Archive for August, 2009

The Kid Cave, a featured inflatable at the North Phoenix PumpItUp Location

The Kid Cave, a featured inflatable at the North Phoenix PumpItUp Location

When the temperature jumps to 109 degrees and your kids are bouncing off the walls with unspent energy, where do you go that won’t cause heat stroke, dehydration or heat exhaustion? I have a solution to your problem! …PumpItUp! The Inflatable Party Zone!

They are currently getting ready to celebrate their 4th anniversary on August 31st! Congrats! This will be a special event in that it will offer a free “open bounce” from 5:00pm-8:00pm with groups of 25-30 kids being moved through two bounce zones every 30 minutes (equalling 1 hr of open play for each attendee). Probably the most exciting thing about this anniversary, however, is that Banerjee is going to accept donations to support the American Society of Autism.

Banerjee has hosted events for the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) before along with many private parties for autistic children’s groups. Banerjee confided, “the (autistic) kids really seem to enjoy themselves…something about the environment awakens something in them and they truly have some amazing fun!”. Banerjee added that he is careful to consult parents in attendance about the environment (ie. music volume and selection) to make sure that he creates the best environment possible for these special needs children.

“We have a deep appreciation and concern for autism in our community…these families are truly special and have given us some sobering insights into the struggles faced by autistic children and their caregivers,” says Banerjee. “This is our way to give back to the community that has supported us these last four years,” he adds.

I would encourage you to attend this free bounce event if possible but if you don’t make it, Banerjee assured me that they are open year round, with the exception of major holidays. Banerjee recognizes that his business depends on the disposable income of families, something not many have a lot of these days. So he has restructured some of the standard PumpItUp! party package options at his location specifically to address these tough economic times. So don’t be afraid to give it a try! Remember, “no matter how far life pushes you down, no matter how much you hurt, you can always bounce back!” (quote by Sheryl Swoopes)

If you have ever been to a BounceU or Jump and Shout, then you will be very familiar with this type of indoor inflatable playground. The North Phoenix location boasts two arenas of over 4000 square feet each, filled with various inflatable activities. PumpItUp has a brightly colored and exciting atmosphere to offer even the most seasoned bouncer! There are 4 valley locations (Tempe, Scottsdale, North Phoenix and Arrowhead) that offer open bounce times as well as scheduled private parties for all ages. For those of you who are bounce-savvy, you might be interested to know that PumpItUp was actually the original “indoor bounce zone”, later adapted by BounceU and others. But now, even BounceU falls under the corporate umbrella of PumpItUp Holdings.

I spoke with Swapan Banerjee, owner and operator of the North Phoenix PumpItUp! location on August 26th about his operation. His facility holds two open bounce sessions per week for smaller kids (6 and under) as well as one session per week for older kids (although these older kid bounce sessions are only available during the summer months and are discontinued during the school year). The open bounce price is $7 per child and siblings two and under can enter free. In order for the two or under sibling to enter for free, though, there needs to be an older sibling that has paid admission.

While they offer these open bounce sessions as opportunities for prospective clients to sample the goods, private parties are their bread and butter. They specialize in children’s parties but have even hosted corporate parties for adults; after all, you don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing!

For more info: Visit the PumpItUp website or you can contact the North Phoenix Location at (623) 434-7867 or visit their location at 22515 N. 18th Drive in Phoenix, AZ 85024-1356.

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You can build your chore chart by dragging and dropping pictures from our clipart gallery into the columns on the left. Your toddler can then mark off when they have completed something. There is even a space on some of the days to mark off a chore that must be done in the morning and night.

You can build your chore chart by dragging and dropping pictures from our clipart gallery into the columns on the left. Your toddler can then mark off when they have completed something. There is even a space on some of the days to mark off a chore that must be done in the morning and night.

How much should I pay my kids for allowance? When should I start an allowance? How do I make a chore chart for my kids? What are some age appropriate chores I can start with?

Ah, the age old issue of money and work! It starts so young! And yet, we should be glad that it does. The sooner we teach our children about money, it’s worth and the value of a job well-done, the better off our children will be as adults. These are life skills that may seem trivial for a 4 or 6 year old to learn but it is at these early, impressionable ages that these lessons are most effective in turning into lifetime habits.

So when should you start an allowance? Well, here at MyTime Calendars, you can start even before your kids know how to read! Toddlers are very eager helpers. They are just starting to discover that they have a will of their own (hence the “terrible two’s” when you begin to hear the “no” word a lot!) and they are learning that choices have consequences and outcomes. Learning to understand that “cause and effect” is a huge milestone. Helping your kids start with a chore chart can really help them begin to understand their responsibilities in the family as well as this concept of “cause and effect”. It also helps them feel a bigger part of the family by taking on responsibility as a member. How you choose to reward these efforts will ultimately help them understand the difference between what is expected as a family member and what is considered “above and beyond” the normal expectations.

