How to Bring a Family Together

Although the divorce rate in the UK may have remained largely unchanged over the course of the last two years, this means that an estimated 42% of all marriages are likely to end in divorce. This is a daunting statistic, especially when you consider that 48% off all marital breakdowns impact directly on at least one child who is under the age of 16. It is therefore important that couples with children strive to put the needs of their children first at all times, regardless of whether their marriage is thriving or experiencing difficulties.

With this in mind, what practical steps can families take to reaffirm their status as a tight and happy unit? Consider the following: –

  1. Discover Common Ground and Invest Time into Individual Relationships

On a fundamental level, families cannot hope to bond or survive difficult periods unless someone takes responsibility for the situation and showcases a willingness to invest time into maintaining individual relationships. Whether this involves strengthening the bond between siblings or parent and child, the end result is likely to be a more cohesive family unit that supports each other as and when required. To achieve this, you should strive to find some common ground on which long-standing relationships can be effectively built.

  1. Invest in Family Gifts and Games

Cast mind back to the days before satellite television, when Christmas Day was spent indulging in family time and genuinely interactive board games. Just because technological advancement has made this type of entertainment unfashionable, however, does not mean that it cannot be enjoyed by families who are looking to reconnect and engage in a truly meaningful way. Independent online retailers such as the Discovery Store boast a large array of family-orientated games, which can help to bring individuals closer together in the spirit of fun, adventure and excitement.

  1. Communicate Openly and Share Intimate Family Time

While it stands to reason that honest and open communication is key to building family ties, finding the time to interact in such a manner can be difficult when you consider the pressures of work and schooling. This is why you must be proactive and make family time a priority within the home, so that you can interact in person and without the distraction of files, television or a games console. As a starting point, consider earmarking meal times as one of the most important times of the day, and insist that every family eats together at the same table and at the same point in time.

Parenting on a Tight Budget Can Be Done

Bringing up a baby is a tough job at the best of times but what about if you need to do it on a tight budget? This might seem impossible but by making some smart choices it can be done.

Choose Second Hand Purchases

Buying second hand items can slice a huge amount off your monthly expenses. You can clothes, toys and all sorts of other stuff in this way. Some parents are a bit wary of buying pre-owned items for their little ones but this shouldn’t really be a worry. After all, you just need to thoroughly wash anything you buy. You will find a lot of bargains online by visiting the Gumtree site and looking for baby toys sale items, for example. This is a particularly good approach for parents who need to buy a lot of stuff for their children at the one time. The internet is full of bargains if you know where to look and are keen to save some money.

Cook More

Buying prepared meals from the supermarket or local takeaway joint is one sure way to blow a chunk of your budget. This also means that you will probably all be eating less healthily than you would do by cooking at home. Cooking is a fantastic habit to get into and it will give you a number of benefits. There are a few different ways of ways of doing this and the one you choose will probably come down to how much time and energy you have for cooking. For instance, if you have enough time you might want to make all of your meals at home. You might even plan to grown your own vegetables, to save more money and make your food even healthier. However, if time is tight you might just want to make a few meals at the weekend and store them for use during the week. Either way, every meal you cook at home is money saved, and this is sure to make you feel good about it.

Recycle Everything You Can

Recycling is one of those fine ideas that has so many benefits to it. For a start, you will spend less money, while you could clear up some of the clutter and also help the planet. There are a number of ways of doing this and perhaps the simplest is to use hand me down clothes from older relatives. Once you get into the habit of recycling you will probably find a lot of other ways of doing this too.

Do Free Stuff

Finally, it is important for all parents to understand the importance of doing free stuff. You might feel under pressure to take the kids out to expensive play areas but it isn’t really necessary. The whole family can have more fun without spending anything if you put some thought into it. Organizing scavenger hunts is an excellent idea for older kids, while playing, dancing and exercising together are all free activities that can be a lot of fun for those taking part.

5 Creative Baby Shower Favor Ideas

When planning your baby shower, not only do you need to consider food, cake and your venue but you should also plan your favors. These favors can be tied in to the party theme or they can just be about babies and pregnancy! It always is thoughtful for the host or mother to-be to give the guests a parting gift to that them for being a part of such a special day in your life. Here are 5 creative baby shower favor ideas for you to consider when planning your guest favors.

