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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Raising Relationships Podcast: Improving Connections with Young Children

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If you are a parent and a podcast lover, then the Raising Relationships podcast is for you! The podcast, created by the South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association (SCIMHA), offers parents and educators extra support and guidance for building strong bonds with young children in their lives. The podcast also discusses the rise in preschool expulsion, and what parents and educators can do to reduce these numbers. Thank you to SCIMHA for sponsoring this article.

We spoke with Amaris Gibson (MA, LPC-A, IMH-E® Infant Family Specialist) who is co-host with Tiffany Stenson (Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Training Specialist) to learn more about the themes of the podcast. We also discussed why your child’s mental health and socio-emotional development is so important. The open discussion format of the podcast explores the realities and difficulties of raising and connecting with young children.

The Raising Relationships podcast artwork

11 Best Back-to-School Hacks Our Readers Swear By

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Make back-to-school time easy this year! Our readers are really smart, which is why we asked them about their very best back-to-school hacks.

Getting back into the swing of things for a new school year is no joke. It is hard. The early mornings, the bus schedule, the lunch packing, the homework, the extracurricular sports, the chalkboard first day or school photos. It can be overwhelming, which is why we turned to the most knowledgeable group of people we know to ask for tips: our readers. Here’s what they said.

Back to School Hacks from local moms

#1 Start the bedtime/wake-up time school schedule a couple of weeks before school starts

This was one of the top pieces of advice from our readers. Getting up early on day 1 is zero fun in and of itself. If your kid(s) has been doing it for at least a week or so, it’s a tad bit easier.

Consider planning a couple fun outings the week prior to school starting such as going out for donuts to make the earlier rising time an adventure.

Practice lunch by packing the lunch box and setting a timer for the amount of time that your child has for lunch at school.

#2 Pick out the clothes for school for the entire week.

Multiple readers said they help their kids to lay out clothes for the whole week on Sunday or tell their teens to do so themselves. One reader even had a brilliant idea to use hanging cubbies to put clothes for each day. And this is why we ask our readers these questions.

#3 Don’t buy a brand new “back to school” wardrobe

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans with school-age kids are spending upwards of $867 per kid on back to school supplies and clothing. That number is enormous but can be cut back without going all out for a new wardrobe for your kids. There are tons of consignment shops and sales to make use of to help get your kids a new-to-them wardrobe.

Also, consider purchasing just a couple outfits at the beginning of the school year versus an entire new wardrobe. Your kids might change their mind on what they want to wear after seeing what other kids are wearing and the colder weather is just a couple months away.

#4 Meal prep

Many of our readers noted that prepping meals ahead of time for during the week is a lifesaver when getting back into the swing of things. One mom even prepares one big meal at the beginning of the week that can feed everyone for several nights and just switches up the sides to add variety.

Anything you can prepare the night before such as packing lunches will also make leaving the house on time in the morning much easier.

Setting up a breakfast station the week before with breakfast foods ready to go can also make the morning move smoother.

#5 Take the “first day of ____ grade” pictures the day before!

As yes, the First Day of __ Grade Back to School photos. You know, the ones where you’re desperately trying to get your kid to school but then remember you want to memorialize the occasion but need a chalkboard and pen and paper and nothing else that you have right then but are already late? Yeah, those. Do them the day before school starts. Reader Kerry says, “Just chill. The chalkboard thing doesn’t have to happen; neither does posting to social media. Let them dress for comfort instead of trying to dress to impress.” Another mom said she just has her kids hold up the number of fingers to correspond to the grade they are going into.

#6 Don’t schedule any appointments that first week of school

No doctor appointments. No dentist appointments. Nothing that will give you even more stress than you’re already handling. Schedule them for a few weeks out from the first day of school if you can.

#7 Use Alexa to help you remember things you/your kids need to do

One reader said she programs her Alexa device to set reminders about things her or her kids would likely forget like when the library book is due, what day of the week her kid(s) needs to wear gym shoes or a reminder to plug in the Chromebook.

