Parenting

Play Throughout the Years: Toys for Toddlers to Teens

We like to play throughout our lives. We spend a lot of time (and money!) on various toys for children, but which ones are actually useful? And why?

These items aren’t just about novelty or entertainment. They can help your child’s development tremendously. Here’s a quick overview of the sorts of toys you may be considering for your children, from post-cradle to post-adolescence!

Toddlers

When you’re considering toys for toddlers, you should be thinking about several areas of their development. For muscle development, get them started on a bike. There’s toys for sensory development (touch, sight, sound, etc.) such as bubble and water toys, as well as modelling compounds such as Play-Doh. There’s also make-believe and social development to consider. Dolls, costumes and toy cars help with these.

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As a baby, your child used brightly-coloured toys as a means to learn about the world around them. Many of these toys will still hold relevance for your toddler for similar reasons. Understanding of cause and effect is increased when they witness gravity in action. These also help with hand-eye co-ordination. A lot of colour and visual stimulation helps with their developing vision.

Starting school

It’s time to start learning about letters, numbers and language skills. You’ll want to look into toys that encourage creative and intellectual development. Puzzles will help with intellectual development. Books, both fiction and nonfiction, are absolutely invaluable. Arts and crafts items will be of great use in the creative department. Sketchpads, paper, crayons, paints, pencils; they’ll all stimulate the creative mind.

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Essentially, the key is to get fun and educational toys that will supplement what they’re learning at school. If you have fun while practising education, you’re more likely to retain the skills and knowledge.

There is something you need to look out for, here. Television adverts target this age range most aggressively when it comes to toys. Morning and afternoon television will be stuffed full of adverts for superficial toys. At this age, kids can become aware of the purpose for which they are playing. Take advantage of this. Don’t buy them any old dinosaur- or princess-themed plaything. It will simply reinforce a desire for frivolous leisure.

Terrible teens

You’ll now see the move away from traditional toys. But there are several things out there that can aid their continuing development. Don’t let their increased desire to watch television and play video games distract them away from books. Books will still be the most valuable source of brain exercising you can get. There are more grown-up toys that can help in this arena, too. A Rubik’s Cube is an old favourite and is still an excellent contraption. Trust me: someone who can work out a Rubik’s Cube will always be able to impress others! You may also want to consider getting them started on a musical instrument.

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That being said, don’t dismiss the advantages of video games completely. Motor skills and hand-eye coordination can be boosted through them. The right ones will also excite the imagination in positive ways. As for films and television, try nudging them towards thought-provoking uses of these mediums. Many teenagers may stop caring about play altogether. They’ll be a lot more concerned with their general looks or image. They’ll certainly care more about their bedroom.

Is it Time for You to Have Another Baby?

There comes a time in every couple’s life, when they start to discuss children. Usually, the first baby is called ‘the practice baby’. This is because new parents learn as they go along. You might be content with one child, but many aren’t. When you have another baby, you might just be a little more prepared and in the know. However, you must remember that every baby and every experience is different. This post will help you to figure out if now is the right time to have another:

Getting the Age Right

Many people will tell you that there is no right or wrong when it comes to spacing your babies out. Some people have babies really close together in age, and others wait a good handful of years before conceiving again. It all depends on what you would like your family life to be like, as there are pros and cons to each option. Keeping your kids close in age is nice because they will always have a playmate. You won’t need to worry about getting your first born used to it either, as they will grow up with this sibling by their side. You also don’t have to worry about raising young children for the rest of your life, as they grow together. However, spacing them 3 or 4 years apart could be a good idea too. Your first born will love getting involved with the baby and helping you. They usually find it really interesting to learn all about babies. Plus, at this age they have usually started school of some kind and have their own little life. They won’t mind too much when you focus on the new baby.

Your Home/Space

Having another baby will affect your home and the space you live in. The baby’s things can take over, and you’ll have less room. You’ll stock up on things from your baby store, and have pushchairs and car seats to think about. Is your car a family car, or will you need to upgrade? You may even need to move to a bigger place so that you all have the room you need to live comfortably.

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Financial Aspects

Having another baby can put a little strain on your finances too. More budgeting will need to be done and calculations made to ensure that you can afford it. You’ll have lots to pay for, not just now but over the years too. Birthdays and Christmas can become very expensive. You’ll have to make sacrifices and go without some things. Many parents comment that their kids are better dressed than they are, and have more of a social life!

Only you know if it’s time for you to have another baby. You know the kind of lifestyle you’d like, how many children, where you want to live, and the rest. So do what’s right for you. Don’t listen to anybody else, as every family is completely different. What works for you may not work for another!

