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March 31, 2016

Top 5 Spring Activities for Kids of Every Age

Spring is here and that means the flowers are blooming, the air is fresh, and you’ve switched from hot to iced coffee. Here are our top five favorite activities to do with your kids this spring, organized by age.

3 and Under

Spring is often accompanied by many rainy days. Use those days for some fun spring crafts with your kids indoors. We love this Footprint Flower Pot idea from Crafty Morning!

4-6 Years

Make play dough! If your kids are a little too advanced for the craft above, but you still need to entertain them on a rainy day, this is a perfect baking and crafting combo. Let them help you bake the play dough, and they’ll love playing with it even more. Get creative with this homemade play dough recipe from I Heart Nap Time.

7- 10 Years

Pick and press flowers. Take the beauty of nature home with you. Let your kids have fun picking flowers outside, and then go home to press them. Check out this guide to pressing flowers from 5 Minutes for Mom.

Spring activities for kids- spring flowers

10 and Up

Explore new passions. Photography is a fun way for your kids to experience the outdoors and get artsy at the same time. Phones double as great cameras these days, or you can go old-school and pick up a vintage film camera from a consignment shop. Either way, hand over the reins and let them have fun.

Spring activities with kids - photography

All Ages

Have a picnic. When the sun does come out, get outside and soak it in! Grab a blanket and some snacks, and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. Perfect for babies and older children alike. If your kids are school aged or older you may want to bring a ball or frisbee for them to enjoy too.

January 21, 2016

With so many baby brands, how does an entrepreneurial mom stand out?

Be it trendy jumpsuits and rompers, hipster tees, or a bib line, nearly everyday I discover a new designer baby brand. Each product promotes one feature that makes it unique, and appealing to a certain group moms — I call this the mommy-magnet factor.

Some target DIY moms with their handmade quality, others the fashionista mom with their scaled down version of runway fashions, and others green moms with organic cotton and fibers. Yet the majority of these small businesses share one thing in common: they are designed and run by moms themselves.

The inherent advantage of a mom-designed and mom-targeted product lies in the fact that the product caters to what the end-user actually wants. These mompreneurs won’t encounter the common challenge product developers and marketers face uncovering “mysterious mommyhood.” After all, they wouldn’t have created the product if they didn’t see a use for it in a mom’s life in the first place.

Yet, they will face the challenge of finding a true differentiating factor. After all, how unique can one cloth diaper be from 100 others? Well, I’m here to tell you that moms are creativity machines! I’ve happened upon a few mom-owned children’s brands recently and have been thoroughly impressed.

Tired of only seeing pink dresses for girls and blue shirts for boys, a handful of mom companies have sprouted up in an attempt to redefine gender stereotypes for kids clothing. California-based company, Handsome in Pink, sells shirts that feature pink and purple firetrucks, tool belts, and phrases like “I love math,” made for both girls and boys. Similarly, Seattle-based Free to be Kids features gender neutral onesies and tees with positive messages for girls and boys. The messages these moms are spreading aim to empower children by what they wear, and not confine them to traditional gender cliches. If a boy wants to wear pink he should, and if a girl loves science it shouldn’t be hard for her to find clothing to express her passion.

Free to Be Kids Gender Neutral Tee

Photo Credit: Free to Be Kids

Another mom-inspired idea I love centers around the idea of upcycling. Like many environmentally-conscious clothing brands, NYC mom Karina Kallio was disturbed by the fact that 85% of textile waste ends up in landfills. To make her dream of conscious clothing a reality she started Kallio, a children’s clothing company made from reclaimed and vintage flannels, cotton and denim. Another environmentally friendly brand was inspired by a similar idea. California moms Melina and Rachel founded Petite Marin because they loved the idea of giving old clothes a new purpose, rather than throwing them into a landfill. The company allows customers to create their own custom children’s clothing by mailing in a beloved button down shirt, flannel, or military garment, and then transforms that item into a romper or dress crafted for kids. These moms are outfitting stylish children and reducing environmental waste all at the same time.

