What to Remember to Successfully Potty Train Your Children

As a parent, you likely crave the day that your children are out of diapers. However, that comes with the challenge of potty training, which can be far greater than any diaper change. You can’t guarantee that you’ll avoid mishaps and accidents, but you can make things more successful for both you and your children. These are some ways you can make potty training easier and more satisfying.

Go at Their Pace

You canlook for signs that your children are ready to start potty training to let you know when it’s time to start. These include wanting to take off their diaper and alerting you they need to use the restroom. However, not every child has these urges at the same time. Forcing them into something that scares and upsets them is not the way to go. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the comparison trap where you compare them to other children or siblings who got potty trained at a relatively early age. It shouldn’t be about when they get potty trained but that it happens at some point.

Don’t Punish Them

While punishment is important for misbehavior, not immediately taking to potty training shouldn’t be considered misbehavior. Learning to use the potty can be like learning to speak a new language for your children. Methods of potty training that emphasize child interest and cooperation avoid punishment for failure. You can give your children incentives to use the potty, such as small amounts of candy. You might be disappointed when they have accidents or other problems, but you don’t need to make them feel ashamed about this. Keep your unhelpful comments to yourself and work on building up their confidence.

Keep Your Patience

Just because your children have some accidents or are reluctant to use the potty by no means should lead you to conclude that your effort is for nothing. You could probably ask every parent who’vesuccessfully potty trained their kids and they’ll tell you how tough it is, including your own. Put things into perspective as well. If the worst thing that happens is that you have to clean up some accidents, then you should consider yourself pretty lucky.

Potty training is a major milestone for both parents and children. Even if they don’t know how to put it into words, it helps your kids to feel more self-sufficient. It can also help you to feel proud of your ability to educate your children. A positive potty training experience can be rewarding for the whole family.

Read more: Baby Care Anywhere: 4 Tips for Parenting on the Go

What Women Should Know About Self Defense

As women, we are raised to be afraid. Aside from not trusting strangers, we learn to avoid certain types of adults, too, especially men who target women in parking lots, on dates and even in the workplace. Because so many women are the victims of a crime every year, learning female self-defense is not only necessary but also empowering. While society works on shifting the conversation from self-defense to preventing attacks from men in the first place, here are several things you should know to help protect yourself.

You Have to Practice

Self-defense cannot be mastered in a single class. In addition to physical skills, women must learn how to be more aware of their surroundings and identify potential threats before they need to attack. In many cases, learning how to be more self-aware can prevent attacks and spare women from both danger and trauma. Signing up for karate, MMA, kickboxing or other physical combat class can help you stay fit and hone the important skills necessary to protect yourself. Some of the most basic and effective self-defense moves for women include:

  • The straight punch (jab)
  • Groin kick
  • How to escape a chokehold from the front and behind
  • Throwing body weight and escaping “bear hugs” and other pinning maneuvers

De-escalation is the Best Defense

There are conditions that differentiate self-defense and assault, and often, it’s a very fine line between the two. Understand that women aren’t always going to be found innocent in attack cases, even if a man initiated the encounter. The more serious injuries a person sustains, the more likely you are to face criminal charges. Learning how to be assertive and shifting the conversation to de-escalate a situation can ultimately prove just as life-saving as many physical self-defense strategies.

Escape, Not Defeat, is the Goal

The purpose of self-defense moves is not to disfigure an attacker. In fact, you shouldn’t stick around and beat them as long as you can. As soon as they’re down, your first goal is to run and seek help immediately. Practical self-defense means that you remain aware of this at all times and you take other measures to avoid physical combat first. Your self-defense moves are to demobilize an attacker and get to safety, not to stay and engage in more physical contact than necessary. The longer you stay in a combative situation, the more dangerous it becomes. Some attackers might be scared off by a woman who can defend themselves, but others will only become more enraged and determined to harm you when they can get their hands on you again.

It’s Okay to Be Mean

Many women are afraid to stick up for themselves because they fear rudeness will only provoke an attack. You have every right to assert yourself confidently in a situation, and it’s okay to be “mean” by telling someone to leave you alone explicitly. You can also choose to ignore a stranger’s request, such as a man stopping to ask you for directions. You aren’t obligated to respond, and if the worst thing that happens is someone thinks you’re a jerk, so be it.

If you do wind up having to get physical, make sure you give the fight your all. Don’t think that getting hit or knocked down means it’s over. Your goal here is to survive, so put yourself first, and embrace all the strength inside of you to get away.

Now that you’ve read some safety tips for yourself, read more about some safety tips you can teach your kids: Enjoy the Ride: Bicycle Safety Tips to Teach Your Kids

Unofficial Rules Everyone Should Follow On Social Media

Social media has no doubt changed dramatically over the past few years. What was once a place where you could share family vacation pictures or that funny thing your cat did on video is today a minefield that needs to be navigated carefully.

Although much good still comes from social media, there are a few rules you should keep in mind while traversing it daily. Certain steps must be taken to ensure your privacy stays secure. Here are the unofficial rules everyone should follow while on social media.

Find Your People

Much like anywhere in the world, you are going to have your positive and negative people. Choosing which circles of people you are going to be a part of is critical to the type of social media experience you will have. If you are not the type to want to discuss politics, then it is best to not follow certain political figures or organizations. Sometimes, even following a random politician can instantly paint you as a certain type of person.

Therefore, it is very important to study the interactions of any groups you may want to join. Are the members polite when discussing issues? Is this a closed group where you have regulars and a support system? Following this advice will no doubt make finding the right type of people to connect with that much easier. Many social media sites also have blocking and filtering tools to help you navigate a page you want to interact with that may have a few unsavory people on it.

