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100 Ways to Make Nutrition Fun for Kids

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Let’s face it; if kids were left to their own devices they’d probably choose sweets and junk food to eat instead of salads and lean proteins. There is a trick to getting your kids reaching for healthy foods instead of candy, though. You just have to make nutrition FUN! You’ll find all sorts of ways to make healthy eating enjoyable for your kids by reading the tips offered on these 100 sites.

Get Them Cooking

Don’t shoo your kids out of the kitchen when it comes time to prepare meals; instead, get them in on the action! Not only will you be teaching them the invaluable lesson of how to cook, but they’re also much more likely to eat a meal when they’ve had a hand in preparing it. Read these 20 blogs for tips on how to get your kids cooking.

  • Coconut Fish with Quinoa. The healthy fats from fish paired with the protein in quinoa make this recipe from Children’s Aid Society a nutritional powerhouse.
  • Blueberry Oatmeal Squares. Kids Health shares this healthy recipe – nutrition facts included – that kids are sure to love.
  • Keep them safe while cooking. The California Department of Education encourages parents to teach kids how to cook safely.
  • Tips to get the kids cooking. Cooking Light writer Ann Pittman explains her tactics for getting her kids more interested in cooking.
  • Tasty Chicken and Veggie Packets. Get the kids in the kitchen by making this simple dish from the United States Department of Agriculture for dinner.
  • Crockpot Chicken Tacos. The kids will love this simple recipe from Super Healthy Kids.
  • Ask your kids to wash the vegetables. It sounds like a simple task, but there’s a lot kids can learn from washing vegetables before cooking with them, says Bon Appétit.
  • Rules to share with kids about cooking. PBS lists several rules you should consider when cooking with kids.
  • Give kids choices when they are cooking. Epicurious explains how including your child when planning a meal lets him feel like he’s in control and that you value his opinion.
  • Take your time. BBC Good Food recommends allowing more time for meal prep when cooking with kids.
  • Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes. 100 Days of Real Food offers up some tasty recipes that your kids can make, such as these healthy pancakes.
  • Irene’s Winter Salad. This is not your typical salad; the kids can learn about winter vegetables when they make this simple dish from Kitchen Daily.
  • Remember to praise your kids in the kitchen. Food Network urges you to praise your child’s efforts in the kitchen so he will want to come back and do it again.
  • Gather all of the ingredients before you get started. Cool Kids Cooking suggests assembling all of a recipe’s ingredients before beginning to prepare the meal.
  • Chinese “Barbequed” Pork. Get the kids to try something new with this tasty pork recipe from Cooking with Kids.
  • Pepperoni Bread. Kids love dips and love pizza, so this simple recipe for Pepperoni Bread from Spoonful should be a slam dunk.
  • Pineapple-Mango Salmon. If you’re trying to get the kids to eat a more diverse diet, give this tasty seafood recipe by Parenting a try.
  • Super Heroes. Martha Stewart explains how the kids can build their own hero sandwich using healthy ingredients.
  • Fresh Veggie Pizza. Even the youngest kids can help make these simple, healthy pizzas by Children’s Recipe.
  • Creamy Smoke Salmon Pasta. Since kids tend to love pasta, they may be more open to trying salmon with this dish, says Kidspot.

Refrigerator Charts

Using charts to track good nutrition habits can incentivize your kids to make healthy choices so that healthy eating is more fun. Use these 20 blog articles for ideas on creating your own kids nutrition chart.

  • Eat a Rainbow Chart. Today I Ate a Rainbow created this chart that you can make or buy to encourage kids to eat foods of every color daily.
  • Kids Nutrition Chart Printable. Polish the Stars shares the chart she devised to keep track of the foods her son is eating.
  • Portion Size Chart. Nick Jr. has printable charts that explain how many portions of each food group a child should have based on their age.
  • Color Your World. Your Personal Nutrition Guide has a printable chart that your child can color like the rainbow. As your child eats something from the rainbow you can add a star to the chart.
  • Good Kids Bad Habits. Share Care offers a printable chart that will help you determine how many serving sizes kids should eat of a given food group each week.
  • Nutrition Chart. Fight and Fit shares a bright, colorful, downloadable nutrition chart that that is sure to catch the eye of your kids.
  • Healthy Eating Plate. Hang this printable chart from Harvard Medical School on your fridge to show kids what their plate should look like.
  • My Food Guide Servings Tracker. Health Canada has created a simple, printable tracker you can put on the fridge that details the nutritional requirements your child needs based on his age.
  • Snack Chart. Use this chart from I Have No Greater Joy to help your child track his snack choices.
  • Meal Planner. You can download blank meal planner charts at Super Healthy Kids so your kids can help you plan meals.
  • Picky Eater Punch Card. Small Types shares printable punch cards you can use to keep track of the different foods your child eats.
  • I Ate My 5 Food Groups. Free Printable Behavior Charts has several different charts you can download depending on what you want to track; this chart tracks the different food groups your kids eat.
  • Toddler Feeding Chart. Web MD has created a chart to help you track the foods and quantities your child is eating throughout the day.
  • 5 or More a Day! The Train to Crazy shares a chart where kids can track how many fruits and veggies they are eating in a day.
  • Weekly School Lunch Planner. If you’re having trouble getting your kids to eat the things you send for lunch, try including your kids in the lunch planning process by using this planner from School Family.
  • Fruits and Vegetables List. Teacher Vision provides a printable chart kids can look at to know what kinds of fruits and vegetables they should be eating.
  • My Food Guide. Healthy Canadians provides a printable chart that details the proper servings and examples of the types of food you should eat.
  • Tracking My Servings from Each Food Group. This simple sheet from Healthlink BC can be laminated so you can use it every day to track what your kids are eating.
  • Fruit and Veggie Eater Meter. Peas and Crayons recommends using this colorful chart so kids can track what they are eating.
  • Create Your Own. Use Kiddy Charts to create your own nutrition tracking chart

Learning to Garden

A study by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that kids who helped grow their own food were more likely to have healthy diets overall, which is one of many reasons gardening is a great activity for your kids. To get your kids started gardening, read these 20 posts.

  • Start by growing seeds inside. Kids Gardening explains how to grow seeds in a way that kids can understand.
  • Check out the tools your kids may need to start gardening. Wikihow shows step-by-step pictures of what your kids need to get started in the garden.
  • Make a sun chart. Urban Next recommends tracking the sun after you decide where to plant your garden.
  • Decide what to plant. Earth Easy details a list of 10 items kids can grow.
  • Plant a pizza garden. Better Homes and Gardens suggests planting items that can be used to make a pizza.
  • Recycle your trash into a garden. USA Extension explains how to garden with seeds discarded from the food you eat.
  • Plant a letter. TLC How Stuff Works shows how to plant flowers in the shape of a letter.
  • Plant a tree. Dave’s Garden tells you how to plant trees and create Mother’s Day planters.
  • Make a 4×4 raised bed. Green Education Foundation has a video that you can watch with your child on how to build a small raised garden.
  • Teach kids how rewarding gardening can be. Realtor urges parents to let the kids help in the garden to foster a love of gardening.
  • Plant a butterfly garden. Gardening Know How explains what you need to do to plant a butterfly garden.
  • Kids who grow veggies in the garden are more likely to eat them. Preschoolers says that having a garden can encourage the whole family to eat more vegetables.
  • Gardening teaches kids to work as a team and accomplish a goal. Pediatrics in Paradise talks about how gardening can be fun for kids.
  • Gardens inspire kids to try healthy foods. First Lady Michelle Obama started a kitchen garden at the White House and invites school aged kids to help tend it. According to Health Day, she believes kids are more excited to try healthy foods when they have a hand in growing them.
  • Start with fast growing plants. Kids don’t have a lot of patience, so AZ Center recommends planting fast growing plants so that they stay interested.
  • Give your child their own patch of the garden. Giving your child his own patch of the garden instills a sense of ownership, which may make him more likely to keep up with “his” garden, advises Teach Beside Me.
  • Put your seeds in the window. Mom it Forward describes how to grow seeds using a starting tray or small paper cup and a window sill.
  • You can garden during the winter. You can start planting summer plants with your kids indoors during the winter so they can watch them grow until they need to be moved outside, says Keeper of the Home.
  • Winter sowing is another way to get a jump start on the gardening season. Garden Web explains how she uses recycled containers and a sunny spot to sow her seeds during the winter.
  • Remind kids to only eat foods from safe plants. Rolling Green Nursery encourages parents to explain that some foods found in nature are not safe to eat.

Go to a Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s markets are a great way to get kids interested in fresh, local produce and foods. Visit a local farmer’s market and make nutrition fun with the help of these 20 posts.

  • Connect kids with “real food”. Eat Local Grown insists on taking kids to the farmer’s market so they can understand which foods come from the ground.
  • Kids can often sample new foods at a farmer’s market. Nutrition describes the farmer’s market as a place where kids can explore and try new foods.
  • Ask farmers for recipes. USDA says that farmers love to share their secrets on how to fix certain fruits and veggies, so be sure to ask for preparation tips when you visit.
  • Buy produce that is in season. According to Super Kids Nutrition, the farmer’s market is more likely to carry seasonal produce that tastes better than store-bought produce.
  • Produce from the farmer’s market is safer to eat. Typically, food from a farmer has not been sitting in a warehouse or shipped from another country, making it safer to eat, explains Texas Farmer’s Market.
  • Try a scavenger hunt at the farmer’s market. Greenport Farmer’s Market suggests creating a list of items that your child needs to find at the market to encourage them to try new foods.
  • Plan a trip to a farm. Live Better America recommends asking farmers at the market for a tour of the farm.
  • Check your market for a Kids’ Day. Boston shares that their farmer’s market includes all sorts of fun things for kids.
  • Assign a color of the week before you go to the market. Examiner advises assigning a new color each week and picking a new food in that color to try with the kids.
  • Show kids how to pick out the best produce. Southern Living points out that taking the kids to the farmer’s market is a good way to encourage healthy eating.
  • Educating kids can help fight childhood obesity. Elm says they take a field trip with kids to the market to let them buy fruits and veggies and ask the farmers questions.
  • Help the local economy. While kids are learning to eat healthier they can also learn to help farmers by buying from them, suggests Free Fun in Austin.
  • Beat the boredom blues by taking your kids to the farmer’s market. Mom’s Choice Matters shares how to find farmers’ markets all over the country and gives tips for what to bring along.
  • Talk to your child about organic foods. Toby Amidor Nutrition urges parents to take their kids to the farmer’s market to learn how to grow vegetables without a bunch of harmful chemicals.
  • Teach young children the names of all the produce. Learning the names of things from a book is one thing, but being able to smell and touch the item makes it real for the child, explains Dr. Greene.
  • Let the kids buy their own food. Waking Times encourages parents to give their kids $10 and let them buy the healthy foods they want to build a healthier eating habit.
  • Find a canning demonstration. Art and Seek suggests checking out a canning demonstration at your local farmer’s market.
  • Challenge each child to find the most unusual food. Reward the winner, says Sun Post, by finding something yummy at the market.
  • Plan a meal with just food you buy at the farmer’s market. Wee Eat Rainbows suggests planning an entire meal around food bought from the market.
  • Know when to shop. Healthy Child recommends visiting the market when it opens if you want the largest produce selection and going near closing time if you want to negotiate prices.

