Entertaining the Kids During the COVID-19 Lockdown

Those stay-at-home parents with little ones already know how stressful it can be to be stuck in the house all day with kids that need your attention all the time, it seems. Then again, before you would be able to take them to the movies, the park, the zoo, or to visit a friend to entertain them. Now, you are all quarantined to the house together. Those who have school-age children or who usually leave the kids at a sitter while they work outside the home are suddenly realizing how hard stay-at-home parents really have it. But we can help them keep the kids entertained with some simple tips that do not include going anywhere or seeing other people.  

  • Treasure Hunt: Write a list with items that kids can find outside. Some of these items can include things that are already there like four twigs, three white flowers, five small rocks, etc. You can also hide items outside for them to find like small toys, clothespins, a plastic cup, a penny, etc. For kids too young to read, draw pictures. You get the picture, right?
  • Crafts: Use those items the kids found to make things. Color the rocks with markers or paint, tape the flowers to the sticks to make a bouquet, color the clothespins and add the small toys to them to make a decorative chip bag holder. Use your imagination and theirs.
  • Television Time: Although you don’t want to just park your kids in front of the TV all day, some television time is fine. In fact, a lot of the shows on children’s channels are learning shows. There are still the old favorites such as Sesame Street, the Magic School Bus, and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. But they also have new ones like Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, Doc Mc Stuffins, and Sid the Science Kid. Give the kids an hour or two of TV time during the day when you just need some peace and quiet. 
  • Projects for Older Kids: Older kids can be harder to entertain because they are way too “cool” to watch Dora or find rocks in the garden. Give them some harder projects like building or fixing something. Or find a website that they can get on where they can actually learn something while playing games or talking to others.
  • Online Therapy: Believe it or not, many kids can benefit from online therapy, which they can get from a mental health site like BetterHelp.com. Of course, they will need parental permission and supervision, but BetterHelp.com has pediatric counselors on staff who can help your child deal with the thoughts and emotions that they may be struggling with during these worrisome times. 

Do Some Redecorating

These are just a few things that you can do with the kids to keep them busy. And to keep yourself busy too. Stay up to date on the facts but don’t sit and watch the news all day. Get up and play with the kids. Redecorate their rooms with them, however they want it decorated. Let them be creative and choose where the bed or dresser goes. You may be surprised how creative they really are. And, as always, if you are feeling overly anxious, depressed, or angry, reach out. There are people who can help. Betterhelp.com also has online therapy for adults, so go ahead and check them out.

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

Are You An Overprotective Parent? 4 Ways To Let Go And Let Your Child Grow

Good parents want to be involved in their children’s lives, but for years educators and psychologists have been asking the question: How much parental involvement is too much? When does trying to help your children in school, sports, and myriad other ways go too far, hurt their development, and become over-protective?
The explosive college admissions scandal seemed to answer that question. Television actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to jail for paying $15,000 to influence the boosting of her daughter’s SAT score. Fourteen other parents in the probe have also pleaded guilty.
While most parents don’t cross that legal line, early education expert Christine Kyriakakos Martin says too much parental involvement can be harmful in a variety of ways, sometimes leading to children becoming ill-prepared for the challenges of adulthood.
“The consequences of being an overprotective parent is that your child will lack self-confidence to make decisions and take risks,” says Martin (www.youvegotthisparenting.com), author of You’ve Got This! Keys To Effective Parenting For The Early Years. “They’ll lack the coping skills to get up when they fall down from a bad experience and try again.”
Martin offers four ways for parents to stop being overprotective and promote more strength and independence in their children:
Stop teaching fear. While there are non-negotiables when it comes to teaching your child safety — for example: wearing a helmet when biking, no talking to strangers, no texting when driving — Martin says sometimes parents overprotect when they create too many boundaries, which in turn may teach children to live fearfully. “When you don’t allow them to play outside much, you’re impeding their freedom,” Martin says. “Play develops the imagination and self-confidence. Overprotective parents don’t want their children to fall down, and getting back up and brushing themselves off is a necessary component for healthy growth and development.”
Don’t be their full-time problem-solver.  Martin says many parents want to take care of all of their chidlrens’ problems and make things easier for them. At some point that needs to stop, she says, because adult life is rife with adversity and unforeseen obstacles that we must learn to deal with independently. “Teaching children problem-solving skills encourages them to be independent,” Martin says. “Learning to resolve conflict on their own and work through problems builds resilience and teaches them how to handle adversity.”
Teach responsibility. “If you make their beds and clean their room, you’re doing them a great disservice,” Martin says. “It’s about learning early lessons in responsibility. Doing these things for a prolonged time can debilitate your child and set them up for a lack of life skills as adults. Let your child take on reasonable responsibilities and let them feel a sense of accomplishment.”
Let them branch out. Sometimes parents develop a comfort zone with their child’s pursuits and restrict them when the child wants to expand. “Let your child have some freedom to make some of their own decisions about their interests,” Martin says. “Interests change, and the more varied experiences they have, the better for their ability to make decisions and adapt to different situations.”
“Parents are right to protect their children in a dangerous world,” Martin says. “But having them grow up in a bubble hurts them and their ability to deal with the world as adults. The best thing you can do for your children is to find that balance between protecting them and teaching them to be strong and self-sufficient.”
About Christine Kyriakakos Martin
Christine Kyriakakos Martin (www.youvegotthisparenting.com) is the author of You’ve Got This! Keys To Effective Parenting For The Early Years. An early education expert and consultant, Martin is the founder and owner of Sunshine Preschool in Hopkinton, Mass. She has spoken on child-development topics at national education conventions and colleges.

