Tag Archives: Children

Cruising With Kids

By Steven W., our family blogger

43_2523216.JPGCruising can be an ideal way to travel with young children due to the many onship activities and programs for your children, and due to the convenience of your cabin and the dining room when returning from a day long excursion.

We enjoyed a 15 day Hawaiian cruise aboard the Diamond Princess last November with our 1 year old and 4 year old. Here are some unique travel tips we learned that other families may find useful:

1) Get online early

On the first day that online access is available for your cruise, sign up for the children’s program (“Princess Pelicans” for our cruiseline), Reserve shore excursions, and make spa appointments. If you wait just a day or two later, the prime times will be booked already.

2) Create a master calendar

Write down dinner reservations, shore arrival/departure times, spa appointments, excursion info, and any special event times you don’t want to miss. There is so much to see and do during the cruise, that a master calendar really helps you get the most out of your vacation.

3) Pack a wristwatch for each adult

You may think that you won’t need to know what time it is during your cruise, but you will. There are few if any clocks on board, not even in your cabin. We had to turn on the television to see the time. Cell phones could be useful, but they should be off. A waterproof watch is useful both for the spa and the beach.

4) Pose for pictures every night before or after dinner

Unlike most professional photographers, there is no sitting fee charged for the photographers aboard the ship (depends on the ship). So, gather up your family and pose for pictures every night before or after dinner. You won’t have to pay or buy anything, and who knows, one of the photos may turn out great!

Bring your own USB memory key to get digital copies of your photos. And wait until the end of the cruise then buy several photos in a package deal.


5) Eat dinner at the same table every night

This may sound boring, but if you want to enjoy your dinner, it is best to find a good waitstaff, and then stick with them for the duration of the cruise. Your child’s needs (highchair, milk before you order, extra alphabet soup) will be met quickly as the waitstaff gets to know your family, leaving you with more time to relax and enjoy your meal.

One more tip: pack a goodie bag of inexpensive little toys for each child for each night in the dining room. This will keep the kids entertained while waiting for the adults to order and the food to arrive.

6) Rent a mini-van (with a carseat) for excursions

On most, if not all, of the Hawaiian islands, I would recommend renting a minivan.
We did this at Hilo and Kauai, and it worked out great. You can go at your own pace, see the sights you want to, and stop whenever the kids need a meal break or potty stop.

Every island stop had rental car shuttles to take you to the airport to get your vehicle. Plan on spending an hour to get the car and an hour to return the car, reducing your time by two hours. But it is well worth it for the flexibility it gives your family, and much less expensive than the organized excursions.

7) Use the porter

When traveling with kids, a porter is a necessity, not a luxury. Don’t try to save $20 by unloading and loading your luggage yourself. They help with luggage during arrival and departure. Tip generously upon arrival and you may find your luggage gets to your room before you do.

Happy cruising, and let us know if any of these tips helped you! Email us your tips!!

Related Articles:

Don’t Trip the Kids on Halloween

This Halloween, take a few moments and get your house ready for the festivities.

  1. Avoid tripping trick-or-treaters!
    Take things like hoses, ladders, flowerpots, wires, lawn furniture and bikes off your porch, driveway and sidewalk – anywhere you think kids (or adults) may be walking on Halloween.
  2. Turn on porch and outside lights
    It’s easier for trick-or-treaters to see! (This is a good time to replace burnt-out, outdoor light bulbs.)
  3. Clean sweep
    Sweep the leaves off your walkways and porches.
  4. Clear the path
    Keep outdoor decor, jack-o-lanterns and candles away from sidewalks, dry leaves, and Halloween decorations – you get the idea.
  5. Pets
    Dogs, cats and other pets may be frightened or excited by the ringing doorbell, trick-or-treat screaming and unexpected Halloween visitors. If you have an excitable pet, consider putting him or her in a safe, quiet area away from the festivities.
  6. Candy – or no?
    Purchase individually wrapped candies. Or, consider handing out non-candy alternatives like colored pencils, erasers, small pads of paper (perfect for notes, doodles and diaries.)
  7. Not home?
    If you are going out, remember to turn on home security systems and lock doors and windows. And, don’t leave the porch light on! In many communities, a lit porch light means you’re ready for trick-or-treaters.
  8. Caution!
    If you’re out driving, be cautious and go slowly – Halloween is Saturday this year and a big night for kids and families and they are walking the neighborhood.