Play Games

Another way you can make nutrition fun is to play educational games with your kids. Take a look at these 20 different games that encourage healthy eating and good nutritional choices.

  • Nutrition Quiz. NeoK12 has a bunch of different quiz games on health and nutrition you can use to educate kids in a fun way.
  • Amazing Food Detective. Kaiser Permanente hosts this game where kids are given a storyline and they have to figure out what happened.
  • Food Quiz. Science Kids has come up with a trivia game to share food facts with kids in a way that makes it fun instead of boring.
  • Dining Decisions. The CDC has created several games kids can play to learn about staying healthy, including this one about making the best food choices at the school cafeteria.
  • Bone Up on Milk. The Dairy Council of California came up with a quiz to test kids’ milk knowledge.
  • Bon Appétit Arcade Game. Get kids to make as many balanced meals as possible before the time runs out at Nourish Interactive.
  • Smash Your Food. Figure out how much salt, sugar and oil are in each food before you smash it on this game from Food’N Me.
  • Hay Now Quiz Show. Kids can try their hand at answering these barnyard questions from Farm Service Agency to see if they know where their food comes from.
  • Combo Kitchen. Try this game from Fuel Up to Play that encourages you to determine what is in different dishes so you can eat wisely.
  • Food Groups Game. Determine which food groups different foods belong to with this game from Sheppard’s Software.
  • A Healthy Lunchbox. You can put together healthy lunches on this game from Food a Fact of Life and then print out your ideas to use at home.
  • Food Fury. Playnormous created this game to determine if a food is a go, slow or whoa food.
  • Fruit and Veggie Matching Game. Food Champs has entertaining games for young children where they match the inside of the food to the outside.
  • Virtual Glasshouse. The Tomato Zone created this game about a greenhouse where players have to find the bad insects that damaged the food and then figure out what insects will take care of the bad ones.
  • Nutrition Sudoku. Instead of numbers, you’ll use vegetables to fill up the grid in this game from Eat Right.
  • Flip It! Zis Boom Bah created this card game that uses food pictures and fun food facts to work on kids’ memory skills.
  • Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt. SF Gate suggests deciding on a menu with your child, writing down the things that you need and then letting your child look for the items at the store.
  • Paired Food Items. New York State Department of Health suggests an entertaining game where you come up with pairs of foods that go together, like peanut butter and jelly, and then pin each ingredient on the back of students. They must figure out what ingredient they are and find their pair to win the game.
  • Crunch a Color. Crunch a Color explains this card game that encourages kids to be more adventurous with eating healthy, new foods.
  • Food Pyramid Race. In a food pyramid race, kids break into teams and race to put different foods into the correct food group. More details on the game can be found on Live Strong.
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100 of the Best Babysitting Tips Ever

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Becoming a babysitter is a big deal, and is not a job to be taken lightly. Parents are leaving you in charge of the most important people in their lives – their precious children. To help prepare you for this awesome responsibility, it’s important to educate yourself thoroughly on the ins and outs of childcare. You can do so by taking a babysitting course through the Red Cross and reading child safety books. Learning CPR for infants and children is also a valuable asset to add to your resume. To help you learn even more about the intricacies of this job, we’ve compiled a list of 100 different blog posts that are stock full of babysitting tips. You’ll learn fun snacks and dinners to prepare for the kids, different games and crafts for all ages, ways to keep kids safe under your care and more, ensuring you perform the best job possible every time you’re babysitting.

Fun Snacks to Make

Whether you are babysitting after school or for a few hours on the weekend, it’s always a good idea to have a few snack ideas on hand. Before preparing any snacks or food for kids, you’ll need to check about any potential food allergies they may have or any foods that may be off limits per the parents’ instructions. The snack ideas in these 10 blog entries are simple and fun, and are sure to be a hit among the smaller set.

  • You can make the kids a smoothie with ingredients the family has on hand, suggests Weelicious.
  • Try making these tasty chocolate covered pretzels from Girl’s Life.
  • Cut cheese into cubes, use pretzel sticks as skewers and let the kids build the snacks before they eat them, says eHow.
  • Get the kids to help you whip up some quesadillas. Chop up a few different veggies and meat, get out the grated cheese or cheese slices and let the kids build their own quesadilla, then warm it in the microwave for a quick and simple snack from Simple Recipes.
  • A grilled cheese sandwich is easy to make and packed with calcium and protein. Watch the video from Kraft Recipes.
  • Cheese and crackers are always a hit, but this time up the ante by taking miniature cookie cutters and cutting fun shapes out of the cheese slices, recommends The Bump.
  • Babble suggests making a caterpillar out of a banana, pretzel sticks, peanut butter, coconut and a couple mini chocolate chips.
  • Serve up a turkey for snack time by using a mini round of cheese and some imagination; you can find ideas on Living Locurto.
  • Bring some snack butterflies with you when you babysit and both the kids and parents will think you are a rock star; follow the directions on Juggling with Kids.
  • For a bit of fun, serve the vegetable flower with ranch dressing shown on Spoonful.

Simple Dinners to Make

If the parents are going out for dinner, you may be expected to feed the kids. Be sure to ask the parents before they leave if the kids need to be fed and if there’s anything specific you should make them. Often, parents will make prior arrangements for dinner, like ordering pizza. If you will be expected to make something for the kids, however, you’ll want to make sure you know how to work the microwave or the stove prior to your job. These 10 sites have simple dinners that are perfect for babysitters, and several need only the microwave.

  • Have the kids make individual pita pizzas using squeeze bottle pizza sauce and pre-shredded cheese for a meal that doubles as a fun activity, says From Ministry to Motherhood.
  • Looking for something fun and different to make? Try Octopus Hotdogs on a bed of Seaweed, which you can find on Taste of Home.
  • Most kids like nachos, so if you can throw together some cheese and chips and warm it in the microwave then you’ve got a pretty tasty dinner; directions found on Food.
  • Whip up some Pigs in a Blanket for the kids using the step-by-step pictures on WikiHow.
  • It doesn’t get much simpler than spaghetti and jarred marinara sauce! If you want to make your own sauce, try the simple recipe found on Key Ingredient.
  • Try these baked potatoes from Betty Crocker – you won’t need to use anything other than the microwave!
  • Make the kid favorite dinner of mac & cheese, but take some help from the microwave to speed things along. Find the recipe on Oprah.
  • Ravioli doesn’t have to be a stovetop meal; instead, cook it in the microwave per the instructions from Delish.
  • Kids often like things they can eat on toothpicks. Check out this recipe from Parents for sweet and sour meatballs made in the microwave.
  • If you want to avoid cooking altogether, try this no-cook Cape Cod Turkey Pitas recipe found on Family Circle.

Games to Play with Toddlers

As the babysitter, it’s your job to keep the kids entertained. Most kids will have their own toys to play with, but playing with you will be more fun. Before the parents leave you’ll want to find out what their rules are on screen time so the kids don’t try to take advantage of you and watch TV for the duration of your visit. The more active you can get the kids the more tired they will be when bedtime comes. You’ll also want to research age appropriate games to keep everyone engaged and entertained. These 10 games work well for toddlers and preschoolers.

  • Sing simple, silly songs like Wheels on the Bus and Old McDonald, suggests Scholastic.
  • Play trashcan basketball using balls of newspaper. According to Kidspot, this works on a toddler’s hand/eye coordination and is tons of fun.
  • Roll a ball back and forth with the toddler or blow up a balloon and try to keep it from hitting the floor, suggests Baby Center.
  • Gather up some clothespins and a can with a lid and create a game where the toddler stands over the open can and drops the clothespins into the can. You can store the clothespins in the can when you’re not playing, says Family Education.
  • Bub Hub says a fun game to play with toddlers that doesn’t take any special equipment is Simon Says.
  • Grab a bag and put a few items from around the house in it, suggests Raising Children. Ask the child to reach into the bag and feel an item, then describe it to you and guess what it is without looking at it.
  • Bring some chalk with you to your babysitting job and draw a hopscotch board on the driveway or sidewalk, then encourage the toddler to jump from space to space, explains Huggies.
  • Go to the cupboard and grab three identical plastic cups, then find something small like a bouncy ball or coin to play the shell game. Put the coin under one of the cups and move the cups around, then ask the child where the coin is. You’ll find further instructions on Counting on Me.
  • Suggest having a tea party with the toddler and her stuffed animals. According to What to Expect, this teaches toddlers to share and use their imagination.
  • Make your own puzzle. Are you fixing mac and cheese for supper? After supper take the front of the box and cut it up into shapes and see if the toddler can piece it back together again, suggests The Stay at Home Mom Survival Guide.

Games to Play with Preschoolers and Above

If you’re watching older kids, you’ll probably need a few games on hand that are a little more involved. The games on these 10 blog posts will work well for preschoolers and elementary aged kids. Every kid has different likes and dislikes, so it’s important to have a couple different games ready to play. Make a list of these games and take them with you when you go on your next babysitting job.

  • This game will surely make the kids giggle when you ask them to pick up things with only their toes and put them in a bucket, says Code Name Mama.
  • The Parent Map recommends Freeze Dancing as a way for young kids to have fun dancing and work on listening skills.
  • Create a mini car wash where you and the child put all of his toy cars into the tub and wash them with watering cans, suggests Parents.
  • Hide a small object and then give step-by-step directions on how to find it, as explained on Education.
  • Using supplies you already own, make up some fish and a fishing pole that you can bring with you when you babysit and set up a fishing game for the kids to play. For instructions, read Preschoolers.
  • Grab some paper and pencils and play games like hangman, dots and squares and others with the preschoolers you are babysitting. These ideas and more can be found on Today’s Parent.
  • Run for Colors is a game that will get the kids active. For details on how to set up and play this game, check out Voices.
  • Take the kids on a scavenger hunt around the house or to the park if you can, suggests Squidoo.
  • Include a deck of cards in your bag of tricks that you bring with you on babysitting jobs and ask the kids to sort the cards into two piles or four piles, explains Preschool Express.
  • If you’re looking for a simple game to play, try “What’s Missing?” Put several things on the table, have the child close his eyes, then take one item away and ask him what’s missing? Further directions can be found on A Place of Our Own.

Crafts to Make with Preschoolers

One fun activity to do while the parents are out is crafts, so you may want to bring along some craft supplies to your next babysitting job. If you know the project will be messy, you may want to also bring along a vinyl tablecloth to cover the table before you start. These 10 crafts are suited for toddlers and preschoolers, though you may want to make sure that the toddlers aren’t still putting anything and everything in their mouths before doing some of them.

