Alpha Mom http://alphamom.com parenting and pregnancy opinions and information Thu, 30 Jul 2015 14:30:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.6 Fun Back-to-School Door Hanger Printables! http://alphamom.com/family-fun/back-to-school-door-hanger-printables/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/back-to-school-door-hanger-printables/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 14:30:16 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=37999

As summer vacation winds down and the new school year looms near for some parts of the country, we’ve started preparing.  First up, we’ve created some Back-to-School door hangers perfect for getting into the studying mode. (You know it’s been a long summer when homework starts to sound like it might be fun.)

Fun Back-to-School Door Hanger Printables! by Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

Or maybe decorating your door handle is fun. Either way, we’ve got some free printables for you if you’re getting into the Back-to-School spirit, too.  Our printables are below.  Just click to download, print, cut, fold in half and hang on your door! We used regular printer paper and double-stick tape to keep the sides together but card stock would work well.

Back-to-School Door Hangers Printables

Shhh! I’m studying (But I won’t say no to Snacks)

Shhh! I’m studying (for those who aren’t allowed to have snacks in their room)

Do Not Disturb I’m reading a Book.

and lastly,  (just for fun):

Housekeeping please!

Fun Back-to-School Door Hanger Printables! (Housekeeping please!) by Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

May they make your school year smoother!

 

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To Move or Not To Move (And What To Say To Your Kids) http://alphamom.com/parenting/moving-what-to-say-to-kids/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/moving-what-to-say-to-kids/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:23:12 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=38106

Hi Amy,

You’ve answered my questions in the past with great advice. I’m hoping maybe you can help with this question as well.

I am a loyal reader of your blog and know that you and you husband are thinking about moving. I currently live in Southeastern PA, just north of Philadelphia with my husband and 2 kids (1 & 3.5 years old. We have been here for 4 years and have no family in the area and a limited support network of friends) but am originally from near Syracuse NY. I have just received a job offer that would allow us to move back to NY and live in the same city as my family (yay for a support system!). We are leaning heavily towards going . The job would start the first week in August which would give us just about one month to pack everything and move. We would probably live with my parents for a month or 2 before settling into our own house\apt.

So here come my questions. How do I go about telling my 3 year old and when? Will it be bad to live with my parents and then essentially move again in 2 months? Is that totally going to mess with the kids? How will you deal with it if/when you and your family move?

Looking forward to any advice you have you offer.

-Country road, take me home

I’m sorry this answer is coming so close to your target move date, so close it might render itself officially useless, since I imagine you’ve chosen a course of action by now. And are likely well into the moving process, if not through it completely.

But back when I first received your question I was at a complete loss on how to answer, because we were also flailing around in a “should we move? should we not?” limbo and were DEFINITELY not ready to bring the subject up with our kids. I had no advice to give, other then I think you should take the job, make the move, and let things shake out however they shake out.

Here’s what we did right, I THINK:

1) We reminded ourselves (over and over and over) that kids are resilient. Moving can be a stressful and scary thing, but families do it all the time, for a bajillion million reasons.

2) We avoided talking about the subject in front of the kids while it was still a “maybe” or a “what if.” There was no sense in them overhearing us talk about it in the abstract.

3) This is more applicable to kids older than yours, but once we more or less made up our minds about moving, we took the boys on a day trip to our potential new area and made it an extra positive experience. A DVD on the drive up! Hot dogs with fries for lunch! Playgrounds! Throwing rocks in a creek! Buying LEGO at a funky little toy store, then ice cream cones! They (naturally) were all, “AGAIN! AGAIN!” as soon as we got home. That’s the opening we used to introduce the idea of living there all the time.

Here’s what we did kind of wrong:

1) We had one talk with all three kids, mostly aimed at our 6 and 9 year old. Our newly-turned 4 year old, unfortunately, was not really following the conversation but gleaned just enough to get completely freaked out.

The older boys needed ALL the information. They wanted to understand the moving process and what exactly was going to happen every step of the way. From us getting our house ready to sell, to the stages of the sign in the yard (Coming Soon, For Sale, Under Contract, Sold) — they wanted all of that explained. Our little one did not need this overwhelming amount of detail, and couldn’t understand most of it. (Me describing an Open House = him thinking a whole bunch of scary strangers would come into his house, play with his toys, and NEVER LEAVE.)

We had a redo, though. and NOW I’m confident he understands what’s happening in a less scary way. So with your little ones, go easy. Don’t inundate them with a ton of information about what’s going to happen (especially since there are so many unknowns) and focus on what’s a constant: Mommy and Daddy love you and we’re all staying together.

Once we had a contract on our new house, I created a personalized book for him via TwigTale called “Ike is Moving.” TOTALLY recommend this! TOTALLY wish I’d known about this service for all the other Big Life Moments in their lives, like new babies and schools and potty training!

(Note that I used a promo code for a free book given to me by Isabel of Alpha Mom, not as any sort of sponsorship/ad deal, but just because she thought I might find it helpful for poor little Ike. There was no obligation to recommend or even mention it.)

I uploaded photos of us, our pets, our current house and his new one and tweaked the script of the book (which was written by a childhood development expert) just enough to be relevant to our family’s situation and his particular fears. It arrived super-quickly (whew!) and Ike was absolutely delighted by it. (He’s the star! There’s his room! There’s his new swing set at the new house!) It doesn’t shy away from the fact that moving involves a lot of “goodbyes” but is honest, upbeat and reassuring. I think a similar book would be GREAT for your 3 year old. Get your parents to send some photos of their house and them and incorporate that into the book.

(I’d leave out the part about moving AGAIN in a month or two for now. Again, toddlers and young preschoolers will get information overload. Do another book or your own photo scrapbook once you find a more permanent housing situation and present that then.)

A big move into temporary quarters isn’t ideal, but I certainly wouldn’t turn down a great job and a move back to a support system just because it’ll required a month or two of time with Grandma and Grandpa. Go back to Number 1: Kids are resilient. You’ll get through this. You’re just doing what’s best for your family in the long run, even though there might be some bumps and disruptions in the short term. (I’m guessing sleep with your younger one. With a baby the bumps and disruptions almost ALWAYS come down to sleep. It’s okay. It’ll work out, eventually.)

I don’t know how our move in a few weeks (OMG I SHOULD BE PACKING) will impact or “mess with” my kids. They are leaving behind good friends and great schools and lots of places/things they love about where we live now. We have every reason to believe they will have all of that in our new neighborhood as well, plus their own rooms, a big yard on a cul de sac, a swing set with three swings and a climbing wall, plus a really funky toy store that sells vintage LEGO Bionicle. We have assured all of them that while we know they’re excited and that makes us happy, it’s completely okay to also feel sad or nervous. They can talk to us about whatever they are feeling, and it won’t make US sad or mad. It also won’t change the reality of what’s happening, because I can’t change that. We’re making this move because it’s what’s best for ALL of us as a family, and we’re all in this together. We’ll make it through and things will shake out in the end.

(Also recommended: Pixar’s Inside Out. Probably more for you than them. Damn, did that movie nail the experience of moving away, and the dangers of not letting yourself feel what you feel, when you need to feel it?  And not letting your children feel what they feel. Just be prepared to weep copiously.)

