Category: Tips + Tricks

17 fun rainy day indoor activities to keep kids happy and parents sane

It’s been a pretty mild winter for everyone this year, but the season isn’t over yet folks. In the words of the late, great Prince, “Sometimes it snows in April.” Plus, March comes in like a lion, and all that, so it will still be a bit longer before we’re in full on outdoor play mode. Whether it’s the cold, snow, or rain that has your kids stuck inside over the next couple of months, we’ve got your back with tons of fun rainy day indoor activities that can get you and the kids through the long hours. And still smiling at...

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An unexpected way to turn snack time into together time — even with older kids.

My kids are wiped when they get home from school. They always seem to need a snack to recharge and a bit of time to zone out before gearing up for the rest of their day, whether it be for basketball practice, homework, or just running around for some free play time. But because they are school-aged, that zone out time quickly turns into screen time. And you know what screen time for them means for me, right? (Hint: It involves screen time.) Suddenly, I found that in those first moments after school, we were all snacking and staring...

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6 celeb-worthy, creative birth announcement ideas for twins + multiples. We’ve got you covered, Beyoncé!

First Beyoncé and Jay Z, now the Clooneys and Madonna? In case you haven’t heard, twins are seriously hot right now. So I’ve rounded up some super creative birth announcement ideas for twins with a little extra oomph — for those of you lucky enough to be in on the doubles game. I had so much fun finding these adorable birth announcement photo ideas for twins and multiples making their red carpet debut, but hey…if you’re expecting just one baby this year (like me!), we’ve got you covered too. CMP is an rstyle affiliate At top: custom birth announcements by Todd Borka Related: 15 creative birth announcement ideas way...

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A complaint and compliment box: How this simple change could make your family life so much happier

I recently finished reading How to Win as a Step-Family (great book for blended families, by the way), and one of the suggestions they made to help family morale was a complaint and compliment box where everyone can air their grievances and share encouraging words in a safe way. And so, I decided to give it a whirl with our new family of six, though you certainly do not need to be a blended family to try it out. In fact, I totally suggest you do, no matter your family size or structure. CMP is an rstyle affiliate Related: A simple way to...

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Dr. Harvey Karp answers parents’ biggest sleep questions. Yes! | Spawned ep 68

On this week’s episode of the Spawned podcast, we are excited to welcome Dr. Harvey Karp, of Happiest Baby on the Block fame, though he virtually needs no introduction. We’re so excited he joined us to answer some of parents most difficult questions about sleep, whether they’ve got newborns or, uh…tweens. We appreciate his common sense, non-judgmental approach to sleep, not to mention some of the tips that saved our own lives when we were new parents. (If you know his genius 5 S’s, you know just what we mean.)   Listen now! And don’t forget to subscribe to Spawned with Kristen...

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We’ve got 24 cheap and easy ideas for date night at home. Because shockingly, parents can’t always get out.

We’re all about trying to find enjoyable, cheap and easy ideas for date night at home, especially for those of us with kids who’d like a little extra help rekindling that proverbial spark when we’re stuck sans sitter. Even if it’s just a few hours off from actually being parental, it can make a big difference. But of course, when you’re a busy parent, Valentine’s Day (especially on a Tuesday night) won’t generally involve Dom Perignon, dry-aged steak, and the penthouse suite of the Mandarin-Oriental, am I right? So check out these ideas instead that you can actually pull off without a whole lot...

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How children can write letters to the president: An American tradition

Children writing to our president and the First Family has always been a wonderful and important tradition. And with the inauguration of a new White House resident today, this is a great time to get kids thinking about their own hopes, their concerns, the issues that are on their minds, and letting them write to the president about them. In our weekly link roundup post this week, we linked to an NPR article about the number of letters from children that President Obama will continue to answer, even after today. Some favorite letters I’ve seen: The girl who wanted advice about getting a nose...

