Manners and Responsibility: Teaching Your Kids to Set the Table

Setting the table is a daily chore, and often one that falls on busy mothers and fathers as they multitask to stir the stew, clean the dishes and inevitably set the table. Teaching your kids to set the table is not only good manners, but it'll also prove to be extremely helpful for you as a parent because when you're already doing so much, you just don't have the time to do it.

Teaching Your Kids to Set the Table

Start Young

From the time your child is out of a high chair and in a booster seat, teach him or her to carry their non-breakable empty plate to the table. When they're done eating, teach them to ask to be excused, and then have them carry their (hopefully empty) plate to the sink. Be sure that you as a parent say “Please and thank you” to them, and be prepared for some spills on their commute at some point in time. As the kids get older, implement new manners and insist that they stick to them. By the time your child is 5-6 years old, they should be able to set and clear a table under your supervision after years of consistent instruction.

Show Them How it's Done

At first, when they're really young, it'll be really cute to see them set everything up because they'll do it all wrong and exactly how it makes sense in their little brains. Praise that behavior because they are trying! Over time, teach them the correct way to do things and ask that they pay attention to you as you do it. They'll probably have to watch you do it several times before they pick up on the correct way to set and clear a table.

Make it Fun

Most kids will learn quickly that setting the table is not really fun, and it'll take them away from something that they're already doing that's more fun. For this reason, try your best to make it fun when you're really getting into teaching them these manners. Make it a song or a game somehow. Sometimes it takes manipulating the situation a little bit to lure kids in to teach them.

Put it on Rotation

If you have more than one child, they should all be taught. Start a rotational schedule for setting the table and post it somewhere in the kitchen. For example, Tim will set out plates, knives and forks, Sara will get ice in the glasses, and together they will clear the table and wash the dishes. Also, if possible, have your oldest child teach the younger ones how to do all of this at the appropriate time. This will further instill the values in him or her, and many times younger kids will be more receptive to an older sibling who they look up to.

It's extremely impressive to see children set the table and exhibit good table manners, especially when they're younger. Start teaching them young, make it fun, lead by example and put it on a written chore rotation, and this will come naturally for your children over time.

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Teaching Your Young Ones How To Stay Safe on the Internet

The internet is a big magical place that you can find just about anything at any time of the day. That also opens a lot of unwanted doors. Teaching your children internet safety at a young age is extremely important for them to develop a healthy relationship with their internet use later on down the road.

Teach Them Young

Whatever age you feel is secure for your children to start using the internet is the time to teach them how to safely use it. Teaching them at a young age, even before they start to utilize the internet will implement the proper foundation they need to make smart decisions.

Even if they are only using the computer or tablet next to you it’s still crucial for them to have the knowledge of how to stay safe while surfing the web. Your children need to be taught that the internet is just like the real world. Both have safe situations and bot have unsafe situations. If they can distinguish this at a young age they will be responsible.

Also, teaching them about passwords and usernames and how they protect our personal information is important. That way they will start to utilize and understand the protections that are available.

Teaching Your Young Ones How To Stay Safe on the Internet

Don’t Do Anything Online That You Wouldn’t Do Face To Face

This is one of the most important pieces of advice you can give your young ones about the internet. Explain to them that you wouldn’t go up to one of your friends in person and start to bully them would you? You wouldn’t go up to a complete stranger at the store and start a conversion would you? None of this should be taking place online either. Explaining the difference to them will help them understand that bullying and strangers still apply to the internet as well and not just outside life.

We teach our children not to speak to strangers so now it’s time to teach them to ignore strangers online also. The internet can be a dangerous place just like the outside world. Our children are our future so we need to create the safety precautions to guide them safely.

Once It’s Been Written It Can’t Be Deleted

Teach your children that what they write and talk about over the internet is permanent. Teach them that if they wouldn’t discuss it with family or friends then it shouldn’t be discussed over the internet.

