Enchanted Mommy

5 Family-Friendly Activities to Celebrate Earth Month

April is Earth Month which gives us all the more reason to get outside and enjoy a little extra fresh air. Especially while the pandemic rages on, the great outdoors can be a game-changing, COVID-safe setting for a family adventure. 

If you’re in need of a little inspiration of activities that will keep your kids occupied (and won’t totally break the bank), look no further. Here are our five favorite outdoor activities that are perfect for educating the whole family about the environment while taking in a little extra Vitamin D. 

Go on a Nature Walk 

Find the nearest trail or river (or even makeshift with a neighborhood sidewalk) and grab all the essentials: snacks, maps, backpacks, and water. Round up your squad and go on an exciting new adventure that you didn’t know you had in your own backyard! Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for any plants or pebbles that might be worth stopping for. 

Start a Composting Garden

Not only does composting have several benefits for the environment, it also can be a fun boredom buster for all ages. You can buy everything you need at most major home or garden shops, or double down on the adventure by making your own garden from scratch. This one is a must, especially if you live in one of the best states for composting

Explore Local Wildlife 

Your local zoo might be closed during COVID, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spot some animals this Summer. While birds and insects may be a little less exciting than a tiger or lion, read up on local creatures native to your area and make a game out of spotting and identifying the species. This will have your little ones feeling like professional zoologists in no time!  

Play an Old-School Classic Game 

Tag and capture the flag are classics for a reason. While the games we grew up playing may have been replaced by Super Mario Bros and Animal Crossing in this decade, it’s always a good time for some healthy, old-fashioned competition. Bonus points if you end the afternoon with sharing your school-aged stories from when you played these games back in the day. 

Set Up a Picnic 

It’s an unstated rule that lunch and dinner time are significantly more fun when they’re outside. Grab a blanket, basket, and of course, some delicious goodies and change up your mealtime scenery. You can head to a local park or stay on your own property, whatever you do, don’t forget the SPF and bug spray! 

We hope this list inspires you to get outside and enjoy nature with the family. Before you know it, you’ll be adding these small activities into your routine!

Hey Parents! It’s Time to Schedule that Check-Up.

Parents have certainly been put through the wringer in terms of child healthcare this year. Family contact with the coronavirus, access to nutritious meals out of school, and social development during social distancing are just a few of the complex concerns that parents have had to navigate over the past year. However, now that it’s been over a year since the beginning of the pandemic, and society is starting to return to pre-COVID-19 conditions, it may be time for an important check-up for children and their parents alike. 

A new report shows that over the past year, there has been an over 17% decrease in medical visits by Americans, primarily due to concerns of entering medical care facilities where contact with a COVID-postitive individual may occur. Furthermore, statistics show that nearly 70% of individuals have put off some form of medical care over the course of 2020 as fear of COVID-19 exposure grew in our country. 

However, as more and more individuals are vaccinated, it’s a good time to consider your child’s next check-up at the doctor. As stated in this Children’s Health Care Blog, regular check-ups aren’t just important in preventing unwanted medical issues. A regular check-up can help you and your child feel more comfortable addressing issues with medical professionals and can help ensure that your child is on the right track in terms of health and development. 

While many pediatric offices are scheduling in-person doctor’s appointments, there are also many options for pediatric telehealth to make sure that your child is at least having some sort of yearly checkup with their doctor. 

So quick, open up that calendar app and schedule your child’s yearly checkup to make sure they are happy, healthy and ready to grow!

Remote with my kids: It’s not easy being a mom, teacher, and employee

Let’s face it — learning from home hasn’t been easy on a lot of our kids, or us moms for that matter. 

From giving up recess and friends to battling WiFi mishaps and technology barriers, we really have to give the moms a round of applause for all that they’ve done. 

My sons are six and ten, two ages that require a LOT of patience and attention from Mom and Teacher. Although it’s always been wonderful to come home to my boys after a day at the office, I’ve found it difficult to navigate this work-from-home life while my kiddos are also working too.

And I’m not alone, according to the National Women’s Law Center, over 800,000 women left the workforce to look after their children between August and September of 2020. Trying to balance the demands of motherhood and the demands of a full-time career has, at times, been entirely too overwhelming. 

Sometimes I feel like I’m letting down my colleagues. Sometimes I feel like I’m letting down my boys. And almost always I feel my arms being pulled in opposite directions, all at once. 

