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#ParentsFreeForAll: Your Favorite $0 Activities

Monday, June 16th, 2014

We’re all about having a fun time without spending a dime! In Parents’ July issue, our editor-in-chief shared her favorite family-friendly $0 activities. Last week, we asked you to tell us some of your favorite things to do with your kids without opening your wallet. Here’s what you had to say:

  1. Have an educational afternoon. Chantel Horn (@chantella04) takes her family to the Kalamazoo Valley Museum in Kalamazoo, MI. Their summer hands-on program for kids, which includes activities like crafting and doing puzzles, is bound to be a winner with your little ones. Parents’ Food Editor Karen Cicero loves taking her kids to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. The zoo has daily activities ranging from getting an inside look at keepers caring for seals to going inside the bird house at feeding time.
  2. Enjoy nature in a local, city, or state park. Kristan Thompson’s family enjoys riding their bikes to the duck pond to feed them and then playing on the playground. Christine Martin takes her family to Sulphur Creek, which is a city park in Hayward, CA. They offer lots of summer activities and animal sightseeing. You can also bring your lunch and have a picnic.
  3. Make a splash. If you live near a beach like Mandi (@johnsmandi), I hope you are already taking advantage. Otherwise, BeenyR (@ibbeenyr) suggests going to your local park. Some, like hers, have a spray ground, which can provide hours of enjoyment this summer.
  4. Read a book (in AC!). Carrie Myers and Jen Parker frequent their local libraries. An insider tip from Parker: They usually have great summer programs and you can borrow DVDs at most libraries for a week at no cost.
  5. Look, but don’t buy. Rachel Knapp’s 2-year-old son and Michele Hunter’s (@MicheleHunter) daughter love to go window shopping. It’s a great way to get some exercise, too. Hortense De Laforcade brings the family to the toy store and the pet store to look around.
  6. Fire trucks! What young kid wouldn’t enjoy checking out the fire station? Alexis Sheiman takes her son to their local one for an awesome afternoon.
  7. Go for a ride. Pamela’s (@Medlinniel) kids go nuts for the free trolley in downtown Dallas.
  8. Learn something new. Laura Russell (@elrussel10) recommends taking your little ones to your area’s Gymboree or The Little Gym. The first class is free.

Looking for more activities that won’t break the bank? Check out our list of free attractions by state. Happy summer adventures to you and your family!

Make an activity finder so your little ones will never be bored and shop kids’ outdoor games.

How to Make a Bird-Feeder Craft
How to Make a Bird-Feeder Craft
How to Make a Bird-Feeder Craft

Image via Shutterstock

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Support LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Campaign

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

One out of every four kids will grow up illiterate in the United States. Every school day, 3,000 students drop out, the majority of them poor readers. Children who can’t read at grade level by 4th grade are 400% more likely to drop out of high school. Yet government spending on children’s education continues to be cut.

LeVar Burton, actor and children’s literacy advocate, saw the need to create change in our schools and decided to do something about it. Burton, the host of the original Reading Rainbow series on PBS, is running a Kickstarter campaign that could completely change how low-income schools teach reading. ”We need help to bring Reading Rainbow to every child,” said Burton.

The ultimate goal is to create a universally-accessible, browser-based digital library that would be available to every teacher and student in the world. In classrooms that have a high concentration of low-income children, this service will be available at no cost.

The campaign runs from today through June 27, and is asking for $1,000,000, a goal that seems increasingly achievable as the donations inch toward the 50 percent mark.

Track your child’s learning achievements with our daily thumbs-up chart and shop classic kids’ books

Watch a video below of LeVar Burton talking about his Kickstarter campaign.

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Wanted: A Nanny for Prince George

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Looking for a great babysitting gig? The perfect position has just opened up.

Like many other parents here and across the pond, Prince William and Kate Middleton are looking for child care for their son Prince George. They need a new nanny for Baby George because his current caretaker, 71-year-old Jessie Webb, is going back into retirement. (Fun fact: Webb took care of Prince William when he was a baby.) Because the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are getting ready to embark on a huge tour of two countries, they are going to need the extra help.

If you’re thinking about applying, be prepared to provide some spectacular references. Becoming a nanny is no easy feat, even if you want to care for commoners, so I can’t imagine what the qualifications are for becoming a royal nanny. Last year, NBC News ran a story on how competitive it’s become to be a nanny. Many couples now want nannies who have degrees in early childhood education in addition to experience. Some are even asking for Master’s degrees. Of course, the pay is greater for those with the best resumes; nannies might make $100,000 or more. There is no word on how much Prince William and Kate plan on paying their next nanny, but, no matter what, there are sure to be plenty of perks with the gig.

