Category: Tips + Tricks

7 expert tips for decluttering kids rooms when all else has failed

Let’s be real: kids’ room clutter is the gift that keeps on giving. And it’s not just kids’ bedrooms that are problems — we always find the need to declutter our entryways, the kitchen, the bathroom, the garage, the area around the TV, every corner of every room…you get it. And if you live in a smaller space (hello, city living), the clutter can seem ten-fold. So we’ve been looking for some easy ways to declutter kids’ rooms, which makes for a perfect summer project, as you get a respite from all the classwork and art projects coming home each day. We spoke with Emma Gordon,...

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Common mistakes parents make when applying sunscreen on kids and how to fix them.

With four outdoor-loving kids and lots of pool and beach time on our calendar this summer, you can bet I am always stocking up on sunscreen. I’m pretty careful about when and how I slather it on, too, which is why I was surprised to see that I was making a few very common mistakes when it comes to applying sunscreen to kids. Ack. If you’re going to be applying sunscreen to kids — and hopefully yourself — this summer, you’ll want to check these common mistakes parents make and what to do about them. No need to feel guilty; just...

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5 free summer reading challenges for kids. Prizes included!

Even though I’ve got a couple of avid readers in my house, I’m always looking for ways to continue to encourage them to pick up a book. Thankfully, there are no shortage of summer reading challenges that offer kids a little incentive for their participation. Whether you’re trying to give your reluctant reader a little motivation summer, or just want something to reward your voracious book lover, here are 5 free summer reading challenges for kids that you’ll want to check out, all of which offer participants prizes. Related: 3 simple tips from LeVar Burton to get your kids...

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26 of the best car games and activities to keep kids happy without screens.

I was one of those parents who insisted that I’d raise the kind of kids who would play fun, screen-free car games on our family road trips, or perhaps watching the world whiz by while asking intelligent questions about all the sites and sounds around them. Sound familiar? Yeah. Well after one particularly long road trip, I quickly learned that sometimes screens are really, really useful for making an endless drive feel… not so endless. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve totally surrendered to the lure of electronics. There are times when all the screens need to go off so we can discover other ways to...

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A new company dedicated to products that addresses the problems all parents have.

We love tips and hacks to help parents manage that not always fun job of parenting. And now there’s a mom-and-dad run company so committed to it, they’re creating products that bring to life those age-old parental tricks with modern design. The Doin’ Time Family Clock is the one of the three products from N+B that seems most useful to me. It provides magnetic tabs to help kids not only learn time the old-fashioned analog way, but to show them just when they should be doing what to get out of the house or to bed on time. I know I’ve tried many variations...

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15 simple, possibly unexpected ways parents can connect with their tween or teen

We all heard that raising tweens and teens are hard, but now, here we are ourselves with a few on our hands, and doing our best to navigate the challenges of parenting them. Whether you’re in the throes of it yourself, are approaching it rapidly, or just want to get a head start, we’re hoping you’ll appreciate this week’s Spawned with Kristen and Liz, in which we tackle this tough topic — with as much of a sense of humor as we can. And uh, quite a few words you may or may not feel comfortable using around the kids. Listen now, maybe after...

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Budget family travel tips: 5 smart do’s and don’ts to save you a ton on your next family vacation

A few months ago, I decided I wanted to celebrate my 40th birthday with a big trip, but whoa, family vacations are certainly not cheap! Especially when you’re traveling with kids — or in my case, four of them. Even though I’d been saving for a while, I was determined to keep my spending down as much as I could. After scoring a great deal on plane tickets (hooray for off-season vacations), I did some research to figure out how I could stick within my vacation budget while still having a great time. And, it worked! So I’ve put together 5 simple do’s...

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6 clever ways to get your reluctant reader to love reading

Not too long ago, I realized my 8-year-old son was a reluctant reader. He’s a perfectly good reader, but would rather do just about anything but read. And that’s a particular sore spot for me, because there are few things I’d rather do more than sit down with a good book. In fact, I often lament how little time I do have to read. My son is fortunate enough to have an incredibly intuitive teacher who noticed, like I had, that he was a very capable reader, just not an interested one. So when she called me one day to...

