Category Archives: Parenting Mom

Parenting young children is very different from parenting teens. Parenting Mama covers problems, solutions and suggestions for the younger set.

5 Ways to Save on Your Next Restaurant Bill

Eating out is usually the first place you should cut unnecessary spending, but going out for a night on the town does not always have to be top dollar.  With a few corners that can be cut, there are a few ways you can save on your next restaurant bill. No need to hit that five-star white glove restaurant that will cost you a weeks paycheck. This often leads to charging up your credit card, and if you can’t afford the bill now, what makes you think you can afford it when the credit card bill comes due? How long do payments stay on credit report scores? Far longer than it will take you to digest that meal.

Search for a Discount

With so much restaurant competition, unless there is consistently a line out the door, you can most likely find discounts available for your local restaurants.  Groupon is a great place to look that will offer a price to receive a certain spending dollar amount, for example, spending $50 might get you $75 worth of dinner credit.  A restaurant on social media such as Facebook and Twitter may have coupons or listed discounts so you know when a great time to dine in is.  Sign up for emails for your favorite restaurants and you can even get free meals on your birthday, such as Red Robin, that offers a free burger.

Do Not Show Up on an Empty Stomach

You will hate yourself after seeing the restaurant bill and likely half eaten meals if you show up hungry.  If you are starving you will order an appetizer as soon as you sit down, order a full entrée, and even add a salad to the meal.  If there is bread at the table you will scarf that down and hardly even save room.  If you plan to eat out, try eating a little beforehand so you can make a rational decision to eat light.

Happy Hour is great for Food & Drinks

When you think of Happy Hour you think of drinks with co-workers, friends, or family after a long day of work, but it can also be a great time to grab a few different appetizers at a fraction of the cost.  Pick off of a few plates while you enjoy a few cocktails and you can skip dinner, and probably be ready for bed by the time you get home.

Stick to Water Over Soft Drinks

If you are planning on drinking soda with your meal, you should stick to water.  It is free, there are no calories, and did I mention it is free?

Dessert is Unnecessary

If you are full after a meal, stop there.  Dessert is extra money, pounds, and self-loathing that can be avoided.  Trust me.

Can dining room furniture teach your kids good eating etiquette?

Are you sick of your kids pushing peas round their plate and playing with more of their food than they eat? It’s not uncommon for little ones to treat dinnertime as nothing more than a chance to make a mess and wreak havoc but this is hardly the sort of behaviour you want to encourage.

If you want your children to learn good dining etiquette so that they can excel later in life, then perhaps dining room furniture has the answer?

Let them dine with you

As your children begin to mature, they will enjoy dining with others more and more. From lunches in the school cafeteria with friends to sitting around the family dinner table, introducing the correct table behaviour at a young age will teach your children the importance of polite manners and etiquette.

Dining with others is the easiest way for your kids to learn what to do and The Daily Mail Online has even commented on how kids from poorer regions of the country have been taught dinner table etiquette through Harry Potter inspired banquets. Sitting down once a fortnight, the kids learn how to hold cutlery and eat properly.

Always make sure that have a comfortable seat and are at the appropriate height to reach the table with ease – if they become frustrated because they’re unable to reach their food then this will only encourage bad behaviour.

Give them the same food you’re having (or a suitable alternative if this isn’t possible) and provide fruit juice or water to mimic your wine or dinnertime tipple. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all and kids learn most by copying the behaviour of their parents.

Baby steps

Use your family meal as a schooling point for your children.

Instead of allowing each and every member of the household to sit down to dinner as and when they please, encourage the family to make time for a meal together. Making the time to get together as a family is a great way to catch up on everybody’s news but can also help children learn about the different plates, cutlery and glassware used at meal times.

This is especially beneficial for children that don’t see too much of their parents throughout the day due to hectic workloads and busy schedules. This meeting is a chance for the children to tell their parents, brothers and sisters about what they have learnt at school, what they have planned for the rest of the week, as well as any other exciting news they may have.

Using utensils

Finger foods are a popular option when it comes to feeding younger children but eating with their hands isn’t the most civil way to dine.

