Let’s face it. Halloween is the day that parents turn into monsters.
Why? Because you don’t want your kids to eat that whole pillowcase of goodies they will come home with after a successful night of trick-or-treating.
Don’t fear. You can successfully grab those Milky Ways and Milk Duds, Reeses and Rolos, lollipops and licorice out of their grasp -- and maybe help others at the same time.
There are some strategies parents can take to limit the candy consumption and use the holiday to talk to kids about healthy eating. But how? Here are some great ideas shared by the people at the Today show.
You just get home from picking up your little ones at TSL Adventures after work. You’re so excited to see your older kids. So you walk into the kitchen, where they sit and do their homework every day after school. You’ve got great news to tell them about something that happened today.
“Guess what! I got a…..” And your voice trails off.
They’re not listening. They’re stuck in their own little world of tweets, memes and mindless scrolling.
We get it. You’re confused. You’re frustrated. What makes that tiny little screen so much more entertaining than the world around your child?
Don’t blame your kids; blame the world around them. They were born into the era of smartphones, tablets and instant access to information. It’s only natural, despite what you might think.
As helpful and entertaining as all of this technology can be, there is a downside. Exposure to screens before bed can cause sleeping troubles. Spending too much time navigating the social media world can decrease productivity levels, as you may have noticed with your kids. By the way, have they unloaded the dishwasher like you asked them to yesterday?
And perhaps most importantly, studies show teens in the smartphone era are more depressed than ever, largely due to their friends’ glorified social media lives, which often appear greater than reality indicates. Jealousy and insecurities arise, leading to mental anguish among young people.
So what can you do to help? You probably already have taken away your child’s phone or tablet, or even limited access on the home computer. Schools have tried to do the same thing. But it’s just not going to happen, no matter how hard you try. So you need to compromise. Here are some simple (and reasonable) compromises you and your children can make so that they don’t spend too much time on their devices, negatively impacting their physical and mental health along the way.
Ah, Halloween. Aside from Christmas, it’s probably your child’s favorite holiday. Think about it. For a day, your son can pretend he’s Batman, or your daughter can be the real-life embodiment of Queen Elsa. Halloween is all about the children, and it’s your job to make sure your child enjoys an awesome day of fun and candy. Heck, it’s even your job to do your best to impress other people’s children with your impressive and unique candy selection, as well as your decorations, which can make or break your neighborhood reputation. The first step in creating an impressive Halloween decoration display?
Carving the pumpkin.
Sure the cobwebs, scarecrows and giant spiders can take a B display to an A, but with all things in life, you need to start with the basics. And if you miss on the pumpkin, well then your Halloween decorations have lost all credibility. No adorable trick-or-treater will ever come to your house again.
OK, we’re kidding. But you can’t discount how important the carved pumpkin is, and how children and parents alike appreciate a finely carved pumpkin.
That being said, here’s the best way to carve the pumpkin of your dreams. Using our kid-friendly methods, you and your child can have the pumpkin-carving experience that will make all of the neighbors jealous.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Picasso carving the pumpkin. It’s creating family fun and traditions that counts.
It’s so easy to run over to Sam’s Club in Latham or BJ’s in Albany and choose a giant assortment of chips to stuff in your kids’ lunch bags. It's relatively inexpensive. They like it. It's convenient. It’ll last a few weeks.
We’re all so busy and sometimes we just don’t have the time to prepare a healthy snack. But it’s worth going the extra mile and spending just a few minutes to upgrade the contents of that lunch.
Today’s children are larger than they’ve ever been. According to the American Heart Association, about one in three kids/teenagers can be considered overweight or obese. Between video games, on-demand streaming, tablets and cell phones, kids are less active and are more distracted than ever. And it’s not just them. The same roadblocks to a child’s health are the same ones that adults face. It’s not all due to inactivity. Genetics can play just as large of a role. And so can unhealthy eating behaviors, which is something fully within our control as parents.
Remember, kids are easily impressionable. It’s up to you to set the example for how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Go outside and play with your child. Limit the number of trips to the drive-thru. Packing your own lunch for work? Make yourself the same healthy lunch. These are small changes that can make a big difference for you and your child.
