Try some of these fun, creative indoor activities to bring a little sunshine to any day.
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Try some of these fun, creative indoor activities to bring a little sunshine to any day.
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It’s not summer without a great playlist to listen to. Here is a curated list of some of the best, uplifting albums and music to bring joy to kids all summer long.
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The warm weather is finally here, so it’s officially time to be outside. Kick off summer and cool down with these fun water toys your baby and toddlers will love.
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Summertime is a busy time, filled with lots of activities. These products will allow the adventures to keep going, while making sure that your kids stay safe and clean.
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The kids might be home from school all summer, but mom still needs time for some pampering. These products are a great way to unwind and be ready for a great day ahead.
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There may be more public education options for your child than you think.
For many California families, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a renewed focus on the education that their child receives. Class schedules varied, children were at home for months and daily learning transitioned from the classroom to the computer screen.
As we emerge from the pandemic, parents can apply lessons learned to reimagine how the public schools in their community can best serve their child. Some parents found that their kids needed additional support in certain subjects or that their school doesn’t offer varied courses to help keep them engaged and challenged. Others saw their kids thrive and enjoy learning at home.
Parents learned that there are options in how their child can succeed academically. There is no reason not to try something new if your child might have a better chance to thrive. For decades, California has provided a wide range of public educational opportunities which may have been left unexamined because parents didn’t know about all the options.
In each community, there are at least a few public educational options for your kids: district public schools, which include magnet schools, and charters which are also always public schools. All of these public schools are subject to the same basic requirements and requirements set forth by the state and local education agencies. And there is never a cost to attend any public school
District public schools are what we have all understood as the “neighborhood school.” They are free and open to all students living in their boundaries. They’re managed by the locally elected school board and funded by state and local property taxes. Your home address determines the school your child attends and quality of education they receive. Magnet public schools are also part of the district school system, but have a specific curricular focus, such as STEM or vocational paths and are open to all children living in that school district. Placement in these schools is often competitive and can be based on past academic performance, an audition and/or scores on an entrance exam.
Charter public schools are another type of public school. Like district schools, they are free to attend. Unlike district schools, they are open to all students, regardless of zip code. These community schools are created by educators who have the flexibility to design instructional models that put students first and deliver a high-quality education. Charter public schools are often established in low-income or underserved communities, in direct response to a desire for additional public education opportunities. A charter public school may also focus on specialized learning like a magnet school, but it will not set prerequisites or require testing. Charter schools accept all students regardless of previous academic performance.
In the LAUSD, Black charter school students are academically outperforming their peers attending district schools in English Language Arts and Math based on the state’s Distance from Standard metric. Black and Latinx students attending charter high schools are more likely to have completed college readiness courses (A-G curriculum) than their peers at district schools.
The flexibility and adaptability of a charter public school provides educators the freedom from bureaucracy to design an education that can help your child succeed in college, career, and life.
Every child deserve access to a great public education, and California’s 1,300 public charter public schools are continually innovating and evolving to provide parents with more options to make that happen. If you’ve not considered all your public school options, a charter school might be a great fit for your child.
Podcasts have become increasingly popular in recent years. Rightly so, as they are entertaining, easy to listen to and can be made for any age group. With so many options out there, it is sometimes hard to choose which ones to listen to. GoKidGo introduces an innovative approach with scripted podcasts full of adventurous, fictional stories for kids ages 6 – 12. Kids will love listening to these tales each week.
GoKidGo has created a first-of-its-kind universe of repeating characters and storylines. This podcast features new daily episodes from acclaimed children’s author R.L. Stine (Goosebumps) and New York Times bestselling children’s author Patrick Carman. Amazing talent like Danny Pudi, Ariel Winter and Richard Kind star in each show. GoKidGo has engineered a world for kids that is engaging, creative and entertaining for the entire family.
Bobby Wonder: Bobby, voiced by Danny Pudi (Community), just found out he’s an alien that has superpowers. With Mighty Mila trying to make everyone in Pflugerville miserable, Bobby needs to figure out how to stop her. Luckily, protecting his hometown is a little easier with Grabstack, his constant companion, at his side.
Lucy Wow: Lucy Wow, voiced by Michaela Dietz (Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, PBS’s Barney & Friends), is a brilliant 11-year-old dreamer, builder and force of nature who is driven by the question “what if?”. The best thing Lucy ever built is her mechanical goat, Kapow. Help them design cool new inventions and solve wacky mysteries. Some might be epic…others epic fails.
R.L. Stine’s Story Club: Starring Ariel Winter from Modern Family and from the haunted mind of R.L. Stine, the creator of Goosebumps, this series will make you laugh and scream with its bizarre tales. Let the mysteries begin.
GoKidGo is a great alternative for screen time and designed to engage your child’s bright imagination. It’s the best entertainment for kids and a great resource for parents. Streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and everywhere else podcasts live. Visit gokidgo.com for more information.
We’re so excited to chat with husband and wife duo Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis about their love of Los Angeles, blending their music and acting careers with parenting, raising their kids bilingually, and their new picture book. Paletero Man is a vibrant debut picture book celebrating the strength of community and inclusivity (on-sale June 1 from HarperCollins Children’s Books). This bilingual read-aloud book is based on Lucky’s Los Angeles diverse neighborhood and Latinx culture.
The Lucky Band (by Diaz and Gaddis) are among the top artists in family music. For more than a decade, their songs and performances have celebrated diversity and inclusion, blending cultures seamlessly through song. Among their many awards and nominations, they won an Emmy Award for their kids’ variety show, “Lishy Lou and Lucky Too,” and Latin GRAMMYs for two of their family music albums: ¡Fantastico! (2013) and ¡Buenos Diaz! (2019).
Read more about this dynamic duo HERE
As parents we all know how hungry kids are when they come out of the pool or arrive home from day camp. And on days when they are at home, it can be equally tough to keep up with their requests for snacks and favorite treats like ice cream and Popsicles on hot days. Do you ever feel like you are out of ideas for what to make or buy when considering health at the same time?
Unfortunately, most of the snacks and products marketed towards children have deceptive claims on the packaging. They may say “whole grain” or “made with fruit” or “rich in calcium,” making parents think they are getting something with added nutritional value, whereas many of these are actually full of hidden sugars or sweeteners and other unwanted ingredients such as refined seed oils or artificial colors. These include many granola bars, crackers, chips, yogurts, fruit ice bars and fruit snacks. One granola bar alone often has 3 teaspoons of added sugar in it, which is half of the daily maximum suggested for kids ages 2-18. And, that’s not to count the low-calorie sweeteners that are now often hidden in products marketed to kids.
For example, look closely at the label of the popular Outshine frozen fruit bars that say “no sugar added.” The strawberry version of these bars has three types of low-calorie sweeteners in it (sorbitol, sucralose, and Ace K) as well as two types of hidden sugars (polydextrose and maltodextrin) and 2 types of fruit juice concentrates, which we also consider to be added sugar because the fiber has been removed, making them quickly absorbed by the body. As we explain in our book “Sugarproof,” forms of sugars that are high in fructose such as fruit juice concentrates can contribute to gastrointestinal issues and increase risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) disease because the liver converts fructose to fat.
As an easy solution to buying these type of fruit bars, make your own simple bars by blending your favorite summer fruits and freezing them into popsicle moulds. Using whole fruit instead of juice retains the fiber which helps slows the absorption of the sugar. Or simply cut pieces of watermelon and freeze them, leaving the rind on to use as a handle, making a natural one ingredient fruit bar that is healthy and affordable at the same time.
For other easy homemade snacks, we love slices of cucumber sprinkled with Japanese furikake seasoning, which is a mix of seaweed flakes, sesame seeds, and sea salt. Kids seem to like the crunchiness this adds to snacks. Always look for a brand that does not have added sugar or MSG in it. Or, for parents that have some time, try our easy recipe for Crispy Chickpea Snacks from “Sugarproof.” You can vary the seasonings (we are currently loving garam masala) and they make for a super flavorful, high-fiber, inexpensive snack.
For pre-packaged options you can rely on when you don’t have time to make something, try any type of raw or roasted nuts (ideally without refined oils), mini size Lara bars, Skout bars, crackers that are made without refined flours and do not have seed oils such as Mary’s Gone Crackers, Flackers, Wasa Crisp Breads, or Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps. Instead of potato chips or popcorn that contain added sugar and/or refined seed oils, try a popcorn like Lesser Evil Himalayan Gold or Terra Chips Plantain Sea Salt. Look for brands made with coconut oil or olive oil. Protein snacks such as New Primal Meat Sticks or Babybel cheese are also convenient and do not contain added sugars.
With these tips, you can keep up with your children’s summer snack appetites and preserve and promote their health at the same time.
