When is a child old enough to cross the street alone?

When is a child old enough to cross the street alone

The first time that you drop that little hand and allow your precious offspring to cross the street alone you feel like your heart is going to beat out of your chest, but Junior has to grow up so if you don’t want to be holding the hand of an 18-year old while crossing, there has to come a point you decide he is old enough to let go.  But just what is this magical age?


In most situations, there are some factors to consider beyond the child’s age because not all children of the same age are ready to tackle a challenge like crossing the street alone.  Every child is a unique human being with different levels of maturity, training, and experience, so each case must be examined individually.

As a parent, you are in the best position to determine the answer to the question of when is a child old enough to cross the street alone.  You alone have the knowledge of your child’s maturity and whether he or she is capable of being cautious enough to cross the street safely.  Trial runs are a good way to teach and give experience with you as a safety net.


Does your child understand the dangers?  You can teach safety without making your child excessively fearful.  Set some rules and make sure your child understands the rules and agrees to follow your direction. Spend some time learning the safety rules while out walking with your child.

As the two of you walk discuss safety rules, teach children the proper use of crosswalks if your neighborhood has these, and take time to point out what you observe regarding the cars and people on the street.  If you see drivers behaving unsafely, point this out to your child and explain the dangers.

Ask your child to observe the traffic and point out safe and unsafe drivers and situations.  Explore crosswalks with your child explaining how to use the crosswalk and other safety measures, such as not being distracted with a cell phone or earplugs while crossing and to be aware that caution is needed even when the walk signal is displayed.  Distracted drivers can easily run a red light.

Cutting the Apron Strings

There will come a time, whether we are ready or not, that our children will begin to venture out on their own a little farther each time until they fly away for good.  As sad as that might make you feel, you know it’s your job to make them self-reliant and ready to take on the world.  The only question is when will that be?

Experts say that the age to start allowing kids out alone is 11; however, as a parent, being allowed to go it alone at 11 has some specific limitations and conditions.  In a neighborhood with no through traffic, only neighbors and visitors passing through, and equipped with sidewalks, 11, or even slightly younger, is a fairly safe proposition.  However, if we are dealing with busy highways and heavy traffic, I would say 13 might be a better age.

In the end, no matter how much we try and want to protect our children from harm, we know that some day we will have to allow them to strike out on their own, even if it is just across the street.



What’s the Going Rate for Babysitters?

What’s the Going Rate for Babysitters

Babysitter’s salaries have come up in the world since I was working as one, back in the day.  I remember getting paid $1 per hour and slightly more for more than one kid.  I suspect teens would laugh at that today; not unkindly, but because they would surely think I was kidding.

You might be new to the babysitter hiring/paying concept and there is a lot of information on the web, but with so much info and so little time, we have done your research for you compiled some guidelines to go by.

The Going Rate

There is a wide variance between rates that depends on the circumstances such as location; babysitting in areas with a higher cost of living will command a higher pay rate for sitters.  Expect to pay more in New York and San Francisco than in Kansas or North Carolina.  A realistic per hour range is about $5 to $12 per hour.

Another factor is experience.  Adult professional nannies or daycare personnel would earn more per hour, around $10 per hour, than a high school student wanting to earn a little spending money, who may reasonably be paid from $4 to $8 per hour.  The number of children and their ages is a factor as well.  For instance more and younger children equal more work, equals more money.  Most sitters will be satisfied with an extra $1 per hour per extra child or an additional $2 per hour for children under 3.

Usual babysitting hours are around 8 am and 10 pm; if you need a sitter to work before or after these times, you can expect to pay around $2 more per hour.  Some situations are above the norm, such as caring for disabled or special needs children, housework, shopping, or cooking.  Extra work merits a higher rate, also.  You can add at least an extra $2 per hour, but to be fair, discuss this with your sitter.  Keep in mind when calculating cost, that teens paid in cash do not have to pay taxes on their earnings if less than $600 per year, so they get more from their wages as would a full time worker.

Dollars and Sense

Another mitigating circumstance is affordability, meaning if paying a sitter is so high you cannot afford to go out, other solutions should be explored.  This situation requires some negotiating.  Perhaps swapping childcare with another Mom you know will help, but even if you are set on hiring a teen, you can perhaps work out wages in the form of some benefit besides cash, or some type of barter system such as loaning your car as partial payment for services rendered, or allowing the use of your pool for a party.  Consider what you might have of value you would be willing to trade, like movie tickets or use of a Netflix account.

Another option is to provide a service without charge, for example, a hairdresser could offer to cut, color, or style hair or a manicurist could offer manicures and pedicures; you get the idea.  Whatever your situation, it is best to discuss pay rates upfront to avoid any misunderstandings and ensure neither of you feels short-changed.



