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

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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?

This Mother’s Day Celebrate Your Mom Friends

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I’m sure this Mother’s Day you will be surrounded by your kids and told how much they love you. Which they totally should because this is your special day! But, this year, I’d like to make a Mother’s Day suggestion. After you have celebrated your own mother and been celebrated for being a mother, take time to celebrate the other mothers in your life – your mom friends.

We All Want to Hear We are Doing a Good Job

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Of course we love receiving cards and gifts from our little ones that tell us we are “the best mom in the whole wide world.” But, it is something entirely different to receive compliments about your parenting from other moms. For whatever reason, we easily compliment our mom friends on their purses, shoes, and decorating skills, but we seldom compliment them on their parenting. I know I always feel great when another mom tells me I am doing a good job.

Motherhood is Lonely

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Mother’s Day is wonderful, but for many moms, it is a difficult day. For women who have lost their moms or struggled to have children, Mother’s Day can be lonely. In addition, being a mom, itself, is lonely. For instance, found that 90 percent of mothers feel lonely since having children and 54 percent felt “friendless” after giving birth. Yikes! This is another reason why we should make every effort to reach out to the other moms in our lives this Mother’s Day.

Moms Need a Village

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It takes a village to raise a child. This Mother’s Day honor the women in your village. Who is helping you raise your child? Who is helping you become a better mother and woman? Not only will you be acknowledging their importance in your life, but you will also be strengthening the bonds of your little village.

We All Want to Feel Appreciated

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I don’t know about you, but I really (really) appreciate a sincere thank you. It just feels good to feel appreciated. When my family acknowledges all that I do, I feel like my heart grows three sizes. Since much of what moms do day in and day out goes unnoticed, Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show some appreciation for the other moms in your life. Today’s the day to thank your mom friend for treating your kids like her own.

A Smile, A Hug, and a Thank You Goes a Long Way

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The best thing you can do for another mom this Mother’s Day is make her feel seen and loved. We are all working so very hard, and a smile, a hug, and a thank you can go a long day. Who knows? The mom you encounter may be at the end of her rope. Her family may not have made her feel like an excellent mother on this special day. But, if she can tell you are in her corner, supporting her, it can make all the difference.

I wish you all a very Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for walking alongside me during this season of motherhood.

Why Moms Love Netflix

From   TrishTech

Okay, moms, time to get real. Where would we be without Netflix? Moms everywhere have come to rely on Netflix for both their kids and themselves. When used the right way, Netflix is a mom’s best friend. Seriously – moms really love Netflix – in a 2018 poll, Netflix outranked all other brands (including Band-Aid) in the mom category.

If you have not yet jumped on the Netflix train or you are on board but have considered dropping Netflix, I’m here today to remind you why Netflix is worth every penny.

1. Amazing kid-friendly programming

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Netflix has countless options when it comes to kid-friendly programming. In addition to great kids films, there is also a ton of television shows that kids love. For example, my girls are crazy for Spirit Riding Free and the fantastic Trolls animated show. Kids can watch their favorite shows and characters over and over again.

2. Tons of entertainment options for adults

Plus, there endless amounts of programming for adults to binge watch. Are you a fan of reality television? They have it. Are you a fan of stand-up comedy? They have it. Are you a sitcom-lover? They have plenty. Are you a fan of dramas? Take your pick.

3. Set up multiple profiles

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Since no mom wants their list to be a mix of grown-up stuff and kids shows, Netflix allows users to create multiple profiles. Everyone in my family has their own profile making it easy to curate personalized lists and find your most recently watched programs. Plus, the kids profiles make it safe for kids to navigate without parents worrying about them stumbling on to something inappropriate. You can also use Netflix’s Parental Controls.

4. Download shows and films for when you need them

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Moms know that there are sometimes when you need a way to control or quiet your child – and one of the most effective ways is by letting them watch Netflix on a mobile device. With the ability to download certain shows and films, it is easy to save your kid’s favorites on your device to play in your moment of need without using valuable data. For instance, Spirit Riding Free is one of the titles available to download.

5. A sanity saver

After a busy day at work and coming home to take care of my girls, there is something very rewarding about sitting on the couch at the end of the day to binge watch a few episodes of my favorite Netflix show. Whether I am using it as a way to relax at the end of the day or using it to help me kid’s make it through a long appointment, Netflix is a sanity saver.

6. Easy to watch anytime and anywhere

Most of all, Netflix’s app makes it easy to watch shows anytime and anywhere. While you are breastfeeding, while you are doing laundry, while you are riding the subway, moms have discovered the joy in watching Netflix while they get stuff done.

Business Insider reports, “The streaming giant surveyed 1,000 moms in the US to find out how they find time to stream their favorite shows, or "sneak" them, during the day. And their answers revealed some interesting viewing habits. 48% of the moms said they sneak-binge while making dinner, 9% while walking the dog, 40% while taking a bathroom break, and 57% while doing the laundry. 17% watch while in their driveway.”

What is your favorite thing about Netflix? What do you binge watch? What shows on Netflix do your kids love? Let me know in the comments.