  • Make and fly toddler paper airplanes and practice landing them on the runway, as described in this activity by Toddler Toddler.
  • Fold some green paper into a frog puppet using the directions found on Enchanted Learning to keep the kids busy, then have a puppet show.
  • Using some paper, scissors and glue you can help the kids make bunny ears that they can wear; you’ll find instructions on DLTK.
  • Make bracelets the kids can actually wear using recycled plastic bottles or empty tape rolls and yarn. Check out Willowday to learn how.
  • Create a shark out of paper and glue by following the steps on Easy Preschool Craft.
  • Let the kids make a bird out of a paper plate and some folded paper. If you want the bird to be colorful, bring along some paint. Follow the steps on House of a Baby Piranha.
  • Use what you have available. Make some snowflakes using cotton swabs and glue them on paper, says Busy Bee Kids Crafts.
  • Take some cardboard tubes that you can keep in your bag of tricks and let the kids paint them and cut them in a coil to make snakes, as shown on Crafts by Amanda.
  • Sometimes it may seem like the kids you are watching are a bunch of monkeys, so why not make the paper monkeys pictured on Mrs. Karen’s Class?
  • Make a paper microphone and let the kids take turns singing songs like a talent show. Find instructions for the microphone on Sprout Online.

Crafts to Make with School Aged Kids

As kids get older they’ll need less direction when doing crafts. Try not to be critical if they aren’t making their project exactly as you had in mind. Remember, the point of the craft is to keep them busy and happy. Try out these 10 crafts with the older kids in your care. Make sure that you clean up everything before the parents come home.

  • Make paper lanterns and hang them on a string across the room using the simple directions from Instructables.
  • Ask the parents for some unmatched socks that you can use to make sock puppets and use the ideas on ABC Teach.
  • Mix up a few colors of play dough and then let the kids use the play dough to make pretend cookies and other things. You’ll find a recipe for play dough on Playdough Recipe.
  • Bring back the 70’s by making a homemade lava lamp with the kids using household ingredients. Find the directions on Come Together Kids.
  • Punch out a bunch of paper circles in multiple colors and then make things from Mr. Printables with the kids.
  • Bring along some colorful duct tape and paper sacks and you and the kids can make the fancy bags and purses shown on Eclectic Mom.
  • Grab an old shoe box and create an under-water scene with the kids like the one shown on Activity Village.
  • Take a walk with the kids and pick up rocks. Once you get back to the house, follow the instructions from Martha Stewart to make lady bug rocks.
  • Using some yarn and a piece of cardboard, you and the kids can make tons of pom poms that can be strung together into a garland or glued into animals. Check out these simple steps for making pom poms on Parade.
  • Combine a craft with a snack by letting the kids put together their own candy necklaces like the one shown on She Knows.

Bedtime Tips and Tricks

Bedtime can sometimes be a struggle for babysitters. Kids may try to stay up and wait for their parents to get home, or may just try to convince you that it’s OK if they stay up later. Talk to the parents ahead of time and find out what the bedtime routine is and if there’s any flexibility in the bedtime. You may want to ask if the kids sleep with anything special and where they are allowed to sleep. If you seem like you don’t know what you are doing, the kids may not cooperate. Read through these 10 tips and you should be able to handle most bedtime battles with ease.

  • Make sure that you do something active with the kids so that they are worn out and ready to go to bed, says WikiHow.
  • Always put babies to sleep on their back to avoid suffocation, explains Healthy Children.
  • Start doing a quiet activity, like reading a story, doing a puzzle or watching a quiet television program, prior to bedtime to let the kids wind down, recommends Not Consumed.
  • Encourage the kids to get into bed by telling them that you will read a story as soon as they’re in their PJs and under the covers, says Super Babysitting.
  • Do your homework by asking about the kids’ normal bedtime routine, suggests Lauren Boston.
  • Find out ahead of time if the kids sleep with any special toys and what the child calls that toy to avoid any mishaps at bedtime, explains Sitters Unlimited of Southern California.
  • Ask the parents if the kids get a bedtime snack and use that as a bribe to get the kids to go to bed if they refuse to, says a reader on Askville.
  • Avoid putting in a movie that won’t be ended before bedtime because that will make it more difficult to get the kids to go to bed, recommends Girls Life.
  • Nurse Together suggests arriving early to your babysitting job to talk to the parents about house rules for the kids at bedtime.
  • If you are babysitting kids all day, make sure you ask the parents when naptime is and how long you should allow the kids to sleep, explains Sensible Suggestions.

Safety Tips to Know

You are in charge when the parents are gone, so it is very important that you keep the kids in your care safe. Most of the time nothing will happen, but it’s best to be prepared just in case an emergency does occur. Make sure that you have emergency numbers handy and that you know what to do in case of a fire or a storm. The best way to keep the children safe is to keep an eye on them at all times while they are awake. After you put them to bed, check on them every 15 to 30 minutes to ensure everything is okay and that they are sleeping. These 10 tips will help you prepare for emergencies.

  • Teens Health recommends having the parents fill out a health form about the kids before you babysit them.
  • Check on the kids every 15 minutes after they go to sleep until the parents return, suggests University of Michigan Health Systems.
  • Never open the door for a stranger while you are babysitting unless the parents have told you specifically that someone is coming over, says Children’s Safety Zone.
  • Know the poison control center phone number just in case a child in your care ingests something that could be poisonous, explains Poison Help.
  • Don’t leave a child alone while he is awake, recommends Virginia Tech.
  • Make sure you know of two ways to get out of every room in case a fire breaks out in the home where you are babysitting, says Safety in Our Neighborhood.
  • Once the parents leave for the evening, walk around the house to make sure there are no fire or safety hazards, like lit cigarettes or stove burners that have been left on, suggests Greater Sudbury.
  • If you take the kids to play outside or at the park, keep a close eye on them and make sure they are playing safely, advises CVS.
  • One of the most important safety measures you can take is to make sure you get emergency numbers from the parents ahead of time, urges Babysitting Tips for Pre-Teens.
  • Have the parents give you a tour of the house and show you where they keep different safety equipment, like the first aid kit and fire extinguisher, recommends Lanark County Ambulance.

Organizing Babysitting Tools

One tip that can help you be an effective babysitter is to be well-prepared and well-organized. By maintaining a binder with your clients’ information, you can avoid making them fill out new forms every time that you babysit. This alone could make you their first choice for a sitter because it shows you take your job seriously. Another thing you can do is create an activity bag or box that you bring along to every job. This tote should include craft supplies, activity ideas, game ideas, fake money and a few prizes. You can give the kids fake money for being well-behaved throughout the evening and then let them buy something from your prize stash at the end of the night. Check out more ideas in these 10 blogs.

  • Create a babysitting notebook where you keep checklists, contact information and more from your clients. Find forms and more on Just Organize Your Stuff.
  • Download the babysitting form from Organized Wife for your clients to fill out.
  • Create index cards with important information about each family that you sit for and keep them on a key ring so that you can take the information along every time you sit for that family, recommends Everyday Life.
  • Use some sort of planner or scheduling software like the one found on Scheduling to keep track of your babysitting jobs.
  • Find a couple of cheap activities that you can put in your babysitting activity bag, explains Kolette Hall.
  • Follow the instructions on Mother Huddle to create your own babysitting activity tote that includes craft supplies, activities, babysitting bucks and more.
  • Get ideas on what to include in your babysitting bag from I’m an Organizing Junkie.
  • Wendy’s Activities has downloadable forms, games, and songs that you can keep in your babysitting activity bag.
  • Teen Librarian Tool Box has a few titles that might be good to include in your babysitting activity bag, such as The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton.
  • Things in your activity bag don’t have to be expensive. You can download free coloring pages, make play dough at home and pick up trinkets at the dollar store. Find recipes and other suggestions on Suite 101.

Questions You Should Ask the Parents

Read through these 10 sites to learn smart questions to ask of potential employers. It may seem awkward to ask questions of adults if you aren’t one, but by asking smart questions you will be proving yourself to be responsible. Plus, you need to know the answers to certain questions in order to do your babysitting job correctly. Combine and print out a list of questions for each family that you babysit for and keep them in a binder, that way you will have the information you need for next time on hand.

  • Ask how much you will be paid before you accept the job or inform the parents how much you charge, suggests Parenting.
  • Before you accept a babysitting job ask how many children you will be watching, as well as their ages, names and when you will be needed, says Hub Pages.
  • Ask pertinent questions about the kids, like what they like to do and if they have any chores that you need to be aware of, suggests Ezine Articles.
  • Make it a point to ask about food allergies before the parents leave so you can avoid any potential emergencies, says Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
  • Find out what the kids are allowed to eat and when you should plan on feeding them, recommends Bella Online.
  • Make sure you know where the parents will be for the evening, that you have contact phone numbers and that you know who you should contact if you need urgent help, explains KFB.
  • Ask the parents if their child is taking any medication and if you’ll be expected to give it to them, mentions Kidzworld.
  • It’s a good idea to ask the parents how they would like you to handle the kids if they misbehave. Do they use time outs, take away privileges or do something else? Find these questions and more on Aladom.
  • If you don’t know the people you will be babysitting for, it’s a good idea to ask for references, suggests Young People Can Help the World Too.
  • You need to ask how you will be getting home after you are done babysitting. Don’t assume that the parents will give you a ride, explains Colorado Life Lessons.
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100 Creative Date Night Ideas

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Whether you’re going on your first date or you’re simply trying to keep the spark alive in your marriage, there’s no denying how important dating is to a relationship. From inexpensive nights out to romantic evenings at home, you’ll find a date idea for any occasion in these 100 blogs.

No Cost Date Night Ideas

On a budget? Your date night doesn’t have to suffer because of it! Try out one of these 10 free date night ideas for a fun night with your sweetheart.

  • Star gazing. What’s Out Tonight? is a site where you can download a monthly star chart and read about tips for how to get started star gazing.
  • Geocaching. Find hidden boxes all over your city using GPS locations found on Geocaching.
  • Be a tourist in your own city. Find tours in your city, like the one found on Know Your City, to see your home town in a new way.
  • Sort and reminisce over your photos. Take a walk down memory lane by looking through all of your old photos together using tips from The Guardian.
  • People watch. Go to a mall or other crowded place and watch the people. Sound boring? Play some of the people watching games listed on Buzzfeed.
  • Go on an impromptu photo shoot. Grab your camera and take a walk around your city, stopping to take pictures of each other. Take a look at the tips on Digital Trends before you go out.
  • Have a carpet picnic. Turn on some music, grab a blanket and have a carpet picnic. Check out the carpet picnic ideas on Rugcare.
  • Take a winery tour. Find your new favorite wine together with a tour and tasting at a local winery, like the one shown on Go Texan Wine.
  • Watch amateur theater in your city. Read about the history of Community Theater in America on AACT and then check out your newspaper for free live shows in your area.
  • Take a hike. Put together some snacks and water bottles in a backpack, tie on your hiking boots and go for a hike using some of the hiking tips found on National Park Service.

