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?

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.

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.

It’s Time to Stop Looking at Your Pics Only on Your Phone and Print Them Out

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Moms, we have a problem. We have started to rely solely on our phones to collect and store all of our precious photos. I’m guilty of this, and I bet you are, too. I take tons of pictures on my phone every day, but for what purpose? It’s not like I am printing them out or viewing them regularly. They are just taking up memory space on my phone.

I’m not telling you to stop taking pictures. No way! I think the ability to snap pics anytime we want is one of the best things about modern technology. What I am talking about is the fact that we don’t ever print them out. Why take all these pics if you aren’t ever going to see them? If you have countless photos stored on your phone but not on your walls, this one is for you.

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Technology will fail.

We have all experienced a technology fail. As much as we would like to believe our photos are safe on our phones or our computers, these things crash, and our photos crash right alongside them. Plus, even if you have wisely uploaded all your photos to a cloud storage system, it doesn’t mean you will always have the technology to access and view them.

You will actually look at them.

If you are anything like me, you do look through photos on your phone. However, with the huge number of photos, you likely don’t go all the way back and look at photos from years ago. Who does that? Many moms rely solely on social media flashbacks to see their old pics. But, if you have them printed out, you will actually look at the pics from years past.

They make great gifts.

Few things make grandparents happier than receiving a printed photo of their grandkids. Just go ahead and make your life easier at the holidays by printing off a few of your best pics and purchasing a variety of frames.

They are the best ways to personalize your décor.

We all want our house to feel like a home. One way to achieve this is to personalize your décor using photos of your family. Now this will vary according to your style tastes. I don’t like a lot of clutter on my walls, but I still think you can very tastefully decorate with personal photos.

Your kids will thank you.

Let’s face it. Someday we will no longer be here, and our kids will want to have something physical to remember us by. Our photo albums and prints will be precious to them, just like we treasure our parent’s scrapbooks.

Here are some fun things to do with your prints:

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  • Old-fashioned photo album – There is nothing wrong with using an old-fashioned photo album to store your prints. The fact is it is a book you and your kids can look through from time to time – no need to be fancy unless you want to.

  • Printed scrapbooks – There are so many companies, such as Shutterfly, that allow you to create customized scrapbooks online using your digital photos. For the moms who are the busiest, there is also Chatbooks, which regularly prints out your Instagram photos and send them to you in a book.

  • Make stickers or postcards – In addition to the more traditional ways to print out photos, there are online companies which make it easy to turn your Instagram pics into stickers or postcards. These are perfect for school-aged kids!

  • Create a gallery wall – As shown above, I recently used Storyboards to create a gallery wall in the breakfast nook of my home of some of my favorite pics. I am over the moon with how well it turned out! It was super easy and looks awesome.

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.

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.

Why Kids Should Travel the World

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It’s no secret that we love to travel, but what you may not realize is that we are deliberate about traveling the world with our girls. I believe wholeheartedly that traveling is important. My travels have taught me so much about the world and myself. I want my girls to have those same kinds of eye-opening experiences.

Someone asked me why I think it is important for kids to travel the world rather than just taking vacations nearby. I hadn’t been asked my reasons before, but once I thought about it, I came to realize I have good reasons for choosing to expose my girls to places beyond the USA.

Traveling is fun.

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First of all, traveling is fun! As a family, traveling is a great way to have fun and bond. Nothing says family bonding like having to patiently wait to board a long flight and successfully making it to your destination with everyone still loving each other. Ha! But, seriously, when we travel, we get to do fun things we don’t get to do at home.

Travel teaches kids about languages, history, and geography.

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My girls are lucky enough to receive a great education at the hands of their teachers in their classrooms. However, I believe learning extends far beyond the classroom walls. If you want hands-on learning, traveling the world is a great way to do it. Without even meaning to, your kids will learn about new languages, history, and geography.

Travel allows kids to experience other cultures.

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All children need to learn about cultures other than their own. While we can attend cultural festivals in NYC, it is something entirely different to expose your children to another culture by being immersed in that culture.

Travel helps kids put down the toys and gadgets.

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I am not anti-toys or anti-electronics – they are lifesavers for most days! But, there is something pretty magical about your kids having fun simply by experiencing a new world. When we visited other countries, my girls get to do activities that are so much more enjoyable than playing on a device. They are having real-world fun in real-time.

Travel breeds compassion and understanding.

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When we travel, I try my hardest to teach my daughters to respect the people and the culture. Traveling is a great opportunity for kids to learn about differences, but it is more important for kids to learn the similarities they have with the kids they encounter in other places. By exposing them to a world that is bigger than our NYC home, my daughters are learning to think about others more. They learn that the world is a big place and that we need to respect one another.

Travel inspires curiosity.

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Watching my daughter’s eyes open wide in amazement as we tour new places fills me with joy. Each new place gets stored away in their little brains and inspires their curiosity. As they grow older, I hope their curiosity about other countries inspires them to travel the whole world.