5 Things Foster Parents Should Know About Navigating The Court System

The important role foster parents have in a child’s life expands significantly when they go to court.
To make decisions in a child’s best interest, judges need good information, and foster parents ideally can provide that. Thus, foster parents having a complete understanding of how to participate in court goes a long way toward ensuring a safe, loving home for the child.
Here is a priority list foster parents should know in advance of a court appearance.
  • Be prepared. Foster parents are the voice for the child and must do everything they can to ensure that the child is heard in court. Do not come to court unprepared. The more information you bring, the better.
The judge largely depends on the foster parents’ testimony to decide what’s in the child’s best interest. The idea is to have enough information so you can answer the judge’s questions in a clear and beneficial way. To prevent being overwhelmed with documents days before court or scrambling for information, the best way to prepare is to begin keeping a journal well in advance. Taking notes about what happens in your foster child’s life creates an organized record, showing progress, behavior patterns and how they express themselves in different situations. Include school records and doctor’s appointments as well as notes about interactions between the child and their birth parents. Include highpoints, lowpoints, and milestones in the child’s development while in your care.
  • Know your rights as a foster parent. Foster parents should receive notices of all hearings. If you are not getting them, contact your social worker and/or a juvenile department clerk.
Foster parents also have a legal right to attend review hearings, usually held every six months, until the foster child receives permanency or the case is closed. They also have a right to attend permanency hearings and post-termination of parental rights (TPR) hearings. Permanency hearings have to be held before a child reaches one year in foster care, then every six months. Post-TPR hearings are held every six months until the child is in a permanent home.
  • Should you bring the child to court? This decision is often left up to the social worker. What’s most important is what’s in the best interest of the child. If the child is uncomfortable going to court, it’s worth considering having he or she write a letter to the judge.
  • Educate yourself on common questions. There’s a list of questions judges commonly ask of foster parents; some of those questions can be found on websites under “foster care hearings.” Examples: How long have you been a foster parent? How long have you known this child? What changes have you noticed in the child’s behavior or emotional state since being in your home? How is the child doing in school? Let your social worker or attorney guide you and ask them any questions you may have, including what the objective is of the specific hearing you’re attending.
  • Speak respectfully and concisely. Don’t get emotional in your discourse with the judge, and don’t throw the birth parents under the bus. The court listens best to foster parents who have tried to work well with birth families and who aren’t on their own agenda, such as getting the child to stay permanently in their home. Speak up and speak clearly, and refer to the judge as “Your honor.” Be as clear and complete as possible so the judge will have sufficient information to make a decision.
One of the most important duties for a foster parent is to act as an advocate for the child in their care. That requires the foster parent to be able to tell the court all they know to help the court decide the child’s future.
Jennifer Lynch, author of the children’s book Livi and Grace (www.jenniferlynchbooks.com), is an educator and child advocate who serves as a guardian ad litem, a person appointed to represent a child’s interests in a court case. She has worked as a special education teacher for an elementary school and as a preschool teacher. In addition, Lynch created the You Are Good brand of T-shirts and other products for sale and for donations. Thousands of the shirts have been donated to children and teenagers in the system. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas A&M University. 

Can You Get It Over With Quickly When Filing for a Divorce?

There is no such thing as a stress-free divorce, even if you part amicably and remain friends for decades to come. But is there such a thing as a quick divorce? History knows examples of this litigation going on for years and costing fortunes. However, even if it’s amicable and simple, breaking off a marriage might take months in some places.

What’s the Average Duration of an Amicable Divorce with No Complications?

