Guest Post: So your kid wants a dog? Here is what you need to know

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Children with pets not only grow up to have amazing memories with their pets, but also learn many important lessons in life. If your kid wants to get a dog, there are some sacrifices to be made and some important questions to be asked. Here is what you need to know before getting a dog.

Is your kid ready?

Ask yourself whether your child is comfortable around different animals. Don’t use your future pet as a therapy for the fear of animals. If your kid is afraid of dogs, they will likely make more mistakes around dogs and potentially put themselves and animals in danger. Also, your child should know how to respect animals and how to behave around them. They need to be able to understand they shouldn’t hit or disturb the animal. If your kid still can’t understand that, you should wait.

Benefits to your kid’s life

If your kid is old enough to take care of a dog, it’s good to know how many benefits your child will get from that relationship. They will always have a friend in their dog, and someone to confide in and talk to. They will lead a more active life, with more exercise and activities. According to many studies, your kid will have a better immune system and fewer allergies, and thanks to being more physically active, they will have better blood pressure and be more fit. Having a pet can be a great responsibility because your child will get to experience what it’s like to have obligations and duties towards another living being. This builds up character, self-esteem, empathy and compassion.

Pick the right dog for your family

Choosing a pet is not to be taken lightly. You should know in advance what kind of dog you want and how much attention you are willing and able to devote to its grooming. Think if you want a small puppy or an adult dog. Puppies need more care and training, but will grow up together with your kids.  Consider the size of the dog as well. Can you keep a dog that weighs 50 kilos in a small apartment? Can you set aside 2 hours a day to go hiking with a hunting dog, or can you spare money and time to care for a dog that demands daily grooming? Do you have enough patience to train the dog with your kids? These are all the questions that should be asked when choosing a dog.

How to make the house pet-friendly and safe for kids

Another thing you should know is that you’ll have to make some changes around the house. Before a new puppy arrives, you will need to clean the house thoroughly so that the pup can be safe during the period of adaptation. Move all valuable and fragile things and make sure the dog can move around freely. Next thing is to go shopping for dog supplies. You will need food, bowls, toys, brushes, shampoo, leashes, collars and many other things before the puppy arrives. This allows you to relax when the new member of the family finally joins you. You will also need to pay extra attention to the places your puppy and your kids share. For better hygiene in your kid’s room, get colorful kids rugs that are high-quality, and easy to vacuum and clean. Don’t allow your dog to wander wherever it wants and make sure you monitor your kid while playing with the puppy. This is important, especially during the first few months.

With having a dog comes great joy, but also great responsibility. As long as you are ready, get a dog and provide your kid with a true friend.

Sandwich Generation’s Problem – Coordinating Family and Parents’ Care

Many thanks again to Zara Lewis for providing this guest post!

Sandwich Generation's Problem – Coordinating Family and Parents' Care

What does it mean to be a part of the sandwich generation? Basically, you find yourself in a position when you have to take proper care of your own kids as well as your elderly parents. It’s not something that should be thought of as a bad thing per se, but it is what it is. And it comes with a bit more responsibilities for you. If you have some difficulties in coping with this situation, I’ll be glad to share some of my experiences with you. I hope that you’ll find the following text helpful.

Strict schedule

I can’t stress enough how useful it can be to have a clear schedule and week plan when you’re stranded between your own family and parents, let alone other chores and tasks. Of course, you won’t be able to follow the schedule perfectly every time, but the biggest concern when you have many things on your mind is the possibility to actually forget something. If you use to-do lists and reminders on a daily basis, you’ll be able to tend to various tasks more diligently. Also, I found that time stamped to-do lists work great in minimizing my tension and reducing anxiety. Once you put everything on paper, you can clearly see that there’s enough time for everything and everyone in your day.

What does it mean to be a part of the sandwich generation? Basically, you find yourself in a position when you have to take proper care of your own kids as well as your elderly parents. It’s not something that should be thought of as a bad thing per se, but it is what it is. And it comes with a bit more responsibilities for you. If you have some difficulties in coping with this situation, I’ll be glad to share some of my experiences with you. I hope that you’ll find the following text helpful. Strict schedule I can’t stress enough how useful it can be to have a clear schedule and week plan when you’re stranded between your own family and parents, let alone other chores and tasks. Of course, you won’t be able to follow the schedule perfectly every time, but the biggest concern when you have many things on your mind is the possibility to actually forget something. If you use to-do lists and reminders on a daily basis, you’ll be able to tend to various tasks more diligently. Also, I found that time stamped to-do lists work great in minimizing my tension and reducing anxiety. Once you put everything on paper, you can clearly see that there’s enough time for everything and everyone in your day.

