Category Archives: Family

25 Tips for Happy Family Travel this Summer

Summer is right around the corner, and many families are busy making fun travel plans.

25 Tips for Happy Family Travel

affiliate_disclaimer25 Tips for Happy Family Travel this Summer

Make sure you follow these 25 tips for happy family travel to help avoid common pitfalls or not-so-enjoyable experiences!

Preparing for Your Trip

  1. Finish packing early. Avoid being frazzled with still packing as everyone loads up in the car. Start packing soon enough to finish the day before you are set to leave.
  1. Make a packing list. Create a list of everyone’s belongings needed on the trip. Be specific – include the number of outfits, undergarments, and shoes needed. List all toiletries and medications too, so they aren’t forgotten!  If going on a road trip, download our free Road Trip Car Packing List.

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  1. slepp - family TravelGet a good night’s sleep the night before. It’s best to start a family trip when everyone is well rested. When everyone is in a good mood the morning of departure, family travel runs much more smoothly.
  1. Try not to overpack. Though everyone should have the items they need for the journey, packing too much can make it hard for everyone to be comfortable in the car. Plus, too much luggage can raise your costs if you are flying.
  1. Tell someone your travel plans. Give your family member or a loyal friend the important details regarding your trip, including dates of travel, cell phone numbers, and hotel information. If anything tragic were to happen, these people can get in touch with the police and provide any information they need.

On the Trip

  1. Plan enough down time for kids. Even when having a blast, young children will get tired faster than adults. Make sure you plan some naps during your travels, and make sure your kids get enough rest each night.
  1. Don’t plan every detail. Forget creating an overbearing itinerary! Research the best things your destination has to offer, but don’t be afraid to ask locals – the waitress at dinner or the hotel concierge – for recommendations on fun attractions or things to do.
  1. Find where kids eat free. This little perk of family travel will save you money on your trip! Most places that offer free meals for kids serve foods that your children will actually eat, so fewer struggles at dinner!

  1. Utilize travel coupons! This will keep your travel budget happy, and give you more ideas for family entertainment. Pick up brochures or travel booklets when you are at rest stops, restaurants, or even your hotel.
  1. Pack lots of plastic! You don’t realize just how handy plastic bags can be until you are on a trip. Ziploc bags are great for holding jewelry, dirty silverware, or your cell phone during a rainstorm. Consider these great clear mesh travel bags for packing or holding the small stuff you don’t want to lose.  Grocery bags make it easier to toss trash or store wet clothing.

Family Travel in the Car

  1. Pack lots of snacks. You want your kids to be occupied when traveling, and hunger is a common complaint for those stuck in the backseat. Dried cereal, fruit, and crackers with peanut butter are great travel-friendly snacks to have in the car.
  1. Limit beverage intake. If you want to arrive at your destination on time, you want to watch how much your children guzzle on the road trip. Plan to take one or two bathroom stops already, depending on the distance, but reducing how much they drink the car will avoid several extra stops.
  1. Family Travel by carBring the entertainment. Car rides get boring fairly quickly. Pack books, tablets, portable DVD players, and car games so the entire family enjoys the drive to your destination.
  1. Travel during resting times. In the car is where many kids take their best naps. If you can travel in the early afternoon or through the night, your children may arrive at the destination well rested and ready to tackle the day or evening!
  1. Get your car serviced. Take your car in for an oil change and inspection. You will be happy you did if it prevents you from being on the side of the road with unhappy kids!

Family Travel on a Plane

  1. Take a pic before hitting the airport. If a child goes missing in the busy airport, you need a recent photo so he can be located as quickly as possible. Include the bag or carry-on luggage they have with them in the picture as well.
  1. Pack gum. This helps to relieve the pressure in the ears during take off and landing. It is not a fun experience for anyone, but definitely not for children.
  1. Family Travel by planeCreate an order. Daddy, the kids, then Mommy. Utilize this when going through airport security, while boarding, and while exiting the plane. Kids in the middle prevents anyone from becoming lost!
  1. Bring an extra lovey. A special blanket or stuffed toy can comfort a child new to flying. However, make sure you have an extra on hand in case it’s left behind during any of the travels. She will want that same comforting toy on the way home too!
  1. Dress them comfortably. Sitting on a plane for more than 2 hours can feel like days for a rambunctious child. If they get hot or uncomfortable, the ordeal becomes even worse. Dress him in light clothing, layering if possible so he stays cool.

