Tooth Fairy Hacks Every Mom Needs to Know

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We are at the age when the tooth fairy has started to visit. And, shortly after the first tooth was lost, the magic was over. I no longer want the tooth fairy to sprinkle glitter on the pillowcases to leave behind tooth fairy evidence. I’m over the tooth fairy leaving a note and more than a dollar bill. My kids are lucky if the tooth fairy even remembers! Since I have heard from other mom friends that their tooth fairy is as forgetful as mine, I have done some research to help moms everywhere.

Set an Alarm

My first tip is to set the alarm. Let’s face it. If you don’t set the alarm, the tooth fairy will miss her visit. Just make sure the alarm is set late enough for the kids to be asleep and you to still be awake.

“Under the Pillow” is Old News

One of the trickiest things a tooth fairy has to do is find the tooth hidden under the pillow. Not only is it difficult to find in the dark, but it is also a quick way to wake up a sleeping child. If your tooth fairy is still using this method, urge her to try something new ASAP. Purchase a tooth fairy pillow or stuffed animal that will make the tooth fairy’s job easier. Even better – hang a tooth fairy pillow on the outside of your child’s door.

Keep Petty Cash

No one ever seems to have cash when they need it, such as when a kid randomly loses a tooth. So, keep some petty cash in your home just for these special occasions.

Lies to Tell Your Kids if the Tooth Fairy Forgot to Visit

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At some point, the tooth fairy is going to forget to visit, and your precious little one will be heartbroken, and you will be plagued with mom guilt. To help you move past this moment, here are some lies you can use:

It was raining…

Did you know tooth fairies cannot fly if it is raining because their wings cannot get wet? Or, if it is too windy, they have to wait until it is safe to fly.

The bedroom was too messy…

If a child’s bedroom is too messy, it is 1) too difficult for the tooth fairy to find the tooth or 2) too unsafe for a small tooth fairy.

You went to bed too late…

If a child does not go to sleep early enough, the tooth fairy may not visit because she was already fast asleep before the child was.

She was so busy at night…

If the tooth fairy misses her nighttime visit, that’s probably because she was too busy visiting other kids (or taking care of her own). But, if a tooth fairy is too busy at night, she CAN visit during the day while kids are in school.

Lies to Tell Your Kids If They Try Trick the Tooth Fairy

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There may come a time when your child tries to trick the tooth fairy to see whether or not she is real, like this kid did to his poor parents by not telling that he lost a tooth and put it under his pillow. If your kid pulls something similar, here are two more lies you may find useful:

Parents Need to Contact Her

Parents need to contact the tooth fairy to let her know there is a child in the house in need of a visit.

Parents Have to Turn Off the Security System

The tooth fairy cannot visit your home safely if your parents don’t turn off the security system; therefore, kids must tell their parents so they can make sure she can get in the house unnoticed.

This Evening Routine Could Change Your Family

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My girls started back to school this week, which means it is time to prepare for busy, frantic, stressful evenings. Unless it’s not. Imagine if there was a way working moms could get home from work and actually enjoy their evenings with their little ones without feeling rushed and panicky. Recently, I stumbled upon some advice that I believe I can shape to fit my family that will make all the difference in the world.

Introducing Prime-Time Parenting for Working Moms

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In the article, The Nightly Routine that Helps Working Moms Get All Their Parenting Done in Two Hours, the author writes, “It’s called Prime-Time Parenting. It starts around 6 p.m. and ends around 8 p.m. In between, parents put away cell phones and screens of all kinds. The kids put them away too (unless they’re needed for homework). During that two-hour window, parents focus exclusively on their children.”

It sounds so simple in theory, but those of us who work know that it is harder than it sounds. But, I think we can actually do it – if we plan and have solid routines in place for the following 30-minute chunks of time every weekday evening.

Homework Time

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While I am cooking (or ordering takeout), the kids should be working on their homework. This will give me time to hop back and forth between the kids and the kitchen. And, hopefully, by the time dinner is ready (or has arrived), the girls will be finishing up homework. At this point, we will pause on school stuff for dinner.

Dinner Time

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Since I have already meal planned for the week, I know in advance what we are going to be eating, so I can factor the time into our homework routine. When it is time to eat, we will eat together and catch up on the day.