Even if you think no one has seen it, it can be copied and come back to haunt you later on. Teach your children that what they utilize on the internet now will still be seen once they start applying to college, jobs and internships. They will understand that their future isn’t worth jeopardizing.

Surfing the web should be enjoyable for your and your children. Teaching your young ones early on about how to stay safe on the internet is the key to successful internet utilization.

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Sliced Fruit Popsicles

Fruity popsicle sticks

Delicious Treats

Children love eating frozen popsicles on a stick, especially in the summer when temperatures soar. However, this store-bought snack is low in nutrition and high in calories and sugar, making the food a poor choice for growing children. Also known as an ice pop, these treats are typically made of white sugar or corn syrup combined with artificial flavorings and colors that make the snacks attractive to children. Mothers concerned about keeping their family healthy by providing a nutritious snack can serve homemade freezer pops made with fresh, frozen or even canned sliced fruit.

Gather Supplies

Parents making their own ice pops can still provide a delicious cold snack on a hot summer day for their children. Making homemade freezer pops is simple after gathering the necessary supplies and ingredients. There are online and brick-and-mortar stores that sell special trays and containers to make homemade freezer pops that have sticks. The trays and sticks are often made of a durable plastic that is dishwasher safe, making the equipment reusable. Mothers that want to use the traditional old-fashioned sticks can find the items sold in bulk packages. It is also possible to use paper or plastic cups as containers for homemade ice pops. And for the little kids, try a specialty ice cube tray in fun shapes. A small plastic spoon can be used instead of a stick.

Nutritious Produce

Sliced fruit adds color and flavor to the freezer pops, making them fun for children and parents. There is an assortment of fresh fruit available at grocery stores and farmers markets throughout the summer, but parents can also use produce grown at home. Parents can buy strawberries, kiwi fruit and peaches seasonally, leading to the freshest homemade ice pops at the lowest prices. Preparing fruit for the freezer pops is easy enough that children can help with washing the produce. Small fruit such as blueberries do not require slicing to freeze properly, but larger fruit does.

Translucent Bases

Making ice pops with clear or translucent bases allows the beautiful colors of the fruit to show. After putting the sliced fruit into a container, you need to add a base to make the freezer pops. Pouring homemade juices made from apples, lemons or pears mixed with water over the fruit provides a translucent appearance, making it easy to see the colorful sliced fruit. It is also possible to use clear soft drinks for the homemade ice pops. A clear base made of sugar dissolved in boiling water also makes a delicious homemade freezer pop that tastes more like a store-bought popsicle.

 

Is Your Child Overweight?

Fast Food

Parenting a child can be a difficult task, especially if that child already has underlying health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of children and young adults in the United States were overweight or obese in 2012. Mothers across the country are facing an obesity epidemic, both for themselves and their children. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that mothers pay close attention to their child's dietary habits. Activities such as talking to doctors, providing the child with healthy food and physical activity will aid you in any attempts to prevent obesity in your son or daughter.

Talk to a Medical Professional

If your child is already healthy, he or she should still have yearly checkups with a general practitioner. However, if he or she is showing signs of being overweight, you could consult with a medical professional who has been trained in the science of nutrition. An overweight child needs a meal plan and a stable daily schedule to achieve healthy goals. A concerned parent should make an appointment with a specialist and get an expert opinion.

Replace Fast Food With Healthy Food

Many American children eat fast food and unhealthy microwavable food due to the cheap price and easy attainability. However, this food can create havoc and supply empty calories in the body of a child who eats it excessively. Replace quick meals of chicken nuggets and pizza with salad and sandwiches loaded with vegetables. Also, use leaner cuts of meat such as chicken and turkey when including animal products in a child's meal. This will prevent the consumption of empty calories, and will likely give the child more energy to make it through the day as well as nutrients for proper growth.

