Monday, November 26, 2012

Sleep Workshops Prove to be a Huge Success with Parents

Our Good Night Sleep Tight chart is proving a great success supporting Dr Andrew Mayers highly successful sleep workshops currently held at Winton Primary School in Bournemouth, UK.  
See Dr Mayers workshop and our sleep chart featured on 

Our Good Night Sleep Tight chart plays an important role to help parents who have attended the workshop return home and create a focal point to start working from.  It gives a clear step by step instructions to build a healthy bedtime routine, and is accompanied by a supportive information sheet giving families tips and guidelines to get he most from their chart.

The sleep workshops are offered to parents who are struggling with poor bed time routines and broken nights sleep.  Both of which have a huge impact on all of the family the next day.

A typical workshop includes:
  • Introductions
  • Discussion group
  • Feedback question and answers
  • Academic presentation
  • School nurse – enuresis and diet
  • Access to parent support referrals
  • Reinforcement and positive behavior
  • Questions and close
Discussions are always varied but common concerns covered are:
  • Difficulty settling and refusing to go to bed
  • Climbing into parent's bed in the middle of the night
  • Nightmares and sleep terrors
  • Consequences of poor sleep: Tiredness, poor concentration, disruptive behavior, emotional problems and poor school performance
  • Problems evident at home and school
  • Poor daytime exercise, diet and technology in bedroom
Ways to resolve the problems are communicated:
  • How to create a structured routine, appropriate bedroom, control exercise and diet
  • How to communicate with your child
  • Importance of praise
  • Improve sleep hygiene
  • Reading and relaxation
  • Use structured behavioral method

Feedback from the Sleep Workshop is incredibly positive; with parents responding it has helped them to realise they are not alone, it has raised the question 'who has control?', highlighted the importance of positive praise and reward to acknowledge achievement.

Dr Mayers aim is to grow these Workshops nationally and build a centralized online sleep resource centre for parents.

Want to know more, we are happy to help!

Take a look at our websites at in the USA or in the UK.

FOR UK VISITORS interested in purchasing our chart please click the link below, using 25% OFF discount code SLEEPING at checkout:

FOR US VISITORS interested in purchasing our chart please click the link below, using 25% OFF discount code VCHART25 at checkout:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Patriotic Election Day Treat

Tuesday - it's a big day in the political world - check out some of these fun ideas at Bakerella for the special day but beware you may need some extra time on your hands to make these!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Free Museum Passes, Zoo Visits, and More for Bank of America Customers This Weekend

Are you looking for something to do this weekend? Something fun and frugal ? Then check out the Bank of America "Museums on Us" program.

The first weekend of every month, Bank of America customers can now show their Bank of America credit, debit, or ATM card at 150 different museums, botanical gardens, zoos, and science centers and receive free admission. How cool is that!

Click here to find participating locations in your area

Share with us on our Facebook page if you have taken up this offer - maybe even use our My Vacation Journal to record details and tickets and other collectibles bits that you find on your adventure.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Global diaper shortage fears after factory explosion

An explosion and fire at a chemical plant in Japan could cause a diaper shortage around the world. The blast which killed a firefighter and also injured 35 other emergency workers happened after a fire caused by a chemical reaction broke out on Saturday afternoon at a plant operated by Nippon Shokubai Co. in the city of Himeji in central Japan. The Telegraph reports.

Read the complete story here

To avoid a possible shortage in diapers start potty training now using our My Big Star Chart and also follow our Potty Training Tips which can be found on our Facebook page at

Monday, September 24, 2012

How to Include Toddlers in Everyday Activities

Some wonderful small ways to involve children in everyday tasks - start saying "YES"!! Thank to  Kate Johnson, M.EdChild Development Instructor.

