Interested in mindfulness for kids? Now is a great time to start your child’s education in mindfulness and meditation. Here’s what helps us.
Ahhh … summertime!
It’s the time of year when moms are excited for summer fun adventures with the kids.
But, we’re also dreading the summer boredom woes, the demands for screen time, and the attitudes we’ll receive. You know … because our fun plans just didn’t line upwith their plans to veg out and play on their tablets.
If you’re like me, you’re used to having a least one little one at home, but having the big kid at home messes with schedules. And, while the big kids can be entertaining for the little ones, you’re just as likely to hear a ton of sibling arguments.
As we all deal with adjusting to our new (and temporary) schedules, I think we can all expect a roller coaster of emotions.
That’s why I’m really excited to be putting Zafooz to the test, thanks to the collaboration made possible through Mom’s Meet.
I know I should be practicing mindfulness.
Personally, I try. But I am easily distracted. I’m terrible at creating mindfulness practice habits. I’ve even had trouble sticking to yoga recently, although my short stints with it result it amazing feelings afterwards.
I know the benefits and I’ve seen some breathing techniques work on my youngest child. So, the Zafooz pillows can be an encouraging (and adorable) reminder to make mindful breathing part of our day.
I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided.
Whether we just want to start our day in a short mindful breathing exercise or we need to take a break to ease some heavy emotions, I truly believe these soft and friendly characters will provide an inviting experience for us all.
Mindfulness For Kids With Zafooz
Why Mindfulness For Kids?
Mindfulness is good for children because:
It helps find peace in stressful situations
Teaches them to respond to life in a happier way
Helps develop self-regulation and reduces anxiety.
Therefore, mindfulness is good for their growing brains!
But, these are just 3 reasons to start practicing mindfulness with kids.
Zafooz for Mindfulness
So, if you want to teach mindfulness to children, why choose Zafooz?
Zafooz were created to be inviting reminders to children to connect and nurture themselves. Young children relate to stuffed animals … and this is by far the sweetest, snuggliest stuffy one could own, in my opinion.
Each Zafooz has it’s own mantra and stories to guide children into mindfulness.
We received Lotus Ladybug and Mindful Monkey. Each seemed appropriately suited to my children, though interchangeably.
As you see, though, starting lessons in mindfulness for kids didn’t go so well right off the bat.
Someone wanted to snuggle and run around with his monkey. But, we persisted and actually enjoyed the mindfulness practice! Zafooz website is full of mindfulness practice resources including guided mindfulness practices for different stages.
By the end of it, I could tell my oldest was enjoying the peaceful few minutes of guided practice. She became calm and answered the questions easily. The youngest .. well, he could really stand to use mindfulness more *wink*.
At the end of the practice, we were instructed to thank ourselves for taking time out of our day to focus on ourselves. Of course, this also meant thanking Lotus Ladybug and Mindful Monkey for helping them find some peace in their day.
What I like about Zafooz is that they have soft, matching handles attached at the sides of their bodies so that you can carry them (and your mindfulness practice) wherever you go!
Save 15% And Try It Out Yourself
Ready to try out mindfulness for kids with Zafooz?
Save 15% on your zafooz.com/shop purchase by using the promo code breatheBhappy. Offer valid until July 22, 2019.
A few summer rainy day activities – fun ideas when summer weather doesn’t want to cooperate.
Is there anything worse than being cooped up in the house with the kids on rainy days in the middle of summer break?
Here in Florida, the odds for rainy summer days seems greater than days without rain.
It doesn’t matter if you’re staying at home or you’re on vacation somewhere, rainy days in the summer can be quite the bummer. If you’re dealt several days of non-stop rain, it’s time to come up with some summer rainy day activities.
Summer Rainy Day Activities
Rest and Relax
Give yourself permission to chill out!
Modern motherhood seems dictated by social media. And social media dictates everyone is busy doing something.
And let’s face it, fear of missing out coupled with mom guilt sets in and you’re worried what people will think if you and the kids are doing nothing.
Well, stop giving in to the false realities of social media and get real. You need time to relax.
Use the occasionally rainy day at home during summer to relax and recharge. Snuggle up on the couch, read, watch a movie, catch up on your favorite TV show or play some board games.
