Be On Santa’s Good List

Be On Santa’s Good List

The Holiday season encourages us to ‘Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly,’ go ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland,’ and ‘Have a Cup of Cheer,’ and trust me all of that sounds wonderful but I can’t help but also add that we should be smart about it. Who says you can’t have it all right? You can enjoy yourself during the holidays, relax a little, and be on Santa’s good list by being safe, too.

Here are some helpful tips to make ‘Christmas brownie points’ with Santa and keep you and your family safe and on his good list.

Cooking:

When preparing that wonderful, delicious holiday meal there are a few things to keep in mind. Never leave a stove unattended, because unattended cooking equipment is the leading cause of home cooking fires.  You should also make sure you wash your hands, utensils, sink and anything else that touches raw meat. Food-borne illnesses are especially prevalent around the holiday season. Use separate cutting boards, plate and utensils for uncooked and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.  Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration website provides some valuable holiday food safety tips to follow.

Space Heaters:

Do not leave a space heater unattended and make sure you turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep. Do not let pets or children play too close to a space heater, because they will get hurt.

Poisonous Holiday Plants:

Some popular and beautiful holiday plants can also be poisonous or toxic, especially to children and pets.  Holly berries can be poisonous. A child can eat 1-2 holly berries without harm, but 20 holly berries is a serious concern.  You don’t want to eat a beautiful, decorative poinsettia that is on your holiday dinner plate or placed by your fireplace. Worst case scenario, if you eat a few leaves of a poinsettia you will feel ill or vomit, but they’re not the absolute worst holiday plant to have around.  On the other hand, mistletoe contains phoradendron which can cause blurred vision, nausea, and even death. All parts of the mistletoe are poisonous, but the berries are most attractive to kids. If your child eats 1-2 berries of mistletoe, it probably won’t cause a problem, but if your pet eats a few leaves or berries it could be endangered.

Christmas Trees:

Make sure you are watering your Christmas tree daily, because dry trees can cause a very serious fire hazard. You should also make sure that they are on a stable platform at all times.

To remainInspect Electrical Decorations for Damage Before Use: 

Check holiday lights for fraying, bare spots, gaps in the insulation or excessive kinking in the wire. Cracked or damaged sockets can also cause a serious shock or start a fire. You don’t want to overload electrical outlets, and you should only plug one high-wattage appliance into each outlet at a time. Connecting more than three strands of lights may not only blow a fuse, but it can also cause a serious fire.

Automated Teller Machine (ATM):

If you absolutely have to stop at the ATM before a night out, try to choose one that is located inside a mall, police station or well-lighted location.  You should only withdraw the amount of cash that you will need. You can protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keyboard from anyone who is standing near you. Whatever you do, do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.

Attending a Party:

If you’re invited to that special holiday party your friends or family have every year, make sure you have something to eat before consuming any alcoholic beverages. Eat things like high protein foods, which will stay in your stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. Only time will truly eliminate alcohol from your body, so know your safe limit and don’t drink and drive. To remain on the good list, be sure you designate a sober driver to give you a ride home, even if it’s on a sleigh.

Stay Warm:

‘Oh the weather outside is frightening… and those cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. To remain on the good list, be sure to dress warmly and wear lots of layers of loose-fitting, tightly woven clothing. Make sure you are checking on the kiddos, your elders and don’t forget about your furry friends as well.  Our pets sometimes seem to be the last thing we think about at this time of year, so be sure to make sure they are cozy and warm as well.

Manage Stress:

The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health.  Be sure not to over-commit to too many parties and activities, and do your best not to over-spend.  Balancing your work, home and play is a tough task, but with the support of family and friends it is possible to have a relaxed attitude about the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ and possibly catch some zzzz’s at night as well.

‘Tis the season of ‘love’ and ‘craziness!’ Try to take lots of deep breaths and remember that none of us are perfect, but we can do our best to enjoy this holiday season as safely as possible. 

I know I definitely want to be on ‘Santa’s Good List,’ so I will be taking my own advice and using these tips as well.

Here are some additional links to help you do some more research on how to keep your family on Santa’s good list this year:

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out our kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

Holiday Travel on a Budget

Holiday Travel on a Budget

online safety for kids

‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,’ (as the song goes) and that means we have holiday decorating, lots of shopping, to-do’s that go on for miles, holiday menus to plan, parties, and some will be planning their holiday travel on a budget to visit their friends and loved ones. If you are one of the lucky ones who will be singing that tune called ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ this holiday season, you might also be wondering how you can afford it.

