Parenting

Learning Express Toys is more than just a toy franchise, we also seek to provide useful tips and advice to parents. Our goal is to help educate our community and be a resource by providing relevant information on a variety of parenting topics. Read what our mom blogger has to say about the latest parenting trends, educational toys, child safety, and so much more!
  • 6 Tips to Clean Up Your Out-The-Door Act

    Growing up in Southern California, I never understood the concept of spring-cleaning. Spring was usually sunny and in the low 70s, much like the winter that came right before it. But now that I live in the Midwest, I’m at the mercy of the four seasons in all their glory and all their fury.  After the mud, salt, and grime of a tough winter is washed away outside, I understand the strong urge people have to get organized and start fresh inside as well.

    And when I think of getting organized, there is one aspect of my space and life that is in the most disarray: the back door. More specifically, I mean getting out the back door. With a one, three, and four year-old, getting out the door in the morning is by far my biggest challenge of the day.

    I interviewed a slew of moms and dads and begged them to divulge their best tips for getting their crew out. Here are some simple tips and tricks to make leaving the house a cinch!

    1. Set clear expectations ahead of time. For example, during breakfast, remind your child that after she eats you expect her to mom packing daughters backpackwash her hands, gather her lunchbox and backpack, and put on her shoes and coat. If your child meets these expectations, offer descriptive praise to reinforce the good behavior, ie: “Great job following mommy’s directions the first time and getting yourself ready for school!”

    2. Keep all socks and shoes organized by the back door. This way no one has any reason to wander back through the house and be distracted by what they find along the way.

    3. Set an alarm for 10 minutes before you need to be out the door. When the alarm goes off, it will be the alarm—not you—nagging the kids to hurry up.

    4. Plan as much as possible the night before. Check your calendar for the coming day and see what you need to prepare. Do you need to pack lunch? Bring show-n-tell? Check the forecast and set out weather-related items by the back door (i.e. coats and scarves in winter and sunscreen and baseball caps in summer).

    5. Pack the car while the kids get ready. If you can pack the car before it’s time for everyone to leave, you’ll have more free-armmom buckling daughter into car space to move them along. One mom quickly throws everything into the car while her kids are eating breakfast, and finds there are a lot fewer balls in the air when it’s time to make an exit.

    6. Stay with your kids as they walk from house to car. Even if the car is only two feet from your back door or in an attached garage, make sure to lead the way. One dad noted that he had to “micromanage” his two sons’ 10-foot walk from their stoop to their Suburban, lest the rascals get distracted in the nearby plants and mud.

    But most importantly, be consistent. The more you stick to the plan the easier it will become for everyone to adjust over time (including you). Here’s to cleaning up the messiest part of my day! Welcome, glorious spring.

    – Katherine Riolo

  • 6 Crafty and Candy Free Valentines for Kids!

    Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and with all the Pinteresting parents out there, you can bet that this year’s school Valentines will be more creative, unique, and punnier than ever. V-Day is typically a day filled with candy and sweet treats, but in today’s health-conscious society, parents are trying to find healthy alternatives for their kids. So how do you enhance the holiday excitement while cutting out the candy? Here are 6 valentine gift ideas that will help you keep up with the pack and swap out some sweets at the same time!

    Plush Craft Heart Pillow
    1. Plush Craft Heart Pillow Forget paint-by-numbers, this fun and easy craft lets kids punch rainbow colored fabrics into corresponding number slots to create a pillow full of pizazz! This is a great gift idea for kids ages 5 and up. Your little Romeo or Juliet might even want to give their finished product to a special someone.
    Bee Mine Valentine Crafts
    2. Bee Mine Valentine This adorable Valentine from Crafty Morning is the bee's knees! Follow the easy instructions and have your busy little bees help cut out the heart shapes and create the most Beeautiful Valentine.  You can add a decorative pencil to serve as a Valentine goody. Get creative with your sayings—in addition to Bee Mine, try “What's Buzzin", "My Honey" "Bee your friend” and "Beeautiful”!
    Out of this world valentine
    3. Out of This World Valentine This galactic gift from Zakka Life is perfectly gender-neutral and packed with fun. You and your space pioneers can work together to explore your creative sides. Design these unique cards using black construction paper, silver pen, and bouncy balls. Add space-themed sayings like “I love you to the moon and back”, “I’m stuck to you like gravity”, “you are my sunshine”, and “you’ve got me seeing stars”!
    Sticky Mosaics Heart Box
    4. Sticky Mosaics Heart Box kit Give your sweetheart a keepsake craft that is a blast to decorate. The Sticky Mosaics heart Box kit comes with over 500 glittering jewels. Kids five and up will love matching the jewels by number to reveal a beautifully bedazzled box that is perfect for storing jewelry and Valentine’s cards.
    You Rule Valentine
    5. You Rule Valentine Rule the school this Valentine’s Day with these vintage-inspired cards from Relocated Living. This craft is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Have your star pupil help you pick out rulers from an office supply store—they can be old-fashioned wooden rulers, clear, or colorful. Print out valentine messages like “You Rule”, “You’re growing on me”, and “our friendship is off the meter” on red construction paper and create slits on either side to slide the ruler through. Add stickers or hearts for a bit of Valentine’s flair.
    AWICTE40_String_Art_Box_4b_Crop
    6. Craft-Tastic String Art Kit Let your littlest sweetheart pull on your heart strings this Valentine’s Day. This kit provides all the materials to create a beautiful multi-colored string art heart and two other fun designs. Any Mother, Father, Grandparent or relative would be honored to hang these colorful masterpieces in their home.

    Thanks for reading!