First time hosting a play date? Never fear – it’s easier than you think. Here are a few tips to help your play day go off without a hitch.
1. Provide snacks. Choose healthy snacks like apple slices or everyone’s favorite goldfish. If you’re not sure about the dietary concerns of your guests, feel free to ask the other parents before they arrive. Send a simple text, “Does Sasha have food allergies?”
2. Put your pets away. Since we’re on the topic of allergies, some parents and even adults have allergies to animals that you may not be aware of. In addition, while your child loves your dog, the other child might have limited experiences with animals, and your dog’s excitement could terrify your guest.
3. Offer your guest a drink as soon as possible. Coffee, tea, water, or soda are good options to start with. You might even offer to have a glass of wine together. Let’s put it this way: if you’re willing t o have a glass of wine in the middle of the day, maybe she is too. It doesn’t hurt to throw it out there. (Hint: If you invite me over, I like red.)
4. Prepare your child for the play date. If there are any special toys that your child then not want to share, have your child to put those toys away before the play day begins. Having that conversation ahead of time will help with some of the stress of sharing those coveted toys.
5. Do not turn on the TV. The kids are there to play. Let them do that.
6. Turn on the music. To that point, sometimes too much silence is off-putting. Put some light music on in the background. Let your home be inviting.
7. Tidy up before your play date. Not during. Again, let the kids play. (Note: If you’re the guest, help clean up before you go. Even if the host says, “Oh you don’t have to do that.” You do. She’s just being nice.)
8. Be clear about the parking or stoller situation. As we live in a very dense area, sometimes it is difficult to figure out what to do with your car or your stroller. Let your guest know where you typically park, or where you leave your stroller. If you have a parking spot in your garage, maybe you can move your car into the street before she gets there so she can park in your spot.
9. Do not hover over the kids. Spend some time getting to know your guest. Compare bedtime routines and dinner menus. Laugh a little. Friends are everything.
10. Connect. The best part of a play date is spending time with other adults. Learn more about the ways other people run their households. Try to be open and honest with other moms about what works for you and what doesn’t. Be willing to hear advice and offer yours.
Mel Kozakiewicz blogs at www.urdoingitright.com.
Mel Kozakiewicz talks to child and family therapist Divya Dodhia about raising children in an age of racial and ethnic intolerance.
Back in September when bombs exploded in trash cans around New York and New Jersey, I called (who else?) my sister. At the time, her city (Charlotte, NC) was reeling from the death of Keith Scott, a black man fatally shot by the Charlotte Police Department. In both of our cities, racial and ethnic differences and presumptions seemed to be on everyone’s mind.
Like moms across the country, my sister and I contemplated what (if anything) to say to our little ones about race, diversity, and the United States of America. We desperately wanted, like generations of mothers who came before us, to raise children who could be kinder and carry less prejudice than the generation before. But how?
I didn’t want to scare or create anxiety in my children by bringing up issues that they couldn’t possibly understand. But at the same time, I didn’t want them to overhear confusing discussions by perfect strangers on the Light Rail. So maybe I should just answer whatever questions they might bring up instead of saying anything preemptively? Would that work? And then I could try to answer them in a way that makes sense to them. You know, like be honest but not traumatizing.
None of this was in the manual.
So I sat down with child and family therapist, Divya Dodhia for some guidance. Long conversation short, there are no easy answers. (You’re welcome.) Most of her advice was preemptive, but not in an event-specific way. Her advice centers around the ways we talk to our kids in general – how we interact with them. Here’s some of the greatest hits:
- These are the conversations we need to be having. It’s our job to be able to stand up to injustice, in whatever form that takes – whether it’s racism or mental health or whatever the case is.
- Talk at their level. Use examples from their own lives. When a person is discriminated against, that means the person is being left out. They’re so young, they won’t understand racism, or xenophobia. But they do understand feeling left out. Or bullying. Start there.
- Begin with very small with very basic concepts of humanity. Start with simple things such as empathy and making good choices. Get them to think about how the other person feels.
