Posts By: Guest Blogger

Holiday shopping: de-stressed. By Shefa Weinstein

Being Jewish is great until it comes to Chanukah. I have 8 days of presents to prepare for instead of just one. And did I mention I have 4 kids?

I’ll admit that I cheat a bit. One night goes to each set of grandparents, then we have internal gifts (kids to kids) and one night is dedicated to sitting together as a family and picking a charity that we want to support instead of getting presents.

That being said, I’m still the one helping everyone pick and coordinate their gifts. As the mom, I am the CPO (Chief Purchasing Officer) of the family and that comes with a lot of responsibility. I’m also a person who craves order and lists. I don’t like the crazy/hectic feeling that the holidays can bring. This is one of the reasons I founded my company, Shopetti, to help make shopping online easier.

Here are a few things I do to organize the entire family and keep the holidays in order.

The first thing I do is prepare. I set aside a hiding place (usually in my closet – don’t tell my kids) to hold the presents until we’re ready to give them. This helps keep the clutter to a minimum and keeps the kids from getting into them too early.

Next, I make a list. I keep track of each kid’s name and who they are getting presents from. It’s important to also put a budget per gift here. This helps me ensure that no one is double purchasing a gift and that a nice range of fun and educational presents are bought.  Shameless plug: Shopetti allows you to create a cart for each family member and track the presents and wait for sale alerts to make it all easier.

As I purchase presents, I like to wrap them on the spot. This way I’m never stuck wrapping piles of presents at the last minute. Also, if I run out of wrapping paper I have plenty of time to buy more. I usually keep a note on the present with the child’s name and a gift description so I can track it. (Tying Mabel’s Labels Stocking Stuffers for kids to your gifts with ribbon is also a great way to give a little something extra and keep track of the gifts, too!)

Lastly, I update the list. As presents are purchased I keep my list up to date to avoid purchasing too many things or forgetting anyone’s special gift.

Keeping it all organized means that I can make this very stressful time very doable.

How do you keep your holiday shopping organized? Leave a comment below with your best tip or trick for your chance to win a Stocking Stuffer Combo!

Happy shopping!

 

About the Author:

Shefa Weinstein is a mom of 4 and the founder of Shopetti. As a busy mom, Shefa wanted the fun of shopping online, but needed it to be easy and manageable. After searching for it and not finding it, she used her strong technology background to invent it – and Shopetti was born. Shopetti was accepted to the prestigious Microsoft Ventures Accelerator program and while still young, has quickly gained recognition by Babble magazine as one of the best shopping platforms out there. Check it out at www.shopetti.com.

Tips for Travelling with Kids from Globetrotting Mama, Heather Greenwood Davis

Family Travel is one of those rare things that can both fill a parent’s heart with excitement and dread at the same time. You’re about to have an incredible trip away from work and the stresses at home but you’ve somehow got to survive getting there with kids in tow. Insert shiver.

The truth is the dread is sometimes warranted. Testy fellow passengers on flights, kids who are still learning how to manage being in a confined space for several hours and the hectic nature of packing everything you’ll really need versus all the things you think you need can all add to the stress.

But the fact that my family traveled around the world with one bag each and survived, should fill you with hope. It can not only be done, it should be done and it is so worth it.

Keep these tips in mind to help make the trips easier:

Babies and/or Toddlers:

  1. Keep it Separate: You’re going to need to feed, entertain and change the baby in a confined space (back seat on the road; tiny airplane washroom). Pack several large Ziploc bags with only the things you need for one change (one diaper, a disposable mat…) in each. Keep one of those along with a small makeup bag with wipes, ointment, and a distraction toy in the seat pocket in front of you. It’ll make it easy to grab and go.
  2. Bring extras: It is a guarantee that the day you only pack 2 diapers for the flight will be the day your child proves to you that they can do better. Bring an extra of the things (pacifier, bottle nipples, baby biscuits…) that you won’t be able to get easily on the road or in the air.

Pre- School/ Early School Age travel:

  1. Keep them entertained:  The day you assume you’re getting on the plane with in-seat entertainment is the day they switch your plane. Be ready by bringing along your own entertainment for the kids. Choose wisely though: Things that either have no volume or good volume control are best bets or you’ll risk annoying everyone around you and minimize your own chances of getting a break. Things with small pieces or that will require your interaction to be enjoyed should also be avoided.
  2. Bring your own headphones. Even if they do hand out buds on the plane they are often the wrong fit for little ears. And you do need to keep an eye on what they’re watching: Often there’s adult content you may not want them to see in the airplane movie. Bringing your own devices along with a DVD you can slip into your laptop or pre-downloaded movies you can pull up on your iPad can keep their eyes where they should be.
  3.  Bathroom Breaks: Whether it’s on the plane or on a road trip, you’ll want to be prepared for bathroom stops that aren’t as clean and sanitary as your kids might be used to. We used to travel with our own portable potty seat for those situations. A small bottle of hand sanitizer is a great idea too You can also bring a small pack of antibacterial wipes for trays and armrests as well as a roll of toilet paper.

