1. Kids & Social Media

    Social media confounds many parents. Parents who don’t have experience with social media are at a loss, and many parents who do are unsure how they should monitor and interact with their kids via these channels. The news is full of stories involving kids misbehaving and getting into trouble on social media, so how can you make sure you’re setting the right rules for your kids?  More importantly, how can you proactively protect your kids on social media?

    The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t done it already, is create social media accounts. Join Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other network that your kids are a part of. Connect with your kids. Just the fact they know that you can see what they are doing online will make them think twice before posting a questionable picture or less than thoughtful comment.

    Some parents want to know their kids’ passwords so they can see firsthand everything they’re doing online. That certainly makes it easier to monitor your kids, but for some parents it’s a case of too much information. Password sharing depends strongly on the level of privacy you afford your kids, and ultimately on their level of maturity.

    No matter how much privacy your kids have, there are certain things you should review with them. Make sure they understand that a lot of the same rules that apply to strangers on the street apply to people on social media. They should never give out their personal information and immediately report any harassment – whether from peers or from strangers. When it comes to their personal conduct, just remind them that you are on the same networks they are. Anything they wouldn’t want you to see shouldn’t be online at all.

    It’s important for parents to look past some of the negative characteristics of social media to see its true value. If you use social media as a way to monitor and interact with your kids, it’s an invaluable window into their lives. 

     

  2. 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.

     

  3. Making Time for Time Management

    Time management is an important life skill, and the earlier you can teach it to your kids, the better. Proper time management not only leads to better academic performance, it lets your kids free up time to do whatever they want, which reduces stress. But when and how do you start teaching your kids about managing time?

    Kids 10 - 13 years old typically have a basic understand of timing and deadlines. This is also around when academics and other activities can really start to pile on, overwhelming many kids, so it’s a good idea to start teaching time management before things get really hectic at school or at home. If you’re looking for a good time of year to teach time management, try teaching them around summer, the end of a school vacation, or any other generally slow time when they can devote some extra capacity to the project of time management.

    Ask your child to split up their upcoming deadlines and events into have-to-do and want-to-do tasks. Have-to-dos will be things like math homework or soccer practice, while want-to-dos will be things like playing video games or chatting with friends on the phone. This teaches them to prioritize.

    Once tasks and times have been divided, the more difficult part begins: making a schedule. Making a schedule can be tricky because it can be hard to determine how much time is needed nightly for a long-term project. A heavy load of homework one night can throw off the whole rest of the week’s schedule. Let your child know these are just estimates and they can always adjust things as they go. As time goes on, they should have a better idea of how long a given task will actually take. It helps to overestimate how much time a task will take, especially in the beginning. Any surplus time becomes time for want-to-do tasks.

    It’s important to get your child into the habit of constantly updating and adjusting their schedule. If they have a smartphone or tablet, make sure they’re using the calendar function, but if not, invest in a simple paper calendar for them. This makes it easier to keep track of due dates and social obligations so they’ll never miss a beat. One might think that keeping track of play dates is excessive, but it’s just as valid a way to learn time management as scheduling math homework.      

    Time management habits carry through kids’ college years and into their adult life. People with good time management skills experience less stress than their disorganized peers, because they find they actually have the time to relax. Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?

     

  4. 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. 

     

  5. 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?

     

  6. 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!

     

  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. 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!

     

     

  10. 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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