- Use these conversations to encourage and explain empathy. Empathy is so important. Let’s say for example your child hears someone saying this or that about the police. It’s confusing for that child because we’re supposed to trust the police, but you and I know that these situations are complicated. In that case, bring it back to the individuals. Tell them that not everyone will have the same experiences and that a lot of what people say is based on their own personal experiences.
- Talk about feelings and the choices that go with them. What can you do with the experiences that you have? Let them bring up the examples. You might ask, “Can you think of a time when you felt ____? Then what happened?”
- Help your child understand that just because one person thinks one way, not all the people think this same way.
- Teach simple skills such as sharing and using kind words and even using your manners such as hi, hello, and goodbye. It’s a foundation of you being a human being. You can take it to the next level and talk about what it means to be nice.
- Instill that good choices lead to good consequences. Even at a young age, they have a right make your own choices, but they also have to deal with the consequences, and those consequences might impact other people. You can do this outside of these larger conversations, and you should. Use examples like ‘If you don’t wake up and brush your teeth, how do you think the rest of the day is going to go for you?”
- Replace “Don’t do that” or “Don’t say that,” with try “How do you think this person is going to feel if you do that?”
- Remember that behavior is a method of communication. Children have a difficult time articulating feelings, especially when they have negative feelings like guilt, fear, or embarrassment. Learning how to deal with those are the foundations. Anger is normal, but how you display it matters.
- Finally, give them the language. For example, you might say, “People from different parts of the world will have different foods, different cultures, and look different – that’s called diversity.”
I hate bringing my kids to restaurants. “Don’t touch that. Put that back. Don’t eat the salt. That one’s pepper. See? Omigod. Come on. (Sigh.)”
In addition to my little ones’ inability to sit still for even ten minutes, I’m hyper-sensitive to the dining experiences of the other guests. The smallest squeal (is there such a thing?) makes me feel like I’m ruining everyone’s dinner.
My partner, on the other hand, loves dining out. He’s not bothered by their behavior. “They’re not even that loud,” he’ll say, or “It’s 6:10. We’re allowed to be here right now.”
Trying to compromise, we powered through about a year of storming out of restaurants until we figured out how to make it as easy as possible. Here’s what we learned:
- Pre-Game. This is not a drill. Have a glass of wine while you’re getting ready. Put some music on. Chill out a little before you even leave the house.
- Try for a later nap. The last time we went out as a family, we succeeded in starting nap-time at 2:30 and then let the boys wake up on their own – at 4pm! Obviously we can’t always control who sleeps when, but we found that if they nap later in the day, they’re easier to manage in a restaurant.
- Bring toys. Don’t rely on your iPad or phone to entertain the kiddos. Part of the reason we bring kids into restaurants is to teach them how to behave in public. That means we have to engage with them. Try bringing table toys, like small packs of Legos, matchbox cars, or puzzles as a way to do that.
- Arrive early. The witching hour is about 8pm, right? That means you’re a part of the 6pm crowd now. If that seems early, just try it once and be amazed by all the other families there too.
- Order right away. Check out the menu online so that when the server greets the table, you can at least get some appetizers going. When you’re dining with little ones, every minute counts.
- French Fries. It’s a night out. Get the fries. Don’t dig your heels into health-consciousness for the kiddos. There’s a time and a place for everything. In the restaurant, indulge.
Mel Kozakiewicz blogs at www.urdoingitright.com and has been living in Jersey City since 2003.
Jersey City Traveling Tips for Stress Free Holiday Travel
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!! Yeah, that is unless you are traveling and your flights is delayed or cancelled, the airline loses your luggage or you run in to the Grinch. I know some of you are going to be traveling or are still thinking about getting away for the holidays. So, I wanted to pass along some tips and information to make your holiday travel full of holiday cheer.
1. If you can, avoid peak travel days.
The busiest days to fly are those days immediately before and after the actual holidays. If you can, try to book your flights two days before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. However, you can actually save some money if you fly on the actual holiday.