Watch Your Words

Now more than ever, the words you put on the internet should be carefully thought-out. This is because there are plenty of people out there ready to call you out on past mistakes. Even a 10-year-old tweet can totally get you fired. Unfortunately, there are people in the world who need something to feel important about, even if this means bringing you down in the process. So, do not give them that satisfaction. Instead, watch your words on the internet; after all, they are going to be out there forever.

Share the Right Content

You might be looking good in a dress, but that does not mean it is appropriate to post online. Much like your words, the content you post must also be carefully screened. Ask yourself this question: if you were a potential employer, would you hire yourself? More often than not, the answer will be no. So, always make sure that the photos being uploaded to your wall or page are not going to come back and haunt you.

Social media has become a tricky thing to navigate. Your actions are not the only thing that can get you in trouble; there are also people out there just waiting for you to slip up. Therefore, it is paramount to adhere to the tips above when using any social media platform.

Here is another article that you might be interested in: The Parent’s Guide to Kid-Proofing Your Devices

What You Need to Know About Taking Care of Your Tires

Tires are expensive, so you need to take care of them. Spend just a few minutes a week caring for them. Changing some bad driving habits can extend the life of your tires.

The Basics

You need to be sure that the air pressure in your tire is correct at least once a week. The right pressure should be listed on your tire and in your car’s user manual. Check it when the tires are cold. You will notice the amount of air goes up and down depending on the weather, so you must check the air pressure regularly.

If you frequently leave rubber on the road when you drive, then you need to slow down and anticipate when you will need to start and stop as you can make your tires last longer this way. According to Schnipper Law, three out of four people don’t know how to tell if a tire is worn out, and four out of five don’t know how to check their tire pressure. Making little changes can stop your tires from being an expensive problem.

Head to a Tire Shop Biyearly

At least twice a year, you should go to a tire shop that also does car alignments. Ask them to check the alignment on your vehicle. If it is out of alignment, then your tires may be rubbing, which can shorten their life. Every 5,000 miles or at least twice yearly, have your tires rotated and aligned.

This will keep your tires in top condition, helping them to last longer. Additionally, if your car drifts to the right or the left when you are driving, you need to head back to the tire shop. Being more frequent with your tire check will help avoid premature balding and uneven wear, which will require to replace them sooner.

Check Your Tires Daily

Before you leave home in the morning, check your tires. If any look low, use your tire gauge to make sure that the right amount of air is properly in the tire. While you’re down there, look at the tread to see if it seems evenly worn across the tire. Even if the tire loses just a little bit of air, you probably have a leak.

Take the tire off your car, and put the spare on before heading to the tire shop to get your tire repaired. If you need a new tire, then drive easy for the first week or so as manufacturers put a coating on the tire to make it pull free from the mold, which can make it very slick.

Spending a few minutes taking care of your tires can make them last longer. In turn, you will save money. Even for quick trips, make sure everything is in proper working order to ensure you have the safest ride possible and you can avoid unnecessary damage to your car.

Check out my blog for other tips to help you out!

How to Avoid Bug Bites While Hiking With Your Kids

Hiking as a family is a fun way to bond while exercising in the great outdoors. Before you set off on your outdoor adventure, it is important that you have equipped yourself with the knowledge and tools to avoid bug bites. Ranging from mild mosquito bites to more serious tick infestations, it is critical that you protect your family from these potentially dangerous encounters. Here are three ways that you can avoid bug bites while hiking with your kids.

Bug Spray

It is important to remember that not all bug sprays are created equal. Before you apply the spray to your kid, be sure to check the label to make sure that it is safe for use on small children. If you are concerned about harmful ingredients, you can look to naturally-based bug sprays. According to Wildthings, natural ingredients that repel mosquitoes include citronella, lemon oil, and eucalyptus. Repellents come in a variety of forms, making it easy to find the application that is best for your needs.

Cover Up

One of the best ways to prevent bug bites from ruining your outdoor adventure is to cover up. If you’re carrying a toddler in a hiking backpack, you can even buy a specially-designed mosquito net to put over their head. A lightweight, long-sleeved shirt provides excellent cover while out on your hike. You can even spray the clothing with repellents for an extra layer of protection. Tucking your pants into your socks will also help to keep bugs out. While mosquitos may be annoying, it is especially important that you are on the lookout for more dangerous critters such as ticks. According to ChemTec Pest Control, ticks can carry diseases that lead to symptoms such as fever, rash, aches, and fatigue.

Choose Your Time Wisely

Mosquitos are most active between dusk and dawn, making this the prime time to be susceptible to bites. Early mornings and evenings are the especially active times for these types of bugs. If you want to decrease your chances of being bitten, it is a good idea to avoid hiking during these times. If you are out during these hours, be sure to be extra vigilant with your protective clothing and spray.

Hiking with your family is a fun way to get the kids outdoors and off of their electronics. However, nasty bug bites can ruin your fun. With the right precautions, though, you can increase the chances that everyone in your family comes home without any unwanted and painful “souvenirs.”

Looking for more parenting advice? Consider reading: Healthy Habits to Teach Children That Will Set Them Up for Success.

Tips for Introducing Your Baby to Solid Foods

From the birth of your child to the time they take their first steps, these moments of growth can be some of the most exciting in both of your lives. One of the major milestones in growth is when your baby is transitioning from drinking milk to eating solid foods. While you may be very anxious and ready to let your little one try every morsel of food on your plate, there are some things that you should keep in mind.

The Right Time

While some people start their baby on solid foods when they are only a few months old, it is best to wait until your infant is at least 6 months old before introducing solids. One of the reasons for this is that their tummies must be mature enough to properly digest the foods, and you want to be sure that they have gotten all they needed from their milk. When your baby is ready for solids, they will more than likely show you by wanting to touch food on your plate, watching you as you eat and maybe even trying to eat your grownup food. However, it is important that you wait until your baby is able to hold up their head and sit upright without assistance before starting this new journey.

