Tag Archives: single moms

The Best Snacks For Your Snack Pantry

Active kids are just like adults. We get hungry in between meals and need something to nibble on. When we get the urge to snack, we want something to satisfy the need for food right away and often grab for the food items that are within immediate reach and need no preparation.

Snacks like candy, cookies and ice cream are good for an occasional treat, but for the need for a nibble that happens on a daily basis, or even more often, it’s a good idea to have a supply of snacks on hand that won’t interfere with a well planned nutritious and healthy diet. The single mom can make sure she has a supply of healthy munchies on hand to reach for when her family member starts to notice that rumble in the tummy that will soon turn into a growling hunger monster.

As you shop for tasty morsels to stock the snack pantry, pay attention to the fat content, serving size, amount of sugar and sodium and the shelf live of the product before you buy. Some snacks are healthier than others, but you want to provide a variety of easy to grab bits and pieces that the kids will enjoy eating.

  • Popcorn kernels or reduced fat microwave popcorn are a good staple for any snack pantry. The popcorn can be ‘glamorized’ with a sprinkling of herbs or even cinnamon.
  • Fruit filled snacks, granola or fig bars are nutritious options, but not all kids like them. Of course, that leaves more for mom when she feels the need to feed on something light to get her through the afternoon.
  • Pretzels are a good snack, no matter what size or shape. There are even snack crackers on the market that are cracker on one side and pretzel on the other.
  • Baked vegetable chips are a good substitute for potato chips. Put them out in a bowl in the center of the table or fill a sandwich bag so the child can eat while on the go.
  • Trail mix, raisins, nuts and dried fruit can be served for healthy and nutritious refreshments.
  • Cereal bars and granola bars are a good way to get a bit more calcium and fiber into the child’s diet. Look for products that are low in fat.
  • Rice cakes are available in many flavors. They come in the traditional size and the mini bite size. They also can be topped with flavorful and nutritious spreads.
  • Frozen fruit chunks are often sweeter than fresh. Try freezing small bags of melon or berries to offer as a treat for the active child to enjoy on a hot afternoon.
  • Some of the same snacks that the single mom enjoyed as a child are still popular with kids today. Find room on the snack pantry shelf for graham crackers, ginger snaps and animal crackers.

When the music from the passing ice cream truck attracts the attention of the kids, the organized mom can reach into her freezer instead of her wallet and offer the child frozen yogurt, fruit popsicles or sorbet. Not only are the treats healthier and less expensive, mom and her family can enjoy them on the front porch as they watch the rest of the neighborhood scramble after the truck and stand in line waiting to hand over their money for their treat.

Helpful Training Tips For Family Pets

The kids have been clamoring for a pet and the single mom finally gives in, knowing that it will be a lot of extra work for her. While proper pet training of the new pet is an obvious requirement of the new responsible pet owners, some ‘training’ has to be directed toward the human member of the family, too.

No matter what type of pet that the single mom decides to share her home with, the kids have to have a complete understanding of the new rules. The first is obvious.

Let the Pet Eat in Peace

You never know how an animal will react if it feels that his food or water will be taken away from him. It would be different if the animal could talk to you and let you know, but they can only communicate with their natural yips, growls or nips. While a lot of pet owners feel that they can train their pet to remain calm if a child gets too close while they are eating, it’s never a good idea to put the whole burden on the animal.

Pets need Alone Time

Sometimes the pet just needs time to relax and get away from all of the human activity. Explain to the kids why they shouldn’t crawl under furniture in an attempt to get the pet to play with them. Just because a dog or cat may tolerate being pulled from his retreat doesn’t mean that the animal is happy about it.

Remind the kids as often as needed that when the pet is sleeping, he shouldn’t be disturbed. Let him wake up naturally.

Table Manners

Pets in homes with children often find that tasty treats are magically dropped to the floor under and around the table area and as meals are put on the dining table they take up a watchful position. It’s up to the pet owner to decide if this is an acceptable practice.

Beware of the animal learning to beg for tidbits if the family doesn’t accidentally drop food as they are eating. At first, an animal watching the family dine with his huge longing eyes may be cute, but if the pet becomes accustomed to being rewarded by this type of behavior, it will soon become annoying. What’s more, it is unhealthy for the pet.

Teach your child that they should never feed the pet from their plates while they are eating. Like your family, your pet needs a well balanced diet and nutritious diet. Those little morsels of food that the kids may try to sneak from their plates to their waiting pet add up quickly and if it’s a regular routine could affect the health of the animal.