2. Try to book a non-stop flight.
At peak travel times, there is the possibility of delays due to weather, air-traffic problems or even being bumped do to an oversold plane. It is best to book a morning flight as these flights tend to be delayed less often than afternoon departures. If you have to book a connecting flight, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make the connection, expect delays.
3. Make sure to confirm your seats especially, when traveling with children.
Go to the airline website at least 24 hours in advance to make sure you still have the seats you requested. Also, it is a good idea to call or check that your flight is still on schedule before you leave home.
4. If you are flying make sure to check in early.
First, make sure to check in online 24 hours in advance. You should receive an email from the airline as a reminder. It is important to give yourself plenty of time to deal with the crowds at the counter, as well as trying to get through security. Remember for domestic flights you should arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure, and for international flights you should arrive three hours in advance.
5. Stay at an airport hotel the night before an early flight.
I know this is not for everyone, but it might be something to consider. A great added perk is that some hotels will allow guests to leave their car in the hotel parking lot for the duration of your trip and provide a shuttle to the airport.
6. Ship gifts or even your luggage ahead.
If you do not send your gifts ahead, then do not wrap them before the flight. You can pack gift bags and tissue paper to be used as wrapping. Also, to make navigating the airport easier you can send your luggage ahead using Fed Ex or UPS. Even better, Fed Ex has better tracking and will insure your belongings. Sometimes it can cheaper than the check bag fee for the whole family.
7. Load up on the entertainment.
Make sure to load up on music, movies, apps and e-books for the entire family. It will help to keep everyone occupied if there is a delay. Don’t forget your battery charger as well. My family loves the PowerTrip as well the Satechi Portable Charger . They both offer USB ports and can charge just about anything.
8. Load up a carry on bag when traveling with the kids.
I pack my boys travel backpacks with lots of books, toys and snacks. But when traveling with little ones over the holidays make sure to have EXTRA. If you are delayed or miss a flight you will want to have a lot of snacks, special treats, toys, diapers or even a change of clothes. I have a great Airplane Survival Packing List when you sign up on my website for The Busy Mom’s Vacation Planning Kit.
9. Know the new TSA rules. Here is the latest updates for the holidays:
- Remember 3-1-1 for carry-on luggage for non-exempt liquids: 3 ounce bottle or less for all liquids, gels and aerosols; placed in a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag to hold all small bottles; 1 bag per passenger.
- TSA recommends that passengers do not travel with wrapped packages. In order to determine if the contents of a package are a threat, a security officer may need to unwrap and inspect the item.
- TSA allows small snow globes in carry-on luggage when packed in a passenger’s plastic 3-1-1 bag. Snow globes that appear to contain less than 3.4 ounces (approximately tennis-ball size) will be permitted if the entire snow globe, including the base, is able to fit in the same one clear, plastic, quart-sized, re-sealable bag as a passenger’s other liquids.
- Food items such as pies and cakes are permitted, but may require further inspection. If travelers are not sure if a food item is considered a liquid or gel it is best to pack the item in checked baggage or ship it to a destination in advance.
- Also remember that kids 12 and under do NOT have to take off their shoes when going through security.
- Medically necessary liquids and gels, including medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are exempt from the 3-1-1 rules, and are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces (100ml). They are not required to be in a zip-top bag. Officers may ask travelers to open these items to conduct additional screening and passengers should declare them for inspection at the checkpoint.
10. Don’t worry, Be Happy!!
If you are prepared for any delays that is half the battle. In the crazy hustle and bustle of holiday travel keeping calm and trying to go with the flow will go a long way.
Many Jersey City families are planning extended trips home over the holiday season. If you haven’t had an opportunity to travel with your little ones yet, or if you have but wish you would have done it differently, take a look at our travel tips. And as always, reach out to us with tips of your own that have worked for you!
- Resist the urge to immediately hand over the iPad. (Or your phone, or whatever screen you have handy.) Even animation and apps get boring after a while and you’ll want to save this secret weapon for when you really need it. Don’t wear it out right away.