So I know we have a LOT of families who have done a LOT of moving/relocating with young children. Any addition (or contradictory) advice for Country Road here?

 

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Thoughts From An Almost-Empty Nest http://alphamom.com/parenting/thoughts-from-an-almost-empty-nest/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/thoughts-from-an-almost-empty-nest/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:13:28 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=38116

I never understood the saying “The days are long but the years are short” until recently. I mean, I understood what it meant, I just never felt that way, myself. The days were long, the years were long; as much as I love my kids, raising them has felt like a marathon to me more often than not.

Everything changed, this summer. My oldest got her driver’s license and turned into Miss Independent overnight, it seems. Never mind “Can you stop at the store and pick up some milk?” for this one—before I even had a chance to take advantage, she was off to doctor’s appointments (on her own, without me, like she’s not even a kid!), work, her own various chosen destinations, and my phone rings not to ask me something, but to inform me that she’ll be just a little later than expected, she’s going to go run one more errand as long as she’s out, and she’ll gas up the car, okay? It’s okay. It’s great, if a bit weird to reconcile with the same kid whose favorite lunch is “anything you’re willing to make for me so that I don’t have to make it myself, but that I like.”

My youngest is happy and self-assured, cracking jokes at dinner that earn admiration from even his hard-to-impress sister, getting himself up and off to band camp every day and talking about what a great year it’s going to be, and making plans with friends in his spare time. He, too, is the most independent he’s ever been.

School starts up again soon, and this is my daughter’s last year of high school. My son is only a year behind her. We’ll spend this year getting one kid ready to launch and then we’ll turn around and do it all over again for the other one. And then… they’re off. And yes, I know that kids don’t go to college in an alternate dimension or on another planet; they come home, often, and these days many even move right back in after graduation, but still. It will be very different. My husband and I will be Just Us (most of the time).

One of the bible passages often read at weddings is about how “Love is patient, love is kind.” When my husband and I married eight years ago, I remember thinking that perhaps this passage from 1st Corinthians was written specifically for people like my husband who—eyes wide open, even if they may not know exactly what they’re getting into—take on not just a spouse, but stepchildren. I can think of no greater testament to love and patience than stepping out of a life of singlehood and into that precarious role of sort-of-a-parent with no prior experience, as he did. And lucky him, my kids turned out to be… ahhh… well, fabulous, of course, but not exactly low-maintenance. Love is patient and kind, indeed. My husband gave up a lifetime of “why not?” and “let’s go!” for a very different sort of life, and he has never complained.

Even when we gave up family camping trips, my husband nursed his disappointment carefully and quietly, never blaming or grousing, just working his way through it and reiterating that we’d made the best decision for the whole family.

But now… all of those years of discussing a mythical “someday when the kids are off” have brought us to where “someday” is “pretty soon.” And I’ll be honest, I am both thrilled and overwhelmed at the notion that soon we could focus all of our spare energy (ha!) on being a couple rather than on being parents. Not that we don’t do “couple things” now, you understand, but it’ll be different.

We’ll lie in bed at night and talk about the things we want to do once the kids are in college:

* My husband has already picked out the (smaller) camping trailer that he thinks will be perfect for just the two of us (and the dogs). He wants to take a whole month to drive across the country, one summer.

* I can talk about our hypothetical dream kitchen for hours, though it always ends with me dissolving into giggles because 1) wow, me, super romantic, and 2) while it may be less of a hassle to lose the use of our kitchen with fewer people in the house, once we’re paying for two kids in college, which bank am I planning to rob for this reno, exactly?

* We talk about where in the world we’ve never been but would like to go, and places we’d like to see again. We muse about how our spare time might look different without school meetings, performances, competitions, and the like.

* He says he wants to get back into some of his former hobbies, and I toy with the idea of getting back into community theater. We’re giddy at the idea of enough free time to both pursue our individual interests and to do things as a couple.

* We giggle in the dark about how we’ll finally get to play “newlyweds,” a decade after our wedding, and a full 28 years after we first met in college.

We try to picture a life with adult children, as weird as it seems, even as it’s nearly upon us. We talk about how much we’ll miss them, but as we joke and dream and plan, I realize that as the kids are about to embark on their own big adventures, we’ll sort of be doing the same thing.

Maybe I blinked and found myself on the verge of an empty nest, and maybe that’s a little disorienting, but it’s also thrilling. I won’t say I can’t wait—I don’t want to wish away this remaining time with the kids—but I will say I think I’m ready.

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Totes Beachy! Paint Your Own Beach Tote http://alphamom.com/family-fun/crafts/beach-tote-paint-your-own-summer-craft/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/crafts/beach-tote-paint-your-own-summer-craft/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:14:58 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=37902

There are a million ways to decorate a beach bag. If you are looking for a simple and fun summer craft to keep your kids busy, this might be just the bag for you! It’s easy and you can use your masterpiece when you are done, my favorite kind of art!

Paint Your Own Beach Tote by Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

 

Supplies you’ll need:

  • pre-washed plain tote bag (found at your local craft store)
  • fabric paint
  • sponge
  • paintbrush (optional)
  • wax paper or a piece of cardboard (for protection)

Paint Your Own Beach Tote (supplies) by Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

Make sure your bag is ironed and clean so that it’s a nice smooth surface to work on. Lay out your bag on a hard protected surface. (Fabric paint stains! So protect your clothes too and wear an old t-shirt or an apron you don’t care about in case it gets stained.) Insert wax paper or piece cardboard if you intend to use a lot of paint so the paint doesn’t soak through to the other side. Cut up your sponge into small geometric shapes.

A handy artist tip: I like to limit my color palette (three or less colors) when I’m doing activities like this with kids. It challenges their creativity and the end result is more fashionable in my opinion. But if you want to let them go crazy with the whole rainbow, please do! It’s all good.

Squeeze out a dollop of fabric paint onto paper plates. Direct your kids not to mix the colors (unless you are okay with that, of course). Blot your sponge shape into the fabric paint and then stamp it onto your tote. I encouraged my kids to create simple designs using the triangle and square shapes but they interpreted my directions differently. One kid created a scene, the other swiped the sponge sideways and painted stripes. But guess what? Both bags turned out really cool. Of course I had to make one too so I created a geometric triangle design only using triangles that reminds me of ocean waves.

Touch up your shapes with a paint brush.

Let your fabric paint dry, following the directions on your fabric paint bottle (usually a day), and you’re ready to fill up your tote with your favorite beach or pool accessories and head for the water!

Paint Your Own Beach Tote Summer Craft by Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

Happy Summer!

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DIY Unicorn Hair Tutorial http://alphamom.com/family-fun/diy-unicorn-hair-rainbow-tutorial/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/diy-unicorn-hair-rainbow-tutorial/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 19:21:04 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=38036

I’ve made my peace with being the Mean Mom. I have. I’m not in this to win any popularity contests. I have high expectations and a low tolerance for shenanigans when it comes to my kids and “but everyone else” bounces right off my furrowed eyebrows, I assure you. This is probably why I wish I had a nickel for every time a fellow parent has turned to me, mouth agape, and said, “You not only let her do that to her hair, you helped her??”