Be honest and open

You may be a people-pleaser, but if you realize that there’s no way to get everything done and to fit a ton of duties in one day, simply don’t do it. This is especially true for sandwich generation comrades who have small kids. And just like you love your child, your parents cherish you and their grandkid the most. Don’t feel pressured to visit your folks every single day if you can talk to them and explain what problems you’re facing. On the other hand, if your kids are old enough to go to school on their own, they will also understand that you can’t devote all your time to them.

Living conditions

Be honest and open You may be a people-pleaser, but if you realize that there’s no way to get everything done and to fit a ton of duties in one day, simply don’t do it. This is especially true for sandwich generation comrades who have small kids. And just like you love your child, your parents cherish you and their grandkid the most. Don’t feel pressured to visit your folks every single day if you can talk to them and explain what problems you’re facing. On the other hand, if your kids are old enough to go to school on their own, they will also understand that you can’t devote all your time to them.

If you’re worried about your parents living alone or are totally against retirement homes, there’s nothing wrong with having your parents live with you. But, it’s essential that you really think this decision through. Is your home spacious enough for two new members? Is it safe for them? What does your family have to say about this? Having your parents stay at your home is very cost-effective but it also means that you will all be living under one roof. Are you ready for that? On the other hand, your parents might enjoy a retirement home more. If you can talk to them about this, by all means do so. If your parents suffer from serious health conditions, it really may turn out to be safer for them to be under constant supervision in a retirement home.

Stay responsible

If you decide to live with your parents or if they’re persistent in their decision to live in their own home, home care services can be a true life-saver. This was definitely the best possible option for me, since it allowed me to spend more time with my spouse and children without worrying too much about my mom and dad’s health needs. It can get really hard on you when you have to face the fact that they are old and weak. Expert services in this area are a must if you truly want to provide the best possible care for your parents. I found immense support in kind professionals who provide home care in San Jose and thanks to them, I managed to get my family life back to normal.

If you’re worried about your parents living alone or are totally against retirement homes, there’s nothing wrong with having your parents live with you. But, it’s essential that you really think this decision through. Is your home spacious enough for two new members? Is it safe for them? What does your family have to say about this? Having your parents stay at your home is very cost-effective but it also means that you will all be living under one roof. Are you ready for that? On the other hand, your parents might enjoy a retirement home more. If you can talk to them about this, by all means do so. If your parents suffer from serious health conditions, it really may turn out to be safer for them to be under constant supervision in a retirement home. Stay responsible If you decide to live with your parents or if they’re persistent in their decision to live in their own home, home care services can be a true life-saver. This was definitely the best possible option for me, since it allowed me to spend more time with my spouse and children without worrying too much about my mom and dad’s health needs. It can get really hard on you when you have to face the fact that they are old and weak. Expert services in this area are a must if you truly want to provide the best possible care for your parents. I found immense support in kind professionals who provide home care in San Jose and thanks to them, I managed to get my family life back to normal.

I really want to make a point that even if you are a mature adult with no kids, but still have to take care of your folks, you too belong to the sandwich party. We’ve all been there and in all honesty, I can’t tell you whether it’s harder to think about yourself and start your own family, or to ignore your needs in fear of neglecting your parents. The best advice I can give you is to do what I did – when you feel it’s time to have kids, do it. Your parents will be happy about your decision as well.

5 Ways To Keep Your Family Safe On The Road

5 Ways To Keep Your Family Safe On The Road

When we had our first baby 10 years ago, I really was concerned about keeping him safe in the car. I can remember being so concerned that I was going to assemble the car seat wrong, or that the bumps in the road would hurt him. I was so afraid I was going to do something wrong driving him home from the hospital. I’m still concerned and think I will always be concerned because I’m his dad. Now with 4 kids, I want nothing more than to do all I can to create a safe travel experience for them. There’s a lot of craziness and danger out there on the highways, so knowing how to best protect my kids is at the top of my list of concerns.

Here are five simple ways we can keep our families safe on the road – especially during the holiday season.

