Blog

Featured

Nanny Tales: Potty Training

In my time as a nanny, I have had the pleasure (cough) of potty training four children.  I would never describe myself as an “expert in potty training.”  Mainly because it is a weird thing to brag about.  But I do have some hysterical stories from my attempts to help toddlers through this major milestone. 

Sam

When I started working for Sam’s family, he was about to turn three years old.  He had fully mastered peeing in the potty, but pooping was not going to happen.  Sam’s older brother Adam had been potty trained for several years.  The boys’ parents had used pennies as a way to encourage Adam to use the toilet, and were doing the same with Sam.  A common theme throughout all my potty training experiences is bribery.  More importantly, the right kind of bribery.  Now while Adam had been cool with getting a penny every time he used the potty, Sam didn’t really see the value in money.

I made the strategic decision to switch from pennies to M&Ms.  Sam would get one M&M if he peed in the potty, and two if he pooped.  After one day, Sam stomped into the kitchen and demanded “I WANT MY M&MS!’.  I calmly explained, he would have to go poop on the potty.  Sam turned on his heels, stomped into the bathroom, and let out a deafening trumpet of success.  He came stomping back out of the bathroom and declared “THERE”, and pointed to his masterpiece.  He received 2 M&Ms.

Lizzy

Sam’s little sister Lizzy had a different kind of adventure toward potty training.  Suddenly Lizzy would be missing for long stretches of time, and inevitably I’d find her in her mom’s closet pooping in her diaper.  It felt like it was time to start potty training.  We got out all the books, all the potty chairs, and the giant bag of M&Ms.  But as much as we talk about it, and sat on the potty, Lizzy would somehow disappear to go poop in Mom’s closet.  One day I even tried not putting a diaper on her, and watching her like a hawk so she couldn’t escape.  But somehow, she escaped from my site, and YES I had to clean poop off of the closet floor. 

As luck would have it, we were seeing her pediatrician that week.  I asked the doctor what the deal was.  Lizzy showed all the signs of being ready, but wouldn’t do the deed!  The pediatrician simply told me, Lizzy wasn’t ready.  Even though she was exhibiting the signs, Lizzy was still too scared.  I decided to leave all the potty-training things out, but I completely backed off.  We didn’t talk about it.  We didn’t practice it.  We just left everything alone.  Then one day, I was getting Lizzy ready for a bath.  I was focused on getting the water going when Lizzy gasped!  I turned and there she was sitting on her potty.  Her eyes were as big as saucers as we both listened to the pee go in the potty.  I screamed with excitement and showered Lizzy with kisses.  Adam and Sam ran in and we all had a big celebration around a little toilet filled with pee. 

Peter

I started taking care of Peter when he was eight weeks old.  I had learned by then to take my time with potty training.  When he is ready, he is ready.  Peter started showing the signs of being ready to potty train.  I’d come to get him at nap time, and would be greeted by a bare butt and a wet diaper dramatically flung across the room.  I lost Peter in the park for a few minutes and found him hidden behind a bush to pee.  It was obviously getting close to time.  I advised Peter’s mom to just buy a little potty to have for when Peter was ready.  That night when Peter’s mom showed him the potty, she simply explained that when he needs to poop and pee this is where he sits.  Peter shrugged and said “okay”, and proceeded to sit on the potty and pee and poop.  What.  The.  Heck?  It is never that easy.  NEVER!!  His mom and I hypothesized that at Peter’s Mother’s Day Out, there was a little girl in his class potty training.  We think he must have seen her and gotten used to the idea of using a potty before we even brought it up!  Maybe the universe decided to give me a break on the third toddler.  They knew I’d be potty training a lot of kids and thought “Make this one super easy to potty train.  Give her a break.  But then make him wet the bed for like four more years.  Don’t let her get cocky.”

Josie

Peter’s little sister Josie was my most recent potty trainee.  When you get to the fourth one, there just aren’t that many surprises.  Oh, you’re hiding behind the couch to go poop.  Oh, when I put you on the potty you hold it in because you’re afraid for it to come out.  Oh, there is a soaked diaper wedged in the back of your drawer.  The routine becomes the routine, and you just wait until they are ready to take the plunge.  She did ask if she could sit on my lap while she went to the bathroom.  That was a new one.  The one thing we had working for us was Josie’s love of accessories.  The idea of having her own princess underwear was a big selling point for potty training.  Then the understanding that if she peed, she would be peeing on one of her favorite characters!  Heck no, give me that potty chair!