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This supermarket shopping tip could save you a lot of money

We’ve featured lots of supermarket shopping tips here because who doesn’t love to say a little money? But here’s a tip for one our favorite grocery stores that you might not know about, and it just so happens to be at one of our favorite grocery stores, Trader Joe’s. Now, you might be thinking it’s their generous return policy, which yes, is so, so awesome, but nope, that’s not it! This little-known trick would will actually save you time and money, before you even leave the store. And if you don’t shop at Trader Joe’s, keep your eye out on...

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Retail is for suckers! Save money shopping online with these expert tips and resources | Spawned Ep 60

After ten years of browsing retailers for a living, putting together shopping guides of all kinds (like Holiday Gift Guides, ahem) and getting to know the ins and outs of online shopping, we thought it would be helpful to devote an entire episode of Spawned to all of our favorite smart money-saving tips and tricks, apps and websites that we’ve discovered work best for us. You’ll hear lots of expert tips we’ve shared over the years with national newspapers, magazines, and on programs like The TODAY Show — plus brand new ones that you may never have considered. Listen right now (this very second!) through the link...

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10 simple ways to find more time in a busy day. No magic required.

We would probably all love an extra hour in the day. Or two. Or six. Especially with the busy holiday season upon us right now. But since we’re not magicians and we don’t own a time machine (yet), the only way we’ll be able to find extra time is if we take a good look at how we’re spending the 24 hours we already have. And no, losing more sleep is not a reasonable option. That’s why I’m so pleased to present our newest sponsor Allstate and their new, free QuickTrip app, which is designed to maximize your time by organizing your to-do...

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The last-minute Thanksgiving help: Everything you need including recipe help, drinks, decor, printables + crafts for the kids. No go forth and be thankful!

If you’re like me and Thanksgiving totally snuck up on you this year (seriously, today?), fear not! The CMP team has been hard at work for weeks now, sharing the most helpful resources and great advice to help you master the big day. From the most foolproof turkey roasting tutorials (and who to call when…uh, if they go wrong), pie recipes to live for, and the most fun printables to keep kids busy and entertained, we’ve got it all right here. And hey, if you’re desperate for just some Thanksgiving relative survival tips (for humans, not turkeys), we’ve got you covered with that in the...

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Beyond thank you and please: 7 manners all kids should learn for holiday entertaining (and that we’re not all teaching)

Please and thank you — important stuff, right? I’ve always believe that courteous kids grow into nice adults and we all need more nice in the world these day. But that’s not where etiquette begins and ends. So with the holidays here, and lots of entertaining and mingling coming up on our calendars, we’ve started talking in our home about some of the manners that we want our kids to know, so they can be fantastic guests and hosts. I’m sharing them here with the hope that maybe our ideas will help some of you too. Top: Please and Thank You poster at TanyaGDesign on Etsy I know...

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10 fun ideas for holiday traditions you can start with your family right now

One of our most favorite parts of the holidays (no, not presents, though we like those too) are the family traditions we celebrate year after year. There’s just something so special about looking forward to our annual holiday rituals, whether they started spontaneously one year and just kept going, or they’ve been passed down through the generations. If you’re like us, one of the best ever holiday traditions for families is to snuggle up and watch your favorite seasonal movies and television shows, which is something our newest sponsor Amazon Studios knows a whole lot about. Their two newest holiday specials, If You Give...

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10 essential kitchen safety rules to set, that keep little cooks safe in the kitchen.

We’re big fans of pulling kids into the kitchen early and often. But that also means setting kitchen safety rules for kids — and for you. Not just because it keeps them safe (though that’s obviously the most important thing), but because it’s the essential foundation of learning vital cooking skills that they can use for a lifetime. And hey, it also lets them help us out around the kitchen too. The way we see it, there’s no reason why kids as young as 5 years old can’t help make their own school lunch or even help cook breakfast on busy weekday mornings....

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What to do with leftover Halloween candy: 10 creative ideas besides you know, just eating it.