Let a Sick Animal Rest

Animals, like humans, have days when they are not feeling well. Teach the kids that if they think that their pet is having an off day they should leave it alone and let you know right away. Even the best trained pet can react differently if they are disturbed when they are uncomfortable.

Petting and fussing over the animal while it is trying to recover won’t make the animal feel better. It will approach you if it wants a comforting touch.

Common sense rules will usually be enough for a new pet to become socialized into the family. Of course, further pet training will be necessary as the new pet gets older, but the basic rules will serve to make the family and pet safe and happy until then.

Delicious Chocolaty Walnut Brownies Recipe

The words healthy and chocolate really can go together in the same sentence. What would you say if you and your kids could enjoy homemade brownies topped off with ice cream and consider it a nutritious snack? For the single mom who enjoys the rich flavor of a chocolate desert as much as her kids do, this recipe for Chocolaty Walnut Brownies might become a well-used family heirloom in the years to come.

These brownies not only taste fudgy, but have 86% less fat than the normal homemade brownies. They also have 56 per cent less sugar. Add it all up and it means 35% fewer calories. Make it extra special knowing that you can afford to add a half cup of low fat ice cream to your treat and enjoy a brownie and ice cream dessert while adding only about 400 calories to your daily intake.

One of the tricks in these chocolaty brownies is to replace the butter with canola oil to reduce the amount of saturated fats. The semisweet chocolate chips and cocoa powder will make it impossible for you to notice as you enjoy the homemade goodness of the crunchy bars.

Ingredients for Chocolaty Walnut Brownies

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

 

Directions

Use cooking spray to coat a 9”by 9” or 8” by 8” baking pan.

Let the oven heat up to 350 degrees F while you’re mixing the ingredients.

Chop the walnuts if necessary and set aside.

Sift the unsweetened cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl.

Add flour, salt and baking powder to the cocoa and mix.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the oil, egg, egg white, sugar and vanilla until it is smooth.

Stir the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and blend completely.

Add the walnuts and chocolate chips to the mixture. The batter will be stiff, but make sure that you stir it well.

Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared baking pans.

Bake the brownies for 20 minutes and then do the toothpick test to see if they are don. Just stick the toothpick into the center of the brownie pan and pull it out. It should come away with just a few crumbs on it. Once the edges of the brownies are firm, keep a close eye on the cooking process so that they don’t become over baked and dry.

Let the brownies cool completely on the rack.

Cut into eight brownies.

Of course, mom will probably want to sample the brownies before serving them to her family. Feel free to do that, because if you have one without the ice cream you’ll only be eating 305 calories.

 

Tips and Tricks For Gardening With Kids

As a single mom, you want many of your home activities to be revolved around your kids. After all, you are away from them for eight or more hours a day, so why not make the most of your time together? Gardening with kids is a great way to build your bond while also accomplishing something worthwhile. These tips will make it work well for you.

First, pick plants that are hardy and grow well in your area. You do not want discourage your children by choosing plants that are going to likely die or fail to thrive. Working against nature may work for the experienced gardener, but your kids are not.

Be prepared for your kids to be dirty. Gardening is a dirty activity, so have some play clothes handy and don’t sweat the small stuff if your kids track some dirt into your home. Have them remove their shoes at the door, but have your vacuum and shower handy.

Help your kids see the beauty in the creepy crawlies in the garden. Explain to them the role that worms play in the soil, and teach them about the bugs that might harm the plants. Try not to pass on any squeamishness about critters to your kids.

Avoid the use of chemicals when you garden with your children. Find natural solutions to common problems. You do not want to have to send your kids away from the garden while you spray for bugs or weeds, nor do you want the worry about whether or not the chemicals are still doing their job when your kids return to the gardening area. Whenever possible, use natural options.

If you are gardening simply for flowers, consider adding a spot or two for something edible. It helps kids enjoy their fruits and veggies more when they see them grow in their own yard. Many edible plants can be ornamental as well if you have the right growing conditions in your garden.

Gardening with kids gives you a great opportunity to teach them about nature, while also bonding over a collaborative project. With these tips, you can make it a fun and rewarding opportunity for both of you.

Is School Curriculum Beyond Your Child’s Maturity Level?

Parents all have different ideas on the best ways to raise their children. The single mom knows that there are many parenting styles and she has to find the best approach for her children. The chosen parenting style may have a lot to do with maturity development and how they react to some of the subject matter in the classroom.

Some kids are raised in a home that is safe and happy, with every effort made to protect the innocence of the children. The kids probably know about evil step-parents from fairy tales, but have no idea that real children are being abused.

