There they sit -- in the corner, on the bed, in the chair.
Or even in the basement of your Albany-area home.
They never talk back, they always smile -- if that’s their nature -- and they don’t move until you move them.
They’re your “kids,” or your kids’ “kids,” although others might refer to them by a more conventional term -- stuffed animals.
But, just like your real children, they need to be clean. The reason? So that they don’t gather dust and spread bacteria that can cause health issues.
What is the best way to clean them, though, given the delicate nature of their fur? Or their battery cases?
There are four key ways to clean your stuffed animals -- in your washing machine, by hand, by dry washing, or by vacuuming.
The highlights of those methods come from www.fabhow.com (for full details go to this link also):
After using one of these methods -- or more than one, depending on how many furry friends you have -- you can give the stuffed animals back to your children, or to your significant other as a sparkling surprise on Valentine’s Day or any other special day.
After all, we all want clean kids, right?
Now that you’ve gone through your checklist and decided that you and your child are ready to host a sleepover, what comes next?
Besides survival, of course.
How about a successful evening and next morning?
Parents, if you’re indeed prepared to entertain, feed, put to bed and wake up to your guests the next morning, you’ll need to figure out the following, per Parenting magazine:
No sleepover ever goes perfectly, but following the suggestions above will help you survive the night, and maybe even enjoy it -- somewhat, anyway.
With winter break from school coming up next month in the Albany area, you know your children are going to ask you at some point if they can spend the night at a friend’s house.
But parents, just how do you know when your children are ready for one of their first forays into establishing their independence?
Sleepovers are an important step for 7- to 9-year-olds, Fran Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent,” told Parents magazine.
"If your child likes them, chances are she is growing more comfortable with separation from you," Walfish said.
With the following tips from the magazine, you can increase the chances that your child won’t want to bow out at around bedtime.
Offer to host: Before you OK a sleepover at a friend's house, let your child test the nighttime scenario by inviting her pal to yours. "That way, you'll see if your child grows tired of being with her friend or starts to squabble with her after a couple of hours -- a sign that she may need more social-skills practice before staying over at another family's home," Walfish told Parents.
Talk about what to expect: Getting apprehensive before or even during a sleepover often stems from the unknown. Your child might wonder where he'll sleep, whether it's OK to call you before bed, or if bringing his favorite stuffed animal will make him look like a baby. And you might have some of the same anxieties, too. So before you accept an invitation, find out how the sleepover will unfold and bring up any concerns you have to the hosting parents.
Get your kid on board: Once you are comfortable with the sleepover arrangement, let your child know the key details.
Help everyone get along: If you're hosting a sleepover with more than one other child, decide how you're going to handle such situations as who gets to sleep next to the birthday child or play the first round of Just Dance.
Know when to fold: If your child is at his first sleepover and wants to come home for a reason that can't be fixed -- "I miss you and I can't fall asleep," or "Their dog is barking and scaring me!" -- it's best just to pick him up rather than try to persuade him to stay. "Doing so establishes the trust that you will come get him if he needs it," Walfish said. "The next day, you can talk about how he felt and what might make it better in the future. But dwelling or over-analyzing will only make him feel like he failed."
Trust your gut: Don't feel like a bad parent for declining a sleepover request. “It’s smart to skip one if you think your kid isn't quite ready,” Walfish said. "It's better for kids to have a positive first experience than to risk an embarrassing or upsetting incident that might turn them off altogether."
Dusting the dining room table. Washing the windows. Feeding the cat.
Just what chores can your child be trusted to handle? And at what age?
Household chores are important for children to learn, both for their development as individuals and for contributions to the family and home.
But there are appropriate ages for various chores. Although you wouldn’t want your 3-year-old to be in charge of taking care of the family dog, you might want him or her to help you make the bed, and you definitely would want little Aiden or Ava to pick up their toys and put them in a safe area.
Our friends at thespruce.com have published a list of age-appropriate chores; here are some highlights for all parents and caregivers to consider, keeping in mind that all children develop differently:
Ages 2-3: Toddlers love to help with chores. With that in mind, they could: take laundry to the laundry room; dust with socks on their hands; mop in some areas (with help).
Ages 4-5: Preschool-aged kids still are fairly motivated to help around the house. They also love individual time with adults. They also love rewards, which don't have to be huge (think stickers!). Thus, they could: clear and set the table; dust; carry and put away groceries; and help with the cooking and food preparation.
Ages 6-8: Although enthusiasm for chores might diminish for school-aged kids, they have other redeeming qualities that work well for chores. Most school-aged children have an overwhelming desire to be independent. Parents can guide children to become self-sufficient in their chores by using chore charts to keep track of their responsibilities. Noting completed tasks will help motivate children to continue working. Chore suggestions for this age group include vacuuming and mopping; taking out the trash; folding and putting away laundry.
Ages 9-12: Kids at this age will appreciate a set schedule and expectations; they don’t like unexpected work. If you create a schedule or system with a little input from them, you should have a smooth transition. Among the possibilities for them: help wash the car; learn to wash dishes; clean the bathroom; rake leaves; operate the washer and dryer.
Beyond age 12, the spruce.com makes several suggestions, including washing windows and cleaning out the refrigerator. Remember that these chores are intended not to punish your children or force them into being your personal assistant, but to help them develop as people.
Skiing or snowboarding? And at what age -- 1, 3, 5, 10? Older?
As the winter of 2017-18 reaches the midpoint of its first full month, downhill snow sports are a hot topic -- especially after a video showing a not-quite 1-year-old girl snowboarding in Idaho went viral last month.
There are, of course, many slopes to choose from in the Albany area, from Maple Ski Ridge in Rotterdam to Willard Mountain in Greenwich to Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Mass.
