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Friday, February 2, 2018

Spring Break Travel Tips for Parents by Trisha Roberts

Spring Break Vacation is almost here!  Many families will be hitting the road for recreation and leisure. As I discussed in my blog article, “Road Trip with Kids—‘Oh, No!’ or ‘I’ve Got this’” on March 13, 2016, Traveling with children can be a challenge. 

Pack Good Travel Toys

Many parents fall into the trap of lulling their children into silence by playing an endless cycle of videos in the car.  I’m not saying that videos should never be used, but there are so many other things that can be used for entertainment and promote learning at the same time. 

I highly recommend our Travel Toys Surprise Packs for Girls and Vacation Toys Travel Surprise Pack for Boys.  

Each package contains 8 wrapped toys or activities appropriate for play in a vehicle. I personally have used these with my children and found them to be invaluable!  Each child was allowed to choose and open one gift every hour of the trip.  They loved opening the surprise gift and then playing with it for the next hour.  I added a few extras to the Travel Package, like a juice box, animal crackers or package of gum, to stave off hunger and add variety.  I LOVE the fact that the Vacation Surprise Packages are pre-wrapped!  All the work is done! (And who needs more work preparing for Vacation?!?)  The package comes ready to throw in the car!  Mom Scores!  Kids are Happy!  Kids are Learning and Playing! 

Another of our great Travel Toys is our line of Read Along Books

These are wonderful Reading Tools for Kids that educate and entertain.  Children follow along word for word in each book to familiar stories as they are narrated and accompanied by sound effects and songs.  Your child is prompted to turn the page at the sound of the Chime. These are Great Language Toys that stimulate an interest in reading for young children and improve the reading skills of older children.  They are a phenomenal way to encourage a love for books and reading!  

We also offer an affordable, portable CD Player and volume-limiting headphones specifically designed for children.


 Stop Frequently and Encourage Physical Activity

Some suggestions are:

  • Stop at a rest area or travel plaza and designate a running or walking course around picnic tables or other obstacles;  add a competitive challenge by timing each child using the stop watch on your smart phone. 
  • Play a quick game of Leap Frog.
  • Enjoy 5 minutes of Frisbee Fun.
  • Set up a "goal" between two objects and let everyone kick a playground ball to score points.

Have a Great Spring Break!  Please comment and leave tips on how YOU make vacations special for your children!

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2018 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Preparing for Parenthood When You Have a Disability by Guest Blogger Ashley Taylor

Being a parent is challenging, but when you have a disability, parenthood can present even more obstacles. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t be an amazing mom or dad. Whether you have a physical, emotional or learning disability, here are some tips to help you prepare for the wonderful but terrifying job of becoming a parent.

Your Doctor

Before you decide to become a parent, speak with your doctor about any concerns you have  about bringing a child into your life. Your doctor may provide advice about any community services available to parents with disabilities.

Find a Support Network

Before your baby arrives, establish a support network that can help you with tasks and responsibilities that may be difficult to do because of your disability.  Family, friends, community organizations and social services agencies can assist with a number of tasks. They may be able to connect you with resources that can help you care for your child.

 Preparing Your Home

Like any other parent, you want to prepare your home for your baby’s arrival. This includes setting up the nursery, buying baby clothing and diapers as well as other important items. But since you have a disability, it’s also important to purchase items that will help you overcome any obstacles to caring for your child’s needs. For example, if you use a wheelchair, purchase a baby crib that is specially built for parents who use wheelchairs. These types of cribs have an opening similar to a gate. This allows the parent to open the crib from the front and move the wheelchair directly to the crib mattress. The parent then places the baby in bed without even needing to rise from the wheelchair.

Do you have a visual impairment? Use tactile labels for items so that you can easily find them in the house. Whether you’re labeling the baby lotion, diaper rash cream or baby formula, tactile labels let you use your sense of touch to identify something.

Some people with physical disabilities have trouble fastening buttons or zipping zippers. If this describes your situation, find baby clothing that uses simple velcro fasteners. It will be easier to dress and undress your baby. Add loops on baby shoes to help you put them on your little one’s feet.

Use adjustable tables so you can lower the table and place the baby on top of it. Once the baby is secured with a seat belt or velcro, raise the table to a comfortable level so you can change the baby’s diaper.

 Emotional or Intellectual Disability

If you have an emotional disability, seek extra support in the community to help with anxiety, depression or any other issues that may arise after the birth of your child. Find support among family and friends so that you can receive the encouragement every new parent needs during difficult times.