School Age Kids:

1. Put them to work:  Choosing the right luggage in terms of handle height, bag size and weight will make your life a lot easier. Kids like being responsible and with a little supervision kids as young as 4 can help you pack that bag too. “They pack it, they carry it” is a rule in my house and it worked as we traveled for a year. Let them walk you through what they’re packing and you can gently nudge them towards including a few less transformers and a few more pairs of underwear.  I sometimes hand mine a checklist and they can simply pick what they like to fill that list.

2.  Travelling with more than one child? Bring a few small items that they can go between to entertain themselves.  Include games that allow siblings to work together and self-entertain (deck of cards); books they can read solo and have been waiting for (latest Wimpy Kid); travel versions of games they have at home (magnetic sorry; uno). Also, these toys are great ice breakers if there happens to be another kid across the aisle and then their parents will love you too.

3. Keep them comfortable: That goes for clothing and food.  For the plane dress in layers for the cooler air and have them wear easy-off shoes for security. And don’t even think about not bringing snacks with you. My two boys are now 8 and 11 and they’ve hit that age when they just want to eat all the time.  There’s nothing worse than a child continuously telling you how hungry they are when there isn’t food handy and the food cart is nowhere in sight.  Remember you can’t bring bottles of liquid through security and I’ve even had fruit cups taken away for that reason. Stick to solids and pick up a bottle of water for each of you once you’re passed security.

 

About the Author:

Heather Greenwood Davis © CL Buchanan Photography

Heather Greenwood Davis
© CL Buchanan Photography

Heather Greenwood Davis is the Globetrotting Mama. Her family of four traveled around the world for a year stopping in 29 countries on six continents. Their trip earned them the inaugural Travelers of the Year designation by National Geographic Traveler Magazine and they were recently featured in the June issue of Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine.  You can read more about their travel adventures and tips at www.globetrottingmama.com .

Back To School Tips For Kids With Allergies

A Guest Post by Karma Bryan-Ingle:

Karma’s son, Evan on his First Day of School

For most parents, back to school time comes with a bit of anxiety. All of the typical questions arise… Will my child have a teacher who is a good fit? Will he have friends in his class? Will he make new friends? But for me, this is the time of year when I start to think about what a potentially dangerous place school can be for my son. My son, Evan, suffers from life-threatening food allergies. And one accidental nibble of a peanut can send us rushing to the hospital.

Because I’ve known about Evan’s serious issue since before he was 3, I’ve developed some strategies to help manage his allergies at school:

  1. Evan has grown up knowing how serious his food allergies are and in fact, he remembers our first trip to the hospital and never wants to go through that again. We’ve always been very open with him about the dangers of his allergies and as a result, he has become his own biggest advocate! So, first and foremost, educate your child and empower them with this knowledge, no matter how young they are.
  2. Evan’s first school took his allergies very seriously. All of the teachers were aware of the severity and so were the children in his classrooms. What surprised me the most is how Evan’s friends also became his advocates and his caregivers! Remember that kids will look out for other kids.
  3. Talk to the school and the teachers. Find out about the policies they have in place for dealing with food allergies. Evan’s school posted an Anaphylaxis sheet in the classroom with his picture and details about his allergies. That way, if there was a supply teacher in the classroom, that information was readily available. They also had Evan wear a pack containing 2 Epi-Pens on him at all times, along with having an additional Epi-Pen on hand in the office. I knew that no matter where Evan was at any given time of the day, he’d have Epi-Pens with him and readily available.

This year, Evan is changing schools, so I’m feeling a bit more anxious than normal. I’m now preparing myself to learn the new policies and to educate his new school about his allergy symptoms and what to do should something happen.

So, if you’re a parent of kids with food allergies and you’re feeling anxious about sending them off, rest assured you’re not alone. My biggest piece of advice is that communication is the key to keeping your child safe.

I find one of the easiest ways to communicate to other kids and caregivers about your child’s allergies is by labeling food containers and lunch bags. So, we’re giving away a set of our Allergy Alert labels!

Leave a comment with your best tip for managing your kiddos food allergies for a chance to win a set of Allergy Alert Labels!

 

****Thanks for all your entries! This giveaway is now closed!****

 

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