Category: Tips + Tricks

Eliminating food dyes from your kids snacks? Start with these 3.

When it comes to treats and candy for our kids, we’ve always take a pretty common sense “everything in moderation” approach around here. Hey, we love candy! What’s a trip to the movie theater, a birthday party, or a special occasion lunchbox treat without some sweet stuff? We’re also fans of the 80/20 rule that a lot of families practice — eat well 80% of the time, and you can enjoy treats without guilt the other 20%. But even when it comes to candy, we still want to make the best choices we can for our families. And ourselves....

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Summer ice activities. They’re so hot right now.

During these dog days of summer, when there’s really no other word to describe the heat but “blergh,” we parents have to think way beyond the sprinklers and water balloons that we’ve been relying on to keep our kids cool (and occupied). It’s time to seriously up the ante with summer ice activities. And when we started looking around, we found some really creative, smart ideas. They’re science-y, pretty to look at, fun to play with, easy to clean up, and — importantly — chilly to the touch. Let’s do this. At top: Go Fish Water Play | Let...

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4 great websites and videos that teach kids how to tie knots. Road trip entertainment, check!

One of the items on my son’s bucket list this summer is to learn to tie a bowline, a half-hitch, and a square knot…with his eyes closed. They are requirements for his scouting program, but have easily become at-home entertainment for the whole family. They’re sneakily addictive! So, whether you’re trying to help your child finish up their Girl Scout or Boy Scout requirements, or you just want to pack a bag of paracord for an easy, unexpected, and really fun activity for your kids on a long road trip, here are 4 websites and YouTube videos that teach...

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Tips for getting a better night’s sleep: 8 tips you may not have tried.

What no one tells you about becoming a parent is the total and complete lack of sleep you’ll suffer. Sure, we all know it’s rough when they’re new babies. But, spoiler alert: It lasts way beyond the infant years. We know moms who can’t fall asleep because they’re worrying about their massive to-do lists, moms who can’t stay asleep because their hormones are totally whack post-baby, and moms who get woken up all hours of the night by their kids. And hey, dads aren’t immune from this either. While we can’t come by your house and force your child...

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Great fireworks photo tips to help make those shots Instagram-worthy

If you’re heading out to catch some fireworks on July 4, or any time this summer, check out Cool Mom Tech where we’ve got 10 photo tips for shooting fireworks, to keep you from coming home with a bunch of blurry blips in your camera roll. Whether you’re shooting with a DSLR, a point-and-shoot, or your trusty iPhone, find some smart pro advice as well as links to plenty of helpful fireworks photography posts on our favorite photo and tech blogs. And hey, if you shoot and share something amazing in the sky, tag us on Instagram @coolmompicks! That is,...

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Here’s why you may now need a passport to fly domestically, and how it impacts family travel.

If you’re a parent in Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania (sorry, Kristen!), South Carolina or Washington State, a simple family trip to visit the grandparents is about to get trickier. And a lot more expensive. All thanks to the REAL ID Act of 2005, which goes into effect this year. And it may impact even more states and US territories than that. If you’re not familiar with the REAL ID Act, just a little background: it’s a fairly controversial measure passed after 9/11, designed to establish federal standards for the issue of state IDs for entrance to federal facilities, and...

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8 important tips to help families store medicines safely from the kids | Sponsored Message

This is a sponsored message from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Educational Foundation While medicines help families feel better and stay well, it’s important to keep those bottles safe from curious kids. Wherever you may be. Every year, about 60,000 young kids are brought to emergency rooms because they got into medicines that had been left within their reach. With June being National Safety Month, and travel at its highest, Up and Away and Out of Sight is offering these 8 tips to help parents safely store medicines whether you’re on the go, or in your own home.  ...

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7 myths about lice that every parent should know. (And, apologies.)

Our household been through the dreaded lice (shudder) more times than I’d like to admit. The only good thing that’s come out of it — besides a wildly clean house — is enough knowledge about what works, what doesn’t, and which “guaranteed to eliminate lice” myth is not worth my time. So even while I’m itching just thinking about this, I’m happy to share a few essentials tips I’ve learned about lice, on behalf of our sponsor Licefreee, which has been a parent’s lifesaver for years. Let me assure you, there is a whole lot of time and money savings involved in getting...

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8 of the coolest summer water activities for your backyard. (Pool? What pool?)

Summer comes in two settings: Hotter and Hottest. That’s why we love these amazing summer water activities for the backyard that we found on some of our favorite sites around the web. I mean I know that for kids, a nice, cool pool is often the most hoped-for remedy; but for parents, we know it’s not always the easiest. Or the most practical. Between pool membership costs, carpooling conflicts, and let’s be honest, total lack of interest in fighting with some teenager who you catch trying to steal your lounge chair, hitting the local pool may not be in the cards...

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5 of the very best road trip tips from a mom of 4, to keep kids happy and parents sane. Mostly.