Stay at Home Date Nights

You don’t have to go out on the town to have a fun date night. In fact, some of the best date nights can occur in the comfort of your own home. Take a look at these 10 home date night ideas to find one that’s perfect for you.

  • Make homemade pizza together. What could be more romantic than getting in the kitchen and feeding each other toppings as you make a pizza? For homemade pizza making instructions, check out Simply Recipes.
  • Game night at home. Play games you already own or make up your own by using questions found on Love to Know.
  • Wash your cars. Get your swimsuits on and wash your cars using the weird tricks found on Readers Digest. Water fun will surely ensue.
  • Movie night. Make up some movie snacks using the recipes from Spoonful and have a cozy night at home snuggling on the couch.
  • Finger food night. Try some of the finger food recipes on Food.
  • Karaoke Night. Use Lets Sing It to find music and lyrics to your favorite songs and take turns singing to each other.
  • Video game battle. Babble suggests using whatever gaming system you have for a little friendly competition.
  • Have a marshmallow gun fight. Make your own marshmallow gun from eHow and then have a marshmallow battle. 
  • Give each other massages. Read about massage techniques from Better Massage Therapy, warm up some olive oil and enjoy a relaxing date night at home.
  • Enjoy a fondue night. Having a fondue supper takes time, so plan to spend several hours eating your dinner using recipes from Best Fondue.

Outdoor Date Ideas

Are the two of you the active outdoorsy types? Then these 10 outdoor date ideas may be just the thing for you.

  • Apple picking. Not only do you end up with tasty apples at the end of this date, but you can spend several hours just enjoying the activity, explains Date Daily.
  • Go to the beach. If you have a beach relatively close, drive there for a swim or just walk along the water holding hands, says Creative Date Ideas.
  • Tubing down the river. Tubing is a relaxing way to spend several hours together and stay cool during the warm summer months. Find a river to tube down near where you live like Kittatinny.
  • Fishing. Go fishing and try to catch your own dinner. My FWC has tips for fishing in fresh water.
  • Find some food trucks. Do you have a food truck near where you live? The Examiner explains that you could do a tasting from several food trucks or take your food to go to another event.
  • Go to the drive-in. With the comeback of drive-in theaters, it’s easier than ever to find one near you. Can’t find one? Make one in your backyard like the one on Stay Crafty My Friends.
  • Build a campfire. Having a date with a campfire can be very relaxing and romantic. Learn how to build a campfire from Smokey Bear.
  • Go to a pumpkin patch. Find a pumpkin patch near you on Pumpkin Patches and More.
  • Fly a kite. Buy kites or make your own using the tips on Skratch Pad. Running around at the park flying kites and acting like a kid again can be a fun way to spend an afternoon.
  • Visit a festival of some kind. Take a look at Festivals to find a festival near you and plan to spend a day walking hand in hand exploring something new.

Unusual Date Ideas

Don’t resign yourself to the same restaurant you frequent every Friday night. Instead, get out of your dating rut by using the ideas from these 10 articles.

  • Watch the sun rise together on a rooftop or hill. Get up early, grab some flashlights and a thermos full of coffee and travel to wherever you want to watch the sun rise. Find coffee drink recipes on All Recipes.
  • Take a pottery class together. Find a pottery class for couples like the one found on Clay Ways.
  • Paint a water color painting. Read through the tips on John Lovett to learn the basics, then see how talented the two of you are when it comes to painting.
  • Bake cookies. There are many ways to make this activity romantic; use the recipe found on Martha Stewart to get started.
  • Share an ice cream sundae. Learn all about how the Ice Cream Sundae started, then find an out of the way ice cream parlor and share a really big ice cream sundae.
  • Traveling dinner. Plan to go to a different place for each course of your meal, starting with drinks and going to dessert. Check out an example on My Squeaky Sneakers.
  • Go roller-skating. Whether you went as a kid or have never gone, roller skating is a fun way to enjoy a date where you are practically forced to hold hands. Find a skating rink near you using the roller skating rink directory on Planet on Wheels.
  • Bring a book and a blanket and read to each other. Check out the most recent best- selling books on NY Times.
  • Go on a breakfast date. Find a restaurant known for its breakfast menu like the ones listed on Southern Living and then spend the day together.
  • Try letterboxing. Go online to Letterboxing.org and get the directions to find a specific box in your area. Be sure to take a small rubber stamp and a note pad with you.

Food Related Dates

Food is a universal way to bond with others, making food-focused date nights a great option. Try out the food-related dates on these 10 posts for some date night fun.

  • Take a cooking class together. You can check your local newspaper for local cooking classes or aim for one of the best cooking classes shared on Forbes.
  • Taste test cupcakes around your city. Pull out the yellow pages to find several cupcake stores in your area or try one of the top cupcakes in the country listed on Today.
  • Try an eating contest. Decide what you will eat, like marshmallows, pizza, hotdogs, onion rings or something else. Here’s a recipe for onion rings on David Lebovitz.
  • Host a honey tasting. Brush up on how to distinguish between different honeys using the tips on Williams-Sonoma.
  • Have a chili cook-off. Learn how to judge chili by reading The Nest and the two of you can bring or cook a couple of different types and pick your favorite.
  • Find and buy nostalgic candy. Create a list of your childhood favorites and go on a search. Here’s a list of Old Time Candy.
  • Make a tasty dinner over an open fire. Check out these recipes on Dutch Oven Dude for how to use a Dutch oven to cook almost anything on an open fire.
  • Be a little indulgent and make a bunch of carnival food at home. Whether you enjoy corn dogs, funnels cakes or another carnival favorite, you can find recipes on Food Network.
  • Make your own sushi at home. Try your hand at making your own sushi together by using the tips on Make My Sushi.
  • Iron Chef date night. Are you both foodies and love to cook? Have your own Iron Chef contest at home using the tips on Allie Shellaway.

Romantic Date Night Ideas

Whether you are planning an anniversary date, a Valentines date or a date to celebrate some other occasion, there’s no shortage of ideas for a romantic date night. Need some inspiration? Look at the 10 options we’ve compiled below.

  • Book a dinner cruise. There’s something romantic about being on the water at night. Find a dinner cruise in your area like this one at Bateaux New York.
  • Curl up in front of the fireplace. Take a cue from Divine Caroline and have a date by the fireplace.
  • Movie marathon. Rent some romantic comedies or other favorite romantic movies, open a bottle of wine and snuggle on the couch. Here’s a list of the top romantic comedies of all time on Paste Magazine.
  • Go dancing. Afraid you don’t know the current dances? Check out the top 10 You Tube dance lessons on Make Use Of.
  • Take a dance class. Learning to dance the Tango or another romantic dance could be a fun date night idea. Check out Take Lessons to find a dance studio near you.
  • Find a chocolate tasting to attend. Chocolate is not only sensual to eat, but you get feelings of love when you consume it. Read about how chocolate is made on About.
  • Attend a reflexology class. To help you find a class near you check out Laura Norman.
  • Go bowling. This may not sound romantic at first, but there are ways to make bowling romantic. Take a look at these seven reasons bowling is a smart date choice on Glamour.
  • Take a trip to the zoo. You don’t have to go at night, but you can hold hands and flirt as you walk around looking at the animals. Find a zoo near you on AZA.
  • Go on a carriage ride. There will be time to cuddle and hold hands while riding in a carriage. Find a local carriage company like the one on Chicago Carriage.

For Teens

Teenagers just entering the dating scene may find themselves at a loss for what to do. To alleviate the stress of figuring out the perfect date night, use the ideas from these 10 blogs.

  • Go on a bike ride. Bring along some water and snacks and go on a ride. Find a bike trail on Traillink.
  • Walk around an unusual museum. Find a weird museum by checking out Travel Channel.
  • Play miniature golf. Mini golf is perfect for a fun, low pressure date night where you both can just have fun trying to sink a hole in one. Find a miniature golf course near you on Golflink.
  • Go rock climbing. You aren’t forced to keep a non-stop flow of conversation going while rock climbing, which can alleviate some pressure. Find an indoor facility near you on Indoor Climbing.
  • Take in a movie with a group of friends. Going with a group to a dark movie theater can prevent sending the wrong message. Find a theater close to you on Fandango.
  • Go ice skating. There are tons of rinks around and several are even at malls. Skating also gives you a good excuse to hold hands. Locate a rink near you on Rink Time.
  • Plan a picnic and paddle boat ride. Check local lakes or ponds for rental paddle boats or look on TPWD in Texas.
  • Check out a go kart park. Ride together or separately and race around the track enjoying the adrenaline rush. Find the closest course by looking on Kart Finder.
  • Take your dog to a dog park. If you both have dogs, enjoy a couple hours of letting the dogs play and getting the chance to talk. To find a dog park close to you look on Nylabone.
  • Go to an amusement park. Riding the rides together and eating tasty food could be a lot of fun. Check out Theme Parks to find a park near you.

Cultural Date Night Ideas

Do you enjoy looking at paintings, listening to orchestra music or catching an Indie film? Sharing these things with the person you are dating is a great way to figure out if you two will have things in common. Try out one of these 10 ideas.

  • Shakespeare in the Park. Grab a blanket and some snacks and find a patch of grass to sit on to enjoy some Shakespeare. Find local performances on Shakespeare in the Park.
  • Outdoor symphony concerts. Enjoy an outdoor concert together for free; don’t forget to bring your own lawn chair. Find concerts, festivals and more at Camping.
  • Walking art sculpture tour of your city. You might be surprised at the sculptures available in your city. Check with your tourism office to find a list like this one on Red Tricycle.
  • Go to an art museum. Take a walk through an art museum or gallery, check out the artwork and talk about the pieces. To find a museum check out Museums.
  • Check out the local arboretum. The plants in an arboretum change seasonally, so you can go on a date almost anytime throughout the year and see something different. Find an arboretum close to you at Proflowers.
  • Go to a jazz bar and enjoy some mellow tones. There’s something about sitting and listening to jazz that will take you back in time. Check your city’s convention and visitor’s bureau to find a jazz club like the one on Visit KC.
  • Attend a poetry reading. Your local newspaper may list poetry readings or you can check at Poets.
  • Go see an Indie movie. Independent movies are often shorter films about heavier topics. Check out a list of the best Indie films on Movie City News.
  • Take in an off Broadway musical. If you enjoy musicals you can typically find a good selection on Ticketmaster.
  • Check out a performance at the community theater. Shows change throughout the year, so if you have a community theater troupe you should keep track of which shows they are performing. To find a community theater in your town go to Love Your City Theater.

Double Date Ideas

Ready to spend a night out with another couple? Check out the various double date ideas in these 10 posts.