Toddlers are bright shining stars. They are full of wonder and curiosity. Most every experience is new to them and they long to be included in them. As a former Montessori Toddler Teacher, I can tell you that they are quite capable creatures who yearn to do things by and for themselves. The reality however, is that most environments are not set-up like toddler classrooms, which can make for some challenging situations.
The other day, I walked into a public restroom with my recently potty-trained three-year-old and gasped at the realization that my child was about to touch and possibly climb a very germ infested adult-sized potty.  If I discourage him from these activities, I knew he would have a tantrum or an accident-or both. I am inclined to take my toddler and run for the hills, but I do not. And what happened next? He insisted on washing his hands, which was great!
Opportunities for “Yes”: Real learning and boosting self-confidence takes place for children when they feel that they can safely act on their terms and risk learning something new. It happens when they are acknowledged as contributing members of a community or family. I know that allowing my toddler to participate at some level, in what Maria Montessori called, “practical life or daily living skills”, will allow him to gain a developing sense of independence and self-confidence. Have you ever noticed how your toddler wants to help you clean or prepare something in the kitchen? Involving children in small ways in everyday tasks also helps curb temper-tantrums. Instead of saying “no”, what would happen if we created a few situations in which we said, “Yes! You may help.”
Give Freedom & Set Limits: Establish a sense of physical and emotional safety within the context of what we are allowing them to do. We tell children in very simple language what we expect and we model positive behaviors, “Yes, you may spread cream cheese on a bagel, but you may not poke the butter knife at your brother or I will take it away.” It is developmentally appropriate for toddlers to “test” these boundaries. When toddlers do this, essentially what they are saying is, “I am my own person. If I assert my separateness will you still love me?” and ultimately, “will you keep me safe?”
Pre-Plan and Keep it Simple: Know what the limits are when involving your toddler and spend a few minutes pre-planning. It really doesn’t take a lot to make a toddler happy. For more involved activities, think in terms of a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Beginning: What and how many materials do you want to use? What are the limits you need to set?
Middle: What skill do you want your child to learn and how will you help them feel successful in the learning process?
End: Toddlers like to have a sense of closure, so how can you help them clean-up and complete the task at hand? When you are coming to the end of any activity it’s helpful to give toddlers a warning, “two more minutes and then it will be time for us to start cleaning-up.”
Get Started: Child-sized items like brooms, mops, and dust-pans are a great place to begin. Even a sponge and a small bucket filled with some water is exciting to a young child. Toddlers both young and old enjoy raking leaves, pushing and filling wheel-barrows, or shucking corn. Older toddlers are coordinated enough (with a little practice) to peel and slice a banana using a butter knife or cheese spreader (be sure it has a blunt edge). Spreading cream cheese on bagels or crackers is also a favorite activity in my house. Just remember to keep it simple and scale down. Offer small portions. One mini-bagel and a tablespoon of cream-cheese, hummus, peanut butter (or whatever you are using) in a small bowl is enough. If you need more ideas about how to involve your toddler more, ask your child’s teacher or an Isis instructor.
Mess and Mistakes: Remember that toddlers explore with all of their senses so things can get a bit messy-and this ok. They are just learning and will be interested in how things feel, what they smell like, etc. Their purpose may not be immediately evident to you, but what they are doing is purposeful to them. Give them time. They may need to practice a skill multiple times in order to master it.

If you have any other ideas feel free to share them with us.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tips for Helping With Homework

Back-to-school for many families means one thing – back-to-homework battles. After a summer off from the nightly grind of math worksheets and book reports, you and your child may be bracing for another year of tearful fits or late-night cramming. Read these great tips found in L.A. Parent by Janine DeFao.

If you believe that your child is receiving more homework than he can reasonably handle, talk to his teacher.

But before you complain that he’s spending three hours a night on homework, make sure that it’s time “on task,” and not spent texting, chatting on the phone or surfing the Internet.

If your child is consistently struggling and you find yourself locked in nightly homework battles, her teacher may be willing to make accommodations, from setting time limits for at-home assignments to reducing the workload.

But if the problems seem widespread among your child’s classmates, Alfie Kohn, a longtime critic of homework, competition and rewards for kids, advises researching your school’s homework policy – if there is one – and organizing with other parents to speak with the principal or district officials about what changes can be made.

Meantime, Challenge Success, a project of the Stanford University School of Education that researches and advocates for positive change in the education system, offers these tips to parents trying to guide their kids through nightly homework assignments:

• Act as cheerleaders, not homework police. Provide necessary supplies and express interest in the content, but let the teacher intervene if the child regularly fails to finish homework or do it correctly.

• When scheduling after-school activities, keep in mind your child’s homework load. Work with your child to determine a healthy schedule of activities that allows for homework, studying, adequate sleep and play.

• Recognize that children learn in different ways and have different work styles. Some kids can get it done all at once; others need breaks. Some like quiet spaces while others prefer music. Discuss with your child what works best for her.

• Advocate for healthier homework policies at your school. Start by communicating with your own child’s teacher.

• Let children make mistakes and experience “successful failures.” Help your kids organize and prioritize, but regularly rescuing them may hinder their resilience.

We hope that you have found this useful - maybe you have some of your own ideas that you would like to share with us. For older children our My Credit Chart is a useful tool to use and is available from our website at Go to our Facebook page at to get your 15% discount code - good on all our products. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Making Back to School a Smoother Transition

Making the move to a new school is a big step and for some children this can also be quite an unsettling time. The My Growing Up Reward Chart has been developed by The Victoria Chart Company for children from 4 years. It is ideal to help smooth the transition from pre-school to elementary school and help to build a child’s self esteem.

It is a available to purchase from and they are offering 15% OFF their whole range of children’s reward charts when you use the discount code ‘VCHART15' at checkout.
Putting this chart into practice ahead of the return to school will help to create good structure and routine in the family home. Here are some more suggestions to help through this time:

• Things for children to practice (you may like to add these to your chart):

- taking coat/shoes on and off and put in a suitable place.

- pulling clothes through the right way once taken off and folded neatly.

- being able to carry their own backpack and lunchbox.

- being able to find and recognize their name tag on their clothes (if you need to label clothes). Tip: Write these using upper and lower case letters and putting both first and last names in full, for ease of recognition.

• Talk to your child regularly about their new school and the positive exciting things they will experience there, i.e. making new friends, learning lots of interesting things, having packed lunch or school lunches.

• Don’t leave it too late to get your school supplies, make the most of coupons to keep the cost down - find out when the sales tax weekend is in your state.

• Once they have started school, take time to hear about new friends and show interest in what they have learned.

• During this time, you may experience some unsettled behavior. They may also be tired when they come home and could benefit from a rest and a little something to eat. Be patient and sympathetic, this time will pass once they have got used to their new routine.

• It is normal for a parent to feel anxious at this time, try not to let your anxiety feed through to your children.