I don’t get worked up about hair. It’s just hair. It grows. I’m happy to aid and abet hair experimentation, because 1) if not now, when? (Answer: possibly in adulthood when it may be a barrier to success.) And 2) Given all of the available choices for teenage rebellion available… yeah, I’ll take the hair thing, thanks.

My teen daughter has been playing with her hair for about five years, and here’s my dirty little secret: I love watching her. She’s figuring out who she is and what she likes and whether she’s okay standing out and how much she cares (or doesn’t) about what other people think. You can learn a lot from a kid this way. This summer, she has her first real job. And while I’ve bought her the occasional bottle of dye in the past, when she announced she wanted to go full rainbow hair I said that if she really wanted to, that was going to be expensive, so she should be prepared to pay for it herself. So she did. She bought the supplies and we got down to business.

Today, I’m going to give you the full step-by-step instructions to turn your own teen into a beautiful unicorn (horn not included).

Formulate Your Plan/Buy Supplies

This is not a run-to-the-drugstore-for-a-single-box endeavor, and you definitely don’t want to get caught in the middle realizing you’re missing something. You will need:

Miscellaneous items: Old towels, a cape (a garbage bag with a head hole will work, if you don’t have one), and a drop cloth (or a few old sheets) to protect your budding unicorn and the area where you’ll be working. You’ll also need multiple pairs of good latex or rubber gloves (the ones that come with kits are junk), a few plastic grocery sacks, tiny rubber bands you don’t mind cutting/throwing away, regular ponytail holders and maybe a few hair clips, mild shampoo, apple cider vinegar, tinfoil cut into rectangles (you can buy “hair foils” precut from the beauty supply store, but cutting up your Reynolds at home is fine), and disposable plastic cups and stirrers if you’ll be doing color mixing. And coconut oil! We love coconut oil.

Bleaching supplies: If this is your first time, and/or if you’re nervous, a box kit is fine, here. You are looking for the lightest blond shade available. Bear in mind that if you’re starting out as a brunette, you’re not going to achieve the white blond shown on the box. (If you’re starting with black hair, it’s even trickier.) With previously dyed or very dark hair, you should either visit a salon for proper bleaching or visit a beauty supply store for the big guns—separate powder bleach and cream developer. (More on that in a bit.) If your intended unicorn is already a blond, skip this step, obviously. (Obviously use common sense and of course read the packaging carefully and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safety and age.  *We don’t recommended this step for children; Mir’s daughter is an older teen.*) .

Color supplies: In our years of experimentation, we’ve come to believe that Special Effects is the hands-down winner when it comes to vibrant, lasting colors. No other dye comes close. Not Manic Panic, not Splat, nothing. Want pretty color? Buy Special Effects. My daughter wanted the whole rainbow, but also wanted to save some money and there is currently a shortage of SE yellow, so we ended up with Special Effects in Nuclear Red, Iguana Green, Blue Mayhem, Deep Purple, and Atomic Pink. She purchased a yellow in another brand and mixed that with the red to make her orange. (The yellow and orange are already fading. Did I mention that you should stick with Special Effects?)

DIY Unicorn Hair Tutorial by Mir Kamin & Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

 

Step 1: Bleach The Hair To Be Colored

Unicorn Hair DIY (Step 1) by Mir Kamin & Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

Hair bleaching is serious business, so while I believe you can do it yourself, at home, please outsource this step if you’re nervous. Bleach is very damaging under the best of circumstances. This is also part of why we’ve so far stuck to treating just the ends of the hair—if something goes wrong, we can always just cut it off! And even after all this time, I have no interest in putting bleach near my teen baby’s scalp.

As I mentioned above, previously-dyed or very dark hair may be impervious to the boxed stuff, in which case you’ll want to hit the beauty supply store for bleach and a 20 or 30 volume developer creme for greater oomph. [My daughter still had some year-old Atomic Pink in her hair which had resisted all of our attempts to strip it; we used L’Oreal Quick Blue and level 40 developer to get her hair mostly back to blond, and I cannot stress enough that this was very risky and a last resort. I checked her hair constantly; please don’t buy a developer stronger than 30 unless you must and really know what you’re doing.] Get your unicorn-to-be situated under a cape and old towel outside or in a very well-ventilated area, with unwashed hair combed out and ready for application.

Mix your bleach according to directions and begin applying it, one section of hair at a time (I like to grab a “clump” about two fingers wide, and I tend to start by the face on one side, hit the matching area on the other side, and continue working back and forth like that until I reach the back), making sure the hair is saturated, then fold the bleached area into a piece of tinfoil to cover completely. There are two schools of thought, here: You can either determine how far up you want the color to go later and bleach that far (say, six inches) in a single step, or you can determine how far up you want the color to go later and do the bleach as sort of an ombre. I prefer the ombre approach because the dye does eventually fade out and then the you’re left with something just a little more natural looking. If you want to go this route, and you’re going to dye, say, six inches, do your initial bleach application on only the bottom four inches, then go back and move up another inch ten minutes later, and then the final inch ten minutes after that (adjust distance and time to fit your desires and the particular bleach process you are using). Most bleach will list a processing window of something like “at least 20 but no more than 35 minutes,” or some such, and you want to pay attention to that and do not exceed the maximum time listed. If you check the foils and you’ve achieved what you want sooner, great! But bleach is not a “well I’ll just leave it on longer than they suggested because I want more lightening” product. Unless you enjoy hair that feels like straw and breaks off in your hand, that is.

When you’ve achieved desired lightness or time is up, follow the directions for rinsing out (do not shampoo). If you must color right away, you’ll need to dry the hair, first, but I strongly recommend bleaching one day and letting the hair rest before moving on to color. If you’re done for the day, gather hair into a high pony, slather the newly-bleached ends in coconut oil, and slip a plastic grocery bag over the pony and secure with another hair tie. Then sleep on it—give the oil time to really soak in.

Step 1.5: Trim, Baby, Trim

Unicorn Hair DIY (notes) by Mir Kamin & Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

Did I mention that bleach is damaging, even when done properly? I like to do a haircut after the bleach but before the color. You can do this directly after bleaching or the next day or whenever, really, but there are lots of good reasons to do a trim prior to coloring. For one thing, it will remove the inevitable split ends and worst of the bleach damage. For another, why waste dye on hair you’re going to cut off? And finally, if you do any sort of layering, this ensures that you see exactly how the hair will lay prior to breaking out the color. If you cut your teen’s hair yourself, great, just have at it. If you are not comfortable playing hairdresser, remember that you’ll want to schedule a trim after the bleach.

Pro tip: Take this trim into consideration prior to bleaching. That is, if the hair in question is already either pretty damaged or much longer than desired, adjust your bleaching zone accordingly so that the remaining area after the cut is the size you desire.

