Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Guest Post: Five Ways to Stay Healthy and Safe While on Vacation

After a long year of school and work, it is time to take a well-deserved vacation with your family. To make it safe as well as fun, some planning will keep everything running smoothly. Whether you are going by bus, car, plane, or train, follow these tips for stress-free travel.

1. Getting Enough Sleep

Although you plan a packed schedule full of activities during the day, restful sleep at night will keep your kids raring to go each day. To ensure a good night’s sleep away, ask if the hotel enforces quiet hours. Generally, these establishments cost more, but it is worth the extra expense. Many Orlando hotels offer this perk!

2. Make Sure to Pack the Snacks!

Instead of spending money on unhealthy snacks, make homemade treats. These foods travel well and are healthier alternatives than the sugary choices available at rest stops or in airports.

- Dried fruits
- Nuts
- Pretzels
- String cheese
- Trail mix

3. Rest Breaks are Important
Driving to your vacation destination is a great way to connect with your kids, but it is a good idea to include frequent rest stops. Choose a park to let them play so they can release pent up energy and breathe fresh air. Make sure to bring their favorite electronic games, toys, and engage them with songs.

4. Be careful of that Airplane Water

The water used to prepare beverages sits in a plane's holding tank, which is unclean. Sometimes, the water used to refill these tanks comes from foreign airports, which do not have the same standards as the United States. Stick to bottled water, juices, or soda. Avoid these items.

- Coffee
- Drinks made with water
- Ice cubes
- Tea

During a six-year review by the Environmental Protection Agency, there has been cause for concern with airplane water containing traces of E. coli.

5. Watch Out for to much Sun Exposure

Fun in the sun includes using sunscreen for everyone in your family, particularly the little ones.

- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of 15 SPF every two hours
- Have your child wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses while they are playing outside
- Reflected sunlight on water or snow intensifies sun exposure
- Ultraviolet light is stronger near the equator
With the summer weather approaching, vacation season is on! I hope you keep these tips in mind the next time you go on a trip with your family!

Kendra Thornton: Travel advocate, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, proud wife and mama of 3. I am a long time travel expert who has been packing my bags and traveling the world since I was 3 months old! I've found my utmost desire in life is right here in my own home. I have mixed my excitement for travel by bringing the taste of authentic cuisine to my own home with some of my unique recipes and sharing some of my personal traveling tips. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guest Post: Gift Ideas for a Second Time Mom

While there’s no shortage of people who claim to know the perfect gift for “start-up” moms, shower items for mothers working on baby number-two (or three, or four, or...) present more of a challenge. Do you need to need to do everything differently this time? If so, what?

There’s no master secret for what to give to the second-time-around parent, but there are a few guidelines. First of all, this go-around should veer a little more to the practical side.  While the joy of expanding the family is back, the novelty of the first time is not. In other words, you might want to stick with a gift that make life easier, rather than more a symbolic or commemorative choice. Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring the other children a little something at the same time. Call it a good-hearted bribe, but it’s a great way to prevent jealousy issues.

Image Courtesy of Dustin M. Ramsey © 2006/Wikimedia Commons

As far as specific suggestions go, don’t forget to check with the baby registry (if one exists).  While it may be less exciting to just faithfully pick up items from a list, remember this is about them, not you! All that said, here are some dynamite candidates for any second-time mom:

Sweet sighs of relief

Again, while mom may be a seasoned veteran at this point, the truth is that she’s contending with more needs, more demands and simply more bodies. Without a doubt, your mom friend could use means of taking a load off, such as:

     Maid service.  Needless to say, more kids make more of a mess (and give you less time to deal with it). A gift card for a trusted cleaning service (or an independent you know from word-of-mouth) will hit home.
     A “Babymoon” trip.  There’s no shame in it: moms need to get away from it all too.  Make reservations at her favorite hotel or nearby inn, set things up with a babysitter (or volunteer your own services).
     Spa/salon treatment:  This one might also entail pinning down a baby sitter, but an afternoon of soaking, steaming and getting spoiled will benefit her whole clan. If she has trouble getting out of the house, consider making her a gift basket filled with essential spacare items (soaps, salts, bubble bath, etc).

Image Courtesy of Jamie Campbell/Wikimedia Commons

Specifically “Multi-kid” Upgrades

     Double stroller.  This obviously depends on the age difference between the little ones. If the gap is greater than a year or so, you might just want to get a swankier single stroller.
     Diaper station annex. A duplicate changing pad and diaper pail will definitely help with the overflow, especially if the growing family lives in a home with space issues; a baby bathtub will be a backup blessing.
     New jumpers and bouncers.  New kids means more little bodies with a lot of energy. Not only will these things keep the whole gang occupied, you’ll be creating another pressure valve to give mom some much-appreciated hands-free time.

Strictly Practical

There are some items that will always come in handy, no matter which kid uses them.

     Clothes and cloths; bibs and burpers.  Babies are as messy as they are adorable and try as mom might, some things just receive too much wear and tear to last long.
     “Old school” alternatives.  Mass-produced baby needs are convenient, but they aren’t always the best for the environment or children’s health. A supply of cloth diapers (or a coupon for an ongoing service) is a great green way to show you care, while glass bottles prevent the risks that come with reheating plastic.
     Blood registry.  This one may seem odd to some readers, but it might end up being the greatest gift of all. By starting a fund that will pay for storage of the new baby’s cord blood stem cells, you’ll give the family peace of mind should any medical problems arise in the future. A gift not every mom may think of, this might be as practical as is meaningful.

Of course, knowing the mom, her family and her ever-changing hectic schedule is the best way of deciding on ideal presents. In the end, it’s all about making life go more smoothly, so keep it simple.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area who specializes in travel, marketing and technology. In addition to being a business owner, she is also a mother of three, making her a very busy mom who would appreciate any one of the above mentioned gift ideas.