Make Healthy Food More Fun

Giving a child motivation to eat healthy food is essential to do when your little one is overweight and a picky eater. Snacks such as carrots and nuts may not seem exciting to a child at first, but arranging them in a fun pattern or offering special treats after the completion of nutritious snacks will certainly aid the process. When you make your child's lunch, include two small snacks, a sandwich or hearty salad and a dessert. Do this instead of providing money for a lunch purchase. Children will usually appreciate the fullness of the meal as well as the fact that you took the time to prepare it.

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Cookies

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pinwheel Cookie

This peanut butter chocolate swirl cookie recipe is both fun for the kids to help with and delicious to eat. Using the rolling method creates a perfect swirl effect on these sweet treats. It’s a great alternative to simply adding in chocolate chips. Have your children help mix, roll out dough and spread the chocolate.

Ingredients

Cookie dough

• 1 cup room temperature butter
• 1 cup peanut butter (creamy)
• 1 cup white granulated sugar
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 2 eggs (large)
• 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt

Chocolate Spread

• 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
• 1 tablespoon shortening

Directions

  1. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, peanut butter, both sugars and eggs.
  2. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Blend into wet mixture completely.
  3. Separate the dough into two equal parts. Form into balls. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for one hour.
  4. Roll out one of the balls into an 11x15 inch rectangle on a thin floured towel. Roll gently because the dough will be soft.
  5. In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and shortening in the microwave. Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between until smooth.
  6. Place spoonfuls of the chocolate onto the rolled out dough. Use only half of the chocolate. Carefully spread over the dough’s surface. Children love this step.
  7. Use the towel to help you roll the rectangle of dough into a log shape. Wrap the log with plastic wrap, and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. It can be left longer.
  8. Continue the same process with the second ball of dough and remaining chocolate while the first log is firming in the freezer. The chocolate can be re-melted in the microwave if it’s set up. You will have two logs in the freezer until ready to bake.
  9. You can bake the cookies on the same day you made the logs or wait until a future date. When you are ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  10. Remove firm cookie logs from your freezer. Slice into ¼ inch thick cookies.
  11. Place sliced cookies onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. Cookies should no longer look or feel gooey.

 

Valentine Treats

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Being a mom is not easy. It would be nice if things were easier every now and then, wouldn't it? If doing laundry only took 15 minutes a week, or if dishes were magically washed and put away, or even if everyone in the family could pitch in at meal time, life would be a bit easier. Well, here are a few easy recipes to please every member of the family on Valentine's Day. These treats are "mother tested and kid approved"...and easy, too!

Valentine's Day Chocolate Dipped Wafer Cookies

All you need for this recipe is parchment paper, wafers of any flavor (or madelines, or other plain cookies), a bag of chocolate chips or candy melts and a bottle of sprinkles. You first melt the chocolate. Your children can do the rest of the steps with your supervision. Get them to dip the wafers in the melted chocolate and place the dipped wafers on the parchment paper. Then have them put sprinkles over the chocolate. The last step is to put the dipped wafer cookies in the refrigerator for about 10 minute to help speed up the hardening process.

Chocolate Pudding Cookies

This easy recipe takes only 10 minutes to cook and 15 minutes to prep. Your kids will love mixing their yummy treat. For this recipe you will need:

  • 4.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 (3.4 oz) packs instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups softened butter
  • 1.5 cups packed brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Start prepping by mixing together the salt, baking soda, and flour, then set it to the side. In a much larger bowl mix and beat the white sugar, butter, brown sugar and instant chocolate pudding mix. Blend in your dry mix. Next, add the vanilla and eggs. Once mixed well, add the chocolate chips. Lastly, drop spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack and let your family dig in!

Mozzarella And Tomato Salad for Kids

This recipe is the easiest on the list. No baking or mixing! Arrange basil leaves on a plate in a heart shape. Form a large heart shaped outline with cherry tomatoes. Last, fill the center with mozzarella balls. Let your kids do this or do it yourself.