There have been rumors that Grandma Carole Middleton will help William and Kate out with George, but aides have claimed that these rumors are false. And, of course, Great-Grandma Elizabeth is probably too busy to take on a job like this. It’s probably for the better. Having granny as nanny is a tricky situation for any family, but it is probably even more complex for this royal family. My bet is that they will choose someone else to care for George.

Before they start interviewing, the royal family may want to do some research into which kind of childcare is a good fit for their needs, or they—and, of course, you!—can watch the video below to learn how to choose the right nanny.


Child Care: Tips for Choosing a Good Nanny
Child Care: Tips for Choosing a Good Nanny
Child Care: Tips for Choosing a Good Nanny

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Hilarious Mom Blogs About Quirky Challenges

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Most parents’ New Years resolutions tend to be similar: spend more time with your kids, turn off electronics at night, eat healthier as a family. Would you ever consider making your goals for the new year more unusual? One Seattle mom of two, Beautiful Existence — yes, that is really her given name — does just that. Each year Beautiful surprises her followers with a completely random-sounding challenge for herself. In 2013, she promised that she would eat at Starbucks for every meal. Every single meal all year. And, the year before that, she vowed to follow Parents magazine’s advice all year long. She made crafts, used our parenting tips, and even took the opportunity to make fun of our ads. (We’re flattered!)

For her Starbucks challenge, Beautiful had to get creative, especially around the holidays. On Passover, she made an impressive-looking Seder plate and, on Thanksgiving, she had her own little feast out of Starbucks offerings. She even gave herself a Starbucks Coffee Facial Scrub. (For the record, according to Beautiful, it worked great.) She was able to stay on the Starbucks-only diet all year, though she was, of course, eager to eat somewhere else on January 1.

What will Beautiful be doing this year? She’ll be learning every recreational sport — there are over 80 on her list. Now that’s a dedicated and healthy goal.

Beautiful’s hilarious blog is not only an entertaining look at her daily trips to the popular coffee chain, but also an example of a mom who had an offbeat, awesome idea and went with it. It’s exciting that one person can create such a following through blogging.

If you’re feeling creative, try this fun and easy craft with your kids.

Kid Craft: Cute Paper Animal Heads
Kid Craft: Cute Paper Animal Heads
Kid Craft: Cute Paper Animal Heads

See which health stories will be big in 2014 and sign up for our daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on parenting news.

Image via Shutterstock

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Tags: , , | Categories: Your Life

Music Video Lifts Young Cancer Patients’ Spirits

Friday, December 27th, 2013

This holiday season, the staff at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU did something extra special for their cancer patients. They created a music video to Katy Perry’s song “Roar.” The video features dancing, lip-synching, and general excitement from the kids, the staff, and even the VCU basketball team. It was a special treat for the patients and an inspiration to other children who have cancer.

The idea to create the music video came from 8-year-old Campbell, a leukemia patient at the hospital. Campbell is a huge fan of Katy Perry and listens to her during treatments to fight the pain.

You can watch Campbell kick off the video below.

Learn about the top children’s hospitals for cancer care, and get advice on what to do when a child’s sibling is sick.

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Your Worst Christmas Gifts Ever

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Didn’t get what you wanted this year for Christmas? You’re probably not alone. We recently asked our Facebook followers to share the worst present they’ve ever received, and nearly 600 people commented! Here are some of our favorite responses.

Downright Hilarious Gifts:

“One year I told my parents all I ever get is crap for Christmas so the next year they bought me a rubber turd and wrapped it in a really nice jewelry box.” -Sydnie

“White fake fur coat with a western/horse theme shaved into it.” -Lacey

“My husband once got a dickie, which is a mock turtleneck with no shirt, from his aunt.” -Anna

“Seven of the same turtleneck sweater in different colors – one for every day of the week.” -Rayshelle

“A toilet from Home Depot … seriously!” -Lisa

“Vibrating slippers …” -Lezia

“A velour jogging suit from my MIL … I neither jog nor wear velour!” -Susan

“A ceramic cow dressed in a bathrobe and slippers with hair curlers. There was no way to mask the horror when I unrapped that as a 13 year old.” -Laurie

“My husband gave me an adorable leather skirt and vest but I was 50 years old. Not something I would wear.” -Debbie

“Long patent leather trench coat … Matrix style.” -Lisa

Saddest Presents of the Bunch:

“One slipper sock from my mother-in-law. No, not a pair of slipper socks, a single sock!” -Soni