Step 2 & 3 : Prepare To Color

Unicorn Hair DIY (Step 2) by Mir Kamin & Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

Set out your seven colors (our awesome illustration shows six, but we used seven) in order on the counter, not just because it makes a fun Instagram post, but because once you’re into the process you’re not going to want to stop and hunt for which color comes next. Trust me—put them in the desired dyeing order. If you’ll be mixing any colors, prepare them now and put them in the line-up with the others. Many people like bowls and brushes, here, but personally I find it easiest just to squeeze the bottles and rub in with my (gloved!) hands. When it came to the orange we mixed, I just scooped it out of the cup with my fingers.

Unicorn Hair DIY (Step 3) by Mir Kamin & Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

 

Unicorn Hair DIY (hair color chart) by Mir Kamin & Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

Hair should be dry (if you’re dyeing the day after the coconut treatment, wash with a mild shampoo the next morning to remove the oil), combed out, free of product, and parted wherever she usually wears it. The rainbow has seven colors, and we decided to do smaller sections so as to repeat the sequence rather than just one big section of each color—fourteen smaller sections in all. (Again, the illustration shows larger sections, and this is absolutely a matter of preference, so do what you like!) So: I divided her hair in half, down the back, and pinned one half out of the way. I took the remaining half and split it into half, then divided each of those halves into three smaller sections, with the two meeting in the middle a little larger than the rest. I then took the two larger middle sections and “borrowed” from them to make a third (I turned those two sections into three). And then I surveyed each of my now seven smaller sections and shuffled hair around a bit until I felt like they were all approximately the same thickness. This sounds much fussier than it is; I used the little rubber bands to hold the sections loosely as I went along, and if adjustment was needed, I just pulled the bands and rearranged. Once we were happy with the seven sections, I rubber banded them tightly, with the bands at the level we wanted to dye up to. Repeat with the other half of the hair (and marvel at how much faster it goes now that you’ve done it once).

Step 4: Dye, Dye, Dye

Unicorn Hair DIY (Step 4) by Mir Kamin & Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

Once the hair is sectioned, you’re ready to color! This is where you make sure everyone is wearing old clothes, the floor is covered, your countertop has old towels on it, etc. (News flash: Dye stains!) Beginning at one side of the face, work your way around the head to the other side with the dyes, saturating each section up to the rubber band, then wrapping in foil. Because this part is about a lot of different colors, take your time and make sure each foil is as clean as possible on the outside to avoid transfer to other sections. Also: wash and dry your hands (gloves) after each section before moving on to a new color. I’m not going to lie; this part takes a while. Here’s the great news about this part, though: unlike bleach, this vegetable-based hair dye is non-caustic and even somewhat conditioning for the hair, so you can leave it on as long as you like with no fear of damage. The bottles say to leave it on for 20 minutes, but any funky-hair devotee will scoff at that. Plan to leave it on for at least an hour. We usually go 3-4 hours, time permitting.

Does your unicorn want to get up and move around once she’s all foiled? No problem—grab another plastic grocery bag, gather all the foiled ends and drop ‘em into the bag, and secure with a hair tie.

Step 5: Rinse And Set

Unicorn Hair DIY (Step 5) by Mir Kamin & Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

Unlike a single hair color, you can’t just head to the sink and scrub up, here. The freshly-colored hair is going to give off a lot of excess dye in rinsing, and you don’t want that dye getting on the undyed hair, or (worse) muddying the other colors. So! Older/taller teen unicorns can stand at the kitchen sink, head bent forward, and shorter teen unicorns can lie on the counter with the back of the head over the sink while you get to work.

Remove one foil and either carefully cut the little rubber band or gently pull it out while rinsing. Rinse the now-freed hair with cool water until squeezing it into your gloved hand yields only clear water with no tint. In general, you don’t want to shampoo after using these bright colors (you want to keep as much dye in the hair as possible for as long as possible), but some colors run more than others, so use your best judgment. For example, we found that the red/yellow/orange/pink colors could be rinsed with just water and run clear within a reasonable time frame, but yowza, the darker colors seem to run forever. Special Effects Deep Purple, in particular, turned the blond hair nearly black and then ran and ran and ran, so those sections we went ahead and shampooed during rinsing to expedite the process. For each section, rinse until the water runs clear (or shampoo until the water runs clear), squeeze out the excess water, and then dip the colored section into 50/50 mix of cool water and apple cider vinegar. This will help the color to set.

Once a section is rinsed/vinegared/squeezed out, clip it out of the way and grab another section. Repeat this process until all of the colored hair has been treated. We usually go ahead and do a quick rinse and vinegar rinse on the entire head of hair as a final step, just to make it easier to move on to adding product and styling without having to deal with half wet/half dry hair.

Step 6: Styling And Aftercare

Unicorn Hair DIY (Step 6) by Mir Kamin & Brenda Ponnay for Alphamom.com

Your unicorn is now ready to wow the world with whatever hair products and rituals she prefers, but do bear in mind that the treated hair may still be on the dry side from the bleaching (and thus will benefit from some TLC) and shampooing will result in a bit of color run for a while. So a few shifts in routine may be merited, here. Namely:
1) The overnight coconut oil soak is a great idea for hair that wants moisture, and it’s cheap and easy, so do it as often as you like. Just stick to the colored hair and keep it away from the scalp.
2) Plan to use old towels for a couple of weeks at least, and don’t go to bed with wet hair unless you’re okay with stained pillowcases.
3) Use a shampoo specially formulated for color-care, and shampoo as infrequently as you can get away with to make the color last. When your unicorn does shampoo, just scrub the scalp with a smallish amount of shampoo and rinse—don’t bother sudsing all the way down the hair (rinsing will bring the shampoo down, anyway).

That’s it! It’s a lot of work, but I hear that unicorns really do have more fun.

 

Illustrations by the amazing Brenda Ponnay

 

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Super-Duper Belated Baby Shower Thank-You Notes http://alphamom.com/pregnancy/relationships-pregnancy/belated-baby-shower-thank-you-notes/ http://alphamom.com/pregnancy/relationships-pregnancy/belated-baby-shower-thank-you-notes/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:02:24 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=38042

Dear Amy,

About two years ago, a handful of really great people threw me not one, not two, but three baby showers for my first daughter! (Yes, I’m surrounded by amazing people!)

Of course, after those showers, I was all about resting and getting ready for baby girl and . . . not writing a Single. Stinkin. Thank. You. Note. I had ignored the advice of other moms to write the notes ASAP, because I was different and I’d have time for that after the baby was born, in the whole entire 8 weeks of time I’d have before I returned to work.  (Now, any mother out there is laughing hilariously, because they all know that just didn’t happen. Ahh, the blissful ignorance of soon-to-be-mothers.)

So, baby girl is here and precious and awesome and no one has been thanked for any gift (or party!) they threw for us.

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing one of those photo announcement cards with some of the cute photos of baby girl from the last two years with a generic thank you note to everyone that I can remember was there (I’ve lost two of the three gift lists, of course). Or just trying to remember who gave us what . . . Or did the verbal thank yous at the time suffice and I have nothing to worry about?

Here’s where this gets more complicated: we’re expecting baby girl #2 this December. I’m fairly certain some of those same awesome people will throw us a shower/sprinkle.

While that’s completely amazing and we’ll be super grateful, I worry about those people who have super long memories and feel snubbed because they’ve never gotten a thank you card.