If the mood strikes, take a nap.
Although rest and relaxation is both warranted and needed, being cooped up in the house for several days might mean it’s time to get a little more creative. This is particularly important when you have small kids at home. T
If yours are anything like mine, they go stir-crazy pretty quickly.
Build a fort, get out the art supplies, run a movie marathon, create an obstacle course through the house, make homemade pizza together, bake some cookies, or encourage the kids to put on a play.
Find a theme for the day (i.e. William Shakespeare Day where you encourage your older kids to read one of his plays, fix English food, and end the day watching Romeo and Juliette), and make the entire day about that theme.
Don’t let the rain keep you from heading out to have some fun. Instead, find some indoor activities that you can easily drive to.
Museums are great for rainy days and many have special exhibits during the summer months. Spend a rainy afternoon exploring art or local history and end it with lunch or early dinner at a favorite restaurant.
You can even meet up with friends and hang out talking quietly and checking out books.
Some libraries also have gaming rooms where kids and adults alike can play board and video games.
Indoor Energy Burners
Need to burn off some excess energy?
Head to the local aquatic center or indoor pool.
Visiting an indoor playground is another great option, as is a trip to the mall.
Last but not least, don’t forget to check local movie theaters and regular theaters to see what performance and shows they offer. There are quite a few that free or discounted summer kids movies!
With a little creative thinking, even a few rainy days can become enjoyable summer experiences. If you’re in Florida, you’ve probably already experienced some summer rains that … well … rained on your parade. But, now you can be prepared by making note of these summer rainy day activities for next time!
When we decided to travel to Europe for our anniversary, we were filled with so many questions. We learned a few things from the pros and I’m sharing the tips about how to plan a European trip!
I have to admit it. I’ve never really been out of the country.
My high school Spanish class planned a trip to Spain and I decided I’d rather visit family in Texas, because my family couldn’t afford both. In retrospect, I should have totally chosen Spain. But, I was awkward and somewhat troubled, so spending time with kids in my high school really wasn’t comforting.
Anyway, years down the line, I finally met the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. So, I got married and did what a number of newlyweds do … chose to get out of the country by way of cruise ship.
If we’re being honest, it didn’t really feel like we left the country. We ate normal food on and off the cruise ship until I got so tired of it that we barged out of the gates unattended in Jamaica to cross the street for a Jamaican lunch. And it was some of the best food I ate all week.
Hubby, however, was raised in the Navy and then became a Marine when he graduated. So, he’d had some experience traveling overseas. Though, aside from the family trips growing up, his experience with anything outside of the U.S. was mainly through deployment.
So, when hubby and I decided to do something special for our 10 year anniversary, we agreed on taking a European vacation.
Without the kids.
This is how we planned our European Trip.
How to Plan a European Trip
1. List Your “Must-See” Attractions
For starters, we decided Spain was going to be our primary adventure and that Barcelona was the city we would stay in. But, just hours away from Germany, he’s always wanted to visit and race on the Nurburgring. So, we added a couple days to our trip for that experience as well.
Once we had an idea of the general places we wanted to go, we began looking into all the sight-seeing attractions within (and within driving distance) of the city/cities we chose.
We began making a list of interests in our Trip Advisor account and then rated them by order of importance. This is where I found creating a spreadsheet to be helpful, where I listed the must-see activities first, then added activities I’d like to see if time permits.
We began this process almost a year in advance, and glad we did, because half a year flew by in the blink of an eye! Before we knew it, it was time to book flights and even 6 months out, some hotels were booking up.
When deciding on tours, you can certainly choose to have everything done for you by purchasing tours that last several hours, half day, or even a full day. Transportation and sometimes snacks will be provided.
We chose a good mix and opted to rent a car to do some things on our own, which essentially saved money and sometimes shortened a trip so that we could take our time getting up, getting ready, and leisurely see the sites along the way, stopping when and if we wanted to.
You can use the following places to research and book tours:
We recommend waiting to book these closer to your actual travel dates. You’ll likely want to plan according to weather instead of hoping the weather holds out because you booked too far in advance.
2. Research Travel-Friendly Dates
If you have some flexibility in your travel dates, this will be really useful. For instance, if you see that peak season for your chosen destination ends a week before your special event, it might be wise to hold off for a week or two.