• And finally, start a new sleep routine - having a lie-in is one of the best parts of summer, but can be a shock to your child’s system when they suddenly have to wake up early again. Help them by getting them to bed earlier in the weeks leading up to the start of school, so they have an easier transition.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What Can Families Do to Keep Children Reading During the Summer?

As children's first and most important teachers, families have a major role to play in motivating children to read during the summer months. Thanks to Laura J. Colker, Ed.D. for these ideas to help you. There are many strategies families might employ to encourage summertime reading:

Combine activities with books.

Summer leaves lots of time for kids to enjoy fun activities, such as going to the park, seeing a movie, or going to the beach. Why not also encourage them to read a book about the activity? If you're going to a baseball game, suggest that your child read a book about a favorite player beforehand. In the car or over a hot dog, you'll have lots of time to talk about the book and the game.

Visit the library.

If your child doesn't have a library card, summer is a great time to sign up for one. In addition to a wide selection of books to borrow, many libraries have fun, child-friendly summer reading programs.

Lead by example.

Read the newspaper at breakfast, pick up a magazine at the doctor's office, and stuff a paperback in your beach bag. If kids see the adults around them reading often, they will understand that literature can be a fun and important part of their summer days.

Talk it up.

Talking with your kids about what you have read also lets them know that reading is an important part of your life. Tell them why you liked a book, what you learned from it, or how it helped you—soon they might start doing the same.

Help kids find time to read.

Summer camp, music lessons, baseball games, and videos are all fun things kids like to do during the summer. However, by the end of the day, children may be too tired to pick up a book. When planning summer activities with children, remember to leave some time in their schedules for reading. Some convenient times may be before bedtime or over breakfast.

Relax the rules for summer.

During the school year, children have busy schedules and often have required reading for classes. Summer is a time when children can read what, when, and how they please. Don't set daily minute requirements or determine the number of pages they should read. Instead, make sure they pick up books for fun and help find ways for them to choose to read on their own. You may even want to make bedtime a little bit later if you find that your child can't put down a book.

Have plenty of reading material around.

Storybooks aren't the only thing that kids can read for fun. Be sure to have newspapers, magazines, and informational material on hand that might spark the interest of a young reader.

Use books to break the boredom.

Without the regular school regimen, adults and kids need more activities to fill the hours. Books that teach kids how to make or do something are a great way to get kids reading and keep them occupied. Don't forget to take your kids' favorite reading series along on long road trips.

Read aloud with kids.

Take your children to see a local storyteller or be one yourself. The summer months leave extra time for enthusiastic read-alouds with children, no matter what their age. Don't forget to improvise different voices or wear a silly hat to make the story that much more interesting!

Visit our website at and perhaps use a reward chart to help monitor the number of books read by your kids over the summer break.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summertime Snacks

Summertime is here! We have found some summertime snacks - thanks to Baby Einstein for these wonderful ideas. There is also a really cute 4th July popsicle - so get organized in advance as this one takes a little planning! Enjoy!

From popsicles to potato salad, everyone loves summertime snacks! It’s a great opportunity to let your little ones try something new. Who knows how much their taste has changed each month? Take a look at some of the yummy snacks below and check out more ideas at Disney Family Fun!
  • Citrus Sipper: Break a peppermint stick and stick it into an uncut lemon. Just suck on the stick as usual and soon it turns into a straw to give you a sugary-sweet treat! Yum.
  • Frozen Flower Pops: Cut petal designs into pineapple, stick a watermelon ball in the center, and add a slice of green apple as a leaf. Freeze for an hour, and voila!
  • Mr. Tomato Head: Do you have trouble getting your little one to eat veggies? This fun snack idea is an easy way to get them eating tomatoes and smiling at the same time! All you need is a small tomato, some black beans, celery, and cream cheese to make this cute character good enough to eat.
  • Fruit Kebabs: Simple and sweet. Grab your favorite fruits (berries and melons work best) and stick them on a skewer for the family to enjoy!
  • Patriotic Pops: Cool down this summer with a patriotic popsicle. Freeze the layers one at a time to create this red, white and blue icepop. It’s a great snack for your little ones, especially with July 4th right around the corner!
  • As delicious as these sound, don’t forget you can even carve a melon manor to house toys for your little one to play with. It’s the perfect summer picnic activity!
Which one sounds the most delicious to you? Be sure to share your other favorites in the comments below! Go to our facebook page at and share your ideas with us.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Helping Your Child Beat Summer Camp Homesickness

With summer camps opening up all across the country we thought that you would find these tips useful to help your child beat homesickness at camp by Andrew Benkendorf, LCSW and Jessica Furie, MSW and L.A. Parent Magazine  Thanks for these great tips.

Whether this is your child’s first summer at camp, or they are a returning camper, many children struggle with being away from home. Allowing your child to navigate this challenge will help her develop independence, confidence in her abilities, and a deeper sense of self. Here are three tips to set your child up for success.

1) Provide a Vote of Confidence:
Be positive and express your confidence in your child’s capacity to be away from home and navigate the challenges that will inevitably arise while at camp. Reinforce how proud you are and provide constant encouragement. If they miss home there are lots of things they can do to still feel connected. They can write letters home, listen to music, talk to a friend, or look at a picture from home.