Foods to Start With

It’s important to keep in mind the size of the food you give to your baby. Food should be cut in small pieces to prevent choking. Peas are a really great first food to start with as they are small enough not to pose a choking risk. They’re also easy to digest and great for helping the baby learn to self-feed. Single-grain cereals are also great for starting out, but foods such as nuts, popcorn, and whole grapes can cause choking and should be avoided until much later in your child’s development.

Be Patient

Not every baby is cooperative when it comes to making the transition, especially if they are breastfed. Furthermore, many children can be very picky about the things they eat, and some may not even want to try new foods. While this may frustrate you when your baby won’t even try the food, you should know that this is perfectly normal. Sometimes, it is the pressure of the feeding that can damper your baby’s willingness to say “ah.” Try leaving the food there and allow your baby to take his time and explore the food. Sure, this may result in lots of uneaten peas on the floor, but after becoming familiar with the texture of the food, they will eventually give it a try. Once your little one sees how yummy this new world of nutrients is, they will be eager to try even more foods.

Remember that no two babies are the same as far as their developmental growth is concerned. What works for one may not work for another, and that is okay. Just keep these tips in mind and helping your baby transition to solid foods can be a much easier process.

Here’s another article you might like: Healthy Habits to Teach Children That Will Set Them Up for Success

The Parent’s Guide to Kid-Proofing Your Devices

Technology has changed the way we live our daily lives. From being able to get reports about what’s happening around the world to allow us to pay our bills easier, technology is a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, the same rings true for many children. Children are often rambunctious to the point that they are unpredictable, and that behavior mixed with technology can spell disaster. Here are a few tips for keeping your technology and devices protected from your kids.

Phone

Having a phone — and often a smartphone at that — is necessary for everyone to have these days. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to make calls, send messages, or look at the daily news. However, despite the wondrous things that phones can do, they are rather fragile in terms of durability. And if a child gets a hold of your phone, chances are you’re going to end up needing repairs. Always keep your phone locked away in a drawer or in your pocket.

Laptop

Although your phone is an important item, it doesn’t even come close to the importance of a laptop. Since laptops are what people use to do their jobs on a daily basis, it’s important to keep is safe from inquisitive minds and hands. If you have older children who have access to the internet, do not let them on your laptop. They may indirectly destroy your computer with viruses. A great place to store your laptop when you’re not using it is a laptop bag. It not only helps with easy transport, but it provides extra cushioning that protects your expensive investment.

Television

Last, but not least, you want to keep your television out of your child’s reach. A TV can end up causing a massive injury if children play around with it. In order to protect your children from a TV, you want to put it somewhere they can’t reach. This can be in an entertainment center or even the wall. It’s also smart to put remotes out of reach as well in case your child manages to get access to the batteries. This is also good for preventing the frustration of a lost remote.

Children are curious by nature and will try to get their hands on anything that catches their eyes. No doubt, this definitely includes technology.  Aside from your phone and computer being potentially destroyed, children are at risk of injuring themselves because of their curiosity. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little planning, you can find ways to protect both your electronics and children.

Related: Why We Stopped Using Amazon Prime Video

With the Kids in Mind: How Your Actions and Behavior Influence Your Children

You may not realize how much your kids are picking up from your behavior every time they are around you. What you say does matter, but it’s your actions that speak the loudest. There are so many ways your behavior influences your children for better or worse. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind when raising children.

Eating Habits

What you eat and your overall attitude towards food can make a huge difference in your child’s life. Choosing healthy foods and putting the focus on being strong and well teaches kids that food is fuel. Constantly trying new fad diets and obsessing about the number on the scale teaches kids the wrong message about food. Fill your plate with foods you want your kids to also eat. Set the example and talk about why your family chooses to eat what they do. Keep conversations about food positive, and focus on anytime foods versus sometimes foods. It’s fine to have a cookie as long as kids understand it’s not an anytime food.

Everyday Habits

You set an example daily for your child, whether you realize it or not. Your kids are definitely paying attention to your driving habits, so it’s important to model good driving behaviour, especially when your teen is learning to drive. Don’t use your phone while in the driver’s seat. Make sure to also follow the rules of the road so your child won’t think it’s okay to run stop signs or drive over the speed limit. How you treat other people is also something your kids will pick up on daily. It’s important to be kind and to exercise self-control even when a situation is difficult. Kids are great at recognizing hypocritical behavior, so be authentic and real no matter where you are or who you’re interacting with at the time. Your kids will learn from you how to do this and why it is important.

Environmental Responsibility

It’s more important than ever for everyone to take responsibility and protect the environment. Raise environmentally conscious kids by setting an example in your life with them. Teach your kids the importance of recycling and what items they can and cannot recycle. Show them how to reuse items they might otherwise throw out instead of just buying more. More than anything, teach your kids to reduce. This means making sure they see you differentiate between wants and needs. Living simply when raising your children shows them how to do it and what the benefits are. Bring reusable bags to the store when shopping, and carry a reusable water bottle to teach your kids the importance of not buying plastic all the time. These habits will become easy for kids if they are raised watching and understanding the benefits to the planet.

Kids hear your words, but they pay much more attention to your behavior. Set a good example by living a life that you want your kids to emulate so that they can build good habits.

Healthy Habits to Teach Children That Will Set Them Up for Success

Every parent wants their child to grow into a well-rounded, healthy adult, but it doesn’t happen by chance. Many parents struggled throughout early adulthood to get a good handle on personal nutrition, wellness, and exercise. Many of us are still learning today. Luckily, all of your life lessons can turn into instruction for your children. These are three healthy habits you’ll want to instill from an early age so your little ones can go on to practice them as they grow up healthy and strong.

Fitness

Children from ages to seventeen need at least sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day. This may feel like pulling teeth when so many children prefer to spend their time glued to a screen, but extracurricular activities like sports, dance, and swimming can make it more fun and accessible. Regular exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and childhood obesity, which comes with a variety of associated risks and health problems. Get active with your child; have dance parties, take the dog for a walk every day or go on family bike rides. There are plenty of ways to get fit without being bored.