Clean-Up Time

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Instead of doing the dinner clean-up myself, the family will take part in a mini clean-up routine each night by clearing their dishes as soon as dinner is over and helping me straight up whatever mess we made cooking.

Quality Family Time

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Finally, with the remaining time, I will keep my phone off and stay focused on my people. I will look over my girl’s homework to make sure they did it correctly. I will help them pack their bookbags and lunch boxes, so they are ready the next morning. Then, we will spend time together as a family watching a family-friendly show we all love or playing a game. Then, I will help them get ready for bed following our regular bedtime routine.

It may be wishful thinking, but I’m going to try. And, I realize that not every day will be the same – especially when dance classes start – but I believe I can make the necessary adjustments. By doing a little Prime-Time Parenting, I have a feeling this school year is going to be the best one ever!

What can you do to improve your evening hours and make life a little less frantic?

10 Back to School Clothes Shopping Tips

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We are currently enjoying the last few days of summer vacation – I hope you are, too! As summer draws to a close, it means it is time to go back to school shopping. After having kids in school for a few years now, I have learned some key things to do to make back to school clothes shopping more successful. I hope these tips help you just as much as they helped me!

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Review the School Dress Code

Before you do any back to school clothes shopping, you absolutely must review the school dress code – especially if your school does not have uniforms. This is so important. There is nothing worse than shopping for all the clothes just to find out they do not comply with the dress code.

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Check Sizes in Advance

Another mistake you want to avoid is buying the wrong size clothes. Or buying new clothes when your kids really don’t need them. If your child is still wearing the same size, look over the clothes to see if they are still in good condition before you spend a bunch of money on clothes your child will outgrow sooner rather than later.

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Clear the Closets

Next, go through your child’s closet and clear any clothes he or she has outgrown or clothes that are not in good condition. This is a great way to see what you really need to buy versus what you don’t. For example, your child may have plenty of jeans but not enough socks (since they somehow always disappear).

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Donate the Excess

After you have cleared the closet, donate the items that no longer fit your child. If you are looking to make some money from your child’s outgrown clothing, then head to your favorite consignment shop. Or, donate the clothing to an organization with a mission you support.

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Give Yourself Time

We are getting really close to the back to school shopping deadline. Give yourself plenty of time to shop so you avoid rushing. If you wait until the last minute, you will wind up spending more than you want and purchasing things you don’t need.

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Do It Online or Go Kid-Free

When it comes to back to school clothes shopping, try to do it alone. It is much easier to shop for back to school clothing when your kids aren’t with you since they will want everything they don’t actually need (such as accessories) and having them with you will take so much longer. Better yet, take your list of sizes and clothing needs and shop online at your favorite retailer!

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Set a Budget

Next, be sure to set a budget before you start to shop. We all spend quite a bit on back to school shopping, so budget accordingly. Having a budget will help you decide which items you should pass on and which ones are worth it.

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Take Advantage of Sales, Discounts, and Coupons

You can find some excellent back to school shopping deals. Stock up on the coupons by signing up for emails from your favorite stores. You will get emails alerts about sales and coupons you can use when shopping.

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Shop Overstock Stores

I love doing my back to school clothes shopping at overstock stores like T.J. Maxx. I can purchase my girls designer goods at great prices, ensuring they look fabulous and I have money left over for school supplies.

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Off-Season Merchandise is Your Friend

Finally, go ahead and stock up on off-season merchandise. Guesstimate your child’s size next summer and purchase a few key pieces (such as swimsuits) while they are on clearance. If you shop wisely, you will either have clothes in the right clothes for next year or clothes you can consign and make your money back on.

Plan Ahead to Stay Ahead This School Year

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In New York, we still have a few weeks before school is back in session. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t already anticipating it. If you are like so many parents I know, the school year is busy and hectic, and you feel like you can’t stay on top of it all. I’ve been there!

What if I told you that by making a few simple changes to your school year routine, this school year could be so much easier? It’s true! In today’s blog, I’m sharing some tips that any mom can do that will make this year better than the last. The key – plan ahead to stay ahead.

Use a Family Calendar

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First, parents should take advantage of all the technology we have at our fingertips that are designed to make our lives easier, such as calendar and scheduling apps! Whether you use Google calendar or an app like Cozi, it is super easy to schedule all of your kid’s doctor’s appointments, after school activities, and important events.