2) Avoid making deals about early pick-ups:
In our many years of working as inclusion specialists at an overnight camp, we can say with confidence that 95% of kids, who experience moments of sadness make it through the session with a smile of their face. The other 5% go home.

So what differentiates the 5% from the 95%? The innocent-but-destructive suggestion that if the child is having a hard time, the parents will come pick them up. Or, parents who suggest, “Just try it out for a few days.” When parents say this to their children, the child has less confidence in their abilities and a higher determination that if they keep crying, Mom or Dad will come get them. These kids think, “Well, I just need to prove how homesick I am, then my parents will come and get me.”

Although the other 95% of homesick kids may try this tactic also, once they are told that Mom or Dad won’t pick them up, within six hours, these kids are usually playing soccer and smiling. They realize that they might as well try to make the best of their experience, because there is no way that Mom or Dad or Grandma will come get them.
The tactic of telling your child that you won’t come get them may seem obvious; however, many camps have not figured this out yet. Often times, counselors will say to a child, “Just try getting through a few more hours, and then we will check in and see how you are doing.” When counselors say this, it sends the message, “Prove to me how homesick you are.” If your camp calls you to tell you that your child is homesick, although this is often painful, the best thing you can do is to have the camp relay the message to your son or daughter that you love them very much and you know they can make it, so you are not going to pick them up.
Here is where our clinical judgment comes in: If, within 12 hours of telling the camper that they are not going home, the camper is still having a miserable time, this is when I know that they are not trying to prove their homesickness and that they may just not be ready for camp. So although you will tell your son or daughter that you will not pick them up, tell the camp director to call you 12 hours later. If at that time the homesickness has not ceased, we would recommend picking up your child.

3) Watch Your Emotions:
Parents are often nervous about sending their child to camp and must be cognizant of how this impacts their child. Make sure your child knows that you’ll be fine while she’s gone and that you’re looking forward to hearing about all her adventures when you pick her up at the end of the session.
One time a camper that we worked with wrote letters home that he hated camp and wanted to leave. It turned out that his mom was going through cancer treatment and told her son that she didn’t know what she was going to do without him. Although she meant this in a loving way, her son thought that he needed to prove his homesickness so that he could leave camp and tend to his mom. When Mom later explained that she wanted him to stay and have a good time, the camper had a great remainder of the session.

Perhaps you have other tips you would like to share. Perhaps your child would like to create a keepsake of their time away at camp - order a My Vacation Journal from our website at and don't forget the coupon code found on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Education expert offers tips to help your child prevent summer brain drain

With the start of the long summer vacation for school aged children, we found this article by Marie Sutton which may get you thinking about activities to keep your little one's brains active!

It’s summer and time for the kids to kick back, relax and give their brains a much-needed break, right?

Experts say that summer is more than just a time for kids to sleep in and laze by the pool; it’s a time to review lessons, build upon academic strengths and tackle any problem areas to avoid learning loss.

“Research shows that students need to continue to learn year round,” says Tonya Perry, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum instruction in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Education and author of Supporting Students in a Time of Core Standards. “Taking a two-month break affects students’ ability to remember concepts and other important information that will be needed.”

Kids who do not engage in educational activities during the summer typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they did on the same tests taken at the beginning of the summer, according to the National Summer Learning Association.

Experts say that summer is more than just a time for kids to sleep in and laze by the pool; it’s a time to review lessons, build upon academic strengths and tackle any problem areas to avoid learning loss.

“We need to revisit the purpose of summer,” Perry says. “We all think of it as time away from the academic school year, but we should also think of it as a time to revisit our interests, work on our challenges and accelerate our learning.”

Here’s how you can do that:
  • Have a plan of action: Reflect upon your child’s successes and missteps during the past school year and the expectations that will arise in the fall. Then, map out a strategy to fill in any educational gaps. Creating weekly contracts will make expectations clear for parents and students.
  • Work on strengthening their weaknesses: Summer is a great time to work with your child on any academic deficiencies, Perry says. Enroll them in programs that strengthen weaknesses, such as math, science or reading camps.
  • Invest in summer reading and writing utensils, such as a good book to read with your child and a journal for recording ideas. Download free online student-appropriate activities so that you and your child can do lessons one on one. Also, many certified school teachers are available during the summer to tutor. Contact your local school or library for information.
  • Build on their strengths: If your child has a knack for math, summer can be a time for them to delve deeper, Perry says. “Students can use the summer months to excel in academics without the pressure that sometimes accompanies school in a structured environment.”
  • Help them come up with a fun summer project to build upon what they learned in school. Or, enroll them in a career-exploration camp to give them a taste of what it would be like to work in their field on interest.
  • Make learning fun: If your child cringes at the thought of schoolwork during summer, disguise it with fun activities, Perry says.

The kitchen can be a great classroom, she says. Perry suggests teaching your kids math skills by cooking together. You can use recipes to illustrate fractions, multiplication or addition, she says.

Measure the area of your yard and plot out sections for planting flowers or creating a garden, she says. Read comic strips to get background information before seeing popular movies like “The Avengers,” etc.

Get a leg up: Soon, college readiness standards for children in eighth grade and below will be changing, Perry says. Students in Alabama will be expected to meet new College and Career Readiness Standards and take different tests in the future. Summertime can be an opportunity for you and your child to familiarize yourselves with these standards. Visit for an overview.

