All Work and No Play? Naaaah

Yes, the new school year is almost (or, in some places, already) under way. And yes, the kids are going to start coming home with backpacks full of homework. But that doesn’t mean no more fun. Here are two great activities that will help you make the summer last a little longer, and three that will keep a smile on your face as the weather gets colder.

poo doughPoo Dough (Skyrocket Toys)
One of our favorite fads has been gross toys—things that poop, blow snot, pass gas, and more. If your children are into this (most are), they’ll definitely enjoy Poo Dough, which is completely disgusting, but in a really fun way. You get realistic, pooh-shaped molds and the dough itself (which comes in a lovely shade of yellow and two equally lovely shades of brown). But wait, there’s more. You also get special molds for “corn” and “peanuts.” Yep, the kids (and plenty of fully grown adults) are all set for hours of giggly, eeeew-inducing entertainment. About $8 in stores like Toys R Us, Amazon, and Walmart.  http://www.skyrockettoys.com/

fart pianoFart Piano (Skyrocket Toys)
If the look and feel of poo dough isn’t enough, you can always add sound effects with the Fart Piano. Far more versatile than its name would indicate, this piano can also cough, belch, and sneeze. Just press a key and you’re on your way. It even comes with sheet music so you can entertain out-of-town guests and dignitaries. About $20 on Amazon and Toys R Us.

fuze water blasterCyclone Water Blaster (FUZE/Skyrocket)
What a great way to get the kids involved in doing something physical outside. The Cyclone Water Blaster is essentially a motorized (using 4 AA batteries), handle-bar mounted squirt gun that enables kids (or the kid in any adult) to soak someone up to 25 feet away and pedal off before the victim can return fire. The nozzle has a 180-degree radius and riders can adjust it on the fly. Get two Blasters and you can turn your bikes into horses and water joust. Grab some towels and let the games begin. About $25 at your favorite retailer, including http://www.walmart.com

bike bubblerBike Bubbler (FUZE/Skyrocket)
This one manages to bridge the gap between exercise and gross-ness. All you do is mount this motorized gizmo underneath your bicycle seat, and you can spray out a stream of bubbles as you zip around the neighborhood. In the words of one of our child-testers, “it looks like it’s pooping bubbles.” Well, at least this time it’s clean, right? The Bubbler comes with one 4-ounce bottle of bubble solution, and you can make your own when you run out. For kids who aren’t riding yet (or adults who are exhausted), the Bubbler works just fine without a bike. About $15 at www.SkyrocketToys.com or www.FuzeBikeFX.com

view masterView Master (Fisher Price)
Remember View Masters from when you were a kid—those goggle-like viewers with their circular cardboard story reels that simulated 3D? They’ve been on toy store shelves since the 1940s (it’s their 75th anniversary this year!), and who would have thought that something so low-tech could possibly entertain today’s tech-crazy kids. Go figure. The new View Masters are pretty much the same as the old ones—put the reel in the viewer and push a lever to move through the story. The only real differences are that the images are brighter and the viewers themselves come in a variety of styles, including Hello Kitty and those Despicable Me minions. Gift sets include a View Master, three story reels, and a handy-don’t-lose-them storage case. Available in stores and online for about $15. http://www.fisher-price.com/

How to Understand and Relate to Your Teenage Daughter

understanding your teenage daughter

understanding your teenage daughter

Raising girls is no easy feat, especially when that girl hits her teen years. That doe-eyed, daddy-adoring preteen who would talk your ear off and bat her eyes to get an extra scoop of ice cream is now filled with complicated emotions, and she may lash out and challenge your authority. No matter how much she pushes you away, teen girls need their parents to supervise (from a distance), support and most importantly, talk to them as they face these new challenges of growing up. The best way to get through the emotional teenage years is to understand what’s important to her and figure out how to relate.

Let Her Assert Her Independence

She is certain to test the limits and boundaries from time to time, but research tells us that teens do best when they are allowed to have and express their own points of view, even if they differ from yours. Just keep the lines of communication open and stay closely connected to her world, so you can help her navigate the path to discovering who she is. Allow her to decide such things as:

  • When and how to change her hairstyle
  • What she will wear (within reason)
  • When to do homework
  • How to decorate and organize her room and personal space
  • Whom to invite to parties
  • How to spend her allowance

Respect Her Privacy

No snooping. As she gets older, her personal space and belongings become more important to her and if she feels intruded on, she will feel the need to hide things and become closed off. Instead, let her know she can trust you to respect her privacy, as long as she has and continues to earn that respect.

Understand That Social Standing Matters

Things like style, popularity and image may not matter to you, but they are top of mind for your daughter and her peers. Don’t minimize what is important to her by dismissing her concerns about these things. You don’t have to get her the latest fashions on demand—that’s what an allowance is for, right?—but listen to her and help her find an appropriate resolution.

For example, if your daughter complains that her best friend is not talking to her and she has no friends, telling her to simply find new friends probably won’t help. It’s unlikely to be a viable solution and can leave her feeling like you don’t understand or can’t relate. Instead, encourage her to give you the details of what caused the riff and identify a solution to reconnect with the friend and get back on common ground. However, If the situation becomes worrisome, voice your concerns in a serious but nonjudgmental manner and discuss the serious nature of bullying, so you can identify next steps if it is truly a harmful situation.