Potty training is a literal dirty job, but I’m happy to do it.  If I could give any advice to parents, I’d say that potty training is like the weight loss secret of the kid world.  No you can’t do it in a weekend.  No there is no quick fix or easy way to do it.  It takes time, it takes patience, and if you keep at it you will reach your goal!

Featured

I Forgot About That Part

One of the best things about Halloween is movies! We all have fond memories of watching classic Halloween films. It is natural to want to share these movies with our kids. Surely if we love these movies, they will love them too! Then you sit your kids down to watch a movie, and a scene comes up you forgot about. Maybe a joke you didn’t get as a kid, bad language you’d forgotten about, or a scene filled with nightmare fuel you repressed. Well I am here to help! Below is a short list of classic, family Halloween movies with some questionable humor. Humor that can lead to some interesting questions from your kids you may not be ready for! Now you can prepare yourself for those questions!

“What’s a Virgin?”

We are starting off strong with a Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus! The movie has a few sprinkles of adult humor. We all remember wondering what “yabbos” are, and the joke about the Sanderson sisters wanting to have children with the bus driver. But that main joke that permeates through the entire movie is about a teenager’s virginity. By the time you reach the end of the movie, it would be weird if you’re kids didn’t ask what a virgin is.

“Did Casper die?”

Casper is still a really fun movie to watch as a family. But it does offer a nice kick in the emotional gut when you learn Casper’s back story. Casper was a little boy who died. He then haunted his dad to the point of insanity. The littlest kids may miss this entire premise, buuuuuut it is pretty gut wrenching when you truly deal with the concept of ghosts.

“Are those yabbos?”

There are several amazing stop-motion animation films that are synonymous with Halloween. The Nightmare Before Christmas, Paranorman, Frankenweenie and Coraline all are about the same level of scary. All of these movies are a too scary for your littlest kids, but they are pretty age appropriate for upper elementary. BUT, while reassuring your kids the spooky images in these movies aren’t real, Coraline give you one (really two) more thing to speak to your children about.

“Uuuum, I have a lot of questions”

Beetlejuice is a hilarious movies. Michael Keaton is absolutely hysterical and I find something new to laugh at every time I see it. But to be honest, I don’t even understand how Beetlejuice is always on the list of “family friendly movies”. There are some funny visuals for kids. But between having to explain about suicide, to what a whore house is, leave this one on the shelf for the kids!

“Is she gonna marry that old man?”

Oh Labyrinth. How poorly this movie has aged. Not that the movie isn’t enjoyable. It certainly has great visuals and fun songs. It is a great choice for Halloween with its solid creep factor. But you can’t help but squirm as an adult, when 39 year old David Bowie keeps trying to seduce 16 year old Jennifer Connelly.

There are so many great Halloween movies to watch with kids! It can be tough to hold back on your favorite movies. We watched them when we were a kids, and we all turned out just fine. I mean, we were the people that made Fifty Shades a Grey a bestselling series. But those can’t possibly be related!

Featured

A Trip to Mesa Rosa

I put out a post on Facebook asking for parents’ favorite place to take their kids for dinner.  This particular TexMex restaurant popped up several times.  I grabbed the six-year-old and the four-year-old and gave Mesa Rosa a try! 

I am a big weirdo because I love taking the kids out to dinner!  But I have very specific qualifications for restaurants I go to with the kids.  It must be a noisy restaurant.  Nobody wants to be that person with the loud, obnoxious kid in a restaurant.  But in noisy restaurants, if your toddler decides to hate the world, you only feel vaguely like you want to crawl under the table and hide. 

Having an outdoor section is also a big plus.  Sitting outside with kids, even when there isn’t a world ending pandemic, can help save a life!  Outside there are more things for kids to look at and enjoy.  They can be super noisy and you won’t be disturbing an entire restaurant.  I don’t think you need a playground to have a kid friendly restaurant, but I really appreciate how many Austin area restaurants do.  It’s nice to have a restaurant experience, that isn’t fast food related, where you can sit and enjoy your meal while the kids play on the playground.

