1. Homesick Blues

    Homesickness is one of the most common camp-related ailments, up there with bug bites, heat rash, and skinned knees. Unfortunately, it still confounds campers and their parents alike. The American Camp Association says that 10% of kids experience homesickness, but this number is likely much higher because many kids feel homesick but don’t say anything. As a parent, what can you do to keep your child’s homesickness in check?

    Preventing homesickness can start at home. If it’s your child’s first time at camp and they haven’t spent much time away from home, send them on a few practice runs. Sleeping at friends’ or relatives’ houses for the weekend can be a good primer.

    Are you nervous about your child going away? Try to project a nonchalant attitude to your kids. That way, your anxieties don’t rub off on your camper. Keep reassuring them that they will enjoy camp. Even saying something like “If you don’t like camp, you can always come home” sends a subtle message that camp won’t be fun, so keep that kind of talk to a minimum.

    The key to keeping homesickness at bay once a child gets to camp is making sure they stay busy. If they write or call complaining about homesickness, encourage them to take on more activities. Talk to their counselors; they can get your child more involved in the daily life of camp. And although phone calls and email are important, put a limit on this behavior. Too much parent-child contact, especially in the first days of camp, can intensify homesickness. You want your child out having fun, not dwelling on missing you. Letter writing can be a good alternative to phone calls. Ask your kids to use the letters to tell you how much fun they are having.

    The great thing about homesickness is that it usually takes care of itself eventually. All you have to do is offer a compassionate ear and support. When you send your child off to summer camp next year, homesickness will be a thing of the past. Plus, doesn’t it make you feel good to be missed?

     

  2. Waterside Safety

    Summer is here, which means more trips to the beach, pool, and lake. Before you plan a family swimming trip, be sure to brush up on waterside safety.

    No one likes to get sunburned, so applying sunscreen is a must. Most experts suggest sunscreen with an SPF of 20-30 for kids. Try to select a sunscreen that’s waterproof and provides full spectrum protection (this means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays). For kids with sensitive skin, find something hypoallergenic and free of fragrances. The best protection from the sun is time in the shade. If your little guy or girl looks like they’re starting to turn a bit pink, have them relax in the shade for 30-45 minutes and reapply sunblock. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every 4 hours.

    When it comes to water safety, one must first factor in such concerns as how strong a swimmer a child is and what kind of water they’ll be swimming in. While your child may be good enough to swim alone in the backyard pool, they won’t be able to in choppy seas. In general, the buddy system is useful for staying safe in the water, but that shouldn’t stop you from keeping a pretty constant eye on your little swimmers. Those new to swimming should wear life jackets.

    It’s important to work out some kind of system with your kids about what they should do if they feel they’re in trouble. Many parents don’t know what drowning looks like, so agree on a clear and easy-to-remember distress sign – a wave or a whistle, anything to let you know they need help. Make sure your kids know they should call for help the moment they feel danger. They should never wait until they are already exhausted from trying to get to shore. If someone is missing, the first things you should do are call 911 and check the water. Being lost on the beach or by the lake is much less serious than being in trouble in the water, so always start there.

    Once you have established some safety protocols and applied some sunscreen, you can get to having fun by the water. Make sure to snap lots of pictures, and bring plenty of snacks, water, and your favorite aquatic toys. Enjoy the water this summer!  

     

  3. A Parent’s Guide to Doctors & Pediatricians

    Showing up with your 15-year-old to a pediatrician’s office can be an awkward experience. A waiting room full of toddler’s toys and Sesame Street posters won’t exactly make your teen feel like they have come to the right place. As a result, many parents wonder when it’s time for their child to stop seeing the pediatrician and start seeing a doctor that handles adult patients.

    Ultimately the choice is up to you and your kids, but many parents make the change from pediatrician to adult physician at age around 13. Around that age, an adolescent begins to have questions about sexual health, hormones, and other issues they may not want to discuss with the doctor they have been seeing since early childhood. Even if you don’t switch doctors, you should make sure to give your child some alone time with their doctor at around this age so they can ask certain questions they may not feel comfortable asking around you.

    There are some benefits with sticking with a pediatrician through age 18. If your child has a chronic condition your pediatrician has been working on, it may take time an effort to catch up a new doctor. If your child and doctor have good rapport, you may not need to switch.

    For an in-between fix, check out whether there’s an adolescent medicine specialist in your area: Google “adolescent doctor” or “young adult doctor” plus your city or town. These doctors are great for high school age kids, and can provide a stopgap between a pediatrician and an adult doctor.

    A lot of kids make the switch to a new doctor at age 18 when they go to college. Having a doctor near where they go to school has a lot of practical advantages, and age 18 is a good time for soon-to-be-adults to start making their own medical choices.  

    There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making the switch from pediatrician to young adult doctor or adult doctor. What is convenient for your family and who your child feels most comfortable with should influence the choice the most. Make sure to keep your child involved in the discussion – after all, they’re the patient! 