#8 Plug in that Chromebook

Be sure to plug in the Chromebook on Sunday night because going to school with a dead laptop is no fun.

#9 Keep the social life to a minimum

One mom said she has found that restricting weekend plans for the first few weeks into the school years has helped her kids to get the relaxation they need and helps them to focus on the new school year.

#10 Use your calendar to keep up with events

One mom said she plugs all of the school events into your calendar on her phone before the school years so she knows what to expect and can plan for events.

#11 Keep all school-related things in one place

Mom Stacy has this amazing idea: “I have a back-to-school binder. It has the school calendar and sections for each child for their supply lists and forms teachers send home for platforms the kids use, passwords, usernames, etc and contact lists.

Anything important that’s sent home, especially those early weeks, goes straight in the binder. The supply list stays so I can touch base with the teacher through the year on possible extra needs or send in extras that are consumed quickly.”

What’s your back-to-school hack?

East school night dinners

And then there’s dinner.

Get some new ideas: School-Night Dinner Secrets from our readers

Your Kids Can Get Rewards for Good Grades in Greenville, SC

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Where can you bring your child to celebrate great grades? In Greenville, SC there are a number of local businesses that will give your kids rewards for good grades.

So, you and your child (and hopefully the teacher) have survived the school year!  WAHOO!  Now- what else are those awesome grades good for?  Lots!

Here are a few places where you can get rewarded for great grades!  Be sure to bring your child’s report card with you, just in case.

Here's where you can find rewards for good grades in Greenville, SC

11 Tips on Budgeting for Your Baby

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Babies are crazy expensive but there are absolutely ways to ease the burden of those expenses, which we are going to tell you about right here!

Estimates vary but experts on budgeting say the costs associated in the first year of your baby’s life could add up to thousands of dollars after you factor in co-payments, childcare, formula, clothing, cribs, diapers, etc.. Yup. But take a breath and don’t worry, there are lots of ways to cut this number down.

First, you may want to check out a calculator online to estimate expenses. This baby calculator is fun because you can choose which things you are going to pay for and what they will cost (new baby clothes the first year: $600 – ha, not with our budget list here!) and then uncheck thsoe things that you know you’re not going to be paying for and see how low you can go. This Bump calculator is a good one also that can help you to calculate what you think you may spend.

Special thanks to our readers who gave us lots of great ideas when we asked them their best baby budgeting tips!

Look at Your Insurance

If you haven’t looked at what you are going to pay for your ob/gyn visits, routine tests, and labor and delivery through your insurance, look at it now. It’s almost always under the “maternity” section. If you’re not pregnant yet, see how much you are expected to pay and start saving little by little so you’re not stuck with some huge, unexpected bill. If you are pregnant, check to make sure your doctor and hospital are covered. If you are giving birth at home or at a birthing center, call your insurance company to see if any of those costs may be covered under your plan or what can go towards your deductible.

Gradually Stock Up on Essentials

Once you find out you’re pregnant, start purchasing diapers and wipes every time you go to the grocery store/Costco/Sam’s so that you’re aren’t overwhelemed when the baby comes. You’ll be so tired and having all those diapers and wipes on hand will be a lifesaver – you won’t need to run out of the house at 1am to get diapers!

Shop Thrift Stores, Consignment Shops, and Facebook Marketplace

When I had my first baby, I was determined not to buy anything brand new. Babies grow out of clothes extraordinarly fast and you can almost find near-new clothes at thrift and consignment stores, big consignment sales, and your local Facebook mom groups like KidSift or Buy Nothing groups here in Greenville.

Also, don’t be afraid to take hand-me-downs from friends who want to give them to you. I absolutely love giving my friends and family clothes and shoes that my kids have outgrown and gladly accepted boxes of them when I was pregnant.

This goes for both clothes and baby gear. One of our readers aptly noted: “No sense spending $200 on a baby swing when you can buy the same one for a fraction.