Traveling during the holidays to visit friends, relatives and loved ones can be super expensive, and sometimes just that extra dose of stress that we don’t need during this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to this magical season, but I also think it’s important to be prepared and plan accordingly to stick to our family budget while we have fun at the same time.

If your family will be traveling for the holidays, here are some helpful tips to make it an unforgettable holiday that you will want to ‘remember’ instead of ‘forget.’

online safety for kids
online safety for kids

1. Book Last Minute

This might sound strange, but it’s already December and a little too late to be thinking about booking your last-minute travel plans in advance. The good news is that it might be better for your wallet.  A local hotel owner or Bed & Breakfast, will be much more likely to agree to a discount if they are unlikely to sell the last bed to someone else. Or, while they may not drop the price, perhaps you can persuade them to upgrade your room or throw in a free spa experience that every mom can use this time of year. 

The same goes for booking flights, rental cars, and tickets for special attractions at your destination of choice. I know friends who have found last-minute $300 flights from NYC to Paris for the holidays, while others have been upgraded to a Mercedes convertible rental car for the same price as a minivan. Winning! So it can be done!

2. Take Advantage of Apps

Gone are the days of sorting through individual hotel or airport websites. Now, aggregator apps can do most of the work for you. Find your lodging through Hipmunk https://www.hipmunk.com/, which searches hundreds of major travel sites. Figure out your fuel coast with Gasbuddy’s trip calculator  https://www.gasbuddy.com/. And find the best airline deals and the best times to fly and buy with Hopper https://www.hopper.com/.

3. Think of Your Trip as a Gift in Itself

If you have older kids and teens, they should be able to appreciate that a family trip during the holidays costs money and can really be considered a gift in its own right. Help your kids understand the gift of travel, and allow them to plan a portion of your vacation and pick one special activity each. If possible, try to spend a day doing each child’s special outing of their choice. Another option is to gift kids souvenir money instead, (in the currency of your destination if traveling abroad) and don’t put any restrictions on how they spend it.

4. Consider Gift-Giving in a New Way:

Let’s be real.  Chances are you won’t have a lot of room in your carry-on luggage to bring gifts if you will be opting for air travel, or you may not even have enough room if traveling by car. You can always try gift-giving on the go! Simply draw a family member’s name and shop for them while you’re traveling. 

Try to focus on smaller, stocking-stuffer type gifts and gift your kids with one smaller gift each day during your trip, instead of giving all gifts on Christmas morning. Small toys, crafts, goodies, and games they’ll use during your travels, are excellent ideas.  For those celebrating Hanukkah, this ‘new’ system will feel even easier to implement. 

5. Ship Your Presents

If you can’t get around buying everyone on your list a smaller gift, then thank goodness for‘Santa’s Magic Sleigh.’ Instead of paying annoying baggage fees or renting a semi-truck to hold all of your stuff, take advantage of free shipping deals as soon as possible to send the presents to your destination. Your suitcases will be smiling, and your kids won’t be sitting on the floor of your car trying to find a place to sit for the road trip.

6. Use Gift Cards and Points

Cardpool https://www.cardpool.com/ and Raise https://www.raise.com/ are great sites for finding discounted gift cards with leftover cash on them. Buy several and use them to pay for your flight, hotel, rental car or a few restaurant meals while you’re on the road. 

7. Let Santa Know

A recent study by HomeAway has shown that 84% of families will spend the holidays together. But traveling to be with family can have its difficulties. Kids worry that Santa won’t find them, which causes unnecessary stress during a festive vacation. Check out: Message from Santa!https://apps.apple.com/us/app/a-call-from-santa/id933921849! They have solved this problem for parents. Just download the app with your iPhone and let your child leave Santa a voicemail telling him where you’ll be for the holidays and Santa will find you!. This app also comes with a lot of different cool features such as personal video messages from Santa, a phone call from Santa, and even send a text message and he’ll reply instantly! Even Santa needs to take a break once in a while from the elves.

8. Pack Snacks

We all know the minute you get everyone in the car for a road trip, someone is going to get the munchies. If you start filling up on snacks at every gas station or pit-stop, you’re going to run low on travel funds quickly.  Instead of buying those unhealthy snacks like chips, candy, and soda at convenience store prices, make sure to pack your snacks before you hit the road. Bring popcorn, pretzels, juice packs, bottled water etc., so everyone can snack healthy and be less cranky at a fraction of the price.

