Thursday, December 31, 2009

Counting the blessings

This year, we are closing a decade as well as a year, and I'm sure much will be written about the many serious, world-changing events of these past 10. I'm focused on a more local take, thinking about what these years have meant to my family and the memories they hold. Like many, we have had children and lost parents. Our professional lives have had ups, downs, and changes. We have had wonderful times, and challenging ones. Sickness and health. As we start 2010, I'm going to count the blessings, though, and look forward to the adventures ahead. What are you most grateful for, as we close the year? Share your thoughts below. And, have a very happy New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


If you have children in elementary or high school, they are likely off this next week. If you are also lucky enough to be home or home from work, it is a unique chance to connect, after the fun chaos of the holiday season. We take time to play with the new toys, cuddle up in front of a fire or a movie, and enjoy, at least for a little while, a slower pace. I love this time, although it is a bit unnerving how quickly it arrives, again, a reminder of time passing. So, this week - cherish the quiet time and the joy of the season. Best wishes for peace and happiness in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Important Winter/Holiday Water Safety Tips for Toddlers and Infants

While we don't often think about water safety during the holidays, it is a critical time to be vigilant, warns the Infant Swimming Resource(, a provider of self-rescue swimming lessons for babies and toddlers from six months to six years old. The organization just announced the following winter water safety tips to help families protect their young children as they travel this holiday season. Please read, and pass this link along to your family and friends.

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, “Eighty-eight percent of children were under some form of supervision when they drowned.” 1

"The holiday season represents the highest probability of distractions and breakdown of normal supervision routines," said Harvey Barnett Ph.D., pediatric drowning prevention specialist and founder of Infant Swimming Resource. "If a child is missing, check the pool first."

Holiday and Winter Water Safety Tips

1. CEO Supervision (Constant Eyes On) - Never turn your back on your child around water. It takes just seconds for him/her to be in serious trouble. Segment the supervision responsibilities so there are never questions about which adult is responsible for watching the child and be aware of the distractions unique to the winter months: holiday parties, house guests, etc.

2. Educate Others - When traveling to relatives’ and friends’ homes they may not understand the importance of keeping gates closed, doors locked, closing toilet seats, emptying buckets, etc. Visiting family, holiday parties and celebrations can lead to breakdowns in routine supervision and effective barriers to the water.

3. Decoration Hazards - Decorations and lights can pose problems with young children around the house and water. Watch for lights and electrical cords around water, make sure no outside decorations provide a means for a child to climb over a fence or open a locked gate.

4. Maintain Pools in the Winter - Keep pools well-maintained with clear water even if it is too cold to swim. If someone falls in, they can be seen and be helped faster. Pool covers need to be drained of accumulated rain water and free of debris.

5. Hot Tubs - Supervision must be one adult per child due to the high temperatures and turbulence of the water in a hot tub. When young children are in the hot tub, keep the temperature below 90 degrees Fahrenheit and limit exposure to less than ten minutes.

6. Bath Tubs - Do not allow anyone who is uneducated about bath tub safety to bathe your child. Consider bathing an infant or young child in a tub with a handheld shower attachment, eliminating the risk of drowning in accumulating bath tub water.

7. Self-rescueTM Skills – Teach young children self-rescue skills. In addition to pool fences, alarms and gates, it can be another layer of defense. Survival swimming and a demonstration of the roll-back-to-float skills prior to all water recreation is vital year round.

For a full Family Aquatic Safety Checklist from Infant Swimming Resource visit:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stress Free Holiday Tip of the Week

OK, stress free holiday pledges: This is where it all begins. If you start now and work on the tips each week, you'll have a calmer, more organized holiday season with more time for fun. This week:

CARDS: Purchase or plan your holiday cards. Create great online cards from photos from the year at or Or, if you take a holiday photo - take it or schedule it (now - really!)

LOOKING PRETTY: Do you/kids need holiday outfits? Peruse your favorite stores online and order. Most offer free shipping. There are some great sales this week. For you - through Nov. 22, Ann Taylor Loft is running it's Friends & Family sale, 30% off everything. Use coupon code FRIENDS at checkout. Old Navy is offering 25% off orders of $100 or more through 11/23. Enter code ONSAVE15 at check out. Do you know of other great sales for holiday outfits in progress? Reply to this post and share them!

Happy holidays everyone!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Savings News - The Gap Give & Get Campaign

The Gap Give & Get campaign is in progress, 30% off Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, from 11/12 – 11/15, with coupon (obtain at link: The coupon can be used multiple times. The best part is that 5% of the profits go back to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This coupon is a good way to save some money but more importantly to help out a good cause. A great sale!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Decking the Halls

As I'm sure everyone can see, malls and main streets are already decked out for the holidays - signaling the start of the season. PlayingSmarter is sponsoring the "StressFree Holiday Pledge" - take the pledge (that you'll have a less stressful, more fun season by being more organized).

Each week, we'll notify you when we post our "Stress Free Holiday Tip of the Week." If you prepare for the holidays along with all the other pledge takers, we promise - a more joyful, less hectic holiday. Sign up now:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

Can you believe Sesame Street is 40? So many of us remember watching the show as a child -- pre-cable, pre-TiVo, pre-video games, pre-DVDs...I think at one point every child of a certain age with a TV was a viewer. Sesame Street took (and takes) its responsibility seriously, producing shows that are not only fun and entertaining, but educational. They share messages of kindness and acceptance. I hope that many generations to come enjoy Sesame Street. The Horizon's Blog has posted some favorite clips from the show - check them out at:

After the Suger Rush

Hope everyone had a GREAT Halloween. Most of us have enough candy to last until next Halloween. After a week or so, when the novelty has worn off, you can contribute candy to many shelters, soup kitchens, and food banks, giving your kids the experience of helping those in need. Let them pick out what to donate from the stash and, briefly and simply, explain that they can make someone who does not have enough food to eat very happy with a contribution of a few special treats.

To find a place to donate, type "food bank, yourcounty, yourstate" into Google.


Welcome to PlayingSmarter. We'll share ideas about how children learn and grow through play, plus many fun family tips - recipes, travel, crafts, holiday ideas, and more. We welcome appropriate contributions/guest writers, so, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Beyong the fun tips, we'll share news that matters to parents and families. We will keep things short and sweet (you're busy!), but will help keep you informed AND make your life a little more sane. Stay tuned.