  • Make sure everyone is properly restrained
  • Avoid road rage
  • Avoid distractions
  • Know where you are going
  • Keep your car’s maintenance current

1. Make Sure Everyone Is Properly Restrained

5 Ways To Keep Your Family Safe On The Road

Making sure your child is properly secured in his or her carseat is one of the most important ways to protect them in the even of an accident. In the United States, each state has its own laws when it comes to age requirements for rear-facing, forward-facing, booster, and lap belt restraining. The best way to find out the age limits is to check out the Child Safety Law Tracker at safekids.org then seach by your state.

There are several types of car seats. It is critical that all parents understand which seat is right for their children, and abide by the state-specific laws at all times.  Adult lap belts can be dangerous for kids if they are too young to be wearing them.

*The rules below are for the state of Ohio.  All other states’ laws may vary. Consult your local BMV for state-specific laws.

Rear-Facing Car Seats

Babies and young children are required to be in a rear-facing car seat until the age of 2, or until they have reached the maximum height and weight specifications of their convertible car seat.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

Kids who have outgrown the requirements of their convertible car seat can now face forward provided they are no younger than 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. They must use a harnessed car seat until they have reached the height/weight limits of the seat.

Booster Seats

In Ohio, children can use a booster seat once they turn 4 years old and weigh at least 40 pounds.  He or she must use the booster until the age of 8 or has reached 4’9″.

Lap and Shoulder Belts

Once a child has reached 4’9″ they are ready to use a lap and shoulder belt without the booster seat.  Children who are under the age of 15 must use a child safety seat or seat belt until they are 15.

2. Avoid Road Rage

5 Ways To Keep Your Family Safe On The Road

This is one of the hardest things for me to do, and I’m sure I’m not alone.  It was one thing to lose my temper with road rage before I had kids, but now with 4 kids in the car, it’s even more important just to let things slide.  Other drivers do some crazy things out there, but being a defensive driver is critical to maintaining safety for all on the road.

It’s often too easy to blow the horn, give the finger, tailgate, or stare down someone when something doesn’t go our way on the highway. No one knows better than me that this type of behavior is childish and doesn’t ever solve anything. Whenever I think about responding to an aggressive driver, I tell myself over and over again to put things into perspective and move on with life.

3. Avoid Distractions

5 Ways To Keep Your Family Safe On The Road

Texting while driving has been banned in most states in the USA. Most modern cars now come with Bluetooth technology allowing for a hands free operation.  As parents, we often think we need to respond to an email or to a text right away because we are so busy, but nothing is so important that we have to take our concentration off of safe operation of our vehicles. It can wait!

There are more ways to be distracted behind the wheel than just texting.  With the kids in the car, there’s often a lot of screaming, fighting, begging for a movie to be played, etc. If you are traveling with your spouse, always let the one who is not driving handle the situations that come up inside of the car.

If you aren’t familiar with your car, fidgeting around trying to play a movie, changing the radio, or adjusting the temperature can all be equally as distracting as texting. Get to know your car and all of its features. Most modern cars have adjustments on the steering wheel, or even voice-activated commands to make driving less distracted much easier.

4. Know Where You Are Going

5 Ways To Keep Your Family Safe On The Road

It’s so easy these days to rely upon our trusty (or not-so-trusty) GPS devices. With Google Maps, we can basically find our way to just about anywhere we want to go. It’s always a safe bet going to a new destination to know how to get there ahead of time.  I don’t know about your experiences with the accuracy of a GPS, but mine have been interesting.  For the most part, my in-car GPS and cell phone are usually accurate. 5 or 6 years ago, I had the GPS set to to take us to the lake house for our summer vacation, but it literally took us to the edge of the lake – literally.  I could have hung a fishing rod out my window.

I make it a practice to go to MapQuest or Google Maps and familiarize myself with the directions before hitting the road. There have been horror stories of families not making it to their destinations because they only relied upon their GPS and not their actual surroundings. GPS systems can make mistakes, so think ahead and verify the directions are accurate.

If you are using your GPS as a means of getting you to where you need to go, familiarize yourself with all of its features before hitting the road. Many features, such as detour, avoid tolls, etc. can save a lot of headaches, time, and money.  Some GPS units also account for construction, weather, and traffic. Knowing how to use the GPS is important in understanding how it operates.  GPS units are very advanced today, so knowing all about them will help you keep your family safe on the road.

