You are excited about your new bundle of joy and your growing baby bump is a daily reminder that you have to buy more maternity clothes, but you’d rather spend your money on baby gear. What’s a pregnant mom to do?
Known for their trendy clothes at inexpensive prices, Forever 21 has expanded their line to maternity wear. We liked the cute fashions that were all under $20.00! Our favorite was the Chiffon Flowered Maternity Tunic that would look great on any pregnant mom.
Who says you can’t be a trendy pregnant mom and save money too? With maternity wear taken care of, you can concentrate on more important things like buying the perfect crib mattress for baby.
What tips do you have to save money on maternity wear?
Michelle LaRowe, mom and nanny, wrote an article on playgroups. We thought it was so insightful that we had to share it with you.
How To Have a Successful Playgroup
With the start of the school year on the horizon, many parents of infants, toddlers and preschoolers wonder how they will keep their younger children occupied, engaged and entertained come September.
With parents often being priced out of preschools and enrichment classes for their young children, a playgroup provides a great way for younger children to practice their socialization skills, explore new environments and learn to interact in a group.
A well run playgroup:
- facilitates learning through play
- encourages budding friendships
- fosters emotional, physical and social development
Kids learn to:
- interact with others,
- practice their language skills, motor skills
- learn to function in new and challenging environments
So if starting a playgroup is something that interests you, here are some basic guidelines for starting and maintain a well run playgroup.
First define the parameters of your playgroup. You’ll need to determine what ages you’d like to welcome, how often you’d like to meet, where you’d be meeting and how long your playgroup will last. You may also want to include any basic rules or guidelines that you feel would help govern your playgroup. A list of house rules, expected behavior, safety guidelines for the location and approved snacks are great things to define up front.
Second you’ll want to set a date and time for an informational meeting. Create some flyers that advertise your playgroup and the date, time and location of your informational meeting. Posting flyers at your local library, pediatrician’s office and other places that kids visit is a great way to connect with other moms and kids of similar ages as yours. Include pull of strips with your contact information for people to take.
Third you’ll want to prepare to host your informational meeting. Offer light snacks and refreshments and make it a social gathering for parents of children of similar ages. Provide sign-up sheets that attendees can leave their contact information and the names and ages of their children. Although you may want to host the first playgroup meeting, you may also want to provide a calendar for parents to sign up to host a playgroup or commit to bringing snacks.
Follow up via email with those who attended and finalize the details of your first playgroup. Layout your playgroup schedule and encourage others to sign up to host or bring snack on available days.
Prepare your space in advance:
- Decide which areas of your location will be open to the group and childproof the space as needed.
- Put away any toys that your child may have trouble sharing and create a welcoming and friendly environment for your little guests.
- Many successful playgroups work off a theme and each meeting revolves around a preselected theme. On the farm, music and movement, colors and in the kitchen are all great themes for young kids. Be sure to leave out toys, games, books and activities that go along with your theme for kids to play with.
Create Different Stations:
- Have books in one area, blocks in another and a craft project in another provides an opportunity for kids to actively participate in playgroup together
- Great stations are made up of activities that have many parts that kids can play with together. For example, there are enough blocks for everyone to use so it can avoid kids fighting over one prized possession.
You may also want to consider having a monthly outing for playgroup where everyone attends the local park, library or museum together. This is a great way to secure group rates at local attractions.
After your playgroup meeting, follow up with those on your contact list and let them know how fun your playgroup was and when your next group will be. Invite them to join the fun!
With a little planning and preparation starting and maintaining a playgroup for your young child can be a cinch. Affordable and fun, playgroups provide a great way for kids and moms to connect.
Written by Michelle LaRowe
4th of July holiday means picnics, fireworks and time with family. We thought today’s fun Friday should focus on some easy and fun red, white and blue activities and crafts for little and big kids.
What you will need:
- Black or very dark construction paper
- White glue
- Old tablecloth or covering for work station surface
- Straw (optional)
- Spread glue on the paper in different shapes. If the glue is soft enough, you can put a small blob of glue on the paper, and then blow some air through a straw to spread it into interesting shapes.
- Sprinkle glitter onto the glue. Slide the excess glitter off your picture and back into the glitter container.