Petite Marin baby clohtes

Photo Credit: Petite Marin

Yet moms are getting creative even beyond clothing. Mom Mansai Gangan was exhausted by the long nights she stayed up getting her son to sleep by staying by his side, applying the touch of her hand to his chest. After doing her research, she learned that light pressure on a baby’s chest, whether by human touch or simulated, soothed them and resulted in a better night’s sleep. This inspired her to create the Nested Bean, which sells the Zen Swaddle and Zen Sack, both products replicate a mom’s embrace with lightly weighted pads and help babies sleep better.  

Nested Bean baby brand

Photo Credit: Nested Bean

These concepts subvert traditional baby brand powerhouses and challenge other moms to think differently about the products they are buying for their children. These mompreneurs are just a sampling of moms across the country who are using their experience and their noggins to up the mommy-magnet factor. What are some of your favorite mom-to-mom products?

Brands We Love:

Handsome in Pink

http://www.handsomeinpink.com/

Free to Be Kids

http://www.freetobekids.com/

Kallio

http://kallionyc.com/

Petite Marin

http://petitemarin.com/

Nested Bean

http://www.nestedbean.com/

 

Featured image photo credit: Emily May https://www.flickr.com/photos/emilysnuffer/16859530047/in/photostream/

December 15, 2015

10 Tips for Holiday Family Travel

Family Holiday Travel

By Debbie Roberts

When you’re from a cold midwestern state, the sound of the waves crashing, the smell of saltwater in the air, and the warm feeling of sun shining on your back sounds like the best way to spend a vacation in winter. Although sometimes nostalgic for a white Christmas, spending the holidays on the beach in Florida sounds like a dream come true. Until you think about how you’ll get there. Not just traveling with your entire family, but traveling during the holidays with your entire family.

I’m no newcomer to holiday travel. M Read More

August 3, 2015

4 Ways to Motivate Your Kids to Help out Around the House

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Written by: Flayk Beta Tester

My kids don’t usually need incentives to help out around the house. At 4, 6 and 8 years old they’ve learned that picking up their toys, feeding the dog, and emptying the dishwasher are their responsibilities. Everyone in the house has a job and they typically complete their chores on their own, no nagging required.

I can’t say always because last week Ava had a temper tantrum about cleaning up the Playdough, and Jacob refused to put the dishes away because he was too busy watching the hockey game, which I couldn’t turn off because dad was watching it too. Family management at its finest.

It’s times like these when I wish a magical nanny would fly in on an umbrella. When she doesn’t appear, I turn to these tips for motivating my kids to do their chores

1. Offer something good in return

Promising a reward for good behavior is a surefire way to get your kids moving. If you do “x,” I’ll give you “y” in return. I usually lean towards offering novelties as bonuses, as opposed to activities that are a part of our normal routine. For example, I would present ice cream as a reward, but not reading a book before bed. To me, reading is an important part of my kids’ lives and I wouldn’t want to use activities that encourage learning as bargaining chips.

2. Take away a prized possession

As much as I favor positive reinforcement over punishments, sometimes I simply can’t entice my kids to stay on track with a reward, which is when I suggest presenting a consequence. Perhaps they’ll lose the privilege of dessert, or maybe you can take away the tablet with their favorite games. The consequences don’t have to last forever, or even a day. Depending on their age, your family habits, and the size of the issue at hand, sometimes just an hour of no TV will do.

3. Make it seem like their choice

All you have to do to make this work is frame the proposition the right way: “Either you can pick up the Playdough and go to the park, or you can leave the table a mess and go to your time-out chair. It’s up to you.”  Whether it’s a reward or a consequence, put the decision in their hands.

This method is not only empowering for your child, but also gives them a sense of responsibility over whichever action they choose. You know you have outlined the parameters, but they feel like they have the ability to shape their future.

4. Use Flayk

Flayk’s the best tool I’ve found to put all of these tactics into practice (even in the Beta stage). I previously used sticker charts with all my kids but now I’ve adopted Flayk for my 6 and 8-year olds, and my 4-year old can’t wait until she can use it.

I get to assign point values to each chore, and the kids can win more points for bigger jobs, like vacuuming the house. They know that with 50 points they can watch an extra episode of Sofia the First, or they can save up and redeem 100 points to pick out a new book for our library (what can I say, my kids love to read). It’s still up to them to decide if they want to do the chore or not, but they know if they do they’re one step closer to getting a reward.

With Flayk’s incentives, the odds are high that the kids will do their job, while at the same time I’ve encouraged independence and decision-making!