Am I a Bad Mom Because My Kid Can’t Tie Her Shoes?

Am I a bad mom because my kid can’t tie her shoes

There are many mom-ish things that moms admittedly don’t want to do or don’t admit and make excuses for.  Mine was potty training so my kid was three years old still in diapers, and, when I asked her, when are you going to use the potty, she replied, “when you get me underwear.”  Precocious, right?  And that actually worked.  She used the potty and never had an accident.  Go figure!

Why Resist?

Learning to tie shoelaces is an exercise in patience, repetition, and more patience.  But many moms, even though they know how to tie shoelaces, may not remember the way they learned it and have no idea who to teach it.  Fortunately in the age of the internet there are numerous tutorials, both video and blog on this very subject.

Why is it though, that kids aged eight and beyond do not know how to tie shoelaces?  Experts suggest that due to the popularity of Velcro and slip-on shoes, moms and kids alike have never seen the need, and it only becomes a glaring omission in early childhood training when we confront a pair of kid shoes with laces, coupled with a lack of motivation to put yourself through this endeavor without an immediate need.  In many cases, the deciding factor was a pair of shoes, be it a gift or a choice, with the dreaded laces.

How to Proceed

Many moms choose to do the tying themselves, thus avoiding one more day without a struggle with laces – buying time to get her courage up!  Naturally mom knows that eventually the day will come with a need for lacing knowledge.  You can employ the old double bow to avoid accidental untying, but what if she has to take her shoes off without you around, like in school or at a friend’s?

This will most likely be a wake-up call when both you and she are embarrassed by her lack of knowledge resulting in a third party intervention.  Once you have reached the inevitable decision, you have to choose a method for training.  You can demonstrate on her shoe, or yours, give her a random shoe to practice on, or purchase a special “book” with shoelaces meant to teach tying skills.  Just add it to the nightly routine.

Too Much Mollycoddling?

We’re all shocked when we hear of the 10 or 12-year old whose mother still bathes him or does his homework and projects.  Most likely this fictional mom is simply showing her love and devotion to her son by taking extra good care of him, but not realizing he needs to learn to walk before he can fly.  If not, he has a good chance of living in her basement all his life.  None of us wants that.

So, what’s a mom to do?  First of all remind yourself you are an excellent mom, the shoe issue notwithstanding.  I mean it’s not like you still feed him or anything, or still use diapers.  You covered the big stuff so don’t sweat the small stuff.  And, if you just can’t conquer the task, delegate it to your husband, mom, or older child, and just keep moving in concentric circles till you find the one – the one who can help to fill this tiny gap in skills.



5 Great Reasons to Read to Your Kids

The skill of reading cannot be overestimated for success in life.  But what is really the difference between teaching your kids to read all by themselves and reading to your kids yourself?  Well, we think both things are very important, yet in different ways.  Let us tell you more along with these five reasons why we believe it is a good thing to keep reading to your kids even as they grow older.

5 Great Reasons to Read to Your Kids

To Teach or To Read?

A Goal vs. A Habit

Every parent is thrilled when their preschoolers start to recognize words and begin reading on their own.  But is that all there is to it?  What are the benefits of reading to our kids and why does it matter after they learn to read themselves?  Basically, teaching your kids to read is essentially a limited goal whereas reading to your kids is developing a habit.  When you continue to read to your kids even after they have learned to read for themselves, you are not only reinforcing the value of reading, but you are ultimately creating a love for reading.


The Top Five Reasons

Why You Should Read to Your Kids

  1.  Time Together.  This will benefit you and you kids in so many ways that it’s difficult to count them all.  Just being with your kids is important, but reading books together helps to create conversation, discuss emotional or social problems, or just expand their imagination and sense of the world!
  2. Develops Thinking Skills.  This is extremely important, especially in an age of numerous gadgets and technology that are cleverly programmed to do most of your thinking for you.  While the convenience is appreciated, the ability to think objectively, deductively, theoretically and so on, simply cannot be forgotten!  When you read to your kids – and particularly as you begin to read more advanced books without pictures – you help your kids begin to develop these critical thinking skills by simply imagining details and following plot descriptions with their own imaginations!
  3. Academic Excellence.  Reading to your kids not only improves their thinking skills, but also quietly builds a solid foundation of communication skills, progression of logic, spelling, vocabulary, grammar and more that will positively impact your kid’s overall academic abilities!
  4. Concentration and Discipline.  Much of technology has been detrimental to our ability to concentrate due to rapid visual and audio overload.  However, reading a book will teach your kids to slow down, to develop their focus and to delay their gratification for the time that it takes to hear all of the details or follow the story.
  5. A Love For Reading.  Most of all, we want to pass on the love for reading to our kids so that they will always continue to grow and learn and expose themselves to the many ideas of the world.  Read your kid a book and you entertain him for a day, but give him the love for reading and he will have the world at his fingertips.