  • Host a wine tasting. Invite everyone to bring a bottle or two of wine and bag them up so no one knows what they are drinking, then let everyone rate the wines. Here are some tips from Wine Mag on hosting a wine tasting.
  • Have a dinner party. If you are up for it you can plan the entire thing, but otherwise it’s acceptable to invite friends to bring some of the food. Tips for hosting a dinner party can be found on Lauren Conrad.
  • Go to a sporting event. Sporting events can be a lot more enjoyable if you go with more people; find tickets on Stub Hub.
  • Host a brunch. For something different, plan a brunch. Read more on Diana’s Desserts for tips.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt. This can be a fun way to spend a few hours. One couple can plan the hunt for the other couple and you meet up at a specified time. For more help on pulling off the best scavenger hunt, check out Lifescript.
  • Play a round of disc golf. As this sport grows, disc golf courses are popping up all over the place. To find one in your area check PDGA.
  • Go to a comedy club. Grab another couple to share a night of laughs at a local comedy club. If you don’t know where one is, check out Comedy Rocks to find one.
  • Play doubles tennis. Even if you aren’t big tennis players, you can still go bat the ball around. Borrow some rackets and read up on the rules for doubles tennis at Tennis Tips.
  • Play laser tag. What could be more fun to do with another couple than to run around in the dark shooting lasers at other people? Find a laser tag center near you by checking Where to Play Laser Tag.
  • Go sledding. This seasonal activity is limited to certain areas of the country, but can be a romantic date if you share a sled. Find some of the best hills at Sled Riding.

Low Cost Date Nights

Don’t spend a fortune every time you go on a date. Instead, check out these 10 low-cost date ideas, so you can have fun without breaking the bank.

  • Brunch and a matinee. This variation on dinner and a movie might work out better for everyone’s schedule and it’s less expensive. Check your local theaters to see if they offer specials like the one at PG Plate.
  • Put together a scrapbook of past dates. Using pictures, ticket stubs, brochures and more you can create a date night memory book. Scrapbooking basics can be found on Layout a Day.
  • Tour model homes to get decorating ideas. Daydream about your perfect home together or find ideas for your own home. Read these ideas on AZ Central.
  • Go to a Renaissance Faire together. Plan to dress up or use a funny accent to make the day even more fun. Find the closest faire at RenFaire.
  • Take a trip to a nearby town and go window shopping. There’s fun to be had by looking at all of the window displays. Check out these windows at The World’s Best Ever.
  • Volunteer together to make a difference. Whether you are picking up trash or serving food, you could make a difference in someone’s life. For volunteer opportunities in your area check Volunteer Match.
  • Learn how to plant a garden. Many garden centers will offer inexpensive or even free classes from time to time. Check out Good Life Garden for some options.
  • Take a home improvement class. Several home improvement stores offer classes on tiling, painting and other things free of charge. Check out the list on Workshops.
  • Feed some local ducks. Bring along bread or cat food for the ducks and a container of spiked lemonade for the two of you. Check out the lemonade recipes on Yummly.
  • Go zip lining together. Many times area lakes have zip lines; check Go Ape to find some of the bigger zip lines around.
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Navigating a Move With Children: How to Help Them Adjust

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Moving from one home to another can be an exciting adventure for a family. For children, though, the move can be bittersweet. While they may be thrilled about a new room or the prospect of a new neighborhood, they may also feel anxiety about leaving close friends or a familiar school behind.

As a parent, you can help your child adjust by displaying positivity, encouragement and patience while he or she copes with the uncertainty and lifestyle changes a move can bring to the surface.

Recognizing the Challenges

According to Family Therapist Stephanie Manes, it would be impossible to generalize about the challenges children face with a move. How a child is affected depends on a variety of factors, she says.

“The issues and the relative magnitude will depend on a variety of factors, such as the developmental stage, distance (is it down the block or across the state?), and family circumstances,” says Manes. “For example, is the move precipitated by divorce, loss of employment or associated with an intensely stressful period for the parents?”

Recognizing the stressors associated with the family’s move can help you recognize the most significant challenge for your child.

One of the most common challenges for children during a move is the readjustment to a new school and a new peer group. “Even for very socially comfortable kids, being the new kid on the block can be a source of intense stress, which may take quite a while to resolve,” says Manes. “For kids with any kind of social anxiety or history of bullying, this will be acute.”

As school-aged children are adjusting to new social groups, younger children may also face challenges associated with the move. “Younger children will primarily experience moves as a readjustment in structure and routine, which in and of itself is stressful, but can be addressed in a more direct and concrete way,” says Manes.

No matter the age, according to Manes, children will feel the impact of a move. “If the move is part of distressing changes within the family, children will likely feel that and the impact of ‘normal’ adjustment may be intensified as they cope with larger family issues,” she says.

Coping With the Changes

When adjusting to the changes of a move, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to help children adjust, says Manes. Depending on the nature of the move, children will adjust in various manners, but your support, love and encouragement are crucial during the process.

If the move is simply to a new home and not occasioned by other family changes, school-aged kids and beyond won’t need much other than some reassurance that the connections to the old neighborhood and friends will stay alive, says Manes. Very young kids, though, will benefit from a slow introduction to their home, new caregivers and the use of transitional objects to make them feel at home.

“You can involve them in setting up items from their old home in their new space or let them help decorate their new room,” suggests Manes. “Try to keep routines as constant as you can, such as meal times and sleep schedules.”

School-aged kids and teens who are switching schools may need extra emotional help with the social transition. Parents and nannies should maintain a high level of empathy with the challenges their kids are facing, says Manes. “Let them know that you know how tough and scary this can be,” she says. “Show a lot of curiosity and ask how it is going.”

Although teens may rebuff the questions, keep letting them know that you are there to talk about it. “Don’t minimize the distress here,” warns Manes. “Let them feel as bad as they need to, but keep showing that you are still there.”

However, if you see major changes in their mood or behavior, such as withdrawal, extended periods of tearfulness or big shifts in eating or sleeping patterns, Manes recommends enlisting the help of a counselor or therapist.

It’s important to note that a cheerful word, welcoming hug or even a smile can make a big difference when children are struggling with the changes. “Sometimes, kids just want to know that you will be around at the end of the day, ready to just hand them a cookie or give them a hug,” says Manes.

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Helping Your Child Understand Divorce

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Divorce is never easy for an adult, much less a child who feels he is losing an essential part of his family. When parents separate, it’s common for children to have deep feelings about the changes that are occurring and those that are coming in the future.

The key to helping a child understand divorce is to put yourself in his shoes and show compassion and support when he is expressing his feelings. Once you can understand his perspective, it will enable you, as the parents or the caregiver, to help him cope and adjust to the family changes.

How A Child Feels

All children, regardless of how well parents have tried to explain the situation to them, tend to feel that they may be responsible for the divorce, says Barbara Lavi, psychologist and author of “The Wake Up and Dream Challenge.”

“They also usually wish for their parents to get back together so that their family will be normal again, like other children’s families,” says Lavi. “This is often true even when the marriage has been stormy and the children have witnessed the conflicts.”

The age of your child also plays a factor in how he feels and processes the divorce. “Children around age five or six are most likely to believe they have caused the divorce since they are still struggling with magical thinking,” says Lavi. “Teens are more likely to be outwardly angry and act out, although this can happen at any age. Unconsciously, this may be an attempt to bring the parents back together; however, this often backfires and leads to more conflict after an initial attempt to get the teen back on track.”

According to Dr. Judy Rosenberg, California-based psychotherapist,  a child coping with a parent’s divorce often experiences some or all of the following thoughts:

  • “It’s my fault that you are leaving each other. If I wasn’t so difficult, you wouldn’t be so stressed and you wouldn’t have argued as much.”
  • “You are ruining my life. Because of you two, I have to disrupt my entire life to go back and forth between two homes.”
  • “I’m not safe. Because I don’t have two people to protect me at all times, I’m more vulnerable.”
  • “I hate the other person you left mommy or daddy for.”

These thoughts and feelings will surface sooner or later, Rosenberg warns, so it is important for both parents and nannies to be prepared for these reactions.

How You Can Help

During this difficult time in your child’s life and development, he needs to know that you sincerely care about what he is feeling. Lavi suggests encouraging open discussions about the divorce, the family changes and the plans for the future. “Talk to your children. Find out what they are thinking and feeling,” she says. “Don’t feed them the words. Ask open-ended questions that leave them room to express whatever they are feeling.”

As your child begins to open up, validate his feelings to avoid conflict or total shut down. “Let them know that whatever they are feeling is okay and that you will try to help them with whatever is bothering them about the divorce,” says Lavi. “Let them know that it is between the parents and that even if both disagree about parenting issues, this is not the reason for the divorce.”

It also helps to explain to a younger child that there are some issues or disagreements he will not understand fully until he is older, but that you are willing to speak with him whenever he has questions or concerns.

The more a trusted caregiver or parent can reassure a hurting child, the more he will be willing to talk openly about the divorce. The child just needs to know that he is loved by both parents, says Lavi. “Make sure they know that you and your spouse love them and will always be their parents, that the two of you will do your best to make sure that all their needs are met,” she says. “Be clear and consistent that you are not going to get back together, if that’s true.”

The key to helping a child cope with his parent’s divorce is to use the strategy of perspective, according to Rosenberg. “If you can, make it easy for them to go back and forth between two parents,” she says. “Spend extra time with your child or children and make sure that you take the pressure off of them when they blame themselves for the divorce.”

As you hopefully develop a stronger bond with your child emotionally, resist the urge to project your feelings of sadness, anger or resentment onto him. “Never lean on your children to be your best friend and ear for your own pain and sympathy,” says Rosenberg. “They have enough to deal with.”

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10 Questions to Ask a Babysitter’s References

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Through coffee meet-ups with other moms and introductions from a friend-of-a-friend, you have a line on a prospective babysitter. You chat on the phone, things sounds good, you ask for past references as a final step before meeting… now what?

Use this handy list of 10 questions to ask your prospective sitter’s references.

*If you feel uncomfortable with the idea of “grilling” another parent, consider adding an “on a scale of one to 10” element for applicable questions to speed up the process and make it feel more objective/less personal.

How did you come to meet your sitter? 

Pay attention to any unusual hesitations or nervousness. If, like you, she was a reference from another family, this will be an easy question to immediately answer. If the person you’re speaking to is really her boyfriend’s sister or her best friend from her junior year posing as a parent, this might catch them off guard. If this is the case, it wouldn’t be the first time someone tried to inflate their resume and might not signal a serious red flag, but honesty is a big part of the relationship and is necessary between a parent and sitter.

In what capacity and for how long did she work for you?

If the relationship was very brief, this could signal a problem. Although a nice person might not say anything negative about the sitter, if she was a real gem the parent would still be having her care for their children unless it was by nature a short term need, such as a travel nanny or to cover during a parental illness or short term contract. If the parent responds with a short term of employment, but qualifies that she only left so soon because she got a better offer for more hours/better pay, this also tells you she might be susceptible to poaching.

What are her best and worst qualities?

These sort of open-ended questions allow the parent to feel relaxed about sharing impressions, since there’s no sense of ‘if I answer in this manner, she’s going to be dismissed’.  Patience, maturity, creativity and a high energy nature are all things you can find out by asking this question that could color your child’s experience.

How would you describe her discipline style? Was this in line with your philosophy?

