KELLY CLARKSON ON THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING HER KIDS ARE ALWAYS WATCHING

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By Karen Johnson for Babble

This parenting gig is full of surprises, isn’t it?

For all of the exhausting days of “What is this horrible dinner you cooked, Mommy?” and “No! I will not wear a coat even though it’s 28 degrees!” there are just as many (if not more) moments of kindness and love. But you have to listen, or you might miss them.

Just this morning, I referred to myself as “boring old Mom” and my kids’ response stopped me in my tracks. They said, “Don’t say that. You aren’t boring. You are fun and the best Mommy in the world.” And that was it. I could die and go to heaven saying I did it. I lived a good life.

Well, fellow mom-in-the-trenches Kelly Clarkson recently shared with People that she, too, sees the lessons her kids teach her daily.

“I know it sounds silly, but kids teach you to be a better human. They’re watching every moment, not only me at home but me sitting here with y’all,” Clarkson shared.

Isn’t that the truth? That’s what I realized this morning after putting myself down and hearing my kids lift me up. How can I teach them to be proud of themselves if they hear their mom’s negativity? They are listening. They are watching.

Clarkson also reflected on the importance of setting a good example as a positive role model. “I hope with our two boys and our two girls that they see their parents as successful, loving and respectful people ’cause that’s what we want for them,” the dedicated mother and stepmother says.

We need to remember that we are our children’s primary example in life. Yes, they may see reality TV personalities and YouTube stars and be impacted by inappropriate or negative influences and we can do our best to monitor that, but we also need to monitor ourselves.

Moms, if we talk about our weight or put ourselves down, our girls hear it. How will they look at themselves as they grow up? How will our sons grow to love and respect women if their mom doesn’t love and respect herself?

And we want them to dream, don’t we? I imagine little Kelly Clarkson as a child, dreaming of becoming a famous singer one day. And she did, even if her journey was a scary one. Even if she was unsure that she’d make it. I fight fears of failure all the time, but I put myself out there to show my kids that no one who’s done anything worthwhile did so without difficulty or failure along the way. I can’t expect them to have courage and believe in themselves if I don’t do it first.

Clarkson knows the magnitude of the job she has as a mom. From teaching her kids to speak out if they or someone else is being mistreated to modeling self-love regardless of her weight, she’s working hard every day to be the best role model she can for her young children.

And she admits that it’s the hardest job on the planet. “They are challenging. Wine is necessary,” she joked. So necessary. Because after a long day of trying your best and hoping you’re not messing up, a glass of Pinot is much-deserved!

Thanks to Kelly Clarkson for keeping it real. Raising good humans is one tough gig, but it’s worth every second.

What Questions to Ask a Nanny

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By Amy Daire for Insider

When it comes to hiring someone to look after your children, there's no such thing as being too cautious. However, interviewing tons of nannies, babysitters, and agencies just to find one that's good enough takes a lot of time and effort. 

As someone who has nannied and babysat for several unique families over the past five years, I've been to my fair share of interviews, with both parents and agencies. Some stuck with the simple questions — like "Do you know CPR?" and "How do you feel about overnights?" — but others asked me questions that really made me think about myself and what my role in the family would be. 

These are the six best questions I've been asked in the past (and a few more that I wish had been): 

"What was your favorite memory with your last family/child?" 

This question is the perfect ice breaker and it will easily give you the cutest answers you've ever heard in an interview. It won't answer any of the tough, logistical questions you surely have, but it could give you a glimpse into how passionate this person is about their role. It's especially good to ask if you're looking for someone to become a part of the family. 

"If there was one skill/lesson you could teach our kid, what would it be?" 

This is a better, roundabout way of asking "What interests you?" or "What's important to you?" Whether they want to teach your kid(s) their native language, instill good manners in them, or introduce them to art or history, it will subtly give you more details about the person you're interviewing and, more importantly, it will reveal what might rub off on your offspring if this certain nanny is hired. 

"Have you ever worked with a family that uses a parenting style you don't agree with? How did you/would you dealt with it?" 

It's okay if they have. In fact, it might be better that way. Not only will they have experience with different approaches (maybe even great ones), they will also be able to tell you upfront if there are things they are not okay with. 

