Friday, September 27, 2013

Leaping into fall

Pile them up … Take a leap … Pile them up … Take a leap … Bury someone … Run from the leaf monster … Pile them up… My kids can play in the leaves for hours. An adult can burn around 250 calories raking leaves. Think of the exercise your kids are getting with all that running and jumping.

Playing in the leaves will become one of your kids’ fondest memories. All ages can enjoy it together and it doesn’t take any special skills to join in.

It’s a good idea to get a few child size rakes so everyone can help out and avoid fighting over the rakes. You can order them on the internet at or You can also occasionally find them at box stores or toy stores.

If your kids need a little help getting started, play games like raking the leaves into shapes, or making the biggest pile. It won’t take long until you can leave them to themselves and they’ll make up the rules.

Kids won’t only be using their muscles but their imaginations. It also doesn’t hurt to get them to help with the yard work. When they’re all done playing teach them how to bag or compost the leaves.

Fall is a great time of year for outside activity. You can avoid the hot and sweatiness of summer and so kids will play outside longer. Parks are a lot less crowded at this time of year both during and after school hours.

Your kids will be good for hours with a jacket and some light cotton gloves. Be more careful on windy days because the wind can really be biting.

Though there isn’t a big chance for dehydration at this time of the year, you still need to make sure they’re drinking. Finish play time with some spiced cider or hot chocolate for the really chilly days.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Smart TV habits

Does your family have a screen problem? A mom's life is hectic and its easy to turn to TV as a babysitter when you're tired, your kids are fighting and you need to get something done. You can blissfully go about your household duties while your kids sit still and be quiet. Don't fool yourself though, there will be consequences when you try to get your zombified child to turn it off.

Here's some ideas for kicking your family's bad TV habits.

Make a plan. Don't use the TV as a boredom buster. If your children want to watch a favorite show, let them watch that show, then turn off the TV. If your kids are bored, encourage them to do something creative or active. Make a list activities or fill a box with games and supplies your kids can use when they are looking for something to do. Sometimes TV is just the first thing you can think of and so that's what you do.

Here's a list of TV free options:
  • Puzzles
  • Books
  • Card games
  • Board games
  • Art projects
  • Outside games
  • Gardening
  • Legos, building blocks and erector sets
  • Knitting or needlework
  • Sewing
  • Walking the dog or teaching pets tricks
  • Scrapbooking
  • Collecting

Set a time limit. Don't let the time creep away. Let your kids know how long they can watch TV and stick to it. If it help you, set a timer.

Make it educational. Whether your kids are just learning basic reading and math, or delving into world history, there are a lot of great shows on TV that can enrich their learning experience. Think of a topic that interests your child, then search the internet for a list of educational shows that will help them learn more.

Here's a list of some of our family's favorite educational shows:

For little kids:
  • Word World
  • Team Umizoomi
  • Octonauts
  • Little Einsteins
  • The Wild Kratts
  • Between the Lions

For big kids:
  • Mythbusters
  • Pawn Stars
  • American Ride
  • History Detectives

TV is a perk, not a right. Make sure your kids' other obligations (homework, instrument practice and chores) are done before the TV gets turned on. You can also use additional TV time as a reward for extra work or good behavior.

For more tips on taming your TV time, click here.