Bio: Dr. Michael Goran, Ph.D. is a professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Scientific Advisor for popular brand, Yumi Baby Food. Dr. Emily Ventura is an expert in nutrition education and recipe development. They are both are co-authors of pioneering new book, “SUGARPROOF: The Hidden Dangers of Sugar That Are Putting Your Child’s Health at Risk and What You Can Do” (Avery/Penguin Random House). This book busts myths about the various types of sugars and sweeteners, helps families identify sneaky sources of sugar in their diets and suggests realistic, family-based solutions to reduce sugar consumption and protect kids. To purchase the book or for more information, visit www.sugarproofkids.com
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When my family moved from Florida to Southern California as a young child, I felt a renewed sense of community because there were more people here who looked like me, who ate the same food, spoke the same language and were living a shared immigrant experience. However, as I got older, that bubble burst and I had to confront that although I moved to a more diverse area, there were still people who were never going to accept me.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent discriminatory behavior was a game-changer to many Americans of Asian descent who were unfairly targeted and sometimes violently confronted due to the virus’ origins. Today, even as the country has started to open back up, Asian Americans here and across the country are reckoning with the aftermath of a new strain of hate that we can no longer ignore. For generations, we’ve been the ‘model minority’ or been led to believe we had to conform and turn the other cheek in the face of racism against us. That survival strategy is no longer viable and needs to stop so the hate against us will come to an end
Because of childhood bullies, I grew up being ashamed of my own culture, and only learned in adulthood that the beauty of America lies in its cultural diversity. As parents, we need to show our kids that beauty at an early age. With that being said, I want to encourage other parents to let their kids explore non-Western cultures at an early age by trying different foods together, immersing them in second-language classes, watching movies made outside of Hollywood, and reading children’s books by non-Western authors.
My husband and I are currently teaching our son, Atlas, English, Chinese, and Vietnamese. We celebrated Lunar New Year with him dressed in traditional Chinese attire. Unlike me, he will not grow up ashamed of his culture. If we want others to accept him, we as parents must teach him to first love and accept himself.
It’s also not just our parenting style, but also the influence and guidance of others, such as teachers, neighbors, friends and strangers, that will help him and others like him grow into a thoughtful and generous person who treats others with kindness and respect. We want to take this time to shed light on what we’ve experienced so that others who are in his life and the lives of others in his generation know how to respond to micro-aggressions and bullying when they see them. We want to ensure that our children here in the Los Angeles area and across the country can enjoy a childhood that is free of shame, insensitivity or exclusion. A lot of these feelings are a part of growing up, of course, but we as parents know that we can always do our part to help our kids treat other children better and foster an atmosphere of cultural acceptance and mutual respect.
I’m often angered, even enraged, when I see so many people of Asian descent being treated with such unprovoked intolerance and non-sensical prejudice because of COVID. The hatred that has arisen from the fear of the pandemic also allowed me the chance to talk to other people in a way that I didn’t think was possible a couple years ago. It’s been refreshing to speak to other parents during this very difficult time in our collective pandemic experience and share our fears and uncertainty. We found that we’re on the same side and all want to protect each other and our children. This speaking and sharing with other parents also filled me with hope. I’ve seen an overwhelming amount of support these past months from all parts of the city that have made me feel we can turn a corner and stop discrimination against people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. If we can all treat each other with compassion and respect and help raise our children with the passion for change I’m witnessing now, I will be most grateful and relieved. I believe this is possible – especially after seeing how other parents in our community have rallied and supported me, my family, and my culture.
Dr. Dagny Zhu is an Asian American ophthalmologist and practice owner based in Rowland Heights who is a first-generation Chinese immigrant. She is an accomplished eye surgeon who has experienced hate and discrimination against AAPI people both personally and professionally. Even though AAPI Heritage Month has come to an end, which is held every year in May, Dr. Zhu wants parents to know how to speak to kids on anti-Asian hate with a story of how she and her husband (also a first-generation immigrant) are raising their son.
As a parent of a soon-to-be driver, you’re probably worried that even after your teen earns a learner’s permit and passes the driving exam, he or she will not be as concerned about safety as you are. Before you hand over the keys, make sure they follow these sensible rules.
In a traditional classroom driver’s education course, the material is often presented in a way that’s dry and uninteresting. Your teen is probably either trying to stay awake because the class is scheduled before school or anxious to leave the building since it’s scheduled at the end of the school day.
Driver education courses are also available online or on mobile apps, and they allow students to learn at their own pace at a time that’s most convenient for them. If your teen already has a license, it still may be a good idea to download the app. Your teenager can periodically check in to learn about new rules or test current knowledge. The driver’s education course on the Zutobi app is neither dry nor boring. It’s built like a game to keep students challenged and motivated to learn more. In a state like California, where the learner’s manual is dense and hard to get through, Zutobi offers bite-sized lessons and practice tests that make it easier to learn what it actually takes to pass the California permit test.
New drivers often don’t understand how difficult it is to stop suddenly, and that maintaining a proper following distance can give them the space they need to hit the brakes without crashing into the car in front of them.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) echoed the concern about following too closely, stating that teenagers are less likely than adults to leave enough space between their car and the one in front of them. Besides not being able to stop quickly, tailgating (as this behavior is termed) can also:
The safe distance rule-of thumb is to leave two seconds of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
In 75% of severe car crashes where a teenager was driving, the crash occurred because the teen made a critical driving error. In over half of those crashes, the teen was:
Remind teens that their focus must always remain on operating the vehicle, and that they should always be prepared for road conditions that may lead to losing control of the car.
A poll conducted by AAA showed that 94% of teenage drivers understood the dangers of texting and driving. Unfortunately, despite knowing it’s a bad idea, 35% still text and drive. When teens use their phone to either talk or text while driving, they’re four times more likely than adults to cause a fatal crash.
Nearly one-quarter of teen drivers involved in a fatal car crash were distracted by their phones. Most probably think they can easily respond to a text without missing a beat. However, the time it takes to answer a text is equivalent to traveling the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour!
One of the critical errors mentioned above was driving too fast for road conditions. Some drivers use the number on the speed limit sign to calculate how far above that speed they can drive without getting pulled over. But the speed limit number posted is actually the maximum speed you’re permitted to drive.
In any case, the speed limit doesn’t take into account road conditions which may make it necessary to slow down. Driving isn’t a game where you see how much you can get away with. Lives are at risk, and there will be times when you’ll have to slow down your vehicle for safety reasons.
Some drivers assume it won’t be a problem if they fail to use their turn signals. They figure they can sneak into the next lane before the driver behind has to use the brake. Others believe it’s not a big deal if they don’t indicate when they’re planning to turn. But in each of these circumstances, the driver is making a lot of assumptions about the other drivers on the road.
The Society of Automotive Engineers reports that drivers who don’t signal cause 2 million accidents each year. It doesn’t take much of an effort to use your signal, and it’s a courtesy to all other drivers on the road to warn them of the actions you plan to take.
Your car’s mirrors can tell you so much about what’s going on behind or on either side of your vehicle. If you plan to change lanes, you’ll need that information to gauge when it’s safe to do so. You should check your mirrors every 3-5 seconds before and after you change lanes.
Even from a parked position, you should check your back and side mirrors to know when it’s okay to pull away from the curb. Using your mirrors properly is a skill that must be practiced, as is knowing how to adjust them.
While driving, you should be looking far enough ahead of your vehicle to be prepared for conditions ahead. As stated earlier, you may not have time to react if you’re forced to make a sudden stop. Scanning ahead to notice that cars are at a standstill will give you enough time to slow down and avoid rear-ending the car in front of you.
Aim to scan one-quarter mile ahead of you when driving on the highway and about two blocks ahead when you’re driving in the city or suburbs.
Not mentioned above are some other important rules to remember, such as what you should do if traffic lights are not working or what those flashing traffic lights mean. Eventually, the rules become second nature, but it may take some time to learn all that’s needed to drive with skill.
Remind your teen that driving is a privilege. It offers a great deal of freedom, but demands an equal amount of responsibility. It’s a tradeoff that’s well worth it. Just make sure that your teen is knowledgeable about driving risks and is committed to respecting the rules that make all of us safer on the road.
Tim Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online drivers education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver’s education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.
Running your own business while being a full-time parent makes those dancing mama TikTok videos look easy. Many parents have been working from home due to safe distancing COVID-19 restrictions for more than a year. Prior to these safety precautions, mompreneurs and dadpreneurs were already providing full-time care for their children while also running a business. The traditionally accepted definition of a mompreneur is that of a “mother who has started her own business.”* The same has been assumed for a dadpreneur as well. This terminology implies a sort of balance that exists between the time spent working on a business and that allotted to childcare.
As a mom who has her own business as well, I can tell you that the work/life balance ideal is not always achievable. For that reason alone, it’s time to evolve this definition and put more of the mom back in mompreneur.
Building a Business
Each day has its own challenges. From getting your children up, dressed, fed and into play or schoolwork to answering emails, checking in on social media and taking time to eat, there’s never a dull moment. As parents look toward investing in their businesses, one of the best ways to boost your business’ profile is to inject authenticity into each system and process. That means adding more of you into the equation.
More mom and more dad, to be exact. Juggling the many aspects of being a working mom or dad can be even more challenging when that work is for your own company. The end result, good or bad, is yours and yours alone. Getting down to the nitty gritty in your business requires a good set of auditing skills. Similar to the skill a parent learns in knowing the difference in a baby’s cry for food vs. a diaper change, the skills you need to assess your business must be fine-tuned and practiced.
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
A quote that was relayed to me once was that “Perfect practice makes perfect.” While we can’t always be perfect, business owners can practice ways to identify deficiencies and ways to address them. Putting more of yourself into each and every aspect of your business is one way to engage across social platforms online.
Practicing the self-care you need is important to keep yourself in the best mental and physical shape to show up not only for your children, but for your business as well. Having the time to do it all doesn’t always sound possible. This mindset may be one reason why business growth has or hasn’t flourished for you. Shift your thought process to ideate better ways to become more effective and task-oriented in your business.
To be more productive in your business, the ultimate focus for mompreneurs and dadpreneurs is on you and your family’s happiness. That’s probably one of the reasons that you started your own business in the first place. It’s always tough to feel like your work may bleed over into playtime, or your work piles up because instead of finishing it, you’re showing up for your children to help with a hard homework assignment. Here are a few productivity tips that might cut down on the stress and keep your business running like a well-oiled machine.