When your child reaches the appropriate age, it’s important to talk to them about the significance of using utensils. A good way to encourage them to do this is to tell them that adults eat with utensils. If other diners are opting for utensils, your children should too.

Choosing cutlery that is bright and attractive to look at will help you to school your child in using certain utensils. You could even get them to choose their own special set to increase their interest in using cutlery. The same applies to crockery.

Interacting with fellow diners

Even if your child is a little too small to sit in a grown-up chair, this doesn’t mean they can’t join others at the main table. Good table manners incorporate polite interaction at the dinner table and if they’re sitting at the other side of the room in a baby chair, this quite simply isn’t going to happen.

Investing in a good dining room table and chairs from Sainsbury’s and one that incorporates a baby chair is therefore imperative to the interaction process. It’s wise to have the measurement of your child’s existing high chair at hand prior to purchasing a new table. If they’re sat too low, or similarly, too high, they may begin to feel left out.

Teach your children how to politely ask for food 

Statements such as “May I please have the salt?” or “Could you please pass the bread?” will inspire your children to thank their fellow diners for passing these food items and some parents choose to adopt the “six Cs” approach to good dinner table etiquette.

post on Yahoo! Lifestyle explained these table manners as the following:

  • Cutlery
  • Can I start?
  • Conversations
  • Can I be excused?
  • Compliments and gratitude
  • Clearing the plate

They will then get into the habit of following suit. Your children should also be schooled in voicing their appreciation when the food is served and also, when the meal comes to an end.

Similarly, it’s wise to clarify that voicing negative comments about the food is uncouth, particularly when the chef has gone to a great effort in preparing the meal.

Keep Your Kids Entertained This Summer

For your children, the summer holiday is what they have been waiting for almost the entire school year. For them it is six weeks of fun and very few cares. However, as their mum, you are suddenly responsible for them during the day, when before you could get on with your daily life unencumbered with the additional role of entertainment officer!

Fortunately there are many ways for you to keep the kids entertained.

Days out 

Sometimes leaving them to their own devices gives you a bit of time to relax, but this is not an option for an entire summer. Days out with the whole family can be enjoyable for both the kids and you. Spend a little bit of time before the holiday hits to come up with a few ideas and set aside days in July and August for days out. These can be sporting events for the boys, local tourist spots, or even day trips into cities. There is a lot of variation and your kids will love it.

Take a family holiday

With the children at school from September until July there is not really another time apart from the school break to take a family holiday. A holiday – even if it’s a staycation in the UK – is a great time for everyone to relax. Unfortunately, holiday prices increase in the peak summer months, so seeking affordable finance is sometimes an option. No one wants to ever have to borrow money and you should never opt for a payday loan, no matter how attractive the easy availability of cash seems. There are other options.

For example, low APR loan non brokers Everyday Loans offer conditional decisions quickly to customers – with a 13 month minimum repayment term – which is far better than the standard 30 day terms of most payday lenders. Remember though that it is vital that you do not borrow more than you need, or can pay back. If in doubt seek independent financial advice.

Sign them up for a club

There are many benefits of signing the children up to summer clubs. For one, your kids will get valuable exercise if it is a sport club and will broaden their horizons if it is a hobby club. At the same time, clubs take some of the pressure off you keeping them entertained – you will have an evening or a day to yourself again.

Games and toys for rainy days 

In England, the summer does not necessarily mean sun. While there is plenty to do in the country when the weather is good, it is important to have a contingency plan for rainy days. Whether you keep a selection of computer games and board games for the whole family to enjoy or puzzles for the younger kids it is up to you. Making sure the children do not get bored when they cannot go outside is key for a fun summer.

The Risks and Benefits of Egg Donation: What You Need to Know Before You Donate

Are you smart? Do people say you are good looking? Do you need cash? You may have seen these lines in ads offering money to women willing to donate their eggs. Before you consider donating your eggs, there are 3 important points to consider.

First, what are the donated eggs (also called oocytes) used for? Mostly, the eggs are used for reproductively challenged single people or couples. Once harvested, the eggs are fertilized. These fertilized eggs are offered to single people or couples in need of a fertilized egg. Some eggs are eventually discarded or used for research. Once donated, the donor has no say over what the eggs are used for.

