It’s almost Christmas Day and your kids want to get a gift for Grandma and Grandpa, but with these nasty roads and at this late hour, a trip to Crossgates or Clifton Park Center just won’t work.
What should you do?
How about a homemade present? Grandma probably would prefer that over another scarf, anyway.
Here are some last-minute ideas, courtesy of Parents magazine and other sources:
This is the easiest one. Place your child’s hands flat in a shallow container of non-toxic paint, then place them on a piece of cardstock paper and let the paper dry. Frame the paper and give to Grandma and Grandpa every year during childhood to let them know how the kids have grown. Write the year and child’s name at the bottom left or right corner of the paper. And don’t forget to wash the kids’ hands with soap and warm water before they touch any furniture!
What you'll need: Calendar template from online, white or cream paper or cardstock, markers, crayons or paints, metal binder clips.
What to do:
1. Print out calendar; have your child complete illustrations for each month.
2. Secure pages together with two binder clips.
Lavender-scented eye pillow
What you'll need: Fabric shears, knee-high socks, fabric glue, clothespins, uncooked rice, dried lavender, pinking shears, felt.
What to do:
1. Cut a 10-inch section from the leg of one sock.
2. Glue one end of the sock closed, leaving a half-inch outer edge. Hold in place with clothespins until dry.
3. Fill the sock with 2 to 2½ cups of rice mixed with lavender. Close the other end, leaving a half-inch outer edge. Glue, holding in place with clothespins.
4. Trim ends with pinking shears.
5. Cut out two closed eyelash shapes from the felt and glue on the pillow. Let dry.
Give the sports fans you know a reason to cheer with a pair of soft pillows that will make watching the big game even better. For a baseball, cut two 18-inch circles from white fleece. For a football, cut two pointed ovals (about 16 by 21 inches) from brown fleece. Stack the matching shapes. With a marker, make dots 3 inches in from the edge and about 1 inch apart. Cut through both layers of fleece from the edge to the dots to make fringe. For decorative stitching, make three-eighths-inch slits in one piece of fleece. Tie a knot in the end of a red or white shoelace. Stitch through the holes, then knot the lace and trim the excess. Re-stack the shapes and tie together the matching fringe pieces, leaving four untied. Stuff with batting, then tie the remaining fringe.
This jar runneth over
Share good feelings and promote positive thinking with the help of a simple Smile Jar. Cut a piece of felt to fit the top of a canning jar and make a slit in the center. Have each family member write down a few happy thoughts, jokes or silly notes on small slips of paper and place them in the jar. When someone's feeling down, he or she can take out a note for a quick pick-me-up. Refill with kindness as needed. (Originally published in September 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.)
The holidays are a special time of year. Traditions often are the main reason why.
We might look back, years later, and remember the year we got those stereo headphones for Christmas or that Snoopy soap dish for Hanukkah, but we always remember the traditions ― the ones that make the holidays unforgettable.
Members of our TSL family have those traditions at home, and we’re sure your family does, too. Cherish them and do everything you can to keep them alive. That’s what they kids will remember.
It’s never too late to start new family traditions, either. Here are some ideas you and the kids might enjoy:
Whatever you do this season, whatever holiday you celebrate, remember one thing: Do it together.
Everyone has one. You know that, parents, don't you?
When it comes to children and cellphones, not everyone has one, but a shockingly high number of kids do. Consider these facts from the website GrowingWireless.com.
So it's likely your child has asked for a cellphone -- whether it’s for Christmas, a birthday or just because -- and as you ponder the response, you should consider the following thoughts from a cnn.com article that offers tips from Dana Graber, co-founder of CyberWise.org, and Lori Cunningham, founder of the blog The Well Connected Mom.
OK, so today your child is 12 years old. With your oldest on the verge of being a teenager, it’s never too early to think about parenting a teen, right? And that means, among the changes the teen years bring, it will be time to teach your child how to drive. (For those of you who tweet, we like to use #anxiety when talking about this subject. And also, just know your older sister will remind you of how you rolled your eyes when she talked about all the challenges parenting a teen brings.)
For an opportunity to get on the road, your teen will offer services that he or she otherwise wouldn’t dream of doing. You know, a trip to Hannaford to get milk and eggs, a trek to the Speedway for gas for your morning commute, a jaunt to the post office at Colonie Center to stand in line to mail those Christmas packages.
But before your teen angel can do any of those good deeds, he or she actually has to get a driver's permit and learn how to drive. And get a driver’s license, of course.
In addition to your #anxiety tweets, the learning curve takes patience and focus.
From our friends at the State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company, here are steps to take before you let your kid get behind the wheel of your car.
Start with a tour of the vehicle: Before you hit the road, demonstrate how to adjust the side- and rear-view mirrors and seat to fit your teen's needs. Make any other necessary accommodations, such as tilting the steering wheel. Also make sure your teen knows how each of the following works: dashboard controls, turn signals, headlights, safety features (airbags, seat belts, emergency lights), wipers, parking brake/release, ignition, gas, brakes (especially ABS), warning indicator lights on dashboard. Be sure to show your teen where the registration, insurance card and car manual are located.