The light in all of this is how wonderful our school district has been throughout the last year. The transition, albeit hard, was made easier because Portland has some fantastic leadership in education. We were already connected virtually before 2020, and they’ve offered classes and tutorials to teach parents about remote learning.

So I wasn’t surprised when I came across this list of the top cities for remote learning, and Portland was ranked third! 

Although I’m blessed with where I live, I’ve read countless stories from other moms trying to grapple with this new way of life. A word of encouragement: You’re doing just fine. It’s okay to be an imperfect mom and an imperfect employee. We are not superheroes, and we’re probably not going to teach third grade math as well as Mrs. Matthews. 

I can’t wait to kiss my kids goodbye at our bus stop, but for now, I’m just going to try and do my best with what 2020 and 2021 have given us. Who knows, remote learning may be here to stay in some form or another.

Searching for a Baby Name? Look Outside for Inspiration!

Every mom was once a mom-to-be and had to deal with the mountain of tasks to prepare for the arrival of their little one. There are baby books to be read and corners all over the home to be baby-proofed. And of course, the holy grail of baby preparation duties: picking a name. 

Some people turn to family names. Others pick out names from their favorite books or landmarks in their family’s story. But, personally, I’ve always been a big fan of names inspired by nature. Names of flowers, plants or natural landmarks can bring personal meaning to a name while offering a nod to natural beauty. 

In case you’re looking for some ideas for a nature-inspired name, check out this list of the most popular flower-inspired names in the past century from Spring Hill. 

According to the list, the most popular flower-inspired names in different decades-long periods were Rose (1900-1939), Susan (1940-1970), Heather (1971-1991), Jasmine (1992-2006), and Lily (2007-2019).

All these names are gorgeous and call to mind beautiful flowers, and with quite the range of popular names over the past century, you don’t have to worry too much about picking an especially common name. 

Of course, the beauty of nature names isn’t just limited to flowers! Nameberry has a great list of creative nature names that you can check out that include everything from Aspen to River to Stormy. I’ve also heard of people naming their children after national and state parks that have special meaning, like Acadia and Helen. 

Another great part about picking out a nature-themed name for your baby is that it can be such a beautiful guide for nursery decoration or future accessories and jewelry. I mean, come on, just look at this gorgeous nursery inspiration with foliage wallpaper and colorful, bird-themed mobiles. 

So here’s to thinking outside the box by thinking outdoors for your baby name!

4 Ways to Have a Christmas Merry and Bright in 2020

Did you know that Dr. Fauci confirmed Santa Claus is immune to COVID-19? 

What a relief. Because parents all over, not just in the United States, but across the world are feeling the pressure and fatigue of pandemic life. So many things are unsure, unexpected, and unprecedented. Realistically, they’re also unpredictable. That’s why it’s such a relief to know Santa Claus is immune to COVID-19 and our kids will have some kind of respite from all of the chaos the pandemic has caused. 

Although children are generally resilient, it goes without saying that they have been affected by the changes in their day-to-day lifestyle. From school closures to being unable to visit Grandma and Grandpa, our kids have been through it this year. From virtual birthday parties to skipping holidays with the whole family, traditions are largely impacted. 

That’s why this year, it’s so important to focus on the meaning of the season in order to keep spirits bright. How can we make this holiday season magical and the most wonderful time of year? 

Here are some ideas. 

  1. Create New Traditions 

Traditions, naturally, are the types of things you’d like to be able to do over and over again at the holidays because it makes them feel … well, like the holidays! But even if you’re not able to host the annual Christmas Eve Celebration at your home the way you’ve done for the last 10 years, there are still ways to make the evening special. 

You could opt to drop off cards or care packages at family members homes. You could even have a gift exchange, where everyone opens their gifts on Zoom or FaceTime. Creating new traditions will bring you and the kids together. 

Here are some more ideas for activities:

  • Christmas Karaoke
  • Make Christmas cookies
  • Create your own advent calendar
  • Build gingerbread houses
  • Read Christmas books 
  • Let the kids sleep under the tree
  1. Tell Santa the Christmas List … on Zoom! 

If you like to bring the kids to get pictures with Santa each year, or they like to go and tell Santa what’s on their Christmas List, fear not! There’s an answer for you. You can schedule time on Zoom for the kids to get to have that chat. 

Pictures at the mall with Santa may be on the “don’t” list this year. This is a great, healthy, and socially distanced alternative to get the kids time with St. Nick. 