10 Family-Friendly NYC Events This April

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Can you believe the first week of April is already over? Where has the time gone? As the season changes, there are more and more fun things to do in NYC – especially outdoors. With an abundance of outdoor fun, I have identified ten of my favorite family-friendly things to do in NYC this April.

Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival

On Easter Sunday (April 21st) beginning at 10 am, the annual Easter Parade takes place along Fifth Avenue (and St. Patrick’s Cathedral) with participants wearing their finest Easter attire and outrageously silly bonnets.

Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival NYC

The cherry blossoms bloom in April in NYC and families have multiple opportunities to see them and snap the perfect Insta-worthy photo. Sakura Matsuri is held April 27th -28th at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. You can also sign your family up for a Cherry Blossom Tour of Central Park in the month of April.

EarthFest

With Earth Day taking place each April, it is the perfect time to teach your kids to respect the earth. One family-friendly event to help you is EarthFest taking place April 13th at the American Museum of Natural History.

Paw Patrol Live

Photo:  TimeOut  (Courtesy of PAW Patrol Live and Madison Square Garden)

Photo: TimeOut (Courtesy of PAW Patrol Live and Madison Square Garden)

If your kids are fans of Paw Patrol, then make plans to see PAW Patrol Live! Race to the Rescue. This live-action show will take place April 13th and 14th at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Midtown West.

Apple Blossom Children’s Carnival

Nothing screams “SPRING!” more than an outdoor children’s carnival. Take the whole family to the Apple Blossom Children’s Carnival at Queens County Farm the first two weekends of April.

Dinosaur Safari

Dinosaur Safari heads to the Bronx Zoo beginning April 19th. Your family can see these giant animatronic roaring dinosaurs up close.

Outdoor Roller Skating at Pier 2

After ice skating season ends, it is time for roller skating! Families will love the Pier 2 Roller Rink at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The roller skating season officially begins April 12th.

FAD Market

The FAD Market is a pop-up market celebrating Fashion, Art, and Design – all things I love! The Brooklyn MADE Market is April 13th and 14th at City Point. In addition to all the handcrafted goods for sale, there are also food vendors on site.

NYC Food Truck Fest

Foodies families must make plans to visit the NYC Food Truck Fest on April 13th. This is the largest food truck festival in NYC with gourmet food trucks and unique food vendors. Make sure you go with an empty belly!

Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s

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Last but certainly not least is Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s. My family loves ice cream, so we are all about visiting Ben and Jerry’s on April 9th (from 12 pm – 8 pm) to enjoy a free scoop.

I hope you and your family have a blast enjoying all the spring fun. If you know of an event my family would love, let me know in the comments!

Here’s Why We’ve Made the Crest Kids’ Toothpaste Switch

This content is sponsored by Crest. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As a mom, I am always looking for tools and products to make my job as a mom easier. My primary goal is to keep my girls healthy and safe, so that means I shop for products that will help me keep them this way.

Staying healthy means more than eating the right foods and taking the right vitamins; it also means teaching my girls the importance of oral health. Did you know that cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention? YIKES!

Since brushing your teeth can prevent cavities, I take it very seriously in our home. I’m sure you feel the same way. Unfortunately, getting my girls to brush their teeth hasn’t always been easy, but I have found the solution! Crest Kids’ Toothpaste has released new flavors that my girls got to try, and I am thrilled to tell you the experiment was a great success!

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The Ongoing Tooth Brushing Battle is Over

I have heard several other parents complain about the daily tooth brushing battles they have in their home. Let’s be honest. Lots of kids do not like brushing their teeth. But, since tooth brushing is so important, parents battle their kids to get their teeth cleaned daily.

Thank goodness Crest Kids has discovered a magically way to end the tooth brushing battle – invent kid-friendly flavors that make the experience fun and enjoyable for kids. When my girls tried Crest Kids’ new flavors, they rushed to the bathroom at tooth brushing time!

Who Knew Getting Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth Would Be So Much Fun?

Forget a battle getting kids to brush their teeth – my girls were fighting TO brush their teeth! They loved sample both new flavors to see if they were #TeamStrawberry or #TeamBubbleGum. Since it was such a tough decision, the girls insisted on trying the different flavors more than once making the experiment last throughout the week.

And The Winner Is…

In the end, my girls were both in agreement - #TeamStrawberry! According to my girls, “It is delicious and doesn’t taste yucky!” We’ve tried other toothpaste brands for kids, and my girls are always disappointed that the flavor does not actually taste as it should. So, they were very happy to report that Crest Kids’ Strawberry-flavored toothpaste really does taste like strawberries.

Which flavor do your children like best? Are they #TeamStrawberry like my girls or are they #TeamBubbleGum?

It’s More Than Just Fun and Games

Okay okay. There is something more important than the flavor of toothpaste. As we talked about earlier, brushing your teeth is a way to prevent cavities. Combine the practice of brushing teeth with Crest Kids’ toothpaste, which offers the best in cavity protection, and you have a winning combination. As a mom, I can rest assured knowing my girls are receiving the best cavity protection from a toothpaste they love.