- Let got of expectations. Traveling with toddlers is going to take longer, create more crumbs, and include more tears than your pre-kid trips. That’s ok. Be ready for it. And don’t apologize for it. It’s life. Allow the 3 hour journey to take 6 hours – it doesn’t matter.
- Plan breaks. Especially if you’re in a car. Look at the map ahead of time and see what might be a good place to stop. Or skip that step and simply know your kids. Will they run around a McDonald’s for 45 minutes? What about an empty parking lot? Got any sidewalk chalk?
- Choose your battles. This is not the time to hate on McDonald’s. They have clean bathrooms, toys in the same box as chicken nuggets, and COFFEE. Don’t mind if I do.
- Anticipate bedtime. Your friends and family probably won’t notice the subtle tugging your child does when s/he’s ready for bed, but you do. When you see the first sign of sleepy-eye, high-tail it to bed. There’s no need to bring out the overtired titan that resides inside all of our children if you don’t have to. You’re the one who will have to manage it; be as proactive as possible.
- New toys. Have a kid-sized backpack full of toys still in the packaging (remember that the packaging is part of the fun) for your child to bring along everywhere you go. Include small and generic toys like crayons, notebooks, matchbox cars, ponies, playing cards, stickers, books, bouncing balls, etc. Feel free to roll these out over time if that works for you too. (DO NOT get excited and show them the stuff before you start the trip. Their magic is in their newness.)
- Get your diapers delivered. If there are things you’re going to need for sure (like diapers, squeezies, formula, wipes, pacifiers), consider using a service like amazon prime or diapers.com to have them delivered ahead of time to your destination. Then pack a few more than necessary for the journey and use the new ones upon arrival. That will save room in the car (or in your luggage) for comfort or for that extra item you wanted to bring.
- BYO kid cups. Or bottles. Or silverware. (Or order the with the diapers.) Get or bring whatever it is that makes your child a more comfortable and pleasant soul. It’s not easy to be in a new environment, especially one that might not be kid-friendly, for kids or for parents. Bringing small things like cups can help.
- Pack complete outfits into ziplock bags. It might add a little bit of time to the packing part of the trip, but you won’t be dismantling your suitcase in a fit of rage looking for baby socks first thing in the morning or immediately following a diaper blow-out. (Just like the iPad, right? Let’s save the mommy-meltdowns until absolutely necessary.) Don’t have time to ziploc outfits? At least put the clothes in plastic bags to avoid getting them wet if it rains while they transfer the luggage to the plane.
- Take extra clothes for your little one if you’re flying. Have it handy in case of an accident. And bring an extra for you! You do not want to smell like milk for the majority of a 10 hour flight.
Eat and change diapers before boarding. You never know how long you’ll be sitting before the food is served. (If there’s food…) Make sure you and your kiddo won’t be hungry, at least through take off. And changing tables on airplanes are as cramped as can be. Try to avoid starting the trip there.
- Airplane headphones don’t work for kids. They’re either too big or they’re ear buds. They don’t fit. Get some before you go. You’ll be glad you did.
Mel Kozakiewicz blogs at www.urdoingitright.com and has been living in Jersey City since 2003.
Baby Sign Language therapist in Jersey City
What is baby sign language?
Baby sign language is a communication tool to be used with preverbal babies. Babies naturally use gestures before they can speak (reaching for a toy, pointing etc.) so expanding upon those gestures by teaching them sign language is a great way to start building communication skills. In North America, baby sign language instructors typically use ASL (American Sign Language) signs as the basis for teaching. It is important to note that, although ASL signs are used, you are not teaching your baby American Sign Language. You are simply using the exact sign for the exact English word.
Is my baby too old or too young for baby sign language?
I suggest starting baby sign between 6 months to 1 year of age. Although babies are listening to and deciphering language even in-utero, they do not typically respond to language until about 6 months. Waiting until this time increases the chances that the baby will respond to and possibly use the signs, which encourages parents and caregivers to continue to use signs consistently.