Most nannies keep their opinions to themselves with small issues but when it comes to things like punishments, vaccinations, or restrictive diets, things can get tense if you're not on the same page.

"How would you make homework, meal time, bath time exciting or easier for a child who doesn't like it?" 

Rather than asking "Can you cook?" or "Would you help with homework?" ask them  how they would help. Similar to good parents, good nannies will be on top of the latest tips and tricks to ease any troublesome moments. If they tell you techniques they've used in the past, you'll get an insight into their past work and you'll also get a glimpse of their problem solving skills. 

"How do you like to balance work and life?" 

This is especially important for people looking to hire live-in nannies, as any nanny who has ever lived-in would gladly tell you. It can be hard to establish boundaries when you're a shout away. Take the time in the interview to discuss both of your preferred methods of handling this. 

Maybe strict, specific hours work for you. Or maybe you want them on call even when they're off. Find out how they usually make it work to see if that'll work for you, too. 

"What does being a nanny mean to you?" 

This was one of the questions that really made me think because "nanny" could mean something very different to everyone. 

If you're looking for someone to bond with your child, teach them life lessons, and help them grow, you might not want to hire someone who says that being a nanny means watching the children when the parents are out.

"Are you comfortable working while I am (or the other parent is) around?" 

I've been a nanny for parents that want me to take charge even when they're there and I've worked for some who preferred to have me in the background while they're around. Each family and nanny is different so deciding what you want beforehand and bringing it up during the interview will establish lines with both the nanny and eventually, even the child or children. 

"What long-term and short-term plans do you have?" 

Sure, sometimes things come up, but if you hire a young, 20-something nanny knowing that they want to pursue a career outside of nannying at some point, you can't be mad when they decide to do just that. You can, however, address the fact that you want someone long-term and do your best to find someone that also wants to be there for the long haul. Asking about their life plans or career goals will help you avoid miscommunication. 

It's also wise to keep an ear out for other problems that could arise. Did they mention that they're dating someone long distance? If so, there's potential for them to move. Does their family live across the country? They might want to travel often. Those shouldn't necessarily be deal breakers but when it comes down to one nanny or another, these details might help you make a final decision. 

"How do you really feel about doing [this much] housework?" 

There's a difference between being a nanny and being a maid. Maybe you expect the nanny to grocery shop, do the entire family's laundry, cook, and clean — which is fine! — but the person you're interviewing might not know that. Additionally, they might not want to do that. 

Be clear and upfront about what will be expected of them and pay them accordingly so that there aren't any unforeseen issues that come up after they've already started. It's one thing to ask if they're okay with doing a few chores here and there, but if you need/want much more than loading the dishwasher, make sure it's talked about in the interview.

 

12 of the Best Vacation Destinations for You and Your BFFs

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By Ashley Mateo for Redbook

Family vacations are great, and romantic getaways are crucial to a healthy marriage. But sometimes you just have to get away with your girls. Between work obligations, parenting duties, and keeping your husband from turning into your roommate, it can be tough to put the effort into maintaining your friendships. But your friends are crucial to your sanity — and a quickie girls' trip can be all you need to reset, relax, and remember what it's like to have fun without all your other responsibilities.

ARUBA

This Caribbean escape averages 82°F year-round, which makes it perfect for a girls' getaway literally any time you're craving white sand beaches, palm trees, and chill ~island vibes~. The Palm Beach strip boasts hotels galore, but if you're looking to really indulge on a rare long weekend away from work/husbands/kids/responsibilities, you'll want to set up camp at The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba. When you're not on the five-star resort's beach, go HAM on relaxation at the 15,000 square foot spa, where you can get island-inspired face and body treatments like the Dushi Tera massage, designed to reveal glowing skin and remove toxins. You'll want to make time to sip on a Cadushi (Cactus) Cocktail (or two) on the Divi Bar and Lounge Terrace, where you'll be treated to stunning sunset views. At night, try your luck at the hotel's on-site casino, where your crew can set up a private casino clinic — and try to win enough money to come back the next weekend.

SAN DIEGO, CA

You'll want to visit SD with your BFFs — or, Best Fitness Friends. Why? Because it's one the top 10 fittest cities in America. With 26 miles of shoreline and 340 parks over 40,000 acres from Sunset Cliffs to La Jolla, you can hike, bike, and swim to your heart's content. And don't forget to sign your whole squad up for beginner's surf lessons at the female-run Surf Diva. If your friends are the kind that love to 'gram their fitness adventures, stay at La Jolla's La Valencia, a fully pink, 1920s gem where Cary Grant used to stay.  