  1. Ready to POP! A cute, unique and clever gift is to gift wrap baggies of popcorn for your guests. You can use regular popcorn or even caramelized, candied popcorn depending on your preference. You can also warp up bags of microwavable popcorn too fi you don’t want the popcorn to go back or get stale. On the bags, label them “Ready to Pop” to tie into the pregnancy theme of your baby shower!
  2. Another great idea for baby shower favors is to give candies. You can buy small baby bottles and fill them up with yummy candies for your guests to take with them. You can coordinate the colors with your shower theme or use pink only or blue only as a way to reveal the gender of your bundle of joy!
  3. For women, package a nail polish bottle. If you are having a girl, choose a gentle, light pink color. For a blue, a soft blue will look great! Everyone loves a good bottle of Essie nail polish, so your guests will be sure to love and use the product! They’ll think of your little one every time they use it and smile!
  4. Another special gift for your guests is to give candles out to friends and family members. Ask that they wait until he day your baby is born to light the candle and then say a prayer for your child’s future and happiness. On the outside you can write a line such as ” Burn this tea light on the night, once the stork has taken flight, with a flicker of the flame, please say a prayer in Baby’s name.”
  5. Finally another adorable favor option that is also very affordable is to give guests Hershey’s candy bars. Cover these with fun wrapping paper. Leave exposed a portion of the title “Hershey’s”. If you are having a boy, on the HE should be seen and for a girl the SHE! This is easy to do, not matter how crafty you may or may not be! You can keep it simple or glam up the decoration however you’d like!

All of these baby shower favor tips are unique, fun baby shower gifts. Remember your gifts you not need to be over the top of expensive. Keep it simple, clever and thoughtful and your guests will be sure to appreciate them. Ideas like prayer candles, Hershey bars, nail polish, or popcorn are useful, quirky and fun! For more ideas be sure to check out sites like KidzNStyle.com.

The Importance of Some Quality ‘Me Time’ in Parenting

Once you become a parent you all of a sudden find that everything in your life takes a back seat, and instead all of your time and attention is spent taking care of your little one. The activities you used to do, music you listened to, television you watched and more you will not have much time for, but for your own sake as well as for the kids it is hugely important that you still find time for yourself and your partner. This will help you to relax and alleviate some of the stress that comes with parenthood, but unfortunately not too many parents take this time for themselves and instead spend every waking minute worrying about their child.

One great thing to do is to hire a babysitter or have someone else from the family take care of your little one for the night so that you are able to go out with your friends or partner. This is something that no doubt you have missed and it is also healthy for you to get out of the house for a while, and no matter where you go you are sure to enjoy having some fun and socializing without having to constantly worry about your child. This is time dedicated to you and will allow you to unwind, and seeing as it is your time it will mean that you will also want to dress up so that you look and feel your best whilst you are out.

Getting Dressed up for a Night Out

You might want to pick out a new dress, shoes and perhaps get your hair done up, and all of this will feel like a well deserved treat. You may also want to buy some new makeup and skincare products to really create a beautiful look, and when you shop for this at established beauty product suppliers, like Boutique and other similar places, you will find all the latest and best skincare and makeup products. This will help you to look and feel your best, and you will certainly turn some heads and make your friends envious.

With a babysitter arranged and a great new outfit and look you will be ready for some much needed time focused on you, and this will help you to relax and recharge your batteries, and this is a very important part of parenting which is too often overlooked.

Putting Your Teen Behind The Wheel: Checklist to Ease Your Mind

Letting your teen drive can be an overwhelming experience for both you and your young driver. Following a few simple steps, however, can help ease your mind. Make sure you’ve gone over the following checklist before your teen gets behind the wheel.

Make Sure Your Teen is Familiar With the Car
This means more than knowing where the ignition and the CD player are located. Can your teen locate and turn on the windshield wipers while driving? Does he or she know how to turn on and off the ‘brights’ when necessary? Before letting teens take off on their own, parents should sit with them on a test run. Make sure they know how to quickly locate different items in the car and are comfortable turning them on and off while driving.

Learning to Drive in Difficult Weather
Whether it’s strong rainstorms, fog, ice, or snow, inclement weather can happen almost anywhere. If difficult driving conditions are present or could happen, don’t allow your teen to drive in these conditions until he or she has had adequate experience.

Making Preparations & Repairs
Flat tires can happen to anyone. A teenager needs to be able to make basic repairs, including changing a tire if necessary. Cell phones don’t always work and sometimes it takes time for help to arrive. An emergency kit should always be kept in the trunk. Some items to have included include blankets, flashlights, and even sand in case the car would get stuck in snow.

Always Know Where You’re At
Teenagers need to know where they are going and how to get there before starting the car. Getting lost or not being familiar with their surroundings is not something you want to do while still learning to drive. Even relying on a GPS may cause a teen to become distracted for even a few seconds. Teens should stay close to home and take familiar routes during the first few months of driving.