How To Be A Better Parent Throughout Divorce

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Being the best parent possible is the biggest priority for most mothers. However, it feels even more important when you and their father are getting divorced.

Your news has blown their lives apart, so you must do everything possible to keep your children happy through this difficult time. Here are some invaluable tips to help them through the transitional period.

Don’t Be Too Harsh On Yourself

Your children are the most precious thing in your life, so it’s only natural to feel guilty about the decision to get a divorce. Try not to be.

Many couples stay together for the kids. While the intentions are great, it’s difficult to create a happy home life if the two parents don’t love each other. The signs will show, and sometimes the best option is to cut your losses.

Your children can still enjoy a happy life at both family homes. Moreover, they might gain step siblings further down the line. Ultimately, having love is more important than living in a two-parent home. As long as both parents love them, they’ll be just fine.

Make Divorce Easier

The best way to be a better parent throughout the divorce is to make the process less stressful on yourself.

It’s a huge shame that your relationship is coming to an end, but you can still part on amicable terms. If nothing else, it will benefit the children hugely. Some people like to avoid the courts, but divorce solicitors can make the process much easier. They can take care of your case while you concentrate on being the best parent possible.

Divorce is always emotionally difficult. Removing some of the hassles has to be worthwhile. Besides, taking the official channels will give you a solid conclusion with regards to child rights.

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Encourage A Good Relationship With Both Parents

Throughout the divorce process, it can be easy to try and score points against each other. Unintentionally, the kids can often be dragged into these battles. It isn’t fair on them, especially with everything else they are going through.

Both parents should come to an agreement that you will refrain from slagging each other off in front of the children. You can leave that for the courts or behind closed doors. Even if you hate each other, you both understand the importance that the kids enjoy healthy bonds with the other parent.

Your children need both parents now more than ever. Don’t let your personal emotions get in the way of it.

Become A Better Person

Being a parent defines you as a person. However, improving other aspects of your life can rub off on your parenthood duties too.

Learning to kick your worst habits will show the children that you are coping well. It also sets a great example. Meanwhile, taking your mind off things will prevent you from over thinking them. This should allow you to take better care of the children too.

Besides, you’ll be encouraging upgrades in your personal life. This will improve your confidence. At a time like this, staying positive is crucial.

How to Make the Divorce Process Easier

Going through a divorce is never easy, and it’s even harder when there are kids involved. There are a lot of emotions flying around from all parties, and it can be a lot to handle. You might be angry, upset and stressed, but you don’t want to make the process any harder than it needs to be. If you want your divorce to go smoothly, there are several things you can do to make that happen. You don’t have control over how your ex behaves. But you can make the right choices to display reasonable behavior yourself. Follow some of the tips below to avoid a messy and distressing divorce.

Avoid Court

Television and movie divorces often involve a lot of shouting, plus time in a courtroom. But the reality is that the majority of divorce cases are settled out of court. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 95% could be resolved outside of a courtroom. If you’re looking for out-of-court solutions, there are a few different options you can try. Using mediation will help you and your ex to work out the particulars with a third-party to help you decide. If you already agree on everything, you can also use a service to help you ensure all your paperwork is in order.

Don’t Badmouth the Other Parent

If you want to keep your kids’ happiness in mind, there’s one thing that’s important. No matter what you think of your ex, keep your opinions to yourself. They might be behaving in ways you find unacceptable, but they’re still your children’s other parent. Even if you’re justified in hating them, your kids could grow to resent you if they only hear negative things about their other parent. It can be tiring if you feel you always have to take the higher ground, but you can be safe in the knowledge that it’s better for everyone.

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Tony Guyton

Be Willing to Compromise

Going through a divorce is the perfect time to learn the art of compromising. If you never managed to get the hang of it during your marriage, now is the time to make an effort. However, remember there’s a difference between compromising and being a doormat. It’s important to know when to stand up for yourself, and when to learn to let go and meet in the middle. When you’re discussing custody, it’s also essential to keep the children in mind. That may seem obvious, but many people forget that it’s about what’s best for the kids, not the parents.

Take Care of Yourself

Divorce can be extremely upsetting and stressful. So it’s essential to look after yourself and be in touch with your emotions. Make sure you have a support network around you so that you have people to talk to. Learn how to examine your feelings too, thinking about why you feel different emotion. Consider whether they’re logical or fair to yourself and your family.

Getting divorced doesn’t have to mean screaming matches and completely broken relationships. You can remain on good terms with your ex, and help to make it easier for both of you and the children.