WATCH HILL, RHODE ISLAND

You're never too old for sleepover parties, especially when they take place at the Watch Hill Inn's Lilly Pulitzer Suite. Call up all your sorority sisters for a weekend getaway in the seaside hotel's cheerfully decorated room. Décor courtesy of the resort brand includes exclusive Lilly Pulitzer Bedding, Lilly Pulitzer bar accessories, and Lilly Pulitzer beach totes you can take with you when the fun is done. But if this sounds too much like your sorority house days, there are some grown-up perks, too, like a gas-burning fireplace, a fully equipped stainless steel kitchen, and a goose-down king-size bed. Spend your day riding one of the inn's limited edition Lilly Pulitzer x Martone bicycles to the beach and around town, then head back to your suite for a killer view of the sunset over Little Narragansett Bay from your own private terrace.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL

Calling all Elizabeth Taylor fans: If you live for Liz's glamourous Hollywood life, you don't need to book a ticket to Los Angeles. With the "Girlfriends & Glamour Getaway" package, you can head to Fort Lauderdale for a luxurious weekend escape. You'll get a look at Taylor's extensive "riches" in a NSU Art Museum photography exhibition, dine and drink your way through the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment district of town, and enjoy a luxurious stay at the Las Ola's Riverside Hotel, which offers in-room balconies, marble bathrooms, and gorgeous views of the Fort Lauderdale skyline. It's a little taste of the lifestyles of the rich and famous — without the sky-high price tag.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA

Head up the coast a bit from family-friendly Newport Beach for another oceanfront town that's perfect for girls' looking for a little slice of carefree California life. Book a stay at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa, where you can enjoy the brand-new main pool with luxury cabanas complete with flat-screen TVs and personal refrigerators that you can stock with all your favorite essentials (rose all day!). Then head down the beach for surf classes with Toes on the Noes instructors or a beach yoga class right on the sand.

CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS

Chick lit queen Elin Hilderbrand is back with her latest ode to the Cape, The Identicals — a story about two sisters isolated on two different islands — and it's going to make you want to pack your bags, grab your girls, and start debating which you prefer: Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard. If you're more of the Vineyard persuasion, book a stay at Summercamp, a cheery boutique hotel in Oak Bluffs. It's full of perks that will take you right back to your actual summer camp days: a Camp Canteen with classic snacks; a game room with vintage games, a movie screen, carpet twister, and ping pong; and giant porches and balconies with harbor views and rocking chairs (because you're not campers anymore). More into Nantucket? Make yourself at home at the Greydon House, a super low-key hotel designed to reflect this part of the island's vibes (think lots of nautical details). No matter which part of the island you're in, take advantage of the amazing restaurants, top-notch shopping, pristine beaches, and the opportunity to enjoy it all with your BFFs. 

CANCUN, MEXICO

Don't worry, this isn't a suggestion to regress back to college spring break — there's so much more to Cancun than body shots at Señor Frog's. Just a short drive from the airport on the Yucatan Peninsula, you'll find the NIZUC Resort & Spa, the kind of idyllic slice of paradise partiers a few miles away can't even fathom. There are oceanfront suites and private villas where you can revel in the views of the Caribbean Sea, bespoke spa treatments using Mayan healing rituals and local herbs and plants, six restaurants on the property, and a swim-up bar smack in the middle of a giant reflective pool — and instead of shots, you can sip on fresh juices made from local ingredients. Want to experience Cancun beyond the resort's 29-acre property? Set up a day trip to the Great Pyramid at Chichén Itzá, the ruins at Tulum, or the caves of the Rio Secreto.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Pinterest has declared New Orleans the top pre-wedding party destination of 2017, but that doesn't mean you need a bachelorette party as an excuse to go. Yes, it's known for its party atmosphere — but that doesn't necessarily mean Mardi Gras beads and Bourbon Street. In between exploring the French Quarter and sampling all the Cajun and Creole food the city has to offer, hit up a classy spot like the Moxy Bar at the Moxy Hotel, which is decked out with vintage French horns and metal voodoo skulls, or grab a stool at the Henry Howard Hotel's marble bar. But if you're going to sleep where you drink, your best bet is the Roosevelt Hotel, a gorgeous turn-of-the-(19th)-century building that's been restored to it's previous glory, plus a few modern bonuses — like the rooftop pool and 12,500-square-foot spa. 