Why should we learn baby sign language?
Baby sign language is beneficial for you and your baby because it allows you communicate with each other. Rather than the parent guessing what the baby wants, the baby can communicate exactly what that need or want is. This can reduce the amount of frustration for the baby and parent or caregiver. Studies also show that signing babies tend to have larger vocabularies as they get older. One of the biggest reasons to start signing with your little one is the quality time you get to spend learning something new with your baby.
Will signing delay my baby’s speech?
The simple answer is no. There are no studies which link early signing to speech delays. Typically, if a child learns to sign and does not develop age appropriate language skills, it may be an indication of a pre-existing condition.
What can I expect from a baby sign language workshop?
Here at Speech Quest JCNY, workshops are one hour a week for 6 weeks. Parents and babies will come to class and learn together. Each parent is provided with a book and a CD for practicing at home. During each class you will learn new categories of signs (family signs, food signs, animal signs, etc.), signs for nursery rhymes and signs for some new songs! If there is time during the class you may also learn how to sign words from simple children’s books. Our baby sign language classes are unique because they are taught exclusively by licensed and certified speech language pathologists. We reserve time during each class to discuss any developmental questions about language that parents may have. We also encourage parents to get to know each other, which is why we reserve 10 minutes at the end of each class to mingle, it’s called our ‘Talk for 10’. You and your baby will leave each class knowing new signs and having a stronger connection with each other and the
I love this! Where can I sign up?
Head on over to www.SpeechQuestJCNY.com to register or to sign up for a free 20 minute preview class!
Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at- school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life
Email: [email protected]
Kid’s Lunch/snacks Ideas
Any mom will tell you that feeding a toddler can be a tough job. It’s especially hard to make sure they are eating healthy meals and snacks. Here are some great ideas for quick and healthy toddler snacks that will leave you feeling better about what your tot is eating – plus they are great for the whole family!
This smoothie is so quick and easy to make. Kids sometimes drink quicker than they eat, so this one is a timesaver. Plus, you can edit the ingredients to fulfill many different nutrition needs and tastes. Try your child’s favorite fruits (frozen works great, but you can use fresh), instead of milk you can use orange juice or even water to thin the smoothie out, if you are looking for a lower glycemic index use agave syrup instead of honey. Hiding greens in the smoothie, gives it a highly-nutritious punch and you can’t even taste them with all the other flavors happening.
Note: I’ve found that the easiest way to make this is with an immersion blender (like this Cuinsinart model) – it takes just a few seconds to blend and cleanup is a breeze. But, feel free to use a blender!
1 Cup of low-fat Greek yogurt (like 2% Fage)
½ Cup frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, etc.)
Handful of frozen spinach, kale or any mixed greens
¼ Cup milk or another liquid of your choice
1 Tbsp honey
Combine the ingredients in a cup or pitcher. Blend with the immersion blender until all the frozen fruit is pureed. Add more liquid if you want a thinner smoothie.
These treats are perfect for spring and great for moms on-the-go. This is an easy and healthy snack that kids love. I call them “blueberry candies” to entice my son and he loves them. Plus, they are a great snack for mom, too!
1 container of blueberries
½ Cup Greek yogurt (and kind)
2 Tbsp honey
Wash and dry the blueberries. Mix the yogurt and honey in a bowl. Using toothpicks, coat the blueberries in the yogurt mixture and place them on a cookie sheet or plate. Once you are done, place them in the freezer for 1 – 2 hours or until frozen. Pop the yogurt covered blueberries into sandwich bags and you have a ready-to-go yummy snack.
This bakes for 30 minutes, but the prep time is easy. Once it’s made, it’s a healthy quick snack for the whole family! You can add so many different ingredients to this granola to make it your own. Try different nuts, oil and dried fruit. It’s a very versatile recipe. Grab a baggie of granola on your way out the door, add milk and eat like cereal or add to yogurt parfaits.