Use Cloth Diapers

I cloth-diapered both my kids and it was so much easier than I thought it would be, plus the patterns and diapers are adorable. These diapers aren’t from the 1800s. They are super modern, easy to clean, and can save a ton of money in the long run. One detailed analysis of cloth vs. disposables over 30 months came out with spending about $770 on cloth diapers (including the cost of washing the diapers) to over $2,300 for disposables.  There are a lot of different comparisons on the cost but in the end, the cloth is almost always cheaper – and they have resale value.

The cloth diapering world can be overwhelming but don’t be intimated. Do your research, buy used, and save money!

One of our readers said this about cloth diapering: “Invest in cloth diapers. Especially if you plan to have multiples. I only had one, but I only paid $100 to diaper her for 3 years.

baby in a cloth diaper

Start Living on One Income

One of our readers said that her and husband started living on one income before she even became pregnant so that she could stay at home when the baby came. That’s dedication and extremely smart.

Save for Higher Education Immediately

Once your child has a Social Security Number, you can open a 529 account. South Carolina’s 529 program is called Future Scholar and it’s basically a long-term investment account where you can automatically withdraw money each month that is set aside for higher education. This is something my husband and I did immediately for our kids once they had their SSN and it’s on auto draft so we don’t have to think about it.

Even if your kids are out of the baby stage, it’s never too late to start saving for higher education since it’s so incredibly costly.

Ask for Gift Cards on Your Baby Registry

As babies grow, they need different things and if you ask for gift cards on your baby registry, it’s a great way to knock off some of those later expenses for your kid down the road.

Don’t Feel Like You Need the Fanciest Baby Gear

An UPPAbaby stroller and Mesa Infant Car Seat is currently $1,300 on Amazon and a Hot Mom Baby Stroller will run you $600. Look, your baby isn’t going to be in these strollers very long and oh my gosh, that’s a lot of money for baby gear. A Graco stroller is great – even better if you get it at the thrift store (it’s typically a good idea to buy car seats new or gently used though, just check the expiration date and make sure it wasn’t in a previous accident) – and you don’t need to spend a rent or mortgage payment on it. Don’t feel bad if you’re not that mom rockin the trendiest baby gear or expensive baby clothes.

Babies Don’t Need All the Things

Diapers, wipes, a crib or bassinet, clothes, and food are pretty much the essentials of what a baby needs. I loved my jogging strollers when my kids were little because I could get a workout in but I never used an actual stroller and preferred to use a baby carrier instead.

Baby toys, books, annoying musical play mats, baby swings, and so many other things just take up space and are useless within a few months. If you feel like you need any of these things, go the used route and see if you can find them for free or cheap.

Ask Your Friends if They are Getting Rid of Stuff

We all have too much stuff, right? If someone asked me if I had some baby clothes, strollers, crib mattresses, or literally any baby thing lying around that I wanted to get rid of, I would have jumped at the chance then. A neighbor posted in our neighborhood Facebook group that she needed a crib and I happened to have ours just sitting in a closet and was absolutely thrilled to give it to her. I got more space in my house and she got a crib – win/win!

Free Breastpumps Through Insurance

According to our government, your insurance must cover the cost of a new breastpump. Speak with your doctor and insurance provider on how to go about making this happen if you’re breastfeeding. Both my electric and manual pumps totally saved me while breastfeeding, especially when my maternity leave was up and my baby had to take milk from a bottle. Big win here for moms since breast pumps can cost you several hundred dollars.

For things to do with your baby, ideas on date nights with your baby, reader-recommended daycares and OB/GYNs, see our Ultimate Guide for New Parents in Greenville.

What other baby budget tips would you add to our list?

7 Ways Parents Can Get in a Good Workout

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Working out when you have kids can be a challenge but getting in exercise has so many benefits that it’s a good thing to make the effort. We’ve got lots of ideas for you on how to accomplish that goal! 

I’ve always been athletic and have enjoyed working out because it makes me feel strong and healthy. The health benefits to exercise are numerous (lowers blood pressure, eases anxiety, helps with depression, etc.) but making the time to break a sweat is no easy task once kids come along. My kids are 12 and 8 now so we’ve transitioned out of some of these ideas but I’ll give you lots of suggestions for working out from when your kids are babies through high school!