SEDONA, ARIZONA

Sedona is one of those places in the U.S. that can make you feel like you're not just in another country, but on another planet. It doesn't really matter where you stay, because you're going to spend a huge chunk of your time outside, Instagramming hiking the famous Red Rocks, horseback riding through Dead Horse Ranch State Park, or sightseeing cool local spots like the Chapel of the Holy CrossMontezuma Castle, and the Palatki Ruins. But to sleep, you can'd go wrong at L'Auberge de Sedona, with rooms offering epic panoramas of the incredible scenery. 

MIAMI, FLORIDA

Ah, Miami. It's basically as far south as you can go in the United States (while staying in a big city), and if you need a warm-weather escape, a city that rarely drops below 60° is a solid choice. You can hit the beach year-round, eat all kinds of Latin-inspired deliciousness, snap a ton of Instagrams at the Wynwood Walls, and even take a quickie road trip down to the Keys for some quiet time. If you're staying in the city, though, hit up The Confidante Miami Beach — starting in July, the hotel will host spa nights at their open-air rooftop spa. You'll get a free glass of prosecco and 15% off any spa treatment — and if your group is big enough (9+), you can reserve the whole place for yourself and customize your experience. Visit just for the Spa Night perks, or make the hotel your home base for girls' weekend.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Seriously! If you aren't hemorrhaghing money at the pool parties, the club bars, or in the casinos, Vegas is actually one of the cheapest destinations in the U.S. (In fact, the average hotel price for two nights is just $158, and average airfare is $237.) And there's so much more to do that get wasted there. Rent your group a car and make the 15-mile drive south to the Instagram-friendly Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation that truly pops in the middle of the desert. If your friends are all about the 'gram, you'll also want to visit the Neon Museum, where you can get up close and personal with historic Las Vegas signs. (Your husband would be over taking photos of you in front of cool signs sofast; that's what friends are for.) But if your really looking for a low-key trip — I know, it's the antithesis to what Las Vegas stands for — spend a day luxuriating at Canyon Ranch Las Vegas, where you can customize a whole Girlfriends' Getaway package for your crew.

WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OREGON

Napa where? Just one hour south of Portland is another, lesser-known (and less crowded) valley renowned for its wineries (there are 500 of them), and it's exactly where you and your friends want to go when you're looking for a relaxed getaway where you can still drink...a lot. It was named the Wine Region of the Year in 2016, and it's famous for it's pinot noir. The top wineries to hit: Stoller Family Estate, if not for the pinot and chardonnay, then definitely for the solar-powered, sun-drenched tasting room; Raptor Ridge Winery, because the 360° views are truly breathtaking; and Willamette Valley Vinyards, where you can get 4 pairings of wine and food for just $20. As for where to stay, scroll through Airbnb for some truly unique rental options (like this incredible treehouse or this rustic tiny home).

14 Baby Names That Will Definitely Be Trending in 2018

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By Suzanne Zuckerman for PureWow

Out with the Olivias and in with the Auroras?

While eternally popular names like Emma, Sofia, Oliver and Liam aren’t likely to budge from the playground (even when offered cookies and a movie), parents aiming for originality have plenty of options. Here are 14 names we’re betting you’ll start to hear everywhere next year.

AIDY

Thanks to SNL’s breakout star, this nickname for Aiden or Adele has class, sass and serious staying power.

COCO

Whether you’re channeling the classic (Chanel), the modern (Pixar’s latest blockbuster) or the Cox-Arquette, this one (a derivation of "cocoa") has good taste on lock.

GIGI

Just like its sister names Lulu, Mimi and Lula—this super-stylish mini moniker is simply irresistible.

KAI

Meaning “sea” in Hawaiian and “forgiveness” in Japanese, this unisex name was among the top 100 U.S. baby names last year and is up 11 points since 2016, according BabyCenter.