What are some age appropriate chores? Well, as you’ve probably heard a million times before (especially if this is not your first rodeo!), every child is different. But having said that, toddlers as young as two enjoy helping. They love to attempt new things and while that adventuresome spirit can prove to be a challenge at times, it can be turned to your advantage. It can be as simple as folding rags from the laundry (one of my two-year olds personal favorites!) or as complex as putting away the toys or books in her room. Even brushing their teeth can be a new and exciting chore for a two-year old to master and a great habit to start. Here’s a simple list of chores that a young toddler might enjoy (all of which are represented in our MyTime Calendars clipart gallery)…

  • brushing teeth
  • picking up toys
  • putting away books
  • cleaning (table, chair, etc. with a damp rag)
  • feeding/caring for the family pet

And now the really tough question…what age do I start giving an allowance and how much should it be? From my experience, I have found that the allowance doesn’t really need to start until kindergarten. It is about this age that kids start learning about numbers and that those numbers have value. This then begins to translate into money and understanding the value of what it is and what it can purchase. That said, a toddler still likes to work towards rewards, a concept that is easy in the abstract and doesn’t necessarily have to be quantified to be effective (earn a trip to the dollar store, for instance, rather than earning a dollar). The system that has worked for my kids (ages 2-8) starts with basic chores that are expected because they are a part of a family (making the bed, putting away clothes, brushing their teeth, cleaning the table after dinner, etc.). Then we have the “extra” chores that earn them rewards (helping Dad with the yard work, extra reading outside of school, cleaning the windows/baseboards, etc.).  These extra chores are worth a dollar each while the daily chores can earn them a dime per chore. My youngest gets a pick from the “treasure box” which is where we keep our “trash and trinkets” (remember, one kids junk is another kids treasure!). At the end of the week, we take stock of what was completed and collect our earnings.  Sometimes we have dollar store visits where they can spend their earnings. Some of my kids prefer to save their money for a “big ticket” item while others prefer to spend theirs right away for the quick return. Our choice of 10 cents stems from a desire to teach them about savings and tithing (or other donation). We teach them to give 10 percent of their earnings to savings and 10 percent to tithing. This is an easy way to break down a dollar.

The bottom line is that you need to know your children and decide what works best with your individual family dynamics. But hopefully these few tips might get you going. Give us your thoughts on how you handle allowances and chores with your kids…what worked for you?  Follow this discussion in our forums!

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Do you co-parent?

August 24th, 2009 6:41pm
A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.

A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.

Does your husband play an active role in your kids lives? If he doesn’t, your kids are sorely missing out. Dad’s add something special to parenting because dad’s don’t think like mom’s! (I know, big surprise there!). But it’s true and while this sentiment might sometimes be cause for frustration, it is something we should be thankful for. Kids receive entirely different interaction from their dad than their mom and also get entirely unique perspectives on problems or questions they might have. Dad’s these days are looking for a more active role in parenting than the one their fathers were saddled with. So mothers of the world, stand up and cheer for these forward thinking dad’s!

But there’s a catch, ladies…we mom’s have to learn to let go of a few things. It is commonly accepted dogma that “mother’s know best” in all situations pertaining to the kids and therefore, we should have the final say on whatever might be needed in the home, whether that be discipline, decorating, food, love, advice, or the like. A study of 1,023 couples from 20 large cities in the US recently found that mothers were protective of their caregiving and educational roles when it came to the caregiving of the children but were less so for playtime activities that “were not considered threats to the mother’s caregiving identity.”

Dad’s everywhere are breaking out of the old stereotype of “father works, mother takes care of the home” and wanting a more active role in the home. And while this is something every mother seems to covet, we are much more reluctant to yield some of our “home court advantage” to our husbands. We’re not talking about the everyday “let your kids go to school in mismatched clothes because you’re husband dressed them” idea, but more along the lines of letting our husbands be the one our kids run to when they skin their knee (and not feeling guilty about it!).

Dad’s need more than just a “green light” to participate, they need active encouragement from us mothers that they are capable of carrying out their responsibilities in their own way and that we trust them to do it (sorry ladies…that means no nagging or micromanaging!).