5 Things I Would Do Differently as a New Mom

It was a magical time in my life, as my husband and I were expecting our first baby. Like every mom-to-be, I had very specific ideas about how everything would be when it was time for baby to arrive: I had my birth plan, my maternity leave, options for daycare and how to juggle nursing, work and baby. Then, our baby was here, and it wasn’t exactly how I had it going in my head. Of course now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can clearly identify 5 things I would do differently as a new mom.


#1 Ditch Ideas about Perfection

We went to the birth classes and, using my vivid pregnancy-induced imagination, I created (in my mind) the ideal birth experience for our son. I would stay at home (of course, my water would break at home) until the contractions were about 15 minutes apart, then we would head to the hospital. Except, my water didn’t break and I went past by due date and the doctor suggested inducing because I was swollen and my blood pressure was inching up. So we induced, and the doctor broke my water to try to get my stalled labor going and once the contractions came, I was in unimaginable pain. In the end, it was induction, 12 hours of labor, epidural, narrowly avoiding a c-section and a baby delivered by a flurry of doctors and nurses worried about both of us. And still, it WAS perfect: just a different kind of perfect than I had imagined.


#2 Forgive Breastfeeding Failure

I was going to nurse my son exclusively for one year. I, his mother, was going to be everything he would need for nourishment. And that’s how it went: for about 6 weeks. He was almost 9 pounds at birth and I could not keep him full with the amount of milk I was producing. I resisted the doctor’s suggestion of supplementation. Until three words jolted me back to reality: failure to thrive. My baby was hungry and cranky. I sobbed while my husband prepared the first formula bottle. Then I fed my son and watched him down a full 6 ounces of warm formula. For the first time, I honestly saw that “milk coma” on his face: he was completely satisfied. I was awash in feelings of failure and guilt; I would certainly do that differently if I could.


#3 Worry Less

For me, the new mom days initially were filled with angst about the baby. Would I hear him if he woke up? How long since I changed him? When did he poop last? Looking back, there were days when I let fear suck the joy out of me. I definitely would have worried less about lots of things.


#4 Be Present

Don’t become so wrapped up in the academic side of caring for your baby that you miss the special moments. While I did spend considerable time just staring at my son and drinking in the beauty of his sweet face, I’m sure I would do more of that if I could do it again.


#5 Accept More Help

It wasn’t that I was averse to letting others help us when we had the baby: I truly didn’t think we needed it. So, I politely declined offers of meal delivery, babysitting, house cleaning and all sorts of other deeds from friends and family. I would definitely be more accepting of their help! Maybe I could have taken a shower that lasted more than 48 seconds or gone grocery shopping for an hour without a fussy baby. Take help, especially when offered by your mom friends – they’ve been there and they know!











Teaching Your Kids How to be Responsible From a Young Age

Teaching Your Kids How to be Responsible From a Young Age

Parenting is a challenging chore for every parent, no matter your passion or commitment to giving all that you have for the best of your kids.  This is because the best may not always seem like the best to your kids and you have to stay committed to what you know is good for them even when they aren’t happy about it.  One of these things is teaching them responsibility.  However, we have a few fun suggestions for how you might teach your kids to incorporate responsibility from a young age without them realizing that you are gradually building upon this life-essential skill.


Taking Responsibility for Yourself

Picking Up Toys and Flushing the Toilet

The first responsibility that most of us learn in life is how to take care of ourselves.  This is something that you can start with your kids even before they walk or talk!  You may not do this every time, but engage your kids in the tasks of taking responsibility for themselves.  Pick just a few tasks while they are still under a year old, but you can incrementally add to the list as they grow older and more capable.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Picking up toys
  • Make their beds
  • Brush their teeth
  • Putting dirty clothes in the hamper
  • Learning to fold and put away clean clothes
  • Bringing dirty dishes to the sink
  • Wiping up spills and cleaning up messes

Taking Responsibility for Others

Understanding Family and Teamwork

The next task in responsibility is in learning to care for others, whether it is another family member, a friend or one of your pets.  Again, many of these suggestions can be started while your kids are still toddlers and beginning to grasp the concepts of others.  Not only that, but toddlers are quite eager to help with many chores and you may find that teaching them responsibility in these ways also conveniently combine with other learning goals such as colors, shapes, animals, and so on.  While they are still young they may only be helping with these tasks, but soon they will be able to do the whole task all by themselves!