– Susan

9 Bicycle Safety Tips for Kids

Bicycling can be a great activity for children—if they know the basic safety routines. The following guidelines can make it easier for you to get your child into the bike safety habit.

1. Helmets and kids – It’s the safety connection that really matters

  • Let your child help pick out the helmet.
  • Always insist your child wear the helmet.
  • Begin the helmet habit with the first bicycle.
  • When you ride with your children, wear your own helmet.
  • Encourage the parents of your children’s friends to buy helmets.

2. Dress your child appropriately for dawn, dusk or bad weather biking

  • Children should avoid biking in the dark. If they must bike at night, make sure their clothing and helmet have reflective strips and that the lights and reflectors on the bike are in place.
  • ALWAYS make sure they wear shoes when riding a bicycle! One reader told us that she lost a toe when she was little because she wasn’t wearing shoes and got her toe caught in the bike chain (yowza).

3. Sidewalks and paths

  • Start with sidewalks and bike paths until you feel confident your child can handle a road with vehicle traffic.

4. Plan a safe cycling route with your children

  • Ride it at different times of the day—the amount of traffic can vary significantly.

5. Make sure schools provide cyclists with “safe areas”

  • Look to see where kids can lock their bikes and if it’s near the pick-up, drop-off area (which could have a lot of traffic).

6. Discourage kids from riding alone

  • Kids should always try to ride with a buddy (but not on the same bike) and know what to do in case of an accident or if they are followed or approached by a stranger on foot or in a car.

7. Don’t let them ride a borrowed bike

  • Make sure they are riding a bike that fits them and that it is in good working order.

8. Warn children of the dangers of using a bike to try stunts and tricks

  • ”Showing off” can lead to injuries for the cyclists and his friends.

9. Traffic

  • Remind children to stop and look for traffic at all intersections, including those where streets cross alleys and driveways.

– Susan

‘Kids and Cars’ Safety Tips

With the kids back in school, you’re probably driving a car load of kids to soccer practice, ballet classes, baseball games and more.

Here are some kids and casr safety tips to share with all of the kids you’re taking around town.

  1. Never start the car until EVERYONE, including yourself, are buckled up.
  2. Remind children not to distract the driver while the vehicle is in motion.
  3. “Everyone must buckle up, no matter how short the trip,” says Jennifer Huebner from the AAA’s Traffic Safety Programs. Setting a consistent message each and every time reinforces the safety habit.
  4. “Everyone should have their own seat belt,” says Amanda Giruzzi, a representative of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Children should also be reminded to never sit in the car unless there is a seat belt for them. If there are only three seat belts in the back seat then only three kids should sit back there.”
  5. “Even if they’re riding in someone else’s car, they need to buckle up,” says Huebner. If kids feel like they are in an unsafe vehicle, like being asked to ride in the bed of a pickup, or if the driver seems unfit to drive, “your child should never get into a vehicle if they feel unsafe.”

Here are more tips on kids and car safety.

Time Off? Scream Fire and See What Happens

This is usually a week where family hangs out after the holidays.  In a calm moment at the house, scream ‘Fire’ and see who knows gets out of the house quickly and safely.

If no one knows how to get out, create a home emergency exit plan this Saturday or Sunday.

Here’s how:

  1. Draw a floor plan of your residence. Mark two escape routes from each room, in case of flooding or fire. If your home has more than one story, make sure there is a way to safely exit the upper floors.
  2. Place a copy of each plan in each room in an obvious location – like on a door (just like hotels do!).  
  3. Practice your escape plan every month using two exits. Make sure windows and doors aren’t stuck (winter freeze?) and that screens can be removed.
  4. Practice at night to see how long family members take to wake up. You should also practice blindfolded. Why? This mimics the darkness of smoke. Smoke makes it very difficult to see anything as you try to get out.
  5. Designate a place for everyone to meet outside. Make sure everyone knows the address and phone number of this place (so you can call if the emergency happens and you’re not there). Consider a neighbor’s house or nearby gas station.