  1. Movie Marathons 

Sure, we’ve all been watching the TV and using our devices a little bit too much this year. But what’s better than a movie marathon, complete with all of the kids’ favorite snacks and holiday treats? With these 40 Christmas movies for kids, something is definitely going to catch their attention.

One of our favorite traditions is to watch all of the Harry Potter movies between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. 

  1. Up the Holiday Decoration Game

Whether you normally decorate a little or a lot for the holidays, this year is the perfect excuse to load up on Christmas decor. If there was ever a time for holiday decoration overload, this is it. This year, many more people decided to decorate early. In fact, 1 in 4 people are putting up their tree earlier, this year. 

Deck the halls, update your porch decor, and feel the magic of Christmas in your home. 

Don’t put the pressure on yourself to make the holidays perfect this year. Above all else, mama: you’re doing great.

How Moms can Achieve a Work/Life Balance During COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed virtually all parts of our work lives. Most of us working moms are now working remotely from home, many of us have had to pivot in our projects, and regardless of which industry we are in, personal safety and health take precedent more than ever. However, an all-too-familiar struggle for working moms persists in the fight for a work/life balance. 

The burden to help children and families navigate COVID-19 has disproportionately fallen on working mothers. Research from Syracuse University showed that over 80% of individuals taking time off from work for childcare due to COVID-19 were women. 

We all want the best for our children, but finding the right balance can be frustrating and hard. Disproportionate time away from our work could put us years behind in our professional trajectory.

Still, there are some practices we can all aspire to in order to achieve a work-life balance. 

First, share your goals with those around you.  At home, clearly communicate boundaries to your children, and ask your partner or other family members for help. At work, communicate your increased demands with your team. I was recently surprised to learn that nearly half of business industry workers reported feeling failures in maintaining family relationships due to their work. Still, on the plus side, this means that plenty of people on your work team will be able to empathize with you and work with your hectic schedule. 

Next, it’s important to set yourself up for success. If possible try to set up a space for your remote work separate from where you work as a mother. This will signal to your own brain and to those around you that you are either in work mode or mom mode, not both. 

Finally, take some time for yourself. For me, taking time to workout in the morning before my work has started or my children are awake is the best way to get in a good state of mind. It’s during alone time that I am able to set goals for work/life balance and check in on myself. 

Certainly, finding balance during this difficult time is no easy feat. But, if there’s one group of people who can find a way to juggle it all, it’s working moms. Good luck ladies!

Where You Live Matters: Looking at Children’s Healthcare Costs Across the Country

It’s no secret that American healthcare is wildly complicated, and, for many young families, intensely intimidating. When figuring out how to insure your child’s health, managing trips to clinics versus the hospital and trying to create a healthy baseline for your child with as much preventative care as possible, it can be hard to determine what’s right. A factor that adds yet another layer of complexity to the youth healthcare dilemma is cost. And certainly, taking care of kids is expensive. 

Interestingly, as pointed out in a recent study by Weiss & Paarz, a medical malpractice attorney team, where you live in the United States has major implications on the expenses associated with a child’s health. 

According to their study, the cost of healthcare for children from birth through age 18 spans over $14,300 in statewide averages across the country. 

On the low side of costs is Hawaii, where healthcare costs through age 18 average out to around $7,500. According to the Honolulu Civil Beat, Hawaii’s low healthcare costs are no accident. Per Hawaii’s 1974  Prepaid Health Care Act, all employers must provide health insurance to employees working over 20 hours a week. This means that Hawaii is generations ahead of the rest of the country in terms of healthcare accessibility and employer stipulations, helping create a healthier state, which, in turn, has lower childhood healthcare costs. 

But, as much as we’d like, not every family can up and move to Hawaii to save some money on healthcare. It may be more realistic for families to rule out states with exorbitantly high childhood healthcare costs. 

The state with the highest healthcare expenses through age 18 was Washington, D.C., where childhood healthcare expenses averaged around $21,900, over 39% above the national average. There has to be some explanation for these huge numbers. 

It just might be that everything associated with raising a child becomes more expensive D.C. lines. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. has some of the highest costs of childcare across the country. The district ranked 1st of 50 states for the most expensive infant care, averaging at around $2,020 a month according to the 2019 report. Childcare costs remain high and exceed the costs associated with yearly housing and college payments for parents in the area.

Given these high costs of childcare, the costs of healthcare might appropriately match the location-specific inflation. And so, for young families looking to move near the D.C. area, living in a nearby suburb where both babysitters and routine check-ups are cheaper might be a huge budget saver. 