Create a School Morning Routine

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If your mornings are out of control, then it is time to put some structure back into your mornings. Have a clear list of “morning must-do’s” for your kids, such as “brush your teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast,” and stick to it! Print it out and frame it, or use a morning routine app.

Choose Clothing in Advance

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You can really speed up your mornings if you have your kid’s (and your) clothing picked out in advance. I’ve seen some parents who use closet hangers to separate clothing by the day of the week. Find what works for you, but make sure the clothes are out before the school week begins.

Start Meal Planning

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I know the words “meal planning” freak some people out. Don’t overthink it! Meal planning can be as simple as “Monday: Pork tenderloin and veggies, Tuesday: Spaghetti, etc.” The point is to have a basic idea of what your plans are for dinner, so you don’t have to rush around at the last-minute scrambling for something to cook.

Let the Kids Help Pack Their Lunches

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Instead of doing everything by yourself, teach your kids to be a little more self-sufficient by letting them help pack their lunches. It’s easier than you imagine. Take the bottom shelf of your refrigerator and the bottom shelf of your pantry and designate these spaces for school lunch items.

Sign Things as Soon as They Appear

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This is very simple, but it can be life-changing. Instead of seeing a paper you need to sign for your kids and putting it aside, stop what you are doing and sign it and put it back in the bookbag right away. Trust me – you just saved yourself a ton of future headache.

Don’t Feel Guilty About Throwing Stuff Away

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Kids, especially preschool and elementary ages, bring home so much stuff. Endless amounts of art projects and coloring pages and worksheets. You cannot possibly hold on to everything – nor will your kids actually want all their work from kindergarten when they are grown.

So, let go of the guilt and toss everything except the really special things. Or, take pictures of all their artwork and upload the pics to one photobook at the end of the school year. One photobook is so much better than a bazillion pieces of construction paper.

Sign Kids Up for After School Activities

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Don’t wait until the last minute to sign your kids up for after school activities. If you do, the spots at the best place may already be filled. Instead, spend the last few weeks of summer doing your homework and get your kids signed up in advance.

10 Awesome August Events for Families in NYC

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August has arrived, which means summer will be over before we know it. So, we’d better do our best to enjoy every last minute we have! Thankfully, there is tons of fun things to do in NYC for families this month – everything from delicious food events to outdoor carnivals. You can even go ahead and visit the nearby apple orchards and stock up before fall.

Today, I am highlight 10 family-friendly NYC happenings in August, so get your calendar ready!

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Restaurant Week

As a foodie, you know I am super pumped for Restaurant Week 2019. Running from July 22—Aug 16th, Restaurant Week offers deals at over 370 restaurants with prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner. TimeOut has a guide for places to take the kids during Restaurant Week.

Manhattan’s Summer Streets

Saturdays in August mean car-free days in Manhattan where families are encouraged to use other means of travel (i.e., bikes, scooters) for a 7-mile stretch. Along this route, there are rest stops with family-friendly activities.

Bronx Zoo’s Dinosaur Safari

If you haven’t taken the family to Dinosaur Safari at the Bronx Zoo, make plans to visit before this exhibit closes in early November. Your kids will love seeing the 40 animatronic dinosaurs and the fossil dig.

Sand Sculpting Contest

The 29th Annual Sand Sculpting Competition will take place on August 17th at the Coney Island Beach. These sand sculptures are incredible and totally worth the trip!

Fly NYC

For a more laidback family adventure, check out FlyNYC Kite Flying Festival on Saturday, August 17th at Riverside Park. If you don’t have a kite of your own, kite kits are provided until they run out.

Photo:  NYC-ARTS

Photo: NYC-ARTS

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

This weekend, head to Queens for the amazing Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. Your family will marvel at the custom-made boats and enjoy cultural favorites (i.e., music, demonstrations, food, and bubble tea).

Hercules in Central Park

The Disney version of Hercules is being performed in Central Park in the evenings from August 31st – September 4th. Not only will kids love this live theater experience, but parents will appreciate that it is FREE!

Smorgasburg

Back to food again, because, of course! Smorgasburg is held Saturdays and Sundays during August in Prospect Park. You can try a wide variety of dishes and treats.

