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After School Ideas for Kids: Passing the Time Between School and Dinner

19 Nov


The time between the end of the school day and the end of the work day is a challenge for many parents.  When both parents work jobs with strict business hours requiring them to be on the clock until 5:00 or even later, trustworthy child care is often key but may be out of reach financially. Even for parents with the ability to be available after school, filling the time before dinner with positive activities can be frustrating. Here are a few ideas for passing the time safely without stressing out.

Cooperate with Other Parents 

Chances are, you’re not alone in this particular struggle. To ease the burden for several families, form a co-op arrangement with parents of your children’s friends. Plan play groups after school, alternating homes (where a parent or trustworthy adult is available, of course) so each family takes charge of activities and supervision one day per week.

Make After-School Time Homework Time

If your kids are of the age at which they have homework every night, right after school is a great time to get it done. It can seem like an extension of the school day, but getting it out of the way allows your kids to really focus on decompressing the rest of the evening. Without the distraction of mountains of homework weighing on their minds, they might be a bit more inclined to share some actual information with you about their day rather than the obligatory, “Good,” many kids utter when questioned about how their day went.

If your kids have separate bedrooms, you may have enough room to equip each child with their own desk. If they share a room, be sure that each child has a designated, functional homework space somewhere in your home – even if it’s the dining room table.

Make Art or Play Board Games

Art projects make for excellent after-school activities, allowing your kids to flex their creative muscles and put a different part of their brain to use after a day filled with math equations and sentence structures.

If arts and crafts aren’t your thing, consider playing board games to fill the time between school and dinner. It’s a good way to spend quality time with your kids when there’s not enough time to take an outdoor adventure. Plus, arts, crafts, or board games mean that your kids will be doing something other than working their finger muscles to operate the remote control or video game controller.

Work Together to Prepare Dinner

If you prepare a homemade meal most evenings, it’s a perfect opportunity to teach your children the essential life skill of cooking. An added benefit is that picky eaters may be more inclined to try new things if they have a hand in preparation. Try making cute food, whether as an after-school snack or part of your family’s evening meal.

Look into Sports or Lessons

If you want to keep your kids active and engaged in enriching activities, it’s worth looking into the various sports programs and other extra-curricular activities that are available in your area. If your child loves to swim, sign them up for swimming lessons at your local YMCA after school. Piano lessons, dance lessons, and any sort of in-season sports are other activities that your child may take interest in.

But you don’t have to stick to the tried-and-true; more communities are offering unique extra-curricular options for kids such as archery, fencing, martial arts, and more. Is your child into something totally different? Think about starting your own group if other children have similar interests.

While filling the time between the end of the school day and dinner time is sometimes a challenge, there are many unique, fun, and stimulating activities to get your kids involved in after school – and they don’t have to involve turning to the digital babysitter (the TV or video games). Make after school time homework time, and then fill the rest of the afternoon with something unique that will keep them active and stimulate their minds.

Image via Pixabay by bottomlayercz0

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Make a Splash & Save a Child’s Life

3 Aug

Did you know that ten people a day drown in the US? Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children under 5. Drowning is preventable. Have you considered signing your child up for swimming lessons?

This month’s featured nonprofit is the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative. It is a national child-focused water safety campaign which aims to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim. Olympic athletes visit local establishments to raise awareness of water safety and the importance of swimming lessons.

For more information on this nonprofit, please follow the link below.

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Great List of Activities For Kids

21 Jan

Discover arts, crafts, games, and more creative ways to keep your kids active throughout the year. Baby Center has a nice list of ideas to keep children playing and engaged. The categories listed include arts & crafts, birthday party games, beloved books, coloring pages, cooking with kids, educational games, just-for-fun games, holiday activities, outdoor activities, quiet-time activities, tire kids out and science projects. The site also breaks-down the activities by ages: Baby activities (first 12 months), Toddler activities (1- to 2-year-olds), Preschooler activities (2- to 4-year-olds) and Big kid activities (5- to 8-year-olds).

Here’s a good example of an activity that clearly lays out the cooking instructions for Snowman Cupcakes. Here’s an example of coloring page for a flying dinosaur. The fun never ends at Baby Center’s activity site for kids.

If you are planning a birthday party or want to plan a fun-filled weekend, keep this page handy to get inspired with ideas to keep kids playing.

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No Selfie Sticks Allowed

22 Feb

Have you ever been somewhere and you had to ask a total stranger to take your picture? You have to hand your phone to them and then they have to struggle to find the snap button. Now you don’t have to do that anymore! The art of taking a picture changed last year with the invention of the selfie stick. The selfie stick holds your phone so you can hold it out in front of you and snap a shot.

However recently many museums and other establishments have been banning them because they say the stick is a hazard. The stick can accidentally trip or clothesline guests causing injury. I can see their point because it causes a legal situation for the establishment. What do you think? Should sticks be banned? I think establishments need to adjust to technology and make rules and special areas to embrace the selfie stick. Could users of selfie sticks sign waivers when they enter? I also think users should be aware of their surroundings and be courteous of others too. It’s a two way street and the reality is personal mobile phones aren’t going away and either are selfie sticks. People like to take pictures of themselves.