On Valentine's Day, don't let your children forget who your favorite Valentine is...them!

 

Snow Day Blues

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Every winter, there are two words that can make kids jump for joy:  Snow day. After they are done jumping, however, they sometimes start moping. And when kids are moping, chances are that you are getting a little frustrated yourself. Before your kids’ time off melts into the snow day blues, try some of these activities to make the most of the day.

Make a Snow Family

When Mother Nature gives you a snow day… make snowmen. Pull together a pile of old hats, scarves, mittens and the like and challenge your kids to each make a snowman as part of a snow family.

Go Sledding

Get out your sleds and head to your backyard hill or a local park. There’s nothing like walking up a hill a million times just to slide back down to get your kids active and use up their energy. Just watch how fast they’ll fall asleep tonight.

Make it a Photo Op

Make sure everyone has a photo-taking device, whether it’s an iPod, smartphone or digital camera, and assign them to go outside and capture the prettiest snow day scenes. When they are done taking selfies, challenge them to photograph what’s high above them, like snowy branches against the sky, and what’s down beneath them, like paw prints across the lawn.

Enjoy a Day in the Kitchen

Get out some hearty recipes to warm the soul and belly. Have everyone wash their hands, grab a potato to peel or an apple to core and get to work. Cooking together is fun and when it’s over, dinner is done.

Play Old-Fashioned Games

Dig out those board games, chess sets, cards and other games that you haven’t seen in months, or maybe years. Have the older kids teach the younger ones how to play. Play a round yourself, and then turn the games over to the kids. Bring in snacks to keep the active play going.

Make it a Wild Card

Invite your kids to come up with their own ideas of how to spend the day. Have everyone jot down one idea on a piece of paper (approve them all, if necessary) and then draw one or two out of a bag. Then turn the kids loose.

Try some of these ideas and you’ll help your kids turn their snow day into such a memorable time they’ll be making deals with the snow fairy to send another snow day their way.

 

Make Candy with the Kids

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Homemade candy is a fun way to spend a rainy or snowy day inside with the kids. These treats also make a great holiday gift; although, you might not want to share!

Chocolate Pretzels

Combine one package chocolate chips (or 12 ounces of chocolate of your desired flavor) and 1 tablespoon of shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the mixture in short increments until the chocolate has melted.

If using pretzel rods, dip the rod just before dipping your fingers. Use a pair of tongs to dip folded pretzels. Gently shake the pretzel to let excess chocolate drip off. Lay the pretzels on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper or parchment paper.

Pretzels are easy to add your signature touch. Sprinkle cookie sprinkles, crushed candies or chopped nuts onto the pretzels to add texture and flavor. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. After waiting, you can drizzle a small amount of contrasting chocolate over the pretzels to finish them off.

Tiger Fudge

Melt one cup of peanut butter and 8 ounces of white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in short increments, stirring frequently, until smooth. Repeat the process with 1/3 cup peanut butter and 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Line a 8x8 pan with wax paper or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Place alternating spoonfuls of each chocolate mixture into the pan. Cut through the mixture with a knife or spatula to create swirls of color. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Homemade Reese's Cups

This recipe requires a little patience, so it's better for the older kids.

Break apart a Hershey's bar and place two squares into each silicone baking cup. Place the cups into the microwave and melt until the chocolate is melts to the bottom of the cups. Carefully remove the cups with oven mitts and place on a baking sheet. Place a spoonful of the peanut butter of your choice into the center of the chocolate and freeze.

Place two to three small squares of chocolate per peanut butter cup into a microwave-safe bowl and melt. Spoon the chocolate over the frozen peanut butter cup until the peanut butter is completed covered. Try to flatten the chocolate as you do. The cups should fill the baking cup 1/3 or 1/2. Return the cups to the refrigerator for 2 hours to solidify.

Remove the candy from the baking cups and wrap with cellophane and a tie with a ribbon to give as a gift!