It can’t be a breakable restaurant.  There are some great kid friendly restaurants that have good food, and a great atmosphere for kids.  But any place that brings us glass cups for our drinking water, is just asking for trouble.  We need plastic cups, cups with lids, and if you have some plastic plates wrapped in bubble wrap, we can probably get through a meal without breaking anything! 

I took the kids during the week to Mesa Rosa.  We went right around five, so it was pretty dead in the restaurant.  The inside is your standard TexMex style.  Fun pictures and bright colors cover the walls.  We heard there was great playground so we asked to sit on the patio.  The patio is fabulous!  This is the type of patio that Covid conscious people wish all restaurants had.  It is a huge patio with tons of room!  It opens up into a truly awesome playground.  It can be tough to see your kids from certain areas of the patio.  But there is still enough space for them to easily run back and forth from your table to play.

The playground itself is pretty awesome.  Lots of room for the kids to run.  They even have a water cooler to the side, with little paper, cone cups for kids.  Do the kids just end up pulling out all the cups to play with them?  Yes, they do.  But it is still a nice gesture from the restaurant.  The kids were on the playground the whole time.  When the food came, they’d run back to get a small bite, and chug some water.  Then it was back to the playground.  You’ll definitely be able to enjoy your meal and a few drinks without having to worry if the kids are having a good time. 

If I’m being honest the food is only so-so.  It is your average TexMex cuisine.  The kids ordered burgers and fries and only ate a few bites because the portions are HUGE!  You can certainly find better TexMex food in this area.  But overall, it’s an enjoyable outing with your kids.  You can sit back and enjoy some chips and queso, let your kids run around on the playground, and then wonder how they got a giant bruise on their head in under five minutes.

Featured

The Great Snack War!

The great Snack War has been waging in American kitchens for years!  Kids and adults need snacks throughout the day.  But while we all know we need the healthy snacks, the bad snacks are just……so good!  How do we help not only ourselves to be better eaters, but our kids too?  I have several strategies below to help you win your next Snack Battle!

Don’t Buy It

There is a reason why people are very disappointed when they raid my pantry for snacks.  I have not bought cookies or chips in years.  Why?  Because they last about five minutes once they enter my house.  Self-control is difficult for most adults.  It is next to impossible for kids!  If you don’t want your child to eat the unhealthy snacks, do not buy them. 

Look Out For “Healthy”

The food industry is really good at making bright colorful packaging, slapping some buzz words like “real fruit juice”, and convincing you it is healthy.  But we all know the truth.  Veggies Straw are just skinny potato chips.  Fruit Snacks are just gummy bears shaped like fruit.  It can be hard to market healthy food, because actual healthy food is boring to advertise.  A banana is just a banana.  I suppose they could put some more fun stickers on bananas!  Brand bananas for boys called “The Ultimate Banana” and for girls like “Princess Banana”.  But at the end of the day, there is only so many ways to make healthy food look “cool”.

Snacks For Home

Snacks at home are a lot easier to plan.  You have good storage and are able to prep snacks for the week!  Fruits and vegetables should always be your number one choice for snacks.  Always have a fruit bowl filled with easily accessible apples, bananas, etc.  If your kids don’t like certain fruits, don’t give up!  There are a lot of fruits out there to try.  Great vegetables to have on hand are pickles, carrots or celery.  Dips like hummus or guacamole are filling and perfect to have with your vegetables.  Great items to have stocked in the refrigerator are things like yogurt and string cheese.  Healthy pantry snacks for kids, who need something to crunch, are items like nuts, trail mix, or plantain chips.

Snacks For School

Snacks for school can be a little bit trickier.  It can be tough to plan ahead and schools often restrict certain snacks kids are allowed.  Here in Texas the heat can also play a big factor in what snacks are best for kids to take to school.  While yogurt and cheese are great snacks, school lunch-box ice packs only do so well for a long school day.  Fruits and vegetables should once again be your top choice.  Dried fruits and vegetables are a great option if your kids don’t keep their lunch boxes indoors during a school day.  If nuts are allowed in your school, trail mix is your new best friend!  If not try some popcorn for your kids who need that crunch! 