Regularly Get Checked

Routine check-ups demystify healthcare and make children more comfortable seeking treatment as adults. Many illnesses and health problems adults experience are preventable, but they put off getting proper care because they avoid the doctor’s or dentist’s office like the plague. Dental hygiene is also important. Many common maladies like cavities and gum disease can be avoided with routine cleanings and exams. Despite gum boils being easily treatable, people will often just ignore them and allow them to become even bigger problems. Lead by example; take an active role in your own health. Talk about going to the doctor, encourage healthy habits and help your children learn how to listen to their bodies and identify symptoms.

Eat Balanced Meals

Nutrition is one of the biggest struggles for kids and adults alike. With a busy schedule, it’s easy to pick up something from the local diner or call for delivery, but nothing can match the health benefits of a home-cooked meal. Healthy cooking is a lot easier than it seems, and cooking healthy meals with your child will help them to develop better eating habits. By following the basics of the food pyramid, you’ll be able to eat more filling, better-tasting meals while prioritizing your entire family’s well-being.

The best way to teach your kids healthy habits is to be a good role model. By taking care of your own health, children will become more mindful of their own wellness.

Here’s another article you might like: 3 Little Known Oral Health Concerns in Kids

Teaching Your Kids to Navigate the Streets Safely

A major life skill you need to teach your kids is how to navigate the streets safely as a pedestrian. Accidents can happen quickly, but a child armed with the right information has a better chance of staying safe.

Set the Example

Words don’t go as far as actions. If you truly want your child to learn how to be safe while walking near a street, you have to set the example. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, you should put away your phone to show your child that distractions aren’t a good idea when you’re a pedestrian. Practice safety at every crosswalk and follow the rules you want your kids to follow. Exercise caution and teach your kids not to take unnecessary chances. Waiting an extra minute is better than taking a risk and getting hit by a car. They need to see you model patience and safe behavior so they will learn to do the same.

Teach Them the Rules

There are the official and the unofficial rules of being a pedestrian, and you need to teach your kids all of them. Make sure they know what is expected of them by law when they are a pedestrian. Make sure they also know that even a pedestrian signal telling them they can cross the street doesn’t always mean they can go safely. They need to know how to look for turning cars that could hit them even if they have the right to cross. Crosswalk safety is essential, but it’s not the only thing you need to teach your kids. According to WB&T, many accidents involving pedestrians happen outside of a crosswalk. Kids need to know which side of the sidewalk to walk on so they can see traffic and move with the flow of other pedestrians. They also need to understand the danger of darting off a sidewalk and in between cars. Drivers can’t see them until they are on the road and this can lead to major accidents.

Be Visible

Teach your child to wear a bright colored jacket or another article of clothing that will draw a driver’s attention to him. Make sure they only walk during daylight hours when they can be easily seen. According to Imperial Motion, you should teach your children that if walking at night is truly necessary, they need to wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight. Staying visible to busy and possibly distracted drivers is important for any pedestrian. Even if your child is on the sidewalk and not crossing the street, he needs to be easy to see to anyone driving on the road.

Walking offers kids independence and physical exercise, so make sure they know how to navigate streets safely. By following these tips, you can help them to be safer when they go out on their own.
Here’s another article you might like: 4 Hidden Health Hazards Threatening Your Home and Family

What You Need to Know to Protect Your Piano from Pests

When it comes to cleaning an older or wooden piano, it can be a little intimidating and challenging for most people. This is largely due to the fact that placing the wrong chemical or rubbing too harshly on a component can not only change the sound of the piano but may even ruin it entirely. Sure, we can live with a little dust but what a piano can’t live with is pests within it. Pests not only cause a hazard to the piano itself but to the well-being of the people residing within the home as well. The following list details what you need to know in order to protect your piano from these critters.

Close Points of Access

Depending on the time period in which the piano was built, it will have different access points. For example, a pre-WWII piano will contain a top lid that can easily be lifted to inspect the pipes within. Having this lid removed or opened regularly can invite small critters, such as spiders, to camp out within the pipes. The spiders will eventually create webs and even lay their eggs and—trust us—nobody wants that. Another area that most older pianos tend to have is on the bottom panels that are placed to access the bottom area of the piano. This one is a common access point for pests as people tend to accidentally push the panel open during use.

Regular Cleaning

Like most things in the home, pianos can attract dust, moisture, and—yes—pests. This is why regular cleanings are a must. While dusting and wiping off any dirty pipes, always make sure to avoid cleaning with strong chemicals. Adding chemicals to the interior of your piano can deter the quality of sound and damage the piano beyond repair. You should clean any spills immediately, as many kinds of ants are attracted to even the faintest hint of sugar.

Keep an Eye on the Legs

Wood floors attracting pests, such as termites, are a more specific circumstance, but it is one that is constantly glanced over. Too often the interior of the piano is what gets the most attention, but owners forget that the piano does not produce the pests itself—homes with wooden floors are a direct line to termites finding their way into your piano. Consequently, you should keep an eye on the legs of your piano. You can prevent termites from reaching the piano by adding a layer between the floor and the piano. If they are already present, using borates as a cleaning solution may be necessary. 

Understandably, people want to keep their pianos in the most pristine condition possible. Pianos are not only musical instruments but a gateway to the past—a past that many families hold very dear to their hearts. Adhere to the list above to begin improving how you protect your piano and keep the pests away.

Don’t Forget to Bring These Essentials on Your Family Hike

There are few better ways for a family to bond than by taking a family hiking trip. Without technology, the stresses of school, work, and other distractions, the members of your family will have no choice but to give their undivided attention to each other. There are a few essential items you must be sure to take on your family hike to ensure you have the best experience possible.