With summer almost here (yay!) we’re looking forward to road trip season in which many families, like mine, are packing up our cars for short jaunts or long rides together. Of course if you’ve ever taken a road trip with kids, you know that even a quick hop to a nearby beach can be an ordeal. Especially if you’re stuck alternating between driver, referee and food server the whole time. Good news! I’ve taken lots of road trips with lots of kids (I have four myself) and I can firmly attest that small changes make a big difference on a road trip. And our latest sponsor...

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After Manchester: Essential safety tips to discuss with your kids about crowds and separation

The second I saw those big pink balloons in early images flooding media from the Manchester Arena last night, without knowing a single other thing about the story, I thought, Oh my God…whatever happened, there are children there. It was a rough night for me, as I’m sure it was for all of you, and for parents around the world. It’s hard enough for us to process our own feelings as parents and as caring human beings when we hear about a terrorist attack, especially one that’s impacted so many children and families — let alone knowing we’re also going...

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You don’t know these 10 favorite household hacks of ours? Prepare for life to change!

As a busy parent, I rely heavily on household hacks. In fact, I would say just about everything I do around the house involves some sort of easy hack or trick or clever time-saver. But some tricks work better than others, and some you wouldn’t believe it until you see it (or try it), which is why I searched around the web and set out to put together this list of some our very favorite easy household hacks that every parent should know. From organizing all those keys to de-stinking shoes, you’ll find you can pull them off with things you probably already have at home,...

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How to get started with yoga when you feel like the last person to try it: 6 easy tips to help

If you’ve never tried yoga, I get it. I was there once too. From the outside, it either looks like a torturous exercise regimen for slender, flexible folks in really expensive stretch pants…or, a hippie-dippy religion that will demand veganism and colon cleansing. While the roots of yoga are tied in with a certain spirituality and mindfulness, just know that these are things you can embrace — or hey, reject! — on your own terms. Maybe yoga will be nothing more than having a good stretch a couple of times a week. Or, maybe you’re just looking for a solid hour of me-time when you can...

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8 tips and tricks you can start now to help your kids avoid the summer slide. Because, it’s coming.

Summer break will be here in just a minute, but there are some things you can start planning now to help make sure your kids don’t hit the summer slide on their reading and math skills over the break. Research shows that most kids lose about two months’ of learning over the summer — and have for the last 100 years or so. But by putting some simple (and, yes, even fun!) activities in place for the summer, you can help your kids retain what they’ve learned this year. We’ve polled everyone from teachers to administrators to BTDT parents to find...

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The quick-fix, natural bug bite remedy that really works. Really!

With the weather getting warming and my kids spending the afternoons playing outside, we’re starting to see a lot more bug bites on their tender, sensitive skin. Mean ones. The kind that turn bright red, itch like crazy, and keep them up at night. Ugh! But, I’ve found an incredibly easy, quick-fix, natural bug bite remedy that I’m itching (ha!) to share. Because, it really works! And you most likely already have everything you need to make it right in your pantry at home. Related: Your essential guide to the best, safe tick repellents for kids this spring. Because, eek. All you need...

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The one small spring cleaning task that makes a big difference

Spring cleaning can be a beast. Just the thought of getting everything tidier and cleaner — whatever shape your home is in now — can be so overwhelming, it can be hard to know where to start. So we reached out to household cleaning expert Dana K. White for some help. (She gets us! Hallelujah!) We asked Dana: If there is just one thing you absolutely must do when it comes to spring cleaning, what is it? Dana’s answer: Look up! If you do nothing else at all this spring, be sure to look up and knock dust down to the ground. This one...

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An updated comparison of our 13 favorite custom photo book services, for one of our all-time favorite gifts

Since one of our very favorite Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and teacher gifts are custom photo books, we thought it was about time to take a fresh look at our favorite custom photo book companies. There are now so many out there, it can be hard to choose one service over another. That’s where we come in! We’ve researched and tried dozens of them, and we’ve narrowed down 13 of our absolute favorites, with a few details on what makes each one special. So, if you’ve got a few thousand photos sitting on your laptop like we do, it might be time to...

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A clever idea to get kids in the kitchen on their own, no nagging (or even talking!) required.

My boys have been cooking alongside me ever since they were little. But now that they’re older and I’d love for them make their own breakfast, prep their own snacks, and put together their own lunches from time to time, I’m finding it harder to get them into the kitchen on their own. One issue might be that I call the kitchen my kitchen. That can’t help. Another issue may be all my yapping (that’s code for nagging). I want them to be autonomous, but it’s impossible not to chime in on everything from their snack choices to the kitchen rules, which they...

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Thoughtful ways to celebrate Mother’s Day when you really miss your mom.

My mother passed away exactly one year before my first child — her first grandchild — was born. While I miss her every day, it’s Mother’s Day that always seems to swoop in with a special kind of sucker punch. Each year, I take a deep breath and steel myself for all the gifts, cards, brunches. All the photos and Facebook posts. But, it’s not easy. It probably won’t ever be easy. Because, Mother’s Day celebrations without Mom are downright challenging. But, over the years, I’ve come up with some thoughtful ways to spend Mother’s Day without Mom, and through it all, have come...