  • Here are some ideas in this category:
    Empty small trashcans
  • Empty the dishwasher of non-breakables
  • Sort dirty laundry by darks and lights
  • Feed and water family pets
  • Water plants
  • Put groceries away


Responsibility for Choices

Understanding Destructive vs. Productive

Choices can be destructive and create more work or they can be productive and make good use of time, energy and resources!  Whether you are trying to teach your kids to take responsibility for fixing their destructive choices or you are trying to teach them how to make productive choices, you can still start teaching them these things at a very young age!  Teach them to learn from their mistakes, remember to praise them when they make good choices, and always lead by example!


Dos and Don’ts When Talking to Your Kids About Puberty

Talking to Your Kids About Puberty

Eww!  That dreaded word: puberty!  We shudder because we remember how awkward it was to be on the receiving end of “the talk” and we shudder because now we’re the parents trying to prepare our kids for the same rite of passage!  Well, if you have kids, no matter what are their ages, you will want to read through these dos and don’ts for when you talk to your kids about puberty.


Baby Steps

Do Start When They Are Young

No, we don’t mean that you should have the sex talk with your kids when they are three years old, but there are plenty of questions to answer about bodies from the time they start talking.  You can start teaching them about their body parts, what makes a boy a boy, a girl a girl and most importantly, about respecting privacy.  Especially when talking about privacy, you should talk to your kids about who is allowed to see or touch their bodies and who is not!  However, we would encourage you to not give your kids more information than they are able to process for their age and their maturity.


Know Your Kids

Do Trust Your Parenting Instincts

It can be tough knowing how much to say and when.  If you tell too much too soon, a five year old girl may only be frightened about any talk of blood and unnecessarily worried before she needs to comprehend how her body will change in the future.  On the other hand, there are some kids who seem to have a calm acceptance and keen understanding of the physical changes and may plague you with harder questions much earlier than you expected.  Whatever the case, try to remain open and flexible and remember it is a conversation!  Let your kids’ participation in the conversation guide you and trust your own instincts for when to give an in-depth answer versus a more basic reply.


The 8-Year-Old Deadline

Don’t Procrastinate!

Ok, we get it.  Maybe your child is hesitant to ask you these questions and you are hesitant to launch into the conversation.  But you should know that with all of the information coming from television, radio, and the Internet, along with your kids’ classmates, most kids know more than you realize by the time they are eight years old.  What is more, puberty is no longer that far off, especially for some girls, and it is imperative that you initiate the conversation with you kid by the time they are eight years old, if you haven’t done so already.  While your kids may pick up quite a bit of information from other sources, it is important to make sure that they have correct information and that they experience puberty with confidence as well as understanding.  However, the thing that will help you most as your kids go through the tough emotional and physical changes of the teenage years is letting them know that it is not only okay to talk to you, but that you want them to!





Setting Boundaries for your Children

Boundaries for your Children

The unofficial title of this article could be “preventing your kids from taking over your life,” but we think the term, “setting boundaries” is a little closer to the goal. That is, having kids is a big enough change itself; here are some tips to prevent you from losing yourself completely in the beautiful chaos that we call parenting.

Embrace Your New Normal

Here’s the truth: you’re going to miss some aspects of your life before kids. Not in a regretful way, but maybe in a wistful one. The extra sleep, the spontaneity, disposable income and  complete privacy are just a few things you’re going to miss. When you become a mother, you are responsible for another human being. As beautiful and extraordinary as this is, it comes with sacrifice. So, embrace your new normal and, instead of lamenting these things, start getting creative to bring back a little of the “old you” to the extent that you can.

Kids Need Structure

Whether your kids are sippy cup carriers or they’re on the high school cheer squad, it’s true: kids need structure. One of the best ways to set boundaries for your children is to establish and maintain structure. In the early years, it’s about set bedtime routines; later on, it’s curfews, expectations on checking in, and no cell phones after 10pm. Whatever it is, establish structure for your kids. It’s builds responsibility and respect for your time, too.

Be Persistent and Consistent

Setting boundaries for your children requires two main elements: you must be persistent and consistent in how to communicate rules, expectations and, as necessary, punishment. The worst think you can do is making your expectations a moving target: your kids will not know how they should behave if your expectations are constantly changing. You will be tired of arguing, tired of repeating yourself, and tired to working on this, but take heart: staying the course now will save you a lot of effort in the future.