When in the Hotel Room

  1. Book a hotel that’s close to the fun. This makes it easier for you to explore and keep the kids from getting bored. Plus, when things are in walking distance you can save time and effort getting everyone in and out of the car every day.
  1. Check for kid-friendly amenities. Even if you don’t plan to spend lots of time in your room, it doesn’t hurt to have a few fun things for your kiddos to do on site. A pool is probably the most common activity for your kids to enjoy, but some hotels also offer a rental DVDs or an arcade.
  1. Childproof your room. Keep the doors locked and bolted when inside the room. If you have an adventurous toddler, bring along outlet covers and other safety items to prevent a mishap.
  1. Reserve the crib when you book. Don’t wait until you arrive to ask for a cot or crib. There’s a good chance they will all be accounted for by other families. Mention it with your room reservation to ensure your little one has a place to sleep.
  1. Choose a suite. It may be a little more expensive, but everyone in the family will be happier with different sleeping quarters. Kids can go to bed before the adults, and separating the two lets everyone get the rest they need.

Planning ahead and following these tips will help you have the best possible summer family travel. Enjoy your vacation!

If you have any tips to add to make family vacations better, please leave them in the comments below.

St. Patrick’s Day Fun Facts & History

As you prepare to enjoy some St. Paddy’s Day fun with your family, it may be a good time to learn about the history of this day and why we celebrate it.

St. Patrick's Day Fun Facts and History

St. Patrick’s Day Fun Facts & History

As you prepare to enjoy some St. Paddy’s Day fun with your family, it may be a good time to learn about the history of this day and why we celebrate it.  So get your Irish on and learn something new.  Then, use what you learn to play trivia games with your family to celebrate your Irish ancestry.

Why do we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?

Traditionally, the color green represents Ireland or the Emerald Isle. However, according to legend green also has the magical power to make people invisible to leprechauns or other fairy creatures. That means, wearing green can keep you from getting pinched by mischievous leprechauns. If you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, watch out, you’ll get pinched!

Why shamrocks?

shamrock-leaves_zJFlh4dO_LIn ancient Ireland, shamrocks were the symbol of the rebirth of spring and were considered a sacred plant. In the 1600s the shamrock became the symbol of Irish nationalism. During a time when the English were invading Irish land, people would wear shamrocks as a symbol of their heritage and loyalty to their country.

Where did the leprechaun come from?

lepThe leprechaun most likely originated from Celtic folklore and their belief in fairies— tiny men and women with magical powers for both good and evil. In Celtic tales, leprechauns were the ones who fixed shoes for other fairies. They were grumpy,  mean-spirited, and known for their deception and trickery. The leprechaun was never a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day, but in 1959 a Disney movie transformed the leprechaun’s image into that of a cheery, good-hearted soul.

Who is Saint Patrick?

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but he was actually born in England. As a young man, he was taken prisoner by the Irish and held in captivity for six years. During that time he became a devout Christian. It is said that he heard the voice of God, which helped him escape.  Later, as the story goes, he had visions of an angel, who told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. It is widely believed that Patrick was the one who introduced Christianity to Ireland. It is also believed that he passed away on March 17, which is how St. Patrick’s Day came to be celebrated then.

Did You Know:

Initially, St. Patrick’s Day was observed as a religious holiday. Until the 1970s, all pubs were forced to close on March 17th out of respect for the holiday. Then, in 1995, the government of Ireland decided to use St. Patrick’s Day as a chance to promote tourism, which helped it become a world-celebrated holiday.

The largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in America happen in New York City, Boston, Massachusetts, and Savannah, Georgia.

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

The Best Educational Gifts for Kids

Education is important for all children and at the top of the parenting list. Many parents wonder how to make education fun and interesting for their kids. That’s where educational games and toys come in.

Educational Gifts for Kids

The Best Educational Gifts for Kids

Educational games and toys make perfect gifts for children. Not only do they give kids something to play with, but also give them the advantages of learning. Here are the best educational gifts for kids!

Suspend:

Suspend is a game of balance, created by Melissa & Doug. In this game, for 1 – 4 children, kids attempt to balance metal rods and not make the whole tower fall over!

This is a great game to teach visual-spatial skills while giving kids a challenge that will keep them interested for a long time to come. Get everyone involved and support learning with family time.

Scientific Explorer Tasty Science Kit:

Cooking and baking are entirely science and are wonderful ways to teach about basic science skills. This kit comes with everything needed to make several tasty treats, while helpfully explaining why things happen. Why does soda fizz? Why does a cake rise? These questions, and much more are answered!

Hide & Seek Geocache:

Hide and seek geocacheWe have all heard of geocaching. It’s like a huge scavenger hunt for the whole family! Hide & Seek Geocaching comes with a Geomate Jr GPS device and a box to leave your very own geocache for others to find.

Geocaching teaches kids navigation and orientation skills, plus it gets them outside and walking around.

SpinAgain:

This is a stacking toy for toddlers that is different from all the rest. When you stack, the colorful gears spin to the bottom and stack up to the top.

After all the gears are stacked, kids flip the whole tower over and watch all of the gears spin off! Sounds like fun to me! This is a great toy for toddlers, to teach cause and effect.

Perplexus:

Perplexus is for the puzzle-loving kids out there, who like one heck of a challenge. You have to guide a steel ball through all sorts of obstacles and pathways. The catch? All of these obstacles are contained in a large plastic ball!

There are two versions of Perplexus – Original, and Epic, so the fun will never end. This is a great puzzle toy for teaching kids strategy and problem-solving skills.

Educational Insights My First Microscope:

All children love to see their world in new ways. My First Microscope can give your kid a new way to look at all things very close up!

What does the yellow center of a flower look like? Simply have children place the flower on the viewing tray, and let them look away with magnification that goes up to 8x normal eyesight and a LED light! My First Microscope is a great way to introduce basic science and investigation skills to young children.

Educational toys and games are a really fun way to spark interest. They are best gifts for kids because educational games and toys can create a lifelong love of learning in new and interesting ways. Learn and play on!

 

What to Buy Before Thanksgiving Week

If you are like me, you procrastinate what you need to do until the very last second. This means you wait until the week before Thanksgiving to do all your Thanksgiving shopping.

What to Buy before thanksgiving

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What to Buy Before Thanksgiving Week

Well, I am here to tell you that even though many stores mail out their ads for huge sales that week, it pays to shop for Thanksgiving dinner well in advance. You may still need to get items Thanksgiving week, but it is a quick in and out process. Here’s what to buy before the week of Thanksgiving:

Turkeys

The week before Thanksgiving, turkey may sound like it’s on sale. All the ads say they are having a sale. If you buy your turkey in September or October, you can get your turkey for as little as $10 instead of the outrageous $30. Buy your turkey a month or two before Thanksgiving and plop it in the freezer. You will be glad you did.

Ham

Some families have ham and turkey for Thanksgiving. Whether you do or not, Christmas is around the corner as well. Buy your ham a few months before Thanksgiving. Did you know you could get a nice size ham for as little as $8? Spend less and get it now.

Decorations

If you like to make your home festive for Thanksgiving, you want to buy decorations early. As it gets closer to Thanksgiving, everyone is scouring the shelves for the perfect decorations. Get out there and buy your decorations before the pickings are slim.