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6 smart tips to help prevent distracted driving and make car rides safer for families

With the busy travel season upon us and so many families planning spring and summer road trips, keeping our kids safe while we’re driving and preventing distracted driving is a huge concern of ours. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to be on a long haul to to the beach or the mountains to be easily distracted; most of us are still getting phone calls, text messages, and those non-digital requests for snacks from the backseat, even when we’re just playing chauffeur to and from after-school activities. That’s why we’re pleased to help spread the word about the new #TravelSafe campaign from...

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21 inspired ideas for a two-hour date night

If we hear one more relationship expert tell us that busy parents need to make time for date night we’re going to…listen. It’s true. We know it. Whether you’re working on keeping your relationship fresh or starting a new one, making time for dates is important. Relationships are so much stronger when we have even a little time away from the craziness of the household, connecting over something besides the kids’ homework and household chores. But we also recognize that sometimes we don’t really plan dates like we should, because we hear the word DATE and it’s like OMG I HAVE TO PLAN...

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10 super simple tips for modeling healthier behavior for your kids.

We admit it, we’re not always the perfect models of healthy behavior. And we know our kids take in eeeeverything. But old habits die hard, whether it’s making a few questionable food choices in front of our kids (ahem), or driving two blocks to the store when we totally could have walked. (Come on, suburban parents, admit it — who’s done it?) That’s why we’re happy to team up with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. It’s providing health and wellness solutions to schools across America, and working to increase school breakfast awareness and participation, so that more kids can start their day with the fuel they need to...

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Stand up straight! 5 simple ways to improve your posture

I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m tall or because I sit hunched over a computer all day long, but I have terrible posture. This isn’t necessarily a new discovery, but what is new to me is how much bad posture can actually affect your stress levels — something I learned as part of our sponsor Aetna’s Month of Mindfulness #Mindful30 challenge. Yikes! Like it’s not bad enough that I realize I look bad slouching in pictures, now it’s contributing to stress? So for my 3rd challenge, they asked me to focus on “perfecting my posture,” and boy, did I need...

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Decluttering tips from 5 top organization experts: Which is best for you? | Spawned Episode 29

I fully admit that home organization is the bane of my existence. If you’re a hard-core reader of this site or a listener of the Spawned podcast then you know that while Kristen is an avid purger, I’m what I like to think of, fondly, as a Nostalgic Hoarder. It’s like not you’re going to find me one day, buried under 25-year old newspaper clippings, old coffee cans and pounds of cat hair. But I do have trouble getting rid of my kids’ early doodles (they’re so sweet!); birthday cards from every relative ever (maybe my kids will want...

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Meditation for parents: 5 easy ways to make it work for you

If you’re following along with me this month, you know I’m trying to make some positive changes in my life related to stress, something I’ve been struggling with both emotionally and physically for quite a while now. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been participating in Aetna’s Month of Mindfulness challenge, and wow, it’s definitely giving me the extra push I’ve been needing to reflect on what’s really going on in my life and what I can do to fix it. Hopefully I’m not alone in this and you’ve decided to join me. My first challenge was  5 tips and...

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11 fun things to learn to do that will make you coolest parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent ever.

As your kids get older, you realize you don’t have to ply them with gifts or offer extra ice cream at dessert just to be The Cool Parent. (And despite what you may have learned from Amy Poehler in Mean Girls, you don’t have to serve them cocktails with umbrellas, either.) Sometimes it’s just the little things you do, or those tricks you pull out of your hat on a rainy day that give you one more parenting win, just when you really need it. So while yes, parents prioritize those important skills like CPR and knowing how to cut the...

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Becoming more mindful: 5 things you can do right now.