So, am I over thinking this? Is there a better way to express our late, but completely sincere, gratitude? And should I have any concerns going into the shower/sprinkle season again?

Would love to know your thoughts on the matter.

Thanks,
The imaginary thank you note writer

So I usually like to head over to more dedicated etiquette advice/guidance sites to brush up on whatever the latest prevailing “rules” are, as I’m admittedly, stubbornly old-school about a lot of things that other people don’t care much about anymore. And hilariously, the first link I clicked on was my own damn column on the topic of belated baby shower thank-you notes. In that case, however, the notes were only six months “late,” which I feel falls solidly in the realm of “perfectly understandable.”

But I still advised her to just get the notes done, MOSTLY because it would make her feel better to not have the obligation hanging over her head. (This advice brought to you by a serial procrastinator who knows the procrastination/anxiety/guilt loop well.)

I am taking the same better-late-than-never tack with you, although I recognize that’s difficult since you’ve lost gift lists and memories are fuzzy. But I would really caution against more showers/sprinkles without at least making some kind of effort. Especially since second baby showers can create etiquette snarls in and of themselves, at least in certain parts of the country.

Perhaps your shower hosts can help? If they were not properly thanked either, you should start there and then hopefully enlist them in your Belated Gratitude Crusade. Take them out for dinner and/or give them a lovely surprise gift, then come clean about the thank-you note situation. Perhaps they can at least help you remember everyone who attended, or even fill in a specific gift hole or two.

Then move on to the gift list you do have and power through it. Aim for 5-7 sentences and talk about how useful you found the gift, and plan to use it again for baby #2. Sign, seal, stamp, DONE. Believe me, it’ll feel GREAT.

If you have no idea what gift the person gave, go generic. Thank them for their attendance and “generosity.” Including photos would be a nice touch, but NOT if that added step over-complicates things for you and becomes another roadblock/procrastination device.

Here’s the bottom line, though: I think most people give baby shower thank-yous a pretty wide, understanding berth. I would personally not be too fazed or judge-y over not getting a formal thank-you note on a baby gift, because…the recipient JUST HAD A BABY. (This understanding does NOT extend to wedding thank-you notes, by the way.  That’s just rude and my side-eye will linger if you’re unable to scribble out a few lines at some point after your honeymoon.) I’m positive there are people who haven’t given your lack of notes a second thought, or never really expected one.

But there probably are people who are wondering what’s up…especially if they were particularly generous, or they didn’t attend a shower and mailed you a gift. So with these people in mind, I continue to believe it would be best to try to make SOME kind of effort before they get invited to another shower. Those invitations are bound to trigger some memories in some folks, like “heyyyy, wait a second…”

If you absolutely can’t deal with the idea of sending the notes so late, I would HIGHLY suggest you take a hard, firm “no gifts please” stance on any and all showers/sprinkles. You’re having another daughter and not much time has passed, so it’s not like you need a whole new gendered wardrobe or gave away all your baby gear. Explain that since people were SO GENEROUS to you last time, there’s simply nothing new you need as you plan to reuse all the lovely gifts as hand-me-downs. If there is something you want, you buy it yourself.

Personally, I gotta admit that a no-gifts policy might be polite regardless, since you don’t want people getting a thank-you note, then an invite, and possibly connect the two in a “oh NOW she thanks me, because she wants more stuff!” way. I know that’s not your intention, but you just never know with some people. Plus! It’ll result in fewer thank-you notes to write THIS time! Which might be worth buying your own diapers and onesies in and of itself.

 

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To Bribe Or Not To Bribe, That Is The Question http://alphamom.com/parenting/teen-behavior-reward-system/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/teen-behavior-reward-system/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 18:18:36 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=38020

Got tweens/teens? We’re trying a new advice column here at Alpha Mom to address your questions for the older-kid crowd. We hope you enjoy! And if you have a question to submit, hit me up at alphamomteens[at]gmail[dot]com.

***************

Kate writes:

Here’s my Q: How come bribing seems to work so well but feels so icky? Do the short term benefits outweigh the long term moral harm (if any… or is it actually okay)? I’m talking about trading Starbucks for chores, homework, everything.

I love this question so much, because who among us hasn’t had that lightbulb parenting moment where we become convinced we are simply extorting our way to better behavior, and—on the heels of that—fear that we’re the only ones?

The short and incomplete yet mostly true, to my mind, answer, is this: Bribery isn’t harmful. Sure, there’s a matter of degrees involved, but human all living creatures are reward-motivated. It’s part of our biology to ask “What’s in it for me?” at some level. Sure, the older and more altruistic we become, the more likely that process is to do a quick calculation and determine that “pride in a job well-done” or “this has to happen to keep life running smoothly” or “making the people I love happy” is reason enough to complete an otherwise yawn-worthy task like unloading the dishwasher. (Is the dishwasher Custer’s Last Laziness Stand in your house like it is in mine? No? Um. Never mind.) [Note: My intrepid editor, Isabel, pointed out to me that in behavioral parlance, a “bribe” is a reward given before the desired behavior, whereas an “incentive” is a reward promised for after the desired behavior. I am assuming Kate is using the term bribe to actually mean incentive, and it is those incentives (“If you do this, I will give you this…”) I’m discussing. In general I would discourage ponying up rewards ahead of action.]

Children and teenagers, however, are more selfish by design. That whole “What’s in it for me?” refrain (unspoken or not) is part of how they figure out their place in the world. An explanation of all you do for them on a daily basis may fly right over their heads, because you’re Mom, you love that stuff! It can be hard for them to really get the ways in which most functional adults do certain things simply because they need to be done, not because they love chores.

So the long answer is this: Setting expectations and consequences up front goes a long way towards eliminating unexpected power struggles and unplanned-for incentives. And that means… it’s Family Meeting time. Every family will handle this in their own way, of course, but the common approach I would encourage involves a few things:

  1. Parents decide ahead of time which chores/responsibilities they wish for the kids to handle.
  2. Parents present these expectations as a proposal, along with whatever supporting information about “everyone in the family pitches in” or whatever you feel your child needs to hear.
  3. Parents ask for—and really listen to—feedback from the kid. This part is crucial. If you’re constantly bribing your child into the behavior you want, it’s because you’ve failed to get buy-in. Buy-in is how you get your child on board with this plan, and it can be achieved with bribery, but it has the potential to set up a perpetuating cycle of “I’m only doing things which have a high reward value,” and we know that’s a problem because few of us live adult lives filled with only high reward values. (Sorry!)
  4. Now you negotiate. Work out an agreement, somehow. Include rewards and consequences. (More on that in a minute.)
  5. Write it all down (I’m a big fan of writing stuff down, go figure). It gives you a reference point for future disagreements, and it also lends gravitas to the process and increases buy-in, I think.

Let’s go back to the “agreement” part of this. Obviously buy-in is increased when your kid thinks you’re being reasonable or even generous, but at the end of the day, you’re the parent and if you have a reasonable-by-any-measure set of expectations against which your kid chafes, too bad, so sad! Your job is to find a way to make it palatable enough to get that buy-in, sure, but it’s not your job to make their lives a non-stop carnival. I don’t have a problem with occasional bonus incentives (or more frequent smallish incentives; not all bribery is created equal), but the ultimate goal here is twofold: First, you want to get your expectations met; second, you want to set your child up for the intrinsic motivation to do the right thing. That second part is where it gets tricky.