One really good site to check out all kinds of important stats for traveling is US News. This is where I found average temperatures, info on peak tourist season, and when hotel prices are lower (just to name a few).
Snapshot taken from US News website
As it turns out, August ends peak tourist season in Spain, so we chose to hold off on travel until September. The weather canstart to get cooler and we’ll hopefully deal with less tourist traffic on our trip.
Additionally, we lucked out by having family available to watch the kids and shuttle them to and from school while hubby and I are off enjoying a long anniversary trip.
3. Learn A Little About the Culture
As it turns out, Barcelona wants to be viewed as a modern, but modest city. I found out that dressing like a tourist in the city (shorts and tanktops) is not only frowned upon, but baring shoulders or low cut tops are forbidden at certain attractions (like cathedrals).
At the same time, though, if you want to visit the beach, baring as much skin as possible is expected. I guess all the modesty in the city has people feeling more adventurous and wild at the beach.
Even more importantly, dressing like a tourist will make you a target for pick-pocketing, which is apparently big in touristy areas of Spain.
So, planning what to wear was a little extra work. Ultimately, I decided to buy this dress on Amazon which covers my shoulders and chest, while offering some laid back (but not remarkably touristy) comfort for a day around the city.
4. Book Your Own Flights or Use a Travel Agent?
We had grand hopes of booking individual one way flights to get us to and from Spain and Germany on the cheap. However, after many grueling hours of research, we realized booking our own flights to save money was going to cost us extra time (and aggravation) we weren’t looking forward to.
By booking individual flights on our own to get the best deals, we were going to have to claim and re-check baggage every time we landed for our connecting flights.
If saving money is a major goal of yours, this approach can work, but you have to have patience and give yourself plenty of time at your layovers to claim your baggage, re-check it, and go through security before boarding your next flight. This can also extend your travel time significantly to get really good deals.
For decent deals where you can obtain information about flight ratings, using Expedia was a good option. But, if you want to spend less, I found Cheap-O Air to be a good option, though you have fewer airlines to choose from. Additionally, Cheap-O Air will charge for extras like choosing your own seats (which is essential if you’re traveling for an anniversary trip, IMO).
For this adventure, we decided booking our flights through a travel agent was the best choice because we wanted our Anniversary trip to be as stress-free as possible. This option:
*saved us some travel time
*cost more than booking ourselves on longer flights, but slightly less than the more direct flights
*kept us on flights where our checked baggage would follow us
5. Get Travel Insurance
Now, we’re not typically ones to purchase travel insurance, however, with children and the major expense, we opted for travel insurance this time around.
Booking our travel 6 months in advance is a bit risky, because you just have no clue what life will throw at you. Plus, with my own health constantly in question, we felt safer.
After having looked into the coverage provided by our credit cards on travel, we decided actual travel insurance was much better for peace of mind.
Our credit cards offered trip insurance on our booked flights, but if one of us got sick, the other was still obligated to travel. Kind of defeats the purpose of an anniversary trip, wouldn’t you say?
So, total travel insurance was a better option. This way, we can cover the entire trip (flights, hotels, etc) and opt to include travel medical insurance in case we get sick or have an emergency while overseas.
6. Get Travel Sized Items
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you know your personal hygiene items (like shampoos) have to adhere to special TSA size requirements.
Stock up on travel-sized items at places like Walmart, Target, or your local health food stores. I purchased most of my travel size toiletries at Target, personally.
Aside from their convenient travel size, I find that with Stowaway Cosmetics I get quality (and better-for-you) make up that you can actually finish before it expires! Plus, they’re transparent about the cost and have a recycle program where you can earn credit on future purchases.
Ultimately, how to plan a European trip for your Anniversary really comes down to what you dream of doing. Are you budget conscious or prefer to take some of the stress off?
For us, we were sort of middle of the road, but ultimately decided we’d prefer some details to be handled for us to save us travel time and the hassle of chasing luggage. Though, we will still be looking for deals on some of the attractions and activities we’ll be seeing while at our European destinations.
Do you have any other tips on how to plan a European trip?
Have wooden blocks personalized with images that can be cropped to a square shape. Get 3 blocks and each can have one letter on it spelling out DAD. This would make a sweet personalized Father’s Day gift with 3 top memories with dad!