JASPER

Safer than Jagger, fresher than Jaden, the fifth most popular name of 2017, meaning “bringer of treasure,” continues to “rocket up the U.S. ranks,” according to Nameberry.

SAVANNAH

The Today host could use a hug, and possibly your child named in her honor. And since this is the 40th most popular girl’s name in the U.S., it’s both unique and uniquely recognizable.

 

YOUR HOME, SAFE, WHEN YOU’RE AWAY

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By Ben Olive for Florida Luxurious Properties

You know how it goes—you’ve planned a wonderful trip, tied up all loose ends at the office, packed your bags and called for a cab to the airport.

All’s well, until you start wondering whether or not you left the iron on, or the coffee maker, or whether or not you locked the front door.

Not the way to start your vacation—your annual “rest” has started out any way but restful.  Now you are anxious, and might be for a week or two.  It’s not easy to leave home!

It’s not just that the house is empty, and may invite intrusion—someone could break in—but a pipe could burst, or a tree may fall, and really, you may have left the coffee pot on!

A burglary can be devastating, but so can water damage, or animal intrusion.  The smart homeowner can do a number of things to protect their valuable investment while they’re away.  Here are some suggestions.


HOME SWEET SECURE HOME

Get an alarm system!  A home without an alarm is three times more likely to be burglarized, according to the National Council for Home Safety and Security.  While installation of a system may cost a bit, and monthly monitoring services will be an ongoing expense, you will have peace of mind, and perhaps a discount on your homeowner’s policy.


SMART HOME SECURITY

There are a number of house-monitoring systems on the market, and they include everything from video cameras and motions sensors to garage door openers with smart locks, and all can hook-up to your smart phone.

LOCKING IT UP

Be sure to check all doors and windows in the house and garage before you leave.  An open window provides easy access for intruders, not only human, but pests like bugs and rodents, too. And if it rains, things will get awfully soggy.  Better to do one last run through the house, and check one last time.

GET A HOUSESITTER

If you have a pet, you’ll have to have someone look after them.  If you don’t have a pet, you’ll want someone to look after your houseplants.  Having someone on site can give you complete peace of mind.  If not someone fulltime, then at least engage someone who will check on the house every day or two.

STOP DELIVERY OF MAIL AND NEWSPAPERS

A pile of newspapers, menus, flyers, packages or mail at a house that is closed up screams “No one home”.  Stop delivery before you leave, or ask a neighbor to pick up daily and enjoy your vacation.

TIDY UP BEFORE YOU LEAVE

Get the lawn mowed, plants watered and pool cleaned.  A tidy home looks occupied; a messy one looks like no one’s home.


GET RID OF THE HIDDEN KEY

Everyone knows where to look for it—under the doormat, or a planter, a rock, or inside a fake rock.  Leave a spare key with your neighbor, or get a front door lock that works with your smartphone.

TURN ON THE LIGHTS

Put the lights on automatic timers, including the outdoor lights.  Some can be programmed and linked to your smartphone, so that you can activate the lights at any time of day, from anywhere.

GPS TRACKING

If you park your car at the airport, remove your GPS.  A thief could steal the device and find your home address with the press of a button.  Turn off location alerts on social media, as well.

SOCIAL MEDIA BLACKOUT

Those vacation photos that you can’t wait to share on social media will alert everyone to the fact that your house is empty.  Wait until you get home!

With careful thought and a little prior planning, you can feel secure in leaving your home and taking that well-deserved vacation.

 

Bimini Is South Florida's Playground

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By Alyssa Morlacci for Fort Lauderdale Daily

Stand by the shore at Radio Beach in Bimini, Bahamas, at night, and you’ll see Miami, off in the distance, its city lights twinkling. But homesickness is unnecessary. A 15-minute golf cart ride north, up Queen’s Highway, puts visitors at Luna Beach, a cove lined with white sand, cabanas, an airy restaurant and day-to-evening entertainment. Miami nightlife businessman Michael Capponi brought the destination to the island. “Bimini is an outlet for South Florida,” he says, suggesting that instead of taking a boating trip from Fort Lauderdale up to Palm Beach, or vice versa, day-trippers should veer from the coast and travel less than 50 miles east to the closest Bahamian island.