“There is a shift for higher learning for the students, one that is needed,” Perry says, “but we will all need to work together, parents and teachers, to help students meet the new demands.”

Is there anything that you would add to this list to keep your child's brain active this summer? Try our
My Vacation Journal which is a great way to keep all those tickets, flowers and other bits and pieces you may pick up along your way. and don't forget to get your discount code from our Facebook page at

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Teaching Sleep Manners with The Good Night, Sleep Tight Sleep Chart

Guest post by Christina Gantcher:

Is bedtime a battle with your preschooler? It doesn’t need to be but our preschool aged children have so much to explore and learn everyday that it can easily turn into several rounds of 20 questions. Many times when a parent approaches me for sleep help and their child is between 3 and 5 (sometimes even 2 ½) I will say it’s time for “sleep manners” which I learned through my own experience with author Kim West, best known as “The Sleep Lady.” I love the idea of teaching children the skill of sleep and during the preschool years it’s really about manners and a skill, not punishment and judgment.

When parents look for a way to get their child to cooperate at bedtime we discuss the role of sleep manners. Just like we teach our children to say “please” and “thank you” we can teach them they need to learn sleep manners. Getting into bed at an appropriate time should not be an on-going negotiation; it should be a matter-of-fact event. Going to sleep should be a calm, peaceful routine, not one of struggle and heart strings being pulled (“just one more drink”, “just one more book!”).

A sleep chart, like Victoria Chart Company’s “Good Night, Sleep Tight” is ideal for helping kids learn sleep manners. It’s colorful and easy-to-use, complete with great stickers, and a list of appropriate expectations for our preschool aged children at bedtime. Some of those behaviors are “I’m getting into bed” and “I fell asleep by myself.” It’s important that there are morning manners too, like “stayed in bed until it was time to get up”, a common difficulty for young children in beds, able to get up at hours adults would not consider morning.

As a sleep coach I help parents understand that our children actually learn to sleep. If they don’t learn this skill independently, with something or someone doing it for them, they will always need that thing, action or person to go to sleep. As a child gets older it is important for them to understand their own role in getting a good night’s sleep. Part of self-care, like feeding oneself or learning to get dressed, is taking responsibility for falling asleep unassisted.

A sleep chart can be a helpful reminder of routine for both parent and child at bedtime and in the morning. The chart itself is best put into action during a pre-set family meeting where your child learns about the new tool and how it is going to help them learn their sleep manners. The conversation at the family meeting should be a positive, upbeat one, asking for your child’s ideas about what good manners might be and focusing on the rewards (a fun outing/experience with a parent, not necessarily a toy) after successful sleep manners for several days, and eventually weeks. Every morning you can review the previous night and how things went. This way both you and your child can stay consistent about new good manners and see where there’s room for improvement.

Wishing you a good night’s sleep!

Christina Gantcher is a licensed and certified Gentle Sleep Coach. For more information go to

Order your copy of the Good Night Sleep Tight chart from The Victoria Chart Company, and 'Like" our Facebook page to save 15% and to download your child's Sleep Certificate.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Helping children get healthy sleep

As moms, we all try to make sure our children get a healthy diet. But have you ever thought about whether your child is getting healthy sleep? Sleep is sleep, isn’t it?
The quality of children’s sleep can vary just as the quality of their diets do. Healthy sleep is as important as good nutrition and exercise for normal growth and development. Sleep also impacts daytime mood and functioning. If your child has poor grades or other difficulties in school, it’s possible that could be traced back to lack of sleep.

What makes sleep healthy?
Healthy sleep requires both enough sleep and good-quality sleep. Let’s look at quantity first. There are many reasons your child might not be getting enough sleep. They include childhood fears, sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome, and environmental situations, such as noise or poor schedules that don’t provide for enough sleep. The recommended amount of sleep is different for each age:
- Newborns: 12-16 hours in total in short sleeping periods.
- Infants, toddlers and preschoolers: 11-14 hours, including naps.
- Kindergartners to 8th graders: 9-10 hours a night.
- 9-12th graders: 9.25 hours a night.
Some sleep disorders fragment a child’s sleep. That means the child appears to get enough sleep time, but the sleep is poor quality and won’t be restorative for the day ahead. These disorders include obstructive sleep apnea and periodic limb movement disorder.
How can you help your child sleep?
Try these steps:
1. Monitor the hours your child sleeps - not the hours in bed.
2. Provide a consistent, soothing bedtime routine, including a "wind down" time.
3. Have your child avoid stimulating activities before sleep such as video games, texting, TV, or aggressive exercise.
4. Caffeine is a stimulant. Limit soft drinks and chocolate in your child’s diet (and coffee, too, for teens).
5. Do not provide a TV or computer in your child’s room. If your teen has sleep issues, insist that the laptop, cell phone, iPad or other electronic devices be used somewhere besides the bedroom. I know that’s not a fun proposition, but your teen will feel better after sleeping well.
If that’s not enough
If your child is unable to sleep an adequate amount night after night, is regularly very groggy in the morning after sufficient sleep, or is difficult to wake up, it may be worth further investigation with your child’s health care provider or a sleep specialist.
Most children and teens with sleep disorders aren’t obviously sleepy during the day but may be hyperactive, inattentive, or have difficulty with focus or memory. Sleep-deprived kids may also show mood swings and aggression. You may discover that your child’s problem behavior can be changed with better sleep.
Dr. Jeannine Gingras is founder of Gingras Sleep Medicine in Charlotte and Concord. A nationally recognized expert in sleep disorders who practices sleep medicine exclusively, she is double board-certified in sleep medicine and is also board-certified in pediatrics and in neonatal-perinatal medicine. Gingras has more than 20 years of experience in children's sleep problems and has also evaluated hundreds of preterm and term infants for sleep apnea and SIDs monitoring. Learn more at or

