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Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
As July turns into August, we look forward to our last summer vacation, final trips to the pool, and a few more weeks whose days can be a little less unstructured as school looms on the horizon. It’s a bittersweet time for families as we look forward to the excitement of our kids starting a new grade level but also acknowledging that they’re also a year older as summer ends. Make your final month of summer count by resolving to unplug a bit more in favor of family time because as Amy Foster, Director of Consumer Insights at The Walt Disney Company says, we only have 18 summers with our kids before they leave the nest we call home.
18 summers. What summer are you on? How many do you have to go? In our home, my husband gently reminds me that we’ve enjoyed half the summers we’ll have with our daughter and 1/3 with our son. In 9 years our daughter will graduate from college. Her brother will only be around for two years after that.
Everyone always tells new parents that time goes quickly. “Enjoy it,” they say. But somehow we forget. We forget with looming work deadlines and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Before the weekend comes, pause.
Hit your pause button in the name of digital wellness. Stop for a minute and figure out how much time you want to spend plugged in versus unplugged. Take a look at your work and family calendar to see if you can seize some time together in this final month of summer to reconnect with your kids face to face before school starts and the hustle and bustle begins again.
Because how many more summers do you have? Grab hold of this last month and enjoy it before next summer rolls around.
Mother and daughter enjoying time at tropical beach via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
As parents, there are topics that we need to address with our kids that are scary—scary for us to think about, scary to have conversations about, and scary for them as it means potential loss of innocence and childhood. Usually involving personal safety, discussions about these topics begin with our young children as we teach them to look both ways when crossing the street and about stranger safety then progressing to more age appropriate topics involving friendships, online safety, and cyberbullying.
But what about underage drinking? It’s certainly another safety topic that needs to address but if you think that your kids are too young, think again.
According to The Century Council, statistics show that nearly 10 million youths ranging in age from 12-20 report they have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. Charged with providing information and developing programs that delay consumption of alcohol, prevent underage drinking, and reduce the access to alcohol by minors, The Century Council believes in parents being proactive by starting “the conversation at an early age and continue talking as they grow up.”
How do you be proactive and provide the tools your kids need to make good decisions? Parents weigh in.
Talk about it in an age appropriate way by framing the conversation about a healthy lifestyle.
Being proactive begins at a young age as we talk to kids about living a healthy lifestyle. Even though Grace Duffy from Formerly Gracie admits that her kids are so little that the “topic of underage drinking is still abstract” she frames it in a way that they understand. Not only does she limit their juice intake but has talks about what a grown up drink is versus a kid drink and incorporates nutrition and body chemistry.
Seize teachable moments
We know kids are observant and even when they appear to not be paying attention, they are. The Century Council’s Ask, Listen, Learn Brochure for Parents encourages taking advantage of daily opportunities. Perhaps there will be an article in the newspaper or a comment made about a friend that can serve as a springboard to conversation. Abby Hoffman is a mom of a third grader and high schooler and shared the following advice, “Most importantly, talk with your teen. Be involved in their life to a certain extent.”
Demonstrate your support
Talk the talk and then walk the walk. As parents, our kids need to know they can rely on us without getting in trouble or being judged harshly, especially when it comes to dangerous situations. Forbes contributor, Jim Henry, recalled a time when he was stranded after a rock concert in a bad part of Boston after midnight. He had to call his father to make a two hour round trip to bring him home but remembered his dad “never said one word of complaint and I was so grateful.” Author and blogger, Jennifer Wagner of Connect with Your Teens, echoed Henry by saying “the worst thing is for them to be scared to call when they are in a dangerous situation.”
Mom of 4 and Musings from Me founder, Jill Berry, encourages her kids to call her whenever they’re in a situation where alcohol is being served to minors because she “doesn’t want them at a gathering at someone’s home where alcohol is being served” even if the host parents are “supervising.”
But how do you give your child an out what could be a very uncomfortable situation? Father of three, Gabe Gonzales, remembered attending a talk by the Washington, D.C. based Parent Encouragement Program where he learned the importance of having a pre-arranged code word or phrase to use when they’re in an environment they don’t like. Gonzales described the benefit saying, “they can call you in front of their friends without losing face in front of them. So, for example, they could say to you- the parent- over the phone “I’ll finish that laundry tomorrow,” which would lead you to “demanding” that they come home right now” and provides a way for them to be picked up without embarrassment.