Thinking about making the switch to Crest Kids’ Toothpaste? Good thinking, mom. You find Crest Kid’s toothpaste at a Walmart near you!

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10 Marvelous March Happenings for NYC Families

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Can you believe it’s already March? Whenever March arrives, it is a reminder that Spring and warmer temperatures are on the way. But, those of us in New York, it means we have another month of winter weather before it actually feels like spring (which officially begins on March 20th). Since we only have an average high of 50 degrees and typically have snow, families are still looking for indoor activities.

While ice skating is still a possibility, your kids may be ready for something new to do this month. So, I’ve rounded up ten super fun things taking place in NYC this March to help you out.

New York International Children’s Festival

This kid-friendly film festival takes place from February 22nd – March 20th at various theaters. This unique film festival is designed for kids 3 – 18 years old and gives kids the opportunity to see 125+ new films from around the world.

Photo:  Puppetworks

Cinderella at Puppet Works

Every Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm in March, kids can see the story of Cinderella told through puppetry arts in Brooklyn.

Photo:  FIAF

Photo: FIAF

Tilt Kids Festival

For a taste of French culture, take your kids to the Tilt Festival to experience French art, music, theater, and more. It takes place March 2nd – 31st at FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française).

Brick Fest Live

If your kids are LEGO fans, then you absolutely must make it to New York Hall of Science March 30th – 31st for Brick Fest Live. LEGO fans will get to see giant LEGO sculptures, build and more!

Orchid Show at New York Botanical Garden

This year’s Orchid Show is inspired by Singapore. If you have never been to the Orchid Show, you are truly missing out. It is a wonderful escape from the winter cold. It takes place from February 23rd – April 28th.

NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Deck your family in green and head to the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 16th in Manhattan. The northern end tends to be a little calmer if you are worried about your kids and a party atmosphere.

Photo:  Macy’s

Photo: Macy’s

Macy’s Flower Show

The Macy’s Flower Show is an NYC tradition. This year’s event will take place at the flagship store from March 24th – April 7th. This year’s theme is the sci-fi inspired “Journey to Paradisios.”

Sleep Over at the American Museum of Natural History

Did you know you can sleep over at the AMNH and have your own Night at the Museum like the movies? The museum opens its doors for sleepovers on certain nights in March. Just make sure you book your ticket early as they sell out fast!

Beauty and the Beast Marionette

Your kids will be mesmerized by Beauty and the Beast performed by the National Marionette Theatre taking place at Symphony Space on March 9th.

Winter Sports

For sports fans, there is still plenty of time in March to cheer on your favorite NY basketball and hockey teams. Take a glance at NYC Go’s Sports Calendar to find a game on a convenient date.

Which March events are you most excited about this year?

Your Kid’s Bedtime Routine Just Got So Much Easier

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As a working mom, I savor all the time I have in the evenings to be with my girls. But, no matter how much I try to get these done ahead of time, the time still seems to go by so quickly. Before I know it, we’ve arrived at bedtime. While I naturally look forward to the time to myself, I also look forward to those few sacred minutes before my girls drift off the sleep.

Rather than fighting the bedtime routine, I’ve come to embrace it. I understand that it is time when I can bond with my daughters in a way I can’t during the busyness of the day. Now, bedtime is my favorite part of the day.

Brush Those Teeth

Of course, the bedtime routine starts by brushing teeth. It is so important to teach your kids the importance of healthy dental hygiene starting when they are young. If you want teeth brushing time to not be a fight, invest in fun toothbrushes for kids. They have toothbrushes that sing, that light up, and make funny sounds.

Put On Those Jammies

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After the teeth have been brushed, it’s time to put on pajamas. I love to spoil my girls with pajamas with their favorite characters. Once again, these character jammies are just a way to make the bedtime routine easier. Kids are less likely to fight getting dressed in their pj’s if they like what they are wearing.

Turn Off the Lights

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Then, I tuck my babies in and turn off the lights. This is where the fun really starts. I have invested in the Moonlite Storybook Projector, and now bedtime is magical. Once the lights are off, I turn on the Moonlite app on my smartphone and choose the book for bedtime.

Enjoy the Show

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The Moonlite Projector is an app and a storybook projector that allows you to project the storybook images onto any surface. My girls like laying on their beds and looking at the story on the ceiling. Not only do my girls love seeing the projections, they love hearing the sweet music and dunny sound effects.

If you do not yet own a Moonlite Storybook Projector, you can purchase the starter pack which includes a projector and five stories. For those of you who already have a Moonlite Projector, it’s time to purchase new stories! My girls love the Disney story pack.

Close the Door and Mom Can Escape

Now, if you are thinking this will hype your kids up rather than help them go to sleep, you are wrong. The projector was designed to limit blue light emissions (the kind on your phone that keeps you awake). Just like reading before can help lull you to sleep, so can Moonlite Storybook Projector. No more fighting or fussing – just sweet dreams!

After you have successfully bonded with your kids, it’s your turn to rest. Enjoy the rest of the evening and your own personal nighttime routine.

What’s your bedtime routine like?