To help create a soothing bedtime routine as suggested by Dr Gingras  try using our Good Night Sleep Tight Chart available from our website at  It provides a step by step routine with tips and guidelines to help you give your child a healthy nights sleep and for you an evening to unwind.

A great article published in The Charlotte Observer by Dr. Jeannine Gingras founder of Gingras Sleep Medicine in Charlotte and Concord. A nationally recognized expert in sleep disorders who practices sleep medicine exclusively, she is double board-certified in sleep medicine and is also board-certified in pediatrics and in neonatal-perinatal medicine.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Confessions of a mother: I bribe my kids

Well, it is not often you run into an article that talks about bribing kids! I thought that I would share it with you. Thanks to  Lesley S Smith a contributor for Yahoo.UK & Ireland for her article entitled Confessions of a mother. Hope that you enjoy it!

Having already touched on the issue of spoiling our children, I am well aware that making a case for using bribery to get good child behaviour is a topic that is uppermost in almost every parent's mind.
I am not ashamed to say that I am happy to use bribery for the greater good, and to get better behaviour wherever we go. With a special needs child to care for, who will never respond to being told to "behave," alternative methods had to be found to ensure he could fit in with society.
There's a vast difference between the children who get everything that they want, whenever they want, and the children of parents who use a little coaxing and blatant bribery to get their kids to do what they want.
Let's break down the "spoiled children" barrier to look at the bribery versus spoiling issue, and why I would say that planned bribery is good for our families.
It's a name thing
Bribery in context is absolutely no different to the methods that keep getting paraded in front of us to follow. Mixed in with "Positive Parenting," "Reward Charts," "Chores for Cash," and many more. All in all, they're exactly the same thing. The child does what you ask, and at the end of it all there is a reward.
The spoiled child
A spoiled child is more likely to be the whining, winging, fluttery eyed mini person that refuses to leave a store without the next "in" thing, and is determined to wear mum down to the point of frazzled hair, zero fingernails and a permanently fixed, but false grin and bear it smile.
The spoiled child may have every style of computer console going, with every game known to man available. They might have a cupboard full of expensive goodies that they have no respect for, and treat their parents as walking banks. They could scream the house, or shop down if they don't get what they want, as they know their parents will break at some point.
The bribed child
Bribery of children is ingrained in our society. Our teachers use this behaviour strategy for children by promising stars at the end of each day. They give out golden time if children do what they are asked to help and do the job well. Extra treats are often dished out for children who help others.
What does bribery teach our children?
We live in a trade bartering society. We barter for food using money, we trade babysitting chores with friends, and we do car shares with friends to avoid doing every single run. Our children watch us barter with our friends and family from the beginning. There's nothing new about parents bribing kids.
Watching activities like mum bake a cake to take to a play date teaches our children that what we do has a direct affect on how we are treated, and how we are seen by others. If we do something for someone else, they are likely to do something back for us.
Family bartering
Bribing for good behaviour, otherwise known as positive parenting, is just part of family bartering. When my children come home after working hard and gaining some recognition for good behaviour where they have been struggling, I treat them to something nice, but little. A small treat for doing the right thing never did anyone any harm.
I never promise things that I can't deliver on, as that totally undermines the whole point of getting a result. I keep bribes small, but meaningful. If I am going out anywhere that I need the boys to behave, I buy them chewing gum. I rarely let them have it, so when I do hand it over, it's a real treat to get.
Bribing all the time would be pointless. My kids would then see it as something to be expected every day, so I keep the bribery to a minimum and the bribes small. A packet of fruit pastilles may be the prize for cleaning their rooms and helping nicely with the shopping. I've met people who think that kids should do that sort of thing for nothing and be grateful they have a parent to feed them. Without any experience of bartering, how do our kids grow up and learn to respect the trade based world we live in?
Yes, my kids know that they can work with me to get something they want. I'm ok with that. If the kids want some sweeties, we sometimes sit down and work out what they can do as a trade off, and everybody is happy.

We hope that this this has given you some incite into how bribing your kids can be a positive expereince for all concerned. To see a range of our reward charts, check out our website at For coupons and free downloads go to our Facebook page at

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


We are very focused on children and sleep and found this article released by Travelodge in the UK. In their research it found that traditional bedtime rituals are becoming a thing of the past, with 67 per cent of children missing out on a bedtime story. UK parents are in desperate need for sleep schooling as video games, mobile phones and TV turn children into zombies -

Up to two thirds of children in the UK are not getting enough sleep - with 74 per cent actually getting less sleep than the amount recommended for adults - according to new research released today.