We’re always happy to offer up parents lots of ideas for what to do with all that leftover Halloween candy you’ll surely end up with. Well, at least after the small gorge-fest that your trick-or-treaters may be entitled to after all their hard work. So I’ve put together some crafts, causes, recipes, and even experiments you can do with leftover Halloween candy that are just as much satisfying as eating it all. Well, kind of. Top Photo: Sam Howzit on Flickr via Compfight cc 1. Donate Halloween Candy to a Good Cause One of our favorite ways to get candy out of the house is to send...

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Safe sleep for babies: 5 reliable sources on SIDS and more, so you can sleep better too.

In honor of SIDS Awareness Month, we’re sharing five of our go-to, reliable resources on safe sleep for babies. After all, sleep is easily the topic that consumes our minds as new parents more than any other — Are they getting enough sleep? Do I really need a schedule? Is my crib okay? Is my mattress okay? Are bumpers actually unsafe? Can they sleep with me? What happens if the baby rolls over onto her stomach?  We get it. It’s stressful! So we really hope these resources help new parents get the info and the reassurances we all need, so we can hopefully rest just...

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7 tips to help kids walk to school safely. Because October 5 shouldn’t be the only Walk to School Day!

Back in my school day, my mom let me walk alone to school, my friends’ homes, and the pizzeria by the time I was 10 years old. (Uphill, both ways, and barefoot, no less.) Fast forward to me as a parent and I admit my own kids — now ages 12 and 9 — have never walked anywhere on their own. One reason is that their school is much too far from home. The other reason is what’s a common cultural fear these days of letting our kids out into the world by themselves. Even though research shows that kids are actually safer today than ever. With the 20th...

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Sleep anxiety in kids: 5 solutions for big kid sleep issues that really work

I still remember celebrating when I was finally out of the baby and toddler no-sleep days, only to discover that I had a big kid with sleep anxiety. Once I realized the incentive of Star Wars Legos wasn’t keeping him in his bed through the night, I knew it was a bigger problem than a normal behavioral issue. My son, now 9, has quite an overactive brain, which makes it terribly hard for him to fall asleep. And then, if he wakes up in the middle of the night, he can’t fall back asleep unless he’s with me. In my bed. Over...

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5 tips for getting back into the workplace after kids… and finding balance after you do: Tips from Samantha Ettus

As many moms who have done it before (including us!) can attest, re-entering the workforce after taking time off for kids, whether it’s been six months or sixteen years, is no easy feat. You may have taken a break from your career for personal reasons, financial reasons, more flex-time, or just some much-needed extended time off, but either way, we know it can be a huge source of frustration trying to get back in the game and reestablish yourself as a professional, once you’ve been “mommytracked.” (And man, don’t you hate that term?) So we reached out to Cool Mom Picks friend...

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5 simple tips to help parents prevent and deal with bullying. We get it. We’ve been there. And it sucks.

Bullying is nothing new. Unfortunately. And I still have the emotional scars from 7th grade to prove it. But for our 21st century kids, bullying is only amplified with the lively presence of social media in all our kids’ lives, meaning now bullying that once happened mostly in school can follow a child home 24/7. The first time my daughter came home crying because another girl made fun of her T-shirt, I felt deflated. Not just as a mother feeling helpless, but because the feelings of hurt I experienced in my own childhood came flooding back to me. I’m sure a lot of you can relate....

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8 fun, not over-the-top, pregnancy announcement ideas beyond waving the stick in the air

Yes, we know — announcing a pregnancy used to mean making a phone call to your parents, or maybe having a dinner if you wanted to go big. But now, so many couples are looking for creative ways to announce a pregnancy and, I get it. Especially as someone who’s now expecting for the first time. (Whoo!) I know how hard it was keeping the big secret under wraps for those long, long first 12 weeks — partly due to my own excitement, and partly due to the fact that I’ve never been known to turn down wine at a dinner party. (Dead giveaway.)...

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5 tested tips for handling separation anxiety, from parents who have been there too

I know a little something about dealing with separation anxiety when it comes to young kids and school. Back when my kids were in preschool, this was my routine: drop them off at the classroom, peel around the corner and press my back against the wall, then wait — sometimes two minutes, sometimes ten minutes — until they stopped crying.  Sometimes I cried too. Separation anxiety is exhausting and heartbreaking and, yes, even sometimes a bit frustrating. If you’re in the middle of it right now, know you’re not alone. We’ve been there — some of us still are there — and...

