Category Archives: things moms like

Holiday Travel Tips . . . with Kids!

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Does it feel like this year is flying by?  For me, it does.  I can’t believe it’s already time to start thinking about Thanksgiving travel.   Traveling with children can be a challenge, but seriously people do it every year!  Thanksgiving weekend is known for being THE busiest travel weekend of the whole year.  According to AAA, 48.7 million American travelers are expected this year and you can bet that many of those travelers are children.  So, if the thought of traveling with your young family in just a few short weeks gives you the anxiety that it is giving me right now, you might want to check out the tips below before you go.  They’ll help make your trip a little less stressful.

  1. Plan Ahead– Make a detailed itinerary and make sure your children understand each leg of the journey. Rehearse parts of the trip that may give your children moments of anxiety. Take your child on short, practice runs for car trips, or visit the airport ahead of time. Walk through the airport and point out things to your child and watch some planes take off and land. When travel day arrives, the travel expectations will feel more familiar and comfortable.
  2. Arrive Early for Flights– Planning to arrive at the airport early will ensure that you’ll have time to make adjustments for any travel “roadblocks”. Be sure to bring enough activities to keep your children entertained for any waits or delays that may occur
  3. Create Realistic Expectations– Know what your children can handle and what they will not be able to handle. You may need to add extra stops into your itinerary or perhaps travel over multiple days.
  4. Charge Your Devices– Ensure that all your devices are charged and that you’ve brought extra chargers. You won’t want to be in a jam if the children have used up all the battery playing games just when you need your map app to get you to your next stop.
  5. Pack Plenty of Snacks– Pack plenty of healthy, low-sugar snacks that your children are familiar with and enjoy. You never know when a flight will be delayed or if the next restaurant is not for another 100 miles down the road.  Healthy snacks will help keep kids from getting cranky due to hunger.
  6. Pack Your Sense of Humor– Make the trip fun for you and your kids. Laugh with your kids and tell jokes.  Make up road trip games to play with your kids along the way.  It will make the trip more fun, enjoyable and memorable for you and them.
  7. Bring or Buy Special Needs Foods– If your child has special dietary restrictions, be sure to bring things you know they can eat. Special needs foods may be harder to find if you don’t know the area as well as home.
  8. Discuss the House Rules– Make sure your children know what will be expected of them at all locations – how to behave on a plane or in a hotel or even what special rules Grandma has at her house. Knowing what is expected up front will help them to follow along with your expectations.
  9. Do a Safety Check– Pack a first aid kit. Make sure each child has a proper car seat.  Bring all medications your children are on.
  10. Pack Insurance Cards– Just in case you need to visit a doctor while out of town, be sure to carry your insurance cards with you. It will make the process much easier and you’ll be able to save your concerns for your sick child.
  11. Visit a Local Playground– Help your kids create a memory of their adventure. Visiting a playground while on the road or in Grandma’s hometown will not only give them something fun to remember during your travels, but will also give your kids a chance to burn up some of the energy they’ve accumulated while playing 50 State License Plate Bingo in the backseat.
  12. Keep Your Cool!– There will always be things that happen, whether it be a speeding ticket from the highway patrol or a missed connection during a layover. Take a deep breath and go with the flow.  If you don’t stress things that happen outside of your control, you’ll better enjoy your trip and so will your kids.

Remember at the end of the road is Grandma’s special turkey and dressing or pumpkin pie that you’ve been craving for months – as well as hugs and smiles and family memories.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Guest Blog: Top Five Distractions for Children in the Classroom

From Buzzies.

Parents and teachers know that it can be challenging to keep children focused and on task. Classrooms are full of distractions, especially for children with attention deficit disorders or autism spectrum disorders. It is important to understand why children are distracted so that we can create calm and focused learning spaces.

Here are the top five distractions for children in the classroom, according to Neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin:

1) internal distractions, internal thoughts, anxiety, etc.
2) sensory sensitivities, too much noise, light, temperature sensitivities, etc.
3) too much sitting still- kids need to move in order to stay focused. Sitting still for too long makes it hard
4) Sudden distractions- loud noises, other kids chatting, etc and
5) Teacher talking too long…kids attention spans are short and teaching in a way that exceeds these spans will mean distractibility because the methods aren’t developmentally appropriate.