If you’re a parent, though, the bigger question might be what age to start your kids on the slopes rather than where to take them.
Mark Raymond, general manager of Training and Quality for Vail Ski and Snowboard School in mountain-rich Colorado, told vail.com that the rule for his school is that a child must be at least 3 years old and potty-trained to be in a group ski lesson.
“Ideally, everyone would start at age 3,” Raymond said, “because at that age, kids are fearless.” He said a 3-year-old’s small size and adaptability make skiing much easier to learn than for an adult.
Teaching youngsters to ski is about familiarizing them with the equipment and the feeling of gliding on snow, Raymond told vail.com.
But what about snowboarding?
Raymond said most kids have trouble nailing down that sport’s mechanics of standing sideways before age 5. Young children carry gravity in their heads rather than in their core, making snowboarding a wobbly activity, Raymond said.
Regardless of what the experts recommend, it’s up to you, parents, to decide when you think your child has the skills, temperament and determination needed to hit the bunny slopes.
No matter what age you decide on, always make sure your child is wearing his or her helmet.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take professional-looking photos of your kids.
Whether you’re at a soccer game, on vacation, in your backyard or at the park, the opportunities for sterling, memorable photos are plentiful, especially when you have your iPhone handy.
And we know, parents, that you rarely leave home without yours.
Courtesy of the Red Tricycle website, here are some suggestions for how you can take iPhone pictures of your kids that will dazzle your friends and relatives.
The fun part about kids having a wintertime birthday: School is in session, so the birthday boys and girls probably are wished a happy birthday on the school loudspeaker in the morning announcements. A star for the day.
The bad news: In the Albany, New York, area, it’s generally cold and snowy, so figuring out how to celebrate gets a little trickier than in the warmer months. Just what kind of party can you throw that takes the elements out of the equation?
There are a number of fun ways that range from little cost to a little more costly, from at home to at a special spot.
To start, there’s always the basic slumber party, an inexpensive event where you invite a small group of your child’s friends to your home on a weekend night. Experts recommend limiting the guest list to five. From there, plan a full evening: food, a movie, cookie decorating, a “spa night” with fun hand creams and nail polish for the girls, maybe video games or knee hockey, if you’ve got the space, for the boys.
For the older kids, who undoubtedly will be bringing a smartphone to the party, set up a fun photo booth with props so they can capture silly pictures with their friends on their phones. It's all about making memories.
Chris Nease, founding editor of the website Celebrations At Home, likes to embrace winter by creating a cozy party with a theme of warming up. One of her favorite ideas, according to care.com, is to set up a tent in the middle of the living room and make s'mores with hot cocoa. She also likes going with a luau theme, complete with leis, hula skirts and coconuts.
If you want to move beyond a house slumber party to celebrate a winter birthday, here are some suggestions from experts via care.com:
Don’t let the snow and cold be a deterrent to a fun birthday party. Wintertime options abound in the Capital Region!
“Back in my day, I got an allowance of (insert pitiful amount here), and then it increased to (slightly less pitiful amount here) and I felt rich.”
Ahh, the memories we parents share with our kids. (Remember: We’re the same folks who walked uphill to school both ways when we were young.)
Financial allowances are an important family topic because of the importance of money in our society. You know, the money that buys food, shelter, clothing and PlayStation 4 games.
The website MarketWatch references a study by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants that says approximately 70 percent of parents give their kids an allowance, and the average amount is $67.80 a month.
But whatever amount parents dole out, they should be aware of these common mistakes, according to MarketWatch:
Oh, those dry, chapped, cracked ― and sometimes painful ― hands.
You shouldn’t have to go through tubes of ointments and boxes of Band-Aids to get rid of one of the downsides of winter for you and your kids.
The Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Calif., reminds us that when the outside temperatures drop, the wind increases and the house heater gets cranked up, dry and cracked hands are an unfortunate and common side effect.
“The cold air is more drying and wind is also more drying. And then add forced-air heating, and that will dry skin out even more,” CHOC pediatrician Dr. Angela Dangvu said on the hospital’s website.
Although parents can’t control the weather, they can take the following steps to help protect their child’s hands against dryness, according to CHOC:
Choose soap carefully: Start by using a moisturizing hand soap. Frequent hand washing, which is crucial during the winter season to avoid colds and other viruses, worsens the problem by further dehydrating the skin, Dr. Dangvu says. Look for soaps that more resemble a lotion than a traditional soap and have words like “moisturizing” or “conditioning” on the label. Avoid antibacterial or deodorant soaps. Also, hand sanitizer gel is an effective way to clean hands that is less drying than a soap-and-water method. However, children with the onset of dry skin should avoid gel, because its alcohol content can sting.
Creams, not lotions: As a preventative measure, parents can apply moisturizer to their child’s hands after hand-washing or bath time. Look for products described as creams rather than as lotions. These are richer and have more staying power than thinner products such as baby lotions.
A three-step approach: If a child’s hands still become dry, Dr. Dangvu recommends the following three steps.
Now that the holidays are over, it’s time for parents ― and kids ― to resume a healthy lifestyle together.
That means … exercising!
During the winter in the Albany area, that can encompass everything from walks to housework, while in the summer, the exercise can be stretched to bigger energy burners, including participatory sports such as softball, basketball, swimming and tennis.
We accept no excuses for no exercise, parents. Partaking makes us feel better ― it sparks the release of uplifting chemicals called endorphins ― and it also helps control our weight.
Adelphi University professor Stephen Virgilio, author of the book “Active Start for Healthy Kids,” told Parents magazine that “it’s never too early to start" exercising.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day, and that adults get at least 2½ hours a week.
With those goals in mind, here are some family activity suggestions from Parents magazine:
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