The Travelodge Child Sleep Study, based on the sleep patterns of over 2,000 children aged between six and 15 years, reveals that the average child does not go to bed until 11.20pm. Chronic levels of sleep deprivation are affecting children’s ability to learn and develop, with over three quarters (79 per cent) saying they find it difficult to concentrate at school. Eight out of ten (82 per cent) of children who took part in the study reported extreme daytime tiredness and over a quarter (26 per cent) admitted to falling asleep in class at least once a week.

The research found that nearly half of children do not follow a regular bedtime routine and do not go to bed at the same time each night. 60 per cent of kids said they felt more ‘grown up’ if they were allowed to stay up longer.

Traditional bedtime rituals are a thing of the past, with 67 per cent of children missing out on a bedtime story. Instead, children are falling asleep to television shows, computer games or DVDs. More than half (56 per cent) said they stay up late playing computer games, browsing the internet, texting their friends and watching television. 69 per cent of children play on a games console every evening, and 62 per cent watch You Tube every night. Some admitted to staying up till 3am or 4am playing on their consoles, whilst others said they had been up since 5am doing the same.

This pre-bedtime activity is turning British children into living zombies, and as a result young Britons appear to be going through life “stoned” because they sacrifice rest in favour of spending more hours at their computer or games console.

These bad bedtime habits mean 62 per cent of children regularly find it difficult to sleep.
The Travelodge Child Sleep Study also highlighted issues around the quality of children’s sleep. Child sleep problems are widespread, with 77 per cent regularly suffering from disorders such as sleepwalking, nightmares, snoring, restless legs and talking in their sleep.
Further findings from the study showed that parents have no idea of the recommended levels of sleep for children or the direct effect of lack of sleep on physical and mental health. Experts suggest children need between 10-12 hours of sleep a night to reach their full potential, but 74 per cent of parents thought 7 hours were sufficient.

Dr Pat Spungin, child psychologist and family life specialist, said: "I agree there is very little information available to parents about the importance of a good night's sleep. Parents should be concerned about the effects of sleep deprivation on their children, as lack of sleep has a negative effect on a child's mood, concentration and attention. Research also shows that children who are sleep deprived do less well academically, show more problem behaviour and have lower levels of social skills.

“Scientific evidence shows that adequate night-time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and regular exercise for children to develop. With lack of sleep linked to poor academic performance, behavioural problems including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obesity, these research findings are alarming.”

Of the 2,000 parents also surveyed as part of the Travelodge Child Sleep Study, 40 per cent said their children did not understand the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep and nearly half (47 per cent) said bedtime was a cause of arguments with their children. To avoid tearful tantrums a quarter of parents admitted to bribing their children to go to bed, using sweets, toys and even money as an incentive.

Two thirds of parents were unaware of the link between sleep deprivation and child obesity, and three quarters of parents were unaware of the association with drug and alcohol abuse in later life.

Whilst 79 per cent of parents said teaching children about the benefits of a good night’s sleep was important, over half (55 per cent) feel there is inadequate support and advice to help parents fulfil this duty. 56 per cent of parents believe the importance of sleep should be taught in schools to help address the problem.

In a bid to tackle child sleep deprivation, Travelodge has launched a ‘Sleep School’ to help raise awareness of the issue and provide parents with expert guidance and advice. A free downloadable ‘School Kid Slumber Guide’ is available for parents and teachers alike at (The guide can be found in the news section on the site)

Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge spokeswoman, said: “As a ‘retailer of sleep’, we found the results of our Child Sleep Study very worrying. It is evident that parents need help in sleep schooling and we believe our ‘Sleep School’ is a much-needed step in the right direction and will help support both parents and teachers in communicating the value of a good night’s sleep to schoolchildren.”

Listed below are the sleeping guidelines for children and tips to help parents ensure their children are getting a good night’s sleep:

2 to 3 years 10.5 to 12.5 hours
4 to 5 years 12 hours
6 years 11.5 hours
7 to 11 years 9.5 to 11.5 hours

1. Establish a regular time for bed each night and do not vary from it
2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, give your child a warm bath or shower
3. Make bedtime fun – read your child a story
4. Do not give your child any food or drinks with caffeine prior to bedtime
5. Avoid giving your child a large meal before bedtime
6. Make after dinner playtime a relaxing time as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake
7. Exercise should be included in your child’s day to help them sleep well
8. There should be no TV or music playing while your child is going to sleep
9. Ensure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable
10. Make sure the noise level in the house is low

We have produced the Good Night Sleep Tight Chart, which can help parents establish bedtime routines and enable their children to get the sleep the whole family needs. Available in the UK , the USA., Canada and Australia.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Life Skills - Aged 2 - 18

Life Skills are the tools your child needs to succeed in put together by By Kids = Happy Moms. These are the skills they don't teach you in school, but you can help your child at home learn these important tasks. Make it fun too so that your child doesn't realize they are learning! Something we busy parents should all take an interest in.

Age 2
· Undress self
· Put own pajamas away
· Wash face and hands
· Comb or brush own hair (with help)
· Brush teeth (with help)
· Pick up toys
· Tidy up bedroom
· Clear off own place at table
· Be able to play safely and alone for a set period of time (1/2 to 1 hour) in own room. (Under supervision. Children need to know that they can be alone and still have fun.)