Second, what are the donation risks? To consider these risks, it is useful to know how the donation is done. Hormones are administered prior to the donation to yield more eggs. The actual harvesting procedure is short. The physician inserts a probe and removes the fluid around the ovary, in the hopes of obtaining an egg.  Typically, the donation procedure is not painful. However, there may be some cramping and discomfort. One of the most severe consequences is the development of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which 1 in 10 women will experience. This leads to short-term weight gain, fluid build up and severe abdominal pain. Every individual has varying emotions about egg donation. Some donation centers also require a physiological exam before donation.

The long-term egg donation risks are less clear, because this kind of assisted reproductive technology is barely 25 years old. Premature menopause, uterine cancer and infertility are often linked to egg donation. However, there is no way to know if these events are actually correlated until more data over several decades can be collected. The only confirmed long-term side effects are physiological. Both positive and negative effects have been noted in this regard.

Third, consider the benefits of egg donation. You will get paid for your time and effort. The compensation is typically around $3,000-$4,000. Generally, compensation can go as high as $5,000, although this is rare. The main benefit is the knowledge that you personally have helped another person start a family.

Remember, there are many variables to ponder when considering whether to donate your eggs. Do your research and be familiar with the egg donation risks and benefits; you can learn about additional risks by visiting the CDC’s website or by visiting your local donation clinic.

Your Turn: Would you ever consider donating your eggs?

 

3 Ways to Prepare to Take Your Pet on a Long Trip

Going on a long road trip?  Beyond preparing and packing for your family, if you are planning to take the family dog with you, there are some things you should do before you travel.

If it is feasible, many pet owners would prefer to take their dogs with them on vacation, rather than board them at a kennel while they are gone.  Luckily, more and more industries are receptive to dogs, so bringing along Fido isn’t as difficult as you may think.

Here are some things you may want to do to prepare:

1.  Get your dog used to riding in a car.  Most dogs love car rides, but if yours doesn’t, make sure to take him out for regular car drives well in advance of your trip.  Start with a quick 5 or 10 minute trip and then gradually build up to longer and longer trips until your dog is used to being in the car.

2.  Get an annual check-up for your pet and bring the records with you.  Take your dog in for an annual check-up, and make sure he is up to date on his shots.  Ask the vet for a copy of your pet’s records so you can bring them with you in case he has a need to see the vet while you are on the road.

3.  Book hotels that accept dogs.  When you are making reservations, make sure to ask if the hotels you are booking take dogs.  (Many do now, but you may have to pay a special security deposit.)  Know what the rules are to have the dog in the hotel.

4.  Get your pet insurance. Pet travel insurance is always good protection.  Take this step a few months before you are to leave so the insurance has time to become active.

Bringing your pet on vacation can be surprisingly easy with the proper preparation.  With a little forethought and organization, you and your family, including your dog, can enjoy the family vacation.

Dental Hygiene Tips for This Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year, but it’s also the time of the year that cause dentists and hygienists around the country to collectively groan. Here are few dental hygiene tips to help you and your kids survive the season….

1. Limit the amount of candy

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your spoils, but try to limit the amount of candy the kids take in (both in total and daily). In general, we limit our kids to 3 pieces of candy a day in the weeks following Halloween. That’s both to protect their teeth and to keep them from getting to hyper during the day.

However, one of my friends has come up with an ingenious idea to limit the amount of candy. She has her kids give half of their candy to the “candy fairy.” LOL! I’m pretty sure the “candy fairy” is just the adults, but in exchange for donating their candy, they are allowed to buy any new toy under $20. Feel free to steal that idea or come up with your own. 🙂

2. Upgrade your toothbrush

If you’re still using a regular, grocery store toothbrush it might be time to upgrade. I recommend the Colgate Proclinical electric toothbrush because it promises to reduce more than 5 times the amount of plaque at the gum line when compared to a manual flat-trim toothbrush.

3. Floss after eating candy

Halloween candy is full of sticky peanuts, caramel, and toffee that can become easily lodged between your teeth. Those crumbs that are left behind can easily turn to plaque and cause cavities. Therefore, it’s best to floss after eating a piece of candy, even if you don’t have time to brush right then.