Bribery is positive reinforcement; that’s why it works. Positive reinforcement is a great way to bend any living creature to your will. I think a lot of people get confused about the difference between negative reinforcement and punishment, though. (If you like, this 2-minute Psychology In The Fastlane video is a great explanation.) In short, punishment is designed to decrease a behavior, whereas negative reinforcement is designed to increase a behavior. The trick here is to find good reinforcers—both positive and negative—rather than to simply drop the hammer every time you encounter poor behavior (or, alternatively, to leap to bribery as your solution). So, for example, now that my daughter is driving, meeting her responsibilities means I’m likely to let her borrow the car (positive reinforcement). What’s more, we’re talking about expectations moving into the school year about what needs to happen for the car to continue to be available to her, and even what might need to happen for us to contribute towards a car of her own once she graduates (increase in positive behaviors from her = decrease in my control over her driving = increase in car likelihood for her without costing as much of her own money = negative reinforcement). So, to use your example, if you’re currently offering Starbucks in return for chores, maybe it’s time to substitute negative reinforcement for positive; instead, maybe, the cell phone is not removed from its overnight dock until chores are completed. This is negative reinforcement: you are increasing a behavior to avoid the thing they don’t want (lack of connectivity). Some people hook chores to allowance, or bedtimes, or curfew (positive reinforcements; do more, get more). Some people hook chores to what the parent does for the kid, so maybe lack of chores means your laundry doesn’t get done or your lunch doesn’t get made (negative reinforcements; do more, avoid getting less).

If you’re into a life of unclear expectations and/or bribery pretty deep, even if you follow these steps to the letter, you’re going to get some pushback and noncompliance, to start. And you may need to ease out of old habits—maybe there’s Starbucks on Saturday for a week of (cheerful!) chore compliance. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all of that.

Now. All of that said? I absolutely offer incentives to my kids for out-of-the-ordinary tasks outside of our regular family agreement now and then, sure. When they help with large projects above and beyond their regular chores, I pay them (positive reinforcement). But we’re at a point now where they often agree to help before I even offer payment (maybe because they know I’ll pay up, but maybe because they’re turning into helpful humans?), so I’m calling it a win. And—this is absolutely a personal sticking point built upon my own baggage and I acknowledge that—I never, ever reward my kids for grades. I get that very few people love, say, scrubbing grout, but learning and succeeding in school should be its own reward, and I am very wary of eroding or interfering in that process in any way. (Why yes, I was rewarded for good grades and punished for poor ones as a kid. No, I had no earthly idea what to do with myself when I got to college other than to assume that anything less than straight As meant I was a failure as a human being. So. Yeah.)

Get a system in place that everyone can buy in to, one which has intrinsic reinforcers built on privileges rather than cash and baubles. And one last thing: Everyone thrives on gratitude. Just because it’s an expectation doesn’t mean you can’t be grateful for it; a simple, “Thanks for getting that done without complaining, I really appreciate it,” helps build their intrinsic motivation and (bonus!) strengthens family bonds. It’s better than Starbucks, I promise.

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Don’t forget that you can submit your own question to alphamomteens[at]gmail[dot]com.

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Tried & True Playdate Packing Tips http://alphamom.com/family-fun/party-play/playdate-packing-tips/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/party-play/playdate-packing-tips/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:59:53 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=38010

This post is sponsored by Huggies

Getting out of the house with a toddler in tow can be a challenge. Between packing up the stroller, toys, diapers, snacks, water bottle, change of clothes (along with my wallet and phone)… the must-haves of what you need when leaving the house with your active toddler can seem endless. Thomas and I spend most mornings at our local playground or meeting up with friends for playdates. It’s our morning routine and we are home by lunch for the much welcomed afternoon nap. Thomas is like most other toddlers… on the move. Falling into things, climbing onto any structure (including our pet dog) and constantly eating. I always have a full supply of healthy snacks for him no matter where we go.

Tried & True Playdate Packing Tips (have your help out)

And, we definitely never leave home without a few diapers. Huggies has brand new diapers and wipes at Costco and we especially like the Huggies Little Movers Plus Diapers because of the trusted leak lock system, which provides up to 12 hours of protection. We like to have leisurely playdates and after all the effort to get out of the house it’s important to me that Thomas is happy and comfortable while we’re out and about. Huggies Little Movers Plus give me that peace of mind as the most absorbent diapers for day and night protection.

Here are some tried and true tips that have worked for me when packing and preparing for playdates.

5 Essential Tips For Packing For a Playdate

Bring snack containers: Having multiple snack containers is very helpful. Toddlers like to do things for themselves so having small containers with individual snacks allows toddlers to feed themselves independently. These containers can even be individual zip-top baggies. And, the bonus is that if one snack container falls in the sand pit, you haven’t lost all your snacks.

Tried & True Playdate Packing Tips with Huggies

Stay hydrated: A water bottle is a must everywhere we go. I toss a slice of lemon or a few berries in the water to infuse it with flavor. Thomas likes sliced strawberries in his cold water.

Pack a picnic blanket: Always carry a picnic blanket or a towel to sit on. The playgrounds around us have beautiful parks and hiking trails and we love to sit and picnic while snacking.

 Manage your toys: Packing a couple favorite toys are always a must. Thomas knows that if he takes a toy to the park he has to share it with others. If going to a park, a large plastic digger or sand toys are ideal. I stay away from small toys or dolls because they get dirty or lost pretty quickly.

Pack enough diapers and wipes: You can’t leave home without plenty of diapers and wipes. We have little zipped plastic baggies with extra diapers and wipes everywhere. I keep extras in the stroller, the trunk of the car, in all my bags. Making sure we have diapers in the diaper bag before heading out is Thomas’s job. He takes it very seriously and is only too happy to pack up his Huggies Little Movers Plus ‘Mickey’ Diapers and Huggies Natural Care Plus Wipes, which are thicker and more durable, perfect for messes during playtime and cleanup afterwards. These diapers and wipes are brand new at Costco, and I love knowing I’m giving Thomas products that are designed to give babies positively premium baby care.

Tried & True Playdate Packing Tips by Maria Colaco for Alpha Mom

Thomas also carries his own separate small backpack that is packed with a diaper, a small bag of wipes, a toy and snack. It’s his “little adventure bag “and he loves carrying it anywhere we go. The Mickey Mouse character design on the Huggies Little Movers Plus Diapers encourages him to help me get our playdate bags (his and mine) ready. And, ‘go’ is the operative word for this stage in Thomas’ development. Thomas is always on the move and Huggies Little Movers Plus Diapers’ double grip strips help him stay comfy because the diapers move with him while he’s on the go. Head over to Costco for daily savings on Huggies Little Movers Plus Diapers and Huggies Natural Care Plus Wipes.