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3 tips for keeping a gratitude journal with kids that’ll make them happier, healthier, and more thankful too

I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz lately about how transformative gratitude can be for your psyche. Studies are cropping up everywhere showing that being intentional about thankful has huge health benefits, from better sleep to less anxiety to rewiring your brain for positivity. And it even works with kids. So, last month, I decided to start a gratitude journal with my daughter. After just a few days, I noticed a big improvement in my daughter’s attitude. In fact, one night she told me, very simply, “I’m so glad we’re doing this. It makes me happy.” And no, I hadn’t pitched her on...

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7 important things to do before a career change or starting a business

As someone who left a full-time advertising career behind to become a writer, website publisher, and public speaker — all while raising tiny children, all while being the sole earner in my household  — I totally get how scary it is to change courses. It is! It’s scary! But, there are times that opportunities fall in your lap, passions make themselves known, and big dreams call so loudly, you just can’t ignore them. So, I’ve put together some of my own favorite real world tips for a few important things to do when you’re embarking on a career change or starting...

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Is my child gifted? Helpful advice and online resources from an educational expert.

I still remember when my son’s then first-grade teacher asked if they could test him for the gifted program in our school district. I looked at her and asked, “Are you sure?” I just thought my sweet, curious boy asked a lot of questions. Like, a whooooole lot. But gifted? Even after he was identified as qualifying for our program, navigating next steps was extremely challenging. I had to understand my rights with the GIEP (Gifted Individualized Education Plan); find him educational support outside of school; and then figure out how it would impact his siblings and whether they should be tested too....

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Go forth and reinvent! 10 terrific resources for women ready for a career change or entrepreneurship.

We know a little something about reinvention after motherhood and women entrepreneurs. Hey, Kristen did an entire TedX talk about it! And I’ve made a few career switches myself — finally landing on this sweet gig that Kristen and I created for ourselves. The best part is, Cool Mom Picks has allowed us to support so many other entrepreneurial women who have found themselves in similar situations, wanting to embark on a new business venture that will enable them to wake up every day feeling excited. Just like we do. So we’re always down to share any companies, organizations, or resources that for women entrepreneurs — and not just...

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5 really important automotive safety checks you should do yourself before getting on the road

Yes there are like so many holidays and official months, it can be hard to keep track. But one that makes a lot of sense to set a calendar alert for is National Car Care Month, which happens to be right now. You know how we all remember to change the batteries in our smoke alarms at the same time we change the clocks twice a year? Well, April is the perfect month each year to make sure your car is in safe running order before the summer travel season begins. That’s why we’re really glad to have a chance to talk...

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6 smart tricks to save you money at the grocery store every time

We are always on the lookout for tips and tricks to help us save money when we’re at the supermarket. Because really, who wouldn’t love to save a few bucks (or uh, a lot of bucks) on groceries? We all know about coupons and price comparing. But there are plenty of budget-conscious choices you can make while you’re shopping that you may not know. In fact, that’s something our sponsor ShopKick is all about. The free, super popular shopping rewards app just launched a brand new grocery feature that can help you earn free gift cards just for shopping at your local grocery store for the items...

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Coloring your child’s hair at home: Tips to make it hella easy.

I was so proud of myself, the first time my daughter wanted to color her hair at home and asked for a pink stripe in her hair. I did all the research (what’s easiest, safest, least messy ) and finally settled on dyeing it with…Kool-Aid. Good gravy, what a mistake! It burned, believe it or not, and just as bad, it hardly left behind any color. Then, I discovered one simple way to dye my kid’s hair at home, turning her into her version of a 21st century punk without the tears: Dye the ends of the hair only. Here’s why. Before you...

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Thinking about adopting? Here’s how to get started, from a parent who’s been through the journey.

If your family has been thinking about adopting, I’m here as a BTDT mom to help. This year, my family grew by one more child when my husband and I adopted our daughter, a spunky 2-year-old from South Korea. It feels like we’re experts on adoption at this point, having waited a full three years to get her home, but it doesn’t feel that long ago that we were totally clueless about where to start. I’m not going to lie, the process is long and bumpy. And it can be exhausting, both emotionally and physically. But without hesitation I’d highly recommend it to anyone who feels...

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The panicky mom’s guide to removing ticks from kids — yikes!

You may be wondering just how to remove ticks from your kids, should the need arise. And we don’t blame you one bit. With the warmer weather comes longer days spent outdoors and kids running barefoot in the yard. Also, increased warning about ticks and Lyme disease thanks to a booming tick population this spring. Eek! So to put anxious minds at ease — including our own — we’ve done the research for you and put together this handy guide to removing ticks from kids. Just know we’re not trying to set off any alarm bells here; please know that some experts put your children’s risk of getting...

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Huge EpiPen recall, parents: Check those expiration dates!

If you have a child or family member with food allergies (like I do) , you need to check those EpiPens. Like, right now! Mylan, the company that makes EpiPen, has issued a voluntary EpiPen recall of 13 lots of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr Auto-Injectors distributed in the U.S. The recall was actually expanded to the U.S. after a recall was issued outside the country because of two reported incidents where the device failed to activate. Related: The silver lining of the Mylan EpiPen price hike news, from a mom of a child with food allergies At the moment, the EpiPen recall is for...

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