The laws governing divorces and legal separations vary depending on the state. However, on average, you should be able to finalize the divorce within 30-60 days. But bear in mind that this is the time that doesn’t account for a mandatory waiting period. That one might last months and it might be impossible to waive even in an amicable divorce.

The state where divorces are easiest is Nevada, which is part of the reason why there are so many of them. But there you can break off your marriage within a few weeks. On the other hand, even if you want to get a quick divorce in Texas, you’ll need to wait for about 90 days, and that’s if everything runs smooth as silk. Your divorce hearing won’t even be scheduled less than 61 days after you file all the relevant paperwork. But there are also places like South Carolina where you can’t even file for a divorce unless you’ve lived apart with no sexual relations for a year.

Regardless of the state the duration of the divorce process might take years if the spouses cannot reach an agreement. Settlements will take as long as your negotiations will last. And if there are appeals and court hearings mixed in, you might spend a good portion of your estate on lawyers’ fees.

Factors That Affect the Speed of a Divorce

Aside from being contested or uncontested, factors that affect the speed with which you can get a divorce include:

  • The size of your estate (families with a lot of assets might be unable to avoid involving lawyers as legal counsel is a mandatory re2quirement in some states)
  • Children (the situation gets exceedingly more complicated if you cannot settle on child custody as this will make a court hearing mandatory)
  • Waiting period or legal separation mandated by state law
  • Prenuptial agreement terms

How to Speed Up a Divorce

The fastest possible way to get a divorce is to settle everything with your spouse directly and file for an uncontested divorce. In this case, you will be able to dissolve your marriage within the shortest legal period mandated by state law.

However, if you are unable to do this, your best bet is hiring a lawyer. Legal experts will know all the loopholes that your local laws have that can speed up the process.

Note that if the case involves abuse and threat to you or the children, the process can be expeditated. But you will most likely need to involve the police as well as get the injuries registered by a medical professional so the report can be used as evidence.

Overall, no two cases are the same, so it’s impossible to determine how much time exactly your divorce might take. Even in the case of an amicable separation, there is no guarantee that your spouse doesn’t change their mind at the last minute and decide not to settle.

When hiring a lawyer, your chances for a prompt settlement are bigger, but the costs will be significantly higher. If money is an issue and filing for an uncontested divorce is impossible, you will have to settle for a lengthy divorce that will require a lot of research and personal visits to the courthouse on your part.

4 Simple Ways to Eliminate Stress When Traveling as a Family

Vacations are planned with hope and optimistic anticipation. Unfortunately, sometimes vacations can cause more stress than they can relieve. Because of this, we listed a few simple ways to alleviate a great deal of unnecessary stress that can be brought on by a family vacation. 

 

Rent a Car

When you rent a car, you are on your own timeline. You can relax at the restaurant because you do not need to worry about the last public transportation bus leaving at a certain time. You can stay out as long as you like, or if the kids are getting fussy, you can leave as early as you like. Public transportation with kids is more stressful than it is worth. 

 

But sometimes car hire can be very stressful, too. Because of this, be sure to plan your rental in advance, so you get a car that is roomy enough for your family. Renting the car online well in advance will also save you money. Plan a little ahead as to what will benefit your family the most.

 

It is also nice to rent a car even for road trips so that there is less of a chance for the car breaking down. Since rental cars are almost always new and boast low mileage, they are less likely to fall apart in the middle of a road trip. Or if heaven forbid a car accident occurred, you can return the car and swap it for a new one on the road as opposed to waiting for your vehicle to get fixed.

 

Plan Relaxation for Yourself and Fun for the Kids

Whether it is a ski trip or beach getaway, be sure to have activities planned for the kids. These trips are simple because a day of skiing easily wears kids out while you can go and get a massage or shop. The beach or pool also wears kids out, but you can still keep a close eye on them as you work on your tan. 

 

Smart planning for the activities you and your kids can enjoy will keep everyone happy. The kids will stay entertained and have fun while you get to sit back and relax. If you plan on taking on the task of entertaining your kids the whole trip, you will likely be more exhausted from the trip than you were before the vacation. So plan your relaxation beforehand and keep the kids busy during that time so the whole family can get the most out of the vacation.

 

Pack Games and Distractions for Travel Times

The travel itself is the hardest part of vacations with the family. Whether it is a long road trip in a crammed car or a flight with limited leg room, it is never fun to manage children in compact spaces for long periods of time. 

 

In order to combat this, be sure to pack many distractions. It can be in the form of handheld video games or movies. It can also be word games, card games, or coloring. Just be sure to have distractions available for your kids to stay entertained. 

