1. Bedtime Means Bedtime

    Many kids will avoid going to sleep no matter how exhausted they are. They’ll argue with you while yawning and rubbing their eyes. If this is the situation in your household, you may wonder about whether your kids are really getting the sleep they need. What methods can you use to make sure your kids are getting to bed and sleeping enough?

    WebMD offers this handy breakdown for how much sleep kids should be getting: 3 – 6 year olds, 10 – 12 hours of sleep; 7 – 12 year olds, 10 – 11 hours of sleep; 12 – 18 year olds, 8 – 9 hours of sleep. These are rough guidelines that you can alter to suit your child’s needs. Trust your instincts; if your kids look tired all the time, they’re not getting enough sleep.

    No matter what age your kids are, it’s important to stick to a regular schedule for bedtime. If you make sure your child gets to bed and wakes up at the same time every day, they’ll begin to develop an internal rhythm. In a matter of weeks you won’t need to remind them about bedtime, because their biological clock will be primed for sleep. Being on a schedule also makes it easier to wake up in the morning.

    Even with a schedule in place, many children will bicker with you when night arrives, claiming they’re not tired. Why do kids do this? Sometimes the mind just doesn’t realize how tired the body is. Certain activities can exacerbate this problem. Screen time of any sort – computer, TV, mobile phone – often disrupts the process of winding down toward sleep. You may want to consider banning or limiting the use of such devices in the hour or two before bed. Replace screen time with activities more conducive to falling asleep, like reading a book or listening to music.

    Many kids, especially energetic ones, simply don’t get enough opportunities during the day to put their energy to good use. This can lead to genuine sleeplessness. Make sure your child is getting enough exercise. An hour or two at the park or playing in the backyard can make all the difference when it comes to bedtime. Limiting sugar and caffeine intake is another way to make sure your children feel sufficiently tired at night.

    If your kids are still not sleeping after taking these kinds of steps, contact your pediatrician to look into other sources of insomnia. But for most kids, these tips will suffice and they’ll be asleep in no time. 

     

  2. 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?

     

  3. Keeping it Current

    When a major news event occurs – natural disaster, financial turmoil, political scandal – kids get curious, and most often it’s up to parents to explain what’s going on. But this process catches many parents off guard. Most news stories are very complex, so how do you simplify them for kids? Furthermore, the news can be pretty scary, so should you leave out gruesome or disheartening details? 

    Before you can approach these kinds of questions, it’s first important to get into a routine where you and your kids discuss current events regularly. Think about what times of day might be appropriate to start this discussion – some time when your kids are alert, but looking for something to do.  

    Sometimes one event is all it takes to get your child interested. A local news story can be a good entry point because it allows your child to put abstract news into the context of their life. Are there any stories brewing on a local level you think your child might find enlightening?  

    Once you find a news event you think will interest your child, collect some articles about it from the internet or newspapers. Make sure it’s juicy stuff, preferably with a video or two, and try to seek out a news event that seems to be ongoing, such as the debates on fracking or gun control. If your kids need more information, help them find new sources. Take them to the library or even on a field trip – show them that you support their quest for knowledge.  

    What if some news stories go way over your kid’s head? Not to worry. There are many kid-friendly online news resources out there, such as Dogo, Time for Kids, and Scholastic. These resources specialize in taking complex news events and breaking them down in relatable and understandable ways. Let your child read these, you read the grownup stuff, and then the two of you can discuss.


    When your kids get a bit older you can have even richer discussions about what certain issues mean to them, and how they think a given story is going to play out. But what about the darker side of the news? News stories of famine, genocide, and sectarian violence are never in short supply. Should you share these stories with your children? It depends on their age and maturity level, but eventually, yes. Your kids trust you as their confidant, the one with whom they can discuss anything. You can’t sugarcoat the dark stuff for them forever, but you can be there to discuss.    

    Lastly, be sure to encourage your kids to formulate their own opinions about current events. You don’t have to agree with them, but telling them there’s no room for their point of view is a sure way to snuff out their budding interest. If you continue to ask for your kids’ opinions, and keep challenging them to delve deeper into a story, before long your kids will be the ones filling you in about the subtle nuances of current events. That should be enough to make any parent proud!

     

  4. 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! 

     

  5. 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!

     

  6. Follow-Up: More Pueblo Print in Stock!

    A couple weeks ago we brought to light the joys of Pueblo prints – those Southwest-inspired geometric designs that enliven any piece of apparel (if you missed it, check out the post here).

