Archives for : March2016

6 Tips for the Perfect First Sleepover

Discuss it With Your Child First – Are They Ready?

Some children are independent and socially prepared for sleepovers at a young age but, for others, the thought of spending an overnight with a group of friends can be stressful. There is no right or wrong age for kids to begin attending slumber parties, but it is important that your child does not feel pressured into the event.

It’s better for your child to have a positive first experience than to risk an upsetting or potentially embarrassing incident that may turn them off to the whole idea of sleepovers. If your child asks permission to have or attend a sleepover, then this is a clear sign that they’re at least interested. On the other hand, if your child receives an invitation to a slumber party for a friend’s birthday or another occasion, it is important to make sure they are comfortable with the idea before committing them to something they are not ready for.

Try Being the Host First, and Start With Just One Friend

Once you have determined that your child is socially ready for a sleepover, consider hosting one at your home before sending them off to a friend’s house. Having one of their friends sleep at your home gives your child a taste of what to expect at a sleepover, but with familiar surroundings. While slumber parties with a group of children can be an engaging and socially enriching experience, it is good to start slowly in order to minimize potential conflict or anxiety and maximize the chances of a positive experience. Once your child has been able to spend a night with a friend in the comfort of your own home, it won’t be long before they are excited about the chance to have the same fun and exciting experience at a friend’s house.

Create an Agenda

Having a clear plan of action for the sleepover will enable you and your child to be prepared for a great night. A sleepover agenda should be a fun-filled plan that you prepare with your child. Coming up with a list of options for foods, games, and activities together with your child can get them even more excited for the event. Have allotted times for these activities predetermined and keep the evening on course. A sheet of poster board or a dry erase board with what’s in store for the night will give your child a sense of order, and it’ll give you a chance to keep things running smoothly and get them to bed at a reasonable, predetermined time. The fewer surprises and deviations from the agenda, the less likely a meltdown will be.

Be Prepared

Make sure you prepare what you can before your guest arrives. Sleeping arrangements should be understood in advance, and any bed-making or room-cleaning should all be taken care of. Getting your child to participate in these tasks may help them understand that there’s more to entertaining than just having fun. If the slumber party is taking place in a family room or shared common space, lay out blankets, pillows and bedding in advance. Pull out a stack of appropriate movies for watching, or lay out games and other activities for the night where they can be easily accessed.

Also, be prepared for the unexpected. Have an extra (new) toothbrush handy should your guest forget to bring one. Make sure the children know where the bathroom is and how to get there from where they will be sleeping. A nightlight or a flashlight is also a good idea, should your guest wake up in the dark and have trouble finding your bathroom. Sleeping in an unfamiliar environment can be disorienting and there is always a chance there could be a night-time accident. Incorporating an incontinence protection product into the sleeping bags or slumber party bedding can be a lifesaver for children who may wake up wet, saving them from the embarrassment of a wet sleeping bag or bed sheets, and saving you from having to clean up a mess.

Food, Food, Food!

Pizza is a popular sleepover staple, but there are literally hundreds of fun possibilities when it comes to what to eat. Remember, the experience should be fun so try to incorporate a fun theme into the cuisine – no pot roast! Snacks after dinner while watching TV or movies should also be carefully considered. Popcorn can be a smart choice over sugary snacks that can keep kids awake well past bedtime, and be sure to select appropriate refreshments without caffeine or sugar (diluted juice instead of sugary soda).

Breakfast the next morning should be rich in protein and readily available when the kids wake up. The less down-time while waiting for meals to be prepared, the more on-track your successful event will be. Muffins, granola bars, and fresh fruit are perfect choices and incredibly easy. Be sure to discuss what you plan on serving with the parents of your sleepover guest ahead of time in order to account for any food allergies, and to be sure everyone is comfortable with what will be served.

The Morning After

It is good to keep the next morning relatively low-key without a lot of hustle and bustle. Having an established pick-up time is important to give everyone a sense of structure. Be sure to leave ample time after breakfast to pack up your guest’s belongings and try to incorporate the morning after clean-up time into the agenda. If the evening’s activities included arts and crafts, remember to send your guest’s project home with them, along with all of their neatly packed belongings. Have everything by the door and ready to go ahead of the established pick-up time, and build in a 5 or 10-minute time buffer just to ensure that your guest’s parents are not waiting too long when they arrive to retrieve their child.