So Your Baby’s Growing Up? How To Create Their First ‘Grown Up’ Bedroom

As your kids get older and bigger, they can become more and more influenced by their friends. Suddenly it’s not cool to have kid’s characters on the wallpaper or the bedspreads. And they want a bigger bed! It might feel like they’re growing up too fast, but this change of heart about their space is normal and healthy.

The chances are that your child’s bed just isn’t comfortable anymore. As they get taller and heavier, kids’ needs for a supportive bed becomes more crucial. If you are about to remodel their room, why not consider buying them a full adult bed? After all, they will be living in this room for several years at least.

When you consider the right bed for your ‘baby’, you should look at some of the reviews that are out there. For example, you can find a review of the saatva mattress and other mattresses that might be suitable for your tween to grow into. Teenage bodies grow rapidly. It’s draining, and it can be uncomfortable. A good night of sleep is essential at this delicate time.

When it comes to decor, your child will probably have a lot to say about it. They might want to design a cool living space with plenty of storage. Some like the room to resemble a den or cave! Comfy seating and a work desk are quite essential for homework or just hanging out with their friends. You might also be asked about a TV or games console. The decision must be yours to make, but there are likely to be pros and cons for both at this stage.

Of course, this room may need to double as a guest bedroom occasionally. Picking a good bed and good quality furniture will ensure the room can still be comfortable for guests to use too. Some teens may go through some interesting styling preferences. However, you might want to keep the decor reasonably neutral. Many parents permit posters on the wall as a compromise.

If your son or daughter enjoys music, you might want to consider installing a carpet. Carpets can cut out some of the sounds from the bedroom to avoid it impacting on the rest of the household. If you prefer hardwood floors, you could consider a rug for the floor space. There are some great textures and colors for rugs this season, which might make a nice change from the Disney character ones!

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You may have had a child’s wardrobe in the room originally. Now the closet needs to accommodate clothing for an adult-sized body. As your children move through their teens, their choice of clothing is a way of demonstrating their identity. Of course, many kids try styles on for a few weeks before moving on to the next thing. Plenty of closet and drawer space may be needed!

Creating a new room for you growing child can be a great way to bond together. It also gives your pre-teen or teenager something new to take pride in and look after. Have fun with it, and enjoy the project together.

 

Rid Yourself Of Your Addictions And Be A Better Parent

We all have our weaknesses. Suffice to say we’ve all had our downfalls. An addiction is a weakness. It’s something that gets in the way of your priorities. If you’re a parent, your children should be your priority.

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Stripping yourself of your addictions is something every parent should consider at some point. You’ll not only feel better about yourself, but you’ll be setting a good example for your children.

Food addiction is one of the most understated addictions today. It isn’t understood or vilified in the same way other addictions are. Food addictions are not limited to just overeating. There is a whole range of complex eating disorders that many men and women will suffer from at some point in their lives.

It isn’t a one size fits all problem. If you have a problem, you should be able to identify it. There’s little denial with this one. If you’re having issues, you’ll know.

In any case, seeking help from a psychiatrist or dietician can be massively beneficial in kicking the habit.

Now, people are often demonized for drug addiction. We have been taught to see it as a filthy habit as a way to deter people from using drugs. That’s all well and good, but we’ve also been making monsters out of drug users too. Without understanding and compassion for their addiction, they are doomed to sink lower and lower into it.

Drug addictions can stem from many things. An emptiness in life, mental health problems, or childhood trauma. Luckily there is significant help out there for people, and specialist treatment centers for those with specific needs. For example, segregated women’s drug treatment centers are available. Many drug users may have issues stemming from the opposite sex that could cause relapses.

Alcohol addiction is a ruinous thing and affects thousands of parents and children across the globe. Regardless of if the alcohol is making you violent or not, it is not a state you want to be seen in by your children.

If you are still out drinking every Friday and Saturday like you were in your 20s, you may want to reevaluate yourself. If you find yourself taking a drink in the morning or can’t sleep without being drunk, it is very likely you have a serious addiction problem.

For nicotine addiction, it depends a lot on the way you ingest the nicotine. Smoking is a hazard for anybody but is particularly harmful to children. If you’re using nicotine replacements like gum or patches, you at least won’t be passing the danger to children.

That said, nicotine in itself is a harmful substance and can do things to your heart. Part of kicking the habit is to make yourself healthier so you can hopefully extend your lifespan for your kids.