Want something cool for Father’s Day, but not necessarily personalized? Check out these family matching shirts … you can still customize colors without putting names and dates on them for something unique.
What are some of your all-time favorite personalized Father’s Day gifts? Anything you’ve ever given that was so well-received you’ve never been able to top them?
So much entertainment and fun activities to choose from on this kids summer bucket list.
Summer break is right around the corner.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t believe every day should be spent in front of screens. Everything in moderation right?
Still, it’s not easy to plan a whole summer’s worth of activities sometimes. Plus, you’ve gotta think about each of your kids who enjoy doing different things.
While I can easily leave my daughter to worksheets and doing whatever craft she comes up with for hours if I let her, my son needs much more direction.
Honestly, I need it too.
So, I compiled a list of over 70 kids summer bucket list activities. Plus, if you don’t want to come back to this post throughout the summer, I’m offering the list in a free printable for you, too.
My suggestion, if you’re a planner, is to print out blank calendar sheets for the time your kids are out of school. Plot in some things you already know you want to do and then plug in a few of the activities on this list.
It’ll keep you on track and motivated so that you don’t resort to too much screen time!
More Than 70 Activities: Kids Summer Bucket List
Before I continue sharing the kids summer bucket list of activities, there’s something I want to mention.
As moms, we have so much on our plates. When it comes time for planning summer activities, it’s easy to feel like we need to keep the kids busy.
But at what expense?
Usually, our sanity.
I mean, it’s great we want to do so many things with our kids. I know your kids will appreciate it (for the most part).
But, don’t get so carried away trying to check off every item off the bucket list that you forget to have some down time. Rest, let the kids get bored, and just snuggle up when you feel like it.
Simple education tips mostly disguised as fun to help develop reading skills in little kids.
Have you ever thought about just how important reading is for your child? Now that my oldest is in school, I’m constantly reminding her to read instructions. Reading is an essential skill that makes everything a little easier.
It’s a fact when children develop good reading skills early in their lives, they are much more likely to be better learners and better educated. Reading is the foundation for success in all other subject matters and the level of success a child will experience in their life.
Still, learning to read isn’t an easy task for many children. This is why it’s so very important that you, as the parent, be a good model for reading and work with and encourage your child to read each and every day.
As a parent, you should spend time with them at home to ensure that your child develops essential reading skills.
Develop Reading Skills In Little Kids With These 9 Tips
Use of language and vocabulary
Don’t limit your language and vocabulary to what you believe your child will understand at his age.
Refrain from baby talk (made up silly words) as much as possible because it’s actually bad for their development.
It IS okay, however, for your child to mispronounce a word. For little ones, it’s not necessary to correct them as much as you’d think. They’ll get there eventually.
Have your child respond after listening to stories
Read short paragraphs and have your child tell you about what they just heard. This will help you monitor their level of comprehension.
Learn and recognize the alphabet and letters
Use everyday items around your house as examples.
For example, cut out big letters and have your child find items around the house that begin with that letter and stick the letter to them. Or use items in a letter craft … creating a large letter on a page and gluing items that begin with that letter to the page.
Work with your child to connect the sound the letters make to the spoken language
In our home, we always sing the letter sounds song that we picked up from a toy (A says “ah”. A says “ah”. Every letter makes a sound and A says “ah”.)
When we work on home preschool, we usually do letter of the week, so I can introduce each letter sound every week. Then, we list off as many items as we can that start with that letter and emphasize the letter sound.
Additionally, you can try things like the Hooked on Phonics app. Above is a picture of my son was very excited playing Hooked on Phonics on the iPad (which happened to be a real treat for me to sit for a while, too).
Read 20 Minutes Per Day
Read often to your child so they know that reading is a daily activity. Start reading to your children while they’re babies and make it a habit to read every day.
An additional key is to read 20 minutes a day. According to K12Reader, reading 20 minutes a day improves academic performance.
But, that’s just one benefit of your child’s daily reading habit.
Work daily with your child to add a new word to their vocabulary
There are books, websites, and apps that will offer a word a day. Make a habit of exploring at least one new word a day, offering as much discussion as they would like about the new word.
It’s also beneficial to teach children to ask questions about words while reading.