 

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Keeping Your Kids Awake In the Car http://alphamom.com/parenting/young-child/keeping-kids-awake-car/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/young-child/keeping-kids-awake-car/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 15:14:23 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=37964

Dear Almighty Amalah,

I need a bit of assistance. How the hell do I keep kids awake in the car?! Maybe some background info will help.

Kiddos are 6 and 4. We are busy bees all summer, with morning swim lessons 5 days a week and a whole slew of other things going on in the afternoon; normally playdates, day camps, trips to the park or occasionally the zoo. Ya know, stuff kids like. With all these afternoon things, it’s understandable that the kids get pretty worn out, and fall asleep in the car on the way home.

WHICH IS EXACTLY THE PROBLEM.

These car naps are happening pretty late in the day, like 5:00ish or later, and they’re sleeping for the entire duration of our normally 30+ minute car rides. Which means that the edge is completely taken off. Which means that they take FOR. EV. ER. to go to sleep at night. Which would be fine and all, if they could sleep in a bit in the morning to make up for the staying up late at night, but because we have morning swim lessons, I have to go in and wake them up in the morning so that they’ve got time to eat breakfast and get ready for swimming. So they aren’t getting enough sleep at night, because they’re falling asleep in the car, because they aren’t getting enough sleep at night….it goes on.

Bedtime is 7:30-8, and while 4yo generally will zonk out within 15 minutes, they share a room and 6yo wants to be UP. ALL. NIGHT. and keeps her awake, normally to the point of a crying 4yo coming out of their room at 9:30 saying “I’m so tired but she won’t wet me sweeeeeeeeep!!!”, so currently we have to let her sleep in our bed until her sister falls asleep, normally around 11 or so. (Crappy solution, I know, but she needs a good night’s rest so badly in order to not need that 60-90 minute after lunch nap we worked so hard to kick after her 4th birthday in May). We’ve tried putting 6yo to bed after her sister falls asleep, but she goes out of her way to wake her sister up so she has someone to play with, either by talking to her, throwing stuff at her, or kicking her bed frame/wall so that the banging wakes her up. She’s just a peach at night, clearly.

I’ve tried everything I can think of to keep them awake in the car, so that they aren’t getting a pre-dinner nap that will lead to them being up all night. I’ve tried books, toys, food (and they aren’t normally allowed to eat in the car unless it’s a super special circumstances), music, talking to them, everything. I have actually driven down the highway with all the windows down, blasting Karma Chameleon (a weird family favorite song, I ain’t complaining) so loudly that I couldn’t hear myself speak, and they both STILL passed out. The only thing that works is me aggressively and consistently shaking their legs, which isn’t easy or safe to do while driving. The only other thing I can think of is getting a squirt bottle and spraying water in their faces to wake them up…but for some reason I don’t see that going well. (Also, I don’t have one of those fancy cars with built in DVD players or anything like that so I can’t turn on a movie, and after they broke someone’s phone they are no longer allowed to play with phones or iPads).

PLEASE help me fix our car rides (or bedtime, whichever you think may be more broken) and keep them awake! I’d hate for us to turn into “those people” who can’t stay anywhere later than 3PM at risk of the kids falling asleep in the car too late, but oh my god they need to sleep at night or we may not survive this summer.

You know, I think it’s really good and admirable that you imposed serious consequences after they broke someone’s phone. That’s a big deal and a good lesson in responsibility, especially since far too many kids treat expensive electronics with the same regard as a hunk of Fisher Price plastic. And we’re all too reliant on screens in general these days, especially when it’s more about our convenience and making our own lives easier rather than providing children with enriching, high-quality media YEAH YOU KNOW WHAT GIVE THEM BACK THE SCREEEEEEENS.

You’ve really tried just about every trick out there. And I feel you — OH GOD I FEEL YOU — on how badly the late catnap in the car can eff with the rest of your evening. And the next day, even. And the day after that. It really does snowball and screw with everybody’s sleep routine. There’s no bedtime fix when they’ve taken the edge off too late in the day.

I used to scream sing-a-longs and blast music at my kids. I’d ask them the stupidest, silliest questions I could think of (like if there was a dog in a car nearby I’d ask them if it was a giraffe, or if my hair was turning purple, or if I should take my shoes off and hang them on my ears). I’d put the windows up and down repeatedly to blast them on and off with air to perk them up. I tried snacks and drinks (and usually just ended up with a conked-out child and a ton of spills to clean up). One time I brought a pile of plush Angry Bird toys with me and threw them at their heads any time I saw them dozing off.

Now? I pop in a DVD and hand them some wireless headphones. Works every time, and allows me to keep my full attention on the road in front of me, rather than on my kids eyelids behind me.

(For the record, our DVD player remains unused 99% of the time. We use it ONLY on very long trips, so when I pop the screen down for a “short” drive because I’m trying to keep someone awake it’s a HUGE EXCITING THING.)

You don’t have a built-in DVD player, but you can absolutely buy one for your car. They’re a good travel investment in general, for long road trips or plane/train rides. Or you can just buy an over-the-headrest mount for your iPad on Amazon. That way you’re not technically going back on the phone-breaking punishment, since they won’t actually handle the tablet themselves.

Or you can just tell them that the car is the only place they’re allowed to play with phones or iPads, and that how they behave with them there (no dropping, no rough handling, etc.), will be the first step or test into lifting the ban other places. This kinda makes sense — they’re buckled into carseats, so unable to run around with it or drop it on a hard surface or spill something on it. It’ll be A Big Special Car Thing and they’ll likely stay extra engaged with it, even more so than watching a DVD.

I know, I know. Freaking screens. Little blinky electronic babysitters. Solving problems and making parents’ lives easier one preschool app at a time. You totally have my permission and approval to use them to solve this particular problem.

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Six Pairs of Kids’ Swim Goggles We Swear Won’t Leak http://alphamom.com/parenting/parenting-products-services/best-swim-goggles-kids/ http://alphamom.com/parenting/parenting-products-services/best-swim-goggles-kids/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 19:12:23 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=37939

Before Alpha Mom saved me from my misery, I really had perfected the art of buying crappy swim goggles for my kids. Every summer, I’d pick up a bunch of cheap swimming goggles in fun colors at the local drugstore and they always leaked. And it seems that if goggles should have one job in life – it’s to NOT leak.

We’ve put some popular kids’ swim goggle brands to the test and we found out that when it comes to goggles, you get what you pay for. Which doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. But if you upgrade, just a bit, you and your kids will have a lot more fun at the pool and in the ocean. And, you won’t be stuck with a big bag of worthless goggles that don’t do anything to protect your kids’ eyes underwater.

Frogglez Swim Goggles

When you first see a pair of Frogglez, you’ll think – “Wait, is that my orthodontic head gear from middle school?” It looks a little weird the way the straps go around the head.

Frogglez Swim Goggles & 5 Other Pairs of Kids' Swim Goggles We Swear Won't Leak

But don’t be turned off by the unique look because these are a fabulous pair of kid swim goggles. And your children will likely love them!

First of all, my kids said they are super comfortable. The straps are made out of a soft, flexible neoprene that does not pull hair (like silicone or rubber straps tend to do). The straps also don’t bother kids’ ears because they are higher up on the head.