Probably the most important first step is to define exactly what kind of parenting co-op you want. Not everyone is ready or desires the complete “co-parenting” package. But our children benefit when we relinquish some of our control to make way for their dad’s own parenting style. I remember when my husband and I came home with our first daughter. I was happy to take on all the responsibilities of home life as a stay-at-home mom and was in fact eager to do so while my husband supported us at work. But a few months into things, I realized that while I might sometimes feel like the martyr for all the late-night, crying, feeding, daily caregiving role, I was in fact cheating my husband out of the evening giggles, smiles, bathtime play and general bonding that I got every day with my baby. When we talked about it, he was very eager to enter into this evening role when he got home from work and take over the evening routine as often as he could. As excited as I was for this added help and his excitement and willingness to participate, I found myself hovering over him, micromanaging every interaction with the baby and generally making myself a total nuisance! I kept trying to tell him “that’s not the way I do it” and “you really shouldn’t do that” or “let me show you how you’re supposed to do that”. What I realized is that I didn’t know anything more about parenting than he did. The difference was I had been given 3 months of total trust and complete autonomy to figure it all out for myself while I was asking him to figure it all out in one day while under my supervised stare! This all became apparent to me when, in an outburst of frustration, my husband turned to me and said “well, that’s NOT the way I do it!!”.

We need to let these willing husbands learn their own way of doing things and realize that even if it’s not done the exact way we want it to be, at least it is getting done. The more important results from these efforts on both parts is that the kids are going to benefit from a real relationship with their dad and there is no earnings sheet that can compare to that!

Thoughts on co-parenting? Join the discussion in our forum!

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Back to School Grumps

August 22nd, 2009 12:02am

Anyone else had overly grumpy, irritable and overly whiney children this week? 3 of my kids just finished up their first full week of school today and let me tell you, it has been a bumpy ride! Thankfully, they all seem to love their teachers, they love being back in school and while one or two might get a little reluctant to rise in the morning, for the most part they are eager to be up and out the door to school. The problems arise when they all come home!

It starts the moment they all get in the car. And then, suddenly, these previously helpful, sensitive, and positive summer helpers become these bickering, teasing, short-tempered grumps! I know it’s a product of returning to the structured schedule of the school year, the added stress of the social dynamics and the general fatigue of a very full day. But it still makes me sad to see my little ones who got along so well through the whole summer begin to bicker and taunt each other, sometimes to tears!…which, by the way, seem to come much faster this week.

The only thing I can figure is that they need more sleep. I’ve set a strict bedtime of 8:00pm now which seems to be helping. And I’m hoping that as we settle back into the school routine, tensions will ease up a bit.

I don’t know if I’ve got any helpful tips on this one as much as I’m sending out my frustrations into the void of the internet, hoping for some great thoughts and inspiration from all you mom’s out there! As the echo of constant chatter from arguing kids rings in my ears, I keep hearing that inner voice…”can’t we all just get along?!”… 😉

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Where are you superman?

Where are you superman?

As I was once again watching some of the Star Wars movies with my little kids for probably the 100th time, my son asked me “so are the storm troopers good or bad?” to which I replied “well, they’re good in the fifth movie but not the sixth”. With a worried look on his face, he then followed up with “but in ‘Star Wars, the Clone Wars’, they are friends with Anakin and they fight the bad guys, right”. Struggling a little, I then tried to explain”well, yes but Anakin becomes bad in the fifth movie too”. “But he can’t be bad because he’s a good guy!” replied my 7 year old.

Do you find yourself having these types of conversations with your kids about their “heroes”? We talk a lot about the “good guys” vs. the “bad guy” and my kids try hard to make sure they’re rooting for the “good guy”. The problem is, that’s not always a clear distinction these days. We cheer for the Michael Phelps of the world that win Olympic medals and achieve great things only to have them arrested for drug abuse or indicted on counts of rape.  We cheer wildly for Steve McNair only to find that he was cheating on his wife…and his girlfriend…at the same time!

How do we explain to our kids the distinction between the “hero” vs. the “villain” when we don’t often know ourselves? Perhaps the solution is to not worship the person, but the act. Perhaps it is no longer the hero that should be important but the act of heroism itself that should draw our accolades. Acts of sacrifice, kindness and true heroic struggle happen around us daily. We need to help our kids stop searching for the hero and start bringing attention to the true heroism in their lives. The teacher who despite the daily struggle with cancer, chooses to cheerfully come to school every day to help her students learn and grow. The policeman who leaves his family every night not knowing whether he’ll be back to see them the next morning just to make sure the rest of us can sleep a little safer. The parent who works long hours at thankless jobs, struggling with difficult people, just to make sure his kids can be fed and clothed.

As our kids watch our daily recognition of these silent and too often unrecognized acts of heroism throughout our day, perhaps they, too, will be able to understand that it is not the hero that is important, but the daily striving to be the hero that counts. One of my kids favorite songs is “If Today was Your Last Day” by Nickelback. As the title suggests, it reminds us that we don’t always get that second chance to do what we know we should. We “should do whatever it takes” to “shoot for the stars” because “whats worth the price is always worth the fight”. If our kids can learn that it’s never too late to do the right thing and that we shouldn’t wait until the last minute to make that choice, we may yet be able to repopulate the world with true heroes owrthy of a lifetime of accolades.

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