Snacks and Water

Snacks are important to take on a hiking trip. This is especially true when children will be participating in the hike. The amount of food you take will depend on how far you will hike and how remote the area is you choose for your hike. Several snack choices make excellent selections for hikes. Trail mix is a hiking favorite. Dried fruit, cheese slices, sandwiches, and sliced vegetables are also great choices. Each family member who embarks on the hike should also leave with a full water bottle. If your hiking trail does not provide safe water along the way, you should pack two water bottles per person.

Insect Repellent

Insect repellent is an absolute necessity for your family hiking trip. There are a couple of reasons for this fact. First, there may be a member of your family with an insect phobia. The bee is one insect that is known to strike fear in many people. Other people may lose their heads if they see a wood tick on their pants. Another concern is illnesses that are carried by insects. The mosquito is an insect that is worthy of concern. Mosquitoes can carry viruses in many parts of the world.

Clothing

Each member of your family should keep in mind the weather when choosing clothing to wear on a hike. However, weather reports aren’t always accurate, so you and your family should pack clothes that allow you to adjust to changing weather conditions. An extra sweater or sweatshirt should be packed for each person in case the temperature drops. It may also be a good idea to pack ponchos you can wear if it rains. 

Taking a family hiking trip is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and bond with family members. But your hiking trip can go downhill quickly if you don’t pack the proper supplies. Stock up on the three things highlighted above before you leave for your family hiking trip.

Looking to extend your trip? Here’s another article you might enjoy: Are We There Yet? What to Keep in Mind When Road Tripping with Little Ones

Choosing the Best Daycare for Your Child

So it’s time for your little one to head off to daycare? The transition from home to a full-time care facility can be a challenge for both you and your young one. If you choose the right place, however, that transition can proceed much more smoothly. How do you know what to look for to ensure that your child has the best daycare experience possible? Continue reading for three things you need to consider when searching for quality childcare.

Consider Your Child’s Age

Your child’s age should be one of the greatest determining factors when choosing an appropriate daycare facility. Daycare programs are structured according to children’s developmental stages, and educational activities within each group are also structured to target specific ages. When scoping out facilities, it is important to look for one that offers age-appropriate learning activities for each stage of your child’s early cognitive development. Ideally, children will be segmented into groups according to age or developmental stage and educated accordingly. Your child’s social interaction with other children in his or her age group is a critical component in fostering relationship building and teamwork skills.

Consider Cost

Daycare costs have risen considerably, and that climb only continues. Annual childcare costs for an infant at a licensed daycare can run in excess of $10,000 USD (£7783.00) per year—and often well above that. As your child begins to learn, explore and require dedicated education, your childcare costs will climb even more. Depending on your location, annual costs may surge as high as £15,500 (about $20,000 USD) per child. When considering daycare facilities, the cost can often be an indication of the facility’s strengths. At the base level, which is generally the most affordable cost tier, education and developmental activities may be included, but highly affordable programs are typically focused on supervision alone. As you move up in cost tiers, additional services beyond simple supervision are included in the price. In-depth educational time, foreign language teaching, team-building activities and even advanced physical education like gymnastics and yoga may be offered at the more expensive centers. Additionally, many higher-cost daycare centers offer after-hours programs designed to accommodate children whose parents work until later in the evening.

Consider Employee Education

If you’re looking for a childcare facility that offers a well-rounded education and knowledgeable care, you’ll want to verify the center’s employee education requirements. Many facilities only require the completion of state-mandated education hours, yet others require employees to possess, at a minimum, an associate degree in early childhood education. Some places even require a bachelor’s degree in an education-related field for employment consideration. If you want your child to receive a quality education delivered by trained professionals who are well-versed in early cognitive development, take employee education seriously. Selecting a daycare facility is very similar to selecting a quality school for your child, and employee training and education matters.

Selecting a quality daycare center for your child can be a confusing task. Before you settle on a facility, make sure you do your research. Meet with the facility director, learn about educational options and determine if the center’s offerings justify the asking price. You might even consider sitting in with your child for a class or two to get a feel for how the facility operates. If you do your due diligence, you should have no problem finding a center that provides quality care and education, and one that fits your budget, too.

Here’s another article you might enjoy: How to Keep Your Nursery Clean Without Toxic Chemicals

How to Choose the Best Toys for Your Toddler

As the parent of a toddler, you have many worries and responsibilities. One enjoyable job for most parents, though, is picking out fun toys for your little one to play with. When selecting playthings for children of this age, the process requires paying attention to overall safety considerations in order to ensure the youngster’s health and well-being. You also want to stimulate learning. Continue reading for some practical and helpful tips on how to choose the best toys for your toddler.

Choose Toys That Encourage Creativity

Parents should take the time to encourage and nurture their toddler’s creativity in the home environment. This aptitude usually comes naturally to a child, but as they grow, other things impede their natural curiosity and drive to create. Lack of handy access to creative toys and supplies can hinder the development of a child’s imagination.

While there are lots of unique toys on the market that can enhance a child’s creative spirit, sometimes the simple, tried and true toys and supplies are all that is needed. Building blocks, geometric shapes and puzzles are always a good choice, and so are other traditional playthings that encourage imaginative behavior. Consider giving your toddler safe crayons and markers for drawing. Craft materials and art supplies are a great creative outlet that kids of this age love, though some of these activities may require proper supervision. The best tip for nurturing creativity in a toddler is to give them open-ended playthings. Kids will supply the imagination. Often, a cardboard box can entertain a child far longer than the high-priced toy that came inside.

Tailor Toys to Age Groups

Parents need to ensure the safety of anything in their toddler’s environment, and that includes the toys. A toy’s safety is very important to consider with toddlers, as poorly designed toys can lead to accidents. Always research any toy before giving it to your vulnerable child. Kids at this age may still put objects into their mouth or ears, and children may not understand how to properly play with toys in a safe manner. Be particularly careful of small, detachable parts.

