Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Joyful Mess Children Bring

Written by a contributing writer 

When we make the decision to have children, we generally tend to think of the 10 tiny fingers and 10 little toes (that create the odd sticky fingerprints on the walls here and there). Still, sometimes it goes much further than that. Many of us have some stories from parenting that will turn your stomach. And even though being a parent can be an absolutely fantastic experience most of the time, we wouldn’t change it for the world, there are plenty of issues that crop up in our homes as a result of having children. Here are some of the things that may happen you as a result of having smaller versions of yourself running around your home.

Photo by Ricardo Viana on Unsplash


As adults, we may choose our flooring in our homes according to taste. Some of us have wooden flooring and some of us have carpets laid. Generally, we take our shoes off and keep them as clean as possible most of the time. But when are our children become mobile the floor in our homes can get completely trashed at times. Quite often, we will find discarded food, glue, paint, other arts and crafts materials, and the odd drink spilled here and there. And while we are googling carpet cleaning companies in our local area, little children will already be moving in the next mess to create. Of course, they don’t do it on purpose, as they are just learning, but it can still be frustrating nevertheless.

That Sudocreme moment

Most parents at some point in their journey will find the children covered in cream of some kind. Sometimes it is Sudocreme...Sometimes it is an expensive face cream that we would much rather they hadn’t touched. But many parents will regale tales of that moment they found that their child had covered themselves in something. Quite often it only takes a little moment to clean up, so isn’t the end of the world, but again this can be a little inconvenient! Especially for the typically busy parent.

Permanent marker

Much like the Sudocreme, permanent markers should always be kept well out of children’s reach. This goes without saying, of course, but this may not be as easy to keep track of as you might think. Especially if you have more than one child. Children can find their way into many things, including trouble, and discovering that your little darling has taken a permanent marker to some wall coverings, your favorite dress, or even a sibling is quite a common thing. This tends to be when having parent friends comes in handy. They will know precisely how to remove these permanent stains and give you tips on redecorating when you need it. There are even Facebook pages full of families who have the wisdom and sense of humor to be able to help you with this potential issue.

Pet mess

If you didn’t have pets before you had children, then it’s only a matter of time before the younger members of the family start asking for a pet of their own. Obviously, this is a big step and you will need to be completely prepared to deal with everything that having a pet in the family throws at you. This can mean training, housing, entertainment, and food. But above all else, a mess. Even if you choose to bring a kitten into your family, they will need a litter box that requires cleaning often. Cats, dogs, and even rabbits and guinea pigs don’t care about your clean carpets and walls. So you will need to add this to your list of chores and think carefully before agreeing to expand your family. When it comes to pets, the mess doesn’t necessarily stay inside the home. You will need to be aware that dogs and cats and other outdoor pets, can cause plenty of chaos in your garden too. But that’s just part of having and taking care of your pets.

Ultimately the mess children bring into your life is a small price to pay for the joy they bring. But be prepared for some interesting smells, unusual stains, and replacing soft furnishings when it all becomes a bit much. It can add time-consuming activities and expense to your life that you may never have imagined; it may add a little more stress than you believe too. But ultimately, that’s the task we take on, and eventually, the children will be old enough to help with the chores and tidying up after themselves and their pets too.

Monday, December 16, 2019

6 last minute things to do before your holiday guests arrive

Written by Alex Berger

 One of the best parts of the holiday season is getting to spend time with friends and family that you may not have seen in a while. Hosting holiday events and sharing your home can be so special. Although it is an extremely busy time of the year for most of us, there are still some things you should consider getting done before your guests arrive to ensure the best visit possible! Read on to make sure you check your list twice.

Finish Your Shopping

If you have guests coming into town for the holidays, the last thing you want is to be scrambling to buy last-minute Christmas gifts after they arrive (especially if it is shopping for your guests’ gifts!). Your guests will likely be ready to relax and enjoy the holidays when they get into town, and they likely won’t want to be dragged around town into busy stores. Check this one off your list and knock it out before they get to your house!

Bake Cookies For Your Neighbors

While baking cookies for your neighbors isn’t necessary, nor is it a common practice, that’s what can make it extra special. Your neighbors will love opening their door to some warm, fresh-baked holiday cookies. There is nothing better to get you into the holiday spirit! However, when you are having guests come into town, you might want to bake those cookies before they arrive. Once your guests arrive, save the cookie baking to eat for yourselves!

Get Your Exterior Cleaned

Are you having people stay at your house? If so, you absolutely need to get your windows washed. I bet you haven’t done that in quite some time and you’ll be surprised how big of a difference it makes. To be honest, I asked some of my friends when the last time they had their windows washed and 90% of them said that they have never had it done before. If this is the case with you, I highly recommend getting it done before your holiday guests arrive. And if you are looking for a great company to get the job done, check out ZAP Cleaning, based out of the North Port, FL area. ZAP Cleaning is locally-owned and operated. They specialize in pressure washing, house washing, and roof + window cleaning. They are able to rid your home of mildew, grime, algae, and other unsightly elements from your house, concrete surfaces, and roofs, as well.