Getting rid of your addictions isn’t just self-improvement. You’re setting an example for your children. They make pick up bad habits of their own, but they pick them up faster and in greater number if you impress on them that they’re okay.

Be smart, and do the right thing.

The Best Presents to Buy for Toddlers

Getting a gift for a toddler isn’t the same as buying for an older child. They aren’t old enough to make a long list of all the latest must-have toys. So you can get them whatever you feel like buying (or making) them. Unfortunately, when you have free reign to make a choice it can suddenly be very difficult to decide. Toddlers can be amused by lots of things, but how can make sure you get them a gift that they’ll enjoy and not just something their parents will appreciate? Consider some of these ideas next time you need to buy a little one a present.

Make Believe Toys

Imaginative play is excellent for developing lots of skills in toddlers, from creativity to critical thinking. Not to mention, it’s fun. If you want to encourage a toddler you know to use their imagination, there are lots of different toys to choose from. They range from child-sized copies of everyday objects to more fantastical things. So you could get them a plastic kitchen set or toolkit, but you could also try a dressing up costume or a magic wand. It’s a great time for kids to learn how to entertain themselves, but you can make their gift even better by joining in.

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Soft Toys

Any toddler you know is sure to have a few too many soft toys already, but you can never go wrong with another one. If they have one they take to bed and one for the car, there’s always room to have one to sit on the bookshelf or take to preschool. Toddlers are still exploring the world, so tactile gifts like the Charlie Bear toys are great for them to stroke and cuddle. They might already have lots of teddy bears, but maybe the one you buy them will become their new favorite.

Clothes

Toddlers might not be old enough to develop a fashion sense just yet, but they are starting to develop preferences for what they wear. Clothing might still be more of a gift for the parents than the child, but even little ones will appreciate something new. If you want to choose something they’ll love, pick something with their favorite character or animal on it. As well as something like a dress or shirt, you could get them a bag, hat or another accessory.

Musical Toys

You might not be in the parents’ good books if you buy a toddler a toy that makes a lot of noise, but the kid is almost guaranteed to love it. There are lots of things you can get them, from mini drum sets and keyboards to electronic toys that play songs, sounds, and musical notes. Toddlers usually love making music and dancing around, so get them something they can bop along to and have a lot of fun with.

Toddlers need more toys to amuse them than babies, so it’s the perfect time to get them a gift. Don’t worry too much about what you get them because they’re sure to love it.

How to Keep Your Kids Occupied During the Summer Break

Children look forward to the summer holidays much more than parents do. For you, there’s a lot of planning and think to do to make sure they don’t get bored. Here are some top ideas to help you keep your kids occupied.

Have Fun with Arts and Crafts

They might be messy, but getting arty with the kids can be great fun for kids and parents alike. All you need is some paints and some paper, and you’ll keep them entertained for the whole day.

You can be even more adventurous by making things. You could try your hand at making some homemade jewellery with the kids. There are loads of online guides to help you out.

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Go Camping

Summer is a time to get back to nature and enjoy the great outdoors in all its glory. And there’s no better way to do that than to go camping. All you need is a big tent, a few sleeping bags and the whole family. It’s a great way to do something different and have fun as a family.

But, if you don’t fancy the idea of going camping, why not send the kids off to a summer camp? This means you’ll get some free time away from them, and they’ll get to have some fun with kids their age.

Clear Out the House

Some ideas that sound really boring for kids can turn out to be really fun if you use your imagination. So, why not have a big clear out of your home and get the whole family involved. Rummaging through boxes and throwing stuff out can be turned into a game!

Then, with all the items you don’t want but are too good to throw away, you can have a garage sale. You could even bake some cakes and make some lemonade to sell too. Any money that you make from the sale can be used to do something fun as a family.

Give Them Some Screen Time

Nowadays, a lot of parents seem to be scared of letting their children spend time in front of a television or computer screen. But it’s all about getting the balance right. There’s nothing wrong with them playing a computer game, as long as that isn’t all they do.

Let’s face it, sometimes letting them watch television or play on the computer is the only thing that will keep the quiet for a while. There are plenty of free car games and puzzle games online, so you don’t have to spend any money either.

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Encourage Them to Keep a Diary

There are big benefits to keeping a summer diary. It helps them appreciate the time away from school but also improves their writing skills. Translating their experiences into words can massively boost their literacy skills. It’s a way of getting them to do something educational without them even realizing it!

It doesn’t have to be boring for them either. Make sure you take lots of photographs, and they could add them to their diary too. They could turn it into more of a summer scrapbook than a diary.