Controlling The Snacking

While in a perfect world, you’d have a house full of healthy snacks and your child would skip merrily home from school and say “dear mother, might I please have an apple before supper?”  But life happens and we all just do the best we can to keep our household happy and running.  There are other ways to keep the unhealthy snacking at bay.  Having snacks be a part of your normal routine is a good way to start.  If children have expectations of one morning snack and one afternoon snack, the angry demands for more snacks goes down.  Also keep in mind, kids get ravenous when they go through growth spurts.  This is when begging for snacks is at an all-time high!  Best way to see if your kid is going through a growth spurt, offer your kids a healthy snack, if they take it, vacuum it down and immediately ask for more, then it’s a growth spurt.

Another good trick to control snacking is a snack box.  Make a nice box for each one of your children.  Every day fill the box with the number of snacks your children are allowed to eat.  Tell them they can eat these snacks whenever they want.  But once the box is empty, that is all the snacks they get for day.  It helps give some control to the kids.  They pick what snacks are in the box and when they can eat them.  Also take the blame off of you when they eat everything in their box! 

The Snack War is one we all battle.  Best we can do is try and give our kids the tools to fight that battle as well.     

Featured

Volunteering with Your Kids

Volunteering may seem like an activity for older children and adults.  Many volunteer projects involve large scale clean ups, or manual labor that are next to impossible for the younger crowd.  But while it is easier to get your middle school and high school kids into volunteering, it is not impossible to get your elementary and even preschool kids into the practice of helping their community.

Knowing where to start can be one of the hardest parts.  If you are members of a church or any other religious organization, you are already ahead of the game.  Even if there aren’t programs specifically for younger kids to be a part of, plenty of people within your community can do with some help.  Helping an individual can be just as rewarding as helping a large group.  Your neighbors are also a great source of volunteer opportunities.  Reaching out to elderly neighbors or people who need a helping hand are great ways kids can help people around them.  Below are some other ideas that even your toddlers can do!  It can be a struggle to teach toddlers independence let alone helping out other people.  But simple things can imprint those lessons early. 

Donating Items

You know that thought you have every year?  The thought that your kids have way too many things they never play with?  Here is your solution.  Before every Christmas or birthday give your child a box and ask them to fill it with toys they don’t play with anymore.  Even little kids have items they don’t really like.  It can get kids in the habit of giving away things they don’t need, as well as clear out space for new toys! Send your gently used toys to your local daycare, hospital, or children’s center.  It is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about children who are less fortunate.  It also teaches children to treat their toys with better care and respect.

Helping the Homeless

Here is Austin we have a large homeless population that is very visible.  It naturally brings up questions from kids.  There are great ways kids can help the homeless community.  One of those ways is making small kits to pass out to homeless neighbors.  Head to your local store and get several large Ziploc bags.  Then go pick up some travel sized items for the homeless.  Some of the best items for the homeless are chap stick, deodorant, sunscreen, socks, tooth paste, tooth brush or any other small toiletries.  Have your children fill up the bags and then pass them out!

Cleaning up Your Local Park

When taking kids to the park, I’ve gotten in the habit of picking up random trash I see on the playground.  It has always been a pet peeve of mine when people throw trash on the ground when there are trash cans close by.  After doing this for a while, my little one came up behind me with an empty juice box she’d found on the playground.  People think of park clean-ups as a big weekend project.  And while those projects are great things to do, park clean ups can be made way simpler for little kids.  Simply acknowledging that we should pick up trash will encourage kids to keep an eye out for litter in the park. 

Fun Run

We live in a great city for runners.  There are so many great races to enter with your kids.  Look for races that specifically host fun runs.  Also look for races that allow strollers.  Your little ones can dress up and relax in the stroller while enjoying the spectacle of a race!  If there are charity runs that are too long for kids in a stroller, make your own water or snack station.  Kids get a big kick out of passing out water and treats to runners zooming by. 

These are just a few ideas for getting your littlest family members in the habit of volunteering.  It is such a rewarding thing to do as a family.  There is no shortage of volunteer opportunities especially around the Austin area.  Our kids are a part of our community and it’s important to teach them to make it better too!

Featured

Pinballz Arcade Lake Creek

If you are looking for an activity to escape the heat this Labor Day weekend, try a trip down memory lane to Pinballz Arcade!  Pinballz’s Lake Creek location has expanded from their namesake pinball machines, to an epic play zone with go-kart racing, ax throwing, bowling and other awesome activities.  You will probably enjoy this place as much as your kids do!