There are a number of flossing products sold at the drug store like floss picks that can be put in your purse or in the kid’s lunch box.

4. Brush after every meal

It’s old advice, but it’s even more important around Halloween. Focus on dividing your teeth into four quadrants and spend a minimum of 30 seconds brushing each quadrant. A good way to time yourself is these is to use a sonic toothbrush that automatically alerts you when you’ve spent enough time brushing a single zone.

Have a happy Halloween! And remember to take care of your teeth! 🙂

Photo by Pedro J. Ferreira

Key Items For Your New Nursery

Mom at WorkCongratulations!  Bringing home the new baby is such a joyous time – but it can also be a stressful and expensive time.  With a new baby comes a new set of expenses, including having to get new home furnishing.  Here are the most common things that new parents get for the nursery, as well as some tips on how to get the best deal on them.

What You Need for Your Nursery

There are a lot of things that go into setting up a new nursery.  And probably every parent has different advice when it comes to what brand to get or what items to get.  This is intended to be a quick rundown on the top items, and we’re avoiding brands here.  These are just some of the key essentials.

Somewhere for the Baby – This may seem intuitive, but there are actually a lot of choices.  You can get a bassinets, a cradle, or even a drawer of a dresser (hey, that’s how they did it in the old days).  After a while, you will probably want to get a crib, and maybe even a crib that converts to a child’s bed, its possible that in the future you may well buy them some cabin beds or some bunkbeds, but as babies, they aren’t necessary.

Somewhere for the Parent – You’re going to be in there a lot, so you need a place to be.  Many parents opt for a comfy chair or a rocker to feed the baby.

A Place to Change the Baby – You need a place to change your baby (it will need to happen often).  The floor works, but it’s probably not to comfortable for either you or the baby.  Many people get a changing table, but a regular table with a changing mat will do as well.  Don’t forget to put the diaper pail and a clothes hamper near by to clean up as needed.

Toys – You will need toys, and plenty  of them!

Storage – With the toys, clothes, and other stuff, you will need plenty of storage too.  Think dresser, chest or other place to store items.

Think Cheap and Lasting

Finally, consider buying used or second-hand, since you will only use these items for a  few years.  A good used item can last a lifetime.

My Story of Trying to Get Pregnant

I’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while – almost 8 months.  And I’m only 26 years old.  I feel like my body is failing me, and for the longest time I just didn’t know what to do.  I stuck with all the basics – trying to figure out when I’m ovulating, having sex every other day to maximize my chances, but nothing was working.  I was giving up hope.

Finally Seeing the Doctor

I finally broke down and asked my husband to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist.  I just knew in my heart that something wasn’t right.  I have never had regular periods, and that was just making things worse because I never quite knew when I was going to ovulate

Seeing the doctor wasn’t quite what I expected, but he made me feel at ease.  After running a variety of tests and going over the options, we decided to start simple and try to get my body ovulating in a normal pattern so that we could conceive normally.  This meant taking Clomiphene, or Clomid.  This is a pill that helps your body ovulate “normally”.  However one of the side effects that have been widely published on this medicine is that it increases the chances of having twins or multiples.  Beyond not being able to get pregnant, the only thing that scares me more is having multiples.

Yay!

I’m excited because I’m 6 weeks pregnant!  Between taking Clomid and keeping at it every other day based on when I was supposed to ovulate, everything seemed to work like it should.  I’m so blessed to be able to have a child, especially because we have been trying for so long.  Using the pregnancy due date calculator, we should be having out little baby girl in April of next year.  We couldn’t be happier.  We almost wished we had gone to the doctor earlier instead of struggling through those painful 8 months of not being able to conceive.  It just goes to show that you don’t always need to struggle, even when it comes to something like having a baby.

**Photo by MestreechCity on Flickr**

How Far to Space Apart Your Children Is Partly a Financial Decision

Kids on Riding Lawn Mower

Photo by jamma.blogware.com

Most of us have children because we enjoy raising children and we think they will make our lives more complete.  We look forward to watching them grow up and to one day having grandchildren.  The decision to have children is a personal one as well as when to have them and when to have another one.  We don’t like to think that finances have a role in that decision, but they do, especially when deciding how far to space apart our children.