Maybe you have an intellectual disability. If so, find family members, friends, mentors and counselors who can help you overcome any problems that occur as you care for your child. People with intellectual disabilities can receive help with managing money, interacting with doctors, going grocery shopping and a host of other tasks that will help them be a more effective parent.

 Self Care

One of the most important things you should do when you have a child is make time for yourself. Taking care of a newborn is a demanding job. Even parents without a disability feel stressed and exhausted. Late night feedings, crying babies, changing diapers and surviving on a few hours of sleep will make anyone feel like they’re going crazy.

So in order to maintain your emotional and physical health, take care of your own needs too. This often means taking a nap when the baby naps. It may mean asking a family member or close friend to babysit for a couple of hours while you sleep or read a book. There’s nothing shameful about asking for help. All new parents need a break once in awhile. Deal with your stress in a healthy way and use your support network to help you get through those tough times.

Parenthood is an exciting and scary time. You’re responsible for a defenseless child who depends on you to fulfill all of his or her needs. Like any parent, a parent with a disability needs to carefully prepare for a baby’s arrival. But disabled parents need to go a step further. Finding tools that help you care for your baby’s needs and organizing a strong support network will help you successfully prepare your home and life for your new bundle of joy.

Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2018 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Three Unique Challenges Single Fathers Face and How to Overcome Them by Guest Blogger Daniel Sherwin

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

No one walks down the aisle anticipating splitting up after the kids are born, but it happens at an alarmingly high rate. All the sudden, the family unit that was nurturing one, two, or three little ones suddenly becomes fractured, and each parent is left to figure out how to care for the children's needs alone. But is it different for the father than for the mother?

In many ways, life as a single father is much different than that of a single mother. For example, while a single dad can fight for custody of his children, the law automatically grants initial custody to the mother in most cases. But that’s not the only difference, as other challenges like dating and caregiving are usually also different, albeit equally difficult. The following are some unique challenges that single fathers face along with ways to overcome these challenges.

1.  Dating

Sure, dating has its challenges both for single moms and single dads, but according to the Chicago Tribune, fathers tend to have a stronger need to have a “partner in the house” than single moms. This puts them at a higher risk for ending up in a bad relationship and putting their children in uncomfortable situations.

How to Overcome It

While no one is suggesting a single dad should never date again, it’s important to proceed with caution. First of all, take a little time for yourself and your children after the divorce. Try not to date anyone until you feel your wounds are starting to heal, and don’t introduce a new love interest to them until you are certain it will be a long-term relationship. Family Education suggests letting your children get to know her in small doses and to never let the responsibility of informing your ex-wife fall on them.

2.  Self-Care

Single parenting can come with a lot of guilt, fatigue, and overall emotional stress. But men are less likely than women to seek help or even find someone to talk to. According to Psychology Today, the reason for this might be something known as hegemonic masculinity.

Hegemonic masculinity is the innate need that men tend to have to conform to their gender roles of fearlessness and toughness. In other words, they equate needing help with weakness. They tend to feel that they should be able to handle anything life throws at them by themselves and without emotion.

How to Overcome It

Taking care of your mental health and making good choices is crucial not only to keeping yourself healthy, but to helping your children function normally as well. The way we eat, drink, love, and cope with stress, depression, anxiety, and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing. Take time for yourself. Find someone to talk to, even if it’s just a trusted friend.

3.  Work-Family Balance

Another factor that both single parents deal with is a lack of time they feel is necessary to spend with their children. And as a single parent, you are now living on a single income rather than the dual income you were probably used to. While it’s true that the struggle with work-family balance is a strain for both parents, men naturally tend to make work the center of their lives. Research suggests that this is because they view “ambition and a strong work ethic” as “sacred.”

How to Overcome It

The best way to deal with the struggle between the guilt of missing out and work obligation you may feel is to make a commitment to devote a certain amount of time only to your children. In other words, make a decision to devote that time to them and shelve your work responsibilities as much as possible. Some inexpensive activities you can do together may include:

     Movie and pajama night at home
     Cooking dinner together
     Picnics in the park
     Riding bikes
     Water balloon fights
     Visits to the library

There are unique challenges to being a single father. While being a single parent isn’t easy, if you make the time to spend quality time with your children and take care of yourself, it can quickly become the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.

Daniel Sherwin is the proud single father to two amazing kids (a daughter and a son). After noticing the lack of resources on the web for single dads, he started so that others could learn from his successes, failures, and everything in between.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2018 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas to All!

Wishing you and your family the very best Christmas! 

The first Christmas was full of Joy and Awe and Rejoicing as God blessed a family and the world with the unique gift of 

His Son, the Savior. 