 

Snacks

Hanger has no mercy when it seeks victims. Both young and old are not immune to their mood being affected by an empty belly. Pack or buy plenty of snacks along the way so there is always something to keep the family satisfied. A great deal of drama can be avoided with simple snacks.

 

You can make the snacking fun as well by trying local small bites or favorites from home.

 

Vacations are always planned with good intentions but sometimes they can be a nightmare. To avoid any extra stress, keep these tips in mind so you can enjoy your time away with your family.

Want More Time to Spend With Your Family? Try Working From Home

Cities like Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta have some of the worst traffic in the country. Depending on where you live, you can spend up to 10 hours a week or more commuting to and from work. But what if there was a way to get those 10-plus hours back? Imagine being able to spend that time with your kids, helping them with their homework, sitting down with them to a nice breakfast or lunch, or just talking with them about their day. An extra 10 hours a week would also give you more time to work out, spend quality time with your spouse, work on hobbies or even get more sleep.

 

One way you can convert your commuting time into family time is by working from home. More Americans than ever before are ditching their commutes and working at jobs that can be done from the comfort of their home offices, kitchen tables or living room sofas. And you can be one of them. Below, you’ll find some ideas for finding full or part time work that will allow you more freedom to travel with your kids, save your car some wear and tear, and maybe even help you find some time for yourself.

 

Working from home also has the added benefit of being better for the environment because of the decrease in the use of fossil fuels, and it can help keep you from having to miss work because of bad weather or when one of your kids gets sick.

 

Do a search for remote job openings.

 

Job listing sites like Indeed, LinkedIn and Zip Recruiter make searching for work-at-home jobs simple. Once you know what you’d like to do, type the type of job you are looking for into the site’s search bar followed by the word “remote.” Make sure you set your search’s geographic area to “anywhere” so your search results won’t be limited to jobs in your area. (After all, you’ll be working remotely so the location of the company isn’t that important.) Once you find a job you’re interested in, these sites also make it easy to upload your resume and fill out an application online.

 

Some job listing sites, like FlexJobs.com, SkipTheDrive.com and Remote.co only list remote job opportunities, so make sure to check those out as well.

 

Update your LinkedIn page.

 

Change the settings on your LinkedIn page to let recruiters know you’re open to being contacted about job openings. In the summary field at the top of your profile page, make sure to write a description of your background and skills, specifying that you are looking for remote opportunities.

 

Talk to your current employer.

 

Believe it or not, many employers these days are open to allowing their onsite employees to switch to working in a home office. Technologies like Skype and GoToMeeting make planning virtual meetings simple. And since many people are happier working from home, companies with a lot of employees working remotely often find that they have a lower turnover rate than companies employing only on-site workers. Many businesses also find that remote employees are more productive than those they have working in-house.

 

Think about starting your own business.

 

Are you a writer? A graphic designer? Do you have experience working as a software engineer or social media whiz? Maybe your background is in accounting? All of these skills and more translate well to a work-at-home lifestyle and can be the basis of a successful at-home business. Think about your experience and what you’d like to do for work, and how you would manage working in a home environment, then start developing a business plan.

 

There are several websites out there that can help you figure out what you need to do get your home-based business going. Many high schools and community colleges also offer free or low-cost adult learning courses aimed toward people who want to launch their own at-home business. Other resources can include state-funded job training centers, free courses at your local library, and classes offered by nonprofit organizations.

 

The best part about starting your own business, besides being able to make your own hours and no longer having to commute, is that there are usually very few up-front costs.

 

Don’t give up.

 

Finding the right at-home job, or starting an at-home business from scratch can take some time, but don’t be discouraged. According to 2018 U.S. Census data, more than 8 million people worked from home in 2017, more than 5 percent of the U.S. workforce, and that number is increasing every day.

 

What to Do If Your Child Experiences a Dental Emergency While Traveling

Dr. David Hudnall (emergencydentist247.com)

 

Traveling is a fun activity that many families enjoy together. Whether it’s by car, plane, or boat, exploring new places as a family is a great way to make memories that last a lifetime. However, sometimes things happen while traveling that you may not be expecting, for instance, dental emergencies. Dental emergencies can be common in children so it’s important to know what to do if your child experiences one while traveling. I have been practicing dentistry for 18 years and have seen that one of the most common dental emergencies in children is a broken or chipped tooth. Here’s how you can help your child with through a dental emergency while traveling until you can get into a dental office.