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Richmond County Fair

Take the family to an old-fashion county fair (and Staten Island’s one and only) from August 31st to September 2nd. This is a wonderful way to send out summer.

Summer Outdoor Movies

Families have tons of options for free outdoor movies this summer in NYC. Check out this list of outdoor movies in NYC from the New York Times and make plans to get there early!

Photo: Whitney Browne of YYDC on  Battery Dance Festival

Photo: Whitney Browne of YYDC on Battery Dance Festival

Battery Dance Festival

Make plans to spend time at New York’s longest-running dance festival. The Battery Dance Festival will be held August 11th – 16th at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park.

Which NYC event are you most looking forward to enjoying with your family this month? Let me know in the comments!

Help Your Kids to Avoid the Summer Slide

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Ah, summer break. We all need it. But did you know that kids tend to learn much of what they learn during the school year over summer break? According to Education Week, “The average student loses one to three months of learning over summer.” Obviously, we don’t want our kids to lose what they worked so hard to learn! Today, I’m sharing some great ways to help your kids avoid the summer slide.

Read and Read Some More

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First off, summer reading exists for a reason (and not just to torture kids and their parents). Book Source explains, “Students who read during the summer gain an average of 1 month of reading proficiency. Students who don’t read lose an average of 2-3 months proficiency and over time, those lost months add up to years.”

Ouch! So, even if our kids are not readers, we need to encourage them to read over the summer break. Here’s my best suggestion – let them read whatever they want to read (even if it is Minecraft guides).

Use Math in Everyday, Real-Life Situations

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Most kids will not be very happy if you give them a stack of math worksheets to work on over summer break. Would you? Instead, look for ways to use math in the real world, such as selling lemonade where kids have to add money or cooking together where kids have to measure and count.

Send Them to Summer Camp

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This summer my girls were lucky enough to head to summer camp. There are so many great summer school options, but I really like the ones that include education such as iD Tech Camp. These camps are way more fun educational experiences than a traditional classroom.

Meet with a Tutor

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If your child struggled this past school year, the summer is an excellent time to work with an academic tutor. For example, many students benefit greatly from working one on one with a reading tutor. Before you hire a tutor, check with your child’s school to see if they work with any tutoring companies to ensure you find tutors who are familiar with your school’s standards and academic program.

Set Screen Time Limits and Add Educational Apps to Their Devices

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Don’t hate me, but it’s probably a wise idea to set some summer screen time limits. Now listen – I am so not anti-screen! My girls love their shows! But, if I’m not careful, they can easily waste a whole day in front of a screen. This is why, during the summer, I work to enforce screen time limits.

With that being said, I say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Screens are here to stay, so understand that trying to prevent them from using them completely is a losing battle. Instead, stock their devices with fun educational games and apps.

Let Them Play

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Finally, just let the kids play! Imaginative play is so important for kids’ overall development. Encourage them to play with their toys, with their siblings, and by themselves.

Fostering Strong Bonds Between Siblings.

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“There’s no better friend than a sister.” - Mary Engelbreit

One of my big dreams for my two daughters is that they would grow up to be close friends. When I hear stories about siblings who don’t get along or don’t speak to each other as adults, it breaks my heart.

Having healthy relationships with your siblings is so important – even the research proves it! One study found “Sibling affection was positively associated with adolescents' sympathy and prosocial behavior. Sibling hostility was positively associated with adolescents' depression.” Therefore, it is important for parents to help their kids develop positive relationships and strong bonds.

With summer approaching, I know I don’t want to spend my days acting as a referee between my girls, so instead, I’m going to act like a coach. Plus, a little conflict between siblings is healthier than them ignoring one another! Here are some of the tips I found in my research that I plan to use in my home to help my girls grow closer to one another and build a lasting relationship.

Don’t Make Them Compete

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Why do parents do this? While it is easy to judge from the outside, it is easier than you may realize. You may even be doing it without noticing it. For example, have you ever commented on how one child is better at cleaning up her dishes or one child is faster to get buckled in the car? Instead, the only competition should be in the spirit of fun – and even then, be careful to avoid creating sibling rivalry.

