Learning How to Use the Internet to #ShareAwesome

My life is on the internet. My job involves running a website, my list of hobbies practically starts and ends with Facebook stalking, and most of my best friends are people that I met online, who live all around the country. It sounds weird to some, but I grew up this way. And this is how our kids are growing up as well.

Computer 2000

Me at my spiffy computer circa 2000. {Most likely printing out pictures of the Backstreet Boys for my walls because OMGTHEYARESODREAMY.}

Shane has just started going online {he has used the iPad for years, but not beyond his educational apps}, so we’re trying to navigate the depths of the internet as a family. Anything he does is monitored and he has parental controls in place just in case. At five years old, this is easy to keep a handle on, but I’m sure as he grows older we will need to be ever vigilant to keep him protected!

The internet can be a wonderful “place”, full of friends with common interests and the answer to any question you can think of. It can also be a scary place, though, and it is important for us to teach our children how to conduct themselves online. I was part of the first generation to grow up online, and back then we didn’t know much about internet safety. Now that it’s our turn to raise tech-savvy kids, it’s important to teach them how to safely walk that fine line between over-sharing and sharing awesome.

What is sharing awesome? It’s using social media in a positive way- keeping out-of-town relatives updated on what’s going on in your child’s life, keeping in touch with friends after school in a friendly way, or just generally using digital media in an uplifting way. To help parents teach their children about the both safe and positive way to use digital media, the National PTA has partnered with LifeLock to share awesome ways families can create an open, evolving conversation about positive, safe decisions when using digital tools. It’s all part of having a happy, healthy lifestyle. You, your family, your friends, and the whole world- everyone benefits when you #ShareAwesome {like I did below}!

Right now, the National PTA & LifeLock are hosting the #ShareAwesome contest. The contest invites social media users to share a smart and safe decision, uplifting accomplishment, or positive action for the good of others using hashtag #ShareAwesome on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Visit ShareAwesomeNow.org to learn more.

Snap a photo of an awesome moment in your day and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the #ShareAwesome hashtag!

Students who enter the #ShareAwesome contest between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will have a chance to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship!

How do you #ShareAwesome?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

5 Tips for Conquering Kids’ Public Restroom Anxiety #LetsTalkBums

This post is sponsored by Cottonelle, but my love for their fresh care flushable cleansing cloths on-the-go soft packs is all my own!

Now that Shane’s getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall, we’re tackling his fear of public restrooms. He has no problem using the bathroom at home, but when we leave, he’d rather just do a potty dance for an hour and beg to go home than take two minutes to use the restroom. Apparently a fear of public restrooms is very common for his age, but that doesn’t mean it should continue! Below are five of the techniques that we’re implementing to try to help him with his public bathroom anxiety:

5 Tips for Conquering Kids’ Public Restroom Anxiety

1. Use the bathroom before you go. Of course, if you’re only gone for a short time, the opportunity to use the restroom may not come up. However, if you’ll be gone for awhile, making sure your child has a little bit of time to familiarize themselves with the place you’re at can help them feel more comfortable than they would if they had to rush to the bathroom the minute they got to the strange new place.

2. Lead by example. When possible, use the public restroom yourself, bringing your child in with you when appropriate. If they see you use the public restroom without anxiety enough times, they may realize that there’s nothing for them to be afraid of.

3. Go somewhere fun. For example, take your child to the park. Once they start showing signs of needing to use the restroom, tell them that they need to stop playing until they have taken care of business- after all, you truly don’t want them to have an accident on the playground and get the equipment all gross & germy for the other children.

4. Go somewhere familiar. The one place besides our house that Shane will use the restroom is his Grandma & Grandpa’s house. It’s his home-away-from-home and he spends so much time there that he literally can’t hold it long enough to skip using their restroom. At first, he still put up a fight, but now he will go straight to the bathroom without a word.

5. Take something from home. Whether that’s the insert for the seat, a favorite toy that they can play with for a few minutes while sitting on the potty, or wipes like Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths, bring something to help your child realize that going potty out & about is the same as going at home!

Cottonelle On-the-Go soft packs

Shane really likes using the Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths that we use at home, so to help him feel more at home in public restrooms, we picked up some of the new Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go soft packs! Unlike baby wipes, which should not be flushed, Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths {including the On-The-Go packs} include SafeFlush Technology, so they start to break down immediately after flushing. They are sewer and septic safe, so no matter where your summer travel takes you, you can bring them along for a quick, refreshing clean.

Cottonelle Clean Care

We’ve always been a Cottonelle family- I originally bought it because of the adorable puppy on the package but we stick with it because it’s strong yet soft, and it pairs well with the Flushable Cleansing Cloths for a bit of a one-two punch of clean. Now, Cottonelle is even helping us conquer Shane’s restroom anxiety fears!

To learn more about Cottonelle’s line of products, get a $1.50 off coupon, and watch videos of Cherry Healey talking bums, be sure to check out Cottonelle’s website!

Have you tried the Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-the-Go soft packs? What do you think of the wet & dry combo?

Finding the Best Educational Apps & Games for Children- Interview with Expert Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos

I grew up using electronics all the time. I had handheld video games, went to Computers class to play Oregon Trail & KidPix once a week at school, and logged onto AOL after school. Since I’ve always been around electronics, I can’t imagine life without them- and I know the value of them as well.