When you started your family, you instantly gained the title of parent. Your senses heightened and your stress level rose every time you saw a sharp edge on a table or a crayon heading for your child’s mouth. When you started your business, you became a mompreneur or dadpreneur. As you move forward and implement subtle changes to infuse more of you into your business, refine yourself in the details of each system and process. Use your insight gained through parenting to filter and fulfill the goals you have set out for yourself. Practice and proceed with a sense of excitement and an organized sense of self.
Dr. Sandra Colton-Medici is a digital strategist and a business coach in Los Angeles. She assists business owners in building their brands online and is the founder of CollegeOfStyle.com. She’s a former pro dancer who has been seen on FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance, as a backup dancer for Rihanna, backup singer for Paulina Rubio, and has appeared in films, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Bring It On: All or Nothing, and in music videos for Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg, Raphael Saadiq, Cascada and more.
When your child hits a certain age, you might think that they’re ready for summer camp or sleepaway camp. However, being ready for camp isn’t as clear as reaching an age. Many kids start summer camp when they’re 8 to 10 years old. Other kids aren’t ready until they’re 11 or 12. To figure out if your child is ready for summer camp, take a look at their maturity level and personality by asking yourself these questions below.
Independence is a big factor when determining if your child is ready. At summer camp, and especially sleepaway camp, your child must be independent enough to do things like brush their teeth, shower or bathe, dress themselves and navigate most of their daily routine on their own. Camp counselors may remind campers about their personal hygiene, but it’s most important that kids already know how to do this.
Being self-reliant and mature enough to go to camp goes beyond personal hygiene. If an issue comes up, it’s best if your child knows how to ask an adult at camp for help. Has your child had successful sleepovers at friends’ homes? Have they had successful experiences with babysitters? Going to camp does teach kids independence, so if you’re unsure that they’re ready, look at the other signs.
For most children, going to summer camp or sleepaway camp is an opportunity to experience new things. Is your child ready to handle it with confidence?
Your child will likely participate in many activities that they haven’t tried before, from archery and sailing to pottery and ceramics. If your child reacts positively when being introduced to brand new things, they’re likely ready for camp.
Confidence is also necessary for making friends and adapting to new surroundings. Think about your child’s previous experiences with meeting unfamiliar kids, meeting new teachers, or exploring new classrooms. Were they excited, or were they upset and tried to avoid the situation? Going to camp can help nudge your child out of their comfort zone, but it’s best that they welcome new things and activities with open arms, at least for the most part.
Camp life is filled with schedules, planned activities, and rules. Does your child follow instructions well? Do they listen, remember directions and follow through on what they’re told? If your child has a stubborn streak or still has tantrums when they’re told what to do, they may not be ready yet.
While kids are not expected to be perfect at camp, remember that many camp rules are designed for child safety. When they’re not followed, the consequences can be disastrous. Your child should be willing to follow instructions given by adults, whether that’s going to bed at a certain time, moving on to a new activity, or remembering to do something for safety’s sake.
Here’s a sign as clear as day that your child is ready for camp: they’re asking you to go! Maybe they’ve never experienced camp before and they’ve heard about it from their friends at school. Or maybe your child has been to day camps and is ready for a new adventure at an overnight camp. In either case, if they’re asking to go, that’s a very good sign that they’re ready for it.
When you’ve determined that your child is ready, ask yourself what you want them to learn at camp. Many summer camps and sleepaway camps are tailored toward certain activities, educational subjects or adventures.
For example, if you and your child are interested in coding and computers, an academic camp that focuses on that can be really fun for them. If you want your child to spend more time outdoors and moving around, an adventure camp with hiking, canoeing and survival skills is a good option. Is your child a budding creative type? Check out the arts summer camps that focus on theater, dance, art or writing.
If your child isn’t quite ready for overnight camps yet, try sending them to summer camps during the day as a trial run. Summer@Stratford infuses a STEAM curriculum into an enriching, fun summer camp experience. Summer@Stratford has designed subject-based, engaging camp experiences for preschoolers and kindergarteners, elementary-age kids, and middle schoolers. Learn more about Stratford summer camp programs by visiting www.stratfordschools.com/summer.
You’ve known us for more than 40 years as the trusty monthly Los Angeles-based magazine full of stories, inspiration and fun family events. And now we want to bring you even more inspiration with our podcast. Real Parents, Real Conversations is about all of us — moms and dads trying to figure it out day by day.
Join us as we talk to parents, authors, community leaders, celebrities and changemakers.
It’s been just over a year since the pandemic started, and if you have a toddler or a preschool-aged child, chances are, you’ve lost your mind… just teasing.
There have been the days that go smoothly and the days where you can’t catch a break. Days where nothing seems to make your toddler happy. So, what is a parent to do? I am going to share the closest thing to a quick fix as you can get.
Can you guess what it is?
Change environments. That’s the easiest, best thing we can do to change your mood and your toddler’s mood as well. I took to my Instagram page @thriving.toddler to survey my L.A. audience about their favorite spots to take their toddlers. Here is what they came up with.
LA Arboretum – With 127 acres, The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is an arboretum, botanical garden and historical site nestled into the hills near the San Gabriel Mountains in Arcadia.
Beach – You can’t go wrong at the beach. Soak up some sun and get messy in the sand. If the sand isn’t for you, take a stroll on the strand.
Griffith Park – This oasis offers several attractions great for kids, such as the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad, Pony Rides, Ranger Station the LA Zoo and much more.
South Coast Botanic Gardens – The South Coast Botanic Garden is a 35-acre garden in the Palos Verdes Hills, in Palos Verdes. It includes a cute children’s garden with a pet turtle.
Southern California Live Steamers – Located at Charles Wilson Park in Torrance, the streamers offer fun, short train rides around the park. The fun can be had twice per month: first Sunday of the month and the third Saturday of each month.
The Pirate Park – Another great spot for little ones, located at Brookside Park located in Pasadena.
Pan Pacific Park – located in the Fairfax district, this is a beautiful modern park in the middle of the city.
Underwood Family Farms – located in Moorpark, the farm offers wagon rides and the chance to pick your own produce, which your little ones will love.
Aquarium of the Pacific – This is a personal favorite, and my toddler never seems to get enough of what the aquarium offers.
Shane’s Inspiration Park – The first inclusive and accessible playground in L.A. opened in 2000, and is located in Griffith Park.
Descanso Gardens in La Canada – Springtime is the best time to visit any garden area.
The Nature Center at Friendship Park – Deane Dana Friendship Park and Nature Center offers breath-taking panoramic views of San Pedro, Santa Catalina Island and the Los Angeles / Long Beach harbor complex. Comprised of 123 acres, it is also home to the beautiful, captive-bred and federally endangered Palos Verdes Blue butterfly. The park also offers recreational activities, including hiking trails, field trips, nature camps and a nature center.
Valmonte Farm and Garden – This is a private farm open to the public and located in Palos Verdes Estates. The farm has chickens and many veggies and fruits.
South Park in Hermosa – This local favorite offers a community garden, playground, playfield, play structure, and restrooms.
Peter Weber Equestrian Center – Located in Palos Verdes, the center offers pony rides, a petting zoo and horseback-riding lessons.
There you have it, a list of toddler-friendly outdoor places to keep the mood relaxed and happy. Here are some other ideas for mood changing activities.
2. Create new gameplay, some kind of variations of hopscotch.
3. Immerse your toddler in a nice warm bath or engage in any water activity– no matter the time of day!
4. Connect by giving a big, long hug. You may not feel like it when both you and your toddler are in a bad mood, but connecting through physical touch will surely create a shift in energy.
What mood-changing activity will you try this week? Visit me @thriving.toddler on Instagram and share your favorite mood-changing activity with me.
Michelle Tangeman is a mom of two toddlers and a licensed marriage and family therapist and board-certified behavior analyst living in the South Bay. To learn more, visit www.michelletangeman.com or www.thrivingtoddler.com
“Where were you this time last year?” I’ve been hearing that question a lot. As the world reflects on the one-year mark since a global pandemic was declared, we can’t help but look back at the last 12 months. Even so, the “where-were-you” question is hard to answer because the anxiety and the uncertainty didn’t just happen in one instant. It was many moments building on each other and then a sudden halt.
In late February last year I was in New York, attending the International Toy Fair at the Javits Convention Center, what would become the last large convention held in 2020. Hundreds of people from around the world gathered in one spot. We joked about not shaking hands, but we did anyway. I carried an extra bottle of hand sanitizer, but everything else was pretty normal — three days of going from booth to booth to see the latest toys and games by day and eating at bustling Manhattan restaurants by night. My husband and I went to see “The Tina Turner Musical” on Broadway one evening and visited cousins in New Jersey. We then hopped on a plane to Tampa for the annual Parenting Media Association’s Conference and Awards Banquet. We sat in group seminars, went out to dinner together and hugged everyone goodbye. On the plane ride back to L.A., the passenger in front of me had a deep-chested cough throughout the flight. I assumed she was getting over a bad cold.
The coronavirus was in the news, but it felt removed from us and our daily lives. The shift came quickly after. Back in our L.A. Parent offices, we started getting press alerts on large events being canceled. Our office talk became focused on the empty shelves at Target, Trader Joe’s and Ralphs.
Our editor was the first to get the press alert about Disneyland and California Adventure closing. She read it out loud as we gathered in the hallway in disbelief.
