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8 Tips to Stay Calm During Back-to-School Season

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It’s easy to get lost in the mound of backpacks, school supplies and paper slips that go along with back-to-school season. Staying calm, however, can help us better manage our time, stress and clutter. With the help of parenting and education expert Dr. Michele Borba, we’ve put together some tips for parents and children to stay organized and keep anxiety levels down during the back-to-school madness.

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1. Take a breath. As parents, we tend to focus so much on our children that we forget to manage our own health. What you may not know is that your kids mirror your stress levels. “Take a breath and relax and realize you’re a lot more powerful than you realize,” Dr. Michele Borba says. She advises moms to pinpoint one major stressor in their life and find a solution for it. If you’re always losing your car keys, keep an extra set by the door. If you can’t seem to find time to make breakfast in the morning, try preparing it the night before or leaving a basket filled with fruits and healthy bars to grab as you go. Keep your home extra-organized with Home Collection by Post-it Brand, Scotch Brand and Command Brands to plan and display important items and lists. 

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2. Teach one new skill a week. It’s not enough to buy your children their supplies and then send them on their way. “Each week you can sit down and watch your child and you’ll see what skill he or she needs,” Dr. Borba says. Whether it’s time management or organization, the best way to teach your child a new skill is by doing it together through modeling. Teach one new skill a week, and watch your child learn a skill for life. “These are the study skills to maximize performance, achievement and reduce the anxiety,” she says.

3. Remove the clutter. The best way to stay organized and prevent clutter is to prepare beforehand. One easy way to do this is by color coordinating your folders, binders, notebooks and Post-it Notes in fun and vibrant colors. For instance, make English class pink and History class yellow. This way, all papers go in the right place and parents can ask their child to pull out their yellow folder when sitting down for homework. Dr. Borba recommends parents set a time once a week to organize their child’s clutter-magnet backpack. Another tip she recommends is keeping a basket by the door that acts as a note collector right when kids get home from school. “Things that mommy or daddy should be looking at go in the note collector,” she says. The Post-it Study Notebook Kit is a great tool to keep organized as well so that everything stays in one place, she says. 

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4. Same time, same place. The best way to maximize study/homework time is to do it at the same time and the same place every day. Dr. Borba says the little ones prefer to be closer to you during this time. The older kids require a bit more space, but not too far that they get distracted. “[You] want to set up a place that’s organized for your child so it’s clutter free and noise free,” she says.

5. Manage time. Once you’ve found a good study place, your kids should take out their organizer or agenda and decide what needs to get done that day. After a couple weeks of this routine, start asking your child how long they think each task will take and having them write it down. Set out an oven timer for 10 or 30 minutes, and when the timer goes off, see if they finished their assignment on time or not. This will help them understand the concept of time. “Children…because they have so much going, they don’t know how to manage time,” Dr. Borba says. “Time management helps them realize that they can get things done quicker.”

6. Do the hard things first. First, lay out each homework/study task on a separate Post-it and easily stick it to the wall or desk. Make sure to not only organize each task by how long it will take, but by difficulty as well. Have your child do the hardest item first, which is most likely causing them the most anxiety. “It will reduce the stress and they can get to the easier things later,” she says. 

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7. Ditch the highlighters. According to new research, highlighters are no longer effective or useful when it comes to retaining information. Dr. Borba recommends staying efficient with Post-it Flags. “Teach your child that as you read, flag the most important thing that’s probably going to be on the test tomorrow,” she says. This will help them focus on the most important items for studying and save the book from wear and tear.

8. Stay connected. In an age where our kids prefer talking over the phone as opposed to in person, it’s important to keep them connected to each other. “When kids these days are over-scheduled and they don’t have time for friends or friendships…one simple little thing you can do is encourage your child at least to get the phone number or email of one friend in each class,” Dr. Borba says. That way, if your kid comes home panicking because they forgot the homework assignment, you can tell them to text their friend and ask. Another study tip she suggests is having your child study with a buddy over Skype or in person. “Usually kids find two different things that they think is important, and now you have two things that are important that are going to be on the test as opposed to one,” Dr. Borba says. Staying connected builds up empathy and performance in children, while keeping their anxiety down.