    But since then, we’ve received a couple of *new* Pueblo print items we wanted to share.

    First of all, the trend isn’t just for girls. Check out this boys T from Sean John – something Aztec warriors might wear if they time-traveled to modern day NYC:

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    If your girl’s going for drama, nothing works quite like a huge Pueblo print cross.

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    …except for maybe a huge Pueblo print cross WITH studs around it. Check and check.

    This outfit also amps up the edge with pueblo print and studs:

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    It’s like wearing a trip to Tucson!

     

     

  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. Flu Season Tips for the Whole Family

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    At its best, the flu can be a few days in bed with a sore throat and other unpleasant symptoms. At its worst, it can require hospitalization. As with many illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. How can you prevent your family from getting the flu this season? Check out these no-nonsense tips!

    The best line of defense is a flu vaccine. Although everyone should get a flu vaccine, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) highly recommends the elderly, children between 6 months and 6 years, people with a preexisting illness, pregnant women, or anyone who works with the aforementioned groups get vaccinated. You can get a flu vaccine at your doctor’s office or pharmacy, usually at little to no cost.

    The typical flu vaccine prevents against the 3 major flu viruses. The antibodies it spurs your body to create, however, can help prevent many other forms of the flu. But even though the vaccine dramatically reduces your risk of contracting the flu, it doesn’t offer 100% protection. Vaccinated individuals will still be susceptible to certain forms of the flu virus. There are also a host of non-flu viruses that can cause similar symptoms.

    What else can you do to reduce the risk of getting sick? Scientist have found that people who have healthy habits overall are better equipped to fight the flu, and are sometimes able to get rid of it before symptoms appear at all. What’s your family doing to stay healthy? During flu season, take extra care that you and your family eat nutritiously, sleep enough, and exercise. Not only will this kind of behavior make you less likely to get the flu, it will make your case of the flu less severe if you do end up falling ill.

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    Another effective preventative measure is hand washing. Make sure to wash your hands constantly during flu season. Get your family in the habit of washing up before meals or after interacting with large groups of people. Use hot water and soap with at least 30 seconds of rigorous scrubbing, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

    People who do get sick, especially those who get a milder strain, tend to go about their daily lives and not stay home. The CDC warns against such behavior. The high communicability of the flu means interacting with people who aren’t sick puts them at risk. Your coughs and sneezes can infect people up to 6 feet away! The best thing you can do if you’re sick is stay home and minimize contact with others. And make sure your kids stay away from you, too – we know it’s hard not to give them hugs sometimes, but it’s for their own good.  

     

  10. Getting the Family Engaged this Thanksgiving

    National polls have found Thanksgiving to be our nation’s second favorite holiday after Christmas. Why do people like Thanksgiving so much? Food and family, most say. All too often, however, the prep for Thanksgiving is not a family activity. It’s just stressed-out parents shopping, cooking, traveling, and much more. This year, involve the kids! If they help make the holiday happen, they’ll be even more thankful for the season’s blessings.

    The first thing you should do with your family is come up with a plan. Let your kids know you want their input on how to make this Thanksgiving the best one yet. Make family decisions on things like the menu, decorations, and music. Assign everyone tasks.

    Thanksgiving is a food centered holiday, so it makes sense to have your kids help out in the kitchen. It’s also a great excuse to spend some time together. Find age-appropriate tasks for your kids to do. Cutting vegetables, making whipped cream, even just reading the next step in the recipe: these are all ways to involve your kids. If you have an older child who likes to cook, let them create a dish or dessert on their own. When the guests arrive, your kids can state with pride that they helped create the holiday meal.

    There are a lot of other tasks your kids can do to get your home ready for Thanksgiving. They can help you clean, cut out hand turkeys to hang around the house, and decorate dinner menus. Even if it’s just busy work, it will keep the kids out of your hair and make them feel engaged.

    Their engagement doesn’t have to stop with the feast. Remind them that they need to be gracious hosts. Have them help bring out food, clear the table, and make sure elder family members are comfortable. And, as the meal draws to a close, the cleanup brigade should be prepared to spring into action.  

    Many families like to go around the table and say what they are thankful for. This is a great time to thank your kids for all the help they gave you in planning and executing Thanksgiving. Hopefully your kids will thank you, too!