- Let dry
- Hang up your child’s decoration near your 4th of July celebration spot!
What you will need:
- Thick paper (construction paper or paper plates)
- Scissors (used with adult supervision)
- Draw 2 stars and cut them out
- Decorate stars
- Cut a slit through point of star to the start of that “arm” of the star
- Cut a slit in base of other star
- Connect the two stars at the slit so star stands on its own.
- Put down center of table for decoration
4th of July Relay Race
What you will need:
- 6 Red, white and blue balloons
- 2 teams of people
How to play:
- Divide into two teams
- Give each team 3 balloons
- Let teams know that the object is to pass the balloons player by player to the end of the line by using only their heads and legs.
- First team to complete this without the balloon touching the ground wins!
Guess the Candy
What you will need:
- Clear jar
- Red & white peppermint candies or red, white & blue M&M’s or any 4th of July colored candy
- Piece of paper and pen
- Blue and red ribbon
- Fill jar with candy and decorate it with blue and red ribbon.
- Have people guess how many candies are in the jar (which of course means you count as you place the candies in the jar).
- The person who comes closest to the number without going over, gets the jar of candy.
My mother-in-law does this at our family picnic. Everyone from age 2 to 92 loves this game. Our tradition is that whomever wins the jar has a “celebratory lap” by sharing the contents with everyone at the picnic.
What 4th of July activities do you have to share with us?
For the first few months of baby’s life, you need a stroller that will accommodate your infant car seat. You may not want to go the route of a large, bulky travel system so Jeep has come up with an option to basically design your own travel system! The new Jeep® Universal Cruiser™ fits most infant car seats while providing plenty of storage without being a heavy, bulky travel system!
Some features we love:
- Easily accommodates your infant car seat without tools or adjustments
- 8″ wheels gets through all types of terrain
- Convenient one-hand fold allows you to hold your child & fold the carrier at the same time!
- Removable parent tray with dual cup holders
- Extra large basket with cargo bags for ample storage
What are your favorite features of the Jeep® Universal Cruiser™?
Who doesn’t love holiday BBQ, picnics and fireworks? Since the 4th of July weekend is coming up, we thought our Wednesday Wonder should have some fun kid recipes. (Check back on Friday when we will have 4th of July activities for kids!)
Healthy Fruit Kabobs your kids can make!
What you will need:
- 1 apple
- 1 banana
- 1/3 c. red seedless grapes
- 1/3 c. green seedless grapes
- 2/3 cup pineapple chunks*
- 2 wooden skewer sticks
- large plate
*substitute your child’s favorite fruit for any of the above
Prepare the fruit by washing the grapes, washing the apples and cutting them into small squares, peeling the bananas and cutting them into chunks, and cutting the pineapple into chunks, if it’s fresh. Put the fruit onto a large plate.
Let your child slide pieces of fruit onto the skewer and design their own kabob by putting as much or as little of whatever fruit they want! Do this until the stick is almost covered from end to end. Makes 4 fruit kabobs.
No-bake cookies your kids can make!
What you will need:
- 8 whole-wheat graham cracker squares, finely ground
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons honey
- 4 teaspoons unsweetened coconut
How to make cookies: (so easy it’s ridiculous!)
Combine ground whole-wheat graham crackers, raisins, peanut butter and honey in a small bowl. Pat into 8 cookies and press lightly in coconut. Yields about 8-12 cookies depending on size.
Add some more healthy flair to your BBQ with a salad and dressing. Your child can help make the dressing. He or she will love shaking the ingredients in the jar and seeing the ingredients swirl around. Our favorite easy-to-make healthy salad and dressing comes from the kitchen of Jamie Oliver.
What kid friendly recipes do you have for a holiday BBQ?
You spend most of your day making baby talk with your baby and you cherish the time you have with her because you know soon enough she will be going to school, graduating…you get the picture. In the meantime, however, you are craving a little more communication with adults. You could try a meet up group, but maybe that’s not your thing.
Here are a few ideas where you might find other moms and dads like you who would like to meet other understanding parents and don’t mind if the conversation is interrupted with a diaper change or feeding time.
- Parenting Yoga Class - get fit and meet other parents!
- Park District Activities - experience new adventures (most of them for free) while you meet other parents!