They say, “If you want a clean exterior without the hard work, look no further. Our crew has been proven time and time again to be on time, professional, and having reasonable pricing. We stand by our word and only want to provide our customers with the best. Our quality shines through with our multiple repeat clients, so why not join them and be on our list? Zap Cleaning only provides the best for your home or business and that means we don’t cut corners when it comes to cleaning. We use soft wash techniques for your home or business exterior and only use the highest qualities of solutions. Don’t risk damage that can be done by power washing yourself or having someone uninsured do it – get the Zap guarantee and give us a call for an estimate.” With timely and accurate estimates, guaranteed customer satisfaction, and amazing results, what are you waiting for?! Find out more about ZAP Cleaning and get a free quote today!

Make A Christmas Playlist

As you and your family or friends gather around the Christmas tree in the days surrounding Christmas, having some Christmas jingles playing in the background is a great way to add a little extra joy and spirit to your holiday. This is something that you want to make sure you can complete before your guests arrive so that you don’t spend hours slaving over your computer or phone instead of spending that time with your guests.

Create Your Grocery List - And Shop

A very important task to get done prior to your guests’ arrival is the grocery shopping. Does ANYONE like grocery shopping? More power to you if you do, but your guests might not want to tackle that chore with you. Add all of your eggnog recipe ingredients to that list prior to day-of, and get the shopping done so that you can spend the most time possible with your friends and family who came into town to spend time with you.

Make Your Home Smell Like Christmas

Last but not least, make your home smell like Christmas to make it feel cozier (and happier too, in my opinion). There is nothing like the smell of a frasier fir tree, but if you cannot have a real tree in your home for whatever reason, you can at least make it smell like you have one in there! I highly recommend getting essential oils to make this happen. Or, if you do not mind burning scented candles, there are some great candles on the market that give you that Christmas-feel!

*This is a sponsored post*

Monday, November 11, 2019

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 for the Nintendo Switch: A Mom's Review

Full disclosure: I am no gamer.

I mean…I have two brothers who were into video games from the age of five. So I did grow up playing video games with them (I didn't want to be the odd man out!) And I can usually hold my own. But as far as what I prefer to do with my free time…I tend to gravitate towards reading, writing, or general socializing. (Except when it comes to The Sims. I get sucked into The Sims and end up giving those games hours upon hours of my life.) My son, however, is all in when it comes to gaming. Barely in elementary school and he's already a gamer.

All of that to say, I'm reviewing this more as a mom and someone who very occasionally plays video games. So my review won't include detailed information on graphics or technical aspects. But it will instead focus on what elements of the game my son and I enjoy. And how appropriate it is for younger audiences.

Right off the bat, I personally like that Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 lets you skip through the intros. I do not have the patience to sit through those. I just want to play! Because of my impatience, story mode did go a little slow for me. Even with being able to skip through it, there is a lot of dialogue between gameplay. That is literally the only "complaint" I have as far as Tokyo 2020 goes.

Both my son and I appreciated how easy the game was to control. Buttons only mode kept things simple while the single and dual control modes allow the player to be a bit more active. The game does provide instructions on which buttons produce different actions at the beginning of each segment, but overall, it's all rather intuitive.

The plot of the game is a little silly but definitely age-appropriate for even the youngest players. The nefarious Bowser and Dr. Eggman have trapped Mario, Sonic, Toad, and (unintentionally) themselves in an old game system. (Cue the retro graphics.) Now Mario and Sonic must compete against the two villains to be set free. Meanwhile, the heroes' friends are joining together outside of the nostalgic game system to figure out how to help. You must compete against different "good guy" characters in various games to get them to join your quest to help Mario and Sonic. Why they wouldn't just help to begin with…I'm not sure. But it does allow for you to experience the non-retro games in story mode. So if you're not a fan of the retro look, this works out well for you. The storyline vacillates between what is going inside of the game system and what is happening outside of it.

My favorite feature of Tokyo 2020 is definitely the 24 various mini-games available in Quick Match. You can choose to play only your favorites or constantly switch (no pun intended) it up if you're one who gets bored easily. On top of the 24 main mini-games, there are 10 retro games. 10 additional mini-games can be unlocked through story mode as well.

My favorites of the mini-games are skateboarding and surfing. Probably because those are the ones I somehow always get first place in. The mini-games can be played in single-player or multiplayer (up to 4 players) modes. Parents of young kids- there are a few fighting mini-games but they aren't graphic or violent in the least. The hits are quick and injuries are not shown. Plus it very much has the “sporting event" feel to it with the boxing mini-game set in a ring and karate taking place on a mat.

