With all the press about the mom who got arrested for leaving her nine-year-old child unattended in a park, and the resulting outrage, it’s raised the question across the country: What's an appropriate amount of freedom for kids, and what is not? Growing up in NYC in the '70s, my friends and I played outside and roamed around independently from an early age even though the city, in general, was not as safe as it is now. We learned street smarts and independence that, undoubtedly, spilled over into other areas of our lives.
For many reasons, parenting seems different today. There's a lot more pressure to constantly supervise children, even older kids. It can be hard to imagine that our "babies" will ever be ready to go out into the wide world alone. But with the start of a new school year, the reality is that many children will begin traveling on their own or with a group of friends. With my kids—a teenager who is fully independent and a tween who is just learning to navigate the city on his own—I've modified the '70s-style figure-it-out-on-your-own approach to include today's more stringent safety consciousness to develop a training course my kids must complete before being allowed out on their own.
Here's how I taught my own kids to be street smart city kids from an early age:
So we're a few weeks into the school year; how's lunch going? If you're packing a lunch from home, chances are you started off the year full of terrific ideas (perhaps from our Back-to-School Guide?), and chances are that by now you've had several of these healthy, well-packed lunches delivered back into your hands virtually untouched at the end of the day. There should be a special name for the heartbreak one endures at the words "I told you I hate peanut-butter and jelly," when not only is this the first you're hearing of it, but you spent extra money on organic jelly and peanut butter not on the recall list. Besides - if not PBJ, then what? Well, we've got 30 answers to that question!
Sometimes Mom and Dad's ideas for summertime play involve hopping in the car and getting out of Dodge. Many of us have fond childhood memories of family road trips taken with our own parents, but now that we're grown up, we sometimes forget how boring the backseat can be. A great SUMMER OF PLAY should involve games that can be played inside, not just outside, and definitely within the confines of a car. So put away the electronics this road trip, and try some of these fun games that keep everyone in the car playing together.
The back-to-school season is filled with anticipation, excitement and stress—for kids and parents. There are new clothes and school supplies to buy, lunches and snacks to plan, and classes to prepare for (no easy task after summer slump). If you're worried that you'll never get it all done, stop, take a deep breath and check out our Back-to-School Guide, which is packed with simple tips and advice to help take the edge off. If your kid is going to school for the first time, we've got a list of books that help with the transition to kindergarten. Need name tags? We know about some super-cool ones. We also have plenty of meal posts, like our favorite meal planning apps, healthy lunch ideas and sensory savvy snacks so kids can make it through the school day. And we have an awesome Back-to-School Giveaway going on with multiple prizes worth more than $2,000 in total. We hope our Back-to-School Guide helps your family make it through the madness, sanity intact.
The power of touch strongly comes into play when it comes to babies. Gentle, soothing infant massages are a great way for mommy and baby to bond. Infant massage is delicate, loving, and tender—an action that truly speaks louder than any words. Some of New Jersey’s infant massage experts weigh in on the power of touch—and offer classes on infant massage for those moms who want to learn more.
If you were raising your kids in, say, Utah—or any other place that doesn't have a Mommy Poppins daily calendar to point you in fun directions—you'd have to work a lot harder to keep your summer days playful. Our SUMMER OF PLAY partner, KaBOOM!, works with community leaders around the country to create more spaces and ways for kids to enjoy balanced and active play. Mother of three and registered nurse, Cyndalynn Tilley, is one of these community leaders in Woods Cross, Utah, and she's shared some of her favorite ideas for finding opportunities to play while doing ordinary daily activities. Backyard games are great when you have the time and space, but what about when you have to bring kids along to do chores like shopping and laundry? Even then grown-ups can help kids get the play they need to thrive.
This season, we're partnering with KaBOOM! to promote a SUMMER OF PLAY. A few months back, KaBOOM!, the nonprofit dedicated to bringing play to all children, held a nationwide contest with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts to find America's Most Playful Family. Families all over the country shared the different ways they like to play, often illustrating that you don't need lots of toys or organized activities to have a great time. Play ideas can come from people of all ages, even caring adults who ensure kids get the balanced and active play they need to thrive.
You can't help but be inspired by America's Most Playful Family contest winners, the Thomases from Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico. Even though they don't have playgrounds in their community or fancy playthings, they invent games that incorporate cultural traditions and all three generations of family. Watch the video family portrait that won them the title, and then read about some of their fun games that you can try at home—no batteries needed.
Last year for April Fools' Day, we rounded up 10 fun pranks to play on your kids, but some of them were a bit elaborate and required a lot of prep. This year, we have 10 more pranks for parents who want to show their kids that they have a sense of humor, but also want the jokes to be super easy to pull off.
Welcome to Mommy Poppins New Jersey! The free online resource for parents and kids where you’ll get the scoop on what’s fun, unique, outdoorsy, indoorsy, artsy, bouncy, sassy and splashy in the Garden State. Come play with us, won’t you?