     

  4. Time-Out Alternative: Time-In

    When it comes to dealing with a child’s bad behavior, the time-out is one of the most tried and true tools in a parent’s kit. The prevailing wisdom is that it gives kids a few minutes to cool off, reflect about what they have done, and realize that their actions have consequences.  However, there are lessons a time-out doesn’t teach, like regulating your emotions, cooperating with your parents, or deescalating. Some parents are doing the exact opposite of the time-out and using a technique known as the time-in.

    A time-in is when you sit your child down calmly to comfort them and talk about the bad behavior. As opposed to a punishment, the time-in lets you find out what pushed your child to a certain behavior and create a cooperative plan to stop it from happening again. Most negative behavior doesn’t come from nowhere, so a time-in can help a parent understand what is going through their child’s mind. It also helps children reconcile and further examine their negative emotions.

    Many kids, when left to their own devices during time-out time, will blame others as opposed to really thinking about what they have done. Kids can have trouble sorting out their actions and their emotions. A time-in lets you, the parent, take control and say “Emotion X is okay, action X is not” and from there move the conversation to “What is a more productive way to deal with emotion X?”

    Another problem with the time-out is that it loses its effectiveness after a certain age. Are you really going to give your teenager a time-out? Probably not. By getting into the habit of talking through problems now, you establish a lifelong habit of talking through your child’s inappropriate behaviors.

    Many parents are skeptical of the time-in because they don’t want to feel they are rewarding a bad behavior. The first thing to remember is that a time-in is not a punishment, but it’s not a reward either. It’s simply a different, more proactive tool for dealing with problem behavior. Try it out – you may be surprised at the results. 

     

     

  5. Let’s Get a Pet!

    Getting a first pet is a monumental occasion in any child’s life. From the moment you bring that animal through the door, your kids will love it. Most parents eventually find themselves enamored with the family pet as well. All too often, however, families choose pets that they can’t handle, and those pets get sent back to the stores or shelters from which they came. It’s a sad event for both the pet and the family. How can you ensure your family chooses a pet that will be with you for a long time to come?

    The first thing you need to do is research. What kind of pet best fits your family’s lifestyle? Do you have the time and energy to devote to a dog? Are you home enough for a cat? How much responsibility will the parents shoulder? What about the kids? These are all things you need to figure out and discuss before you make any trip to a shelter or pet store.

    Dogs are the most popular American pet. Most dog owners view their pet as part of the family. If choosing a dog, make sure to factor in age, breed, and disposition. Does your family have the time and space necessary for a big, high-energy puppy? Maybe you would be more comfortable with a smaller dog that needs less exercise? Keep in mind you will need to take the time to train any dog so it can adjust to life with your family.

    Cats are the second most popular American pet. Many people assume that if they get a cat and put out a litter box and food bowl, the rest will take care of itself. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Although cats require less effort than dogs, they still need play and attention every day. Also, a family that travels a lot needs to make sure someone can take care of their cat when they are gone.

    If you aren’t ready to jump headlong into pet ownership, consider a starter pet, something that doesn’t require too much attention. Good examples include hamsters, goldfish, mice, and finches. These pets are a good way to make sure your family has the time to clean, feed, and care for an animal. If things work out, you’ll know your family is ready for a long term commitment.

     

  6. Closet Cleanup!

    Kids have a hard enough time keeping their room clean. When it comes to keeping a closet neat, most are at a complete loss. Things that don’t have another place tend to end up in the closet, which results in a huge, disorganized mess. This stops you and your children from maximizing the closet as an actual storage space.

    The first thing you need to do is thoroughly clean out the closet in question with your kids. Chances are there are a lot of things that you can throw out. Other items can be moved into a more permanent storage space like under the bed or in the basement. Once the closet has been thoroughly cleaned out you can decide what items you’ll store there.

    It’s important to have a system in place for the closet. Cleaning out a closet is a good start, but the mess will slowly begin to accumulate again if there isn’t an organizational system in place. Designate different places in the closet for various items. Make sure your child knows what specific items go in the closet and where to put them.

    Maximize space in your closet with organizing accessories. Get a shoe rack or door hangers to make use of door space. Stack shelves or milk crates on the floor to get the most out of the floor area. You can find many more ideas for how to get the most out of every inch of closet space online.

    Cleaning the closet should be part of your child’s room cleaning routine. Once a system is in place, they’ll have no excuse for not keeping their closet organized. It may require some gentle reminders at first, but once a routine has been established it will be easy.

    Once your child’s closet is organized you can clone your success in every closet in the house! Don’t be afraid to get rid of things you never use. The key to success to creating a system and sticking with it. What will you do with all your extra storage space?

     

  7. What Is Tricot?

    Originally designed for athletic use, tricot is one of those magic fabrics that belongs in every kid’s wardrobe. It’s breathable and easy to clean, and because it has a natural shine to it, it seems to add pizzazz to just about any outfit.