Overall, the game is lighthearted, fun, easy-to-play, and appropriate for all ages. I feel it's definitely a game the entire family can enjoy together in Quick Match mode, as well as a game one can play on their own in story mode. There is also no worry of inappropriate content with this game which, as a parent, is always a major factor when it comes to purchasing a game for my kid. Wholesome and fun - this mom recommends.

View the game trailer here

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Can You Create A Grown-Up Space For Your Pre-Teen? Here’s What To Consider

Written by a contributing writer 

Our children grow up fast and while you want them to stay in their child-esq room, at some stage they will want a more grown-up space. The thing is, you want something that will last a while and reflect their age at the same time. You understand that they will probably want to spend more time in their rooms and that the space should be a usable space for playtime, homework, and general relaxing. You may be a little fearful of tackling their bedroom and decorating, so with that in mind, here is some advice to consider. Hopefully it gives you the inspiration and motivation to give your little one the bedroom of their dreams.

Image source - Pixabay - CC0 License

Invest in different furniture

You may want to ensure that you have the right sort of furniture in place to last as your little ones grow. As each year passes they get more homework, become more involved with friends, and want their privacy. Which means that unless you want to be redecorating things every few years, you may want to invest in the right furniture. Good storage options as well as things like a desk could prove very useful. Storage is very important for rooms that are small and will help them look and remain tidy. 

Use the opportunity to declutter and sell unwanted items

If you are in the process of overhauling your little one's room, then now is the perfect time to start thinking about making some big changes to the amount of items that they have in their rooms. Many children have toys, games, and items that they may have outgrown. This is the perfect time for you to start decluttering and you could even use it as a chance to sell unwanted items online. Websites like eBay are great for this,and it is also a great way to boost your income.

What about lighting and quirky features?

Another thing that can make a bedroom space feel a little more grown-up is the lighting. This can be achieved with things such as colored lighting or quirky LED bulbs. You could also look at investing in a haus bright grow light that could make a huge difference to any house plants in the bedroom. Lighting can transform a space, so take some to think about which fixtures and the types of lights would suit the bedroom. 

Have a budget

Finally, because it is so easy to let your imagination run wild when it comes to designing your child’s bedroom, especially thanks to Pinterest and Instagram which is full of inspiration, you should set some sort of budget for yourself. The cost of new furniture, paint, and other aspects such as handymen if you do need extra help with putting the room together. If things are a little tight, then you can hunt out some bargains online. Websites like eBay are full of great finds and even some used items can make great additions to your home. The last thing you want to do is to go overboard and run out of money before the project is completed.

With these tips, creating a space for your pre-teen can be simple and affordable.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ways To Give Kids More Social Experiences

Written by a contributing writer

There are things in your child’s life that will help give them the best start to adulthood, and that’s social experiences. Being able to communicate with others is something that’s needed so much in adult life and so it’s important to give them as much of an opportunity to socialize as possible. So here are some ways to give your kids more social experiences.

Image Source

After-School Activities

One of the main social experiences that we all have from a young age is through education. We go to school with hundreds, maybe thousands of others our age and we have to learn to be respectful and kind to everyone. It’s a real test of your sociable skills and what better than to do it from a young age? After-school activities, therefore, are just another way of expanding on what’s already happening at school. Not only does it provide additional friendships with others that they may not have interacted with at school, but it’s also good for finding passions. It’s certainly worth seeing if a stem class is available at your child’s school.

These after-school activities will usually cover topics that maybe aren’t covered in as much detail during normal school times. It’s never too early to explore what you like and what could end up becoming your career as an adult.

Sports Or Dance Classes

Apart from school, it’s good to encourage interest in other classes that may be available within your local area. Sports and dance classes tend to be two things that a lot of children get involved with at an early age. And whether those dance classes cover everything from ballet to tap or just focus on one genre, it’s beneficial. The social experience that they get from working together in a soccer team to lifting each other up in a dance routine, all goes towards their social experiences.

Making Time For Family Discussion

A family unit can come in many variations nowadays, and one of the most important things in a family is to have communication. The other main area where a child learns socialization for the first time is in the family home. It’s where they learn to say their first words and to have conversations - albeit at first a load of babbling - between them and you as the parent. So it’s good to continue this building of social skills by having family discussions on a regular basis. Whether that’s a catch-up around the dinner table or it’s a debate over something you’ve all just watched on the news. It’s healthy to keep them involved and to lead and listen in conversation. The more you do this within the family home, the more confident they’ll feel when it comes to socializing in the outside world.