Use a jogging stroller

These were my lifelines when my kids were little. I jogged everywhere with my oldest kid and then got a double stroller so I could cart around both of them when my second came along. It was easy to make time to do, a fantastic workout, and the kids seemed to be entertained. I’d usually start at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe, run for a few miles, turn around, and motivate myself with coffee and a scone when we returned. 

The Bon Secours Wellness Arena also lets the public walk their concourse indoors most Tuesdays & Thursdays for free.  And we have several stroller-friendly trails in the Upstate you can walk. 

Get a baby carrier 

Another lifesaver: my Ergo baby carrier. I used this for everything but most especially loved it for hiking. It was a great way to get in a workout while also introducing my kids to nature. 

When kids are older, there are hard framed carriers you can buy (go get fitted at REI and either get it there or get it used from Facebook or consignment shops). I tried one and didn’t like it but many, many parents love these. Just be sure to get the right fit. 

bouldering at projectrock

Involve the kids

Now that my kids are older, it’s a lot easier to get in a workout and involve them alongside me. 

We love hiking, as our readers will well know! I’ve taken my kids all over the place hiking and they are such troopers (bring snacks since they make great bribes). We’ve worked up more difficult trails like Table Rock Trail and have hiked about eight miles inside the Grand Canyon but even when they were younger, we would hit up easier trails like many of these in our area that still provided a great opportunity to get moving.  

Biking is another way to involve kids, especially once they are able to ride a two-wheeler on their own. We have lots of great biking trails in our area that you can utilize.  And if you go to the beach for vacation, don’t forget your bikes or rent bikes there as it’s a fun way to exercise together, even on vacation!

Another way to get in some movement with your kids is to just take a walk around the neighborhood. We love this just for a quick time to get outside. If your kids are little, you can push them on their tricycle or they can use a scooter or balance bike. 

I’ve recently discovered how much fun indoor rock climbing is! My kids and I have really enjoyed our local rock climbing gyms and you can even bring a little one inside while you climb and kids switch out watching him or her.  

If you’re really athletic, go play baseball, basketball, soccer, or tennis. We have courts and fields all over the Upstate. 

Lastly, get on the water. I love to kayak and paddleboard and my kids have gotten into it so now we do a lot of this over the summer at our local lakes. This is a great workout that can do double duty and involve swimming. 

Make use of early morning hours 

This is how I get in my workouts nowadays. I get up early and get in my workouts before everyone else wakes up. I found a great online workout site that I’ve been using for years where I can choose workouts that involve HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or use my weights with a strength training workout or do a more gentle Pilates workout. 

If I don’t workout in the morning, I’ll never get to it. 

Find a gym with childcare 

There are several gyms with childcare in our area, many of which include the service in your membership. This is a pretty good excuse to let the kids play with other littles while you get in your workout. 

Join a mom workout group

There are a few mom groups in our area that get together for workouts where you can bring your kid and their stroller or go for hikes together. These are great for both exercise and meeting other moms. 

Make it fun 

My kids love trampoline parks so when we go, I’ll usually join them in jumping around and doing obstacles. This is absolutely a workout! 

We also love roller skating so I’ll rent skates and skate along with them for a couple hours – also an amazing workout. Or if you’re headed to a local zipline or obstacle course like Flying Rabbit, join the kids while they traverse the ropes course in the air. I’m always surprised how worn out I feel afterwards. 

You can definitely find things to do in our area that are fun, engaging, and can help you feel strong and be healthier so you can be there for your kids. 

What would you add to our list?

Pop-up Classrooms at TCMU Spartanburg: Get Ready for Kindergarten FREE!

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Is your child about to enter kindergarten? TCMU Spartanburg is helping kids get ready to start school with totally free pop-up classrooms! Kids will have an opportunity to experience a classroom setting, learn and practice classroom skills, visit the museum, and the class includes take-home activities. The weekly classes are totally free. Below you’ll all the details about registration, what to expect, class requirements, and more.

