"Painting is extremely relaxing and therapeutic and studies show that kids who paint are more likely to be entrepreneurs," says Kathryn Smerling, PH.D., LCSW, a family therapist. The good news: you don't need to embrace a permanent mess to let the creative juices flow. Children's Earth Paint Kit uses a 100% washable paint made with just three natural ingredients. These paints can get all over your child's skin, clothes, floors, and furniture, and all you'll need for clean up is a wet rag. You can set your child up with the paints and walk right out of the room to take care of your own things. "With this product, kids can feel free to paint anywhere they want in the house without feeling restricted by their parents worrying about a mess afterward," Dr. Smerling adds.
On the heels of minimal cleanup activities, we present to you the Cool Maker Tidy Dye Station, a whole new way for kids to tie-dye. Essentially, kids are dyeing fabrics with a color pod string, so their hands and the craft area stays super clean while they create their unique patterns. "Creative activities such as tie-dying can boost self-esteem," says Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist. "Such activities foster confidence by allowing pure freedom expression rather than a focus on the 'right' end result." Mom has one less mess to clean up, and the child stays occupied. Win-win!
"To satisfy your child's craving for juice, look for the healthiest option possible like products that are low in sugar but don't compromise on taste," suggests Dr. Smerling. Consider Mott's Sensibles as a guilt-free beverage to serve at home or on the go. It is 100% juice, yet has 30% less sugar than other apple juices (yay for healthy choices!), and is mixed with coconut water and vegetable juice. Added bonus: the juices come in three flavors, and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.
Dubbed the "Netflix of Children's Books," FarFaria is an app for kids that will have you feeling superb about that iPad screen time. Every parent is wary of the dangers of smartphone and tablet addiction and the negative effects of too much screen time, but this app teaches children to read and ensures the material is safe," Dr. Smerling says. The app hosts thousands of books spanning many genres for a variety of reading levels. Parents can trust FarFaria's books because the entire library is curated to make sure all books are high in quality and safe for children. Each story features voice-overs and has word highlights that help kids learn to read. "Reading and teaching early literacy is the best, lifelong gift you can give your child," Dr. Smerling says. "This app provides a fun way to keep up the habit." The subscription-based app is available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store.
"You want to encourage a child to play as much as possible because it's the way they learn," says Dr. Smerling. "Studies continue to show that depriving them of play slows emotional and cognitive development, even causing stress and hindering a child's willingness to learn more about the world around them." So this means it's ok to spoil your little one with a new toy every month, and Little Passports subscription boxes are a definite guilt-free option that have big benefits for little kids. Designed by scientists and educators, these exploratory play toys take kids on a journey, making play educational. Boxes include Science Expeditions to explore the physical world around them and World Edition to get to know about different cultures.
When you don't have the time or energy (or ingredients!) to cook a healthy, home-cooked meal, mom guilt levels can shoot through the roof. Nurture Life is an organic meal delivery for babies, toddlers, and kids curated by a culinary team and pediatric dietitian, that serve up children's favorites, incorporating high-quality produce and protein into each meal. The facility is peanut, tree nut, and shellfish free, and meals never contain artificial ingredients, trans fats, or high fructose corn syrup. "It's all too easy for moms to be hard on themselves when home-cooked meals aren't possible," says Dr. Manly." Even if they aren't homemade, any organic, wholesome meals are an important value for a growing child."
"Start teaching kids about finding nutritious, filling, and satisfying alternatives to the less healthy options out there as early as you can," Dr. Smerling says. "It sets them up for a successful relationship with food." This works for desserts, too. Parents can feel good about giving their little ones Maxine's Ice Cream because the brand offers premium organic ice cream with clean ingredients and zero artificial preservatives, colors, or flavoring. This makes it a great alternative to other desserts.
"Every parent wants to know the best option for tracking their children, but often feel guilty about the uncomfortable restrictions of some products and the sheer fact that they're tracking in the first place," Dr. Smerling says. Jiobit, a kid-friendly tracking device, is so small that it allows kids to have their independence while parents can have peace of mind. It's also waterproof, tamper resistant, and has multiple attachments to figure out that perfect fit. The device notifies parents if the child wanders too far away from you. So make your life a little easier and let your child go riding bikes with his friends. You'll always know where he really is.
This real working smartwatch has all the tech that kids beg their parents for, with none of the guilt or ongoing monthly bills. The Kurio Watch 2.0 features a selfie-camera, built-in games, messaging, fitness tracker, customizable display, and much more. The messaging is bluetooth-enabled, so it can only happen with devices within the range, eliminating the fear that kids are talking to people they don't know. And the built-in games encourage physical activity, which Dr. Smerling considers a huge plus. "With childhood obesity at record-breaking rates, every parent should monitor their child's movement and encourage physical activity," she says.