Within days, L.A. and the rest of the world would come to a screeching halt. Our L.A. Parent team quickly turned their living rooms, kitchens and garages into offices. I didn’t realize just how suddenly we had left our offices until I returned months later to see all the calendars frozen in time: March 2020. Our editor’s soft golden shawl was still draped on the back of her chair, empty coffee mugs waited on the counter in the break room. Files and books sat on desks. Our editorial notes on summer camp stories were scribbled on the idea wall. With my phone, I took some videos and photos of our office on that first visit back. Watch this short video and you’ll see our empty, quiet offices suspended in time.
While we tried to figure out our own personal challenges of taking care of elderly parents, spouses’ job losses, kids falling behind on school work, we also dove into what we do best – bringing the stories of our community to life. Parents were struggling with anxiety, job insecurities, loss of loved ones, co-parenting in a pandemic, managing disabilities and learning differences during distance learning. Our focus became very clear: stand in community with the families of L.A.
Here’s what we learned in the process. What unites us is so much stronger than what divides us. With every article on local volunteers and change makers like Rob Evans who is leading the charge towards diversity and inclusion in L.A.’s independent schools, we were reminded of the strength of our community. Our cover story with Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts inspired us to look at “disappointment as an opportunity…how can I learn from this or how can I help others.”
We turned to the experts and asked “are the kids OK?” We talked about mental health, dealing with uncertainty, accessing support groups, helping our kids retain their social skills, creating a feel-good schedule, and the best ways to stay optimistic and look for the silver linings.
Distance learning was a challenge for all families. Our education coverage focused on resources on how parents can help with the COVID Slide, virtual kids programming at local museums, and L.A. public libraries offering personalized online support for students. We wrote about local teens using quarantine to teach others, enrichment programs gone virtual, how to keep young athletes in shape from home and the heartbreak and hope of the Class of 2020.
In the past year, our community experts and the diverse voices of families, writers, artists and advocates helped us to begin the conversations with our kids about race. We will continue to showcase these stories throughout this year and beyond. These stories are our L.A. stories.
Throughout this year, we encouraged our readers to not cancel joy and to continue to have fun with their kids with game nights, bike rides, hikes, new puppies, home cooking, gardening and perhaps taking a socially-distance road trip in an RV, like our editor did for the first time. A year in, I know I speak for all of us at L.A. Parent when I say: L.A. – we’re in awe of your strength and resilience. Despite all the losses and uncertainties, we continue to carry on with hope.
A little physical activity goes a long way. It’s no secret your children will sleep better after jumping on a trampoline or taking time out to dance. It’s also no secret how much fun they’ll have while doing it. Making time for movement is important for a child’s overall health and sense of well-being. That’s why there are programs out there devoted to helping each and every child, despite their level of ability, stay active in fun and fantastic ways.
We sought out tips from a few local fitness programs to help you keep your children moving. Each facility has COVID restrictions in place, and those vary from virtual sessions to one-on-one sessions (with face coverings) and outdoor activities.
Embracing the full spectrum
Helping children with learning and physical differences to experience the benefits fitness offers is what drove Dina Kimmel to found We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym For All Kids. As the mother of an autistic son, Kimmel saw the immense benefits that consistent movement afforded her child. She witnessed her son, after six months of regular activity, sleeping and eating better than he had previously. “We need to make sure our kids get movement not only for their physical health but for their mental health,” she says.
We Rock The Spectrum uses many different techniques to get your child’s body moving. “We assess each kiddo, so no two kids in any of our facilities have the same fitness plans,” Kimmel says. Their specialized equipment includes trampolines, various swings and even a zip line.
Kimmel says for those children who thrive with less instruction and more movement, it’s all about the dancing. “It’s really fun. We call it ‘fun fitness!’” she says.
We Rock the Spectrum has been open 10 years and has locations throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
Regarding health precautions, Kimmel says the staff is diligent about face masks, face shields and gloves, and inform clients of their sanitizing processes and temperature taking. “We’ve been doing classes online,” she says. “We’re open one family at a time and now we’re open for private facility rentals. And we’ve also been able to be open for the special needs community and doing low-capacity open play.”
Making enjoyment abound at Leaps-n-Boundz in Los Angeles is one way co-owner Eric Amundson is keeping “fitness fun and motivating.” Amundson says he and his business partner started hosting workout sessions at a park in 2007, “and the business grew from there.”
The programs at Leaps-n-Boundz are sensory-based, which means that all of their curricula contain a movement component. Amundson says this is important for many of his clients who need daily sensory input to help them with regulation.
All of the participants have different sensory needs and different movement goals. To meet these needs, Leaps-n-Boundz offers many methods of movement, some of which include gymnastics, sports and aquatic activities. “When you don’t move your body, it’s harder to stay alert and focused,” Amundson says.
“Right now, we do one-on-one sessions outdoors in the yard or in the park where we’re able to maintain social distance,” Amundson says of the gym’s safety measures. “We’re masked and we also offer a Zoom option.” The pool is now open to limited capacity.
The body loves to move
While exercise is something many people bemoan, our bodies actually love it, says Dr. Teri Todd, Ph.D., associate professor and director of clinical operations for the Center of Achievement at California State University, Northridge. “The physiology of the body loves to be active. Then, we have the mental and physical health benefits coming from that.”
The Center of Achievement through Adapted Physical Activity at California State University Northridge has been providing internationally recognized adapted fitness programs for people with disabilities since 1971. The Center serves special needs children as young as age three and creates a positive environment for the entire family. “One of the rewarding aspects is seeing the parents supporting each other. That’s another component of the program,” says Tanya Bennett-Payne, clinic manager of operations.
The center offers three different programs within its children’s adapted fitness program and the first is therapeutic exercise. This employs techniques such as stretching and, if appropriate, using one of the facility’s warm water treatment pools as a therapeutic modality. The next is a focus on fundamental motor skills, including running, jumping and catching. The third takes those motor skills and puts them into game play. “What we try to do is to teach those basic skills so children feel competent,” Todd says. “Giving children that basic skill goes a long way to them enjoying being active.”
As of late February, the center was only offering video conferencing.
New meaning to horse play
For kids who enjoy being active outside and find spending time with animals helpful, Let’s Ride Therapy in Tujunga incorporates both. “When they go into that natural arena and meet and greet the horses, they come out completely different,” founder Ann Marriner says of the special needs children who are her clients. “They want to ride. They want to do everything.”
Let’s Ride is one of many equine therapy programs in our city. Others include Dream Catcher of Los Angeles Therapeutic Riding Centers in Long Beach, Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship in Chatsworth, Shadow Hills Riding Club, Ahead With Horses in Shadow Hills, Special Equestrian Riding in Chatsworth, and Special Spirit Inc. in Sunland-Tujunga.
According to The Centers For Disease Control, riding and working around horses have been shown to increase balance, self-confidence and self-esteem.” Marriner says learning to ride and spending time with horses teaches children “responsibility, teamwork and how to work with animals and people.”
Sessions take place outside and masks must be worn, are not required while riding. Groups are limited to 3 riders and must stay six feet apart.
Building confidence, basking in smiles
Learning to work with your own body is another way to feel empowered. This is why ZOOZ Fitness, started in 2015 in Encino, removes any and all barriers to your child’s workout needs.
With an easily accessible space and individualized workout plans. “We want to focus on the skills that are going to help in life,” says Jake Weiner, founder and CEO of ZOOZ Fitness. These include pushing, pulling, balance work and single-sided movements.
The culture at ZOOZ centers on team effort, and Weiner says this approach creates a noticeable confidence in his athletes, “Week to week, we see them open up a little more. There are bright smiles and laughter,” he says.
And this confidence often folds into other areas such as relationships and school work. “When you learn how to channel your body physically, you’re that much better prepared to handle everything else,” Weiner says.
To keep exercisers safe, the indoor gym is still closed. “We do outdoor and in-person with masks and social distancing,” Weiner says. Zoom or any video platform is available for private and small-group options.
The benefits that physical movement offers need not be underestimated. “It not only stimulates your brain, but it also releases endorphins that can increase your mood,” says Amundson. This belief in the positive benefits that fitness offers is what drives the owners, instructors and administrators of these facilities to educate and support families with kids of all abilities.
Tonilyn Hornung is an author and freelance writer who lives with her husband, son, many furry friends, and never enough closet space.
One of the best ways to maintain a healthy immune system is to focus on eating foods packed with the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
“There is no magic immune-boosting pill or food, but a well-balanced eating plan that includes a variety of nutritious foods from all of the food groups will help give your body the nutrients it needs to support your immune system,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Wesley McWhorter, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
For a taste of Japan, we visit Little Tokyo’s Azay for a recipe for futomaki, a type of maki sushi (thick-roll sushi) that is the most classic sushi roll in Japan. Chef Akira Hirose loves it because it is delicious, can travel well, is a great way to use vegetables and is very flexible in terms of what you can put inside. It’s also very filling.
The endless combination of ingredients make it versatile and very presentable once cut and plated. Traditional makes recommend seven fillings because it is believed to be derived from the Seven Deities of Good Fortune.
Japanese people enjoy eating a Futomaki whole on the day before the first day of spring (also known as Setsubun). A person will eat a whole roll in silence while facing a special direction for the most luck.
Tip: Similar to a burrito, there will be a limit to how much/many ingredients you can put inside the roll until it starts to break and lose shape. Adjust accordingly and have fun!