No matter where you live, child healthcare costs may be helped down by offering your child a healthy life, full of nutrition, exercise, and education in between doctor’s visits. So here’s to healthy kids and happy families!

Ladies Can Pop the Question Too!: Here are Some Fun and Exciting Ways to Propose to Him

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is too unpredictable to wait around for happiness to come. The same can be said for the future of your relationship. Despite women leaders like Elizabeth Warren famously beginning marriage with their own proposals, centuries of tradition tell women that they must wait for men to propose in order to start planning for a future of married joy. 

Well, according to a new survey from Shane Co., over 60% of men would be thrilled if their girlfriend proposed to them-exciting news for all the ladies who are ready and excited to ask their partners the big question. 

Still, it can be a little tricky to brainstorm a proposal to the man in your life. So, here are some ideas, tips and encouragement on how to propose to your boyfriend. 

  1. Know If You Want to Give Him Something

As discussed in a Slate.com interview, one complication for women proposing to men is the question of the engagement ring. While the Shane Co. survey reported that over 60% of men think a ring isn’t necessary, you might still want something to symbolize a proposal. Whether that be a ring, a donation to a cause you both care about or a couple of tickets to start out life’s adventure, decide if you think a gift should be part of your proposal. 

  1. Get Some Inspiration

Look to some other ladies who have popped the question to their man! Coming through some ideas and super cute stories like these ones on HowTheyAsked.com can get you excited about proposing to your partner, and help you leave behind any old narratives that say you can’t take a knee! 

  1. Be Yourself

As stated in a list of tips from TheKnot.com, it’s most important to be yourself. No matter what your proposal is like, your hopeful fiance will want to see you and all your wonderful personality in your proposal. After all, a lifetime of happiness depends on love for your truest self! 

Double Digits: How to Plan a Birthday Party for Your 10-Year-Old

And then there was 10! This is perhaps the most important milestone birthday since the first birthday. Your child has gone through so many changes and grown so much up to this point, and you want to celebrate how far they have come. It’s time, they are crossing over into the double digits, and on the hills of adolescence. 

This is such an important and exciting time as kids begin to develop a better sense of who they are in the world. Many are preparing for junior high school and are ready to navigate new social situations. According to Very Well Family, 10-year-olds have the ability to sense the emotions of others and read facial and body language. At this age, the acceptance by peer groups is very important and is a critical step that can strongly affect the next level of development.  

At ten, most children have developed the ability to be pleasant company at social gatherings such as parties and dinners. They can clearly express their thoughts on current events, music, art, etc. 

The type of party you throw will not only help further groom your child for social settings, but it can also play a major role in peer connection and acceptance. So, let’s jump into a few tips on how to through a rockin’ party for your 10-year-old. 

Theme Ideas 

Picking a theme can difficult, whether it’s for a boy or girl. So here are a few theme ideas for boys and girls. 

Boy Theme:

  • Sports Theme (Base the party theme around your kid’s favorite sport)
  • Space Theme 
  • Super-hero Theme (Base the party theme around your kid’s favorite superhero) 

Girl Theme: 

  • Tea Party Theme
  • Slumber Party 
  • Fairytale Theme (Base the party theme on Disney Princesses) 

Venue Ideas

When it comes to parties, venues are everything! You may want to keep it traditional and have a themed birthday party at your house, but if you’d like to take it to the next level, book a venue. Your 10-year-old will probably appreciate it, and you don’t have to worry about a huge clean-up!

  • Bowling Alley
  • Movie Theaters
  • Bouncy House
  • Park Party 
  • Skating Rink

Food 

Food can be difficult to get right at a party. Kids may have allergies or preferences, so simple is better. Check out these food ideas, that allow everyone to enjoy. 

  • Chips and Dip (Buy an assortment of chips, so that kids have a variety to choose from)
  • Pigs and a Blanket (This fun activity allows kids to participate by making their own snack, and it’s a classic party hit) 
  • Make Your Own Pizza (This allows kids to pick what they want on their pizza, and leave out things they can’t eat or don’t like to eat)

With these tips, you can provide the basics for a good party! However, 10-year-olds are at an age where they can entertain themselves and their guests, for the most part. You don’t have to over-plan activities, because they’ll most likely want to do their own thing, and engage with their peers. Ready, set, let’s go party!

Make Summer Fun For Your Kids With These Science Experiments

Summer looks a lot different this year due to the social distancing rules in effect across the country. Normally, our kids’ schedules would be jam-packed with fun activities, like day camps or sleepaway camps, scouting, sports, and more. But this year, as we’re all faced with lots more time at home, lots of moms are looking for creative, educational ways to fill the endless summer days!