9. Be Flexible

The secret is out! We all know that flying or driving on Christmas Day, can be a great budget-saver. Not only does it reduce stress, but it means cheaper flights and fewer gas-depleting traffic jams! Entertain the idea of traveling on this day if possible, and give your loved ones a ‘Christmas Miracle’ when you ring their doorbell on Christmas Day!

10. Buy Less Stuff

Even though we may not want to hear it, in order to save money…you have to buy less stuff. Always remember, the most important thing about the holidays is spending quality time with our friends, family and loved ones. No amount of gifts, decorations, or fancy hotels will ever replace that. Your presence alone will be the most memorable gift you could ever give.

Enjoy the holidays this year, while implementing these ten budget-friendly holiday travel tips. When you do, you’ll enjoy the holidays and your much-needed family vacation!

Safe Travels.

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.   Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.
Top 6 Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

Top 6 Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

online safety for kids
Yes, it’s that time of year again! The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to head to the attic, your basement, or your storage closet and bring out those boxes of decorations that have been collecting dust for the last eleven months. It doesn’t matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or maybe all three! You know you love it when all of the lights are up, the tree is decorated, and the candles are lit…but while you’re busy decorating the house and admiring the romantic glow of the fireplace, safety might be the last thing on your mind.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 240 injuries per day related to do-it-yourself holiday decorating activities during November and December of 2017. Let’s make sure you have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season with your friends and family. 

Here are some of my top tips to keep in mind as you deck out your home in style this season.

online safety for kids

1. Trees Get Thirsty Too!

A dried-out tree will definitely catch fire faster than one that has been properly watered. Be sure to check the water level every day to ensure it has proper hydration.

2. If You Fake It, Make It Safe!

If you decide to ‘go faux’ and buy an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled “fire-resistant.” Fire-resistant trees are less susceptible to catching fire.

3. Double-Check Your Lights

The CSPC issued new guidelines for seasonal light safety back in 2015. There is a setting for minimum wire size, as well as standards for strain relief and over-current protection.

4. Prevent Electrical Cord Damage

Always avoid using nails or tacks when hanging up those cords, and don’t mount lights in a way that might damage the cord. Use hooks or insulated staples to prevent any type of damage. Cords should never be pinched by furniture, forced into small spaces such as doors or windows, placed under rugs, or located near heat sources.

5. Secure Those ‘Old Flames’

Old flames can die hard…especially when they’re burning on a holiday candle. Never leave a lit candle unattended, because these neglected candles are the cause of one in five home candle fires. Always keep them on a sturdy base to prevent tipping. Battery-operated candles are the perfect substitute, with none of the risk and all of the glow! 

6. When You Say “Lights Out,” Mean It!

When leaving the house, make sure to turn all lights off to avoid a short that could start a catastrophic electrical fire. Half of home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11:00pm and 7:00am. When it’s time to call it a night and the kids have finally made it to dreamland, be sure to turn off all of the lights before your head finally hits the pillow.

It’s important to have fun decorating this holiday season and enjoy special quality time with your family and friends.  If all goes as planned, hopefully there won’t be any accidents if you follow these simple tips. If by chance you do have a minor mishap, it’s always good to have a first aid kit nearby and our PreparaKits have got you covered with the essentials.

Be smart, have fun and be safe this holiday season. 

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.   Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.
Preparing Kids For Online Gaming

Preparing Kids For Online Gaming

online safety for kids

It can be very difficult at times to pull your child away from that special video game that they love so much, and this is why it’s so important to prepare your children for the ‘online gaming world.’  A recent study from the Pew Research Center indicates that 59 percent of girls and 84 percent of boys ages 13-17 regularly play video games. Many of these games are played online and may involve multiple players. 

In addition to safety and privacy concerns, parents must ensure that their child’s gaming activities do not become an addiction. When a gaming addiction develops, children may become detached from reality, resulting in negative consequences regarding their ability to socialize and regulate their emotions.  In extreme cases, parents may need to look to a professional for help. However, there are steps you can take to help prevent this. 

Setting healthy boundaries for your kids can help to guard against extreme gaming behavior.  For example, ensure that children have their homework finished before allowing them to engage in gaming.  Also, limit gaming sessions to a set time period of time. When finished playing video games, children should move on to other activities, engaging in active movement and social interaction with others.  

Parents should also know the ratings on games, talk to their children about how they feel when they play, and even play these games along with their children to experience them first-hand. I know I do this quite often with my children, so I can see the kind of activity that is taking place within the game.

online safety for kids

Here are some helpful talking points to help start the conversation with your child about video games and online gaming:

1. Can you show me your favorite game?

It is a good idea to get to know the games yourself and sit down with your child to let them show you how the game is played.  Talk to your child about what they can do in the game they’re playing. What is the overall objective of the game? What do they like most about playing it?  Is there anything about the game that they don’t like?