Getting to Pinballz Lake Creek is pretty simple.  It is tucked back from the highway, but very easy to get to and find parking.  Once you get inside, you are pretty much left to your own devices.  Kiosk machines line the front where you can get your gaming card for the day.  If you want to do the go-karts or any of the other larger games, you do have to sign up with someone.  Otherwise, you are on your own! 

All of your standard arcade games and pinball machines are to the left of the entrance in a bright colorful line!  It may be hard for you or your kids to keep your focus with all the bright lights beckoning you to each game.  A lot of the games you can play with your kids, which everyone gets a kick out of.  If you’re a competitive parent, you might need to continuously tell yourself, “It’s only a game.  It’s only a game.”

Past the first round of arcade games is the eating area.  It is nice and spread out.  It is easy to move tables for the size of your group.  The food is standard concession stand food.  It is not good or bad, and it keeps you full.  One nice accessory I have always appreciated about Pinballz, is the cup holders at every single game! 

If you really want to be nostalgic, past the eating area is a large cluster of classic arcade games like Asteroids or Galaga.  It is pretty cool to see what old school games they have collected.

Tips:

Cost  The nostalgia of playing arcade games comes with the cost of playing arcade games.  Remember as a kid your parents would give you some money and tell you not to spend it too fast?  Then the money was gone in about 15 minutes!  Pinballz is unfortunately not immune from the arcade money vacuum.  Every so often they have deals with two hours of unlimited playtime or half off games.  But every game play cost money, and they don’t have an unlimited gaming card like Dave & Busters or Chuck E Cheese.

Meeting Spot  Pinballz at Lake Creek has gotten huge over the past year.  Even before they added their go-kart racing, it was hard to keep track of little ones running by arcade games.  The large eating area is where most parents set up camp.  It is a good idea to stake out your meeting place before you wind up the kids and let them go!

Food and Drink  No outside food or drink is allowed at all!  I walked in with a Gatorade bottle and they made me throw it away.  There is pretty good food and drink to buy.  But don’t expect to bring water bottles or snacks for the day.

So should you make the trip to Pinballz Lake Creek?

0-3 (Proceed with Caution)

Pinballz Lake Creek does have a really nice play area for the smaller kiddos.  The games are their size and easy to navigate.  It is only one little section in a giant area.  While they can definitely accompany their older siblings and have a good time, outside of this little area there isn’t a lot for this age group to do. 

3-6 (go now)

While this age group may also be too small for a lot of the activities, there is still plenty for them to do.  Lots of games for them to try or lots of claw machines for them to get frustrated with.  This age group will have a blast!

6-10 (go now)

Head to the bank, pull out that pesky retirement fund and go!  These kids will be in heaven!  They can do so much throughout this whole area.  They can do almost every single activity available.  They might have to wait a while before they can do ax throwing, but most parents are okay with that.

Museum of Ice Cream

The Museum of Ice Cream just opened up in the Domain.  The title suggests a fun history of ice cream!  The website suggests the museum “transforms concepts and dreams into spaces that provoke imagination and creativity.”   Their Instagram suggests great opportunities for fabulous pictures.  The reality of the Museum of Ice Cream is actually underwhelming.  At $40 per ticket, the museum doesn’t quite deliver on any of its promises. 

Getting there is pretty painless, considering the Domain can be very congested.  There is valet parking right next to the museum.  The Pink Parking Garage is also super close.  The wait outside is short, and the very enthusiastic staff provides popsicles while you wait.  I appreciated having a specific ticket time.  It allows you to plan ahead and keeps the crowds smaller. 

Once you enter, you are sent into a small waiting room.  You fill out name tags with your own personal ice cream favor.  Don’t stress to much about thinking of a flavor name, it is never brought up again for the rest of the time.  After that, you enter the first real room of the museum.  It is a small soda shop where you can grab your first ice cream.  Besides the ice cream, the only thing this first room has to offer are some restaurant-style activity sheets for the kids, and a jukebox. 