About the Pop-up Classrooms at TCMU Spartanburg

The pop-up classroom program runs from June 5th -July 31st, 2023. Students and their caregivers will attend one 1-hour class one day a week. Classes are offered Monday -Friday at 1 pm or 3 pm. Attendance once per week is required to stay in the program.

The program is open to any rising kindergartener, both K4 and K5. In addition to the weekly classes, students and caregivers get free admission to the museum plus take-home activities.

Why Get Ready for Kindergarten at TCMU?

“The transition to Kindergarten is both exciting and challenging! Research shows that only 27% of South Carolina public school Kindergarteners entered the school year with sufficient skills, knowledge, and abilities to engage with Kindergarten-level instruction (WestEd, 2021). Pop-Up Classrooms, which are based on the South Carolina Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, The Spartanburg Academic Movement’s Early Development Instrument (EDI), and South Carolina First Step’s Profile of a Ready Kindergartner, are designed to help children with this important life transition. Each classroom session focuses on a different skill necessary for young learners to be successful in a real classroom and is structured similar to a normal school day. TCMU-Spartanburg’s museum classroom will be set up like a real classroom, to help familiarize young learners with this new type of environment. Children will have the opportunity for structured and unstructured play and take-home activities each week to continue learning at home.

Pop-Up Classrooms at TCMU-Spartanburg are partially funded by South Carolina First Steps.

How to Apply

You’ll need to fill out this form to apply for the Pop-Up Classroom program.

Space is limited and not all students will be accepted into the program. Applicants will be told if they have been accepted into the program by May 25th, 2023.

For more information about the program, visit TCMU Spartanburg Pop-Up Classroom website.

School bus

Drop-in Childcare Kids Love at Giggles: Greenville, SC

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Have you used drop-in childcare before? Giggles Greenville, SC location is an excellent option for your childcare needs. If you’ve stopped in Earth Fare recently – or anywhere in that big shopping plaza on Pelham Road – you may have noticed a giant sign on the end of the building reading “Giggles.” Let’s check it out!

The 4,700 square feet unit features an outdoor play area, their signature indoor tree house, and rooms for different age groups to enjoy activities. Parents are able to drop their children off for childcare, date night, and more, so there is always a safe childcare team when you need them. 

giggles drop in childcare greenville s

Giggles Drop-In Childcare Center previously sponsored this article.

A little about Giggles: Greenville, SC

Giggles in Greenville was opened by Brandon Kimball and his wife, Caroline, after they experienced the convenience and professional childcare during a vacation in Wilmington, NC. They wondered why Greenville did not offer the same services.

“One of the things we liked most about the Giggles model when we first used the service in North Carolina was the flexibility in the pricing options,” said Caroline Kimball. “We loved the fact that we could buy hours in bulk and get our cost of childcare down to as low as $5 per hour. The low prices coupled with the amazing experience for our kids was the main reason we decided to franchise the model and open up the two Greenville locations.”

The Giggles Greenville SC location has been open for a couple of years now and has significantly helped many families. They’ve been open during teacher holidays, holidays where parents needed to work, and late nights when a parent needed childcare.

“This place is fantastic. I’m new to the area and needed part-time help with my twin toddlers at random times for school events and doctor’s appointments. The staff is phenomenal and my kids love going,” raved one mom in a review on the Giggles Facebook page.

The Pelham Road location is perfect for families coming out of the Five Forks or Eastside area, as it’s about 15 minutes from both places. It is located right off of the Pelham Road exit on 85 and in the same plaza as Earth Fare, several other restaurants, Massage Envy, nail salons, and Pet Supply Plus. Sidewall Pizza is a two-minute drive away. Built-in date night right there.

While you can register your child at the childcare center, it is much easier to do it online. Also, be sure to ask the family pediatrician for a copy of immunization records, as they are needed for registration.

Giggle drop in childcare

Summer Camps

Giggles is already registering for their field-trip based summer camps.

