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Fun Ideas For Play Dates With Children

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New York City is more than a place for adults to play. It’s also a great place to explore with kids as there’s seemingly no end of things to do that are of interest or designed for the younger crowd. Make a play date for a group of kids and turn the day into an adventure that they’re going to talk about for weeks. Remember that you need to keep safety as your number one priority when leading a group of youngsters around the city, especially during wet weather. You don’t want someone to slip and fall only to get seriously hurt. Use a buddy system, keep a headcount, but most of all, enjoy yourselves on your day out.

The Playroom NYC

The Playroom NYC is a 3,000 square foot facility designed for children five years and younger and offers a free-for-all creative play experience. Children get to play on a climbing structure, shop in a bodega, dress up in fancy clothes, ride on cars and climb around a playground made from vinyl-covered foam shapes and blocks. Hours are limited to the day time during the week and in the morning on the weekends so plan your visit accordingly.

Modern Pinball NYC Interactive Museum and Party Place

Modern Pinball NYC is great for older kids who are seeking more engagement in their playtime but still have short attention spans. Each admission fee includes no time limit on play and all games are free. No tokens or coins needed for kids to play to their heart’s delight. There’s also an interactive pinball exhibit that shows the mechanics and electronics of a pinball machine. The museum features two multi arcade machines that have over 250 games for those who get tired of pinball. 

Brooklyn Bridge Park Environmental Ed Center

The Ed Center, as it’s called, is a great place for kids to experience the flora and fauna of the East River in an intimate setting. The center features a 250-gallon aquarium full of creatures that were recent residents of the East River. A small rock pool in front of the aquarium is also a touch tank featuring starfish, rocks, plants, and shells that children can touch and hold. Kids can look through a microscope to view water samples and the tiny organisms that live within. The Ed Center has limited hours during the week, but it is free to visit and the adjacent Brooklyn Bridge Park offers more kid-friendly activities when everyone’s tired of the center.

Belvedere Castle

This folly found in Central Park by 79th Street has been fully restored and is a great place for kids to go exploring. It’s located on the second-highest point in Central Park which gives it an amazing vantage point to see the surrounding land and cityscape. Kids are allowed to play on the castle steps with abandon. Make sure to take them up the tower and let their imaginations go where they will go. Be forewarned: there are no public restrooms at the castle, so plan accordingly.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, or CMOM, is a playground that’s disguised as a museum. It’s a place where kids from 0 to 10 are welcome and has plenty of interactive exhibits that are designed to engage kids no matter what their age. The museum also seeks to stimulate children’s interest in the arts and sciences by showing them how every day things work, how the body functions, and go on adventures with famous cartoon characters. Opening hours and days at CMOM vary throughout the year so make sure to check before putting together a play date. 

Good Day Play Café

Good Day Play Café is located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and is representative of a trend that’s springing up around NYC. Adults can sit back and drink coffee while their kids play together in the indoor playground. Good Day Play Café’ offers a climbing wall, ball pit with slide, a matted area with toys for the younger set, a wood cube pit (think indoor sandpit but cubes instead of sand) and more. There’s an hourly charge per child, but parents and babies under 8 months are free with a purchase from the drink menu. 

The Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo is a wonderful destination for a play date. It’s got exotic animals living in their native habitats in an urban setting, a butterfly garden, a carousel, and even a monorail. The zoo allows visitors to bring their own food and has picnic areas so everyone can sit down, relax, and eat before heading off to the next exhibit. You can also bring a stroller, but be mindful that some buildings require that the stroller be left in a designated area before entering. The zoo does have an entry fee for visitors except for Wednesdays when it’s free. Save some money by planning a play date on a Wednesday, but consider donating something to help support the zoo with its ongoing costs.