Capponi and his partner, Eric Milon, opened Luna Beach this summer, as there’s been an apparent spike in tourism in Bimini. The catalyst? Resorts World Bimini, which celebrated its grand opening last summer, offering a 280-slip marina and a 305-room Hilton hotel including 18 luxury suites. 

The destination can be accessed via boat, as Capponi suggests, or by plane. Silver Airways offers a 30-minute trip from Fort Lauderdale—just enough time for flight attendants to pass out cups of water before the aircraft makes its descent. 

A taxi and ferry ride come next, delivering guests to the resort. Or better yet, the Tropic Ocean Airways seaplane, which offers flights from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, can transport visitors from South Florida to the water just behind the property. 

The Hilton is one hotel where first-floor accommodations are preferred. The suites include private patios with secluded access to a lagoon pool overlooking the bay. But for all guests, the real treat is a stunning, adults-only rooftop infinity pool that blends into the blue ocean at every turn. 

The Serenity Spa, Salon and Fitness Center, boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, restaurants like The Tides and Hemingway’s, and a casino with more than 100 slot machines all add to the resort’s lure. But expansion hasn’t interfered with the island’s authentic Caribbean town. Places like Joe’s Conch Stand, where shells emptied of the snails stack in mounds outside, and Joe himself preps conch salad while chatting with visitors, still offer authentic experiences.

On the topic of experiences, the S.S. Sapona is a must in the way of exploration. The concrete cargo ship was built during World War I, retired and then whisked away by a hurricane in the 1920s. Its final resting place is four miles south of Bimini, where the shipwreck protrudes partially from the ocean. Bimini Undersea takes small groups to the site for guided snorkeling excursions that let guests spot tropical fish and view coral reefs formed along the base of the vessel.  

Back at the Hilton, a smaller-in-size wooden boat carrying rolls and sashimi can be ordered at The Sushi Bar located in the hotel lobby and conceptualized by “Top Chef” winner Hung Huynh. The shareable order pairs well with craft cocktails like the Blushing Geisha. Night will fall, and vacationers will move in all directions to restaurant reservations and poker tables at the casino. A grand piano will score the scene, and Miami will glitter in the distance for those who are looking.

16 Ways to Travel With Kids (And Enjoy It)

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By Joanna Goddard for A Cup of Jo

When brainstorming family trips, I sometimes think of that funny Onion article, “Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming All Household Duties in Closer Proximity to Ocean.” So, how can you get a family vacation to feel like a true escape — not just for kids, but for grown-ups, too? Here, experienced mothers share their tried-and-true tips…

From Kendra Smoot, mother of three (aged 2, 5 and 10):

1. I start packing the week before we leave. I set out a suitcase or start a pile out of the way, and when I think of something (bug spray, sun hat, headphones), I just pack it up instead of scrambling right before we leave.

2. Ever since I heard that anticipation is half the fun, we involve the kids in the planning part — learning a bit of the history of where we are visiting, what things we want to do there.

3. We bring headlamps. They’re so handy and comforting for kids when they’re in a new space, or when you are all sharing a hotel room with a sleeping baby, etc.

4. Eating out for every meal with kids can sometimes feel like a drag, so we buy groceries and cook — and save eating out for a few special restaurants.

From Linsey Laidlaw, mother of three (aged 3, 6 and 9):

5. My best advice for easing plane travel is to keep your kids nice and deprived any time they aren’t flying so you can lord the prize of screen time and snacks over them as a bribe for good behavior. We don’t give them juice in our normal life, so the promise of their own little can of cranapple is tantalizing.

6. I love that exploring a new city as a family gives us a truer idea of what it’s like to live there. With kids, we experience grocery stores and neighborhood playgrounds and local spots that we’d probably miss if we were on a grown-up trip. We shape the itinerary so that everyone can choose one activity per day, and we alternate between adult and kid picks. The rule is you have to be supportive of other’s picks. So, if you keep it together on Mom’s walk through the museum, you won’t be cut short at the park — and also your chances for ice cream will increase exponentially.

From Brooke Williams, mother of one (aged 9):

7. On car trips, we listen to podcasts. Hours fly by like minutes. Tumble is a great kid-friendly podcast about science, and NPR has a whole directory of family podcasts. Then there are my favorite books on tape. We devoured the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, which is read by Harry Belafonte, Kathleen Turner, Mathew Broderick and Paul Newman and might just be the Best. Audiobook. Ever. We also loved Wonder and A Wrinkle in Time. Oh, and we probably listened to The Little House on the Prairie 1000 times. Maybe more.