Get a feel for the vehicle: For the first teen test drive, start in a safe location, such as an empty parking lot where the businesses are closed for the weekend. Have your teen practice applying gas and brakes, driving straight, turning and backing up. On the next visit to the vacant parking lot, have your new driver practice pulling in and out of a parking spot. Also have your teen practice checking mirrors and scanning continuously for hazards, such as a dog running into the pathway of your car.
Start in low-speed, low-traffic areas: Once your teen is comfortable with the basic operation of your vehicle, take your lessons to quiet streets, where he or she can practice staying on one side of the road, pulling up to a stop sign, and anticipate cars leaving driveways. For the next several lessons, stick to roads that have slower speed limits (under 35 mph). Emphasize that the posted limit is only a guide for an acceptable speed in excellent conditions. Your teen should drive even slower in poor weather, heavy traffic or areas that have a lot of pedestrians. Try to take a different route each time ― one involving a school zone would be good ― to make sure your teen is getting the variety needed to become a safe driver.
Driving on the highway: Traveling on a multi-lane highway for the first time can be scary. Start by having your teen drive at quieter times of the day to practice merging into traffic, staying in a single lane, and using higher speeds and safe following distances without the added stress of rush-hour traffic. Once you are both comfortable with that, gradually move on to busier traffic situations. Before heading onto the highway, prepare your new driver for such situations as driving near large trucks and looking for stopped or slowing traffic.
After the practice sessions ― good job, parents! (#anxiety) ― it’s time to take the road tests given by the DMV.
After those tests are passed, it’s all about safety and good judgment on everyone’s part.
Smart decisions never grow old.
Hey, parents, do you usually have to remind your kids to brush their teeth?
We’re seeing several hands go up.
Hey, kids, do you generally have to be reminded to brush?
More hands going up. Exactly what we thought!
Brushing twice a day is the healthy way to go, but so is eating broccoli, and we know where that falls on the fun list.
If parents and kids want to keep their chompers around until well in adulthood, we all need to brush at least twice a day.
Teeth-brushing is a skill, just like tying your shoes or learning how to ride a bike. Helping your child get into the habit of brushing twice a day for two minutes isn’t easy, but according to a page on the American Dental Association’s MouthHealthy website, the following creative approaches can go a long way toward ensuring your kids’ long-term dental health.
Have four minutes of fun: Don’t just set a timer and supervise ― make brushing twice a day for two minutes an event. Turn up your child’s favorite song. Or try reading a two-minute story using all your best voices.
Start a routine and stick to it: You might be tempted to let your child skip brushing after a long day or when your normal schedule is off (like vacations), but keep at it. The more second nature brushing becomes, the easier it will be to make sure your child is brushing twice a day.
Reward good brushing behavior: What motivates your kids? If it’s stickers, make a reward chart and let them add a sticker every time they brush. If they like to read, let them select a bedtime story. Or maybe it’s as simple as asking to see that healthy smile, saying: “I’m so proud of you” and following with a high-five.
Characters count: Which character can your child not get enough of? Many children’s shows and books, including Sesame Street, have stories about brushing. Watch and read them together, so when it’s time to brush, you can use that character as a good example.
Make brushing a family affair: Your children learn from you, so set a good example. The family that brushes together has even more reason to smile.
She was in the hospital one year on both Christmas and New Year’s Day when her two children were young.
Those holidays were somber, with a lightly decorated hospital room taking the place of a home adorned with an ornament-filled tree, stockings and Christmas music softly emanating from stereo speakers.
After she got out of the hospital, she and her husband vowed to make other patients’ lives a little easier during the holidays by volunteering at a hospital in the Albany area. So a few years later, the couple visited hospital patients at St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, then teamed with their two children to serve homemade cookies and brownies to families in the waiting room at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady.
“After being depressed and wondering whether I would ever make it out of the hospital myself, I decided I wanted to do what I could to make other patients’ lives a little brighter during the holidays,” she said. “Just seeing smiles on their faces and the hope in their eyes made it all worthwhile.”
According to Parents Magazine, volunteering teaches even toddlers and preschoolers about compassion, empathy, tolerance, gratitude and community service. And children who volunteer are more likely to do so as adults.
When volunteering, decide whether your family is interested in a one-time project or a longer-term commitment, such as putting in time at an animal shelter once a month. Then make sure to contact the chosen organization to ask what approvals you need and how you can help.
According to Parents Magazine, once you've picked a project, tell your children what to expect and why it’s important. Lastly, be enthusiastic and have fun!
With some inspiration from the magazine, here are some volunteer paths you and your kids could take:
If a puppy is on your child’s Christmas list this year, don't bring home the first cute face you see. When adding a four-legged member to your household, there are several things to consider.
According to petMD, you should choose the family dog based on three major factors:
Now that you’ve considered the above questions, here is the list of the best dogs for kids and families, with a short description, courtesy of petMD:
Remember: Puppies can look cute, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be perfect at home. No matter which dog you choose for your family, remember to give him or her a heavy dose of TLC.
Snow, especially in December, makes for a festive holiday atmosphere, but it also signals an important fact.
It’s cold outside.
That means you need to dress your children warmly, whether you’re traveling to day care or Market 32, or heading to some sledding at Maple Ski Ridge near Schenectady or Frear Park in Troy.
But just what does dressing warmly entail? The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these valuable tips on how to keep your kids warm during the winter:
A healthy child means happy kids ― and parents.
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.
TSL Team Contributions
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