Queens County Farm Museum

Show kids what life was once like in New York City at the Queens County Farm Museum. The farm traces its existence as far back as 1697 and has been continuously farmed up until the present day. The 47-acre property features historic farm buildings, livestock, farm vehicles, fields for crops, an orchard, and more. Children can visit with the livestock and learn about the jobs they perform in and around the farm. The farm museum focuses on sustainable agriculture techniques and demonstrates that it’s capable of being historical and modern at the same time. 

These ideas are merely scratching the surface of things to do in New York City for playdates. The city is full of museums, points of interest, parks, and even hiking trails that are great for kids of all ages. You’ll never run out of interesting things to do. In fact, the only problem you’ll have is finding enough time to get to these destinations before the kids grow up. 

Hey all! Big thanks to Katy Blevins for handing over the reins to me at the end of 2017 to fulfill my new years resolution to write...often! Based in Miami, you can find me blogging about family life as a mother of two young kids. But i'll also continue the Chaos and Kiddos theme of business, fashion, parenting, product reviews, and...well, I could go on and on.

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Spotlight Features

Fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder in Kids

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With the darker nights and mornings from the changing seasons, many of our moods can be affected. With sunlight being our main source of vitamin D, we struggle to get it from food alone, which is beneficial for bone growth and energy levels, which according to research can help our resistance to physical illness.  

Here, with vitamin D3 suppliers Pharma Nord Ltd, we look at seasonal affective disorder and how we can help our kids who are affected by it. 

What is SAD?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression, defined as “depression associated with late autumn and winter and thought to be caused by lack of light”. A dark cloud above our heads caused, in some way, by dark clouds!  It’s said to occur when your body’s internal clock and your brain and body’s chemicals all change. 

It is estimated by the NHS that roughly one in 15 UK residents will feel the effects of SAD between September and April, with December, January, and February being the worst months for what people call the ‘winter blues’.  The most common age group to suffer from SAD is those between 18 and 30 years old, with females the most likely to be affected, but it can begin at any age and to any gender. 

What are the symptoms?

Do you think you, or someone close to you, is suffering from SAD, the most common symptoms to be aware of include: 

  • Sleep issues – normally oversleeping and struggling to stay awake
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression
  • Overeating – particularly carbohydrates and sweet foods 
  • Social issues, including withdrawal from social situations
  • Loss of motivation
  • Being lethargic
  • A persistent low mood
  • Lack of interest in activities which were previously enjoyable

SAD in children

Unfortunately, children can suffer from SAD — you may notice that their school work is slipping, they seem more irritable, and less likely to want to play. Remember, your child may not be able to realise they have this condition or tell you how they are feeling. 

If you think your child suffers from SAD, the first port of call is to contact the doctor and make an appointment. This way, they will be able to thoroughly check your child over and rule out any other possible reasons for the symptoms they are experiencing. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that the condition should receive the same treatment as other types of depression. 

Remember, this isn’t a behavioural problem but is in fact a brain chemistry issue. It’s important you are supportive and non-judgmental to aid recovery. Taking a little more time with them so they feel loved as well as being patient with them is also important to the treatment, as is eating healthy and maintaining a regular sleep pattern. By looking after their lifestyle habits, you will cut their stress levels which will help to ease the pressure faced from SAD. 

For adults, SAD is sometimes treated using light therapy in severe cases. However, there’s no detailed evidence that this works and with side effects such as headaches, it’s not always recommended for children. Instead, try to ensure that your children are outside in natural sunlight when possible. If your child is put on antidepressants, make sure you are vigilant for any changes in behaviour and keep in regular contact with your doctor. 

For additional help, consider supplements that improve health. Research in the area of vitamin D and depression is rapidly growing, with some studies highlighting a potential link between the two. Vitamin D is vital for general health including immunity, muscle function and bone density.

Dr Cindy Gellner, paediatrician, comments: “take their symptoms seriously. If your child has been diagnosed with SAD, talk about their feelings as they let you, and remind them that even though things may seem impossible right now, things will be better in the spring.”

As we’re responsible carers of children, make sure we keep an eye on any changes in their behaviour. If in doubt, seek medical attention.