For the younger crowd, if they ask what a word means during a reading session, go ahead and provide the answer.
For your older children, teach them to either highlight words or place a sticky note in the book to remind them to look up the new word later if they don’t want to look it up during one of their sessions.
Let your child predict what happens next
Involving them in the story allows them to learn sequencing and can help ensure they’re paying attention to the story. This can also make reading more fun for them.
Let Them Pick Books
Take your kids to visit the children’s area of the library. Here, you can often find story times for young children, where someone may lead them through educational exercises like recognizing letters and numbers.
There are so many benefits of visiting the library with your kids, but it will also help them to build their interests if you let them pick out their own books to be read.
Make Reading Fun
I think fun is a crucial factor in helping to develop reading skills in little kids. I mean, if you’re not having a good time, do you want to do something, yourself?
Play is the backbone of education for young learners, so remember this when you want to develop reading skills in little kids.
How to make reading fun:
Introduce your child to your local library as soon as you can.
These skills are vital for the pre-first grade level reader.
Once your child gets to the first grade, they’ll be building upon these skills that will set the stage for the child essentially for the rest of their lives. As a parent it’s not enough to merely incorporate these skills into your child’s daily activities. Instead, you keep your fingers on the pulse of your child’s progress and understanding.
At this early age, it is critical to get the reading journey off on the right foot.
At its simplest form, reading is a skill. Just like any other skill, it takes practice to become proficient at it. In fact, reading is such an important skill… it takes more practice than a child will receive if they attend a traditional school. As a parent you need to augment the school’s reading program with daily reading time at home. If you are homeschooling, make reading a daily top priority type of activity.
But don’t forget the fun!
Reading truly is fundamental to education and successes. Without good reading skills, much of life will always be a struggle. Build a sound and solid foundation for your child by ensuring early on that you help establish a love for reading in your child and success will follow.
Did you know self-care can help prevent common health problems? Learn 5 self-care tips for new moms to keep your immune system healthy in this guest post giving encouragement for moms.
From the moment you found out you were pregnant, your diet, exercise and sleep were determined by your baby’s needs.
After the birth of your child, the need to be the best and provide the best did not subside.
This is why most new mums focus completely on their little ones and ignore their own needs. However, ignoring your own needs is not healthy – not for you and certainly not for your child. Self-care is an important aspect of post pregnancy care as it can help to prevent postpartum depression, anxiety and similar negative emotions.
5 Self-Care Tips For New Moms
A healthy amount of self-love and self-care will go a long way in preventing the ‘baby blues’ and ensuring your physical, mental and emotional health.
Here are 5 simple but effective self-care tips for new moms:
Set aside some ‘Me’ Time
Poor self-care often leads to a loss of interest in hobbies and activities along with withdrawal from friends and family – classic signs of postpartum depression. Mental healthcare experts recommend that you take a little time for yourself on a daily basis as this will help you retain your sense of identity. New mums often feel the need to keep their babies with them at all times but every afternoon pop her into her cot along with a toy and spend at least 20-30 minutes reading a book or listening to music.
Ask for help
Create a support system that consists of family, friends and even teens in your neighborhood who are willing to babysit. Baby sitters can simply watch over your baby in his/her cot while you are busy with household chores. This will allow you to take care of things like cleaning, laundry and gardening with complete peace of mind, knowing that someone trusted is looking after your little one. New mums often find it difficult to spend time away from their babies so this is a great way to start. If you are not yet ready to leave your child in the care of others, you can simply ask them to help with chores such as grocery shopping or running errands.
Even if you were a dedicated fitness enthusiast before you got pregnant, you probably gave up on your daily workouts once your baby came along. However, studies show that exercise plays a key role in the physical and mental recovery post pregnancy. Stick with low-intensity workouts as some research shows that vigorous physical activity is linked to an increased risk of experiencing depressive symptoms. Yoga is a great exercise option for new mums – a study on the benefits of yoga for depressed postpartum women found that 78% of the new mums who did yoga experienced clinically significant improvements in in depression, anxiety and overall quality of life.
