You, Your Kids and Halloween – Its it the same in recent years?

Sugar rush season is upon us and somehow, some way we always tend to divulge into the treats and the activities of Halloween.

Parents who partake in the festivities often find themselves trying to figure out a last minute costume and grabbing a bag of “they get what they get” candy in hopes that Halloween night goes off without a hitch. With the rising costs of candy, the treats giveaways are measlier in comparison to recent years. Over the past few years, parents have been saying that there has been a decline in trick or treaters due to past weather conditions, safety concerns or just lack of time in this day and age. Parents of toddlers find themselves enrolling their kids into safety trick or treat programs at libraries, trick or treating at the mall or at business establishments a opposed to people’s homes.

Some parents I have spoken to have said that this year, they will not be participating in overseeing their little ones participate in trick or treating and will instead – go out for dinner, have a Halloween themed home cooked dinner or just leave the house so they do not have to hear their door bell ring sporadically. Other parents said they have given their older children responsibility over the younger ones to go on out to a couple of doors and get as many treats as they can before dark.

Halloween as we know it has changed over the years with more concern over safety. What are your Halloween plans for you children this year?

-LaToya

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What Are Your (Latchkey) Kids Are Doing After School? (submission)

Every year, millions of children head home after school to an empty house because school clubs/sport programs have been cut, after-school supervision is expensive, or the children are at an age where parents feel they are capable of being home alone for a few hours. If you have a “Latchkey” kid, you’re certainly not alone.

After-school care is a multi-billion-dollar industry, however more than a quarter of America’s school children (15.1 million) are on their own after the school day ends. Despite growing awareness that children are at particular risk during these afternoon hours, the number and percentage of children left on their own in the afternoons has actually increased in the last five years.

If after-school care is not an option for your family, or you feel your child is old enough and responsible enough to be home alone, rather than allowing your child to set his or her own after-school schedule you should take advantage of the opportunity to create a teachable moment.

Parents can easily build their own after-school programs for their children by following the guidelines below. Besides children benefiting from the “teachable moments”, the experience will also start them down the path of developing into a responsible young adult. Here are some suggestions on how to start your program:

1. Set Expectations with Goals, Rewards & Penalties … No matter the age of your children or what you are trying to teach them, it’s important to set real goals, rewards for a job well done, and penalties if something goes wrong. By having clear goals, rewards and penalties, children of all ages can understand the benefits of following directions and weigh the consequences of any bad decisions.

2. Determine the “Trust Factor” … On a scale of 1-5, how much do you trust your child to be home unattended? If the number is 1, you will need to keep your child busy, and possibly, set some high penalties if something goes wrong. If the number is 5, give your child enough tasks to remain productive or possibly in charge of others.  

3. Communication Is Key … Make sure your children understand that there is no such thing as over-communication throughout any time home alone and that you actually demand regular updates. Set times to get short updates and then have full “downloads” when you get home. Use dinner or breakfast as the time to catch up or discuss what’s coming up.

4. Fill Time By Doing Projects … Set a schedule for your children so that each day there are different chores to do and that the chores fit the proper ages. Make sure the chores fill enough time and can be finished by the time you get home. Also, build in some short breaks so your children have time to unwind from a tough day at school. Again, depending on the age and “trust factor”, the amount of time that needs to be filled can vary.

5.  Follow Through … No matter whether your children do a great job or a poor one, you need to follow through with the rewards and penalties. Kids are smart enough to know whether parents will stand by their word or not and whether there is any bite behind that bark. While this is about keeping your kids safe and active, it’s also about teaching them work ethic, responsibility and accountability. So, praise and reward them for a job well done and remain strongly committed to the penalty you set for failing to meet expectations. 

- Gregg Murset, CEO and Co-Founder of BusyKid.

BusyKid uses modern technology to help children develop into adults with a strong work ethic and sense of what it means to be responsible and financially smart. Get the app today.

aMommyCast thanks Mr. Murset for being a guest blogger. If you would like to be a guest contributor please email your pitches to aMommyCast@gmail.com

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Quick Tips to Get Pregnant Sooner (submission)

1.    Get in sync with your cycle – Know when you ovulate. This may seem like a no-brainer but it can take most of the guesswork out of conceiving. Generally, ovulation occurs 14 days prior to the next period. Ovulation predictor kits (like the First Response Simple Ovulation Test Kit) can be used to help monitor hormonal changes in the body and find your “fertile window”. Based on your ovulation cycle, the fertile window is typically the four- to five-day window ending on the day of ovulation. Try to have lots of baby-making sex during this timeframe.

2.    Use a fertility-friendly lubricant. Use Pre-Seed to make sex more comfortable and fun! Clinical studies show that Pre-Seed is safe for use when trying to conceive, so you can be confident you are using the right lubricant to optimize your natural fertility.