Give Her the Right Tools to Be Successful

There are a few rites of passage that she needs your help reaching, no matter how much she acts like she doesn’t. Help her succeed by providing her with the right tools, and then give her the freedom to use them. For example, when it comes time for her to learn how to drive, help her study for her permit, enroll her in driver’s ed or teach her yourself. And when she’s applying to colleges, offer to proofread her essay and tour prospective schools with her. You can help her choose which college to go to, but then remember: The ultimate choice should be hers.

Inflexible Flexibility: What Happens When Dad Gets on the Mommy Track

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is due with our first in about four months, so I though now would be a good time to talk to my employer about taking time off under the Family Leave Act and possibly making some more permanent changes to my schedule so I can be a more hands-on dad. I mentioned this to a friend who used to work with me, and he warned me to be very careful. He said that after he took paternity leave, he was passed over for a promotion and got a smaller bonus. He eventually quit. I find that hard to believe, but he insists it’s true. Are companies really allowed to do that?

A: Theoretically, no. Under the Federal version of Family and Medical Leave Act, your job is protected and your employer isn’t allowed to penalize you in any way. (Some states have their own Family Leave programs and the rules may be different, so I encourage you to look into both very carefully.) Unfortunately, there’s sometimes a big disconnect between what companies are allowed to do what they actually do. And even if the company itself does everything exactly by the book, individuals within the company—meaning your managers and coworkers—can always find a way to skirt the law.
[Read more...]

Don’t Be the Parent You Hate

Deborah Gilboa, author of Get the Behavior You Want Without Being the Parent You Hate.
Topic:
A guild to what works and what doesn’t–and why not.
Issues: The three essential Rs of parenting: respect, responsibility, and responsibility; how to avoid being the parent you hate; learning to say No and not regretting it later; rights vs. privileges; the importance of consistency in parenting.

Drunk Mom + What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why

Jowita Bydlowska, author of Drunk Mom.
Topic:
A brutally honest memoir of motherhood in the shadow of alcoholism.
Issues: The inward and outward struggles of someone battling addiction; the anxieties that characterize life with a new baby and saying goodbye to a childless lifestyle; concealing alcoholism–and relapse–from friends and family; lies, deceptions, and betrayals; finally, the transformative power of love and the triumph over debilitating dependence.

Deborah Gilboa, author of Get the Behavior You Want Without Being the Parent You Hate.
Topic:
A guild to what works and what doesn’t–and why not.
Issues: The three essential Rs of parenting: respect, responsibility, and responsibility; how to avoid being the parent you hate; learning to say No and not regretting it later; rights vs. privileges; the importance of consistency in parenting.

How To Get Hired Outside Your Major

In college, you had no trouble selecting a major that interested you, and after graduation you were fortunate to find a well-paying job that related directly to your degree. Now, several years later, you are ready for a career change, but you are understandably unsure if you can find a new job outside of your area of expertise.

Take heart—as Career Advice notes, by following some tips and advice, it is very possible to land a plum position in an industry that is outside of your college major. For example, consider the following:

Get Experience Through an Internship

For people who are considering switching to a new career, try getting some on-the-job experience prior to sending out applications. For example, if you are currently employed in the financial industry but dream of working in an IT department, see if you can land an evening internship at a local technology company. If you aren’t sure where to look, Internships.com helps place people in almost 80,000 internship positions with over 56,000 companies. Interning in your desired new field will not only help you land a future job, it can also show you quite clearly if this career is right for you.

Gain Knowledge Through Education

Depending on what new career you want to pursue, it might be prudent to take some classes to learn more about the industry and the skills needed to succeed. If you are unsure how you can balance your current job with classes, an online school might be your best option as you can complete classes at night or on the weekends. College Online is one of many resources that can connect you with over 100 online schools and 2,000-plus degrees, which will help you choose a program suited to your needs.

Take Stock of Your Skills

As you prepare to interview for a new job, remember that you are far more than your degree. Make a list of all of your strengths and skills that go far beyond your job title or what it says on your diploma, notes Career Realism. For example, if you majored in telecommunications and film and currently work for a television station, you probably have interviewed and trained new people, organized staff events, learned new computer programs and given presentations about industry-related topics. These skills are sure to impress future employers, and show that you have experience that goes far beyond your college major.

An honest assessment of your many skills should also come into play when composing your new resume. Focus on creating a skills-based resume rather than an education-based resume, explains Investopedia. To do this, start by listing the tasks you have learned and been responsible for at work, and then note how you completed these responsibilities. This will show future employers that you have an abundance of problem-solving and organizational skills.

Understand That You May Be a Small Fish Again

You might be the head of the math department at your local high school, but if you want to change careers, you should be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up again. In other words, be willing to swallow your pride—at least a bit—and remind yourself that you will need time and experience in your new career to be successful. This positive, can-do attitude is sure to impress potential employers during the job interview process.