Other homes have a 24 hour news channel on in the background during dinner so that mom can catch up on world events, and often discussions about the stories are a big part of the quality family time.

It’s often true that kids in the same classroom as your child may be hurting, physically or emotionally, but no one will know until they speak of it.

Each parent wants to decide what the appropriate time and maturity level is to allow their children knowledge of the reality of the outside world. In many cases, the timing is forced because of major world events, discussions on the playground, and even classroom curriculum.

Parents can discourage their kids from becoming friends with other kids who are at a higher maturity level and use foul language while discussing vulgar topics, and instead steer them toward befriending children whose parents have similar family values.

What do you do when the child is shown graphic images and assigned reading materials about the tragic events like the Holocaust in their world history class at school? The parent that perceives their child as still being too young to be introduced to such horrors will be shocked..

News is being made all over the world on a constant basis, and technology has made it possible to seek out the events and report them. History is full of unjust and unhappy, if not tragic, events that are documented in textbooks.

A well rounded education demands that both history and current events be studied. Take steps so that your kids can take these lessons in stride. Communicate openly with the school and the teachers. Ask about the curriculum so that you can discuss controversial issues with your child before he is exposed to them in the classroom.

Sometimes kids develop maturity and intellect faster than mom realizes. Be willing to listen to what the teacher is proposing to teach and, if needed, ask for help in broaching unpleasant subjects to your child.

Diaper Bags: How to Be Prepared Without Over-Preparing

A diaper bag holds a lot, but it never seems to hold everything that the single mom feels she needs to have with her when she takes the baby out of the house. At the same time, the bag is always heavy, and when mom is carrying the infant along with the added weight of the bag hang from her shoulder she is sure to become exhausted quickly.

Make sure that you pack the items you need for your time away from home without adding extra items that will only add to your already heavy load.

Diapering

Always pack more diapers than you think you’ll need. They take up space, but the diaper is one thing you don’t want to be caught short on. Plan for one diaper for every hour that you’ll be away from home.

Make sure you have the changing pad. If it was removed for a cleaning after the last outing, it’s often left behind.

Keep a small box of gentle wipes in the diaper bag. You’ll probably be using them for a lot more than cleaning the baby’s bottom. They can be used to clean up any little spit ups, clean your own hands and even remove soil from the changing pad.

Check on the diaper-rash cream to make sure that it’s not been moved to the changing table until your next shopping trip. Don’t take the chance that a rash will make the infant uncomfortable and irritable while you’re out.

You’ll never have to worry about what to do with the dirty diapers if you carry a plastic bag that you can seal the smelly mess in until you get home. Add an extra bag for soiled clothing.

Feeding

Bring enough formula, breast milk and water to get through the time away from home. Don’t count on the fact that you’ll be back on schedule, and be prepared for a delay that could interfere with regular feeding time. Bring a bib and some burp cloths for cleanups.

Pack extra pacifiers in a clean bag to keep the baby content.

Clothing

Weather changes and accidents happen. Be prepared for the infants clothing to become wet or soiled and pack a complete change of clothing, including socks. Also add a sweater or jacket and a receiving blanket.

If you have room, pack an extra shirt for yourself in case the burp cloth isn’t put in place in time.

Baby Gear for Outdoors

If the trip with the baby will involve spending time outside, remember to pack sunscreen. While it’s never a good idea to let the baby younger than six months spend a lot of time in the direct sun, some exposure is often necessary. Don’t slather the sunscreen on the baby. Use what you need to protect the sensitive skin only when he needs it.

Stick a sun hat for the infant in the diaper bag and remember to use it as added protection from the rays.

In addition to the items on the checklist, many single moms like to pack a comfort item into the diaper bag. A favorite stuffed toy is light enough to make it worth keeping the baby happy.

Indoor Air Quality – What You Can Do to Improve It

One of the best home improvement tasks you can undertake to promote the health of your family is taking steps to improve indoor air quality. While some products designed for this purpose may be out of the single mom budget, you can make some small changes to make big improvements on your family’s health.

The best thing you can do for the air quality in your home is opening your windows and doors whenever possible to let in fresh air. Even just a few hours a day makes a huge difference. Of course, there are times when the weather simply does not allow this, but if it does, let the fresh air in.

Whether or not you can open up your home, you can change your furnace or AC-unit filter to one that better fights pollutants. These gather dust, mold spores, and other pollutants to keep them from mixing with your home’s air. If you let them get too dirty, you lose some of the efficiency of your unit. Choose filters with a MERV rating of 11 or higher to improve air quality. They will be more expensive, but they will make a big difference by trapping more pollutants.