3.    Get into the right position after sex – Contrary to some rumors, there is no “perfect” position that is proven to help you conceive. However, the position you take after sex can make a difference. Stay horizontal for at least 10 minutes after you do the deed. Don’t get up and go to the bathroom or get dressed. Just rest and let the sperm get to where it’s going. A perfect excuse to scroll Instagram.

4.     Start taking prenatal vitamins!  Women should begin taking prenatal vitamins before trying to conceive, throughout their pregnancy journey, and even in postpartum. When preparing for pregnancy, the most important first step is to start a prenatal vitamin with 1000 mcg of folate such as OB Complete three months prior to conceiving.

5.     Stop using birth control before you start trying – “No kidding”, you say. While it seems intuitive, not all birth control methods are created equal. Some will stay in your system for weeks or even months, especially Depo Provera. Check with your OB/GYN to find out the details on any of the potentially lasting effects from your method of birth control.

6.    Schedule an appointment with your doctor – Since you know you’re ready to conceive, this is one of the most important things you can do. Your doctor can give you the advice you need on nutrition, lifestyle and overall health.

7.     Be patient! It can take up to one year for a couple to conceive.  If you are 34 years old or younger, I recommend trying for one year before seeing a specialist for infertility.  However, if you have irregular menses, you should seek care from a fertility specialist immediately. If you are 35 years old or older, I recommend trying for six months before seeing a specialist such as a Reproductive Endocrinologist.

- Gloria Richard-Davis, MD:
University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology author of
Planning Parenthood

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MOMs NEED to KNOW (submission): 5 Keys To Protecting Your Investment In Your Child’s Braces

Braces are a major investment for families. According to a survey by the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics, the average price ranges between $5,000 and $6,000.

At costs like those, it’s definitely an investment worth protecting. The road to straight teeth and a nice smile can be a jagged journey – and even more expensive – when a child doesn’t take proper care of his or her braces. So it behooves parents to know the do’s and don’ts of braces maintenance and ensure that their kids are doing the right things for the duration of wearing them, which can be two years or more.

“The idea is to straighten their teeth, give them a confident smile and allow them to feel better about their appearance, but there are obstacles if proper care and attention aren’t given,” says Kerry White Brown, (www.whitebrownsmiles.com) an orthodontist and author of A Lifetime of Sensational Smiles: Transforming Lives through Orthodontics.

“Why spend all that money on braces if they’re going to let their teeth go? Parents need to be vigilant from the outset.”

To ensure braces do the job for which they’re intended, White Brown recommends five ways parents can help their kids take optimal care of them:

Brushing power tools. White Brown suggests an oscillating electric toothbrush, which does a thorough job of brushing around the braces and wires to remove food buildup and prevent decay. “Brushing will take a little more time and effort than they’re used to, since they now have more surface area to brush around,” White Brown says. “When parents ask me for recommendations, I tell them whatever will get their child more excited about good oral hygiene and keep them brushing is a good investment. Ideally, brush after every meal.”

Flossing with purpose. Kids can be prone to cutting corners, but White Brown stresses that parents need to stress the importance of taking the extra time to floss. “Food builds up under the gum tissue, and you must clean under the gums,” she says. “Flossing aids help to thread the floss under the wire. Although it’s daunting at first, after a few days it will become routine.” Using a Waterpik, White Brown says, can help, like using an “electric flosser.” It shoots pulsing jets of water out of its tip to dislodge food particles, especially in hard-to-reach areas. “These are excellent aids, but nothing actually replaces flossing,” White Brown says. “Flossing helps to clean between teeth and helps to prevent decay in those areas.”

Inspect their work. “Kids don’t like this, but you need to nag them and correct them until they get it right,” White Brown says. “It’s vital that you oversee their brushing and flossing until the habits are embedded.”

Avoid certain foods. Eating the wrong things may cause wires to break or come out prematurely. “Stay away from hard candies and nuts,” White Brown says. “But usually the challenge with foods is changing the way the patient eats them, specifically hard foods like carrot sticks or apples. Biting hard foods in braces can snap a wire or break the bond, so cut them into bite-size pieces.”

Regular checkups. Seeing your orthodontist for checkups and adjustments is essential, usually every six to eight weeks during the first year. “The orthodontist will check the condition of your braces and other appliances to make sure that they are putting steady pressure on the teeth in order to achieve the effect that you want,” White Brown says. “Regular visits are also important to identify potential problems.”

“There’s going to be a slight adjustment period for kids, and it’s important that parents help them make that,” White Brown says. “Otherwise it can turn out to be a wasted investment.” - Dr. Kerry White Brown

Dr. Kerry White Brown (www.whitebrownsmiles.com) is a 5-star rated orthodontist and the author of A Lifetime of Sensational Smiles: Transforming Lives through Orthodontics. A graduate of the Howard University College of Dentistry, she operates an orthodontics practice, White Brown Smiles, in South Carolina with six locations. Dr. White Brown is a member of the American Dental Association, the American Association of Orthodontists, and the South Carolina Association of Orthodontists.

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