How to Act if Pulled Over by the Police
Every teenager needs to know how to respond properly when pulled over by a police officer. They should pull over to the side of the road, turn off the engine, and roll down the window. Teens should not make any sudden moves and never argue with the officer. If there is a dispute it can be argued in court.

Understanding Cell Phones and Driving
Even though teens should always have a phone with them in case of an emergency, they need to understand the dangers of texting or even talking on the phone while driving. While the laws regarding texting and hand-held use vary from state to state, most states ban all cell phone use for novice or teen drivers.

Purchase Quality Insurance
Finally; make sure you have good car insurance. This isn’t being negative but proactive. Even a minor fender-bender can cost a small fortune to repair. Hopefully your teen won’t be involved in an accident but if he or she ever is, knowing there’s adequate insurance will lessen the difficulties.

Being well prepared is the key to successfully putting your teen behind the wheel of a car. While we can’t foresee every problem, following these steps can make a difference.

Throwing the Best Star Wars Party for Your Kid

If there is one theme that your kid will love for his or her next birthday party, it’s Star Wars, simply because every kid seems to love it to bits. Therefore, throwing a Star Wars party for your kid on his/her next birthday is something you should definitely consider. The good thing for you is that the arrangements are very simple. From food to decorations, you can try a million things to go along with this party theme. Since this is one of the most popular birthday themes done over and over again, you can find ideas in abundance.

You can call your cinnamon rolls “Leia buns” and you can make a “CarboniteJell-O”.The “lightsaber breadsticks” also sound quite appetizing. You can also get a custom cake designed for the day or you can bake your own cake, decorating it with lightsabers on the side and a big Star Wars logo on top.

You can easily get Star Wars party supplies from the market at affordable prices, especially if you look for them online. From small Star Wars figurines to different banners, piñatas and other decorative items can be found online and all of them in pretty good shape to go with your theme perfectly. From these online stores, you can also get different costumes that enhance the theme at cheap prices so that you can have a stall going for kids who don’t dress up for the occasion.

Planning a Star Wars theme party will really be as easy as it sounds. As a popular theme, all the things you need to carry it out are readily available in the market. Easy to arrange, this theme could turn out to be a total blast for kids who’d love to dabble in the wonderful and amazing world of Star Wars.

10 Ways to Foster Your Child’s Creativity

Puzzles are more than a source of entertainment. Playing with puzzles, specifically for young children, helps increase problem solving abilities and reasoning skills. In order to complete it, strategies must be thought out and developed. Puzzles also assist with developing cognitive skills and spatial awareness is fostered, as well. Placing a piece in its proper space necessitates the use of hand and eye coordination, which is developed as a similar action is done over and over until a toddler finds a good fit for the piece in question. The child must also often utilize their pincer grasp when picking up various pieces and shapes, which is beneficial for fine motor development.

For infants and young toddlers, invest in a stack of wooden puzzles with simple designs for characters created out of brightly painted pieces. Many times those that include a small knob or peg can make it easier for your child to pick up and manipulate the piece. As your child grows, add in puzzles with more pieces and slightly higher levels of difficulty. For the early years, however, puzzles with a strong frame are often preferred over those that are free standing. If you have multiple puzzles and are concerned pieces might become intermixed, use a marker to place a single dot on the back, color coordinating each set. Many kids enjoy participating in puzzling on their own, which makes for the perfect opportunity to encourage the activity when you cannot engage fully. Learn more about getting puzzled as well as other ways to foster creativity in your child by clicking on the following infographic.

Teaching Your Kids to Swim: An Essential Guide

Swimming is an enjoyable and beneficial skill that someday your child will have the opportunity to learn. In fact, the earlier they start, the more beneficial it will be to them. Before they take the plunge though, there are some very important tips you should know as parent. Here are some of the essentials.

Water Awareness

Introducing your child to water may seem like a simple enough idea. But in fact, the way you approach it is vital for their safety. The very first step is to introduce them to the water: enter in slowly with them, and gently guide them through until they can move around comfortably. Ensure that your child always feels safe, and don’t force them to go further than they are comfortable with. This may be a good time to introduce a buoyancy jacket as well (Get a good quality one from Confidence or another recognized brand). Once you’ve done this, you must then teach your child about the potential dangers and risks of water. This isn’t to scare them. Teaching them to respect water and understand the hazards associated with it will encourage a responsible and sensible attitude. Finally, once they are informed and have had their first couple of dips, set some firm boundaries to adhere to. These could be ‘No going near the water without an adult’ or ‘attract the attention of an adult if you are in trouble’.

Learning to Swim

Once your child feels confident enough in the water and has a responsible attitude towards water safety, it’s time to teach them to swim. Though you can teach them some of the basics yourself, you’ll want to enroll them in an accredited water safety and swimming class. Some of the water safety methods will already have been taught to them by yourself, but you can never be too careful in this department. Though their swimming will be largely taught by others from here on in, you too can help by always encouraging and complimenting them as they progress through the various stages and continue to show good water safety.