2. Can you play against other kids?

Some games have optional multi-player modes where your child can play with and against others.  Make sure you’re clear on whether you are happy for your child to play with others. If you are, ask them who they are playing with.  Establish rules around this that you can both agree on. Most games have a rating you can check to see if they are age-appropriate.

3. How much time should you spend playing?

It makes life a lot easier if you bring this subject up early on; it can be tricky to change well-established practices. Talk about why it’s important to have limits.  It’s a good opportunity to talk about the importance of being active, being outdoors, and spending time in the company of other children, and striking that suitable balance is key.

Remember, it can be hard to enforce restrictions.  It can also be difficult to accurately track the amount of time they are spending playing the game.  Some devices allow you to use parental controls to strictly enforce daily or weekly limits. In many cases, the device simply switches off once the allocated time has been exceeded.  While this is handy; it can be very frustrating for a child who is just about to reach a landmark in the game after a great deal of effort. We recommend not relying exclusively on parental controls, but use them to support your usual parenting approaches.

4. Can you chat with the other kids you are playing?

Many games allow players to chat with each other.  Be sure to agree on rules around this, and ask your child about who they think it is okay to talk to online.  Discuss your expectations around the type of language they should not use and how they treat others. Be very clear on the consequences of using bad language, being disrespectful, or not following the other agreed rules.  The threat of withdrawing access to the game can be a good deterrent to bad behavior.

Check if the game gives the option of disabling chat and if there is a safe chat mode. Some games allow limited forms of chatting where gamers can communicate with each other by selecting from a menu of phrases.  

5. What sort of information is NOT okay to share when gaming?

Explain to them the importance of not giving away any personal information online.  In the case of online gaming, it is a good idea not to use real names for game profiles and not to share passwords with friends.

6. What would you do if something inappropriate happens when you are playing a game online?

It’s important that your child is familiar with safety settings, privacy and reporting tools. It is equally important that your child understands they can talk to you if they experience anything inappropriate online.  This is also a good opportunity to encourage your child to play fairly and treat other gamers with respect.

Whether we like it or not, the online gaming world is here to stay so it’s best to be proactive and responsible when navigating this with your children.  As much as we may think some of the games in this ‘virtual world’ are disturbing or are indoctrinating our children with bad behavior, these games are here to stay.  We have to teach our children how to play and use these games responsibly.  

After all, I can still remember when Nintendo & Atari were the ‘new gaming devices.’  There was a time when people thought a game called ‘Donkey Kong’ was violent because they hit each other.  Nowadays kids are seeing things in these newer games that are a lot more disturbing than that, and in ten years those same people will be saying the same thing about the games of today.  

Ultimately, the responsibility lies with us as parents.  We have to teach our kids right from wrong, so when they are out in the ‘real world’ they will know the difference.

 

For more information, check out these resources:

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

Online Photo Safety for Kids

Online Photo Safety for Kids

online safety for kids

Online photo safety for kids should be on every parent’s mind.  It’s not uncommon nowadays for photos of children to be posted online before they are even born, but is it safe?  Announcing your pregnancy by posting a baby scan is a ‘thing’ on Facebook and Twitter. It doesn’t stop once there, a recent survey found that an average parent will post almost 1,000 photos of their child online before he or she turns five.  We live in an age of “sharenting,’ so we have to learn how to navigate this new trend in a safe manner.

Our children learn most from watching us and copying what we do.  If you want your child to only post photos when they have the consent of the people in them, ask their permission before posting photos of them. Likewise, if they ask you to remove a photo that they find embarrassing, take it down. The chances are your child will do the same if they find themselves in a similar situation.

There are no hard and fast rules for this topic, however, there are some things to consider before you hit the share button:

online safety for kids
Edit your life:

Be selective about what you share online.  Don’t post photos of everything that happens in your life no matter how cute you think your child looks in them.  Think twice about sharing photos taken in bathroom and bedroom settings. You can’t control the context in which the photos will be seen.

Ask yourself will this photo cause my child embarrassment now or in the future?

Everything we post online creates a digital footprint and for young people maintaining a good online reputation is becoming increasingly important. Parents should consider any long-term risks of sharing photos of their children online. Some photographs have the potential to go viral.