It’s not easy keeping the kids occupied, but these ideas should help you out.

The importance of teaching your children about disabilities

It is important that children are aware of the wide range of disabilities that they will encounter as they begin to spend more time around others. Although this is a hard subject, addressing it in a straightforward manner at a young age will help make your child’s interactions with others much easier, and a frank discussion of the subject will make them more compassionate and understanding of others as they grow. Here are a few tips on how to teach your child about disabilities.

Why can’t they_________?

There are so many reasons why someone is disabled. Children need to know that some people are born differently, but that does not mean that they are less of a person. At the same time, it is also important to explain that sometimes diseases or accidents can leave a person unable to do certain things. Emphasize that just because someone can’t do one thing does not mean that he or she is not really good at many other activities.

Children are naturally curious

If kids do not know any better, they may ask questions in front of a person with a disability or in a public place. Don’t get angry with them for this if you have not taught them how to act around people with disabilities, as those with disabilities know that children are learning and do not hold this against them. The way you respond is what is important. Younger children can be told that a person has been hurt or is special. Sometimes the person with the disability can be relied upon to give a response. However, much of this awkwardness can be avoided if children are taught about disabilities at a very young age.

Emphasize that different is OK

It is likely that children will at some point have a peer who has a disability. Explaining to them that people are sometimes born special can help them be more understanding of others. Teach them to never tolerate any ridicule or jokes about a peer’s disability. Explain to your child that he or she may be considered different by someone else as well, and being different is not something to be ashamed of.

Ask privately

Children should feel comfortable asking you questions. However, it is best if they learn to know when and where to ask them, such as at a more appropriate time than in public. Let your children know that if they have questions about someone who is different, you will be glad to talk to them about it at home.

The most common disabilities

Hearing loss, inability to walk, blindness, and birth defects such as Downs Syndrome are some of the most common disabilities. While some disabilities are easy to recognize, hearing loss and partial blindness are easy to miss because they are simply not visible.

Hearing loss is one of the more treatable disabilities. Miracle-Ear, Inc. is a trusted company that has improved the hearing ability of many people of all ages through the use of advanced hearing aids. No one has to know that someone suffers from hearing loss with the small size of today’s hearing aids.

Children are naturally curious, so it is important to answer their questions about disabilities. By teaching them to be respectful of others, they will grow into compassionate adults.

4 Things Your Child’s Playroom Needs

If you are lucky enough to have enough room in your home to create your children their own playroom, that’s fantastic. Without a playroom, your home will become something that resembles an exploded toy store – not exactly the most appealing environment to live in.

If you have transformed your guest room or basement into the beginnings of a playroom, you are probably feeling incredibly excited. However, you may also be feeling a little stuck on what you should include in the playroom.

Should you include educational toys? Are imaginative toys important? Are energy using toys necessary? How much storage space will the playroom need? What does a playroom need?

To help you create the perfect playroom for your child, we have put together a guide to four things every playroom needs. To find out more, keep reading below:

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  1. Toys for using energy

Of course, you have to do what you can with the space you have, but one thing every playroom should have is toys that expel energy. For small rooms, climbing walls are ideal as they don’t take up much space.

If you have enough space in your playroom then ladders, slides and hoop swing ropes are ideal – these allow children to use energy and build confidence. If you don’t have the space for these types of energy using toys, focus on incorporating sports-focused toys into the room.

  1. Toys that encourage imaginary play

Imaginative play is important for you child’s development, so it is a good idea to incorporate a range of toys into the playroom for this purpose. These toys could be as simple as play food and a play kitchen or a little more elaborate, depending on the space and budget you have to work with.

Imaginary play helps your child to improve their social skills, problem-solving and language skills, as well as many other important life skills.

One of the easiest ways to encourage your children to take part in imaginative play is by adding a dressing up chest in the playroom. Fill the chest with all sorts of dressing up outfits and accessories from Just Pretend Kids, allowing your children to create their own imaginative games.

  1. Adequate storage space

There is only so much room in a playroom and with all the toys, games and sports equipment, having adequate storage is key. The best form of playroom storage is build in cabinets, but if you don’t have this option, boxes, hooks and crates will also work well.

When deciding on the type of storage, to incorporate into the playroom, make sure to remember that kids like to be able to see their toys. Otherwise,  they will get everything out at once and make a mess of the playroom – always opt for visible storage.

  1. Arts and crafts toys

Kids love being creative, so it is important that their playroom allows them to do this. Make sure to add a small table into the room for using for arts and crafts, as well as a cupboard or create filled with their favourite art materials.