Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Child Friendly?

When I became a mom of a 5-year-old over night, I felt comfortable in many areas, but I was completely lost in other areas.  I asked many friends for help, and they came through with flying colors.  As I continue my series on preparing for foster care, I think this post will be very helpful to adults that desire to be parents, but are not yet parents.  If you're already a parent and opening your home to little ones that need a safe place, then this may not be as helpful to you since you've already walked the path of parenthood.

And with that, I'm just going to jump right in! :)

I had NO clue about children's clothing sizes or TV channels or movies (other than Disney).  I knew the obvious child friendly foods, but those were mostly snack items.  I needed ideas for child friendly meals.  I also learned I needed help with age appropriate apps and advice on toys that she would enjoy but wouldn't drive me crazy.  I wanted to have things in my back pocket for rainy day back up plans.  I just needed ideas!

So, I've compiled this list from my own experiences and those of friends who have parented awhile.  If you're new to parenting, you may find this helpful!

Food (child friendly, "typical" allergy friendly, etc.)

dipping and finger foods – 
      carrots in ranch
      nuggets in ketchup
     oven fries
     veggie chips
     granola bars
     cut-up fruit w yogurt dip 
     apple sauce packets

Relatively healthy “treats”:
     berries with dairy whipped cream (in the can – makes anything cool)
     fruit parfaits (made with  yogurt) 
     smoothies (made with yogurt)

Easy well-liked meals include:
     pasta and sauce
     pizza grilled cheese (add pepperonis to a grilled cheese sandwich) 
     breakfast (pancakes or French toast and scrambled eggs) for supper
     sloppy joes
     simple soup (plain Campbells) 
     mac and cheese
     organic chicken nuggets (Costco)
     nitrate free hot dogs
     sandwiches (cute sandwich cutters that use everything but the crust may be helpful!)
     rotisserie chicken (most grocery stores have these heated and in "warming" stations for easy pick up)

Apps and Websites
     Duck duck moose 
     Hungry guppy
     PBS Kids is a great place for younger kids to play games and watch videos.
     ABC Mouse is a preschool-kindergarten website
     SUMDOG is a great learning website for older elementary kiddos

TV Shows and Movies
     Phineas and Ferb
     Veggie Tales
     Disney Jr
     Nick Jr
     PBS (non-cable)
     Qubo (non-cable) 
     Redbox for movies and Wii games
     Amazon prime has lots of free streaming kid videos and shows. 
          ** be mindful of shows about orphans. 
                  This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I'd steer clear from:
                         Stewart Little 
                         Despicable Me 
                         Series of Unfortunate Events
     Disney movies are typically well loved:
          This is all a matter of parents' comfort level. I personally thought very carefully about each story line before turning one on.  There are some scary messages and some child-specific messages that I wasn't willing to show.  

Clothing stores:
One thing I found is that some run small, while other stores' items wear out quickly.  Here's an easy list of what you can expect from kids' clothing stores!

Once Upon a Child/Kid 2 Kid all the way – use their discount programs, sign up for email and get discounts – sell back when you’re done.

Carters runs small
Children’s Place runs a little slim
     Children's Place has awesome deals on clothes.  They have a free rewards program and also 
     have coupons most of the time.
Old Navy runs big but can vary widely
Stuff from WalMart usually only lasts through one kid 
Osh Kosh and Levis that have lasted through at least 3.  
Champion tennis shoes are 1/3 the price of Nikes but we had one pair last a week and our used Nikes have lasted almost a year

Outside Activities
     shooting a basketball
    Grapevine Botanical Gardens
    Downtown Grapevine
    Heard Museum
    Frank Buck Zoo
    Grapevine has fun things all the time!! 
          Butterfly festival
          Thomas the Train
          Amazing Christmas stuff!

Inside Activities
     Grapevine Aquarium
     Perot Museum
     Public Library (most have children's programs year round; some even have trails or ponds nearby that children enjoy)
     Family movie night (make it special with pallets or special comfy chairs, lots of popcorn, etc.)
     Family Game Night (board games, card games or Wii)

Specific Toys to Encourage
    Discovery Toys 
     transportation sorters
     Legos are huge (esp. with wheels and doors pieces)
     a couple puppets
     A Mini Tramp and IKEA tunnel are great indoor gross motor play
     Everyone needs a balance board too – got a cool one at Aldi for 12 bucks.    (Vestibular/balance input helps with emotional balance and control.)
     A dish tub with rice put down in a (dry) blow up baby swimming pool is awesome (just dump the spillover back into the tub when done – add extra kitchen measuring cups, small bowls and things to hide in it – we also put our Banagram letters in there. 
     Melissa and Doug (worth the investment!!) simple and minimal noise
     Arts and craft stuff
     Montessori type play stations or busy bags (dollar store loot ;) 
**multicultural dolls, super heros, books....have a rainbow of cultures and races in your toys**

Specific Toys to Stay Away From (due to any number of reasons)
     Electronic toys
     Zhuzhu pets (they can burn skin and rip hair out)
     Anything small with a zillion pieces. Often too overwhelming for kids to clean up :(

Tips – 
   -  stuffed animals and kid things that say you can’t machine wash often survive the washing machine
   -  IKEA is a great place for kid’s stuff (esp. inexpensive gross motor and sensory play toys) – They have adorable cheap tents and play rugs. 
   - buy shorts/pants with the adjustable waist. (buttons/elastic inside to move as they grow)  It makes it so much easier for everyone.

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