1 piece Nori seaweed (4- by 8-inch triangles)
1 cup short grain rice, cooked
¼ cup sushi rice vinegar
1 egg (cook with ½ tsp sugar and cut)
5 pieces shitake mushroom (simmer and cut)
3 cucumber slices (1/3-inch slices)
0.25 package of Kanpyo gourd strips
2 tbsp Sakura Denbu Seasoned Codfish Flakes
2 pieces Unagi Eel (cooked and sliced) (optional)
5 stems Mitsuba Japanese Parsley (option)
These are typically the ingredients used for futomaki in Japan. If you do not have access to some of ingredients, that is fine. There are many variations of futomaki, and improvising to what meets your palate is encouraged. Make sure all ingredients going inside the roll are long and narrow and can align with the roll.
Preparing the ingredients going inside the roll will take the bulk of the time. There will be instances that you may purchase in which these items are already prepared and will just need to be sliced into 1/3inch strips.
Cook short grain rice. While the rice is still hot, sprinkle the sushi rice vinegar while lightly mixing the rice with a rice paddle and cooling it with a fan.
Beat the eggs and add ½-tsp of sugar. Cook flat like a thin pancake and slice into 1/3-inch strips.
Shitake Mushroom and Kanpyo
Simmer shiitake mushroom and kanpyo in a saucepan with 1 cup of water, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp mirin rice wine and 1 tbsp soy sauce for 20-30 minutes. Drain and slice into 1/3-inch strips shiitake. Drain kanpyo. Cool.
Slice into 1/3-inch strips.
This one is ready made in the package.
Making the Roll
Gather all ingredients. Place a bamboo sushi mat on a working surface and lightly and evenly spread the sushi rice on the nori seaweed. Leave a ½-inch of seaweed uncovered. This should be on the side furthest from where you are starting to roll the futomaki.
Line up ingredients closely and horizontally across the rice and closest to you. Do not go past half way to the other side. Carefully roll the sushi mat while keeping the ingredients inside when you roll. Make sure it is roll tightly so that it stays together.
Once rolled, feel free to cut and enjoy!
As spring sprinkles our imaginations with hopes for a healthier world – one in which we can gather together again – we turn to one of our favorite things: food. Our restaurants, cafes, food trucks and even our own kitchens are the arteries that have kept us connected to each other in L.A. – and around the world.
In this column, we share three recipes that represent just a smidgen of the diverse cultures that make L.A. pop with flavor and love, ingenuity and excitement.
If there’s one thing Angelenos have in common in the early 2020s, it’s spending more time than we ever thought possible in our home environments. Due to the monotony of the local lockdowns, you may find yourself looking around your home and no longer feeling inspired or even satisfied. With spring just around the corner, there’s no better time to update your living space and fall in love with your home all over again.
Refreshing our at-home surroundings to make it feel new or different can positively influence our mental health by boosting productivity and cultivating a calmer environment.
To get your spring to-do list organized so you can tackle your home refresh, follow the 5 P’s—purge, paint, plant, purchase and present – and you’ll feel like spring has sprung.
Transforming a room that you’re all too used to into a space that feels new will be impossible unless you purge first. Getting rid of things you don’t love and that you’re not using will make it so much easier to organize your space. “You don’t need to buy anything to begin organizing your home since everything you need to do the job is already there,” counsels Laura Ellis, a certified professional organizer and owner of Organized by Ellis.“Post-it notes, markers and garbage bags can help you label and sort where things can go.”
Ellis recommends jumpstarting the process by purging a small space first. “Clearing off counters in the kitchen and bathroom are often areas you can make big, quick progress with a high visual impact,” she says. “You’ll have a feeling of accomplishment and be motivated to continue.”
To make the larger tasks with emotional charges connected to grief, loss and past parts of life more manageable, Ellis suggests going easy on yourself and taking it one step at a time. “That sort of Oprah update where everything changes in 24 hours in your home isn’t real or achievable for most people,” she admits. “However, with small, consistent clearing efforts over a consistent time period, you’ll get the clean, organized, space you desire.”
If the paint color you once adored now seems drab or outdated, it’s time to make a huge color leap. A fresh coat of paint will always give you great bang for your decorating buck. But how do you ease the stress over choosing the wrong color? “Don’t paint samples directly on to your walls,” advises Jana Rosenblatt, an interior designer who offers two-hour color consultations for $250. “It can be costly and hard to cover them once you select the perfect shade, and if you do too much, it can change the texture of your wall.”
Instead, Rosenblatt suggests using a disposable brush to paint two to three coats of sample-sized paint on four or more pieces of white printer paper to save money and enable you to experiment a little bit more. “Be sure to use the same sheen you intend to put on the walls, and then put them around the room and check them out during both day and night,” she adds. Ideally, you should clear everything out of the room first, and the paint job will go more quickly.
Houseplants are a great way to bring spring inside and out. Even if you go to Trader Joes to buy some orchids, it will immediately brighten up your space. But what if you don’t have a green thumb? Start your indoor plant collection with harder-to-kill plants such as a jade and a fern and then aim to add one plant to all your rooms.
And as for refreshing any outdoor area, Garden Designer Susan Taylor Fisher of Paradise Gardens Landscape Design has the simplest advice: “The most important person to be happy with your garden is you. Get rid of anything you don’t like and replace it with something you love. ”
After you have purged, painted and planted, you’ll want to purchase new items, if desired. And to feel more confident about your purchases, you can always use an online interior design service like Modsy, where there are easy packages and design experts to help you pick what you want. Consider purchasing a fresh bedspread with flowers or leaves on it to bring the spring imagery indoors. Or you can purchase items to help combat clutter. “I recommend a new shelf in your bathroom, or storage baskets that are stylish yet functional and can be elegantly hidden,” advises Karina Lameraner, creative stylist at Modsy.
Lastly, remove some old items that you might not be using and make new use of them. All homes have a few great spots to feature for displaying decorative items, and rearranging these pieces will undoubtedly give your home a fresh feel for the season.
For a home office desk refresh, just add a few folders in a seasonal accent color, fill a funny cup with pens and pencils, and hang a piece of wall art with a bright, cheerful vibe. You can also change up photos in the entryway or change out heavier winter linens for lighter coverlets. Try “shopping” the rest of your home to find worthy candidates, and by rotating a few items in and a few items out, you can easily re-present your own things with some new spring zing.
Following these few steps will bring a spring back into your step—whether you’re stuck at home or not.
Margot Black is a storyteller with more than 15 years of experience, an L.A.-based traveler, wife and mom.
Jamie Price and Julie Campistrom have created an app to bring us stressed-out parents some relief. These Santa Monica moms co-founded MyLife meditation app to offer simple tips for mindful parenting, as well as programs for the whole family and even educators.
In the app’s “Mindful Parent/Mindful Child” program, users participate in activities that guide them through a variety of exercises to remain present and grounded, including purposeful breathwork and tips to navigate power struggles within your family.
Price, mom to a toddler girl, first started MyLife to create more mindfulness curriculum for inner-city teens, and the app still offers an exclusive program for schools. Campistrom, who has a 10-year-old son, balances remote school, running the company and is a big believer in squeezing in tiny bits of mindfulness into her family’s day.
Here, they share a few reasons why starting a family mindfulness practice is essential.
Campistrom: I wish parents knew that taking just a few minutes a day for yourself to practice mindfulness (self-care is something parents always put last on the list of to-dos) can really have a transformative effect on your perspective and your ability to be a more patient/present parent. Sometimes we become fatalistic and think change is out of reach, but it’s incredible what 10 to 15 minutes for yourself — to give your mind a break —can do.
Price: I totally agree with Julie on this one. With just a few minutes a day of checking in, I am in a much better position to truly connect with my child. I become aware of what I am bringing, mentally and emotionally, to our interaction, and more easily recognize when I need to take a second to calm or ground myself. Then I can be more intentional about how I relate to my child. There is a closeness and trust that comes from spending time and giving my daughter my full focus.
Campistrom: I try to do it every morning for 10 to 15 minutes. I will either do a check in with the MyLife app and select one of the recommended tracks, or pick some of my favorite activities like “Relax, Ground & Clear” or “Counting Breaths.” But right now, I’m using our Mindful Parent/Mindful Child journey and loving it. My two favorite activities from it so far are “Feeling like a Super Hero” and “Letting Go without Giving Up.”
Price: I used to have time for a formal meditation practice every morning. But that went out the window with the birth of my daughter. She is much younger than Julie’s son and far less independent. At this point, my personal practice is more relaxed. I will grab 5 – 10 minutes whenever I can throughout the day. My favorite thing to do is to step outside and breathe deeply, taking in the natural world through all of my senses. Stopping to get quiet and just listen to the sounds around me is also really helpful.
Price: How vulnerable it makes you. How any hurt your child feels translates immediately to your own hurt, and how you have to fight the urge to make everything OK for them, because ultimately you’re there to help them figure it out, rather than figuring it out for them.
Campistrom: Ditto! And not just when they are hurt. I have to resist the urge to jump in for her all the time, as opposed to allowing her the time and space to explore and problem solve for herself.
Price: Seriously, the snuggles. That’s the best. And the unabashed joy. She reminds me to feel delight and appreciation for the simplest things all the time.
Campistrom: The wonders and surprises of how your child evolves, how their personality affirms itself. I am always amazed at how my son’s evolution is always a few steps ahead of where I think it is. And the unconditional love your child brings out in you as a parent.
Price: “Love no matter what.” No matter what is happening, if she is acting out or having a meltdown, I try to be loving vs. reactive. I can be loving and firm at the same time. I have to work on this all the time!
Campistrom: “What’s the worst that can happen?” It has helped me take risks and embrace change. Visualizing the failure is a way to put specifics against the fear you have of it.