May you build special memories as you spend time together remembering and celebrating Christ's birth.  

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Creativity in Children by Trisha Roberts

Who doesn’t want to be creative?  Or at least thought of as creative?  How does creativity develop?  How can we inspire a creative spirit in our children?
First, let’s look at what creativity is NOT.

Creativity is not a license for doing anything you want!  To let a child destroy a toy by playing with it in a “creative” way is not building creativity, it is teaching disrespect for property.

For example, if a child has a musical instrument, they can create and play wonderful melodies and harmonies, experimenting with octaves and chords and interludes.  They should not be bound by only playing music composed by others. But to let that child use their trombone for a golf club or their flute as a baseball bat would be destructive, not creative.

A Trombone "Baseball Bat"--A Thousand Times NO!

Or would anyone consider letting their child use their 8-week old puppy like a chair?  Of course not! Is it pretend play?  Yes, but it would be hurtful, possibly maiming to the puppy.

I have seen children destroy toys and parents excuse their behavior with, “Well, it’s their toy, they can do with it what they want.” Or “I don’t want to stifle their creativity.  Let them play the way they want to play.”  

This is not a way to develop maturity and respect for property.  It is not being creative.  It is giving license to do whatever a child wants without repercussions and is actually “sanctioning” such behavior by labeling it ‘creative’.  Think of the thousands of dollars spent on cleaning up graffiti!  Creative art is a wonderful thing, but marking or painting property without the property owner's permission is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime.

Creativity is defined by Webster as, “the ability to make new things or think of new ideas.

Practical ways to help children play and think more creatively include:

  • Using the starter phrase, “What if…….” And letting children think of new and different ways to end a story, imagine a different world, use an item uniquely.
What if dogs could fly?
What if you were president for a day?
What if you had a magic wand?
What if the Three Bears adopted Goldilocks?
  • Role Play
  • Have children close their eyes when you read to a new book and imagine the story for themselves rather than look at the pictures.  Let them describe what they “see”.
  • Place a variety of household items in a box.  Let children pick an item and then think of a new way to use that object.
  • Use a storyboard, action figures, stuffed animals, etc. to create a story.

A quote I found on the internet states, “If there's one thing that distinguishes highly creative people from others, it's the ability to see possibilities where others don't — or, in other words, vision. Many great artists and writers have said that creativity is simply the ability to connect the dots that others might never think to connect.                 Mar 4, 2014

Creative people are adaptive, think “outside the box”, and are resourceful, persistent (think of Thomas Edison and his multiple trials before getting the light bulb to work!).  They generate lots of ideas (brainstorm), blend ideas, explore unorthodox solutions.

Let’s raise a generation of children who are mature and respectful but at the same time able to look at problems and generate solutions in a fresh, innovative way.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Children's Unrealistic Gift Lists by Trisha Roberts

As the Holidays approach, many parents get anxious.  They want to make Christmas or Hanukkah special for their children but are often faced with the dilemma of what to buy, how to avoid taxing the budget, and satisfying their children's "Wish List", which is often extremely unrealistic. For fear of disappointing their children, they often buy mountains of presents, which may or may not eliminate the temper tantrums.  I am presenting an article I wrote last year that is very appropriate this month and contains information for teaching values throughout the year.  "Things" are not what ultimately satisfy--developing a giving, generous, compassionate spirit in your child is far more valuable.

One of my daughter’s favorite Christmas tunes is, “Oh, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”.  You’ve probably heard it if you listen to the radio in the month of December. The first line is, “Oh I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do”. You may not have a child asking for a Hippo, but many children have a wish list a mile long or containing toys that are totally inappropriate for their age or their parent’s budget. We’ve probably all known a child (or been that child!) who throws a tantrum because they did not get what they wanted.

We love to give our children special gifts for Christmas, Birthday, Hanukkah or other special occasions.  Our children come to expect gifts and then to request (read, “demand”) gifts, often prompted by adults asking, “What do you want for Christmas?” 

Take the focus off of receiving gifts. I recommend having a discussion several months before a holiday about the reason we give gifts.  Things like:  this is a token of our love, to celebrate or commemorate a special event, to make a person feel special.  We sometimes give a gift to stimulate growth (like a book). We give because God first gave to us—the gift of Life, of Health, of Salvation.  We give to bring joy to others.  We want to encourage a spirit of giving and thankfulness. This discussion can help children develop a better understanding of gift giving. It is not an exhaustive list of demands. It is a demonstration of love and should be appreciated as such whatever the gift might be.