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Everything you and your family should know about Carnivals in a single webpage

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When it comes to festivities, there is no holiday more flamboyant than Carnivals. Carnivals are celebrated all around the globe in a spectacular manner, with amazing colourful costumes and street performances. If you want to know all the information regarding this incredible festivity, then there is a web page you should definitely check out.

Learning about Carnivals

Carnivals are an international celebration of life. They have become famous holidays for people wanting to escape from their daily routines to immerse themselves in a world of fantasy for a couple days. Because of this, carnivals have spreaded all over the world, with each area having their own carnival traditions.

If you plan to attend these celebrations with your family, then at least  you should known the basics, since the festivity can vary greatly from a place to other. That is when websites like Carnivaland come in handy. 

Carnivaland is born as a website consecrated to Carnivals. This website includes some in deep guides about Carnivals around the world with all the information you could need to know about them: the traditions that have been preserved, the culture of the area, the street parties that you can usually find in certain cities, the parade balls, the traditional carnival costumes, the music used during the parades, etc. 

But Carnivaland articles go a step further. They also include information about the selling of tickets for exclusive parties, expert reviews on the carnivals so you can find the celebration that would suit your family needs better, news that could affect the celebration of the holiday, etc. 

If you are thinking about doing a family travel with fun activities you and your family can bond over, then you can not stop checking Carnivaland to find your perfect carnival destination.

Some of the most famous carnivals across the globe

Carnival celebrations differ greatly from one another. This holiday evolvement depends on the area, the influence of the local culture, how hard traditions have been preserved, etc.

Among the most famous carnival celebrations in the world, we can find: 

  • Cadiz Carnival: Cadiz is a Spanish city famous for its carnival celebrations. Although Cadiz is a calm city for most of the year, it transform into a  permanent state of celebration during carnival. This carnival is famous for the groups of street performers that attend the carnival parades while singing witty funny songs. The songs are traditionally about the state of Spanish affairs, making fun of local celebrities, etc. Carnival in Cadiz knowns no stop, people party during night and day until the holiday is over. 
  • Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival: this carnival takes place in the charming city of Bridgwater, at the southwestern part of England. Its origins trace back to the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, when a man named Guy Fawkes and his allies tried and failed to blow up London’s parliament. During this carnival celebrations, people dance in costumes and masks around a giant bonfire, then throw dolls representing Guy Fawkes (or other antagonic figures for the British population) to the fire. There is also a colourful parade that features nearly 50 carnival carts full of colours and light. 
  • Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras: if you want your children to grown up celebrating all forms of love, then this carnival celebration is the perfect one for you. This festivity is the biggest LGBTQI celebration on the entire world. There are multiple events during the two weeks preceding the parade day. The parade is the main attraction on this carnival and it involves dancing, partying and a feeling of acceptance among the participants. The parade includes fireworks displays, the rise of giant LGBTQI flags, etc. After the parade, there is a party with performances of international stars and DJs. 

But these are only some of the options. There are almost as many different carnival celebrations as there are cities in the world, so check out Carnivaland today and head off to the fun. 

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Stretch marks: Why they appear and how to get rid of them

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What are stretch marks?

Basically, stretch marks are scars or disfiguring lesions. There are multiple names for these types of marks: striae, striae atrophicans, striae gravidarum, and striae distensae.

Although the names may sound intimidating, stretch marks are not really physically dangerous. But, developing them may negatively affect self-esteem and self-image issues. In today’s world of photoshop, these marks can become a cosmetic concern for many women.

How do stretch marks form?

Stretch marks are scar types that develop when our skin shrinks or stretches in a short span of time. The sudden change causes the underlying collagen and elastin that act as a support to our skin to rupture. These marks appear after the skin starts to heal.

The reasons which lead to stretch marks include pregnancy, weight gain, weight loss, and so on. The skin cannot return back to its normal state after this period of intense growth. Even sudden growth spurts during puberty can cause stretch marks.

