offer the option for your teenager to bring a friend. For some families, this may detract from quality “family time,” while others will do better with the distraction. So, it really depends on what’s best for you.

Let them make decisions along the way.

You’ve incorporated them in the planning process, and you’ve been flexible throughout the vacation. It’s time to let them make a few decisions! Where do they want to eat? What do they want to do? As mentioned above, keep in mind that it’s their trip too.

In the end, teenagers really just want to be treated like adults. By incorporating their feedback and treating them with respect throughout the trip, you can increase the chances of everyone having a great time together.

This is the final post in a series of posts offering pointers for traveling with children during summer vacation. Whether you’re taking a trip with your newborn or you’re hopping in the car with young children, with a little bit of preparation, the whole family can have an enjoyable time!


Balancing Your Career and a New Baby

For many women, the first year after their baby is born can be a confusing, isolating, and exhausting time. I have two boys under the age of three and each of their births and my subsequent return to work was different.

With the first, I stayed home for almost a year, and I really struggled with depression. I put my second child in daycare by 6 weeks of age and enjoyed a part-time to full-time transition back into my rewarding career. Whether you choose to return to the workforce because your family needs the money, you want the sanity, or you simply love your job, it is important to realize that it is not only possible, but it can also be fulfilling and downright rewarding.

Set Your Expectations

It is helpful to figure out your priorities early on. Are you going to continue to try to climb the corporate ladder? Or are you going to take weekends off and not bring work home in the evenings? Are you going to continue traveling for business trips? Or are you going to pass on that promotion and stay closer to home for a while?

Find Great Child Care

The trick to being able to focus on work while you’re at work is to not worry about your baby during the day. I also decided to choose child care close to my work so I can visit on my lunch break to nurse and play.

Manage Your Time

My husband and I now have shared iPhone calendars. He resisted it for the longest time, but it helps us stay coordinated even when we’re busy. And, it will hopefully help us avoid the dreaded “I thought you were picking them up from daycare” moment.

In the end, there is no secret to balancing work and a new baby. In fact, what works in one family may be completely different than what works for you. If your expectations about what you can accomplish at home and at the office are realistic, you won’t have to compromise your role as a professional or professional mama.


Tips for Traveling with Young Children

None of us wants to be the exhausted and embarrassed mother with an out-of-control toddler. Luckily, there is a way to travel with small children that doesn’t involve losing your sanity. It often takes a lot of preparation and a little bit of work, but you can successfully travel with your toddler. Depending on the length of your trip, there are a number of different things you can do to develop a fun culture of travel within your family.

Short-term

If you’re just headed across the state to grandma’s house, make sure that you pack plenty of juice boxes, string cheese, animal crackers, and pre-cut fruit. We all know how cranky we can get when we’re hungry, and the same is true ten times over for toddlers.

Mid-range

If you’re flying across the country for a much-anticipated trip to Disneyland, you’ll want to pack the short-term items plus a few distractors. Crayons, small toys that don’t make much noise, bright paper, puppets, and other fun items can be brought out and presented one at a time through the trip. Enhance the excitement and distraction by wrapping them before you leave and your child will be even more impressed with the contents.

Long-haul

If you’ve decided to brave international customs and fly over the ocean, you’ll want to bring both short-term and mid-range items along with a focus on safety. Many families have a basic emergency medical kit with supplies for bumps, bruises, and scrapes along the way. It is also good planning to bring basic childproofing items, such as electrical socket covers, for the hotel or living quarters.

When traveling is stressful, most passengers around you, especially fellow parents, will be easy-going. If your child does act out despite your best planning attempts, don’t forget to apologize. Simple and sincere words can go a long way. And a little bribery never hurts either!


This is the second of a series of posts offering pointers on traveling with children during summer vacation. We’ve already covered tips for traveling with a newborn and traveling with teenagers is next on the list. So, keep your eyes peeled!

Tips for Traveling with a Newborn

It’s that time of year again! Families across the country are preparing to hit the road for summer vacations, but if you’ve got a newborn at home, you might be a little nervous about the idea of traveling with an infant. But, the good news is that it does not have to be a stressful experience.

Whether it’s a road trip across the state or an overseas flight, with a little preparation, it is possible to survive – and even enjoy – the journey with your new baby. Plan ahead to help reduce potential stress and make the trip memorable.

Keep Your Routines

A happy baby is safe and secure in his or her surroundings. Being able to predict what is going to happen next can help to establish a comfort level for them. While it’s not always possible to maintain the same routines that you have at home while you’re on the road, ensuring that nap times and bedtimes occur regularly can help to keep your baby rested and less fussy.

Plan Surprises

Depending on the age of the baby, distraction may be your most valuable tool. Circumvent fussy times by pulling out a favorite (or new) toy. Be sure to bring a few alternatives to swap out when your baby gets bored.

Bring Food and Water

Nothing can make a baby crankier than being hungry. And let’s be honest, the same goes for us. Make sure you have snacks packed for yourself and plenty of formula or breast milk for your baby. If you are traveling by car, you may need to pump ahead. For airplane trips, invest in a good nursing cover.

Relax

By planning and packing ahead, the actual day of travel should be relatively stress-free. Babies feed off our energy, and they can get very fussy if we are particularly nervous about missing a flight or where to stop next to fill the tank with gas. So, relax and enjoy the journey!

This is the first of a series of posts offering pointers on traveling with children during summer vacation. So, keep your eyes peeled for more tips on taking trips with young kids and teenagers in the coming weeks!


Appreciating Your Own Mom

Nothing makes you appreciate your own mother like being one. Moms sacrifice themselves on so many levels for their kids and it’s not until a woman actually experiences being “the mother” that she actually gets this. It’s also when the realization kicks in that mothers aren’t goddesses, angels, or saints. Still carrying around that laundry list of what Mommy didn’t do for you? It’s likely that after labor pains, sleepless nights, and the raising of a teenager, you have begun to realize that she was just a human, after all, like you.

Sometimes, the world places expectations on women who bear and raise children that may seem unachievable. I mean, this is an extremely difficult job done by mere humans. Motherhood can be the most rewarding life experience while being the most challenging. Sure, there are lots of guidebooks out there but working in the trenches is a lot different from reading pat advice from a stranger. Your mom felt the same way. She did her best to get you from her womb to where you are standing right now: wondering how to best raise the little human who has landed in your care.

Before undertaking the mountain climb of mothering, you may have faulted your mom for where she failed. Maybe she didn’t always cook the perfect meals for dinner. Maybe she forced you to do your homework or practice your piano. Maybe she could be a real crab sometimes. Now that your own kid refuses to eat her vegetables, turn in her homework on time, or practice her musical scales, you might feel a bit crabby yourself. And you might suddenly get a flash of insight about what you put your own mom through and view her with a new sense of appreciation.

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