- Movie theaters with Kid Friendly Movie Times – enjoy a movie in a cool theater and meet other parents!
- Gym Classes - help baby develop basic skills while bonding with other parents!
If you need a break from baby babble but don’t want time away from baby, meeting other parents can be the perfect solution.
What tips do you have for connecting with other parents?
Dad Labs – is it a lab where dads are grown? Well, sort of. It’s a very hip, get all sorts of info, witty, smart, fun site all about dads for dads. We can’t contain our excitement over this site and had to share our interview with Daddy Troy who is one of the dads from Dad Labs.
We love the whole idea of a web space (forums, blog, video) for Dads. Can you share with us the “birth story” of Dad Labs?
We were all friends before we had kids, working as teachers at a school in Austin. Then everything changed: kids. One night we were all hanging out and realized that a lot of the things we were reading about “parenting” were actually for moms and that as men we were participating in the parenting adventure differently than previous generations. Dad Labs was born, and we left teaching for an even bigger classroom.
What would you say is the biggest challenge facing dads today?
In the history of humankind, there is little to no precedent to men being as involved in parenting and in the domestic space. As a result, there is no playbook or communal wisdom for us as dads. So we are figuring it out – what does it look like to be a man who parents and participates in the home alongside his partner?
What would you say is one of the most important things a dad can do in supporting his partner in raising his children?
Be deliberate. It is human nature to think that parenting just happens. Instead of following the path of “My parents did it, and I turned out ok, so I will just approximate what they did,” do your homework. Engage with friends and experts. Read about human, specifically kid, psychology. There is a lot more research and thought about parenting now and even if it does not speak to you, at least you will have thought about it and act accordingly.
We want to get to know the 3 dads behind Dad Labs so we are going to fire off random questions.
• Which dad at Dad Labs is the most serious/intense? Daddy Troy
• Who of you is most likely to goof off during a video shoot? Daddy Clay and Daddy Brad share this honor.
• Who comes up with the craziest ideas? Daddy Owen
•What was one of the biggest misconceptions you had about being a dad when you were expecting your first child? When you have a child, you know your life will change. But the misconception is that you will be adding a child to the mix when in reality the whole mix changes. Your life, who you hang out with, how you spend your alone time, your relationship to your partner – it all gets rewritten.
• What child rearing stage has been the most difficult? The one you are in now. Right when you figure it out, your child will change.
• If all 3 of you dads had a day to yourselves to chillax together, what would you do? Early Happy Hour on the deck at Opal Divines.
• What is your must have baby care product? According to Daddy Brad, who has a baby right now – Boudreaux’s Butt Paste®
• What’s the one baby duty you would swap out in a New York minute? Don’t fence me in here – gotta share in all the duties. But if I had to choose, laundry was particularly difficult in the baby stage since my wife and I have different standards of cleanliness, and to meet here standards I had to go the extra mile.
• If someone was going to put Dad Labs to music, what genre would they use and what would the title of the song be? Its going to sound cheesy, but I am serious about this one. There are many dad’s on our site, and they all have their own soundtrack. We are working hard to create spaces for lots of different types of dads. One of the problems in the emerging world of new fatherhood is that, just like motherhood, there are many ways, types, methods and opinions. What unites us is our interest in our kids.
With temperatures crawling over 90 degrees across the US, a little water fun can help active kids keep cool and entertained. Today’s Fun Friday features three quick and easy water ideas you can try out this weekend!
- Water Coloring – get some bathtub crayons and head outside. Go wild drawing on your child’s arms, legs, feet, face and tummy. Let them do the same to you. Run through the sprinkler, wash off & start again!
- Marco Polo – remember this game from your childhood days? Teach your children an old favorite. Head to a pool or lake, play a few rounds of Marco Polo. Whomever manages to be “it” the least, becomes King Poseidon or Queen Ariel of the pool. You can even buy a crown from the Dollar Store to crown them for the day. The crown can get passed to the new King or Queen in the next round.
- Water Tag - bring cooling off to a new level with super soakers! Play tag, but instead of tagging each other with your hand, tag each other with a stream of water. It is a fun way to cool off and get your exercise. We noticed that our local grocery stores have super soakers available for as little as $4.00!
What ways are you keeping cool this summer?