Parents can read about a particular toy to determine if it is recommended for children at the toddler stage. Remember, though, that one child’s current developmental age might be significantly different from that of another.

Pick Toys That Stimulate Learning

Many parents want to stimulate their toddler’s learning and developmental skills by providing them with the right toys. For best results, it helps to choose a toy that your child seems interested in. There are many fantastic toys that are educational and yet still fun for toddlers to play with. There are some great parenting sites that review popular toys, and parents can take advantage of toy clubs that send an age-appropriate developmental toy to the home each month.

Watching your child grow and learn is a source of joy and wonder, especially at the toddler stage, and you’ll probably do everything possible to stimulate that young mind. Of course, a child’s continuing exploration of the world begins with playthings. That’s why it’s important to choose toys that challenge and engage a youngster.
Here’s another article you might enjoy: Enjoy the Ride: Bicycle Safety Tips to Teach Your Kids

How Can I Use Social Media to Promote My Books?

Creating an online social media presence is one aspect of any successful marketing plan to promote an upcoming new release. Social media is a free tool that can be used for marketing. It is an easy to use tool for authors to directly interact with their fans and to build an online reputation. Social media is used to promote a cult following and to increase a fan base. Here are some ways you can use social media to maximize your next book release.

Twitter

Not only do you want to promote your book on Twitter by providing links to places that you can purchase online, but you primarily want to use this as a platform to interact with your audience. Numerous recommendations from twitter marketing experts recommend finding and following influencers in your target market and regularly responding and reacting to their posts. This helps you get noticed by shared followers to then grow your own following. Once you’ve acquired a following, you can occasionally promote your book by doing things such as teasing excerpts or promoting content.

Facebook

Facebook is another platform that enables you to directly interact with your fans and target audience. Ensure your personal online branding such as your website or blog contains links to your social media profiles, including Facebook. Using your Facebook URL on your blog is a great idea because it means they won’t get distracted or confused while trying to find your page. It also ensures that fans arrive at the correct Facebook landing page, and don’t get confused by user-created fan pages or parody accounts. Facebook offers a visual and interactive platform to share relevant and engaging content such as videos, celebrity or guest readings, excerpts or merchandise.

Advertise In-Person Events

While you can create a big presence online, nothing beats in-person live events. If you have book signings or a promotional tour scheduled around your upcoming launch, you’ll want to promote those events on your social media profiles to help drive your audience to your event. Some tactics for successful event marketing on social media include creating event pages, posting social media graphics showing upcoming tour stops, or by streaming live videos from the event. Find and post in groups that intersect with your target audiences like horror novel fans, or young adult fiction groups.

Use Facebook Live

The current Facebook algorithm is set to prioritize live video above most other mediums, ensuring the live video will have the best organic reach out of all the various content types. Leverage this to your advantage by hosting regularly scheduled Facebook Live discussions, readings, or even just having interactive fun. For example, you can consider hosting a bi-weekly hour-long discussion on various aspects of your upcoming book such as exploring motivations behind popular or controversial characters. This also gives you the advantage of allowing your fans to directly interact by posting questions, giving you the opportunity to build and enhance fan loyalty for future releases.

Host a Giveaway or Contest

Another way to successfully promote an upcoming book is to hosta a giveaway or other contest. You can ask your audience to do things like submitting essays, post photos of themselves dressed up as a character from your book, or videos of dramatic readings. Prizes you can offer include items such as signed limited editions of your book, merchandise, or other personal or unique items. Contests have the potential to go viral, especially when the prize is highly desired. You can also help drive sales of your book by offering a discount to all entries.

Create Your Own Hashtags

Create relevant hashtags surrounding upcoming book releases, relevant plot lines or referencing popular or likable characters for your fans and audience to use. Hashtags are easy to track, allowing you to monitor and engage in discussions surrounding your book. You can use a variety of tools to monitor posts using your hashtags giving you a consolidated topline summary of all discussions involving your new release. Encourage followers to use hashtags by posing questions and initiating other engaging discussions. 

Overall, social media platforms are a great tool to incorporate into your marketing mix for your next best-seller. Use it as a platform to engage one on one with your fans. Participate in ongoing discussions and online groups that have a crossover with your target audience to help raise awareness of your materials. Consider occasionally offering giveaways or hosting a contest for autographed editions, merchandise or other unique prizes. Ensure your digital presence such as author pages on online retailers, personal websites, and personal blogs all contain links to the appropriate profiles and that you’re using your Facebook URL accordingly. Lastly, proactively engage in ongoing discussions through Facebook Live, or by responding to comments and questions from fans in order to help build fan loyalty and increase affinity amongst your readers.
Click here for a free copy of “A Simpler Guide to Online Security for Everyone!”







Are We There Yet? What to Keep in Mind When Road Tripping with Little Ones

Road trips can be a lot of fun, especially when you take them with the family. However, when you have small children, going on a long road trip may be a bit much for them to sit through. Here is a list of tips and tricks that can help make your next road trip with the tykes a pleasurable one.

Snacks and Entertainment

The main reason that taking a road trip with little ones can be a trying experience is that kids often get bored very fast. To keep children occupied in the car, you’ll need plenty of snacks, kid-friendly activities, games, and electronics. While they may get tired of the games after a while, if you have plenty of snacks for them to munch on, that can keep them distracted for a long while. You might also consider playing road trip games together like “I Spy” or trying to find all the letters of the alphabet outside while driving. Games like these can keep kids occupied for hours and are fun to play as a family.

Take Breaks

Of course, if you have lots of snacks, then you would need to take lots of bathroom breaks as well. However, don’t just stop merely to let the kids use the restroom and then to hop back on the road. Allow them time to run around a bit and to stretch out their legs while letting off some steam at the same time. This also helps to wind them down so that they aren’t so restless during the remainder of the trip.