Buzzies can help some children to focus by lessening reactivity to sensory distractions and by lowering stress associated with internal thoughts or distractions. Buzzies basic is a version of Buzzies that children can take anywhere and use in the classroom. Buzzies original and Buzzies basic act passively and in real time, they don’ t just buzz to remind a kid to pay attention. There is nothing like Buzzies! Fidget toys, reminders, teacher prompts, etc. all can be helpful but Buzzies work continuously and in real time to help reduce the stress response, which can lead to better focus in some children.

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Fun DIY Sock Bouquets!!

As both a Mom and a Daughter, I completely believe in homemade Mother’s Day gifts.  I love getting these sweet gifts from my kiddos and I totally love giving them to my mom and my mother-in-law.  Sometimes the creativity is just not flowing, though, and I look all around for new ideas.  This year the Knit-Rite/Therafirm team got some inspiration from our own products.  The best part is, we were able to use products from several of our brands to create these adorable sock bouquets.  They’re cute and easy enough for the kiddos to do, too.  Watch our demonstration video below!

List of Supplies Needed:

• Socks of multiple colors, shapes and sizes
• A pair of tights, pantyhose or a piece of fabric of similar size and length
• Rubber bands
• Safety pins
• Your favorite vase

We used some discontinued colors of our Preggers and Therafirm brands, as well as current colors of TheraSport, SmartKnitKIDS, SmartKnit and Therafirm.  Happy bouquet making!

Tips for Tackling Daylight Savings with your Kids

Daylight Savings begins March 13, 2016.  We will all lose one hour of sleep as we move our clocks forward one hour (hint = spring forward)!  The lost hour can be especially hard on children.  Follow the tips below to help make the Daylight Savings Transition a little easier.

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  1. Transition into the time difference gradually – Get your kids up and put them to bed 15 minutes earlier every day leading up to Daylight Savings Day. Taking baby steps toward the earlier day will make the transition a little bit easier to bear.
  2. Add a nap into the day – Adding an afternoon nap for a few days will help your and your children’s bodies adjust to the time difference a little bit quicker. If your kids are already napping, let them sleep a little bit longer than normal for a few days. Just make sure it isn’t too close to their bed time or yours.
  3. Keep your normal number of sleep hours – It might be hard to convince your kids or yourself that it’s bedtime, but it’s important to do so. You’re getting up early already, so make sure to carry that over to bedtime.  Keeping your number of sleep hours and avoiding staying up that extra hour, will help everyone adjust to the time difference quicker.
  4. Control the lights – The body’s natural melatonin, which helps to induce sleep, increases when the environment begins to get dark. Going to sleep at an earlier time will be easier if the environment is adapted to feel more like night.  If it’s still light outside, make sure to cover the windows and dim the lights in your child’s bedroom.  Turn off all electronic devices 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
  5.  Whatever your bedtime routine is, don’t change it –  There is comfort in routine and if you stick to your normal bedtime activities, your children will not notice the time difference quite so much.

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Indoor Activities for Kids

Snow blankets the ground in many places around the country and the thermometer has dipped to levels below the freezing mark.  With nearly two months left of winter, our list of indoor activities needs a boost of new ideas.  If your kiddos are getting antsy with all the usual indoor play, try some of these fun, new activities to help beat back the winter doldrums.

Sudsy Toy Car Wash
Pull out some of your kids’ toy cars and put together a car wash!  First, add baking soda to the bottom of a baking pan.  Let the kids drive the cars through the baking soda – snow driving.  Once they’ve had all the fun they can get out of that, pour some vinegar over the baking soda and watch it fizz and suds up.  The kids should get a kick out of running their cars through the “car wash” for quite a while. Source: whatwedoallday.com

Indoor Snow Play
After a new snow fall, fill up a couple of buckets of clean snow and bring it inside.  Kids can use sand or water toys with the snow.  Or, get out some baking supplies and let them “snow bake”.  The best part is they can play in the snow without the bulky snow gear or getting too cold.