Introducing your child to sleepovers at an age-appropriate time can be a wonderful way for them to gain social skills, self-confidence, and independence. Hosting a friend in your home can be an ideal springboard to the next logical step of your child spending the night at a friend’s house, which can lead to group sleepovers and even longer supervised experiences away from home (eventually). Create an activity-filled agenda with your child and make it fun for everyone! Your son or daughter and their friends will be asking to have more sleepovers in no time!

We’d love to know what has worked for you in the past when preparing your child(ren) for their first sleepover. Were you the host or did you send your child to a friend’s house? What kind of preparatory techniques did you use to alleviate any associated stress or anxiety? Would you call the first sleepover a success, or were there things you learned to do differently for the next one?


Tips To Teach Your Kids About Money

mkI recently did an interview about tips to use when teaching your kids about money. In thinking through some techniques, I was able to lock on some specific things we did which helped to better instill good money management habits in our kids. Here they are:

1. When our daughter was in her tweens, we started working with her about purchasing decisions and saving up for things she wanted. Here’s what we did:

  • We increased the amount of her allowance, gave it to her quarterly, but then had her use her budget to buy all of her own clothes and other personal items
  • We kept track of inflows and outflows on an excel spreadsheet
  • If she wanted something we would ask her if that was where she wanted to spend her budget. If she said yes then she made the purchase but then she had to wait until she had enough money in her account to buy other things
  • Right after we put this into effect, she and my wife were in Nordstrom and our daughter saw a pair of flip-flops she wanted. She asked my wife if she could get them. My wife responded, “Is that where you want to spend your money?” She ended up buying flip-flops at Target.

2. Both our kids got checking accounts before age 16 and credit cards at age 18. The rationale for doing is that we wanted to make sure they learned about the concept of interest and making payments versus paying their bill in full every month. We wanted them to learn good habits while at home as opposed to learning bad habits while at college. While discussing with our daughter, she asked the question, “You mean if I don’t pay it off in full every month then I’m paying interest to the bank and getting nothing in return?” After I told her that was exactly the case she vowed that she would always monitor her spending so she could pay her bill in full every month. Both our kids are experienced with credit cards and neither has paid a dime in interest charges because they couldn’t pay their bill in full every month.

3. Our eldest is out of college and youngest is still in college. When our eldest got her first job as a nurse we had a deliberate discussion about her saving for retirement. She contributes the maximum amount to her 401k, has saved up enough for six-months of living expenses, and lives off the rest. She drives a ten-year-old car because it’s “good enough”. She still indulges in the nice purse or a weekend away, but does so within her means.

4. Most of the discussion has been about our daughter, but we did the same things with our son. He and his big sister are better disciplined money managers than many adults I know. Oh and our son is also mainstream autistic and still is able to manage his finances like a hawk.

Kids need to learn good money habits from the time they are able to put coins in a piggy bank. They need to learn them from responsible parents, not from the banks. Leave it to society and your kids will spend a lifetime paying off credit card debt at crushing interest rates. Do them a favor and help them learn great money habits before the banks get to them.

Go Trampolining and Give Your Kids the Best of Indoor Activities

rgKids want non-stop fun for hours. They don’t want any restrictions to come their way while they are having fun. They want absolute freedom even without caring for any consequences that their non-stop fun might cause. Being naughty and innocent, kids sometimes go above the board and in the process, get themselves hurt badly. This is what worries parents the most and this is why kids are not given more freedom than needed. But then, parents can neither restrict their kids fully nor can they give them total freedom. They have to maintain a balance between letting kids enjoy as desired but don’t get enough freedom to get hurt.

This is what prompts parents to look for a playing arena which is totally fun. They want a venue where kids can walk, play, jump, run and do everything without any worries. Such a venue can exist only when the surface beneath is soft and spongy; such an arena is possible only where kids don’t face any risks of falling on the ground and if they did fall, they don’t get hurt in any way. A park with trampolines can deliver this kind of freedom to parents, as here kids can engage in a variety of activities even without any risk.

Trampolining is one of the safest tools for kids to have non-stop fun without any danger to the body or limb. Trampolining gives people of all ages a chance to engage in a variety of unique and energetic activities to have fun from. Be it kids, teens or adults, anyone can have a great time with trampolining as it caters to tastes of one and all. In fact, trampolining is perfect for kids in the same way as it is for adult. Anyone can indulge in activities like jumping and bouncing off the walls and have great fun.

Kids and adults alike can play the game of dodgeball and experience the thrills that come from exhibiting defending skills. One has to duck, evade, escape and yes, dodge the ball aimed to hit the body or any part of it. Points are scored when the ball is let to pass by even without touching or brushing any part of the body. And then, there is also the game of basketball to enjoy as hoops are installed to let one perfect their slam dunking skills. Here, one can learn the art of slotting the ball into the hoops.

