Keep tabs on your #tweens, one text at a time @SighthoundInc @smartthings #parenting

My phone buzzed last week when I was volunteering at an after school program. I pulled it out to check the text. The other parent asked, “Everything okay?” “Yep. My daughter's home.” Her bus comes to our driveway at 3:50, so she was right on time. I showed her the text from SmartThings. “How’d you do that?” I told her

Mom’s dirty little secret: trips with kids

Have child, will travel? Absolutely, for this mom, Dana Faletti, who has embarked upon more trips this year than most of us have in the last two. I decided to pull up a chair and get the skinny on how she does it, and what tips she’s picked up over the years. How old are your kids? I have three daughters. 10, 9, and 5. Where have you taken them on trips? Traveling is our family passion. We have done typical things like Orlando – the Disney and Universal track, but we’ve also taken the kids to Italy and also to New York City several times. We go to Marco Island yearly. When the kids were in preschool or younger, we’d spend up to a month there. My husband could work remotely, and we all got to enjoy the beach. Those were the best days! We’ve taken several trips to the Outer Banks as well, usually with large groups. This is a fun trip but not a relaxing one!

Mom’s dirty little secret: breaking up with plastic

Sorry plastic, I’m with glass. And stainless steel. And metal. Because you generate a ton of waste and leak chemicals. It’s over between us.  Today I’m rapping with Stacy Conlin, mom of three, on her decision to go plastic-free. And get this—her family fills the garbage can only once every other month. I had to get the full scoop on this.

Whip up your kid’s cake in 6 steps. Number 5 licks the rest.

When our firstborn was a baby, I barely had time to eat, shower, and sleep. Baking her a cake seemed out of the question. But twelve years, three kids, and 28 birthday parties later, the cake has become a highlight! Not because I’m Cake Boss – I’m a terrible baker, really – but because my kids love it. (They’re easy to impress.) Here’s how we do it:

Mom’s dirty little secret: give me five

He hates apples. She likes hers peeled, cut up, and dipped. But it has to be the right dip. And it has to be room temperature. No wonder mealtime drives us nuts. We want them to eat it and enjoy it. If they’re hungry enough, they will, right? (cue *evil mom laugh*) Today, I’m kicking off my blog series called “Mom’s dirty little secret,” with Priscilla King. This mom of three is dishing on creative ways to serve up healthy foods to kids.

What’s in your kid’s piggy bank?

You’re schlepping through Target, trying to pick up one little thing, and a toy catches the eye of your six year old. She begs, pleads, debates, and wraps her body around your thigh. No way are you caving into this impulse, right? You proudly hold your ground (or not). And you tell her she should bring her own money the next time (like that’s gonna happen). But where is her money? How much does she really have? At home I used to find stray bills tucked here and there. Tooth fairy money had slipped off the nightstands or had been buried in jewelry boxes or desk drawers. Sometimes my kids spent the money the second it hit their hands and later forgot. Try explaining to your six year old, who can’t remember what year it is, that she already bought a Beanie Boo with the five from Grandpa.

Disney bound? Don’t forget a trash bag!

Where can you go on vacation knowing an employee will console your screaming kid? A Chef will concoct rainbow grilled cheese for the pickiest eater? You never have to grow up? Nowhere, that’s where – but Disney. Disney remains my favorite family vacation. If your kids are ages 6-11, read this blog post for the skinny on today’s Disney — post stroller and character meal days. It’s a random list, but I hope you take at least one tip away. 1. FAST PASS App. This is sheer magic in the palm of your hand. Download the app onto your phone and choose your fast passes weeks in advance. I’d reserve the busier and hotter afternoon time slots when the lines are longest (if you go when we did–April/May).

Sunscreen Ninja, at Your Service.

I fry in the sun without sunscreen. Always have. When it comes to my kids and the sun, I’m like a sunscreen Ninja preparing them for battle. It’s a whole process. First, I slather them up head to toe, then I cover them with hats, shades, and swim shirts. Then I reapply obsessively. So far so good — fortunately, sunscreen is like seatbelts. Kids have grown up wearing them so it’s no big deal. And what kid could resist these cool bendable shades from Justice? But I have to tell you, it’s getting harder and harder to convince my tween daughter to wear the swim shirt. I don’t blame her for not wanting to cover up her cute swimsuit, but I have to stick to my guns here. I do – don’t I?

Not without that Bunny

I asked my kids to pack their own carry-ons for Disney. My daughter packed Bunny with his head poking out so he could see, of course. We arrived for our early flight, dashed to check in our luggage, and waited for my husband to park the car. We might have strolled through a gift shop or two and snapped a few giddy selfies. But when my daughter unslung her backpack for the security scanner, a gaping hole revealed no Bunny!

How American Girl magazine saved me from going pack-Nazi Kamikaze

I tend to think kids have the life of Riley. They live in the moment, inspired to play, pick their nose, run around naked, belt out songs, pinch their sister – just because. Not a care in the world when it comes to things as benign as rolling socks into pairs for an upcoming trip, right? Oh…you’d be surprised. I was! After lugging all of the summer clothes bins up from storage, I began the torturous process of figuring out what still fits each kid, what can be passed down, and what I need to buy (everything, practically). Everyone needs new shoes, new underwear, new socks that don’t pinch or bunch or whatever it is they do that creates meltdowns. You with me? So at some point while packing for Disney, I was about to have my own mommy melt down and go all pack-Nazi kamikaze – when my kids entered the picture and blew me away.

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