If necessary, provide concrete examples.
While shock and awe tactics may not be the best way to start a conversation about underage drinking, showing real life consequences to teens who may be tempted to imbibe are certainly memorable. Three parents reminisced about experiences that exposed them to horrors of underage drinking that they remember to this day:
“Every child should have a mother like mine. One that will take you to the morgue and show you what happens when you drink and drive and how it applies to real life.” ~ Lisa Frame, A Daily Pinch
“In high school we had helicopter pilots come in to talk to use prior to Prom Week and every accident they showed us was underage drinking by high school students. Some of the parents complained that the images were too graphic but they certainly had their place in getting the message across.” ~Rebecca Cervoni, Washington, D.C. parent of 2
“When I covered courts in Nashville, Tennessee, a surprising number of parents took their teenagers to Night Court on Friday nights to see what happens when you get arrested for DUI.” ~ Jim Henry, New York City based freelance writer
Teenagers enjoying drinks together via Shutterstock
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Monday, March 4th, 2013
Have you ever handed your child your phone only to be surprised by numerous charges for app downloads? You’re not alone. Many parents have experienced similar scenarios.
“My then three-year-old downloaded 23 apps in about three minutes, costing us $43,” reports Jessica Cohen who blogs at Found the Marbles.
Julie Meyers Pron of Julieverse also has first hand experience with pricey purchases conducted through apps. “My daughter purchased a 7 night vacation for two to Costa Rica while we were at a football game one afternoon. Over $5,000 was instantly charged. So sweet of her.”
This is such a common problem that Apple recently settled a class action lawsuit filed by customers whose children accidentally downloaded apps on their iOS devices. The Huffington Post reported affected customers will receive a $5 iTunes credit or an iTunes gift card in the same amount, costing Apple around $100 million.
Many parents have called Apple to share stories of accidental downloads and the company has been understanding, often deleting charges from an individual’s iTunes Store account.
Girlmama’s Melissa Angert shared that her sister let her 4 year old borrow her phone only to find that he bought a ton of apps. “I told her that’s why parents all have passwords on their iTunes!” Angert reported that her sister was able to get her money refunded but she still felt terrible.
“My son clicked on an ad within one of the educational apps my mom had on her iPad,” said Dresden Shumaker of Creating Motherhood. Since she didn’t have any safeguards up to stop instant downloading Shumaker’s mother contacted Apple. “They essentially said they would refund once.”
Meyers Pron was able to contact Living Social, the company who offered the pricey Costa Rican vacation. She said they while they were wonderful and laughed politely about the purchase before cancelling they sale, they also advised her to “password protect my apps for the future.” While she’s always password protected her iTunes account, she took additional steps to “turn off in app purchases.”
Cohen seconds the recommendation for turning off the in-app purchase options on her kids’ iPad but finds it doesn’t stop the temptation that she finds frustrating. “They constantly get pop-up offers anyway. For my little one those pop-ups are just screaming buy me.”
Shumaker shared that her mother “removed all kid apps with ads and has it set up so that every purchase requires a password” to combat future accidental downloads.
“I worry especially with so many in-App purchases available,” admitted Hillary Chybinski, an online content creator who blogs at My Scraps. “We try to keep the Wi-Fi limited and turn off in-app purchases on the kids’ iPad.”
While it may seem that this is common for iOS devices connected to iTunes, it’s not a platform specific problem.
“My son bought stuff for the Smurfs’ Village game on my Android phone,” Jill Berry of Musings from Me shared. “I had switched phones and hadn’t updated to not allow purchases without a password. I used his money from his grandparents to pay for the $20 purchase.”
Child using a mobile phone via Shutterstock
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Sunday, January 13th, 2013
With the reports of the flu epidemic hitting major metropolitan cities across the country, staying healthy is going to be a challenge for everyone. The Center for Disease Control provides recommendations for maintaining good health and while germs are everywhere, they are especially prevalent in the work place.
The items within the confines of your cubicle harbor more germs than toilet seats and kitchen sinks. HowStuffWorks.com believes that this is because unlike common spaces in the office that are cleaned nightly, clean desks are the responsibility of the individual.