Campistrom: We are fortunate in L.A. to live in a city full of nature, yet I feel we still sometimes lose sight of that nature, because of the “big city” effect. Staying present, connected with nature, and being able to step away from the hustle and bustle through those mindful moments is really important.
Price: I think Julie is pointing to a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the good things we have available to us, whatever they may be. It’s easy to take things for granted. I know I am much happier, and a much better example for my child, when I slow down and take in the good things with appreciation.
Campistrom: Climbing in Joshua Tree or at the beach.
Price: At the beach, for sure.
For more on MyLife meditation app, visit my.life.
Angela Lewis has been widely praised for bringing the complex “Aunt Louie” character to life on FX’s hit crime drama “Snowfall,” created by the late legendary filmmaker John Singleton. The drama series explores the complex dynamics of the crack cocaine epidemic in 1980s Los Angeles.
In this spotlight, we learn how Lewis, a Detroit native now living in L.A., balances her acting career with parenting her toddler daughter, Brooklyn.
It is every actor’s expectation and dream to play complex characters. If a character is not layered, we do everything we possibly can to create more layers. So, I’m thrilled that Louie is complicated! It’s both scary and satisfying to have to navigate the complex waters of her psyche. I prepare by thoroughly understanding the scene, the episode, the stakes within both, and Louie’s personal stakes. I play around with how she feels about things, and what would happen if things didn’t go the way she plans. I just do my best to get my imagination running on all cylinders.
Well, everything in divine, perfect order! I got married, and my husband [actor J. Mallory Cree] was adamant about moving to L.A., and I was curious. So, we made the move a part of the wedding plan. We moved in 2014. Snowfall came in 2016, and the baby came in 2019. Other than the move, I hadn’t planned anything. I set my intentions and dreamed, and lived life according to those dreams, but the timing was more perfect than I ever could have planned.
Having had my family nurture my talents from a young age has allowed me to feel deeply supported, and that is huge. Actors get told “no” so much that if you don’t have built-in support and/or self-confidence, the business can do real damage to your self-esteem. Having my family have my back this whole time has been life-saving.
My daughter is amazing! She blows me away every single day. She’s a communicator. She’s been very clear with her needs and wants. She’s not fully talking yet, but If she’s whining too much, and I ask her to use her words, she will immediately find a way to be very clear with what she’s trying to convey.
My husband and I really resonate with the whole brain child/no drama discipline approach, mixed in with some Montessori play/learning. I’m really wanting my daughter to be an independent thinker, fully aware of self and her connection to the earth and humanity. We want to nurture her creativity and what innately pours out of her.
Our job is to illuminate her options and help her to stay out of harm’s way as best we can. We love her deeply and want to honor and respect her autonomy. While she still wants to hold hands, I will bask gluttonously in her affection. When she’s ready to let go, I will cry my tears, open my arms (and my eyes…Mama is always watching) and believe with everything I got that she will always find her way back to me.
There is what I had planned for my birth, and what actually happened. I had planned a sacred and serene natural water birth at a birthing center to welcome my baby girl to the world. She, instead, opted for action and adventure at the hospital! I want all expectant moms (especially those who are Black and Brown) to know that they have more options than they think, and that the key is education and access to resources. Get a doula. Your doula can help ask questions you maybe hadn’t thought of. Your doula can help advocate for you, especially in the hospital system. There are resources out there. Whatever you want, whatever you need, whatever you’re dreaming up, look more into it.
I wish I knew that birth is the wild wild west. You can plan all you want, and you absolutely should, but at the end of the day, your baby will come how they want to come into the world.
I want everyone to know that expectant moms who are Black and Brown, and their babies, are dying in their birthing rooms and in postpartum. It doesn’t have to be this way. Black and Brown expectant moms are unheard and their lives are undervalued. Join me in making sure these moms have access to education, advocacy and resources. Black Lives Matter.
“Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.” – Andres Tapic
We live in an increasingly diverse world where our children encounter people of varying races, cultures and abilities. As parents, teaching our children about diversity and inclusion is paramount as we focus on raising tolerant, accepting, and empathetic children.
How do you guide your child to grow to be a diverse, inclusive, and compassionate individual? Here are three ways where you, as a parent, can teach your child to have a positive attitude and approach.
1. Be a Role Model. Parents have so much influence on their children’s view of the world and ways of thinking, especially in matters related to how they treat other people and how they make decisions. Parents should message to children at an early age that diversity is not just a nice-to-have, feel-good goal but is a smart goal. Multiple studies of group dynamics in schools and in business have demonstrated the business value of assembling teams composed of people who have different perspectives, different ways of looking at problems and different life experiences to contribute to the collective intelligence of the group. Groups that are more diverse make smarter decisions than homogenous groups. There are deep and long-lasting benefits that inclusion policies and practices can bring to team dynamics, to organizations and to interactions among children in the classroom and on the playground.
2. Explain Differences, Don’t Ignore Them. When developing curriculum and programming related to diversity and inclusion, my three go-to resources are Facing History and Ourselves, the Teaching Tolerance organization, and Common Sense Media. Facing History uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate, and they do this by creating rich and rigorous histories of past injustices, of discrimination based on sex, religion, national origin and race – injustices fueled by unaddressed nationalism, racism and prejudice. Included in every lesson package are prompts and exercises that lead to reflection on the sustained damage produced by the injustices. Facing History has many resources for parents seeking to reinforce the values of acceptance and inclusion within diverse communities – the value of getting to know people different from ourselves.
Along these lines, my favorite resource for parents (and teachers) is Beyond the Golden Rule, published by Teaching Tolerance. The 50-page book is free and downloadable. It features advice and resources for parents of toddlers, teenagers and all ages in between. From the Teaching Tolerance website: “Whether you are the parent of a 3-year-old who is curious about why a friend’s skin is brown, the parent of a 9-year-old who has been called a slur because of his religion, or the parent of a 15-year-old who snubs those outside of her social clique at school, this book is designed to help you teach your children to honor the differences in themselves and in others — and to reject prejudice and intolerance.”
3. Use Children’s Books to Explore Differences. Finally, Common Sense Media maintains a wonderful list of books that promote diversity and inclusion for children of all ages – again, toddlers to teens. Among my favorites are A Snowy Day and Last Stop on Market Street, both read aloud books; New Kid, a marvelous graphic novel; Maniac Magee; Stella by Starlight; Wishtree; and American Born Chinese. What these books have in common is that they promote values of diversity and inclusion in memorable stories about interesting characters — stories that show rather than tell, thus grounding abstract concepts like inclusion in examples of real people having authentic experiences and processing genuine feelings.
It’s tempting to try to be completely politically correct when talking about diversity and inclusion, as children are naturally curious about the world around them. When we help children understand these differences, they’ll be one step closer to respecting and celebrating the differences in all people, cultures and experiences and how those differences ultimately can bring the joy of living into our world.
Stratford School has three locations in Los Angeles County with a focus on infusing a strong liberal arts curriculum with STEAM inspired learning. For more information visit stratfordschools.com
Parents, teachers and caregivers have the ability to help girls and boys learn how to lift each other up and champion women’s empowerment and equality. We’re happy to share some fun and informative tools available from PBS to open conversations and families move towards a more gender-equal future.
By Marc Fienberg
I’m the author of “Dad’s Great Advice for Teens,” and the father of four kids, three of whom are professional teens, and a fourth who acts like one.
Now that we’re over that previous year whose name shall never be spoken out loud again, I think we all agree it’s time for a major reboot. Everybody’s got their own personal resolutions for the new year, but how do you know exactly what the right thing is for you to focus on? Here is some “great advice” on how to figure out the best way to define the “new you” for the new year, in addition to some of the best suggestions for almost everybody’s new-year focus.
The first step towards building the best new you imaginable is to figure out the aspects of the old you that just weren’t working for you. List out what you think are some of your top personal weaknesses. Then throw that list away and make a real list, this time being absolutely honest about what your weaknesses really are. Then devise a small, realistic and measurable goal around each of those weaknesses. If your biggest weakness is staying up late on your phone, set a goal that the phone gets put away and charged outside your bedroom at a certain time at least three nights a week.
Almost everything in your life, from your schoolwork to your friends to your relationships relies on a foundation of the two most important aspects of your day-to-day life. No, it’s not Twitter and TikTok– it’s your body and your mind. If your body or your mind falls out of shape, stand back, because lots of other things are going to fall apart around it. As a result, make sure you set at least one goal for a new you that’s focused on your body, and one that’s focused on your mind. For your body, you could commit to running a 10K race, increasing your flexibility enough to touch your toes, or doing 10 chin-ups. For your mind, you could decide to not get so stressed out by homework, meditate five days a week or eliminate negative thoughts about yourself.
After coming up with a list of goals, make sure you include one goal that helps develop a “new them,” with the “them” being anybody less fortunate than yourself. Set a goal for hungry people to have more food to eat, and help them reach that goal by volunteering at a soup kitchen once a month. Or set a goal for a homeless person to have a more comfortable night, and help them reach that goal by giving them warm clothes, or thick socks or a heavy blanket. You may realize that helping create a new them for the new year will probably do more towards creating a new you than anything else you could possibly do.
4. Make NEW YOU take a ME day
There’s nothing that teens focus on more than their friends and relationships (with the possible exception of their hair, which obviously requires a great deal of focus). And that’s a good thing, because it’s our friendships and relationships that contribute more than any single other factor to our happiness. But every once in a while, make sure you focus an entire day on the most important person that you spend the most time with: yourself. At least once a month, take a day off from texting, calling and hanging out with your friends, and devote the entire day to numero uno. You can use that time to focus on a new hobby, setting other goals or just vegging out in front of the TV. It doesn’t matter what exactly you do, as long as you learn to be comfortable and enjoy the time you spend alone.