Electronic toys can be very educational, so long as you get the right ones. My handheld Ms. Pacman game? Fun, but not particularly educational. My “laptop” that taught me everything from synonyms to phonics to algebra? Much more educational. Allowing your children to “plug in” and use electronics is definitely not a bad thing- so long as you choose them wisely.

In the 20 years since I was Shane’s age, things have come a long, long, long way. Not only has technology come a long way, but toys are so much more educational now. Entire teams come together to develop, research and create each item &the top professionals are consulted to ensure that the educational component is up to standards. So while I don’t let Shane substitute real life, education or play time with electronics, I do let electronics enhance those things.

Dr Jody Sherman LeVos LeapFrog LeapPad

I recently had the chance to interview Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos, a child development and learning expert, on how to give your kids the best apps & e-games. It’s easy to waste your money on something that your kid just has to have because it has their favorite character or a cute animal- but how do you make sure you only pick games that are worth both your money & your child’s time? In this interview, Dr. LeVos answers:

1. How do I find the best educational content, games & apps for children?
2. How can parents ensure their children are having a “balanced e-diet”?
3. What are the best apps & devices for children?

Be sure to check out the interview below!

You all know how much I already love LeapFrog products, and I want to share them with all of you, so be sure to check out this great LeapPad2 Power Prize Pack giveaway going on now until November 6th!

Note: I was provided with a sample product to thank me for my time on this campaign. All opinions are my own.

Enjoying the “Feel Better” Smile & Smiling It Forward

Note: I have received information and products from McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., the makers of TYLENOL®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks.

Shane hasn’t been sick too many times, but I can usually tell when it’s coming. He wakes up on the wrong side of the bed & seems to get upset about anything & everything. Asking him what he wants for breakfast can make him cry. By the end of the day, he typically starts sniffling & grabbing some extra hugs. It’s then that I realize he’s not just having a rough day- he’s coming down with something.

Usually that horrible day is followed by at least 2 or 3 days of just feeling downright yucky. Usually a very active kid, he typically doesn’t want to do anything but sleep. Last time he was sick, he’d take little breaks everywhere to rest.

Going down the stairs:

Shane sick

Arriving at the bottom of the stairs:

Shane sick 2

Even attempting to get onto the couch for a lazy breakfast:

Shane Sick 3

We spend sick days on the couch, marathoning his favorite TV shows, cuddling together & playing with his toys. It’s about all he can do.

Mr Ducky and Shane

So when the tides finally turn & he starts to feel better, that telling first smile really grabs my heart! We’ve all seen that “feel better” smile- the one that gives you a glimpse at your little one, and not the sick, weak kiddo they’ve become over the last few days. The glimmer of hope that things will return to normal, and they will be smiling a lot again soon.

TYLENOL® knows how much those first smile moments matter to us & they’ve created a website where you can be a part of SMILING IT FORWARD. Not only can you go to the website to share a smile that matters to you & check out smiles from others, but when you upload your photo TYLENOL® will donate $1 to Children’s Health Fund, which helps children in need see a doctor & get the care they deserve. You can help bring one of the beloved feel better smiles to another parent in need- and all it takes is one minute to upload a photo. Be sure to check it out!


Playing at the Park Without Worry Thanks to Wet Ones

I participated in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Wet Ones. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Since Shane has started school, we’ve been incredibly busy. I haven’t seen my parents in over a month, & they live right down the street! We always have somewhere to go or something to do, and while it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s exhausting.

I’m so glad that we didn’t sign Shane up for any extra-curricular activities this month. He’s been doing soccer for almost a year but we didn’t opt him in for this session because I wanted to see how our schedule would go with school. {Well, that & he was getting bored, so we may be looking into a different activity anyway.} If we had signed him up for anything, I get the feeling that we would just be accruing make-up classes & not actually attending right now. We are still working on getting a set schedule into place.

Shane riding horse at park

One thing that we have been doing is going to the park. Not only is it easy to fit into any free moments we have {rather than having to be at a certain class at a certain time}, it’s been beautiful outside. After three months being cooped up thanks to the extreme heat we get here, it’s always so refreshing to get outside & play in the Fall. {It’s how I imagine anyone in the cold weather states feels in Spring!}

The problem with the park is that it’s just another way for us to pick up germs. Shane’s already spending 9 hours a week in a petri dish {i.e. a classroom}- in fact, we already got the dreaded “exposure notice” for lice the other day. {He didn’t catch them, knock on wood!} The park is covered in germs, too, so we’ve been making sure to bring our Wet Ones along with us!

wet ones

We always have Wet Ones handy- they kill germs on contact but are gentle enough for the whole family to use. We even used them on Shane as a baby! I’m sure they’ve saved us from a few viruses by now.

In addition to being great for killing germs, Wet Ones are great for cleaning up messes. Wet Ones has made an online booklet filled with “Sticky Situations” from Moms & teachers- and Shane’s in it! He’s a notoriously messy eater & I shared my love of using Wet Ones for quick clean ups. You can check out the booklet here.

Shane in Sticky Situations booklet

Be sure to check out Wet Ones online to learn more, or pick up a pack next time you’re at the store. They’re available in a canister, a to-go pack or as individual wipes so whatever your mess, you’re covered!

How do you stay germ-free?

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