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How to talk about safety with kids: Why we talk about tricky people and not stranger danger.

In an increasingly connected world, we parents can feel overwhelmed about making sure our kids are protected and knowing how to talk to kids about safety, strangers, and all that other stuff that we wish we didn’t have to. We know it can be tough. While keeping our kids safe is a huge priority for all parents, we also want them to experience the beautiful freedom of childhood, and the ability to run and play and make friends without fear. So how do we all balance those two? We’re here to help. Related: Letting your kids play outside alone or walk to school: Is it bad for...

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Breastfeeding at work: 7 tips to help nursing moms make the transition

When I returned to work while breastfeeding my first daughter, I found myself sorely unprepared for everything it entailed. I can’t even begin to convey the frustration I experienced — though I’m sure a lot of you know just what I’d been through. Add that to sleep deprivation and it was a very difficult time for me. Cue crying behind my closed office door. Looking back, I realize there’s more I could have done prior to going back to work, to make the transition a whole lot easier. (Ah, hindsight, right?) Plus, now that there are so many more workplaces doing more for working...

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7 fun handwriting practice printables for kids, from pre-k to teen. It’s not just worksheets!

We’ve always made it our mission to encourage kids to keep the art of handwriting alive, and to help parents looking to do the same. So we’ve put together some really terrific handwriting practice printables for kids of all ages. Yes, even teens. (We can tear them away from those keyboards sometimes, you know.) Essentially, it’s all about finding ways to get kids to write, whether it’s basic worksheets for preschoolers, or opportunities to write stories, comics, even create a typeface of their own. And we’re so happy to bring you this post on behalf of our partner BIC, who’s been our fantastic...

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7 tricks to help kids pack their own school lunches. As in, them, not you!

We’re all for making those crazy school mornings as un-crazy as possible, which is why we’re big fans of having our kids pack their own lunches the night before. Yes, even our little ones! It can be done, promise. Not only does having kids pack their own lunches give you one less thing to do yourself (whoo!), but it’s a smart way to ensure they’ll actually eat what’s in their lunch box. And if they don’t, well, there’s no blaming you for that too-ripe banana or the strawberry yogurt they devoured yesterday, but claim they don’t like today.   We’re thrilled to get to bring you our top...

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19 random acts of kindness you can have fun doing with your kids

There have been a lot of hard things in the news this year, and I think we can all agree we need a little more happy in our lives. So when a friend told me that her kids found $5 and a note to buy some candy “on us” tucked into her movie rental (yes, some people still rent DVDs!), I got inspired. What simple, random acts of kindness could I do with my kids to help other people have a happier day too? We’ve collected some of our favorite ideas here — from nice things you can do for strangers to...

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5 benefits of breastfeeding for moms, that we should be talking about more

Like many moms who choose to breastfeed, I was fairly aware of the benefits of breastfeeding my first baby well before I started. But I actually didn’t know how many benefits there would be for me too, at least until I was pretty far along into nursing my first baby. The more I think about it, the more I realize how much it would have helped me to focus on those upsides during those early days and months when, admittedly, I was struggling a bit. And that goes for my second, third and fourth babies. (That’s me with number two up in the photo above. So cute!)   Our newest...

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10 cool nighttime activities for kids that let you be the fun parent

With the kids out of school and the days so much longer, I’ve been trying to make summer extra fun for them, which means extending bedtimes way past their normal time and heading out for nighttime adventures. Seriously, there are so many fun things to do with kids when it’s dark (even though admittedly, I find them sleeping soundly in their beds very fun. Ha). As a glasses wearer, this has all been made so much easier for me thanks to our newest sponsor, ZEISS DriveSafe, which can actually give you better vision at night. I’m not sure if it’s my age (cough 40 cough) or...

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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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