These 10 simple snack ideas all take less than five minutes to prepare. You can go the route of preparing all of your snacks for the week ahead on Sunday night, but also remember that variety is key to a healthy diet. Send your child off to school with these small snacks that will keep your child healthy, happy and full.
One last tip: Get in the habit of reading ingredients labels at the store. Show the older kids how to, also. Here’s a general rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it’s not good for you. Try to avoid the middle of the grocery store as much as possible, where all of the processed chips, cereals and treats pull us in with their temptations. Don’t be a stranger to it, but just remember, everything in moderation. A healthier you can mean a healthier child, which is a win-win for everybody. These snack ideas are a great place to start.
We all have had anxiety at one time or another. A big project due at work. The stress of the upcoming holidays (and they’ll be here before you know it.) Worries over paying those unexpected car-repair bills.
Even though adults might think kids shouldn’t have a care in the world, children have anxiety, too. We stumbled across a wonderful article by Dr. Clark Goldstein, the founder of Growth Psychology in New York City, who addressed how to help your child cope with anxiety. We share some of his thoughts and suggest you read his article for more in-depth information if your child is facing anxiety and stress.
Don't skip breakfast to start the day. But read our tips on how to start the day without catastrophe.
Happy Monday! Happy start of the new work week!
Oh, come in. It isn’t that bad.
Getting ready to face Monday morning ― or any new day in the work/school week ― just requires organization and preparation. A routine, in other words. Here’s a simple organization guideline to follow, and it starts the day before.
Undoubtedly, you got all caught up on the laundry over the weekend. Don’t bother putting it all away. Instead, dedicate a drawer, or a shelf or even a box for the clothes for the upcoming week. Stack the Friday clothes on the bottom ― socks and undergarments included ― and that way the kids’ clothes are ready to go for the week.
With that out of the way, Sunday night will be easy. The steps:
Then on Monday morning:
Wasn’t that easy?
You crawl into bed on a Friday night at the end of a crazy work week, knowing it's your daughter's seventh birthday tomorrow, and you've got everything planned. Great job!
You booked the local roller rink for three hours of nonstop action and laughs for tomorrow morning. You have all your RSVPs, so you know exactly who is coming to the party. You bought little toys and candy to put in your very own homemade goodie bags. The skating rink is serving a lunch of pizza, hot dogs and soda for the kids. They will be ready to eat after burning off all those calories.
Lights out, you are about to fall asleep until one four-letter word jolts you awake.
How on earth, you ask yourself, did you forget to order the cake from the bakery?
No cake? No problem. Your daughter doesn’t need a bakery-decorated cake. Have you been to a wedding recently and seen the desserts that have replaced the typical three-tiered cake? The same thing has happened with birthday parties, where a Hello Kitty- or New York Yankees-themed cake is no longer mandatory.
Here are nine alternative sure to cap off a fabulous party.
1. Cupcakes. Your best friend. Easy preparation and easy cleanup, even if a child drops it on the ground.
2. Cookie cake. Make one yourself or buy one at your local supermarket on the way. It's one giant chocolate chip cookie. Who can't get behind that?
3. Munchkins. Really strapped for time? Grab a few boxes of different flavors of the bite-sized Dunkin' Donuts staple on your way to the party. We have a few hundred Dunkin’ Donuts in the Capital Region, after all.
4. Frosted sugar cookies. You know the ones we’re talking about. The ones at the front of every Walmart in America. What are they called? Who knows. But we've never met a child who doesn't love them.
5. Brownies. Like cupcakes, brownies are another ol' reliable. Remember to always leave some batter so you can lick the spoon. Take some vanilla ice cream to the rink because nothing is better than brownies and ice cream.
6. Ice cream cake. Supermarkets always have a Carvel cake ready to go. It's ice cream in cake form -- the best of both worlds! Just be sure to ask the party hosts to find a freezer for it ASAP.
7. Ice cream sundae bar. Take a gallon of vanilla ice cream, a jar of hot fudge, sprinkles, maraschino cherries and some whipped cream and let the kids make their own. Forget the nut topping because of nut allergies your guests might have. Or, for a healthier treat, grab fresh fruit for the toppings.