Last week, I wrote pretty candidly about the stress in my life and how it’s been affecting me both emotionally and physically, so it’s probably no surprise that one of my New Year’s resolutions (yes, I really do make them!) is to do something about stress in 2016. It’s one thing to know you have stress and to be able to identify your symptoms, but it’s another thing to really make necessary changes to your lifestyle. So I’m grateful for our partner Aetna’s A Month of Mindfulness 30-day challenge, which is giving me the push that I need to reflect on what’s been going on in my...

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The top 10 Cool Mom Picks posts of 2015: From kitchen shortcuts to cool gifts to parenting tips of all kinds.

We admittedly get a little nostalgic looking back through our entire calendar year worth of posts each December to see which ones most resonated with our readers. All we can say is, looking at the top ten posts of the year? You all have great taste! Now we do have super popular posts from our archives that include the best gifts for 8 year old boys, the best gifts for a 4 year old, Minecraft birthday party ideas, funny, creative DIY Halloween costumes for babies (those still make us laugh), and lots of rainbow loom patterns.  Plus we’re so happy to see that...

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Stress and Parenting: A Confession

Hi, I’m Kristen and I’m stressed out. Why is it hard to admit that? As if I’m somehow not as competent or together as I’m supposed to be, whatever that means. Yes, I’m a single mom with four kids and my own business, so you might say, well duh, but I think it’s something we all face, whatever our work, living, or parenting situations. And it’s all okay — you don’t have to feel guilty about your own parent-related stress, even if you think someone else “has it harder” or is going through something more intense. It’s a relative thing...

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Fun holiday party ideas that we put to use at our our own Cool Mom Picks shindigs this season.

We had the best time over the past month, partnering with Amazon Free Time to throw a couple of fun press and blogger holiday cocktail parties in Philly and Atlanta. Our aim was to give parents a little more me time (Get it? Free Time for me time?) in a completely adults-only environment. Remember that? Of course the great company and the chance to meet some of our favorite publishers and editors from around the country was the absolute highlight. But we thought we’d share some other fun things we did that could inspire some fun holiday party ideas for your own gatherings this season....

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The ultimate guide to last-minute Thanksgiving Day help: Tasty recipes, drinks, printables, decor ideas, family activities, helpful apps, and more!

If you need some last-minute Thanksgiving Day help, we’re here for you! Because whoa, how did it get to be Thanksgiving week already? To make your Thanksgiving Day prep a little more manageable, we compiled some of the best Thanksgiving Day ideas from cool printables and crafts for the kids, decor ideas for the kids’ table, tons and tons (and tons) of recipes, even apps that could save your turkey — or just your sanity. We hope these ideas help you on your way to an incredible, stress-free Thanksgiving filled with laughter, love, and full bellies. We’d just suggest that if you’re cooking, start...

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How to talk to your children about the tragedy in Paris: Excellent resources to help parents, teachers and other caregivers, because we sure need it right now.

It’s been a somber mood around here, as our hearts go out to the people of Paris. We each have been hoping and praying for peace for humanity in our own ways, and this image from French artist Jean-Julien, which you’ve probably seen by now, has captured the sentiment so simply and beautifully. As someone who lived through 9/11 in New York, I admit I am having a very difficult time with this. It’s hard enough to process the horror and inhumanity of it all, but what’s different this time — even though it’s 3600 miles away and not just a...

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9 smart ways to organize video game controllers and reclaim your home at last!

It’s about this time every year that we need to ramp up our efforts to get our homes organized and looking awesome for holiday guests. It’s like, what the heck happened to all that spring cleaning I did six months ago? Yeah, well, welcome to parenthood. And one of the organizing solutions that can be the biggest bane for families is all those gadgets, video games and controllers; especially if you know that a few more of them may end up in your homes around oh…say, December or so? So we’re really happy, on behalf of our sponsor, the brand new VTech InnoTV,...

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Simple tips for staying healthy if you sit at a desk all day long

If you spend many hours of the day sitting at a desk or working in front of a computer like we do, then you know how tough it can be on your back, your neck, and uh…even your waistline. But there are actually things — really easy things — that you can do to make your work day easier on your body and to help keep you healthier. We’re partnering with FUTURO Legwear who knows a bit about this whole topic. Their Graduated Compression Legwear helps to reduce swelling and improve circulation, as well as keep you comfortable while your legs are stuck under...