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Indoor Sailboats
Fill a baking dish or other container with water.  Make sailboats out of foam craft pieces for the base, a toothpick or skewer for the mast, and a piece of paper for the sail.  Launch your boats in the water and use a drinking straw to create wind.  Children can race their boats across the baking dish. Source: whatwedoallday.com

Family Photo Bingo
This idea sounds like a lot of fun.  Create bingo cards using photos of family members (you might have to use extended family members to get enough variety.  Run a few bingo games for you kids.  G-Grandma Mary; O-Aunt Sue Source: parents.com

Puppet Theatre
Create a puppet theatre out of a cardboard box.  Puppets can be made out of anything – leftover scraps of fabric, popsicle sticks, even socks.  Let your children get creative making story lines and acting them out with their puppets.  Have them practice on their own and then perform their puppet plays for an audience of mom and dad. Source: pinterest.com

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Indoor Bowling
Use some empty water bottles and a rubber ball to set an indoor bowling alley for the kids.  You can even make up score cards to help them record all the spares and strikes. Source: pinterest.com

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Doll Beach Party
Round up some dolls (Barbie dolls or other like-sized dolls) that won’t mind getting a little wet and create a Beach Party in the bathtub.  Wash clothes can become great beach towels.  A lightweight soap dish might make a good pool float.  Just make sure the doll has proper beach attire – swimsuit and sunglasses, of course!  Source: parents.com

Family Book Club
Choose a longer chapter book and read a little bit from it every day.  After each day’s session, have the kids discuss their thoughts about the story and characters, as if they were part of a real book club.  Have some kid-friendly book club snacks to go along with the story.  Great book suggestions for Family Book Club: Little House on the Prairie; 101 Dalmations; Charlotte’s Web; Shiloh; The Boxcar Children.

Check out these other ideas for keeping kids entertained inside during the long winter months.

18 Fun and Creative Ideas for Old Socks

Old Socks
Now that Memorial Day is squarely in our rear-view mirrors, it’s safe to say that summer is upon us.  Here in the Midwest, the hot weather is getting a little bit of a late start, but we’re assured that it’s coming (it always does here).  As things begin to heat up for all of us, we’ll be trading in our warm, snuggly socks for the wonderful feeling of bare toes, sandal feet and flip flops.

At SmartKnitKIDS, we think this is the perfect time to tidy up our sock drawers!  I like to go through all my socks and weed out the ones that have worn out, have small (or even large) holes, or the ones that I just plain don’t like.  And since I really hate to be wasteful, I now have a pile of socks ready to be recycled into other things.  Our team came up with a great list of uses for old socks, which will totally keep us busy all summer.

Here are 18 Fun and Creative Ideas for Old Socks:

  1. Dust Cloths – No need to buy expensive microfiber dusting cloths when an old sock works just as well. Better yet, it’s a perfect way to get your kids to help out with the chores around the house.  Just put some socks on their hands and put them to work dusting!  The best thing is you can throw them in the wash for easy clean up.
  2. Hard-to-Reach Cleaning Stick – On the dusting note, you can use a ruler or yard stick and slip a sock over one end. Secure it with a rubber band and you’re in business.  This handy tool can clean under stoves and refrigerator.  Or ceiling fans!
  3. Vacuum Tool – Another great cleaning tip is to slip a sock on the end of a vacuum hose. Attach a rubber band to keep it in place.  This works great for picking up dropped items like screws, bolts or thumb tacks.
  4. Garden Soap – Slide a bar of soap into the bottom of an old sock. Tie a knot to keep the soap in place.  Tie the long end to a garden faucet.  Now you have easy soap and water for washing your hands out in the garden.
  5. Windshield Wiper Covers – Hopefully, the snow and ice are a long way off, but you can be ready for when Old Man Winter reappears. Keep a pair of old socks in your glove box.  Whenever you’re parked outside and the forecast calls for ice or frost, slip the socks over your windshield wipers.  It will keep the ice off the wipers and you’ll have an easier time getting your car ready to drive.
  6. Packing Materials – You can use your old socks to help pack breakables for a move. They work well for drinking glasses by putting a glass inside the sock and stuffing the excess inside the glass.
  7. Potpourri Bundle – Stuff potpourri inside a sock and secure with a rubber band. They can be used in your drawers to keep your clothes smelling fresh or put them inside stinky shoes when not wearing them.
  8. Crafts for Kids and Adults – The possibilities are endless here. They make great sock puppets, for one.  Pinterest is chalk full of great ideas for sock crafting.
  9. First Aid Pack – Slide an ice pack inside a sock. This will make using an ice pack on sore muscles or bruises more comfortable.
  10. Hot Pack – Fill an old sock with dried beans or rice and tie the end. Microwave for 30 seconds and use on sore muscles for pain relief.
  11. Hair Curlers – I remember doing this as a little girl! Roll your damp hair up in old socks and tie them in a knot to secure.  After your hair dries, you’ll have a head full of beautiful curls.
  12. Hair Ponytail Bands – Cut across the sock to make a ring of fabric. Each sock will make several fabric hair bands.
  13. Ball Storage – Use old socks to store golf or tennis balls. They can be tied to your golf or tennis bag for easy access.
  14. Golf Club Covers – Slip a sock over your golf clubs to keep them protected during travel.
  15. Cat Nip Toy – Fill an old sock with catnip, secure with a rubber band and let your cats go wild!
  16. Dog Tug o’War Toy – Tie knots in a sock and you instantly have hours of entertainment for you dog. Just let him grab on and pull!
  17. Pet Leg Warmers – Keep some socks around for next winter. Slip them on your dog’s feet for walking your dog in the snow and ice.  They also keep dogs’ and cats’ legs warm inside if your house is a little drafty.
  18. Bird Feeders – Cut a sock in half so that it makes one long piece of fabric. Sew the end together in a hammock shape and fill with birdseed.  Hang it from a tree in your yard and watch the birds flock to it.