3 Cups rolled oats
1 Cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 Cup sliced almonds
½ Cup dried figs
½ Cup dried cranberries
1/3 Cup sunflower oil
1/3 Cup honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats, coconut, almonds and dried fruit together. Add the oil and honey and stir until mixture is completely coated. Pour mixture onto a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the granola is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Once granola is completely cooled, store in a container and enjoy!
Kid’s Lunch/snacks Ideas
You have been counting the days until your much needed vacation. You arrive at the airport 2 hours early to make sure you have plenty of time to check in and get through security. When you get to the ticket counter to check in the agent says your flight is oversold and you have been booked on a flight 2 hours later. What??? How can that happen?
As the airlines are flying fewer planes and booking them to capacity this is happening more and more. In 2012, nearly 59,000 people were bumped from their flights. So what do you need to know about your rights as a passenger or even better how to make sure this does not happen to you.
1. Know your rights – If you are bumped from your flight through no fault of your own. The airlines must get you to your destination, as well as give you compensation for the delay. You can check the official Department of Transportation rules on voluntary and involuntary bumping. It is even a good idea to have a copy of the rules with you when you travel.
2. Show Me The Money – If you are bumped how much compensation are you due?
- If you are bumped from a domestic flight and will arrive at your destination more than 2 hours past your original scheduled arrival time, you can collect 4x the cost of a one-way ticket or up to $1,300 cash.
- If you are bumped and arrive within 1 to 2 hours of your original scheduled arrival time you are due 2x the cost of a one-way ticket or up to $650
- International flights have different rules, you are due up to the $650 for delays from 1-4 hours and up to $1,300 for delays over 4 hours.
- If you are owed money it is best to get a check instead of a travel voucher (a free round-trip flight, for example), because vouchers come with restrictions and can be difficult to redeem.
3. Book The Right Airline – JetBlue and Virgin America have almost NO overbooking or bumping issues. In fact, JetBlue has NEVER oversold a flight. Another reason I love that airline.
4. Who Gets Bumped? – If the airline has to bump a passenger they will usually choose them in this order:
- Last To Check In – This is why it is so important to check in online 24 hours in advance.
- Paid The Lowest Fare – If you are like me and are a fare shopper, really there is not much you can do for this item.
- Don’t have advance seat assignments – When you purchase your flights make sure to choose your seat. This is even more important when flying with families. At the very least when you do your online check in confirm or choose your seats. If you do not have an assigned seat in advance of going to the airport, make sure you arrive early to get a seat or at least be at the top of the list.
5. Join Airline Frequent Flyer Programs – This will at least give you some status in the pecking order for who gets bumped. Make sure your frequent flyer number is attached to your reservation.
6. Fly Early in the Day – This helps to avoid those passengers who were bumped or cancelled earlier in the day.
7. Fly Direct – The fewer flights you have to take the less chance you have of being bumped.
8. Buy an Upgrade – If you have a coach ticket you can purchase a seat upgrade to make it less likely for you to be bumped. Coach passengers are the first to be bumped.
9. Avoid The Rush – Try to avoid peak travel days. Best days to travel are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Beware of holiday travel. The day before Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday periods can also be called “bump season”
10. How Do You Get Rebooked? – Once your original flight has left then work with the gate agent to get you booked on your new flight. As well, the gate agent is usually the person who needs to process your compensation for being bumped.
11. The Exception To The Rule – There are a few exceptions to bumping rule and how you are to be compensated:
- If an airline must substitute a smaller plane for the one it originally planned to use, the carrier isn’t required to pay people who are bumped as a result.
- Flights on an aircraft with 30 through 60 passenger seats, do not owe compensation if you were bumped due to safety-related aircraft weight or balance constraints.
Of course, it is best to do all you can to avoid being bumped in the first place. But if you are bumped make sure to know your rights and make sure you are compensated.
Kimberly Milnes is a mother of 2 boys and owner of Adventures By Kim. She is a Family Travel Expert and professional sharing family travel tips, and information as well as helping families’ plan amazing and hassle free family vacations. Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] or www.adventuresbykim.com.