You may think that installing an air purifier is out of your budget, but you might be surprised. Small, room-sized purifiers are quite affordable. Whole-house purifiers are going to require professional installation and a lot of money, but simply running a small one in each room of your home a few hours a day makes a huge difference to the health quality of the air inside your home.

If indoor air quality is a very serious problem for your family, consider setting aside some money to hire someone to install a U/V light in your HVAC system. The installation is expensive and not really a DIY project, but once it is in place all you have to worry about is changing the bulb form time to time. These lights burn so hot that they destroy bacteria and other pollutants in the air that passes underneath them. This is particularly valuable if you battle mold in your home.

Can You Bear To Leave Your Kids Alone With A Babysitter?

Summer time is vacation time. The kids are taking a break from school and the single mom is finding out that if she didn’t make advance arrangements for childcare, she may be having a hard time finding a good babysitter for her kids with a space available for them.

To complicate matters, daycare providers schedule summer vacations themselves. These vacations aren’t always planned far in advance, so clients are often left in the day care crunch when the babysitter finds a vacation package deal at close to the last minute. Mom may be wondering if it’s a good idea to leave her children home and in the care of an older sibling.

The minimum age recognized in most states for a babysitter is 12, although many states allow a child to be left alone at a younger age. As mom wonders if her family can be left alone as she works or runs errands, there are a few things to consider.

While a 12 year old babysitter may be trustworthy and responsible when left alone, taking care of younger siblings is a different matter. The single mom has to be honest with herself and be sure that the younger children will recognize the authority of the older brother or sister. Your 12 year old may be perfectly capable of babysitting outside of the home, but when it comes to family, tempers flare, resentment grows and problems could arise. Here’s where your babysitter’s qualifications should be examined.

If you decide that your children have reached an age that they don’t need a hired babysitter or daycare every time you leave the house, double check their qualifications and that they know how to react in the following situations:

  • Do they know what to do when someone knocks on the door?
  • Do they know how to answer the telephone without giving too much information on your whereabouts to strangers?
  • Do they know how to recognize an emergency and how to respond?
  • Do they know how to get in touch with you and the criteria for trying to reach you?
  • Do they know how to recognize illness?

The American Red Cross offers a baby sitting course to youth from 11 to 15. The training course uses hands on skills in addition to activities and video that will give your young child the confidence and knowledge to care for infants and older children.

Basic first aid, rescue breathing and responses to illness and emergencies are taught in the one day classes. The babysitter is also trained to make decisions under pressure. They are given tips on communicating with parents and the need to know and follow the rules of the house.

The care of infants, including how to feed and diaper them is also taught as part of the American Red Cross training course. Hygiene and safety issues are addressed and your child can even learn how to start a babysitting business.

The American Red Cross is listed in the phone book. Call and see if they offer babysitting training courses in your area. Knowing that your child has the best tools available to take care of themselves and their siblings will give the single mom a sense of freedom when she knows that she doesn’t have to take her whole family with her every time she leaves the house or spend money of childcare.

Questions to Ask the Childcare Provider

Daycare costs a lot of money, but when the single mom is searching for affordable childcare, she worries that she may be putting her children at risk by putting the cost at the top of her list of priorities. It’s possible to find high quality daycare at lower price,s and at the same time put your mind at ease on the well being of her family while she is at work. During the interview, make sure you get satisfactory answers to some basic questions.


Licenses, Accreditation and Compliance

Ask the childcare provider if they have been licensed by the state. Also ask if they have been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Not all states require that the staff of licensed child care facilities undergo a background check before they hire staff. Ask what kind of checks have been made on all employees and make sure that they have all had a criminal background check.

Ask how many of the staff have been trained in first aid and CPR. Does the facility have a policy of a trained staff member being onsite at all times? It doesn’t make any difference how many of the staff have been trained if they aren’t working on the day your child may need help.

The Better Business Bureau and the local health and social services department will have records of any complaints that have been filed against the provider. Take the time to check with these sources to find out if there have been problems in the past.

Check the Surroundings

Take a careful look around the facility. Do play areas seem safe? Be on the lookout for furniture or equipment that has peeling paint or sharp edges that could harm your child. While you’re looking around, check for cleanliness. Pick up a few toys and make sure that they are clean and safe for the age of your children.