This tells you both her natural reaction to things going awry (and could be a deal breaker if you are on a different page entirely) and if she follows direction as to keeping with the household rules and consequences or believes in doing things her own way.

Did she have a routine when working with your kids?

Throw a rock and you’ll hit a study or article touting the benefits of routine for children to feel secure and comfortable, largely because it helps them understand the expectations put on them. If she doesn’t believe in following a routine, she might not have invested a lot of time in learning about childcare. (Although maybe an energetic, “fun” babysitter that will just play with the kids meets your needs for the occasional night out.)

Did she return the house in the same shape it was left?

Some babysitters “don’t do windows”. That’s fine. But if you return from a romantic date night or a stressful dinner meeting to a house covered in Cheerios, a sink full of dishes she personally used and a glue stick attached to the sofa cushion, it might be an indication that she’s not going to work out for you.

Did you ever have her sit overnight or drive the kids on outings?

This is telling. While parents have different ideas about what makes a good caretaker, the fact that another parent felt comfortable with her taking on that much responsibility shows their trust in her.

Did you ever have an emergency situation arise while she was caring for your kids? How did she react? 

Listen for clues as to whether she handled it in line with your philosophy (Did a cut finger get a call to 911? Did she put a hard bonk to the head to bed without checking for potential concussion signs?), if she remained calm during the event and how she communicated with the parents during and after the incident. Take note as to whether the emergency included tip offs that she might not be as diligent in watching the kids, such as if she “didn’t know how they got hurt” or “only turned her back for a second” before something disastrous occurred. Follow up with questions about how the kids acted after she had left – were they nonchalant because she kept her cool or affected because of a shared sense of panic?

Why did you stop the working relationship, and would you rehire her in the future?

It might have been something as simple as she had allergies and they had cats, or they needed overnights and she was a student. Knowing that there was no good reason for the two to part ways will feel as reassuring as learning that there was good reason, like if she had a boyfriend over or hid mishaps from the parents and told the kids to stay mum, so you know to steer clear if it’s an issue.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

This is the catchall for things that might have sprung to mind during the conversation. Build a connection with the reference, offer your info if they think of anything else and genuinely thank them for their time, stressing how important it is for parents to stick together when it comes to something as important as their kids.

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Instant Motherhood: What to Expect With a New Baby

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Many parents think that the long nights and tiring months filled with worry that lead to the day the baby is born will prepare them for this instant bundle of joy. However, many new mothers are surprised to learn that their baby is not the “average” child they have read about in every possible book about raising children.

Each child has individual characteristics and blooming personalities that make it difficult for new moms to prepare themselves emotionally. Will your baby be a crier, a chipper child, a restless sleeper or an active eater?

Although it is impossible to predict what your baby will be like before he or she is born, you can prepare yourself for any type of bundle of joy with tips and techniques on how to care for your child, bond with your baby and gather supplies you will need.

Stock Up on Supplies

Even though you may be excited about your newest addition to the family, resist the urge to overdo it when it comes to stocking up on supplies for a newborn. Many children grow out of 0-9 months clothing within the first week, leaving parents with a closet full of adorable sleepers and onesies with tags still attached.

Instead, focus your attention on these must-have items:

  • Infant Car Seat
  • Crib or Bassinet
  • Disposable Diapers, Diaper Cream and Wipes
  • Air-Controlled Bottles or Breastfeeding Pump
  • Blankets, Hooded Towels and Wash Cloths
  • Baby Grooming and Medical Set
  • Onesies and Sleeper Sets in a Variety of Sizes

You also want to equip your home with items that may make your baby more comfortable, such as pacifiers, a swing or carrier, a white noise sound machine or a stroller. As your child grows, investing in a playpen may also help during travel and nap times.

Prepare to Provide Comfort

More importantly, your baby needs an environment that is comforting, says Dr. Deborah Serani, New York-based psychologist and author of “Depression and Your Child: A Guidebook for Parents and Caregivers.”

“Research shows that new parents experience enormous stress when bringing a new baby home due to the changes in lifestyle,” says Serani. “One tried and true way new parents can cope is to aim for comfort over control. This means letting go of generalized parenting rules or advice that comes from well-meaning others regarding how to do things.”

One surefire way to find your parenting style is to bond with your newborn. New babies expect lots of touching and holding, says Leigh Anne O’Connor, New York-based lactation consultant and mother of three.  “When these expectations are met, the whole family copes better and there is less crying, confusion and stress,” she says.

When your baby eats every two to three hours, use this opportunity to provide skin-to-skin contact and form a bond. As he is sleeping – and he will sleep a lot during the first few weeks – stroke his head or hold his hand to provide the comfort he needs.

As your child begins to open his eyes more and follow your face and voice, use this opportunity to make eye contact, sing silly songs and make faces so he can familiarize himself with you and your interactions with each other.

Establish Routine with Some Flexibility

While trying to feed, change, nurture and bond with your child, it may seem useless to establish any type of schedule or structure in the household right away, but it is necessary. Although, know that routine will likely develop slowly with a new child in the home. “Try not to rush it or force it,” recommends Serani. “If so, new parents are likely to move through feelings reminiscent of a classic grief reaction, such as shock, denial, anger, guilt, acceptance and adjustment.”

According to Serani, the cycle of feelings can vary, especially when coping with a newborn’s sleep schedule. Common feelings may include the following:

  • Oh my God, I can’t believe my baby won’t sleep through the night. (shock)
  • How come I can’t get my baby to sleep through the night? (denial)
  • Grrr. I’m so frustrated that my baby won’t sleep through the night. (anger)
  • I must be doing something wrong since she’s not sleeping during the night. (guilt)
  • Okay, well, maybe my baby won’t ever sleep through the night. (acceptance)
  • You know what? In time, I know my baby will sleep through the night. (adjustment)

Bonding with your baby involves getting to know what to expect as a sleep schedule. Although each child is different, according to Jenn Kelner, certified child sleep consultant and owner of BabyZzz in Toronto, Canada, a baby’s sleep schedule will be very unorganized until around six weeks of age. “Your child’s biological sleep rhythms don’t exist yet, so there are not patterns as to when and how long your baby will sleep,” she says.

Although many newborns sleep 15-18 hours a day in two-four hour stretches, says Kelner, it is common for parents to feel sleep-deprived themselves. Kelner suggests parents take care of themselves, which means napping while your child is napping, and understand that this, too, shall pass.

“The first few weeks home from the hospital is a wonderful chance to hold, cuddle and bond with your baby,” says Kelner. “It’s important to respond to your child’s needs and try to get as much rest as possible.”

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100 Easy One Dish Meals for Busy Moms

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For many moms, preparing dinner is the most stressful part of the day. From the meal prep to the clean-up, trying to get a home cooked meal on the table can be a real challenge. You can simplify your dinner routine by sticking with easy one dish recipes. Here are 100 one dish meal ideas to get you started.

Casseroles

The casserole is an old stand-by in the way of one-dish meals. Casseroles travel well, freeze well and tend to stay hot longer than other kinds of cooking. These dishes also often have fillers like rice or pasta built into the dish, so they’re easy to serve to a larger crowd. They tend to work well as leftovers, too, making them the perfect dinner. Take a look at these 10 casserole recipes and see if any of them appeal to you.

  • Spicy Coconut Chicken Casserole—Try this simple and spicy dish created by The Urban Mrs.
  • Polish Casserole Recipe—This recipe features polish sausages called Kielbasa and penne pasta from Taste of Home.
  • Chicken Alfredo Casserole {A Dreamy One-Dish Meal}—Enjoy the rich creaminess of this simple recipe by Mommy’s Kitchen.
  • Chili Relleno Casserole, Tangy One Pot Meal—This egg dish from Circle Me can be enjoyed for breakfast or dinner.
  • Meat and Potato Casserole—One Dish Dinner!—If your family likes meat and potatoes for supper, try this one dish meal by The Shady Porch.
  • World’s Greatest Chicken Pot Pie Recipe—For those people who say they don’t like casseroles this is the solution found on Oprah.
  • Meat Noodle Casserole—This casserole by Parent Society can be made with beef, chicken, or turkey depending upon what you have on hand.
  • Cracker Barrel Broccoli Cheddar Chicken—If you like the original dish at the restaurant you are going to love this copycat recipe by All Free Casserole Recipes.
  • Beefy Skillet Nacho Bake—Mix up this recipe by The Weekend Gourmet and serve with tortilla chips for a fun and simple dinner.
  • Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole—Combine two childhood favorites into one casserole with this recipe from Buns in My Oven.

Slow Cooker

Mom’s everywhere know the best meal helper they have is the slow cooker. You can load up the cooker in the morning and come home to a finished dinner at night. In a hurry? Speed up the slow cooker process by prepping and freezing ingredients for meals so they’re ready to go whenever you need them. Cooking in a slow cooker is a smart way to save money too, because the low and slow cooking style allows you to use cheaper cuts of meat that will still result in a tender and delicious meal. Read through these slow cooker meals to get some new ideas for your family dinners.

  • Pot Roast Meal—A healthy and simple dinner option by Title Boxing Club will help you get your meat and veggies in for a complete meal.
  • Jambalaya {A One Pot Meal}—This Cajun specialty can be pretty spicy, so you might want to go slow on adding the spice part according to Country Girl in the Village.
  • Crock Pot Chicken, Rice, and Veggie DishSOA Event Concepts has combined basic ingredients to create this simple dish.
  • Crockpot Breakfast CasseroleEat. Drink. Love has put together this convenient breakfast dish that’s perfect for the mornings when you don’t want to get up early to fix breakfast for a crowd.
  • Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings—Whip this recipe together in no time! You can even use frozen chicken to slow the cooking down according to Stuff Parents Need.
  • Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing—Only four ingredients go into this super simple one pot meal that’s featured on Stockpiling Moms.
  • Wine-Infused Pork Roast Crock Pot Meal—There’s no muss or fuss when making this one pot dish by Surviving a Teacher’s Salary.
  • Thanksgiving: Turkey and Stuffing Crock Pot Casserole—You’ll have plenty for dinner with this seasonal dish by The Kitchen Witch.
  • Crock Pot Chicken and Sweet Potatoes: Healthy, Flavorful Meal for a Special Occasion—This dinner is special enough for company, but truly simple enough for any day of the week by New Orleans Mom.
  • Slow Cooker Quinoa and Black Bean Chili—Make this dinner when you have a busy night of running kids to practices suggests Healthnut Foodie.

Stir Fries

You don’t need a wok to make a stir-fry – any large non-stick skillet will work. And you don’t have to cook Asian-inspired meals either. These 10 blogs feature various types of stir-fries that will please any palate. Some, like the southwestern stir-fry and the onion, pepper and steak stir-fry, can be made without traditional Asian ingredients. The trick to creating a delicious stir-fry is being prepared, so cut up your ingredients over the weekend and put them all in a gallon-sized zipper topped bag marked with the day of the week you plan to fix it.