Also, get your kids involved with this; they’ll need to know how to get out as well.  Here are some good tips:

  1. Have your kids choose the place where to meet in case you need to leave the house immediately. Make a deal with your kids that they will stay in that spot until they are told by firefighters or police that it is OK to move. Make sure this meeting place is away from the road and driveway – first responder vehicles will drive on these.
  2. You’ve done the family escape plan – have the kids color in escape routes (remember they have to have two exits to color in).
  3. Have your kids choose where they’d like to place the escape plan in their room (you need to make it easily accessible) as well as other rooms in the house.

Also, you may not be home when an emergency or fire strikes – so ….

  1. Know the emergency response plan adn phone numbers for your workplace, your children’s school or day-care center, as well as other places where your family spends time.
  2. Also, meet with neighbors either informally or through a neighborhood group to create a neighborhood preparedness plan. Learn what neighbors or relatives may require extra assistance.

OK, that should fill a couple of hours this weekend.  Have a safe and happy new year!


National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month. There are a couple of sites with information on this month’s focus –

AdoptUsKids.  The goal of National Adoption Month in 2009 is to increase awareness of the need for recruiting and retaining foster and adoptive parents. Good info on the several ways you can contribute to this cause (no matter who you are – they have a link….)

The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) has interesting statistics here.

Organizations behind this month’s focus the U.S. Children’s Bureau, Ad Council, AdoptUsKids, and Child Welfare Information Gateway.

– Susan

Halloween Costume Safety

When we think of Halloween, costumes and candy usually pop into mind. However with all the fun it’s easy to forget about safety.

Here are a few costume tips from Jenna B., our guest blogger and child life specialist at Children’s Hospital in Minnesota.

Jenna writes: As a child life specialist in the ER, I never quite know what’s going to happen on any given day…especially a holiday. When I worked in the ER one Halloween night, I saw several Halloween costume-related injuries including –

  • A boy in a Star Wars costume who had accidentally poked himself in the eye with a plastic light saber
  • Another boy with a gash on his knee after he tripped on his Superman cape
  • A girl who needed stitches on her forehead after tripping and falling on the skirt of her Cinderella dress
  • A boy who needed stitches on his chin from crashing into a wall while wearing a Spider-Man mask he couldn’t see out of.

There seem to be three common “Halloween hazards” for kids in costume:

  1. Costumes that are too big or baggy.
    • No overly-large or baggy costumes – they cause tripping! If kids do have big costumes, consider cutting and trimming if they are overly baggy. Watch if they have a cape, cloak, a long train or loose ribbons or rope. This can be an accident waiting to happen.
  2. Masks or other head coverings that obstruct vision.
    • It gets dark early this time of year, remember that wearing a mask in the dark makes it even harder to see. This can lead to a painful collision with an unseen object. Encourage kids to use face paint, glitter, or stickers rather than face-covering masks.
    • Consider adding reflective tape to the fabric of your child’s costume so cars have a better chance of seeing kids.
  3. Swords, magic wands or light sabers.
    • While accessories make the costume, they can be dangerous – particularly if your kids aren’t looking where they swing the magic wand or light saber.  If your child insists on carrying a prop with their costume, encourage them to carry one that is rubber, plastic or non-pointy, so that won’t hurt themselves (or someone else!) by mistake.
  4. Extra tip: And lastly, just in case of emergency –
    • Inside the costume: Write your child’s name and the best phone number to reach you at.  Or, match the costume with a cool ID bracelet that has this same info.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!!

Vacations: Cruising with Kids

With colder weather and holidyas seemingly around the corner, thoughts of vacations are looming on the horizon (hopefully a warmer horizon.)

Our family blogger Steven has seven tips for cruising with kids – our favorite is #5:

Eat dinner at the same table every night
This may sound boring, but if you want to enjoy your dinner, it is best to find a good waitstaff, and then stick with them for the duration of the cruise. Your child’s needs (highchair, milk before you order, extra alphabet soup) will be met quickly as the waitstaff gets to know your family, leaving you with more time to relax and enjoy your meal.
One more tip: pack a goodie bag of inexpensive little toys for each child for each night in the dining room. This will keep the kids entertained while waiting for the adults to order and the food to arrive.

Thanks Steven!

– Susan

Grilling on Memorial Day Weekend – Don’t Blow Up the House

It’s finally warm and we’re grilling out with friends this weekend.