 

  1. Immediate actions

 

If your child breaks or chips their tooth, it can be stressful and unexpected. The best thing you can do is remain calm, and try to alleviate any anxiety your child may be feeling. Broken and chipped teeth are common and can easily be fixed by a dentist. Once you realize that your child’s tooth is broken, attempt to locate the broken fragment. This will help the dentist repair your child’s tooth once they are at their appointment. Next, rinse your child’s mouth with warm water to eliminate as much bacteria as possible. If there is any blood from the broken or chipped tooth, locate some gauze to help minimize the bleeding. Keep rinsing your child’s mouth regularly until their dental appointment.

 

  1. Treat the pain

 

A broken or chipped tooth may cause a fair amount of pain for your child. In these instances, the best way to relieve pain is by taking children’s Tylenol or other over the counter pain relievers. If you don’t have any with you, you can purchase them at most drug stores.  Another way to deal with the pain is by using a cold compress. This will reduce any swelling that your child may be experiencing and help them manage any pain.

 

  1. Get to an emergency dentist

 

The sooner you deal with the dental emergency, the better. That’s why it’s important to find an emergency dentist as soon as possible. Visit emergencydentist247.com to find an emergency dentist near you and learn more about how to deal with dental emergencies. Try to schedule a dental appointment within 24 hours. With a broken tooth, your child’s tooth may be jagged which can irritate the mouth and tongue. Your emergency dentist will smooth the edges and fill in the part that chipped off. You will also receive follow-up care instructions that you need to follow closely to ensure a smooth healing process for your child.

 

Dental emergencies seem to happen when you’re least expecting it. For instance, a family vacation. It’s important to be prepared in case this happens and know what to do when it does. If your child chips or breaks their tooth while you’re traveling, don’t stress as they are common and can be fixed easily. Follow these steps and schedule an emergency dental appointment as soon as possible. Traveling is a great way for you and your family to make memories and dealing with a dental emergency quickly will help you continue to make those memories with your loved ones.

STORY LAND’S BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR IS HERE!

New Hampshire theme park

After wrapping up a successful 65th season mid-October, Story Land welcomes the off season with its biggest sale yet! The annual Black Friday sale kicked off on November 5th, and as always, offers the deepest discounts on Story Land season passes, day tickets, and more!

ALL-NEW for 2019 – the Story Land Platinum Season Pass!  In addition to unlimited admission to Story Land and great perks like dining and retail discounts, the Platinum Season Pass grants the passholder unlimited admission to Living Shores Aquarium (livingshoresaquarium.com) from its opening in Spring of 2019 through the end of the year. Also exclusive to the Platinum Season Pass are one time use “Bring a Friend Free ANY Days”, where Platinum passholders can bring up to 3 friends to Story Land FREE! Shoppers can save $20 on the new Platinum Season Pass, $30 on Premium Season Passes and a whopping 40% off Basic Season Passes! All season passes entitle the passholder to unlimited admission to Story Land during the season, while Premium and Platinum passholders get lots of other fun perks. The full list of pass benefits can be found atstorylandnh.com/seasonpass. Season pass payment plans are available in 3 month or 6 month formats, with payments as low at $7.49. Shoppers can also save $16 off day tickets, which are valid any day of the 2019 season and make great gifts!

The FREE Preschool Play Pass is back for the 2019 season! The Preschool Play Pass grants complimentary admission to children ages 3-5 for the entire summer. “The Preschool Play Pass was a big hit with many families in 2018, and we look forward to offering this very affordable option again in 2019,” stated Lauren Hawkins, Director of Marketing. The guidelines and activation info for this pass can be found at storylandnh.com/prekpass, and all parents are urged to read all pass information before registering their children.

The Black Friday sale ends at midnight on December 4th, and these prices are can’t-miss. 2019 promises another summer of family fun, new events, and Story Land magic in the Land Where Fantasy Lives! Visit storylandnh.com for more info and to shop all the deals.

About Story Land and Palace Entertainment:

Story Land, located in New Hampshire’s beautiful White Mountains, is a premier children’s theme park that has entertained thousands of families with young children for over 60 years. Story Land is “Where Fantasy Lives” and features over 20 unique rides, exciting live shows, and favorite nursery rhyme animals set on 35 beautifully maintained and landscaped acres. Story Land is owned and operated by Palace Entertainment, one of the leading leisure park operators in the United States. Palace Entertainment owns and operates eight water parks, six theme parks, two animal parks, and five family entertainment centers across 10 different states. Palace Entertainment parks offer a wide range of family friendly rides, shows, miniature golf courses, and arcade games. For more information, please visit storylandnh.com, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.