Drive Through the Night

If your road trip is more for purpose than for a joy ride, then taking the trip at night is a good idea when you have small children. By driving at night, the children will more than likely be asleep for the majority of the trip. By the time they do wake up, you shouldn’t have much longer to drive and the games, snacks, and other items you brought along can keep them content until you arrive at your destination.

Have an Emergency Kit

When driving, there is a possibility of breaking down or getting into an accident. This is hard enough to deal with generally, but having children with you can make an incident that much more difficult. Make sure you pack an emergency kit with things like blankets, frozen juices, extra water, and food as well as whatever emergency numbers you may need. This way the little ones are taken care of while you wait for help to arrive.

Remember, the best way to keep kids from becoming aggravated, from pestering, or from being teary-eyed in any situation is to distract them. Having lots of distractions, whether that be food, games, or songs, can help make for a smooth trip and a happy parent.

Here’s another article you might enjoy: 3 Best Tips for Amazing Family Travel with Your Kids

Enjoy the Ride: Bicycle Safety Tips to Teach Your Kids

So much of our childhood memories revolve around riding our bikes. Depending on where you grew up, you may have ridden your bike to the store, in the woods or around your neighborhood. If you have a child of your own now, you may be concerned with how you can make sure your child is safe while riding their bike. You want them to enjoy this time, but you also want to make sure that your child isn’t going to get hit by a motorist or injured while riding their bike. Let’s look at some bicycle safety tips that you can teach your kids.

Set Boundaries

Your child needs to understand where they can safely ride their bike. Teach your younger children that they should ride on the sidewalk where they are away from traffic. Older kids can learn to ride in the street, but they need to learn how to be aware of their surroundings. You should also let your child know where they are and are not allowed to ride. For example, you could set the nearest corner as a boundary. They could then progress to going around the block once they have earned your trust for closer distances.

Be Seen

It’s important for kids to always be seen, so they should use flashing lights or wear something that is bright or reflects light. It’s a good idea to have your child head home before it gets dark. This will make them more visible to drivers. Teach them not to ride their bike right into a street from behind a vehicle. It’s important that a car or other bike will see them coming from a good distance away. It gives everybody time to react.

Always Have Adult Supervision

Regardless of how old your child is, they should be riding their bike with an adult until you feel you can trust them. They should have the ability to put their own helmet on, keep their balance and watch what is going on around them. Even if you’re letting your child ride a short distance down the street, make sure you are outside to keep an eye on things. This will give you peace of mind, but this is also a good way to make sure that your child is practicing good bike safety.

Being Aware of Surroundings

Some children will ride along on their bike, not noticing what is going on around them. It’s important that they know where to be riding their bike, but they should also be able to look over their shoulder and listen for a car coming. There will be hazards everywhere that they should take notice of. Have them learn to keep an eye out for toys on the sidewalk, vehicles overlapping the sidewalk and large rocks that could cause them to lose control if they go over them. Being aware of your surroundings is a great skill to learn in all walks of life.

It’s important that your child understands the safety aspect of riding a bike. You wouldn’t put your child behind the wheel of a car and expect them to know what to do. Take the time to teach your child what they need to know. This will ensure they come home safe and sound after a fun day of being outside.

Here’s another article you might enjoy:

How to Keep Your Nursery Clean Without Toxic Chemicals

3 Best Tips for Amazing Family Travel with Your Kids

Travelling with kids can be memorable, but if things are overly structured or there’s too much forced togetherness, family vacations can turn grim. To make sure that your family vacation is positive and leaves everyone wanting more, you’ll need to make sure you can travel in comfort, enjoy outings together and get a little alone time.

Rent a Roomy Car

If you’re planning to spend at least part of your vacation in the car, make sure that everyone has enough space. For those traveling with older kids, consider renting a vehicle such as an SUV or van with three rows of seats to give everyone plenty of room. Younger children will likely need to be closer so you can monitor them more closely. If you’ve never rented a car before, it may be a good idea to rent one similar to what you usually drive in this instance.

Plan a Space Where Older Kids Can Run

You’re going on an adventure, and your older children may want to be able to break free and stretch their legs a bit. You can make this more possible by setting an eye-catching feature that they must stay in sight of. If you’re taking the family to the beach, invest in a giant umbrella and make sure your older kids stay within visual range. If they’re not strong swimmers, invest in good quality flotation vests. If your kids are old enough to have their own cell phones, check in with them as they roam. You can keep tabs on them while allowing them to expand their own horizons.

Leave Time for Doing Nothing

If budgets are tight but you still want to get away as a family, make room for unstructured time. You can even have an exciting bicycle staycation in your city and arrange lunchtime picnics. Plan to spend a few hours letting your children run free at a local park. Bring large balloons or tie a brightly colored piece of fabric to a tree branch and let your kids go as far as they can while still keeping in visual range. Then, schedule nothing and see what their imaginations can do.

It can be tempting to pack as much vacation fun into your trip as possible, but this can leave everyone feeling exhausted and overloaded. Leave time for naps, for reading alone or just for daydreaming. Focus on comfort, not speed or efficiency.

Here’s another article you might like: How to Keep Your Nursery Clean Without Toxic Chemicals

Protectors of the Roblox Universe | Lifting Simulator

Lifting Simulator on Roblox

The family that plays together, stays together… or so I have been telling myself as I have spent untold hours playing Roblox lately. Yes, I know, not really a suitable occupation for a 40 something but when your little one is obsessed by it and you want to make it as safe as it can be, you do what you can. I have to be honest here, the games become strangely addictive after a while and when your husband joins in and all of your immediate family is playing it can be quite fun.

This is therefore a review of the Roblox game, Lifting Simulator.

What does my son think?