Teach Them to Fight Fair

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Like I said earlier, it is normal and even a good thing for siblings to have conflict now and then. It can actually work as a safe place for kids to learn how to handle conflict in healthy ways. For instance, while you don’t want them giving each other black eyes, you do want them to learn how to express their frustration in the right way. Along those lines, have some clear family rules for handling conflict, such as no name calling.

Remind Them They’ll Always Have Each Other for Support

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Make a point to teach your kids that they have each other for support. Remind them to support one another and cheer one another on. Explain that, as they grow, their siblings will be their secret keepers and the only other people who get their family’s inside jokes and know their family’s history.

Encourage Them to Play Together

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The more often siblings play together, the more memories they make. Depending on your kid's ages, this can be tricky. For instance, LEGO Movie 2 reminded audiences about how play becomes separated as the age gap appears wider. While your ten-year-old probably won’t always want to play with your five-year-old, you should still encourage them to play together – even if it is something as simple as a game of hide and seek.

Find Things They Enjoy Doing Together

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Speaking of play, you may have to create moments for your kids – especially if their ages do not make it easy. For instance, encourage them to go on walks, bake cookies, or watch America’s Funniest Home Videos together.

How NYC Families Can Save Money This Summer

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During summer, there is nothing worse than hearing your kids whine that they are “sooo bored!” But, if you spend money trying to keep them entertained each day of summer break, your wallet will start to hurt. And, if you are like me, I would rather spend my hard-earned money on a fabulous vacation than spending it doing a bunch of little things around the city. Fortunately, it is easier than ever to save money and have fun in NYC.

Free Library Fun

If you don’t already have a library card, now is the time to get one. Today’s libraries aren’t the stuffy old places you might remember from childhood. They offer tons of free materials you can borrow – including DVDs. Plus, the New York Public Library Summer Reading offers some pretty great kids programs that go beyond the standard story times, such as a DJ Dance Party.

Free Outdoor Movies

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During the summer, families can take their pick of free outdoor movies once the sun goes down. The most popular outdoor movies are hosted by NYC parks, are all PG-13 and under, and feature movies such as The Incredibles 2 and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Check out Time Out New York’s guide to what is showing where and when here.  

Free Outdoor Concerts

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Families can also take their pick of free outdoor summer concerts taking place all around New York City. For instance, there are the New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Park series (with all performances beginning at 8 pm) and Make Music New York on June 21st from 10 am – 10 pm.

Free Public Pools and Splash Pads

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There are several options for cooling off during the hot summer in the city. Families can visit one of the free outdoor swimming pools in NYC (opening on June 27, 2019). A bonus for pool visitors is that NYC parks offer free swimming classes and free sunscreen. If taking the kids to the pool seems like too much, then head to one of the many local splash parks. Mommy Poppins has a list of the Best Water Playgrounds and Sprinklers for Kids in NYC.

Free Museum Days

Photo:  NYCGo

Photo: NYCGo

Visiting the fantastic museums can add up – unless you are smart enough to take advantage of the free museum days offered this summer. For example, Brooklyn Children’s Museum offers “pay as you wish on Thursdays from 2–6 pm and Sundays from 4–7 pm” and the Staten Island Zoo offers “free Tuesdays after 2 pm.”

Free Festivals

Another great way to keep the whole family entertained is to head to an outdoor festival. Many outdoor festivals are free to enter and explore – but you may wind up spending money to enjoy food, purchase arts and crafts, or participate in activities. One popular outdoor festival taking place in June is the Museum Mile Festival happening June 11, 2019, from 6 pm – 9 pm.

Now you have plenty of ways to save money and keep the kids busy and entertained this summer, leaving you money to take the vacation of your dreams.

Surviving the End of the School Year Freefall

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Dear Mom,

Hang tight. The last few weeks of school is the second toughest time of the year (after December). Between the dance recitals, end of the year banquets, end of course testing, teacher gifts, and warm weather excitement, our kids are going crazy. They are not following the rules. They are more hyper than usual. They are done.

And, you are likely done too. The good mom you were in September is long gone. The mom improvement goal you made in January lasted until Valentine’s Day. The mom who volunteered to bring fancy treats for school parties is now rushing to be the first one to sign up for paper plates. We are over it. We have used up all of our fun and shiny goodness, and now we are done.