Change the emphasis to giving rather than receiving.  Make a list of people your child would like to give gifts to; discuss what things that person likes and note what type of gift you could give. Try to add someone to the list who will probably not give you a gift in return—maybe your mail carrier or bus driver.

Help Children be Creative

Children can be given extra chores to earn money to purchase gifts, but I think a gift that is created by the child is more meaningful and takes the emphasis off the “commercial”.  A special card, a book of coupons for hugs/kisses/special help around the house, a framed picture, a video montage, homemade cookies or flavored Chex Mix.  Write a creative story, have it typed, illustrate it, and give it as a book.  Read a favorite story to a grandparent.  Perform a puppet show. 

If your children are musical they could play or sing a song for a loved one; if the person lives far away, it could be video-taped and e-mailed or performed on Skype. Whenever possible, the child should wrap the gift and deliver it in person.  Watching a person open their gift and seeing the joy that it brings will help your little ones gain a better understanding of gift-giving and will begin to develop a spirit of generosity. Make sure that your children see and hear your gratefulness when you open a gift. Model thankfulness by your words and actions—a phone call or hand written note to the giver is always appreciated.

Children should not be encouraged to make a long list of “wants”.  An attentive parent usually knows what a child likes and what they have been looking at in stores. If a child comes to you with a list you should take the list but say to the child, “Remember our conversation about gifts.  We love you. Just because you have made a list does not mean that we are obliged to get you the things on that list.”  You will have a great Christmas/Birthday/Hanukkah whether or not you get the things you have listed.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, December 1, 2017

ImaginOak Play Mats

This week I feature a terrific product that encourages creativity and imagination--the ImaginOak Play Mats

ImaginOak Play Mats are designed to engage children in open-ended adventure and creative story play, using the toys they already have. The large vinyl mats provide three unique environments for kids to make believe their own exciting stories. 
ImaginOak Play Mats Encourage Creative Play

The brightly printed play mats are big enough for excellent solo play, but also large enough that 2 or more kids can play together. The best stories are relational, and when several children are engaged in imaginative self-scripted play, magical things can happen. The play can be different every time depending on the feelings of the day or the toys they bring to the play mat.

What sets ImaginOak Play Mats apart are the three stylized designs featuring more realistic buildings and landscaping, more interesting details, the large scale of the vinyl play area, several different play mats can lay side by side in any configuration, and the mats encourage stimulating group play. The painterly look gives these artisan play mats a style like no other.

ImaginOak Castle Play Mat

Some years ago designer Craig McDowall, had the idea of introducing a new play mat into the children’s market. After visiting many toy shops he saw that there were a number of fabric play mats or rugs aimed at pre-school kids. Preschool play mats have chunky graphics and are intended for larger toys. There seemed to be no play mats aimed at elementary school kids, aged approximately 4-11, and the small figurines they’ve collected. He also saw that parents are becoming more interested in finding ways to keep their school age children away from ‘screens’, including electronic devices such as computer tablets, game consoles and television. Child education experts are also sounding the alarm about the amount of time children spend alone, playing games with pre-written scripts and predictable outcomes.

ImaginOak Horse Farm Play Mat

ImaginOak Play Mats encourage imaginative play which is not predefined by characters; there are no people, animals or vehicles printed on the mats. Children may use action figures or other movie and television characters, but the kids are able to reinvent the story line, and design their own narrative. By allowing the children to be their own story tellers, ImaginOak hopes that children will engage in more meaningful play. Children are capable of working out some of their problems by imaginative experiential play, and these play mats might help them in that process. Home school parents are able to convert the story play into written formats which children can continue to work on. These large play mats allow two or more children to take part in parallel play, and interact with friends and siblings. Several play mats can be laid side by side to increase the possibilities.

ImaginOak Village Play Mat

The original three designs, Caravan Village, Quest Realm, and Horse Haven are available in both LARGE 4x5 and SMALL 3x4 sizes. Large size is 45.5" x 59". Small size is 36" x 47”. The great part is that the play mats can be laid together in any configuration

ImaginOak Play Mats Can "Connect"

ImaginOak Play Mats are practically indestructible and are waterproof. The scrim vinyl is printed with safe water-based latex inks which are the optimum choice for use in hospitals, restaurants and schools. These inks are Greengaurd Gold UL certified, odorless, and meet LEED standards. They roll up for storage, and are easily cleaned with a mild detergent and moist sponge.

ImaginOak Play mats are available in two sizes to fit most families needs:
Small 3' x 4' for the price of $55.00
Large 4' x 5' for the price of $75.00

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.