Age 3
· Dress self (with help)
· Make own bed (use comforter)
· Wipe up own spills
· Help set table
· Snap, zipper and button
· Put dirty clothes in hamper
· Start swim lessons

Age 4
· Help gather laundry
· Use a handheld vacuum
· Pick up outside toys
· Dust and clean TV screen
· Empty wastebaskets
· Know own phone number
· Know own address
· Help empty dishwasher
· Help bring in groceries
· Tie own shoes
· Sit quietly in church (looking at books or drawing quietly is OK)
· Next level swim lessons

Age 5
· Put clean clothes away neatly
· Swim (goal – swim independently)
· Leave bathroom clean after use
· Clean toilet
· Feed and water pets
· Get mail (if in a safe place) and put it in the proper place
· Receive a small allowance (if used)
· Money Management: saving, spending and charitable giving
· Know how to make emergency phone calls (911)
· Dust low shelves and objects (consider using a Swiffer)
· Empty kitchen trash
· Clean brushes and combs
· Organize bathroom drawers
· Learn to roller skate
· Learn to jump rope
· Learn to ride a bike

Age 6
· Organize own drawers
· Organize own closet
· Empty dishwasher and put dishes away
· Wash and dry dishes by hand
· Straighten living and family rooms
· Rake leaves
· Help put groceries away
· Make juice from a can or mix
· Make a sandwich and toast
· Basics of spending, saving, and giving
· Pour milk into cereal
· Pour milk or juice into a cup
· Wash out plastic trash cans
· Clean mirrors
· Bathe alone
· Clean windows

Age 7
· Use a vacuum cleaner
· Clean pet cages and food bowls
· Use a broom and dustpan
· Sweep porches, decks, driveways and walkways
· Take a written phone message
· Learn basic food groups and good nutrition habits
· Cook canned soup
· Read and prepare a simple recipe
· Be familiar with cooking, measuring tools and their uses
· Make Jell-O and Boil eggs (hard and soft)
· Money management (earning money and saving for a goal)
· Pack own sack lunch
· Cut up own meat, pancakes, etc.
· Water outside plants, flowers and garden
· Arrange refrigerator or bulletin board "pictures"
· Weed flower beds and vegetable garden
· Strip bed sheets
· Carry dirty clothes hamper to laundry room
· Sort clothes for washing by color and fabric and check pockets
· Straighten book and toy shelves
· Begin music lessons

Age 8
· Fold clothes neatly without wrinkles
· Iron flat items
· Remake own bed with clean sheets
· Clean interior of car
· Vacuum furniture (ie., chairs and couches), especially under cushions
· Water house plants and lawn outside
· Clean bathroom sink, toilet, and tub
· Load and turn on dishwasher
· Trim own nails and clean own ears
· Learn model making
· Set table correctly
· Mop floor
· Peel carrots and potatoes
· Begin teaching time management skills, assignment deadlines, or short blocks of time
· Money Management: Spend, Save, Give principle
Age 9
· Load and operate washing machine and dryer (clean lint trap and washer filter)
· Time management (get activities done in a block of time)
· Fold blankets neatly
· Straighten and organize kitchen drawers
· Help clean out refrigerator
· Prepare hot beverages
· Prepare boxed macaroni and cheese
· Cook hot dogs and scrambled eggs
· Brown hamburger meat
· Dust all household furniture
· Count and give monetary change
· Compare quality and prices (unit pricing)
· Oil bicycle

Age 10
· Replace light bulbs and understand wattage
· Distinguish between good and spoiled food
· Bake a cake from a mix
· Cook frozen and canned vegetables
· Make pancakes from scratch
· Understand the importance of ingredient and nutrient labeling
· Plan a balanced meal
· Know how to select and prepare fruits and vegetables
· Bake cookies from scratch
· Repair bicycle tire and learn basic adjustments
· Know basic emergency first-aid procedures
· Understand uses of medicine and seriousness of overuse
· Wipe down kitchen cupboards
· Be able to do family laundry completely
· Mow lawn
· Know how to handle a pocket knife
· Sew simple crafts on a sewing machine (pillows, bean bags, etc.)

Age 11
· Replace fuse; know where circuit breakers are
· Change vacuum belt and bag
· Clean and straighten garage
· Bake muffins and biscuits
· Make a green salad and dressing
· Do simple mending and sew on buttons
· Wash the car
· Learn basic electrical repairs
· Know a variety of knots
· Understand basics of camera use
· Be a helper in a church ministry
(ie., nursery, Sunday School)

Ages 12 to 15
  • Make deposits and withdrawals at the bank
  • Perform basic first aid and CPR
  • Time Management (should be able to manage an entire day of activities/assignments)
  • Check and fill all car fluids
  • Type with proficiency
  • Money Management: Budgeting basics, Charitable Giving, Spending Plan, Saving for a car, Saving Money, Emergency Fund

Ages 16 to 18
  • Plan well-balanced meals, including shopping and cooking
  • Pass a driver’s test
  • Write checks and balance a checkbook
  • Fill out a job application
  • Make one complete meal (nothing gourmet, just make sure they can feed themselves)
  • Money Management: Budget / Cash Flow, Debit cards vs. Credit Cards, Fraud Protection, Teaching Investing
  • Prepare a resume

Help motivate your child to learning some of these leife skills by using a reward chart - take a look at our website for a reward chart suitable for your child. Our charts can be customized too!

Maybe you can think of more to add to this list - let us know!