If you are sharing living and play spaces with your children, read on for some tips and tricks to declutter play rooms and make your shared spaces more fun for kids and less stressful for parents!
It has been a rough month and our world is changing. We are focused on what matters most in our lives, and what is essential. What is most meaningful?
The American Girl Boutique opened up inside of Chapters on Robson Street last weekend, and my daughter Zara and I got the opportunity to visit it ahead of time and scope things out. Before the event invite I’d heard of American Girl but had no idea how big they are!
Zara is 7 and told me she had seen American Girl commercials on TV, but neither of us had ever seen an actual doll. We had no idea what to expect. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the store at 7am on opening day and saw there was already a very long line up to get in. Some girls brought their dolls along, others waited anxiously to get inside at 10am and see an American Girl doll for the first time. I thought to myself – this is crazy, who waits in line for a doll? Then we went inside, and it became obvious.
The dolls are beautiful. They are really well made, and have gorgeous thick hair, they are endearing; even to adults. The best part about the American Girl experience for me was the fact that they encourage little girls to pick one special doll (maybe even the one that looks most like her), and then buy accessories and items for her. Yes there is a doll of the year released annually, but I didn’t feel any pressure to build a collection of dolls. They are definitely an investment retailing at $125 each, but I would rather buy one American Girl doll than multiple plastic dolls and their houses, cars, and other accessories.
Zara checked out all the dolls before she settled on the one that she felt looked most like her. It was really refreshing to see so many different options of skin colour and hair colour – there was actually 4 or 5 dolls that looked like they could pass as Hispanic or South Asian, definitely a welcome surprise. We also loved the fact that the dolls don’t come with names or birthdays – it lets you really personalize and connect with the experience. Z named her doll Izzy (one of her own nicknames) and decided the day she got her is going to be her birthday.
Once you’ve got a doll you can buy clothing and accessories for her, and even bring her back to the American Girl Salon to have her hair styled or her ears pierced. While I know these things can add up in cost, I think it’s a great way to talk to your little girl about finances. I made a deal with Zara that we can come back in a few months and I’ll get Izzy’s ears pierced but if she wants another outfit for her, she’ll have to save some of her allowance. It’s a great ‘save up for it’ learning experience.
Now that we’ve had Izzy almost a week, I can totally understand why all those little girls were lined up to get into the store that morning. Zara and Izzy are inseparable, from morning to night they are constant companions.
I’m one of those moms who shops all year long. I buy things on sale and fun items fill the cupboards in the spare bathroom. By the time wrapping week comes around in December, the gifts have trickled into the bathtub, hidden under towels.
While this system has always worked in my house, this year things are different. The boys are 6 and 7 and have very specific HOT toys in mind. I realized yesterday in a panic that I didn’t have what they really wanted. Scouring the internet I finally found the toys in stock at one online retailer and pulled out the old Amex.
This mom has learned a few tricks and I won’t be making the same mistake in the future. Here are 7 tips for getting the toys the kids really want.
1. Write letters to Santa on December 1. If you do it too early the kids may change their mind about what they really want.
2. As soon as the letters are written, hop online and order the special present.
3. Stocking stuffers are great to collect over the course of the year, but larger bulky items are best sourced in December. Having an expensive bathroom as a storage area isn’t very practical.
4. Canada has caught on to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in a big way. Making a good list of items and finding the best deals on those days can save a fortune and eliminate the need to shop all year.
5. Pull up a few ‘hot toy’ lists and go through them with your kids to gauge interest. Mattel has a great Hot Toy List and I love Dr. Toy’s annual list as well. This will help you give Aunts and grandparents some ideas. Mattel also have a great online wishlist where you can keep track of the kids’ desires!
7. Canada’s official Free Shipping Day is happening this Thursday, Dec. 12, and eager online shoppers are gearing up for great deals. Over 230 stores have signed up to participate, with several more expected to be added to the site before offers go live at 12:01 a.m. EST. In addition to big-name participants like Indigo, Garage, Roots and SportChek, independent retailers are also offering free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve.
Once you’ve eliminated the stress from your shopping, you’ll have lots of time to bake, decorate, do charity work and make beautiful memories with the kids during the holiday season.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Mattel Canada. All opinions are our own.