“A regifted jacket with rusty screws in the pocket.” -Jamie

“An old purse that I thought was new until I opened the inside pocket and saw that they forgot to pull their tampons and chapstick out.” -Jessica

“A 100 dollar gift card that was never activated.” -Jill

“Airplane nuts.” -Nicole

“A pair of boots. They were both for left feet.” -Carrie

“An umbrella that was a free gift when a larger gift was purchased.” -Brittany

“Toilet paper from a friend.” -Andrea

“Benefiber. Yes, that’s what my husband got me!” -Danielle

“A last-minute gift of a bag of Doritos from my husband.” -Aleasha

For more laughs, check out our Baby Bloopers blog, and be sure to sign up for our 100 Days newsletter for everything you’ll need during the winter holiday season.

TELL US: What is the worst Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

Stamped Snowman Card
Stamped Snowman Card
Stamped Snowman Card

Image via Shutterstock

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Melissa Rycroft Talks Clearblue and Planning for Baby #2

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Melissa Rycroft is one busy mama! The 30-year-old silver screen star has been a correspondent for Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight, and she’s competed on Dancing With the Stars and The Bachelor. Today, I chatted with her about her new partnership with Clearblue and their innovative Advanced Digital Ovulation test, and I learned a little more about her personal life as well.

P: How do you juggle being a wife and mom with your various work commitments? Do you have any advice for other working moms?

MR: It’s all about prioritizing. I love having a career, but it comes second to having a family. Family is #1 for us. You have to see what works with your family’s dynamic. If you are at work, you are going to feel guilty for not being home. If you are at home all the time, you might feel a little guilty for letting that part of your life go. We try to keep a balance. For example, if I travel my family often comes with me, or I am only gone for a day. And that’s great, too, because then [my husband, Tye Strickland, and 2-year-old daughter, Ava] can have daddy-daughter time. But what works for us is not going to work for other people, and there isn’t a perfect formula.

P: Can you tell me a little bit about why you decided to team up with Clearblue?

MR: I joined up with Clearblue a few months ago because it was a perfect fit for me. At that point, my husband and I were in the pre-planning stages of adding to our family. I wanted to share my journey, which is something that I have enjoyed doing. Clearblue has a new Advanced Digital Ovulation test that I was using even while we were still in that pre-planning stage. It was a great way to get to know my body. It gives you your four most fertile days, doubling the amount of time per month that other tests give. That really takes out the stress during a time that is supposed to be exciting, not stressful.

P: So, can I assume you are past the pre-planning stage now?

MR: Yes, we are past the pre-planning stage now! You can interpret that how you like. I don’t want to give too much away. I will say that both Tye and I want a big family so we are excited about where this will lead. We’ve asked our daughter if she wants to be a big sister and she said “no,” but I know she’ll be great at it when the time comes.

Are you also thinking of adding to your family? Find out if you’re ready for another child and read more about increasing your chances of getting pregnant.

Image: Courtesy of Clearblue.

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Happy Summer Learning Day!

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Today marks the first official day of summer. It is also Summer Learning Day, a day dedicated to making sure kids keep up with their academic goals even when school is not in session.

Growing up, summer was my favorite time of year. I was fortunate enough to go to camp, travel, and hang out by the poolside. However, come fall, I would dread the first day of school because I had forgotten a good amount of what I had learned the year before. I was an avid reader regardless of whether school was in session, but my math skills went out the window once Memorial Day came around.

Luckily, there are now more ways than ever to keep your child’s mind churning during these school-free months. If you’re not sure where to get started, PBS Kids has already launched several summer learning resources. True to it’s mission, the network is offering TV programming that is both educational and fun. Weekly themes include Sesame Street’s “Literary Quest Week” and Arthur’s “Sports Week.” PBS Kids is providing ways to encourage learning beyond the silver screen as well. If your child loves playing on your smartphone, retire Angry Birds for a bit and try the new PBS Kids “room” in the Apple store instead. This “room” is a page curated with (free and paid) educational apps that are worth exploring with your child.

Many kids want to spend much of their break outdoors, and there are plenty of ways to maximize that time as well. Try introducing your active learner to a jump rope spelling game. After dinner, transform your patio into the set of Jeopardy: Kids Summer Edition with fun trivia games.

Planning on logging some miles in the family van this summer? If your children don’t get motion sickness, you might be able to keep them occupied in the back seat with a book or two. And before you hit the road, create an easy interactive chalkboard map with your kids so they can learn where they’re going.

Whatever you do with your family this summer, make sure you set aside some time to help your kids avoid brain drain. Happy learning!

 Image: Schoolchildren painting, via legnenda/Shutterstock

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