Then you move into the Instagram heaven of the exhibit.  Hanging bananas, light up hallways, and Circus Animal Cookies are strategically set up to make that perfect Instagram photo.  Your kids will most likely blow through all of these section as they serve no use and aren’t edible.  Along the way there is a stop to fill up on all the red-colored candy you can find.  This is followed by a stop for cotton candy.

Once the kids are full of sugar, you enter the climax of the exhibit, the Ice Cream Playground.  Inside this playground is the pool of sprinkles.  This is the most interactive part of the museum for kids.  It is definitely fun, and will make the kids work off some sugar, but how long it will keep the kids entertained, is uncertain.

That’s about all there is.  And while it is a perfectly pleasant experience, for the high price of $40 a ticket, you would hope to get more out of it than some fun Instagram pictures.  Really this trip is the most fun for the teenagers and lovers of social media.  For the little kids looking for sugar and playtime, it is okay.  They would probably have just as much fun going to an actually playground and then going to get some ice cream.

Tips:

It’s warm:  Ironically, the inside of the Museum of Ice Cream was very warm.  Between the Texas heat seeping in through the open doors, the amount of people, and the close quarters, the heat is noticeable. 

Waiting time:  Getting into the museum is very efficient.  They have specific times for you to show up.  Your wait outside will only be a few minutes, and once inside you can move about at your own leisure.  However, if you are coming to get your Instagram picks, you will be waiting a while.  Everyone wants to get their perfect picture and you will have to wait your turn. 

Beware the spinner:  In one of the last rooms of the museum, there is a large playground with slides, basketball hoops, and the pool of sprinkles.  There is also a pink spinner.  Every-single-person we saw get on that spinner had a hard fall!!  If you plan to try this obstacle out, just make sure someone has the camera ready!

So should you make the trip to the Museum of Ice Cream?

0-3 (Stop!)

I will commend Museum of Ice Cream for having fabulous family bathrooms.  And what little kid doesn’t love having free ice cream, candy, cotton candy, and popsicles?  The playground is really too big for this crowd.   It is not a stroller friendly experience.  There are a few great photo ops for your little ones.  But at the end of the day, it is an expensive photo op.

3-6 (proceed with caution)

This age group will definitely have a good time with the visuals, the games, and the ice cream of course!  The playground is a good size for these kids.  The playground does offer only a few option, but depending how much your kids loves repetition, you could kill a lot of time here.  In my experience kids this age aren’t big fans of getting their picture taken.  This museum is all about the photo ops.  If your child ducks for cover whenever you pull out a camera, this might not be the place for you.

6-10 (proceed with caution)

While this age group is best suited for the playground area, that is really all there is to offer these kids.  It’s a fun idea.  But at the end of the day, the museum is only interactive enough for about an hour and half of activity.  They aren’t going to learn anything fun about ice cream.  They aren’t going to come away with an appreciation for art.  At most they will have a good sugar rush for the car ride home.

Featured

A Trip to Q2 Stadium

The new Q2 stadium, home of Austin FC, has been an entertaining force to be reckoned with this summer!  While the team itself has had some bad luck in its first year, the experience of watching them play is something truly amazing!  Being in that stadium, listening to chants of “Alright, Alright, Alright, Austin FC” just feels so amazingly Austin!  Taking kids to sporting events comes with its own set of challenges.  Q2 Stadium is not immune to any of these, but with some planning, the whole family can enjoy the experience.

Getting There

There are multiple ways to get to the Q2 Stadium.  If money is no object, park at the stadium.  The parking lot is stupidly expensive, but easy to get your kids from point A to point B.  If you don’t want to spend an arm, but maybe just a leg, several businesses around the stadium offer parking.  The walk to the stadium is a bit longer, but you still have the luxury of bringing your own car.  The bus and the MetroRail are the cheapest of the options.  Both drop off and pick up only a few blocks from the stadium.  I didn’t mind taking the bus and it was nice not to worry about traffic.  However, it is a long ride at the end of the night to your station.  Once you get to your car, you still have to drive home.  This would be about the time kids start to have their emotional breakdowns.

Finding Food

The food might be my favorite part of visiting the stadium.  A lot of your local favorites like Taco Deli are there.  There is also a fabulous convenience store if you just want your standard chips and drinks.  When you get there, do a lap with the family and look at all the food options. And let’s not forget the Queso bar.  Let me repeat that.  The QUESO BAR!  It doesn’t get more Texas than being able plate your own nachos with your choice of queso! 