  • Southwestern Pork Stir Fry—For a true one pot dish serve this stir fry from MJ’s Kitchen with tortillas or whip up a batch of polenta to go alongside it.
  • Stir-Fried Beef with Tropical Fruit—You can serve this stir-fry in lettuce cups or with rice as a side according to Our Kitchen.
  • Beef and Veggie Stir-Fry—Serve this dish with some leftover rice from the fridge or noodles suggests MOPS.
  • Stir-Fry—This recipe from Table 365 is less of a recipe and more of a technique that lets you pick what protein, veggies and sauce you want to use in your stir-fry.
  • One Pot Pork and Chorizo—Follow the directions from Family Foodie to whip up this quick stir-fry that uses pre-cooked rice.
  • Authentic Asian Stir-Fry—You can make this stir-fry with pork or chicken and basic vegetables by following the recipe on Pint Sized Treasures.
  • Happy Family Stir-Fry—Made with seafood, chicken and beef this stir-fry will definitely make any meat eater happy. The recipe and directions can be found on Cooking Jar and Happy Accidents.
  • Beef, Broccoli and Kimchi—Cook time on this stir-fry is only 15 minutes, so it’s important to get everything prepped ahead of time according to Spicie Foodie.
  • Onion, Pepper and Steak Stir-FryFam Friends Food suggests you speed up the making of this dish by buying pre-cut stir-fry beef from the store.
  • Spicy Pork Teriyaki Stir-FryGrumpy Hungry suggests using day old rice in this dish and leftover veggies from the fridge to speed up this stir-fry even more.

Vegetarian

Vegetarian dishes don’t have to be boring or difficult. Take a look at the recipes in these 10 blogs to see how varied vegetarian eating can be. It’s important to make sure that your one-dish meal contains some sort of protein, whether its tofu, beans, eggs or dairy. Getting enough iron is also important, so you should try to include dark leafy greens when you can to bump up your iron intake. Gather other healthful ideas by reading these blogs.

  • Mafalda and Vegetables with Asiago Fontina Cheese Sauce—This dish combines pasta with vegetables and cheese and is a hearty vegetarian option from The Iowa Housewife.
  • Sweet Chili, Hoisin, Tofu & Vegetable Noodles—While this dish from Fuss Free Cooking is an Asian-inspired stir fry, it best fits with the vegetarian meals.
  • Sweet and Sour Vegetarian Stir-Fry—This dish is made with tofu, noodles and tons of vegetables from Foxes Love Lemons.
  • One-Pot Beet, Rosemary & Kale Arborio Rice Pilaf Recipe—The vibrant color and flavor of the beets make this dish by Cookin’ Canuck a showstopper.
  • Tofu and Bok Choy Stir-Fry—This dish can be served alone or with rice and is a quick weeknight meal choice by Eating Bird Food.
  • Mushroom Fried RiceShweta in the Kitchen explains how to make this vegetarian stir-fry more filling by using meaty mushrooms.
  • Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Crunchy Topping—Enjoy this comfort food any night of the week from Tablespoon.
  • Vegetable Rava Biryani/ Easy & Quick One-Pot MealSpicy Treats put together this recipe for vegetable rava biryani for a 30-minute meal challenge.
  • October Evening Lentil Soup with Spinach—Phoebe from Feed Me Phoebe came up with this recipe, and is now a cookbook author and on a cooking reality TV show.
  • Vegetarian Mushroom and Spinach LasagnaLisa’s Kitchen gives you the step-by-step instructions for making this rib-sticking dish – you won’t even miss the meat!

Make-Ahead Freezer Meals

What could be better than having dinner already made when you get home? How about having dinner already made and all you have to do is take it out of the freezer and toss it in the oven to bake while you take care of other matters? Having at least a few make-ahead freezer meals could help you save money by being able to avoid ordering in or running through the drive-thru on those busy nights when cooking is out of the question. You can make-ahead casseroles, soups and even slow cooker dinners. Keep in mind that certain ingredients freeze better than others, and sometimes you will need to freeze food before you bake it and other times you can bake it and then freeze the leftovers. These 10 recipes will help you get started putting some meals in the freezer for those nights when you are just too busy or too tired to think about making dinner.

  • Make-Ahead, Freezer-Friendly One Dish Meals: Steak Nacho Casserole—Try this perfect make-ahead dish by Temptations.
  • Mexican Lasagna—This meal freezes well and can be a life saver on those busy nights when you don’t have the energy to cook from Barefeet in the Kitchen.
  • Prepped Meals: Pre-Mixed and Frozen Slow Cooker Meals for an Easy Meal—Make these crock pot meals ahead of time and freeze them for a later date like The Krazy Coupon Lady does.
  • Crock Pot Beef and MushroomsFabulously Frugal makes this meal ahead and freezes it, then serves it alongside some mashed potatoes.
  • Healthy Chicken Vegetable Casserole—Leave the cheese for the day you reheat and freeze this casserole after you cover it well with foil according to Spark People.
  • Black Bean Chili—Put all of the ingredients in a freezer bag and lay flat to freeze. Then when you get ready to fix it just put all ingredients in the crock pot according to Baked in the South.
  • Country Casserole—This chicken and pasta dish has cheese and mixed veggies in it and can be frozen in a gallon zipper top bag until the night you need it according to Christy Jordan’s Southern Plate.
  • Quick and Easy Stuffed Shells—There’s something about cheese and pasta that make them simple to freeze ahead like in this recipe by Beyond Toast.
  • Baked ZitiAnnie’s Eats has come up with this freezer-friendly recipe that you can make up to the point of baking, then cover it in foil and freeze right in the dish or use a foil pan.
  • Chicken Pot Pies with Ham—You can mix this dish up, load it into ramekins and top it with the pastry dough before you let it cool and wrap it with plastic wrap and foil. Then freeze for up to three months according to Delish.

Budget-Friendly

With the price of groceries steadily escalating, it’s hard to make ends meet these days. How do you feed your family a filling and nutritious meal without spending more money? These 10 blogs have put together budget-friendly meals that will satisfy your family and keep your costs down.  Having these dishes be one-dish meals is just icing on the cake. Look at the ideas below to see if you can save some money at the grocery store.

  • Quick One Pot Red Beans and Rice—Only 12 ounces of turkey Kielbasa in this whole pot make this a budget-friendly one pot meal by A Kitchen Hoor.
  • Oven Roasted Autumn Medley—According to Budget Bytes this recipe only costs $7.04 per recipe.
  • Quick Tomato-Zucchini-Bean Pasta—Use vegetables from your garden for this recipe and you can save even more. According to Whole Foods on a Budget this meal comes in at around $6!
  • Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta—With only a little over a pound of shrimp in this dish, it still remains a pretty inexpensive one-pot option to feed four people. Recipe from Foodnetwork.
  • One Pot Leftover Sausage & Prawn Jambalaya—This is a leftover recipe, so if you have leftover chicken or pork use them instead of the prawns in this recipe from Rachel Phipps.
  • Jill’s Coconut, Lemon & Ginger Chicken with Couscous Recipe—This recipe is simple, only costs $4.19 per person to make and you can choose to serve it with couscous if you like, according to The Frugal Model.
  • Crock Pot Beef StewAmazing One Pot Meals uses inexpensive cuts of meat to make this dish that’s cooked low and slow.
  • Tuna Macaroni SaladSimple Recipes shows this simple and inexpensive recipe that you can serve cold.
  • Chicken Cacciatore One Pot—This inexpensive dinner from Mr. Food is fancy enough for guests, but won’t break the bank.
  • Skillet Moussaka—This Greek dish can be made with beef instead of lamb to save even more money according to Eating Well.

Soups

There’s nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a cool day, and soup reheats well for leftovers and can be frozen for a future meal. It also packs well for lunches. These one-dish soup recipes vary from creamy to brothy and from spicy to mild. You may want to serve some rolls or crusty bread with these soups as a side. Take a look at these 10 blogs and see if any of these soups sound good to you.

  • Crock Pot Potato Soup—On a cool morning put the ingredients for this comforting soup by Live Mom into the crock pot to have soup ready and waiting for you when you get home.
  • Make: Creamy Carrot-Ginger Soup with ShrimpBe Well Philly has come up with a tasty one pot dinner with no cream added.
  • Butternut Squash SoupWoman’s Day features this simple recipe that would work well when the grocery store is plentiful with inexpensive butternut squash or you have them in your garden.
  • Chicken and Brown Rice Soup—Mix up this simple soup by Goop to enjoy any night of the week.
  • Easy, One-Pot Post Run MealsRunner’s World has put together this ideal one-pot meal for runners to enjoy after a cold run.
  • Tortilla Soup Recipe—This soup can be as spicy as you want it to be and can be topped with sour cream, green onions and crispy tortilla strips from Kitchen Ability.
  • Escarole Soup with Turkey Meatballs (Italian Wedding Soup)—This recipe makes 12 cups of soup, so you will have leftovers that you can eat or freeze according to Gina’s Skinny Recipes.
  • Mexican Chicken SoupReal Simple has put together this soup that will serve 6 to 8 people, so there may be leftovers that you can take to work the next day.
  • Chickpea Chicken Soup—To speed up this soup recipe from How Sweet Eats you can chop your veggies on the weekend or earlier in the day.
  • Black Bean Soup—Try this slimmed down version of black bean soup from Paula Deen.

Asian Inspired

Change up your normal weekly menus by throwing in some different recipes from time to time. These Asian inspired recipes can be made cheaper than take-out and you will have the leftovers. Not all Asian inspired recipes are stir-fries, so glance through these 10 blogs to see what you think about these one-dish meals. Use some leftover rice with or in these dishes and you won’t even have to spend the time making the rice.

  • Pineapple Teriyaki Crockpot Chicken—In the mood for something a little different? Try this tasty dish by One Good Thing.
  • Asian Chicken Rice Pot—Made with chicken thighs and Chinese sausage, this one pot dinner from A Distinguished Palate is simple to make and hearty to eat.
  • Chicken and Pineapple Fried Rice—If you like traditional fried rice, you might like this twist on it from Rasa Malaysia, who has changed it up by adding chicken and pineapple.
  • Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe—Check out the video tip that goes with this recipe from Viet World Kitchen.
  • Asian Slaw with Ginger-Peanut DressingOnce Upon a Chef explains that this dish can be made as a side dish or a light lunch.
  • One Pot Asian Chicken, Rice and Bok Choy— According to A Family that Eats Together this recipe is similar to clay pot chicken.
  • Chicken and Mushroom Rice—This recipe is another recipe that is similar to the kind of clay pot chicken that can be found in the market according to Hungry Go Where.
  • One-Dish MealDelicious Asian Food shares this tofu and edamame dish that she claims is a popular dish among busy moms.
  • Spicy Asian Chicken and Rice—Try this one-pot dinner that is made in a Dutch oven and can be whipped up in only 35 minutes, according to The Balanced Baker.
  • Asian Fried Rice—Put together this meal in about 15 minutes per Notecook, as everything is thrown into a wok and cooked on high heat.