Check Your Settings:

Social networks regularly update settings, so it is important to review your settings. If you are a regular user of Facebook, the social network allows users to do a Privacy Checkup which makes it very easy for users to understand who they are sharing content with.

 

Who will see my photos?

Ensure you are happy with your privacy settings and understand who may potentially see your images. It is a good idea to regularly review your friend/connections on social networks. Some networks, for example, Facebook allow users to limit/customize who they share posts with.  Some things will always be public. Parents should beware that some posts/photos are always public for example; Twitter profile photos, Facebook cover images and featured photos.

Is your location service disabled? 

Many social networks and apps allow you to share your location. Some people may not be aware that this function is automatically enabled on some apps and networks.  Consider reviewing this when sharing family photos.

I realize that we ultimately want that ‘connection’ with people- to share our lives, our families, our children, and a great way to do this is through posting photos on social media and online.  The virtual world has brought us an entirely new way of interacting and connecting with others, but we just want to ensure that we do so in the safest way possible. 

Let’s do it responsibly, and you will find that if they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” we will be sharing beautiful novels with our friends, families and loved ones every time we post our cherished photos!

For more information, check out these resources:

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

Save Kids from ‘Cranky Time’ During Daylight Savings

Save Kids from ‘Cranky Time’ During Daylight Savings

It’s that daylight savings time of year again, and you know what that means…cranky kids, temper tantrums, and no sleep for you, right?  Well, not necessarily…we’ve got you covered. The ‘spring ahead, fall back’ time changes can mix up everyone’s schedule.  The loss of just one hour can really affect a child’s attention span, appetite, and overall mood. You can minimize the effects of daylight savings time by being prepared.

Here are some helpful tips on how to get kids back on track so everyone can get a good night’s sleep. 

Allow Time for Gradual Adjustment:

It takes some time to adapt to a loss of sleep.  So if your child normally goes to bed at 8 p.m., put him/her to bed at 7:45 p.m., then 7:30 p.m., and so on, until they are going to bed as close to 7 p.m. as possible.  This step-by-step process is not as much a shock to the system, as it is when you abruptly expect your child to fall asleep an hour earlier after the time change. If you’re having trouble getting your child to bed earlier, which is often the case in older kids, then just focus on getting them up in the morning a bit earlier instead.  When daylight savings time ends in the fall, this gradual approach can still help — follow the same guidelines — just push the wake-up times and bedtimes a little later rather than earlier.

To Make Bedtime Easier, Control the Lights:

Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your body’s internal clock. The levels of this hormone increase in the evening as it becomes dark to help induce sleep. Melatonin levels decrease when it’s light out to assist with wakefulness and alertness.  Daylight savings time alters your natural cycle, and the results can be particularly difficult for kids. I recommend dimming the lights in your child’s bedroom and turning off all electronics about 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. According to The National Sleep Foundation, these devices can reduce sleep time, sleep quality, and daytime alertness because of light exposure and brain engagement right before bedtime. 

In the morning, you should try to get your child into the light as much as possible. Natural sunlight is best, so if weather permits, make sure there is sunlight entering your home, or turn on the lights so it’s nice and bright! To help when you “fall back,” make sure your child has some light exposure in the early evening.  Be careful to ensure that your child’s room doesn’t become too bright too soon in the early morning.

Establish a Routine:

When daylight savings time begins or ends, it’s especially important to stick with a bedtime routine.  Your child is now dealing with a change in schedule that might throw him off.  It’s absolutely critical that they have a routine during bedtime because that’s what helps create a powerful signal for sleep. One option is giving your child a warm bath, reading him a book, and snuggling together before lights out.

Get Enough Sleep Beforehand:

In the days before you change your clocks, make sure your child is getting plenty of shut-eye. Sleep results in more sleep, so going into daylight savings time well-rested will greatly help your child because he won’t be cranky and overtired, which can make falling asleep even harder.

 

Be Supportive and Understanding:

In the days following daylight savings time, try to be more forgiving if your child is throwing extra temper tantrums or seems to be particularly frustrated or difficult in any way.  The time change can cause these short-term changes in your child’s mood, but your understanding and support will help them adjust a little better to the new schedule.

 

Take Care of You:

And most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself too!  Many adults feel sluggish and cranky themselves after the time switch, so make sure you’re getting the rest you need as well. Thankfully, these effects are all short-lived — within a week or so, everything should be back to normal.

As always, I’d love to hear which blogs resonate most with you!  Feel free to reach out and message me on Facebook & Instagram!

 

For more information, check out these resources:

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.