Canned Goods

You can stock up on corn, Yams, green beans, cranberry sauce, and any other canned good you can think of. This stuff really doesn’t go on sale, and you can get it for the same price most of the year.

Bakeware  You can’t cook a Thanksgiving dinner without all the supplies. Bakeware tends to go up in price as Thanksgiving draws near. You can get disposable bakeware at local dollar stores, or you can buy glassware from box stores near you.

Breads and Non-perishables

Rolls, macaroni, and other non-perishables.You want to get most of your shopping list done and out of the way before the week of thanksgiving. Buy as many non-perishable items as you can.

Paper and Plastic Products

Paper plates, plastic forks, and knives. Cleaning up plates and glassware can get overwhelming if you have a large family. Instead, stock up on paper and plastic to use for your Thanksgiving dinner. You can find great deals on these at party shops around your area.

The Week of Thanksgiving

Of course, you can’t get all the items you need in advance. Sometimes you forget things, things get eaten, or you have to do some last minute shopping. Here’s a list of last minute items you may have forgotten:

  1. Butter:
  2. Eggs
  3. Milk
  4. Salt
  5. Pepper
  6. French’s Fried Onions
  7. Appetizers
  8. Salad or fruit trays

Being prepared and shopping early really pays off. Often you will have a better selection and you most certainly have less stress.

What other items do you buy before Thanksgiving week? Share your Thanksgiving shopping tips in the comments below for others to benefit!

Top Christmas Presents for Amazon Shoppers

Amazon Shoppersaffiliate_disclaimerTop Christmas Presents for Amazon Shoppers

Amazon is just amazing, and if you aren’t one that likes crowds, this is the best place to shop during Christmas. No matter what kind of gift you are looking for, you can most likely find it on Amazon. However, it’s always nice to know what’s popular this year. Here’re the top Christmas presents to buy on Amazon:

Fire Kids Edition Tablet

This is a full-featured tablet with front and rear cameras. Though real, it is perfectly equipped for parents to turn it into a kid’s tablet.

Star Wars Anything

Star Wars is all the rave this year. Both kids and Star War fans alike will love the Star Wars light sabers, games, and Legos.

American Girl Doll

Girls across the country love dolls. American Girl Dolls are big enough to dress, yet small enough to take along wherever your girl goes.

Fisher Price Power Wheels

Power wheels are just as popular this year as they have been in previous years. All youngsters like to drive just like mom and dad.

A variety of models are available along with a wide range of costs. Sure to be a hit under the tree.

The New Echo Dot

Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-activated device that has a small built-in speaker. It is the perfect gift for your teen, for dad, or even for mom this Christmas.

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader

With being able to get unlimited books every month for $9.99 on Amazon, the Kindle Paperwhite E-reader makes the perfect gift for the book lovers in your family.

Call of Duty Infinite Warfare

If you want to please the gamer in your life, there is no better gift than the Call of Duty Infinite Warfare game.

Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

With the new STEM learning in place, you can get your kids having fun learning the basics of science and chemical reactions while learning science vocabulary.

Cards Against Humanity

In a world full of serious adulating, sometimes the adults in your life need a little fun. With humor and fun, Cards Against Humanity is the perfect gift for any adult in your life.

Fisher Price Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar

Much like coding, kids connect segments to make their caterpillar go forward, backward, left, or right.

Sony PlayStation 4 Pro

The PlayStation 4 makes the perfect gift for the whole family. From watching Netflix to playing games, everyone will find something they love about it.

Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk

Playing dress up spikes creativity and encourages learning. Of course, Disney Princesses are always popular among little girls.

WowWee Chip Interactive Robot Pet Dog

This smart, affectionate, trainable robot dog is the perfect “pet” for your kids. No need to clean up dog poop.

Build-A-Bear Workshop

No need to spend countless hours in the mall waiting for your kids to make their bears. Now they can “build a bear” right at home.

Remember, Amazon participates in Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Keep an eye out to score killer deals on these 2016 Christmas presents!  Happy Shopping!