8. Decorated donuts. Cupcakes and brownies aren't the only things kids like nowadays. Buy a couple of dozen donuts along with some frosting and sprinkles and let the children customize their own dessert. Beware a giant mess.
9. A fresh-fruit platter. What kids don’t like strawberries, blueberries and pineapple? The kids’ parents will appreciate this one.
This little girl's hand-washing routine would be aided by some fun soap -- and a step stool.
At TSL Adventures, we’re crazy about cleanliness, grumpy about germs.
We’re sure you are in your home, too. But how do you get your preschoolers, as well as your older children, to learn good hand-washing techniques? By making it fun through use of entertaining soaps -- yes there is such a thing -- and a song.
The Centers for Disease Control says that clean hands are vital for kids to avoid getting sick and then spreading their germs to other kids. Using soap and water to scrub hands is the first step in stopping the spread of disease. The CDC says children should be taught to wash their hands this way. Even young children should learn early to develop a lifetime of good habits.
Here’s the statistics on how good hand washing can reduce the chance of disease, from the CDC. And here are the organization's tips on how to get your kids to excel in hand washing.
Well this baby looks like she's on a mission to quickly scoot from one place to another, doesn't she?
Once your baby discovers those strong arms and little legs can move her across the room, it's time to babyproof your home. All of us with little ones have invested in everything from baby gates to cabinet and drawer locks to plugs for electrical outlets, turning our homes into fortresses to keep baby safe along the way.
So what happens when Grandma watches the baby at her home? It's time to invest in the basics to leave at Grandma's house, such as outlet plugs and a gate to close off stairs. After all, Grandma might not have had a baby in the house for more than 25 years, and her place needs some safety features.
It's also worth walking around the house with Grandma to see what could be attractive to your baby and ask Grandma, nicely, to make a few changes. Here's where to start:
Where in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area can your child have the joy of meeting a big red dog, a cat in a hat, a curious monkey, a persnickety train and a bespectacled man named Mr. Pine who confused a whole town when he lost his glasses?
At the library, of course.
September was National Library Card Sign-Up Month, and if you and your children didn’t make it to your local library to get their first library card, put it at the top of the to-do list for October. According to the American Library Association, the observance was launched in 1987 to meet the challenge of then-Secretary of Education William J. Bennett who said: "Let's have a national campaign ... every child should obtain a library card -- and use it."
It’s never too early to introduce your child to books. Thanks to preschool story times at a number of our local libraries, even children growing up in the digital age can learn to love the wonders of books before they learn to read.
But don't just take our word for it. According to the U.S. Department of Education, here is the countdown to the Top 4 reasons children should have a library card:
4. Opening New Worlds: Most Americans see the library as an educational support center for students of all ages. For parents in particular, helping their children enjoy reading is one of the most important things they can do. Reading is fundamental to student development and learning; reading sparks curiosity and imagination. And this is where the library card comes in; it opens wide the world of books.
3. Expert Help: Not only does the public library have books for parents and children to take home and share or read on their own, it has librarians to help locate specific books for every age group and on any and every topic imaginable. And being able to use all of these wonderful books is free to the cardholder!
2. Getting Connected: About 30 percent of all students do not have home access to the Internet, according to the Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, so for these students having a library card is extra important. The Library is a hot spot for free Internet access and word processing computers, and even computer classes and Internet instruction are available. In addition, libraries often offer free programs on everything from astronomy to zoo keeping and writing resumes to learning a language, as well as summer reading programs that keep those reading skills strong during summer vacation.
1. Student Success: For all students, the card provides the information resources they need to succeed in school and in life. Resources not only include free access to eBooks and eAudioBooks, online databases for articles and reports, encyclopedias and test preparation materials, but also free access to library staff who can help find additional materials to complete homework assignments, recommend an interesting read for an upcoming book report or teach how to select and use a database to research a science project. Since most public libraries have Web sites, many services are available from the Internet 24×7.
TSL Team Contributions
This blog is for parents and educators to learn more about our organization. It's also the space where we share information of interest to parents.