The Game

Y’all, it is just so much fun!  The fans make the experience.  Even if you have never played soccer a day in your life, you will get up and cheer with the fans.  Between the drums, the lights and the singing, you can’t help but get into the spirit of everything! 

Tips:

Guest Services

Q2 Stadium has a Guest Services station in the main concourse.  They offer stroller parking and also provide emergency wrist bands for children.  The wristbands contain contact information on them in case you get separated.  It should be the first place you stop once you get into the stadium.

Have a meeting spot

It’s easy to lose track of your kids in the massive amounts of people and action.  Make sure your kids know where your seats are.  Make sure they know who the stadium workers are and what they are wearing so they can ask for help.  You should also have a meeting place if you get separated.  Guest Services would be a good spot to take your kids to see.  The stadium itself is very easy to find your way around.  It is one big circle, so even if you get turned around, you will easily end up back where you started.

Headphones

For your littles, a pair of noise cancelling headphones will be a big help.  The stadium isn’t as loud as a rock concert, but loud enough for kids to feel overwhelmed.

Beat the Heat

Summer is winding down, and the soccer season goes well into the fall when temperatures are nicer.  But the Texas heat, mixed with Texans’ body heat, is very tough.  Make sure your kids are in their summer clothes.  Bring portable fans or cold towels to help cool you off.

So should to take the family out to visit Q2 Stadium?

0-3 years (proceed with caution)

Almost all the games start around 8 pm.  There are two afternoon games in October, but besides that, it is probably too late for the littles.  With a pair of noise cancelling headphones, they would definitely get a kick out of watching all the activity around them.  But the heat and the noise could very easily lead to a meltdown.  Some of the amazing things Q2 Stadium offers are nursing rooms, cooling off rooms, and changing tables in the women’s and men’s room!

3-6 years (proceed with caution)

Similar issues with this age group as with the babies.  The games start a bit too late for this crowd.  And once the game is over, there is the walk back to the car.  And unless you are parked in the stadium, it is a long trip home.  They will absolutely love the games and the food.  The afternoon games this October would definitely be better for this age group.

6 and up (Go now!)

Get your kids and their soccer teammates and go have some fun!  Still a late hour for these kids, but they won’t care enough to have a meltdown.  The fans are amazing, and they will love getting into the spirit of everything! 

Always Be Prepared

School is back and with a new year, comes new injuries.  While I’ve always had my Mary Poppin’s bag filled with extra clothes, baby wipes, and snacks, I decided to tap into my inner boy scout and learn “what are the best things to have in your own first aid kit.” 

Kids are very determined to hurt themselves.  Having the right items stocked in your house, helps you prepare for even the craziest of accidents.  Once I looked at the recommendations for first aid kits, I immediately became overwhelmed and turned off my computer.  Warning!  It doesn’t take much to go from buying bandages on the Red Cross website, to building a bomb shelter.

We all know what our medicine cabinets really look like.  A scattering of random Band-Aids litters the bottom of the drawer, random medicines loosely stacked on top, and a perfectly put together travel kit someone gave you as a gift (but you’ve never used).  A good habit to get into is regularly going down the pharmacy aisle in the grocery store to check what needs to be restocked in your own home.

A dedicated first aid kit for your sitters and nannies is good to have on hand .  As much fun as it sounds, digging through someone else’s medicine cabinet looking for Band-Aids is always uncomfortable.  Below are some good items to have readily available for anyone in your home.

Butterfly Band-Aids:  Everyone has a story about busting open some part of their body that should remain closed.  These little dudes can take care of most cuts. 

Dermoplast Spray:  This antiseptic spray is also a pain reliever! A double whammy for keeping wounds clean!

Benadryl:  No one found out they were allergic to something in an easy way.  While it would be nice to be able to keep EpiPens in your first aid kit, they require a prescription. 

The Red Cross has an amazing website where you can shop for first aids items and premade kits.  Items like a breathing barrier or an aluminum finger splint aren’t things you will probably need, but they can’t hurt to have on hand (pun not intended).