A Great Achievement

Learning to swim is one of the great achievements your child will have during their early years. And with the guidance given here, your child will have the very best chance at becoming both a safe and a strong swimmer.

5 Reasons to Install ShieldMyTeen On Your Kids’ Android Phone

Just like the real world, the Internet has a darker side, with teens likely to stray into it. According to New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff, “Leaving children unsupervised on the internet is like giving them the keys to a Porsche and letting them loose on the motorway”. Fortunately, cell phone monitoring technology is there to save the day by allowing parents to keep tabs on their kids 24/7. Once app in particular, namely ShieldMyTeen, is doing an exceptionally good job of keeping kids protected on Android phone from the many threats freely prowling the cyberspace. This user-friendly parental control has taken digital parenting to a whole new level. Let’s explore the app further to discover what makes it an absolute essential on kids’ phones.

Monitor Digital Footsteps of Kids

ShieldMyTeen makes you feel that you are sitting next to kids while they are surfing the web on their Android phone. It saves the URL of every website they visit to give you an idea of what they really do online. Going through the browsing history of kids is important as it lets you immediately learn if they have been spending time on pornographic or other inappropriate sites. It also lets you know whether your kids are using the Internet for educational purposes, or are simply wasting time online.

Keep Your Kids Safe from Harmful Content

ShieldMyTeen goes the extra mile to ensure that kids never get exposed to any harmful material. It offers category-based blocking that allows you to block every website that falls under a particular category, including pornography, crime, violence, drugs, alcohol, and gambling.

Stop Kids from Wasting Time on Social Media

According to a study conducted by researchers at Baylor University, teens spend 38% of their online time on different social media platforms. In another study published in 2015, it was found that the average time kids spend on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites have increased from 38 minutes to 1.72 hours. Researchers are of the view that our younger generation is getting addicted to the Internet in general, and social media platforms in particular. This is why ShieldMyTeen allows you to block any social networking website you want. You can even use this feature to restrict social networks on their phones for a certain time.

Know Who Kids Talk to and What They Talk About

Teens may not give you nitty-gritty details of everything they do with their friends and other people in their social circle. Still, you can ensure that they are not doing anything reckless by going through all their text messages and MMS. Both these features are equally useful as they let you know about the hidden parts of your kids’ life, the parts they don’t feel comfortable exposing in front of you. This is also an easy way of making sure that your kids are not sharing inappropriate photos of themselves or sexting with anyone.

Keep Kids on the Radar

Ever got that scary feeling that your kids are not safe outside? The first thing you probably do after feeling this way is to call your kids, which can often annoy them, especially if you call them frequently. ShieldMyTeen saves you from all this hassle by keeping you aware of your kid’s location round-the-clock through the GPS coordinates of their phone.

How to Stay Close When Your Child Moves Away to University

Saying goodbye to your child when a new term begins is hard to bear for many parents, who may find that they are not quite ready to cut the apron strings just yet.

Whilst pursuing an undergraduate course away from home is an exciting step towards independence for your child, you must do all you can to maintain your relationship from a distance and provide the support that they need to fulfil their educational goals. Long distance parenting is always difficult but with these top tips you can stay close and build an even stronger relationship with your child wherever they are.

Advise but don’t intrude

Whilst mum (or dad) always knows best, being a continuous source of advice for your children during this defining time in their lives means treading a very fine line. Provide advice and support without judgement or lectures and your child will be more likely to return time and time again for your knowledge.

Send care packages

As every student will tell you things can get a little difficult on the financial front during their time at university, however, encouraging your child to remain independent in this area is an important step in their development. Instead of sending money to fund their time at university consider sending care packages of food, treats and home comforts to help them settle in and thrive during their time at university.

Not only will sending care packages help your child to live and enjoy their time at university, it will also curb the homesickness that goes hand-in-hand with living away from home for the very first time.

Respect your child as a grown-up

Moving away to pursue undergraduate study is perhaps the first time that your child will feel like a fully-fledged young adult so show them the respect they need to thrive. Keep up to date with their personal and professional progress and celebrate their achievements along the way, all it takes is a few positive comments to give your child the respect they want and need.

Communicate

Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your child doesn’t mean turning up unannounced at their student halls! Call, text message and email to check in with your child regularly. It may be worth establishing what both you and your child expect in terms of communication before they move away, whether this means calling once a week or keeping you up to date with regular emails. Try not to be too pushy though, some level of distance is needed to support your child on their path.