Offering your child the best opportunities when it comes to social experiences can help boost their confidence in themselves and to create real friendships and connections with those that they genuinely feel a pull towards. It’ll help them later in their adult life and will continue to provide them with opportunities throughout their lifetime.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Tips for Flying with Kids with Allergies and Compromised Immune Systems

Plane travel with kids is difficult enough as it is, right? You have to make sure you have snacks, entertainment, and remedies for those uh-oh situations (bathroom accidents, airsickness, ear pain). But if you have a child with nut allergies or a compromised immune system, it becomes an even bigger challenge with even more prep-work and the situations you're preparing for are much more than little uh-ohs.

As you may or may not know, my son has a compromised immune system.  And while we have been lucky that this is something he could grow out of (fingers crossed) and something that doesn't affect his daily life too drastically, it is something that makes things like air travel a little more difficult.  Because for him, catching someone's cold on a plane could turn into an ear infection within the next day or two in a place far away from his regular physicians. And that equals a lot of explaining and advocating on my part in order to make sure my son receives the correct treatment.  No one wants to deal with any of that on vacation. So, needless to say, it's just best to avoid the situation altogether.

I imagine air travel for kids with nut allergies must be incredibly stressful for their parents as well. Especially if the allergy is severe. Luckily, the tips below can also help nut allergy parents make plane rides with their little ones just a bit easier.

1. Ask to Board Early

Most airlines have "family boarding" which allows you to board with young children before other passengers.  However, if your children are a little older you often won't qualify for this boarding. I recommend getting to the gate early and asking to pre-board. Explain your situation to the employee and often they will grant you preboarding. Please be aware that typically only the child and one adult will be able to preboard this way. You will not be able to preboard your entire family. But, this will at least allow you to have time to prepare your child's seat and area on the plane without a line of people waiting behind you.

2. Use Seat Sitters

Seat Sitters seem like such a simple idea that I'm not sure why it hasn't been around longer. These approved plane seat covers are easy to slip on when boarding. They're comfortable, washable/reusable, and overall incredibly effective when it comes to keeping those germs or nut oils on the seat away from your little one. I've used both the original version and the new version. I prefer the new version since it comes with an easy to carry and store zippered pouch. The seat cover also comes with antibacterial hand wipes, crayons, an allergy sticker, a tray cover, and an allergy mask. These covers literally make my life so much easier on plane travel days.

3. Lysol or Clorox Wipes Are a Must

I use Lysol or Clorox wipes (whichever ones I can find travel size packets for at the time) to wipe down everywhere the Seat Sitter doesn't cover.  This means the arms of the chair, the tray, the wall/window by the seat, the back of the seat in front of my son's seat, and even the seatbelt. I also wipe down the area of the seat next to my child (usually my seat) and if I have time, I basically wipe down the area and seatbelts of the entire row.

4. Hand sanitizer

I know hand sanitizer has been controversial in the past...but it's a lifesaver for us. My son and I both use hand sanitizer before eating anything and after leaving the airport. Antibacterial hand wipes (like those provided in the Seat Sitters kit) are also a good option.

5. Medical Masks

Medical masks can be purchased online (I use Amazon, of course) and I definitely recommend having your child wear one from the time you enter the airport. Seat Sitters do come with an allergy mask that may be enough for those with allergies. However, when it comes to blocking germs, I prefer hospital-grade masks. If your child feels shy about wearing one, wearing one yourself could help your child feel more comfortable.  That way, they aren't the only one on the plane wearing a mask.

Hopefully these tips help other parents stressing about plane rides with their kids! These simple tips have prevented my son from catching any germs on plane rides and overall helped us to have a smoother journey while traveling.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Are Your Kids Active Enough?

Written by a contributing writer 

As a parent in the current cultural climate, you may have found yourself wondering whether your kids are active enough. Many of our little ones are engaging in more activities that don’t require too much movement. Video games, cartoons, and social media generally encourage your little ones to sit still, facing a screen for extended periods of time. This, of course, is fine every now and then. But you should be encouraging your children to engage in more high energy activities that will get their blood pumping and keep them active!

Research of youth participation has shown that both the way kids engage with exercise and the types of exercise that kids are enjoying is changing. While football and soccer still remain popular sports, they are decreasing in popularity, while more obscure activities like gymnastics, lacrosse, and track and field are on the rise.

Female participation is on the up and more kids in general are participating in organized sports. So, you don't need to worry that your kids will be disinterested in exercise. You just need to make sure you’re offering them the chance to engage in a type of exercise that they enjoy!

Hopefully, the infographic from Cisco Athletic below will give you some deeper insight into youth sports participation trends and can help to guide you on the right path to getting your kids involved! Exercise is important for all children, so do your utmost to help them reach their sixty-minutes-a-day target!

Infographic Design By Cisco Athletic