Pregnancy causes drastic changes in the levels of various hormones including progesterone and estrogen – which are closely linked to mood. These hormone levels come crashing down after the birth of your child which is why new mums are likely to feel stressed and have negative thoughts. Talk to your partner, family members and friends as this will help you deal with negative thoughts and make positive changes in your life. You can also ask veteran moms for practical suggestions and tips to overcome and prevent common negative feelings such as anxiety, depression and guilt.
Pamper yourself once a week
As a new mum, your focus in on your baby and your family but you shouldn’t neglect yourself in the process. Put aside a specific amount of time every single week where your husband or parents look after your baby while you go out. You can treat yourself to a pedicure, a chic haircut or a soothing body massage. These simple self-care measures will help boost your mood and improve your confidence and self-esteem.
Self-Care Can Reduce Risks of Common Health Problems
Pregnancy affects your immune system and it takes 3-4 months for your immune system to return to normal. This is why new moms are more susceptible to common health problems such as the common cold or flu. Self-care after the birth of your child will help to reduce your risk of common ailments and ensure your physical and emotional well-being.
Author Bio: Anita Fernandes is a journalist and a writer by profession. She has been writing extensively on health and wellness related topics for a little over a decade now. Besides her professional interests, she loves a game of basketball or a good hike in her free time to fuel her spirits. “Health is wealth” is one motto of life which she lives by as well as advocates to every reader, who comes across her blogs.
Looking for entertainment options for your kids this summer. For one idea, have your kids get lost in books with this list of summer reading programs for kids.
It’s hard to believe summer break is almost here! At the end of the month, my kids will be out of school and summer boredom will begin.
I never really know just what we’ll do over the summer. I mean, we’re in Florida. On the one hand, it’s too freaking hot to do just about anything outside. On the other hand, there’s always a number of theme parks we could visit while suffering through the heat.
Two thing’s for sure though.
I always have my kids participate in at least one summer reading program!
Since I worry about the summer slide and I need some downtime, reading is an important part of our day. It’s especially important that the oldest take some time to read while the little one is down for a nap. And, I require some reading time before she gets to indulge in screen time.
If you’re anything like me, and value reading time, you’ll love this list of summer reading programs for kids. I mean, incentivizing your kids to read for more than just screen time is a bonus for everyone!
Summer Reading Programs for Kids
Check with your public library, either in person or online, to see if they’re offering a summer reading program for your kids!
Our library has a summer reading program that encourages my kids to read so many books (or so many hours) in order to earn a free book. Plus, the reading program includes extra prize entries based on certain criteria (like number of books read or minutes read) depending on the program for the year.
Generally, I like our public library summer reading programs for kids because they also set up special activities and events throughout the summer to keep them entertained.
Barnes & Noble Summer Reading For Kids
Barnes & Noble offers a summer reading program where kids earn a free book for reading a certain number of books. In 2018, a child had to read a mere 8 books to receive a free book from the dedicated list of freebies.
The free book selection was broken into grade levels so that you could help your children make the best choice for their reading level.
While not exactly a summer reading program for kids, Chuck E. Cheese does offer incentives with special reward calendars! Included is a reading rewards calendar. When your child reads for 2 weeks, they will receive 10 tokens for game play (purchase is required to redeem free tokens).
Please double check to make sure you get an up-to-date calendar to participate.
Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
Scholastic brings your children a themed summer reading challenge every year, and it’s going into it’s 13th year in 2019.
In 2018, in order for children to participate in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, all children must have been registered by an educator, public librarian, or community partner organization leader.
Children ages 4-14 can long reading minutes, however, if you read aloud to younger children, you can log reading minutes for them.
The Books*A*Million summer reading adventure in 2018 allowed children to read any 4 books in the summer reading adventure section (in stores and online). Once completed, children were given a free pencil case with pencils.
While Six Flags offers a free summer reading program for kids, it’s not without a special set of rules. Important to note, a traditional school or homeschool must register for the program for your children to be able to participate. Additionally, this program is only available for grades K through 6.
So, if you fall within the parameters and qualify for this summer reading program through Six Flags, your child can log 6 hours of recreational summer reading to earn a free ticket to Six Flags in the Six Flags Read to Success program!
Kids 14 and under log 300 minutes in June and July and have a parent or guardian initial the reading log for $5 Bookworm Bucks. Teens have to read one book from a selection and write a short review in order to earn Bookworm Bucks.