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20 awesome last-minute Halloween buys you totally need this week

If you’re like me, Halloween week is one of those weeks that you’re hitting stores far more than usual, whether it’s for last minute treats, decorations, or that one element of your kid’s costume that gah, you totally forgot about. Even though it’s been on your to-do list for weeks. Because, life. So one of the reasons we’re glad to welcome back our fantastic partner the Amex EveryDay Credit Card, is that they help parents make the most of those kinds of everyday purchases. In fact, if you remember to use this no-annual-fee credit card instead of cash or a debit card — even for the little stuff...

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5 smart, simple, pediatrician-recommended winter skin care tips for babies and kids.

With cold weather pretty much here for lots of us, and on the way for the rest of us (wah!), this is the time of year we start getting more reader questions about baby and kids’ skincare. I know it’s hard to weed through all the info; I’m sure you’ve read all sorts of things about what to do, what not to do, which of those lotions and potions in your medicine cabinet to use, and how to differentiate a minor skin issue from something that might require more attention If you’re like me, by the time you figure out what you’re...

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Showing your thanks: 5 simple tips for making military care packages more personal

When my kids’ father was deployed for a few months to Afghanistan, I put together several military care packages filled with fairly typical items. Don’t get me wrong, they were definitely very appreciated by his unit! But it wasn’t until he returned home that I got the inside scoop on what soldiers really want in a military care package. Because this is so personal for me, and for several of our writers with military families, I’m really happy to have the opportunity to share some tips and tricks for how to make a military care package more personal, whether it’s for a family member,...

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Tips for building an emergency fund, and why it’s so important for parents.

We’ve been really pleased to get so much great feedback from you all when we post about financial matters, from budget tips to college savings.  As parents, it’s one of our (many, many) jobs to be as financially prepared as possible– not just for all the awesome exciting stuff, but sometimes, for the not-so-great stuff too. Hey, adulting is hard! Which is why every financial expert will tell you to be sure you have an emergency fund, and we couldn’t agree more. So we’re thrilled to be working with Upromise by Sallie Mae and the new Upromise GoalSaver account, a completely no-fee, no minimum balance savings...

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5 brilliant hacks for easier mornings with kids, from a mom of 4 who knows what she’s talking about.

Today on the TODAY Show, our own Kristen, co-publisher, editor, and single mom of four extraordinaire shared some of her best tips for making mornings easier with kids, staying organized, and getting her kids to help out more around the house.  I will tell you I get some of my own best tips from Kristen, so I’m thrilled she got to share them with zillions of parents on TV this morning. (Plus, we’re always so happy when Cool Mom Picks gets to come back to the TODAY show. We love them  so much!) If you’re looking for more info on the tips and products...

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11 natural cold and flu remedies for kids that can help them feel better faster

Fall may be our favorite season — with its cooler temperatures, hot coffees, and the chance to laugh at pumpkin spice everything. But cold and flu season most definitely is not our favorite. A few of us have already been feeling the sniffles, so we’ve put together 11 great natural cold and flu remedies for kids, that we all tend to turn to before heading the medicine route. The other thing we tend to do that’s all natural? Get out our thermometers to make sure our kids aren’t just faking their symptoms to get out of school. (Ha.) Fans of Cool Mom Tech know that...

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9 smart tips for starting a budget. And even better, sticking to it.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know! How many times have we heard those words coming out of our parents’ mouths, and now these days, coming out of own mouths when talking to our kids about spending? Funny how that happens, right? But the lesson behind the old saying is an important one: Be careful how you spend your money; there’s a limited supply. And it’s why creating a budget — and sticking to — is so important. We’ve partnered with You Need a Budget (clever name, right?), which is a cool little mom-and-pop company we like because they were started by two smart parents,...

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