Extend Respect to Get It

Even at an early age, kids can discern and understand the concept of fairness and equality. If you smoke, but tell them not to, they see the inconsistency. Likewise, if you demand respect and privacy, but don’t extend the same to your kids, they will be less likely to extend it to you. That’s not to say that you have to be your child’s best friend, but the Golden Rule about treating others the way you want to be treated hold some great advice for parents and kids alike.

Tell Them You Love Them

Parenting is tough work. There’s no denying it, but setting boundaries for your children will prepare them for real life while, at the same time, improving your relationship. Above all, make sure your kids know how much they are loved – if your words, your actions, your example and your intentions. Plus, when they get older, you just might see a glimpse of your “pre-child self” popping in now and then.



Raising your Children as a Single Mom

Single Mom

Being a single mom can be both a blessing and a curse. As a single mom all the responsibility and weight of raising children falls on you. While you’re probably amazing at what you do, it can also be extremely stressful. So, what can you do to make raising your children as the only parent in the household a little easier? Well, here are a couple of key things to take into consideration.

Have Backup Plans in Case of an Emergency

One of the first things you want to do as a single mom is to have a backup plan in case of an emergency. This can include everything from if one of your children gets sick or you have to suddenly leave town. It’s best to have a plan of action in case the worst happen. While you may not need it, it’s still good to have it in place. There is a small chance that the worst can occur at any time though. Also, keep a list of numbers for poison control, the doctor’s office, and any other important contact information in case of an emergency. When the worst happens it’s easy to forget simple information.

Someone to Watch the Kids

Another aspect you will want to consider is to have someone who can watch the kids once in a while. This can be for emergencies or if you want to go out to have some fun. As a single mom most of your time is going to be focused around taking care of your kids. However, it’s good to take some time off and have a night to yourself. This will help you to recharge after a busy day of work and dealing with the kids. Also, if you happen to go out on a date, it frees you up to enjoy the evening.

Keep a Careful Eye on Finances

As a single mom, it can be difficult when it comes to money. Knowing what to spend your money on first while trying to save some can be a hard decision to make. One of the things you want to do is what you absolutely pay for first. This should be bills and groceries. Once you have paid for those, set some aside into a savings account. This way you’ll have a small nest egg in case a surprise payment pops up. If you have a little leftover after that, maybe do something nice for the kids.

You’re strong to be a single mom. You have to work constantly around the clock to provide for your children. Don’t be worried if you make mistakes at times. There is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders to make sure everything is running smoothly. As long as you keep things in order and have an action plan for when the worst happens, you’ll be better prepared. As a single mom you’re also setting a good example for your children by being a strong role model.




Dealing with Your Teenage Children

Dealing with Your Teenage Children

Teenagers are both a mystery and confusing. They’re not quite children anymore, but they’re also not adults. This transition from childhood to adulthood is a difficult and confusing time for them. Add this to all the raging hormones they have, and you have a recipe for disaster on your hands. Teenagers are not bad through and through, but they can be hard to deal with. So here are a few ways to deal with your teenage children.

Allow them to Pursue Outside Interests

Teenagers like to go off by themselves a lot. They do this because they’re not only trying to find themselves, but establish their own identity. One of the ways to help them through this is to encourage their outside interests. For example, maybe they have a passion for art, science, or maybe even writing. Find ways to get them more involved in these passions. Not only will this help them to focus more, but it will probably go towards helping them to deal with the stress of being a teenager. It’s not lie that teenagers go through a wide range of emotions during this time in their lives. So if they have an outlet for what they feel inside, let them pursue it.

Be up Front, But Firm

One of the things you’re going to start doing is to be up front with your teenager. They’re at the age now where they can easily tell if they’re being lied to. If you have something to tell them, just be direct about it. You also want to be firm when it comes to setting the ground rules with your teen. Also be sure why the rules are in place. Going with, “I’m your parent, I’m in charge,” bit isn’t going to work at this point. At least if you’re up front about why you’re doing what you do, and explain it, your teen has a better chance of understanding.

Be Reasonable, and Allow them to Give Input

At this point in your teen’s life they’re going to start questioning everything that’s around them. Of course, as the parent you are in charge. Your teen however will want to know how everything works in the household. Instead of shutting them down when they speak up, at least allow them to give their input on a situation. Give them the chance to be reasonable with you and offer alternatives. While you may not agree in the end, it at least shows your teen you’re listening to them and taking their thoughts into consideration.

Dealing with your teenage children can be difficult. They’ll have their times when they’re moody, friendly, or just downright don’t want to talk. At this stage in their life it helps to give them their space. Teens want to find themselves during this time, so allow them to do that. Encourage good behaviors and interests to help keep them occupied. It will also serve to give them a good push in the right direction.