The grill has been hibernating since last fall; we’ll be going through tips our writers put together on grilling safety so we don’t inadvertently blow up the house or set the dog on fire.

Here’s good info on BBQ safety from the Home Safety Council.

We just posted this on backyard fire pit safety.

Here are a couple of good tips from both articles.

  1. Establish a ‘no-kid zone’ around the BBQ and the fire pit.
  2. Never leave children unsupervised. Kids tend to not realize the danger in fire and are fearless when it comes to getting close to one. Children can be careless when walking or playing around a fire and get seriously hurt.
  3. Don’t eat too many cheeseburgers at once. Pace yourself.  There a lots of parties. Remember – it’s a three-day weekend.

Ok, that last one isn’t in any of the articles…Just good advice.

Watch the kids (and the dogs) and have fun this weekend!


Talk to Your Kids about ‘Sexting’, a Dangerous Trend.

One concerned mother wrote to us about ‘sexting’ a dangerous trend among teens and pre-teens. If you have kids, she recommends that this is a trend you need to understand and discuss with your children.

Hello WhatHappensNow –

My husband and I have two boys, 16 and 18. When I heard about ‘sexting’, I was shocked. The trend and the consequences have been affecting teens and pre-teens across the country. An alarming percentage of their parents have no idea until it is too late.

Of course, when I found out about it on an episode of Dr. Phil, I immediately talked to my boys. I was sure my oldest would be aware of it, especially given that he is Mr. High-Tech. Instead, he told me he hadn’t even heard of the term. My youngest said virtually the same thing.

We live in a suburb of a fairly large metropolitan area, so I expected one or both of them to have heard about it. It was a relief to be able to forward website links to my kids and talk to them about real-life stories of teens’ experiences before they received anything from their peers.

The term sexting generally refers to young people, primarily girls, using their cell phone cameras to photograph themselves nude, semi-nude and/or in provocative poses. Often prompted by their boyfriends, they send the image to a young man’s cell phone. Whether to brag about their conquests, to get revenge after a break-up or for other reasons, some of the boys forward the image to others, often male friends. Upon receipt, those kids sometimes forward the photo on to others and/or post it on the Internet.

Our local newspaper recently devoted one-third page to the topic. The schools in our district are beginning to offer education about the trend in order to make kids aware of the consequences. Last year, children in one of our middle schools, grades six through eight, were involved. The girl who had sent the photo to one person discovered that it had spread through the school like wildfire. By the time she brought the issue to guidance counselors, the damage to her reputation and self-esteem had already been done.

The trend is also gaining increased attention among national news organizations. The Wall Street Journal is one of the mainstream media outlets that has been publishing articles about the trend and its consequences. (Visit the Wall Street Journal for an interesting story.)

A recent article explored the wide array of possible consequences. Since these photos fall into the category of child pornography, the laws governing possession of those materials technically apply whether the individual who has or transmits the images is a minor or an adult. The article cited prosecutors who favor applying child pornography laws in adult-child situations only since the laws were created to protect children from adults, not from other children. Teens face the possibility of being listed on sex-offender registries for years if convicted of child pornography for sexting. Other prosecutors say that, if charges are filed, they should be limited to kids who distribute the photos.

Kids and their parents need to remember that these images can be around forever, especially if they show up on the Internet. Whether the child involved is 11 or 17, that image can end up affecting college applications, job searches and so much more, including a criminal record. There have been multiple suicides and suicide attempts resulting from this trend, mostly among girls. Once their photo is distributed and/or posted, the children may be teased and tormented by other kids, adding to the humiliation they already feel. The children are also burdened by the feeling that they have embarrassed their families.

There is an abundance of information on the Internet. I forward new articles to my sons and talk to them about the topic periodically, just as a reminder. Clicking ‘send’ takes a second, but in some cases, the ramifications can last a lifetime.

Follow these links to find out more:

Washington Post Parenting Column

LA Times blog on school dealing with sexting

CBS News – Sexting Common Among Teens (this is from Jan. 15, 2009)

And here’s the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s view on decriminalizing sexting pro vs con

Thanks, WHN reader!

If you have questions and/or comments, email me: Leann (at) WhatHappensNow.com.