    If your little one likes to stay active while looking great, check out these tricot picks!

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    It doesn’t get any more classic than these Fila track pants, a practical choice that looks equally fresh at the gym or at the mall.

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    This Coogi outfit mixes up a tricot jacket with jeans and a T for a taste of retro style.  

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    This Puma 2-piece is game day ready. Plus those fun colors are sure to keep a smile on her face! 

     

  8. New Year’s Resolutions

    What are your resolutions for 2014? The New Year is traditionally a time for self-improvement, emphasis on self, but what if you include your family in your goals this year? When you share your resolutions with your family and others, they’re more likely to keep you honest, and you have a better shot at success.  

    Instead of just setting goals for yourself this New Year, make 2 sets of goals – some for yourself and some for the whole family. Good examples of family goals include eating healthier, saving money together, or spending more time together.

    Making individual goals is not just for the adults. Talk to your kids about the ways they want to improve themselves in 2014. Try getting your child to set 2 goals. One can be a suggestion from you, something like getting better grades or eating more vegetables. The other can be entirely up to them. Let them know that they will have your support for achieving their goals, and think about how you can motivate them.

    Once your goals are set, write them down. As simple as that may sound, putting goals down in writing goes a long way towards ensuring your family doesn’t forget or waver from them as 2014 wears on. If possible, create a visual model to chart progress. Note improvements in GPA on the fridge or make a graph to show how much your family is saving month-to-month on bills and other expenses.

    Make sure to reward yourself, your partner or spouse, and your kids for reaching milestones in your resolutions. If your family is cutting costs in 2014, maybe you could all agree that part of what is saved will go towards a vacation or something that the whole family can appreciate. The same is true of individual goals. If your child is trying to improve their GPA, tell them they can finally get that Xbox or iPhone if their grades improve by a full point in the coming academic semester. Another great way to boost yourself and your family as you reach milestones? Tweet it or share it on facebook. There’s nothing wrong with a little bragging for motivation – just don’t take it too far!

    Working together as a family can make all the goals you set for 2014 achievable. All you have to do is work together, keep each other motivated, and stay strong even as the months go by. Good luck on achieving your 2014 resolutions, and Happy New Year from CookiesKids.com!

     

  9. Ankle Boots for Boys

    We know that getting boys into dressier shoes can be a challenge. If it seems like he can’t wait to get out of those clunky dress shoes, it might be time to try out ankle boots.  

    With an ankle-length cut and minimal construction, ankle boots have been a staple on the menswear scene for a while now, and they’re popping up more and more in boys sizes.

    They’re an appealing choice for boys who are used to sneakers, because they’re easy to lace, usually come with some tread on the sole, and offer extra support because of their high cuff.

    They also come in splashy colors, like this pair:

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    These Florsheim ankle boots are genuine suede – very luxe.

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    These opt for a more toned-down look. The slightly pointed toe makes them extra sleek:

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    Even infants can get in on the trend!

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  10. Birthdays on a Budget: Having a Blast without Breaking the Bank

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    The cost of a child’s birthday party can add up fast. Food for friends and family, appropriate entertainment – and don’t forget a present for the birthday boy or girl! Unfortunately, many parents find that spending more doesn’t necessarily mean getting more. Before you start booking the magician or renting the arcade, look over our affordable birthday solutions. You’ll find lots of ways you can give your kids and their friends a unique and memorable birthday without spending much at all.

    For spring and summer birthdays, a day on the lake is great fun. A quick internet search will reveal the parks in your area. In most cases, reserving a site with a fire pit and lake access is under $20. Some sites are free, but in those cases you’ll need to arrive early to stake your claim. Then all you need is a cooler full of hotdogs and any outdoor play things you have around the house. The parents can relax while the kids run around, swim, and make their own fun. As the day ends, gather everyone around the fire to sing Happy Birthday, open presents, and eat some birthday s’mores!

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    If the weather doesn’t permit, or you’re not around any lakes, you can organize a scavenger hunt. If you plan this properly it can cost you a total of $0. You can organize a scavenger hunt around your neighborhood, if weather permits, or at the local mall. Just create some clues based on your chosen location, split the guests into two or more teams with a few parents per team, then let them loose to solve the puzzle. Look online for inspiration; you’ll find lots of clues and riddles to incorporate into your hunt.

    Chances are there are some fun, low cost cultural institutions in your area. Museums, zoos, and historical sites are all affordable options. Call and ask about group rates or reduced rates for kids. Many such places will also have free days every now and again, though they do tend to become crowded on those days. Make sure to bring enough parents on your outing. Keeping track of so many rowdy kids in a crowded place can get tricky.

    When planning a birthday on a budget, it’s important to take advantage of all the resources available to you, from other parents to local attractions. With enough planning and creativity you can deliver a birthday experience your little one will never forget.  

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