Here’s some examples:

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Instagram Tips For Parents

13 Apr

What is Instagram? Who can see my teens photos? If you are looking for answers to these questions follow the link below.

Here are some Instagram tips from the link:

  1. Ignore people you don’t want to hear from. .
  2. Block people that bother you.
  3. Report problematic content.

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Is Your Facebook Tagging Privacy Set Up?

2 Nov

When people are tagging you in Facebook photos, are approving your tags? Did you know you can change the default setting in Facebook so you can gate when you get tagged? Below is a link to Facebook help on how to turn on Timeline review.

What is a tag? A tag is when another Facebook user sees you in a photo and adds your name associated to that photo. Have you been tagged?

How to turn on Facebook Timeline Review

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Getting Cozi (Review): Organizing A Growing Family, Digitally

19 Apr

I am fortunate enough to have young kids, ages 4 (Luke, soon to be 5 by the end of April), 3 (Caleb), and 5 months (Hannah… or “Babes” as Luke calls her). I love my growing family! And the larger my family grows, the busier I seem to get.

It’s become clear to me that as busy as I think I am right now with family activities, I’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg. My oldest is in pre-school 3 times a week, karate 2 times a week, and starts all-day Kindergarten in the Fall (and I’ve heard a rumor about soccer in the Fall, too). Caleb starts pre-school next year, and Hannah will be right on his heels.

I reflected on this growing challenge one Saturday morning with my wife, Tara. She suggested we find some way to organize a family calendar, digitally. Enter, Cozi (

Cozi organizes your family life into 4 sections:

  • Calendar
  • To Do Lists
  • Shopping
  • Journal

Family Calendar Feature
The calendar is easily the best thing about Cozi. You can assign each person in your family a color code, then build out the calendar as you would in Outlook or Google Calendar, only with events color coded for who is involved. Recurrence is setup (just like Outlook), making it easy to populate your calendar quickly and thoroughly.

There is a single, linear view for the calendar (scroll up and down), which honestly makes it easy to navigate, even though it has no view or navigation variety. It is also easy to organize the calendar by individual.

Family To Do Lists Feature
It’s easy to organize several To Do lists for each individual setup in the calendar. For example, when my wife and I visit her parents each Sunday I have a checklist I can go by to make sure I don’t forget to bring anything important. You can also have shared To Do lists, and lists for individuals.

Family Shopping List Feature
This works exactly the same as the To Do list feature, complete with the ability to email a list to anyone.

Family Journal Feature
The idea of this feature is nice, but it’s not something I use much. Without the ability to socially share the funny story Caleb told, or the fact that Luke just broke a board at karate, or the cute picture of Hannah, it’s a bit cumbersome and unnecessary.

Best Feature
Organizing the calendar by individual makes it easy to see who is busy and who can help!

Biggest Bummer
Push notifications are not yet setup. I use the app on my iPhone 100% of the time. Preferably, I’d like to receive calendar notifications like I do from iCal, with just a couple of the important notes about the event pushed through as a reminder.

The app does allow for email and text message notifications, but the convenience of receiving push notifications is a big miss.

Overall Score: 8/10

Bottom Line on Cozi
The developers have correctly identified 4 primary areas of a family’s life that are in need of organization and coordination. But more features can be added to make Cozi even better. For example, the Shopping Lists can be evolved on the model of Grocery IQ, while the Journal could allow for social sharing (or allow you to toggle that feature off, depending on your family’s feelings about privacy on the web).

If you have a hectic family schedule, Cozi can help organize it for you. It’s easy enough for the entire family to use and free of charge, but not yet feature rich. Let’s cross our fingers in hopes the developers will ramp up soon!

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Parents Poll: Your Kids Internet Usage

29 Dec

How involved are you with your children’s online viewing habits? Are you engaged when it comes to their Internet activity? Are you checking their smart phones routinely? Are you monitoring what sites they are surfing? Are you intimated and don’t know where to start? Do you not feel you need to review their usage? How can you turn over a new leaf in 2012?

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Social Networking Safety Tips

19 Apr

I stumbled upon this site the other day and discovered some sound tips. Here are tips for helping your kids use social networking sites safely:

  • Understand what information should be private.
  • Only post information you are comfortable others seeing.
  • Use privacy settings to restrict who can access info.
  • Once information is online it can not be erased.
  • Avoid sex talk online.
  • Trust their gut if they have suspicions. Tell you if something online is uncomfortable.

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Tools for Texting Teens and their Parents

1 Jan blogger Stephanie Romero recently did an in depth report on “Tools for Texting Teens and Their Parents” with celebrity, author, and psychiatrist Dr. Charles Sophy. He articulates that, “Parenting begins with you. Not your child. You.”

When it comes to teens and texting, be aware of your parental responsibilities:
1. Keep tabs on their behavior.
2. Educate yourself about the risks.
3. Set limits with your teens.
4. Keep an open dialogue with your teen.

Watch the interview

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