5. Don’t let NEW YOU procrastinate
If there’s one thing that’s almost universal among teens (and many adults too), it’s their amazing superhuman ability to push things off until later. But procrastination causes a lot of anxiety, and I think you’ll agree that anxiety is something we’re trying to eliminate, or at least reduce, from your repertoire. Recognize that procrastination is usually driven by a feeling of uncertainty about how to go about starting to do something. Once you come to terms with that, as well as learn some time-management skills like scheduling out smaller, more manageable goals, then you’re halfway towards reducing procrastination.
It’s one thing to parent a teen, but to do it during a pandemic takes a superhuman feat of strength… and some strategy.
With all the extra time at home, your teenager is probably able to take on a bit more responsibility than they otherwise would have. Ideally, choose something that they know they’re going to have to learn once they leave home. For example, ask your teen to cook dinner for the family one night a week and give them the assistance they need to be successful at the undertaking.
Or if you can’t stand their cooking, ask them to start doing their own laundry. Giving them some additional responsibilities might not make them too happy at first (ok, it definitely won’t make them too happy) but it will allow them to spread their wings and feel a sense of independence, which is even more important when this pandemic has them feeling anything but independent.
Back in the good ol’ days when schools weren’t all online, there was something called P.E. class. Now more than ever, it’s important that teens remain active as much as possible. The best way of doing so is by asking them to propose their own exercise plan to keep active. Give them flexibility to keep active in whatever way they’re going to enjoy the most, but also make sure that any “Emphasize Exercise” plan meets the following criteria:
Living under quarantine probably requires a different screen time policy than teens would normally have. On the one hand, being home all day makes it very easy for teens to spend hours and hours on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and other social media, and let’s just say that those hours probably aren’t doing great things for their development. On the other hand, their phone and computer are likely to be their primary method of interacting with their friends, and those social interactions definitely are something you want to encourage. As a result, you still want to manage their screen time and curtail it to a reasonable amount each day (2-3 hours per day seems reasonable for most teens), but you also want to allow and encourage almost unlimited time on live interactions with friends, be it Zoom meetings, Facetime, texting, or even gaming together online. It’s bad enough that they can’t see their friends in person very easily, so compensate by allowing them as much time as they need to see their friends virtually.
By Elena Epstein
To illustrate the icy cold of the Arctic described in “Eve of the Emperor Penguin” from the “Magic Tree House” series, Julie Weinstein taught her second-grade book-club readers to make their own ice cream. The students learned how a liquid can freeze into a solid – and that book club can be really fun. For a science project on insects, Weinstein brought ladybugs and placed them in the trees outside the classrooms, then sent the students off in search of them.
Exploration and hands-on learning that sparks curiosity is Weinstein’s passion. It’s something she always incorporated into her classroom when she was a teacher, and it continues to drive her work as a school and community volunteer. The list of those volunteer duties is long and Weinstein’s energy is nonstop. We selected her as our Amazing Mom this year because we believe she represents what community giving is all about.
Weinstein, whose two children attend Lanai Road Elementary School in Encino, has taught kindergarten, third grade and preschool. With tremendous support from her husband, Brent, she is now a full-time volunteer who draws on her teaching expertise on a daily basis all while parenting. At Lanai, she leads the second-grade book club, is room mom for both of her children’s classrooms, is an art docent, organizes the school’s annual Literacy Fair and Science Explosion events, hosts several fundraising events and helps run the school’s annual book fair. She is also a Girl Scout co-leader for a troop of 18 second graders and is manager of her daughter’s soccer team. And three times a week, you’ll find her at Granada Hills High School volunteering as a track coach for the Northridge Pacers. Did we mention she also ran the L.A. Marathon in February? She did.
“I ran in high school and college and just loved it,” says Weinstein. “My kids started track in the fall and I’m so excited to share this with them. It’s not just about fitness and competition. When you work at something and get better, you learn so much about yourself, and you build self-esteem.”
In April we took Weinstein to a beautiful new spot in the South Bay for a day of fun and pampering. The Point at Sepulveda and Rosecrans is an outdoor shopping center with restaurants, shops and an expansive grassy area featuring a whimsical play structure that’s perfect for families. We started our day at Vicara Aveda Salon, where Kym Aaronson and Daniella Hamm styled Weinstein’s short blond hair into soft, beachy waves and used a mix of foundation, shadows and blush to create a polished and natural look.
Then, we shopped. Stylist Deanna Zaccari joined us to help Weinstein put together casual and stylish outfits that fit her busy lifestyle. Our first stop was Lucky Brand Store, a mecca of vintage-inspired jeans, tops, shoes, purses and jewelry. Then we popped in at Lou & Gray, which features a casual lounge collection focusing on easygoing everyday styles and unique jewelry.
“A mom’s life is always busy and on the go,” says Zaccari. “Keeping her wardrobe comfortable yet chic can be tricky. But keeping it simple will always give you a polished look, and adding color with your tops will give a little life to your appearance.”
Zaccari advises moms on the go to have three wardrobe staples – a great pair of dark stretch soft denim jeans; a light knit, feminine blouse or a nice colorful T-shirt; and comfortable shoes.
Once Weinstein’s outfits were selected, it was time for her kids, Abby and Aiden, to enjoy a mini-spree at children’s boutique Bella Beach Kids. Kris D’Errico, who owns this quaint shop and the original Bella Beach Kids in Manhattan Beach, helped us find the perfect outfits and filled us in on the family business she started seven years ago. She operates Bella Beach Kids with the help of her step daughter and husband, who will soon become the mayor of Manhattan Beach. We loved hearing how her two stores, featuring a curated selection of quality clothing and accessories, have become such a part of the fabric of the community by hosting fundraising events for schools and charities, employing local high school students and offering personal attention to help parents and grandparents find the perfect outfit or gift.
In breaks between hair, makeup and wardrobe, Weinstein chatted about parenting and her activities and was brimming with ideas as soon as we mentioned school science experiments and art projects. Our conversation covered the magical world of books such as “Wingdingdilly,” making “gak” and using sugar cubes to help students calculate grams of sugar in sports and soft drinks.
“To be able to volunteer in the community and at my kids’ school is truly a privilege,” says Weinstein. “I love every minute of it.”
One of the greatest benefits of her volunteer work, she says, is the “wonderful group of women” she has met. She encourages all parents to find opportunities to give back. “Don’t assume you’re not qualified,” she says. “There is something for everyone. Our schools are great because parents give their time and their expertise to support the school. All of us can make a huge difference.”
Elena Epstein is Director of Content & Strategic Partnerships at L.A. Parent.
“It sounds cliché, but time really does go by so fast. When my kids were first born, I remember thinking we are never going to sleep again. As each stage passes and your kids gain more independence, you realize that you have to cherish each stage. Enjoy the moments. It will not last forever.”
– Julie Weinstein
By Alan L. Nager, M.D., M.H.A.
You probably call them “cuts,” but I call them “lacerations,” even at home. Most doctors do.
Whatever you call them, properly treating cuts is important. If a laceration has significant bleeding or is obviously serious, immediately apply direct pressure with a clean cloth or towel and go to the emergency department or call 9-1-1.
If the injury looks like something you might be able to treat at home, first wash it under warm-to-tepid water for at least two minutes (timed with a watch, clock or timer). Tap water is absolutely fine. Don’t use soap or any other substance. Turn on a good, strong light, or have someone hold a flashlight beam on the area so you can see what you’re doing. Do not worry about the bleeding at this point. It will help rinse the bacteria out.
Next, dry the area and apply direct pressure for 3-5 minutes with a clean cloth or towel to stop the bleeding. Then apply antibiotic ointment or Vaseline and a bandage.
Keep the wound covered for approximately 48-72 hours, removing the bandage three times a day to wash the wound for two minutes with warm, soapy water and re-apply ointment.
Stepping on a nail while wearing tennis shoes is a special case. Bacteria living in the glue in the sole of the shoe can be pushed into the foot by the nail and put your child at risk of serious infection. Even if it looks like just a small puncture wound, this is one of those instances where you need to seek medical care.
Your child also needs medical attention if:
If you think your child’s laceration might need to be repaired by a physician, don’t delay. We rarely repair anything more than 8-10 hours after the injury, because that may increase the risk of a wound infection as bacteria can get trapped in a closed wound.
Once the laceration can go uncovered, keep applying antibacterial ointment two to three times a day until it is healed. If your child develops increasing pain or fever, or if there is pus or redness around the wound, seek medical attention.
If your child has a dirty wound and hasn’t had a tetanus vaccine within five years, he or she will need one within 12-24 hours. Lastly, once the wound is healed, apply sunblock over the area so that the skin color over the wound and surrounding skin look similar.
Alan L. Nager, M.D., M.H.A., has been Director of Emergency and Transport Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for the past 18 years, and is a professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.
By Christina Elston
Rebecca Bernard wants your family to go to camp. Together. And bring your passports. Bernard is founder and chief culture officer at FamilyGo, a company offering group travel curated for kids, parents and even grandparents to enjoy together.
Bernard calls her program a “camp on the road.” Groups of families visit a destination, and the children are immersed in local camp programs from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. – giving the adults a chance to explore. Families reconnect at the end of the day. Upcoming trips depart for Costa Rica in June and Spain in July.