These goggles also have velcro straps on the sides for super easy adjustments.  According to the company website, the swim goggles are independently tested to be lead-free, phthalates-free and formaldehyde-free. And they float in the water.

That all said, do not buy these goggles for a child who is under 3 years old or who has a smallish head. My 5 year old daughter Harlowe is quite petite and these goggles are too big for her head – even on the smallest setting. But my 5 year old son loves them! As do my older girls (ages 8 and 10).

Size (according to Frogglez): One size fits kids 3+ years of age (up to 23 inch diameter head size)
Price: $20 – $24 (depending on where you buy it)
Strengths: No leaking, very comfortable, straps don’t pull hair, easy to adjust, my kids love them.
Weaknesses: May not fit children who are more petite. Measure their heads if you have any concerns. Also, the straps really need to air dry. If you throw these goggles back in your pool bag, the straps might not dry completely. Higher price.
Final Word on Frogglez: Definitely an Alpha Mom favorite.

TYR Kids Swim Goggles

The TYR youth swim goggles come in lots of different colors and some really cute animal designs (like the dinosaurs shown here on my 5 year old son).

TYR Kids Swim Goggles & 5 Other Pairs of Kids' Swim Goggles We Swear Won't Leak

He just adores these! Adjustable strap on the nose bridge. Tinted lenses with UVA/UVB protection.

Size: One size fits all and that seems to be the case.
Price: $8 – $14 (depending on where you buy them)
Strengths: No leaking, great selection of colors and designs, very affordable, comfortable.
Weaknesses: You will probably have to help your child adjust the size. Some of the TYR goggles for kids do have a release button for easier size adjustment but these dinosaur ones do not.
Final Word on TYR kid swim goggles: Alpha Mom favorite, especially for this price of $10.99!

Aqua Sphere Moby Kid Swim Goggles

The Aqua Sphere Moby Kid swim goggles also proved very popular with my kids. This is a one-piece frame construction. These goggles also have a buckle system on the sides which make it very easy to adjust the size. Definitely easier to adjust than the TYR Kids dinosaur goggles (reviewed above).

Aqua Sphere Moby Kids & 5 Other Pairs of Kids' Swim Goggles We Swear Won't Leak

These goggles also offer 100% UVA/UVB protection, a scratch-resistant coating and an anti-fog coating. Available in a blue lens too.

Size: One size fits all and that seems to be the case.
Price: $14 to $16 (depending on where you buy them)
Strengths: No leaking, comfortable, easy to adjust.
Weaknesses: I’m still looking for one.
Final Word on Aqua Sphere Moby Kid swim goggles: Nothing fancy about these goggles. Simple design and they do the job. Definitely recommend. Alpha Mom favorite.

Babiators Submariners Kids Swim Goggles

Not surprising, the Babiators Submariners have a cool name and totally look awesome too. But all this hipness comes with a hefty $35 price tag. Available in pink or blue.

Babiators Submariners Swim Mask & 5 Other Pairs of Kids' Swim Goggles We Swear Won't Leak

These anti-fog, shatter-resistant lenses provide 100% UV protection. The straps are quite easy to adjust with a press of a button. My kids had no problem with leaking. This kids’ swim mask comes in a submarine case that doubles as a toy. Of course, my children thought it was a water bottle but maybe your kids are smarter.

The swim mask/goggles also come with an incredible guarantee. If they are lost or broken, the company replaces them. I wonder if they’ll replace the other lost and broken stuff in my house. (Just keep in mind, you have to register the goggles within one month of purchase and the guarantee is only good for one year.)

One additional note, some of my kids didn’t love the wide plastic around the lens.

Size: One size (Fits most toddlers and children 3 – 7 + years)
Price: $35
Strengths: Your kid gets to say, “These are my Babiators Submariners so back off you common folk!”, no leaking, easy to adjust and fabulous replacement guarantee.
Weaknesses:  Definitely for the younger set. Kids older than 7 will find that it pinches their nose. You can find quality kid goggles for much less money.
Final Word on Babiators Submariners swim mask/goggles: Higher price but definitely a great pair of goggles for younger kids.

Speedo Kids Hydrospex Swim Mask

The Speedo Kids Hydrospex Swim Mask is like a swim mask and goggles all in one. They are latex free and also offer anti-fog protection and UVA/UVB protection. The one piece frame has a curved lens for maximum visibility. Clips on the sides for easy adjustment.

Speedo Hydrospex Kids Goggles & 5 Other Pairs of Kids' Swim Goggles We Swear Won't Leak

My 8 year old daughter really loved these because they stayed on well, did not leak and it was easy to see under water. She also liked the tinted lens. There is a reason the Speedo brand has been around so long. They make some quality products and this is one of them.

Size: One size
Price: $18
Strengths: Does not leak, the fit of a swim mask without being too bulky, anti-fog and UVA/UVB protection, easy to adjust the size and comfortable to wear.
Weaknesses:  Find me one because I can’t!
Final Word on  Speedo Kids Hydrospex Swim Mask swim goggles: Definitely recommend, especially if you want more of a swim mask. Alpha Mom Favorite.

Speedo Kids Skoogles Swim Goggle

My 5 year old daughter adores these Speedo Kids Skoogles Swim Goggles but in all fairness, I think it’s mostly because of the purple and pink color.

Speedo Skoogles Kids Goggles & 5 Other Pairs of Kids' Swim Goggles We Swear Won't Leak

Just like the Speedo Kids Hydrospex (reviewed above), these are latex-free, protect against UVA/UVB rays and have anti-fog protection. They have a one piece frame and do not leak.  They have a side release clip to make them easier to adjust.

These goggles are designed for kids in the 4 to 6 age range, but my 8 year old and 10 year old said they were comfortable to wear. So you may get more life out of them than you think.

Size: ages 4 – 6 (but some older kids can wear comfortably too)
Price: $11
Strengths: Does not leak, anti-fog and UVA/UVB protection, latex free, and comfortable to wear.
Weaknesses:  I prefer the side clasps on the Speedo Kids’ Hydrospex and Aqua Sphere Moby Kid goggles (both reviewed above) a bit more.Final Word on Speedo Kids Skoogles swim goggles: A solid pair of goggles for a great price and come in cool color combos.

Best Kids Swim Goggles & Masks

I don’t really think you can go wrong purchasing with any of these kids swim goggles. The most important thing to consider is to protect your child’s eyes and all of these get the job done. My top picks (pretty much based on my children’s preferences) are the Frogglez, the Aqua Sphere Moby Kid Swim Goggle and the Speedo Kids Hydrospex Swim Mask.

I love the Frogglez because they really came up with a unique pair of goggles that addressed specific kid needs like not pulling hair and a super easy size adjustment mechanism. But the Aqua Sphere Moby Kid Swim Goggles and the Speedo Kids Hydrospex Swim Mask are also both fabulous kid swim goggles/masks. Whatever you choose, happy swimming this summer!

Have a pair of kids’ swim goggles and masks you love that we didn’t mention? Or had a different experience with the ones reviewed above? Please share below we always love to hear readers’ opinions!

Alpha Mom purchased all the goggles tested in this review. 

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