 

Party Drinks for Kids

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Holiday parties are a time for family and friends to get together to celebrate. Hosting a party is fun and rewarding, but it takes a little extra consideration to make sure that everyone feels included. Non-alcoholic party drinks for kids will let them feel like a part of the grown up crowd.

Tropical, Fruity Drinks

Children are attracted to bright colors, which makes tropical fruity drink variations a sure hit at any gathering. Sweet punches are easy to make and can be modified in ways that appeal to the younger taste, and also fit the theme of the holidays.

Lime Sherbet Punch

  • 2 Quarts of Lime Sherbet
  • 2 Liters of Ginger Ale or Sprite
  • 1 Can of Pineapple Juice
  • Assorted Fruit (orange slices, Maraschino cherries)

Mix all of the ingredients into a big bowl. This punch is a bright, festive green color. The additional fruit and floating sherbet dress up the presentation, intriguing kids to take a taste. If they're old enough, let them stir up the punch. You can also make ice cubes in advance using the juice instead of water.

Mocktails

Non-alcoholic versions of popular drinks are perfect for teenagers who want to taste classic recipes but are not yet old enough for liquor. Consider having a signature cocktail for the night, one for adults and one suitable for the kids to drink. A Pina Colada is simple to make, and can be dressed up for a holiday party with creative garnishes.

Virgin Pina Colada

  • 1/4 Cup of Ice
  • 1 Cup of Pineapple Juice
  • 1 Cup of Coconut Milk
  • 1 Cup of Pineapple Chunks

Blend all of these ingredients for up to 4 servings at a time. To make a few batches ahead of time, repeat the recipe and add the finished product into a punch bowl.

Serving Tips

Let the kids use fancy cocktail glasses or holiday theme glasses for their drinks, but be sure they are easy to distinguish from the ones used by adults. Let them have fun decorating their drinks with an assortment of garnishes that can be set out buffet style. Demonstrate how to add a wedge of fruit to the side of the glass. Also create small skewers of cherries, grapes, and other small fruit to make non-alcoholic drinks as fun as real cocktails.

 

Holiday Help From the Kids

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The holidays are here and moms across the world are working way too hard to get everything prepared. If you haven't enlisted them already, it's time to let the kids do some of the work for you. Kids love helping in the kitchen and there are ways they can do so without being in the way or needing too much supervision. Teaching them to set a nice holiday table is not only a big help to you, but will give them something valuable to be proud of, too!

Dishes

While you are cooking, you build up a huge collection of dishes used for cooking. Measuring spoons, bowls and cups pile up quickly. Everything starts collecting in the sink. These are the kinds of things that kids can wash, or rinse off and put in the dishwasher. Even the youngest ones can get involved and help the older ones.

Cooking

One of the biggest duties of a cook is stirring and mixing. Children can help with that. The older ones can even do the stirring on the stove top. The little ones can help mix the ingredients for you. There are even recipes that are easy for kids. They can make puddings or fun colored gelatins. Or they can make some very easy peanut butter cookies:

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg

Directions:
Mix all ingredients until a large ball is formed. Break the ball into 16 similar sized balls. Mash with fork in two directions on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 16 minutes.

In this recipe, the younger kids can do everything but put the cookies in the oven.

General Cleaning

Young children love to clean more than you might think. Give them a broom and they will do the best impression of sweeping the floor that they can. As they get older, they tend to grow out of this, so take advantage of it while you can! Give them a broom. Give them a duster. When they are old enough, let them run the vacuum, especially if you have a smaller, lightweight type. They will feel all grown up. Make sure to let them set the table; they love that. Teaching them to set a nice holiday table is not only a big help to you, but will give them something valuable to be proud of, too!

Conclusion

Children love to feel needed. They love helping adults because it makes them feel important and useful. The holidays are a great time to help improve their confidence by letting them do a lot of the chores, and you can have more time to enjoy the festivities.