Bentham Science Publishers, an international publishing company that publishes well-known scientific, technical, and medical journals, knows how important it is to develop an early love of science, technology, engineering, and math (or, STEM). Our kids are the doctors, researchers, engineers, and mathematicians of the future, and we should do our best as moms to foster and encourage their curious minds.

These fun science experiments use easy-to-find ingredients and will spark your little ones’ imaginations! Kids young and old will have fun exploring and playing, and you can feel good knowing that you’re supporting their learning and development. Make sure to supervise children as they do these experiments, since some of the ingredients can irritate skin and eyes. 

A lot of these experiments are best done outside, since they can make a mess. Embrace that mess! Once you’re done with your afternoon of science fun, clean off with the hose or sprinkler. It’s lots of fun, and very effective at cleaning up after small scientists!

Without further ado, here are our best summer science experiments!

Rainbow Volcano

Supplies:

  • Baking Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Food Coloring
  • Clear glass cups or jars

Instructions:

  • Take your clear cups or jars and add a few tablespoons of baking soda to each one. Add a few drops of food coloring to each jar as well. You can experiment with color theory and combine colors to create new ones!
  • Pour the white vinegar into each cup or jar slowly, and watch as the colorful foam erupts!

Summer Snow

Supplies:

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup shaving cream 
  • Food Coloring (optional)
  • Large bowl

Instructions:

  • Pour the cornstarch into a large bowl. Add the shaving cream and stir to mix. If using food coloring, add that in now too. 
  • When the mixture comes together in pieces (similar to shredded cheese), use your hands to squish the mixture and combine. It should quickly come together into balls, with a texture similar to dough.
  • If your mixture is too wet and sticky, add more cornstarch. If it won’t come together, add a bit more shaving cream.
  • Use the summer snow to make snowmen, igloos, snow forts, and more! 

Elephant Toothpaste

Supplies:

  • Clean 16oz plastic bottle
  • 20 Volume Hydrogen Peroxide (This is a 6% solution which can be found at beauty supply stores. If you can’t find this, you can use the standard 3% solution available at most pharmacies, but the reaction will be smaller. Caution: Handle with care as Hydrogen Peroxide is corrosive in nature.)
  • 1 packet of dry yeast
  • Liquid dish soap
  • 3 tbsp warm water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Small cup
  • Funnel

Instructions:

  • Using the funnel, carefully pour half a cup of the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle, and then add about 10 drops of your preferred food coloring. 
  • Add about 1 tbsp of liquid soap and swish it gently around in the bottle.
  • In the separate cup, combine the warm water and yeast. Let sit for about 30 seconds–it should look like the consistency of melted ice cream. You can add more water if needed.
  • Using the funnel, pour the yeast-water mixture into the bottle and stand back! This foam eruption will be epic!

Clean Putty

Supplies:

  • Cornstarch
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Food Coloring (optional)
  • Large bowl

Instructions:

  • Add 2 tbsp of cornstarch to the bowl followed by 1 and a half tbsp of liquid dish soap. Add the food coloring now too if you’re using it!
  • Mix and squish together in the bowl until it forms a putty consistency. If it is too dry, add a little more dish soap. If it is too wet, add a little more cornstarch. 
  • This putty should last a few hours, and it is way cleaner and less sticky than the common glue-based slime recipes online!

Homemade Lava Lamp

Supplies:

  • Wide-mouth glass container (like a vase, pitcher, or tall drinking glass)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Food coloring
  • Water
  • Alka-Seltzer tablet

Instructions:

  • Fill the container about three-quarters full with the oil, and then fill the rest of the way with water, making sure to leave a couple inches at the top of the container. 
  • Watch as the water and oil separate and the oil falls to the bottom–so cool!
  • Once settled, add about ten drops of food coloring to color your lava lamp. Wait and watch as each drop sinks through the oil and settles in the water. 
  • Finally, drop in the Alka-Seltzer tablet and watch as the carbon dioxide gas bubbles push the colored water up into the oil like a lava lamp! 

While all these experiments can be enjoyed by people of any age, many are aimed at younger children. Bentham Science does offer resources for older children and young adults looking to dive deeper into science and technology, including free, open-access textbooks and informative webinars.

Who knows, moms – maybe you’ll learn too! Learning is a lifelong process, and it’s never too late to teach yourself something new!
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