5. Keep Your Car’s Maintenance Current

5 Ways To Keep Your Family Safe On The Road

It goes without saying – a car only runs as well as the condition in which it is in. It is crucial to keep a car’s normal maintenance up to date. Things such as oil changes, tire rotations, fluid changes, brakes, etc. are all important aspects of a well-performing car.  Proper maintenance leads to longer car life and optimal performance.  Traveling with kids in a car that is not well-maintained can put a whole trip at risk, not to mention lead to serious damage and higher repair costs.

As car owners, it’s important that we keep regular maintenance records, and make sure all vital systems are kept in working order. Keeping current with local promotions is also a good way to get multiple maintenance services performed all at once, and for cheaper. Many shops also post coupons and discounts on their websites. Some dealerships now offer coupons and discounts on their website, so staying up to date with the available promotions can help you save money when it comes time for scheduled maintenance.

When taking your car to the shop for regular maintenance, always take it to a place you can trust.  The dealership, while usually higher in price, has specially-trained technicians for your car. Many times, you can get as good of deals with the dealer as you can with independent shops – you just have to look for them. Go to your dealer’s website and try to sign up for coupons/specials. Most of the time, you’ll get something in your inbox you can use. My Toyota dealer usually sends me discounts and specials when they know I’m getting near my next service date.

There IS help out there for new and veteran parents!

All parents have the responsibility to keep everyone safe when traveling. If you are new to the game or have been doing this for years, there is help out there for you.  Here are a few links to get you started:

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First Winter Blast of the Season

First Winter Blast of the Season

Yesterday we had our first taste of snow for the season!  Unfortunately, it didn’t start up until after the kids were at school.  Once they got home, there was enough snow on the ground for them to have a blast.  Here are some pictures of all of the fun!

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

First Winter Blast of the Season

 

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Nutcracker Weekend 2016

#Nutcracker Weekend 2016

Ah, it’s that time of year when my daughter dances in The Nutcracker Ballet.  She has taken ballet for the last 5 years, and dancing in The Nutcracker for the last 4. For the first two years, she was a mouse. Last year she was a flag soldier, and this year she was both a flag soldier and an angel.

My little dancer loves participating in The Nutcracker and was very sad when she finished her last performance yesterday. She told me this morning that she wished she could have a performance every weekend.

It’s a lot of hard work to prepare for this annual tradition.  Practices started back in September, and as the performances got closer, she was at the dance studio for hours several nights a week. She’d come home very tired with sore feet, but thus goes the life of any dancer, right? I’m super proud of how well she did.  She is constantly improving and I can tell she is really talented.  And I’m not just saying that because I’m her daddy.

The weekend was hectic, but a good hectic!  Several dress rehearsals plus 3 performances in 2 days meant a lot of time on her feet. I love that the kids get to have their pictures made with the Nutcracker each year. It’s a great keepsake and a reminder of all of her hard work.

During Saturday evenings show, about 3 or 4 minutes after she took the stage to dance as an angel, there was so much smog coming from the smog machine that it set the fire alarm off.  Not knowing really what to do, the dancers kept going!  They didn’t stop nor did the scream. The dance teacher finally had them stop the performance so that everyone could clear the building for the fire department.  It was a good 30-40 minutes before the show resumed.

Have you ever seen The Nutcracker? Have you danced in The Nutcracker before?  What has your experience been like?  Don’t worry, guys, you can still like it and be a man. I do plan on dancing with my daughter as a dad once she gets old enough. Yeah, I’ll look goofy doing it, but it is going to be an honor to be on stage with her!

Here are pictures from this weekend!

Nutcracker Weekend 2016

Nutcracker Weekend 2016

Nutcracker Weekend 2016

 

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Should Parents Teach Their Kids To Believe In Santa Claus?

Should Parents Teach Their Kids To Believe In Santa Claus?

*This post contains affiliate links

Gymboree Sale On Now!

Is this really a thing now??

Yes, unfortunately, it is. In the world we live in, everyone seems to get so butt hurt over things that it’s sad. I can’t even believe this is a topic that I can write a blog post about, but here we are.

I’m going to start off by talking about what my Christmas was like as a kid and go into what I believe we should be teaching our kids about this wonderful season!

My childhood Christmas memories

I can’t imagine a Christmas going by without mentioning that jolly old fat man delivering presents in a red suit. What would it be like if there was no discussion about Rudolph and the flying reindeer traveling the world on Christmas Eve?  When I was a kid, it was all about watching Christmas movies, singing Christmas carols, putting up the tree and lights, and enjoying the frosty air – or semi-cool air we had down in Georgia.