It’s best to visit the potential childcare provider when they are open. You can judge if the staff is relaxed and the children happy. Some people are meant to work with young children, and some people are capable of working with young children. A few minutes of observation will show you the difference. Maybe you’ll be able to witness a conflict and learn how the staff handles it.

Are the children playing at structured activities or are they basically left to amuse themselves. Is there good communication between the children and the staff?

Do a quick sweep of the area looking for cleaning supplies or medicine that may not be properly stored. Scissors and other materials for activities can be dangerous for young kids and should not be lying out.

Policy

Many single moms need a bit of flexibility in the pick up and drop off time set by the childcare provider. Ask how strict they are if mom is running late.

How will the center communicate with the parents? Will you have a chance to speak with someone daily, or will they communicate with you only when there is a problem so as not to take attention away from the other children in their care?

Make sure that you agree with the discipline practices of the staff. How will they handle issues with toilet training or picky eating habits?

Make sure that emergency contact information for your family is easily accessible, just in case. Make sure that parents are welcome to drop in without notice.

Finally, ask about emergency plans and where the children will be taken in the event that the area has to be evacuated.

Once you have satisfactory answers to these questions, leaving your children with a new daycare provider will be less stressful.

Preparing a Food Allergic Child for School

As the mother of a food allergic child, you already know the constant fear that comes any time your son or daughter places something in his mouth. When you send them to school where you cannot control every piece of food, that fear can escalate. One way to help is to prepare your student and his teacher ahead of time for the challenges at hand.

Meet with your student’s teacher before the school year starts, explain the allergy and the reaction it causes, and talk about steps the two of you could take to make the classroom safe. If your child’s allergy is severe enough that even the presence of the food in the classroom could cause a reaction, the teacher needs to understand this. There are few teachers who want to put their students at risk, but some do so unknowingly because they are not familiar with how to prevent a food allergic child from being exposed to risks.

Sometimes, reactions are going to occur no matter how careful your student’s teacher is. Make sure she knows exactly what needs to happen. If your son or daughter needs an emergency shot from an EpiPen, then make sure the teacher has access to one. The teacher needs to have a complete understanding of what needs to happen to ensure he gets through a reaction without complications.

For your child, make sure he understands clearly what he can and cannot eat. If possible, pack lunches rather than relying on the school lunch program. You cannot be certain if a particular “safe” food was somehow contaminated by an allergen unless you prepare it yourself. If that is not possible, discuss the allergy with the school lunch program administrator.

Birthday treats are a source of concern for kids with allergies. Talk to the teacher about the possibility of providing an alternative treat. You may even be able to keep a bin of “safe” treats in the classroom that your child can use when a birthday treat comes in.

Parenting a food allergic child is always challenging. You have to be proactive all of the time, and this is even more true when your student enters the halls of your local school.

Household Chores Prove that Four Hands are Better than Two

It’s a good thing we like to be needed. As single moms, we sure seem to be needed a lot. Besides being needed to bring in the money needed to run the household, we’re needed to purchase and prepare the food, pay the bills, do the upkeep on the home and never take our eyes off of our parenting duties.

Did you ever stop to think that your kids would benefit from feeling like they’re needed? What better way to show your young child how valued they are in your family than letting them contribute in the way of chores.

Even at the young ages between 5 and 9 years, there are many tasks that mom can assign to the child that will not only relieve the single mom of simple yet time consuming tasks, but let the child build self competence and understanding of how the family works together to make a happy home.

When assigning the tasks to the child, make sure that it’s a task that he’s mature enough and physically capable of managing. If mom has to redo the task, it is no help to her and can also be seen as failing through the child’s eyes. If the child isn’t tall enough to properly lay out the dinnerware on the table, change the scope of the task to just bringing the silverware or plates to the table.

Tasks that young kids should be able to manage include:

  • Bringing in the newspaper
  • Clearing their own dishes, or even the table
  • Weeding the garden
  • Straightening up the bedroom
  • Helping to unload the dishwasher
  • Placing dirty clothes in the hamper
  • Making their own bed
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Feeding the pet
  • Emptying waste baskets
  • Helping with meal preparation
  • Making their own snacks

Mom doesn’t want to assign too many chores, or the child will start to rebel. Once a chore is given to a child, it’s important that the child does it regularly. Being inconsistent in requiring the job is completed will only give the youngster the idea that if they put off doing the job long enough they can completely escape the duty.

Get a double reward when the child is helping you by doing chores by chatting as you both go about your tasks. This is valuable one on one time with your child. Remember to acknowledge how much help the child is giving you and hand out praise for a job well done.