My first two children are 4.5 years apart, and my last two are 1.5 years apart, so I have seen both sides of the spacing spectrum.  If you are considering how far to space apart your children, consider these points:

Spacing Them Several Years Apart

Financially

Spacing them apart is undoubtedly easier on the finances because you aren’t saddled with double expenses.  For instance, daycare in our area is expensive, running $1,000 a month or more.  My son was almost completely done with daycare before my daughter needed it, so we didn’t experience much financial strain.  Similarly, when they go to college, my son should be finished or almost finished when my daughter begins college.

Emotionally

Have kids four or more years apart can be tricky because they are always in completely different stages of growth.  My son is almost eight, and he likes to be alone sometimes to play and build complex Lego structures, for instance, but my three year old just wants to be with her big brother, and if getting his attention means destroying his Lego masterpiece, that is what she will do.

Also, if you are not careful, the older child can often not get enough attention because he is independent while the smaller child is heavily dependent on you still.

Having Kids Close Together

Financially

Having two kids close together can be a financial strain because your expenses are essentially doubled.  When I was faced with $2k daycare bills after my youngest was born 17 months after my middle child, I decided to quit my job because I would be mostly working to pay for daycare.  Our two youngest kids are going to be one year apart in school, which means we will be paying for college for two kids almost the entire time they are in college.  (I try not to think about that!)

Emotionally

Having two kids close together means that they are mostly at the same developmental stage, which makes it easier to care for them and to find activities that interest them.  They also (usually) play well together.  We are lucky in that our girls are very close to one another; in some ways it is almost like having twins.

There are benefits to both having your children spaced apart four or more years and having them closely spaced together.  Ultimately, you must decide based on your own financial situation.  Overall, we are happy with the spacing of our own children.  While having three children closely spaced together would have been nice, we wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

Earth Day Activities, Deals, and Freebies

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22nd.  Make sure to check the Internet and your local paper for activities that may be taking place in the community.  Earth Day activities are a fun way to spend time with your child and help them learn about taking care of Mother Earth.

In addition, there are plenty of freebies and deals you can score from retailers.

Here is a list of some that you may want to take advantage of:

Freebies that Will Appeal to Kids

  • Receive a free reusable bag from the Disney Store when you bring in 5 plastic bags for recycling on April 22nd.
  • Fill out a form, include the UPC codes and pay $1.75 shipping and handling to get  a free Kellogg’s reusable bag with the purchase of any two Kellogg’s cereals or Pop-Tarts.  There are 4 different bags available.
  • Get a free packets of sunflower seeds on Earth Day while supplies last from Pottery Barn Kids, in partnership with National Geographic.
  • Get 20% off select eco-friendly toys and free shipping on orders over $25 from Barnes and Noble.
  • Get 15% off Kid Konserve products when you use the code BLOG15.  (Kid Konserve sells reusable stainless steel water bottles and lunch containers as well as reusable lunch sacks for eco-friendly lunches.)
  • The National Park Service is offering free admission to all 397 parks between April 21st and April 29th.

Freebies that Will Appeal to Moms

  • Bring in a reusable coffee container and get a free cup of coffee from Caribou Coffee.
  • Go to Guest Services at Target on April 22nd and get a free reusable tote bag.
  • NOVICA, a company in partnership with National Geographic that offers jewelry, pottery and other home goods made from artisans from around the world, is offering free shipping on all of their products in celebration of Earth Day.
  • Origins is offering a free wish bracelet featuring a tree and planting a tree in your honor when you purchase any skincare product and use the code WISH.

Other Activities

If you prefer to have a quieter Earth Day celebration at home, the Internet offers several activities you may enjoy:

Earth Day was first held on April 22, 1970, and since then, our awareness of the environment has increased.  However, as parents, we should teach our children what they can do to protect the Earth for future generations.  Spending time attending community activities, taking advantage of deals and freebies that will help us live a more “green” life and spending time working on Earth Day activities with our kids at home are all good ways to celebrate and educate our children.

Photo courtesy of Trinity via Flickr.