The Red Cross recommends keeping a first aid kit in your car as well as your home.  I decided to head on over to Target to make myself a small, travel first aid kit.  It was a bit overwhelming walking through the pharmacy trying to decide what I would need, and if I was missing anything vital.  I decided to look back at my years of taking care of kids, and try and remember all the things I wish I had.

Tweezers:  “I’VE GOT A SPLINTER!!!”  Dear Lord have mercy on me when a kid gets a splinter.  We all know getting a splinter in the kid world is basically the equivalent to getting your arm chopped off.  Having a pair of tweezers on hand would have saved a couple of afternoons at the playground.

Gauze:  I have seen quite a few knocks to the head in my day.  If you’ve ever seen any wound to the face you know, it bleeds a LOT.  A small cut on the lip or a nose bleed, and suddenly you’re in the hallway of The Shining.  Wipes and Kleenex just don’t do the trick when it comes to stopping blood.  Gauze are the best solution to stop the blood and get back to fun.

Tylenol, Benadryl, Dramamine:  Seeing your kid sick is the worst.  Seeing your kid sick and being unable to help because you’re not home is miserable!  Keeping a few of these medications on hand for an emergency can help you make it home. I bought kids’ chewable of each medicine.  Putting liquid medicines in a car is not an experiment I’d like to try in the oppressive Texas heat.

There is a lot of information out there on how to be best prepare for an emergency.  It can get overwhelming very quickly. I found it very helpful to think about what I experienced as a child, and as a childcare worker.  It is always better to have these items and not need them, than need them and not have them.  I certainly never needed a snow shovel in Texas, but ask me about this past February.

Having a first aid kit and updating it regularly is a good habit for everyone to get into.  Go check out the Red Cross website and see what they have to offer!

The Splash Shack

The summer of 2021 is coming to a close.  If you are looking for a last bit of summer fun before school starts, I recommend The Splash Shack!  An indoor water park in Cedar Park, the Splash Shack is specifically made for children 10 and under.  I am not a big fan of water parks.  Between the heat, the lines, and the warm bath water, it has never been my favorite place to take kids.  But this water park is indoors, always heated to 82 degrees, and limits the number of people allowed inside.  This was something I couldn’t pass up trying!

Pricing is dictated by height (at 5’2′ I was slightly concerned), and the park is perfectly made for little kids.  The Splash Shack is made of multiple water slides, and that’s about it.  The simplicity of the place is actually what makes it enjoyable.  Kids climb up the slides, go down the slides, rinse and repeat.  There is also a giant water bucket that hangs over the play area.  It fills with water and makes an absolutely epic splash! 

Tips

Prepare to get wet:  There is a lovely sitting area, where you can relax and keep an eye on your kids, but I see no way you could go to this water park and stay dry.  The building is pretty small and large splashes are inevitable.  Some productive parents came in their yoga pants and were working or reading.  One giant bucket splash later, the work was put away. 

No outside food or drink:  We could have stayed at the water park for longer, but they don’t allow outside food or drink.  There is a lovely snack bar with your standard chips and drinks.  The day we went, they were also offering pizza for sale.  But all-in-all, it would have been nicer if we could have packed a lunch.  We still got a solid two and half hours of play time.  But we definitely could’ve stayed longer!

Take breaks:  I appreciate that most pools these days clear the pool every hour for safety.  It gives you a chance to take kids to the bathroom, reapply sunscreen, etc.  Since you are inside, this is easily forgotten.  And with little kids and lots of space to pee, you can see why adding in your own break time would be a good idea!

So should you make the trip to The Splash Shack?

Baby-3 (Proceed with caution)

This water park is quite small which is nice.  There are changing tables in every bathroom.  There is space for babies to crawl and splash in the water.  However, children are not allowed to sit in your lap to go down water slides.  If you’ve got a braver toddler, this shouldn’t be a problem.  But the more cautious ones are going to have to get some courage.

3-6 (Go now!)

It is a great outing for this age group.  They climb up and slide down, climb up and slide down, over and over again until they need a snack!  The size of the place makes it perfect to keep an eye on everyone.  Lifeguards are set up all over the tiny area, making sure the kids are safe and taking turns.  

6-10 (Go now!)

While this park is great for little kids, it’s not like the big kids are going to be bored and think this place is for babies.  The same enjoyment the little kids have, the big kids will have too.  A lot of the slides are side by side and perfect for kids who want to race each other!