For summer camps, Giggles offers themed weeks, eight hours a day, where kids go to different places daily. The camps are offered for rising kindergarteners through 5th grade and cost $240/week for one child, $430/week for two children. Prices are also available for more than two kids a week. If parents sign their kids up before May 31st, they receive a $25 per week discount.

Additionally, parents can opt for day trips only for $85/day/child. All snacks, lunches, and drinks are provided.

Check out their cool schedule of summer camp field trips. Kids will get to go to Kangaroo Jax and climb on the inflatables, visit unicorns at Hidden Pasture Farms, play putt putt golf, explore the Roper Mountain Science Center, visit with real firefighters at a fire department,  get wet at Shipwreck Cove’s waterpark, and so much more! This is only a small sampling of the adventures for summer camps at Giggles.

Pricing and Hours for Giggles Greenville, SC location

Giggles will be open Monday through Thursday, 7:30 am to 9 pm; Friday from 7:30 am to 10 pm, and Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm. Giggles is closed on Sunday. 

The centers will accept kids from 12 months old through 12 years old.

Rates are below and listed on the Giggles website. Giggles offers several packages for one, two, or three children, as well as memberships and date night packages.

Hourly​ ​Drop-In​ ​Care

$13/hour for 1 child
$22/hour for 2 children
$28/hour for 3 children
$32/hour for 4 children

They also offer pricing in 10-hour blocks up to 150-hour blocks. These are affordable and competitive pricing for the professional childcare services offered. Be sure to follow Giggles of Palham on Facebook as they will be offering specials, coupons, and promo packages throughout the year.

Giggles Drop-In Childcare
3620 Pelham Road
Greenville, SC

Have you tried out Giggle of Greenville yet?

Babysitter Services in Greenville, SC

Looking for Additional Childcare?

3 Helpful Babysitter Services
Near Greenville, SC

3 Helpful Babysitter Services Near Greenville, SC

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Are you looking to find the perfect babysitter? Greenville, SC offers several options. We know the process of finding trustworthy childcare for your little ones can be stressful. Because of this, babysitting and nanny services are emerging that require strict background checks. These extra security steps are helping eliminate many parents’ fears about who exactly is caring for their children.

This list includes babysitter services that pride themselves on providing top-notch caregivers that are ready to help your family thrive!

Babysitter Services in Greenville, SC

Find the Perfect Babysitter Near Greenville, SC

Jovie: Childcare Reimagined

Services Greenville, SC; Nationally

Jovie has reimagined childcare to meet the needs of today’s families. Meet the Jovie squad, your team and companion in childcare. Jovie has over 20 years of experience and expertise as college nannies and sitters. Jovie offers in-home childcare for work, date nights, or whenever you need it. Jovie has you covered.

Platinum Sitters

Platinum Sitters Website
Services Greenville, SC

Platinum Sitters require sitters have a clean background check, a clean driving record, and multiple years of childcare experience. Most importantly, caregivers must love working with children! Platinum Sitters offers occasional care, recurring services, and special group event rates. Check out their website for more information.

Smartsitters South Carolina

Smartsitters South Carolina Website
Services throughout Upstate, SC

Smartsitters South Carolina conducts one-on-one interviews and several security checks on all caregivers. Some services offered include on-demand and overnight care, nursery staffing, and recurring services. Excitedly, Smartsitters offers concierge service! Request a sitter directly through their website.

Reading with children

More Child Care Options

For more childcare options, check out our list of Parents’ Night Out/Kids’ Night Out Events hosted by local kids’ venues in Greenville, SC. You may also want to scroll through our Ultimate Guide to Daycare in Greenville and the Upstate and our Guide to Preschools and Day Care.

Where You Can Get a Car Seat Safety Check in Greenville

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Wondering where to get your car seat checked? With so many different car seats currently on the market, it is often tricky for even a seasoned parent to properly install a car seat. This contributes to the fact that approximately eighty percent of car seats installed right now are improper.  You can call several places to make an appointment to have your car seat installation inspected, so you don’t have to risk the safety of your most precious cargo.

Car seat inspection stations in Greenville, SC