But, school is not over yet! We have a few more weeks to get the kids out the door on time with homework done and lunches packed. We may not do it perfectly, but we can do it. We can make it to the finish line without losing our minds.

Here’s how we can get it done.

Stick to the Routine

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The routine has gotten you this far – don’t throw it out now. Keep doing what works. For example, the sun is up a little later, but school starts at the same time in the morning. So, keep bedtime as close to the same time as you have all year.

But Expect a Little Less

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If you feel done, just imagine how your little people feel! When you are tired, it is hard to do everything with the same energy as usual. So, yes, stick to your routine, but extend the kids some grace when they don’t act exactly the way you wish they would. Show a little more patience.

Write Every Important Date Down

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Like December, the end of the school year calendar is jam-packed. In order to stay on top of everything and not forget when your kids need to take this test or be at this banquet, you need to write everything down as soon as you receive a notification.

Purchase the Teachers the End of the Year Gift They Deserve

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With all the busyness of this time of year, don’t forget to purchase a gift for your child’s teacher. These men and women go above and beyond (and aren’t paid nearly enough). Give them something that shows you’ve seen all the hard work they’ve done this year and how much you appreciate them. Go ahead and buy it now before you end up rushing out the night before the last day of school.

Have a Family Countdown

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If your kids are clearly ready for school to end and summer to begin, make a family countdown. Count down the days left while encouraging them to stay strong to the finish. Make it a whole family affair and then celebrate when summer officially begins.

Take Time to Breathe

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Finally, take time to breathe. Look for little pockets of time where you can rest and relax. Remind yourself that this busyness is just for a season. Summer is coming soon.

Fun Things for NYC Families to Do This Memorial Day Weekend

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Memorial Day is Monday, May 27th. For New York families, this gives us one long weekend to help us make it through the rest of the school year until summer break begins. Since the last month of school is always crazy, I like to find something fun for my family to do over the holiday. However, with all the busyness at the end of the school year, I also don’t want to push myself or my daughters by doing anything too big. With that being said, I’d like to share with you some ideas that will make celebrating Memorial Day easy and fun.

Support the Armed Forces at Fleet Week

Photo: Military News

Photo: Military News

Since Memorial Day is the national holiday to honor those who have served in the United States military, look for ways you can support those currently serving and honor those who have died serving. One way to recognize the military is to attend one of the many Fleet Week events taking place from May 22nd – 27th. Little ones will love seeing all the men and women in uniform as well as the opportunity to tour the ship and meet NASA astronauts.

Check Out Governor’s Island

Photo: Governor’s Island

Photo: Governor’s Island

If your family has never visited the 43-acre park known as Governor’s Island, Memorial Day weekend is a perfect time. During this holiday weekend, they offer several events that are family-friendly. Plus, it is a cool way to see the city.

See a Parade

Photo: Rove

Photo: Rove

Over Memorial Day weekend, you have tons of options for seeing a parade. Again, this is a great way to honor the holiday for reasons beyond the start of summer since the parades celebrate the military. If there is not a Memorial Day parade in your area of New York, you can always make plans to applaud the soldiers at the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade.

Head to the Beach

Photo: NYC Parks

Photo: NYC Parks

For many, Memorial Day is not complete without a visit to the beach. Fortunately, NYC families can get to a beach – though it may be a crowded one on Memorial Day. As long as you mentally prepare for the crowds and have abundant patience, then a visit to Coney Island or Rockaway Beach is a fun way to celebrate the holiday and get excited about summer vacation. If the weather does not cooperate with all your fun outdoor plans, then head to the New York Aquarium. You’ll be inside, but you can still get that ocean-feeling!

Take a Last-Minute Trip

kalahari.jpg

Last but not least, it is not too late to plan a short family getaway over the long weekend. You can visit my family’s favorite – Kalahari Indoor Waterpark Resorts. Plus, Hershey, Pennsylvania is a great family-friendly destination for this time of year. It is home to Hershey Park (naturally) where chocolate is celebrated, but it is also close to the Crayola Experience.

If you are wanting a little more grown-up but still kid-friendly, consider the Mohonk Mountain House, in New Paltz, New York. This is an all-inclusive clifftop resort with tons of family-friendly activities.

What is your family planning to do this Memorial Day weekend?