7 Easy Tips for Preparing Your Child for a Sleepover

v1. Give Them a Pep Talk

As excited as kids can get, sometimes once the excitement wears off they’re little bundles of nerves. I’ve seen kids thrilled about the idea of going somewhere, right up to the second it’s time to walk out the door – and then they cry and change their minds. Whether they’re scared or just a little anxious about being away from home, talk to them. You can’t reassure them if you don’t know what’s on their little minds.

2. Pack Them a Thoughtful Bag

If your little one is prone to separation anxiety (or if you’re just nervous that another parent won’t be as attentive to your child’s needs as you are), sending them off with a small care package can alleviate a lot of stress for both of you. The items in your care package should be things you aren’t sure the other parent(s) will have, or things that are specific to your child. For example, his or her favorite blanket or stuffed animal that they absolutely. cannot. live. without.

Or, if your child has dietary restrictions and you’re not sure the other parent(s) will have a certain gluten-free snack handy, pack that. Obviously any necessary medication (with instructions for the other mom or dad) goes without saying, but if there’s a certain book, snack, night light, or small toy that might make your child feel more at home, tuck it away among their clothes and remind them to check the bag later. A special little note from you might also make them feel less home-sick.

If your child is prone to occasional, accidental bed-wetting, consider packing some kind of incontinence protection – many companies make disposable bedding inserts or pads, and there are one or two companies out there who make reusable, machine washable, super comfortable inserts – for them to discreetly insert between the sheets of any bed at their friend’s house, or tuck it into their sleeping bag so that it’s ready to go at bedtime. Packing a product like this is a proactive way to prevent nervousness and embarrassment about potential bed-wetting.

3. Have Them Call, Skype, or Facetime You to Say Goodnight

If you’re including a hand-written note, you might remind your son or daughter to get in touch with you before they go to bed. Depending how old they are and whether or not they have their own smart phone or device, perhaps the other parent(s) can facilitate such contact from one of their devices, if necessary. Sure, it’ll ease your mind, but it’ll likely make your child feel better to hear from you, too.

4. Feed and Hydrate Them Beforehand

If your son or daughter hasn’t been invited for dinner, make sure they’ve had enough to eat and drink so that they’re not hungry and thirsty when arriving to another family’s house (which could cause behavior issues). Also, be sure you share with the other parent(s) if there are any dietary restrictions or no-nos (i.e., NO sugar after 7 pm) just in case the kids get brazen and ask for ice cream before bed.

5. Bathe Them Beforehand

Trust me, the other child’s parents will appreciate you sending a clean kid to their house. Dealing with the dynamics of adding an unfamiliar child to the mix is enough excitement for one night, without having to worry about bath time. Your child will appreciate this too, whether or not s/he is shy – no kid wants to stop playing and having fun to go take a shower. It’s likely that the other parent(s) will have their kid washed and ready as well, so dropping off a freshly showered child just keeps things simple.

6. Have a Weekend Activity Planned

If the sleepover is taking place on a Friday or Saturday, having a fun activity planned for the following day can help propel your child through any anxiety about sleeping in an unfamiliar environment. Just one night can feel like an eternity to a kid – and if they’ve got something else to look forward to – perhaps something you remind them of when you call or write your note to them – it might give them sweet dreams and something else to talk about with their friend. Maybe you can even incorporate the friend and his or her parent(s) into the activity, so that it’s like a play date. This will give you a chance to compare notes, thank the other parent(s), capture a cute photo op, and see how your child interacts with them before bringing him or her home.

7. Remind Them to Be on Their Best Behavior

When excitement sets in, rules and manners are easy to forget. Before taking your son or daughter over to a friend’s house, look them in the eyes and remind them that they are to respect and obey their friend’s mom and/or dad as if they were home with you, and to say please, thank you, and try their best not to make a mess. Let them know that you’ll be checking in and that the sleepover will be over if you hear any news of bad behavior.

Sleepovers can be a wonderful way for your kids to build friendships outside of school, learn how to interact respectfully with other families, and of course – for you to enjoy some occasional you time! But in order for you to really be able to relax and your child to have as much fun as possible, being proactive and taking precautions to eliminate potential problems or sources of anxiety is necessary – and totally worthwhile. It only takes a little bit of time to ensure that the sleepover is a success and that the kids have the best time ever – and that maybe there will be more sleepovers in store for the future!

How old was your child the first time he or she attended a sleepover? Was it a smooth experience or were there issues? Be sure to comment and share your experience with other parents!