The trips are about two-weeks long, a fit for many working parents’ vacation schedules, so parents don’t miss out. “There’s a part of us as parents that wants to play, too,” Bernard says.
But there is plenty of learning as well. In Spain, children and parents alike will have the chance to take language courses and enjoy experiential learning excursions. Bernard says this gives parents a chance to see their kids absorbing a bit of the world, which you miss if you’re just dropping them off in the morning and picking them up at the end of the day. As you ponder your summer, she has three questions for you to consider: “What inspires you? What interests you? How can we change our environment?”
Learn more about FamilyGo and upcoming trips at www.familygoglobal.com.
By Elena Epstein
For several mornings, Lisa Storaker, a campus supervisor at Mountainview Elementary School in Saugus, noticed a second-grader leaning against the wall near the playground watching the action around her, but not participating. Storaker became concerned.
“I started chatting with her to get to know her better,” says the mom of five, who has been a campus supervisor for the Saugus Union School District for five years. “I asked her what she does after school and about her siblings. It turns out she comes from a large family, and mornings before class are her only alone time. She wasn’t being excluded. She just wanted to have some time to herself.”
As a campus supervisor, Storaker is on the front lines of helping children navigate the social and emotional learning that takes place daily on school playgrounds. This time away from the structured classroom environment is crucial for developing critical life skills such teamwork, friendship, communication and conflict resolution.
Acknowledging the importance of unstructured playtime, the district implemented a “mindful leading” training program for campus supervisors. Recess can be fraught with cliques, bullying, fighting and hurt feelings. The workshops address these common issues and provide strategies to help ensure students have a positive playground experience.
Eighty-four campus supervisors from 15 elementary schools participated in the four-part training program led by author and parent educator Roma Khetarpal, founder and CEO of Tools of Growth, an organization devoted to helping kids “Be Happy, Think Positive, and Do Good.” The Santa Clarita resident is also the author of the award-winning book, “The Perfect Parent.”
“Our campus supervisors really get to know the kids as they grow from kindergarteners to sixth graders,” says Isa De Armas, Ed.D, director of curriculum and instruction for the district. “This type of training gives them more tools to use to open up discussions and break through strong emotions.”
During the training, Khetarpal reminded the campus supervisors of their unique role in helping children feel safe and secure. Topics ranged from emotional intelligence to responding instead of reacting and being present. “Go down to their level, ask open-ended questions and really listen to them. Let them finish their sentences,” advised Khetarpal. She also emphasized the power of words, reminding her audience to move away from phrases such as “How many times have I told you?” to harness the teaching moment that has presented itself.
One of Khetarpal’s main messages is, “When you’re right, practice being kind first.”
“Being an adult does not mean we are superior to children,” says Khetarpal. “We shouldn’t be in a position of dictatorship, but rather a position of directorship.”
Campus supervisors say the workshop tools are working. One supervisor took the time to delve into the motivation of a kindergartener who caused havoc at lunch every day by spitting juice on kids around him. The child is now a yard helper, ending the juice fights. Julie Huff, a supervisor at Emblem Academy, says she now asks open-ended questions of her 14-year-old daughter, and has loved the discussions that have resulted. Several supervisors have found the technique of taking a few deep breaths before addressing an emotionally charged situation a simple, but extremely effective, tool.
“As educators, we always have to work harder and be more intentional when in a challenging situation,” says district superintendent Joan Lucid, Ed.D. “Our campus supervisors play a significant role in our children’s lives, and it can be very challenging. But the kids who are having the hardest time are the ones who will remember the special adult in their lives who didn’t give up on them.”
By Casey Marticorena and Don Schweitzer, Certified Family Law Specialists
Summer is when many of us create some of the best memories with our children. For divorced parents who have limited custody during school months, summer visitation can provide an excellent opportunity to extend visits and spend quality time with their children. It also allows for children to maintain a loving relationship with both parents after a divorce.
Parents typically follow a child custody order issued by the court during the divorce. However, if your current child custody order does not suit your summer visitation needs, you can request to have it amended, but you must plan ahead to ensure sufficient time to negotiate a modification and potentially file a motion with the court to address the issue. Discuss your plans with the other parent well in advance of the summer days. If you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement, you will need to file a mo-tion with the court, which in Los Angeles will take up to 60 days.
When planning summer visits, parents should work together to decide how the weeks will be divided so that both parents have an opportunity to create memories with their children, and so that extracurricular activities don’t get in the way. For example, one parent might not want to forfeit one week of his or her four-week summer visitation to send the child to a sleepaway camp. Or if the child wants to attend a day camp, the parents might want to consider a camp closer to the home of the noncustodial parent, in order to minimize travel time.
The child’s emotional well-being should be a priority. If the child will be with a noncustodial parent for an extended period of time during the summer, it might be best to have the custodial parent visit once a week or every other weekend. Young children often find it difficult to go for several weeks without seeing a parent they are accustomed to viewing as a primary caretaker. If physical visits aren’t possible, regular phone calls, email or video chats can help with homesickness.
If your divorce or custody matter is still pending, then the summer schedule needs to be reduced to a stipulation — a written agreement that is agreed upon by both parties, then submitted to the judge. Once the judge approves the stipulation, it becomes enforceable by law until the divorce is settled and the child custody order is made final.
If you are currently in a divorce proceeding, now is the time to make sure future summer schedules are laid out in a judgment of dissolution of marriage or paternity judgment. It should include the types of extracurricular activities both parents agreed upon and how they will be paid. For instance, most child custody orders outline that activities will be paid for equally by each parent. However, your court order should include protocol for selecting extracurricular activities. You wouldn’t want to be in a situation where you’re paying half for an extracurricular activity that you don’t agree with or that takes over some of your custodial time. To avoid this, your court order should state that the parents will equally share extracurricular activities that are mutually agreed-upon. The order should further state that neither parent shall unreasonably withhold their consent to an activity.
Once the summer arrangements have been made, make sure to keep open communication with the other parent about travel plans and itineraries. In fact, if you are planning to travel internationally with your child, make sure to have a certified copy of your judgment on hand. As an added precautionary measure, get a letter of permission from the other parent outlining the travel dates and have it notarized, even if you and your child are traveling during your visitation time. While a bona fide copy of the custody order may show that you are legally allowed to be with your child, a notarized letter safeguards that you have permission from the other parent to not only travel with the child, but that the other parent has also agreed to the full travel itinerary.
It’s also important to note that the court may not honor all requests, which is why parents should seek permission before making travel arrangements. We represented a client whose ex-husband wanted to travel with the children to a country known to be unsafe, and the court granted our motion and denied the ex-husband travel to that country with the children.
If communication is an uphill battle with the other parent, there are websites to help facilitate communication between divorced parents such as www.ourfamilywizard.com and talkingparents.com. Extracurricular activities during vacation schedules can be posted, and medical and school information can be shared. Keep in mind that these communications are subject to review by judges and mental health experts appointed to the case. That means, keep your communication respectful and professional in nature.
Casey Marticorena is Partner and Don Schweitzer is Founder and Partner of the Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer, a Pasadena family law firm with specialized attorneys experienced in all areas of family law and estate planning, supported by today’s most advanced legal resources. For more information, visit www.pasadenalawoffice.com.
by Monica Holloway
For many families with loved ones on the autism spectrum the idea of a long journey can be daunting. Here are some suggestions from the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (www.sath.org), a nonprofit educational organization, for making travel with those with special needs as streamlined as possible.
Prepare your child with a rehearsal. If you are flying, contact the airport and inquire about visiting in advance of your trip. Let your child experience the hectic, unknown atmosphere of the airport and even enjoy watching the planes take off and land. At home you can role-play by waiting in lines, removing shoes for security, and sitting where instructed.
Pick out a “Travel Toy.” Sometimes it’s helpful to allow your child to pick out a toy to carry on the trip. If they do this ahead of time, they can carry it at (and near) home in preparation for the journey. It can sometimes help to feel that they are taking “a piece of home” with them.
Write a social story. Providing visuals can help your child understand the details and routine of the trip. Include drawings of some of the things you saw at the airport or look up photos of items online. Print these out and paste them into your story so that there will be plenty of visuals. Your child can look at this Travel Journal many times before the trip. Here is a sample social story from the “Everyday Adventures” autism blog.
Make a special-needs checklist. To make the trip easier, pack allergy-friendly, favorite snacks, any medication that might be needed, headphones to block unwanted noise, and any other favorite items – such as books, a portable DVD player, or handheld gaming systems – that can help keep your child happy and engaged.
Call TSA Cares at 855-787-2227 prior to arrival. Call about 72 hours prior to flying with individuals with disabilities. They can answer questions about what to expect and can coordinate with security checkpoint support as needed.
Display the diagnosis. Have your child wear a bracelet, sticker, washable tattoo or other form of ID at all times that includes the child’s name, diagnosis, your name and number. Airports can be very busy, and this will serve as an important tool if your child wanders.
Don’t forget about the destination! Prepare your child not just for the trip, but also for the destination. Show him or her photos or read stories about the location. Explain that you will be sleeping in a new place and that some routines will change temporarily.
I know that it can feel overwhelming to plan a vacation with a family member with special needs, but with preparation, organization, and enthusiasm, a family journey can be, not only possible, but fun too!
Monica Holloway is the bestselling author of Cowboy & Wills, a Mother’s Choice Awards Gold recipient, and the critically-acclaimed author of the memoir Driving With Dead People. Holloway lives with her son and husband in California. http://www.monicaholloway.com/https://twitter.com/monica_holloway