Calling all snuggle puppies! Beario is the 5th limited edition collectible bear to be introduced by the Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada along with Toys “R” Us Canada. Part of the sales from this bear will be donated to Starlight’s hospital programs. These hospital programs help to brighten the lives and spirits of seriously ill kids in Canada.
Forget Instamatch and online gaming. This tangible Marimekko memory game will verse your child in design as well as sharpening their little brain. Putting a new spin on an old classic, this Memory Game by Marimekko is sure to become a family favorite for games night with its beautifully designed circular tile pieces.
This memory game features a selection of Marimekko’s own textile designs, from their iconic Unikot print, to playful Cars. We’re so in love with the patterns, we may just have to practice lots.
These cube shaped playthings are a modern take on Mr. Potato Head, crafted from recycled paperboard rather than plastic. Each toy features a unique design with easily interchangeable parts as well as a unique personality. Burr, Zard, Oshi, Munti, Guba and Fofo are the names of the original Obo Toys and yet kids can also create their own friends by interchanging the parts. And for $5 they not only help the environment, but also your family budget.
The diaper back is often handbag, toybox and tolietry kit in one. Sleep-deprived moms often forget to replenish their bags and there is nothing worse than being left in a lurch without diapers or a change of clothes for your baby. Here’s a checklist of the essential 15 things you should pack in your diaper bag, as well as a few fun surprises.
- The basics: Diapers, Wipes, diaper cream, change of clothes, changing pad
- Swaddling blanket, burp cloths
- Medication for kids (children’s Tylenol) or Advil (for yourself), adhesive bandages
- Snacks & Reusable water bottle
- Nursing cover or sling if you’re breastfeeding or a bottle of formula if you’re not
- Sippy cup and spoons in a Ziploc bag & extra Ziploc bags
- Emergency money and change for parking meters
- Cell phone charger
- Pen & paper
- Magazine/reading material (for when they finally fall asleep and you’re in your driveway!)
- Lipgloss, earrings, a brush and mascara for Mom
- Sunscreen or hat
- Teething toys, comfort items
- Hand sanitizer
- Emergency info-contact information of your family physician and an emergency contact as well as immunization records and health cared number.
We also have some fun ideas on UrbanMommies TV for how to pack a diaper bag.
There’s nothing quite like watching children learn. The wide smiles, loud squeals and dilated eyes as their new toy does something fantastic make you want to record hours and hours of video. Fisher-Price® has always been a top pick in Mom’s bag of tricks and two new toys that UrbanMommies was asked to test are sure to be winners for families everywhere.
Little People® Wheelies™ Loops ’n Swoops Amusement Park™ is so tall (over two feet, in fact) that you can stand up and play from both sides. Because toddlers can use it alone or with a friend, it is perfect for the stage of development when kids are moving from solo to parallel play.
As a mom who owns very few tools (can I use a tap shoe as a hammer?), what tends to resonate with any new toy is the ease of assembly. Needing only six screws and one screwdriver, I felt like a building rock star. My kids eyed the enclosed stickers with excitement and we played a shape game as they instructed me where to place the decals. I was overjoyed watching them study a photo of the finished product on the box while their spatial recognition kicked in and they guided me through the assembly.
Once the final flags were placed in the amusement park (they were chomping at the bit to play) the two enclosed ‘wheelies’ started dipping and swooping down two roller coaster ramps and around the gravity-defying loop the loop. A great teachable moment happened when the boys asked why the wheelie didn’t fall when it was upside down.
If your little ones are learning individuation and suffering from separation anxiety, this exciting Little People® Wheelies™ Loops ’n Swoops Amusement Park™ demonstrates that what goes away will re-appear. It encourages social interaction and is pretty fun for parents, too. OK. I admit that I took the first turn. Woosh!
Our next test toy was the Stand-Up Ballcano™ that catches balls at its base while encouraging standing. Baby can fill the centre with the six colourful balls and activate an ‘eruption’ that spills the balls all down the three legs of play.
The colours and obstacles help define the world around the kids and the sounds that are created when they place the balls in different spots encourage hand/eye co-ordination. Music and lights inspire the child to do it over and over again. “Do ‘Gain!” was the comment that I heard most from my little testers.