The most commonly affected areas are the abdomen, hips, buttocks, breasts, flanks, and thighs.

How can you get rid of stretch marks?

Before we list the different ways in which you can try to get rid of stretch marks, we like to point out that a single treatment may not work for everyone while some products may not work at all.

So, it’s mostly a trial and error game. Again, using these treatments does not guarantee 100% stretch mark removal but, you may see a reduction in the overall appearance.

Using stretch mark creams, gels, and lotions

Initially, there were concerns that using stretch mark creams and lotions were not really that helpful for stretch mark removal. Researchers then studied these topicals and concluded that applying the products diligently does have the potential to fade stretch marks.

Also, we would like to point out that stretch mark creams can be of two types: preventative and curative. These are two separate formulas that have to be used at two different times.

You should use the preventative stretch mark cream formula to prevent the appearance of stretch marks. You have to apply the cream before the stretch marks have even appeared. In the case of the curative formula, your stretch marks have already formed and you can use the cream to reduce its appearance.

Remember, these treatments take time but they most certainly do work to improve the texture of your skin.

Applying prescription medication

Research studies have proved that using prescription medication like hyaluronic acid and tretinoin can be really helpful to make the stretch marks less noticeable. These prescription medications can be brought over the counter and are very easily available in most pharmacies.

A type of retinoid, tretinoin is a prescription cream that needs to be directly massaged onto the stretch marks. You can also opt for retinol which is another type of retinoid to facilitate the fading of your stretch marks.

Using effective natural remedies

We are already aware of how helpful natural remedies can be. There are just so many home remedies that can be created using natural ingredients like coconut oil, almond oil, vitamin E oil, cocoa butter, and so on.

The idea here is to create a simple DIY that you have to make sure to follow regularly. For example, you can make a sugar and coconut oil mixture. Take one cup of sugar along with 1/4 cup of coconut oil and add a few drops of lemon juice to it. The overall consistency of this mixture has to resemble that of wet sand.

Massage this mixture on the stretch marks for about 10 to 15 minutes in a circular motion. It should be interesting to note that rubbing sugar on stretch marks is actually a common microdermabrasion method that has been used for many years.

Rubbing aloe vera gel is another home remedy that can be really effective to make your stretch marks less noticeable. Aloe vera has been used for skincare for many years now. Not only does this ingredient replenishes and nourishes the skin, but it also helps to improve the skin texture. In short,  it is exactly what your skin needs in case of stretch marks.

We put personally suggest you use aloe vera gel that is 100% natural. For this purpose, you can buy an aloe vera plant and use the fresh gel every day. If you decide to go for store-bought aloe vera gel, make a careful note of the ingredients used to create it. The product should not contain any harmful chemicals that can cause allergic reactions to your skin.

Opting for procedures carried out by dermatologists

A dermatologist can perform different procedures to help reduce your stretch marks but none of them actually guarantee complete removal. These procedures include the following:

  • Laser therapy
  • Radiofrequency
  • Chemical peel
  • Ultrasound
  • Microdermabrasion

Choosing to go for laser therapy or light therapy, for example, can be one of the best ways of removing stretch marks quickly and efficiently. In fact, even the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery recognizes this method as one of the most effective ways for stretch marks removal.

Under this procedure, a dermatologist will use a beam of light to break down your stretch marks gently. As you might have realized, laser therapy is actually a non-surgical procedure. This process lasts for about 30 minutes and can tremendously help to enhance the natural texture of your skin. In addition to this, the results are almost instantaneous.

Each of these procedures has its own set of plus points. There might even be times when your dermatologist will employ the use of more than one procedure for effective results. Having said this, some of these procedures may have possible side-effects. It’ll be best that you talk to your dermatologist to select a method that would work best for you. Try to schedule an appointment with the dermatologist that is board-certified and experienced.

Resources— American Academy of Dermatology, Very Well Family

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