He loves the game. In fact, he was the one who found it. He was even playing it before Denis Daily added it to his Roblox YouTube channel. We joined maybe a day later. He’s not a fan of the constant clicking and I am worried about RSI a little but it does teach him that success isn’t instantaneous. Of course, he is now asking us to click for him!

What do I think?

I am enjoying it. I like the way the game has several layers. You want to upgrade constantly to be the biggest and the most powerful using weight, genetics, and body alter but there is also the enforcement and criminal element of the game, which can be the most addictive.

When you start out you begin as a skeleton and you are weight lifting a pencil. You click your mouse to move the pencil until you have 30 coins. At this point, you have to sell your coins as you have run out of room in your wallet. You can spend or collect the money depending on your goal.

You can spend your money on three things. The first are weights and on the first run through, (I will explain this later), you have to buy each weight in the list before the next shows up. If you are fed up with emptying your wallet every couple of minutes, you can better your DNA (if only this was possible in real life). This has the effect of increasing your wallet so you don’t have to sell so often.

The third element of game play that you will spend your lifting simulator earnings on is called body alter. You can give yourself power and speed by buying this when you have enough money. The trick here is to buy enough weights to get the alter but no more in the first round. As soon as you buy the first power (freezing) then you will revert to the smallest body type and have to work your way up again. You will also lose all your money so there is use getting more than you need. For example, one on the weights cost around 100,000 but the first body alter costs 150,000. If you can reach 100,000, you may as well hang on and get the body alter and get the expensive weight later when it will be easier to get it. Otherwise, you will end up saving for the 100,000, spending it on the weight and then having to save a further 150,000. It is quicker to just save the one lot.

The next run through whether with the freezing, fire or any of the other powers, you can skip weights to get through it a lot quicker. While you could not see the entire list before, after you have bought them once, you can see them again but you will have to buy them after each and every upgrade.

Ranks

As you go through the game and do plenty of weight lifting, you will gain a rank. This is fluid and will change as you play. This is a game with no judgement you can be good or bad and there are an equal number of ranks to go through until you reach the pinnacle of your chosen side. On the good corner there is Nice Guy, Bodyguard, Protector, Guardian and Superhero. If you are neither one way of the other you may end up as Neutral or you could go to the dark side and become a Bully, Jerk, Thug, Criminal or Godfather.

You get to be these ranks by killing other players who have a better or worse rank than you … and sometimes randomly. I have been minding my own business lifting the odd motorbike when someone kills ME and then demotes me from Nice Guy to Bully. Ooh, I was annoyed. I had to go around killing other bullies and jerks to get my status back until eventually I became a Protector. Sometimes you get to keep your status but other times not. I have left a Protector but come back as a Bodyguard. Another time I left as a Nice Guy but returned as a Bully.

When we started, we were constantly killed as soon as we spawned so when we had enough clout to get ‘em back we tried to be protectors. There are a few player who pride themselves on being the sheriff and kill all the bullies and worse around. However if you get stuck with a bully rank but you didn’t deserve it they don’t know this and they will still try to kill you. Also, some good guys will be good for an hour and take the other side so you can’t trust the other players! Still, you can still make alliances and it’s a sweet thing when there’s a bunch of you keeping the peace.

You get to keep your normal character during this game and unfortunately, my little one is obsessed by a YouTuber and will model himself on him. He’s too young to understand that people can be offended by that and I think (hope) that the guy is nice enough to understand that. We have already seen him in a previous gaming video so he’s come across him before when he was still Kindergarten age and he was sweet about it in the video.

This game is good for the whole family. There is nothing ominous about it. Our son’s chat has been disabled so he can’t talk to any dodgy people if they are on it so it’s just good clean fun. He’s learning to save and the concept of sticking up for people who can’t protect themselves because in this case they can only weight lift a pencil and he can carry a piano.

Definitely recommended for children with supervision. The supervision is for the horror stories you hear on the internet about the internet.

Happy lifting!

How to Keep Your Nursery Clean Without Toxic Chemicals

When you have a baby, you become much more aware of how clean your home is. The nursery where your baby is sleeping should be clean. This will help keep your baby happy and healthy. Frequently dusting and wiping down areas where you change your baby’s diaper is beneficial. Unfortunately, many chemical cleaning products can be dangerous to your baby’s health and yours as well. Let’s talk more about how to keep your nursery clean without using toxic chemicals for the job.

What Are Chemicals and Which Ones Are Toxic?

Chemical cleaners, if properly marked, come with diamond-shaped hazard pictograms that show what kind of hazards they pose. You’ll want to keep an eye out for ingredients such as ammonia, bleach, hydrochloric acid, isopropanol and sodium bisulfate. All of these chemicals can irritate the skin, irritate the eyes, make your baby cough and there are dangerous long term effects to worry about as well. If you see an ingredient on a product that is very hard to pronounce, chances are it’s not a good one to use. Do a bit of research on harmful chemicals before you purchase items for the nursery.

Stick With Natural Options

There are a lot of cleaning products on the market right now that use only natural ingredients to get the job done. Things like citrus oils can be just as effective when it comes to disinfecting and killing germs. Not to mention, the smell is pleasant and safe. Look for organic and natural cleaning products that advertise they are safe and chemical-free. You can even come up with your own cleaning products that you make yourself. A mixture of 50/50 vinegar and water can be quite effective for cleaning up messes. Not to mention, it’s incredibly affordable to make. You can even add your own essential oils for fragrance.

Stick to Unscented

Scents tend to be very irritating for a small child. You’ll want to keep your cleaning products as unscented as possible. Even a natural smell of orange peel or pine can be overwhelming. Just because a product doesn’t smell, doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to do a good job at cleaning things up in your child’s nursery.

You can find a number of natural cleaning products at your local grocery store or health food store. There are also a number of products available online. Just be sure to check the ingredients before making a purchase.

Parenting can be overwhelming. If you need more help, check out some of our other articles.