Besides constant hand washing to ensure that you’re minimizing germs that you’re bringing to your desk, how do you keep your workspace clean without damaging the technology in your office?
First, take some time to remove everything from your desk to rid your space of dust and debris and give it a good wipe down with disinfecting wipes and spray. Before you put items back on your desk, clean them too but treat each one with care because your keyboard, mouse, monitor, hard drive, and phone require different cleaning techniques to prevent damage.
Keyboard— After unplugging your keyboard, turn it upside down and tap it lightly on your desk. Even if you don’t eat at your desk, you’ll be amazed at all the things that happen to fall out! Then follow HowtoGeek.com’s tips on How to Thoroughly Clean Your Keyboard (Without Breaking Anything). It’s incredibly thorough! Read it before you decide to clean since you may need some supplies!
Mouse, hard drive case, and office phone— Wipe these items down with an alcohol wipe from your office’s medical supply stash. It may be tempting to give them a quick swipe with an antibacterial wipe but sometimes they can leave a sticky residue behind or streaks.
Monitor— The type of monitor you have determines how you clean it. Soft microfiber cloths are generally safe for all monitors but don’t get rid of germs. MacBook owners with glass screens can safely use a damp cloth or towel with some Windex. RealSimple.com suggests a slightly damp cloth be used on all other types. They also recommend cleaning the exterior of the monitor with specially designed computer cleaning wipes.
Cell phone— HowtoCleanStuff.net provides a list of products, the cleaning process, and helpful tips and advice to ensure that you don’t damage your cell phone.
With a couple more months of winter left to go, be sure to repeat this process regularly in order to keep your computer clean and germ free to stay healthy.
Portrait of a sick young business woman blowing her nose on her workplace via Shutterstock
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Friday, November 16th, 2012
Called Black Friday because it’s the day that retailers tend to get out of the red and into the black, Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It’s a day where savvy shoppers who plan and come up with a coordinated strategy can find incredible deals for items to give during the holidays and beyond. It’s also a day that can be incredibly intimidating to those who want to venture out but don’t know where to start.
Mom Central Founder and CEO, author of four best-selling parenting books and mom expert, Stacy DeBroff, developed a survival kit for families to avoid sticky situations when shopping for awesome deals on Black Friday.
Here are 6 tips from Stacy that can be helpful for Black Friday veterans and novices alike:
- Decide Before You Leave the House: Amid the adrenaline rush of deals, it’s easy to get swept up into buying items in retrospect you regret. Make a shopping list of key items you’re on the hunt for, and save all receipts in one place in case you want to return some impulse purchases and get a full refund.
- Deals and Steals Online: Follow your favorite brands on Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels to see what they’re offering in special Black Friday discounts. Many retailers will be leaking their ads and specials a week beforehand. Also, the deals and prices online often prove better than those in the stores, especially factoring in free or reduced shipping.
- Map Out your Mall Shop: Based on which stores have special deals for items you want to purchase, plan out your shopping trip to save time searching. Plus find out stores hours as they often open earlier or stay open late on Black Friday to accommodate the crowds.
- Beware of Shopping Germ Hot Spots: As you check out the newest mini-iPad or grab an electronic pen to sign a credit card receipt, be mindful of germs lurking about in this start to the cold and flu season. Germs congregate on handle bars of shopping carts, escalator railings and displays of toys and gadgets all touched by hundreds of shoppers. Throw into your purse an antibacterial travel pack such as the one from Wet Ones to wipe germs off hands.
- Staying Fine while Waiting in Line: You can sometimes be waiting in line for hours on Black Friday. Go for comfortable shoes over style, and take along a bottle of water, a snack such as protein bars, nuts and trail mix to keep your energy up. Best of all, find a new app to play on your phone to keep yourself entertained instead of frustrated.
- Double Duty at the Mall for your Haul: Go shopping along with a friend or relative who can trade off with you taking the kids to the mall playground, arcade or another side excursion while you both finish picking up the Black Friday deals on your list.
If you’re a Black Friday veteran, what other shopping strategies can you share? We hope that this helps you feel ready to tackle Black Friday unless you prefer to stalk favorite sites for Cyber Monday!
Crazy price sign board decoration at shopping mall via Shutterstock
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