8. We try to rent apartments when traveling — it makes the pacing feel more human, and you can have that downtime at home. I like Kid & Coe for family-friendly houses in cool places. Plus, that way we’ll eat a good breakfast before setting out for the day. If Daddy makes pancakes, we’re all good!

From Amanda Jane Jones, mother of two (aged 1 and 3):

9. We carry a big (thin, so it can be easily folded) picnic blanket that can be used for picnics in case the kids are too rowdy for a restaurant. It also can be used for naps in transit. 

10. We have the most success when we plan outdoor adventures in nature. The kids are always 10 times happier on some sort of hike or beach or lake, so we try to work that into our days.

11. “Hangry” fits happened so often at the beginning of our last summer vacation, I quickly learned my lesson. Now I’ll pack sandwiches — croissants with tomato, mozzarella and arugula (the kids eat it without the arugula). Or if we’re in a rush, peanut butter and jelly.

From Liz Libré, mother of three (aged 9 months, 4 and 6):

12. We bring a few things for indoor play (for early mornings, downtime and rainy days): A Koosh ball is great for tossing around, especially at the airport; it doesn’t bounce away, which is key. Plus, the games Rush Hour and Spot It. Also, on a recent trip, my friend recommended Perler beads, which were a HUGE hit with the kids. We were on the most beautiful beach in the world, and my son wanted to go back to the room to do Perler!

13. We love being outside but don’t want to get burned, so we wear brimmed hats and hooded sun shirts. Kids are always exposing their backs and necks, digging in the sand or playing on the ground, and these help keep sun off them without being too hot.

From Erin Jang, mother of two (ages 1 and 5):

14. I always like to tell my son, “It’s an adventure!” My dad used to tell me that growing up. Energy is so infectious. If I am stressed, impatient and cranky, my kids feel it and it can sour the moment for everyone. But if I’m amped up, the day becomes that much more fun. As a parent, you can spin anything — even the mistakes, the detours, the forgotten diapers! — into an adventure.

15. On our last trip, I gave our five-year-old the very important job of being our family travel reporter. To my surprise, he took it very seriously! I brought a notebook, scissors, tape, a glue stick and markers. He collected bus and museum tickets, asked for business cards at restaurants, and sought out other ephemera. He documented the most important events (i.e., all sugary treats he ate) and it was a great activity when we were waiting at restaurants or on long train rides.

16. Lastly, packing cubes! They’re the best! It makes it so much easier to pack and unpack all the kid’s clothes, and keep things organized when we’re traveling.

Of course, tricky things still happen on family vacations, but it’s worth it for the great moments, right? “We’ve had tantrums and time-outs all over the world,” says Linsey Laidlaw. “For us, this is an acceptable cost of business, and we figure if we are gonna learn to master these behaviors somewhere, it may as well be on the go.” Also, I loved this mother’s Instagram comment on vacation mindfulness: “Repeat after me: ‘I’m on vacation and I don’t care!'”

Mommy and Baby Yoga Is Definitely the Cutest Workout You’ll Ever Do

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By Laura Wing and Jim Kamoosi for PureWow

Getting back into the habit of working out after giving birth? Easier said than done. That's why mommy-and-me yoga is the perfect solution. We teamed up with Karma Kids Yoga to bring you three moves you can do right in your living room with baby in tow.

Downward Dog to Plank: Start in downward dog, with your feet hips' width apart, your hands on either side of your adorable yoga partner and your butt up toward the sky. Lower your rear end until you’re in plank position with your core locked and your face right over your baby’s happy smile. Hold for 30 seconds, then return to downward dog.

Raised Leg Crunches: A core exercise for mom becomes a flying lesson for baby. Start lying on your back with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your baby on your shins and engage your core to come up for a kiss. Your abs might get tired, but you’ll never get sick of hearing those giggles.

Boat Pose: Balance on your sits bones with your back straight, your legs bent and your baby sitting happily on your thighs. Increase the difficulty, and fun for baby, by holding your nugget straight up in the air above your core while you hold.

This is officially the cutest workout ever. Check out the video!