I remember having countess hours of VHS tape recordings (that dates me a bit, haha!) of all of our Christmas mornings.  The one that sticks out the most is when my mom was singing “White Christmas” while my brother and I screamed.

I also remember my parents asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I said, “A choo-choo train, an airpwane, and a wight-bright.”

I asked for crap I didn’t need.  Most of the time I got the “big” Christmas gift I asked for, but there were also times when my wish list was too far-fetched. My parents were both teachers so their incomes weren’t very high, but they still managed to help make our Christmases memorable for a lifetime. What I wouldn’t do to be able to travel back in time to revisit those days (maybe I should give Doc Brown a call??)

Christmas Day for me was a glorious time!  My brother and I would take forever to go to sleep.  We knew that when we woke up we’d have hours of fun opening presents and playing with toys.  We knew that “A Christmas Story” would be playing 24 hours and that we could watch Ralphie shoot his eye out all day if we wanted.

I think I believed in Santa Claus until I was probably 9 or 10.  My mom may be able to correct me though.  I think the thing that did it for me was hearing toys being put together and bags rattling around late at night while my parents talked about them.

Finding out Santa didn’t actually come into my house via his magical sleigh didn’t scar me at all. As I grew older I realized that I really didn’t want a fat man breaking and entering.  We didn’t have a chimney either so the fact that I heard that Santa always entered through the chimney on the roof made things suspicious right away.

Can teaching kids about Santa be hazardous to their development?

Believe it or not, there are some parenting experts out there that are saying that it might actually be damaging to a child’s development to teach them to believe in a lie. Some parenting writers I have recently had the displeasure of reading online actually say teaching kids to believe in a myth is morally wrong.  Are we really going that far in today’s society?  I hope not!

After taking a day or two to think about this topic, I finally have an answer to this debate that I hope many of you agree with. Instead of teaching our kids the commercialized version of Santa Claus (you know, the guy I talked about in the first paragraph!!), why not teach them about the REAL St. Nicholas?

St. Nicholas was actually real.  As a wealthy man, he regularly gave gifts to the poor without expecting anything in return. This act of giving actually aligns with Jesus Christ.  Why wouldn’t we want to teach them about the real St. Nick and how he actually lived?

I disagree that teaching our kids to believe in Santa Claus is potentially dangerous to their development. Here I am at the ripe old age of 37 and I can tell you I have NEVER been in therapy because the realization that my parents were actually pretending to be Santa Claus scarred me for life.

Some parents insist that we should tell our kids the truth from the beginning instead of dragging it on for years. I call those parents ridiculous and bah humbug to them! We can still participate in the modern Christmas traditions while teaching them why we celebrate it to begin with. These same parents ask if we’d really enjoy seeing the sad expressions on our kids’ faces when they find out that Santa isn’t real. Most of the time, it’s the kid that finds out on his or her own rather than a parent or relative breaking the news to them.  They begin to put the pieces together year by year. There’s no avoiding it – the conversation will be had at some point.

Teach kids the real reason we celebrate Christmas

I do believe, though, that our kids need to know the real reason we celebrate Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to fall away from that with all of the commercialization that goes on today. Commercial after commercial attempting to rush you to the store to buy your kids the latest and greatest gadgets – most of which will probably not be touched much a month after Christmas is over.

By teaching our kids the “spirit” of Santa and the loving heart that St. Nicholas showed to the poor, we can deliver the truth to them in a way that will still give them a chance to experience Christmas in all of its wonder and joy.  Rather than not let our kids do anything at all, let’s teach them the spirit of Christmas is a period of joy, togetherness, hope, and love. No matter what the commercials may tell you, you don’t need that new car.  While a car may be a satisfying gift for some, it’s still just a “thing” and a “luxury.”

I encourage all of you to continue to teach your kids the spirit of Santa and encourage them to learn more about St. Nick. There’s a lot to learn about the Christmas season and what it means to give unconditionally. I want my kids to learn, more than anything, that we should give to each other all the time, not just at Christmas. I want them to love God, family, friends, and themselves.  I want them to realize what is important and what is not. While I do teach my kids about Santa, I know that if one day they don’t believe in him anymore that it’s not the end of the world.  I’m still surprised I can get away with being the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny!

What do you think?  Should you tell your kids the truth now about Santa?  Or do you believe there’s no harm in the fun to carry it on as long as possible?

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