Vegan

Even if you aren’t vegan you may want to try a vegan recipe every now and then as a healthy alternative to heavier meals. Many people are trying a meatless Monday where they serve vegan or vegetarian dishes to save money and to be healthier. Some of these recipes are cooked in the slow cooker, whereas others are cooked over the stove, so no matter how you’d like to do your one-dish cooking there’s a vegan recipe for you. Try some of these recipes and see what you think.

  • Crock Pot Vegan Black Bean and Brown Rice Soup—This vegan recipe from Kitchen Treaty can be made in your slow cooker or in a stock pot on the stove.
  • Sesame, Shiitake and Greens Stir Fry—Beans and the peanut satay bring in some protein in this recipe from Made of Stars.
  • Pumpkin Coconut Red Curry Noodles from Hello Veggy—Enjoy this recipe created by a college student posting for Carrie on Vegan.
  • Vegan Szechuan String Beans with Chinese Black Bean Sauce and Cashews—This dish by The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes definitely has a kick to it with the addition Sriracha.
  • Garden Green EnchiladasGreen Gardening with Ann Lovejoy has put together this traditional enchilada recipe, but bumped up the veggies and cut out the meat.
  • Hearty One-Pot Miso Soup—Learn how to make this unique soup by getting the directions from Fat Free Vegan.
  • African Peanut and Sweet Potato Stew—This one-pot wonder is a unique combination of ingredients that you may already have around the house according to Vegangela.
  • Vegan Soy Veggie Ground Tacos with Mushrooms—Try this variation on a classic quick dinner selection that has now been made vegan by Low Fat Vegan Chef.
  • Vegetarian ChiliIn Good Taste put together this recipe that can easily be made vegan by leaving out the cheese on the top of the chili.
  • Speedy Sweet Potato Chili—Simple to make and you can make many additions to this vegan dish by Lunchbox Bunch.

Indian Food

Indian cooking requires a lot of spices, with curry being one of the most common. Take a look at the egg Bhruji, which is most often eaten at breakfast, and is a one-dish Indian meal that would certainly spice up your typical breakfast routine. These 10 blogs will give you a small sample of Indian recipes to try.

  • One Dish Meal: Fast Chicken Apple Curry—The spices are definitely the key to this tasty one pot meal from Miss Once Upon a Marathon.
  • Crock Pot Indian… Really!—This crock pot chicken curry recipe is something different to spice up a Tuesday night dinner says Cookie Doc.
  • Egg Bhruji (Beaten Egg Stir-Fry)—Commonly eaten at breakfast, this dish would also make a quick supper option as described by Just Indian Food.
  • Potato and Chickpea Curry with RiceVegetarian Times has put together this simple Indian recipe that is to be served with flat bread.
  • Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew—This Indian dish is budget-friendly and will also satisfy your craving for Indian food. Find the instructions for making this one pot wonder on The Kitchn.
  • Chicken-and-Okra CurryCountry Living has put together this one pot meal complete with coconut milk and garam masala for a mix of traditional Indian flavors.
  • Sweet and Sour Indian Vegetable Stew— Try this stew with butternut squash, cauliflower, eggplant and of course some Indian curry paste as described by Chatelaine.
  • Chicken CurryThe Family Dinner recommends this dinner as the perfect slow cooker meal.
  • Sweet Corn Rice-Sweet Corn PulaoPadhus Kitchen shares this unique vegetarian dish containing American sweet corn, and other more traditional Indian ingredients.
  • Masala Bhath (Maharashtrian Delight)The Indian Food Court shares this authentic recipe featuring chilies.
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How to Find the Right Babysitter for Your Family

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All parents need a break from time to time. This doesn’t make you a bad parent – just human. Time alone with your partner means finding someone else to watch your children, though, which can sometimes pose a problem. Ideally, you could choose a family member or trusted friend, but that isn’t always an option, particularly if you want a routine night out, such as a Friday date night.

Choosing the right babysitter is crucial, and a responsibility that you should not take lightly. Even at just a couple of hours a week, a babysitter has a tremendous effect and influence on a child. Therefore, it’s paramount to choose someone who acts in accordance with your beliefs and values.

Common Mistakes Parents Make

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is to neglect references, reviews, interviews and other resources. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of being overly casual, but you should approach the hunt for a babysitter as you would any other important business decision, such as investing or purchasing a home. Another mistake many parents make is limiting their options by entering the process with preconceptions about what type of person they need. By embracing open-mindedness, you’ll put yourself in a good position to make the best possible choice.

Know Your Childcare Priorities

Before you begin the process, consider your childcare priorities. These will vary from one family to the next, but there are good fundamentals that apply to all. First and foremost, the care should be comfortable to the child, and you should make all choices with his personality in mind. Parents should also strive for the highest-quality childcare available, delivered in the most productive way possible, but it’s also imperative that a balance be achieved between that and the family’s financial situation. Are you looking for someone to help your child do homework, or just keep him safe for a few hours while you’re out on the town? Think about your goals before you hire a sitter.

Evaluate a Child’s Strengths and Challenges

A parent should itemize what a child does well and what she struggles with. A thorough assessment will help you choose childcare based on your child’s real needs. For instance, if your child has a learning disability, choosing a babysitter with skills in that area can make the babysitting a more productive endeavor for the family.

Finding the Babysitter

Once you’ve performed an objective assessment of the situation, you can begin the process in earnest. Potential sources for babysitters include your personal network, your neighborhood, a church or similar institution, a babysitting agency or an ad in the local newspaper. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Check References: A babysitter must be patient and responsible. Check her references to make sure that’s the case. Don’t allow the source to interfere with your thoroughness, either. A babysitter from your neighborhood or church/synagogue should go through the same vetting process as someone who answered an ad.
  • Perform a Comprehensive Interview: A brief initial interview by phone is OK, but you’ll want to perform a thorough in-person interview before making a decision. Standard interview questions are a good idea, but they shouldn’t be the focus of this step. Instead, present challenging babysitting scenarios and listen closely to how the potential babysitter would handle those challenges.
  • Do a Test Run: If everything feels right after the in-person interview, then schedule a kid test. This is a common request these days, and most babysitters will have no problem with it; those who do balk at the suggestion are better to avoid. During the test, note the babysitter’s style, teaching skills and playfulness. Pay particular attention to how the child reacts. Choosing someone the child takes to is just as important as anything else.
  • Trust Your Parental Instincts: When it comes time to make a decision, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts, particularly regarding bad vibes. It doesn’t matter whether or not the vibes are accurate. What’s important is that you’re confident in your decision and comfortable with the person you’re hiring to watch your child. If you’re not, then you should go in a different direction.

Instructions for Babysitters

Parents need to take a proactive role in assuring that their babysitter choice is the right one. Do this by formulating your childcare priorities into a series of instructions that the caregiver can follow. Include emergency contacts, mapped emergency escape routes, medical information, approved food and drink lists, a possible activity schedule and so on.

Warning Signs

Finding the right babysitter for your children is an ongoing process. Keep in mind that your children’s needs will change over time, and the right babysitter today may not be the right fit tomorrow. You should also be realistic about the possibility that sometimes you might get a bad babysitter anyway. If so, be on the lookout for warning signs:

• Your child demonstrates fear or dislike of the babysitter

• Your child seems tired or hungry when you return home

• The babysitter doesn’t follow instructions and requests to the letter

• The babysitter is tardy, inattentive, secretive or potentially untruthful (e.g., sneaking a portion of your alcohol)

Remember: It’s all about being safe and comfortable, both for you and your child. The more work you put into finding a babysitter that fits your style, the happier you’ll all be in the long run.

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Typical Issues Parents Have with Daycare

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In an economy that’s still struggling to rebound and a financial climate that’s anything but promising, it’s becoming more and more necessary for both parents to work outside of the home in order to make ends meet. When you’re part of a partnership in which there is no stay-at-home parent, the first instinct is often to turn to large, center-based care to provide for your little ones’ needs while you’re working. What many parents don’t realize, however, is that there are a host of attendant issues that all too often rear their ugly heads after a few months of a center-based care arrangement. Before you enroll your children in the local daycare center, there are a few issues common to other working parents that you may want to consider.

  • Exposure to Germs and Illness – Even in the cleanest and most well-supervised facilities, babies and toddlers will be exposed to germs and illnesses from one another that they simply would not encounter at home. This can be as mild as a frequent runny nose or lingering cough, or as serious as a severe cold or flu. Kids can be contagious before they begin to exhibit real symptoms of illness, meaning that it’s important for parents to understand that mild to moderate sicknesses are a very real possibility for a child in daycare.
  • Neglect – Most daycare centers do have enough oversight and some policies in place to prevent children from ever being the victims of abuse or mistreatment. Even well-intentioned hourly workers can be somewhat guilty of neglect, though, especially in a situation where one or two workers are responsible for a large number of kids. Provider-to-child ratios in large daycare centers are often far from ideal, leaving many parents justifiably concerned about the quality of care their children are receiving.
  • Food Allergy and Sensitivity Issues – When there are 30 children to feed and only two or three aides to accomplish the task, it’s easy for information about food allergies or sensitivities to fall to the wayside. In some cases, exposure to problematic foods causes discomfort but is ultimately harmless, while other situations can be very serious or even fatal.
  • Expenses – In situations where there is only one child enrolled in center-based care, it may be less expensive to opt for the center than to hire a private childcare provider. What many parents don’t realize, however, is that expenses can increase dramatically with each new enrollment. Therefore, the affordable option can become prohibitively expensive as your family grows.
  • Caregiver Turnover – With the exception of the most high-end centers, most workers in daycare centers are paid low wages with few to no benefits. As a result, turnover is a very common problem, and not just for center administrators. When workers come and go, your child may have a difficult time forming a bond with the person who looks after him. This lack of consistency makes it hard for him to become comfortable and feel secure with one reliable, dedicated worker.
  • Late Pick-Up Policies – Overtime is par for the professional course for many of today’s working parents, but that news doesn’t always seem to trickle down to daycare center policymakers. From pricey fees for late pickups to termination of contracts, failing to pick your child up within the proper time frame can become a very serious issue with his daycare center.
  • Negative Influences and Environments – Because you’re not in charge or even present in a daycare center setting, your control over what your child is exposed to and what disciplinary methods can be used is somewhat limited. It’s not uncommon for the parents of children enrolled in center-based care to feel very real concern about what influences their kids are being exposed to when they’re not available to monitor the situation.
  • Other Children – It’s never very popular or polite to say that other peoples’ children are problematic influences or bullies, but it is an issue for some parents nonetheless. From communicable diseases to bad habits and bad language, from pushing to biting, there are a variety of unsavory behaviors your child can be exposed to at the hands of his young peers.

In the end, some parents opt for private, in-home care to allay their fears of neglect or outright mistreatment, while others shop from one daycare center to the next, always hoping for a better outcome. Others may never encounter any real issues with their daycare centers, but it is wise to be aware of the possibilities in order to make prepared, informed decisions in the event that an issue does arise.

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