Do you have any other ideas for old socks?  We encourage you to clear out your drawers and get creative.  In the meantime, it’s the perfect time to stock up for next fall with your SmartKnitKIDS socks.  We’re running a three-day sale – 20% off all SmartKnitKIDS and BigKids socks.  Use coupon code Kickoff20.  Sale ends Friday, May 29th at 11:59 p.m. CDT.

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Winter doldrums? Try these indoor activities

Brrrrr! Bugsley, it’s cold outside! We’re not done with winter yet, so it’s time to get creative with the indoor activities – especially for the kiddos! Here are some of our favorite ideas to beat back the winter doldrums.

Marshmallow Pretzel Tinker Toys – Grab a bag of mini marshmallows and a bag of pretzel sticks and see how many great creations you can make by connecting the pretzels with marshmallows. They make a yummy afternoon snack, too.

Baking Project – Let the kiddos help with a baking project. I find that making muffins out of a box is an easy task for little ones. They’ll feel helpful stirring and filling up the muffin cups. And, they’ll enjoy eating something they helped to make for breakfast the next morning. Blueberry muffins are Bugsley’s favorites. What are yours?

Shape Matching – Hold two craft sticks together on a hard surface and help your child to draw different shapes evenly over the two sticks. Make several sets each one with a different shape. Then mix them up and let your child work to match up the shapes.

Bingo – Make a Bingo game using fun things that your child relates to. Put pictures in each of the squares and put the same pictures on pieces of cardstock. Take turns drawing the cardstock pieces out of a bowl and working toward a bingo. Ideas for pictures can be anything, such as family member photos, animals, characters from your child’s favorite movie, colors, etc.

Sensory Learning Stations – Set up several bowls along a table. Fill each bowl with a different item (rice, dried beans, macaroni noodles, smooth beads, fuzzy craft pompons, play sand, buttons, etc.) Bury some coins in each of the bowls and let kids dig through the different textured items to find them.

I Spy – Play I Spy with the kiddos. Mix it up by moving around from room to room. Or even better, use pages out of your child’s favorite books.

Have an Indoor Picnic – Make a few sandwiches and package them up. Lay them out, along with picnic friendly foods like fruit cups, juice pouches, raisins, string cheese, cracker packages, etc. Let the kids pack the picnic basket with your picnic lunch. Don’t forget the blanket! Then let the kids choose the “perfect” spot to set up the picnic blanket.

Sugar Cookie Art Palettes – Buy a tube of sugar cookie dough and make to package instructions. Then let the kids decorate the cookies with colorful toppings. You can use frosting or jam as a base to help everything stick to the cookies. Let the kids “paint” the cookies with the frosting, jam, peanut butter or Nutella. Then they can decorate with dyed coconut, candy pieces, raisins, cheerios, Chinese noodles, fruit snacks, dried fruit, etc. Voila!

Remember, that all kids are different. Choose indoor activities that you know your child will tolerate and enjoy!