It was like a mini Physics 101 class. If the ball gets sent down this ramp, X occurs. If you choose a different ramp, other effects are produced. The only drawback? They are so excited about volcanos now that pretty soon I may have to go find a chemistry set.
We know moms and kids are learning every day, and Fisher-Price® is here to help in a joyful manner…from innovative solutions that make parents’ lives easier to toys that help kids learn and grow through play. It’s what we call the Joy of Learning. Discover more at fisher-price.ca.
Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Fisher-Price® via Glam Media Canada. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Fisher-Price®.
My tween wants a cell phone. Correction, she wants a cell phone that allows her to text, play games online, send emails and lastly, make phone calls. Yesterday, she told me that more and more of the girls in her class (We’re talking 4th grade folks!) are getting cell phones for their 10th birthdays. She doesn’t want to wait a year. She wants one now.
When she told me this, I found it hard to believe. So I started asking around, and did a little Internet search. Guess what? According to a recent 2012 study from the National Consumers League (NCL), 56 percent of patents have purchased cell phones for their tweens! (That’s nearly 6 in 10 parents of 8-12 year olds!)
I hate to admit it, but my daughter was right. Most tweens receive their first cell phone between the ages of 10 or 11. According to the report the top reasons that parents cited for getting their child a mobile device:
- Safety (84 percent);
- Tracking child’s after-school activities (73 percent);
- Because the child asked for one (16 percent.)
These reasons seem valid enough to me. I can’t imagine letting my child walk back and forth from school without having a phone just in case she needed to reach me or her father. And knowing that she can call or text me if her music lesson lets out early or a dance rehearsal is running long so I should pick her up 10 minutes later than normal, is convenient for me. But are those compelling enough reasons to get her a cell phone?
Let’s not forget that cell phone use can get expensive; even for the savviest of savvy tech users. So you can count me among the 82 percent of parents said that the price of the cell phone service is (was) an important part of their decision. About nine in 10 parents (92 percent) say that they have “tweener” cell phone costs of less than $75 per month. When I decide to get my child her own cell phone, I plan to include her on my existing plan so I can manage usage and costs.
Things To Consider When Buying A Cell Phone for Your Tween
Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director, put it best when she said “Figuring out how to manage a child’s use of one of these high-tech gadgets can often require the skills of a seasoned diplomat, the steely nerve of a tightrope walker and the tech savvy of a Silicon Valley computer geek.” So we pulled together some great questions from NCL that parents should consider before purchasing a cell phone for their kids:
- Why does your child really need a cell phone?
- Will the phone be used primarily to stay in touch with parents and for emergency use? Or will your child be using the phone for entertainment or to communicate with friends?
- How much do you want to spend per month on service?
- How much do you want to spend on the initial purchase of the cell phone itself? Is an iPhone really necessary or can you compromise with a less expensive and perhaps less tech savvy alternative?
- Is your child mature enough to keep their minutes, texting, and data use within plan limits?
- Is your tween mature enough to use the phone responsibly and avoid viewing or sending inappropriate content?
- What is your child’s school’s policy on cell phones in school?
- Does your tween have a habit of losing things or can he or she handle the responsibility of caring for a phone?
After looking over these questions, I quickly concluded that my daughter is not ready to have her own cell phone. She may be mature enough to handle the responsibility (i.e. not leave it somewhere or send inappropriate texts) but I don’t think that she has mastered the concept of time and the importance of staying within the data use plan limits. Without that, our cell phone bills will be sure to skyrocket!
So now it’s your turn. At what age do you think a child should get a cell phone? Are you part of the 50+ percent that are buying their kids cell phones at younger and younger ages or will you buck the majority and wait until they are starting high school?
Meet Patrice. This stylishly clad toy features two outfits, business in the front and beach wear on the back! This reversible plushie, made of organic cotton, is a huggable friend that is sure to become a beloved member of the family. Smallable
If you have mastered the twists and turns of the original Perplexus, get ready… Challenging any kid’s levels of concentration and finesse, Perplexus Epic will totally humble you. (And if it doesn’t email us and we will send you a diploma!) Where the original has 100 barriers, the Epic boasts 125 channels, holes, tunnels and loops through which you much manipulate the tiny silver ball without it falling. Ages 8 and up. But I’m over 30 and it’s going to take me a while!!