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Children’s Museum of Phoenix

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As a new mom, I’m still learning the ins and outs of the family friendly scene in the Valley. Luckily, I have been introduced to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix early in the game.  Definitely a new obsession for my entire family, including five month old Mia Valentina.

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As parents, we are engrained with the fact that children’s minds, especially in the 0-3 age range, are extraordinarily open to learning experiences.  At the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, they concentrate on early child development with exhibits and programs that focus on education and school-readiness. So, not only are the exhibits extremely cool to view but they also provide crucial tools for our tots brains.

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The Scene

Obviously, the museum is filled with families including a lot of children. It was surprisingly pleasant though; in no way an annoying crowd, and we even visited on a busy weekend day.  The staff was exceptional; very knowledgeable, helpful and obviously prioritized the kids’ wellbeing. 

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The environment provides convenience and accessibility to children and caregivers. Restrooms are located on each floor of the Museum, including changing tables. Nursing is permitted throughout the Museum and a nursing snug is located on the 3rd floor for those who want privacy. Other amenities include seating throughout the Museum, toddler-size bathroom fixtures and bottle warmers in the 2nd floor eating area.

Our Experience

There are three floors of fun, including a spot for infants and toddlers aged three and under. Crawling under a tree, watching planes from the deck, exploring with the senses and engaging in simple role play makes the baby area unforgettable. Mia especially loved the tricycle “car wash”, equipped with soft brushes, hanging strips and blowing fans. A mirrored tunnel then excites children’s imaginations as they safely zoom through on an adventure to somewhere. Since she is a bit young to ride a tricycle, she went through the carwash with dad pushing her stroller.

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In the lively, child-sized Café, customers order up food for the imagination.  My mother-in-law favored the brick oven, where kids of all ages created their very own specialty pizzas.  

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You can check out all the exhibits and experiences here; www. childrensmuseumofphoenix.org/exhibits-and-experiences/

Important Details

Children’s Museum of Phoenix is located at 215 N 7th St, Phoenix. Regular business hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 9am to 4pm. General / non-member admission is $11 and children under 1 are free.  For more information, visit www. childrensmuseumofphoenix.org .

 

10 Things To Do This Weekend in Phoenix: Family Edition

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This weekend is sure to be a hit with the kiddos, kicking things off with fireworks at the Diamondbacks game and then plenty of museum exhibits, cultural performances, educational events and more. Check out our top 10 picks for a well-rounded weekend of fun for the entire family for Sept. 12-14.

 

 

Friday

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Arizona Diamondbacks Firework Fridays and $5 College Night at Chase Field

It’s time to take the family out to the ball game for an all-American night of sports, fireworks and even beer for the adults. After the Diamondbacks take on the San Diego Padres, Chase Field will open the roof to display a fireworks show for the entire Downtown Phoenix area to enjoy. The baseball game begins at 6:40 p.m. and the fireworks will start around 9:40 p.m. after the game. College students will be admitted for $5. Ticket prices range from $5 to $110 and up. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

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Ten-in-one: A Cirque-ish Event Season Kickoff Festival

Be prepared to walk into a circus at Mesa Art Center’s free kickoff event. You’ll see aerial and tight rope performances, stilt walkers, jugglers, fire-eaters, contortionists, and even a mermaid performer. In addition to the circus acts, guests will enjoy five new Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum exhibitions, tasty food and hands-on activities for all ages. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more info, click here.

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Hear the classic themes of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk through a series of songs. The event starts at 7 p.m. For more info, click here or call 480.949.7529.

 

Saturday

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Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. Presented by Starlight Community Theater

The theater’s 10th anniversary season welcomes a classic Disney fairytale for the entire family to enjoy. The show starts at 7 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and runs through September 27. Cost is $12. For tickets, click here.

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Build! Toy Brick Art at the Heard Museum

Phoenix is getting a taste of Legoland thanks to the designs of “brick artists” who created pieces of art similar to ones seen at the theme park. A few sights to see include Angry Birds, bicycles and coyotes all made from the toy bricks. After viewing the artists’ work, your kids can make their own designs at a Lego creation station. Get your creative on before the event closes on Sept. 28. Cost ranges from $5 to $23. Members get in free. For more info, visit http://www.heard.org or call 602.252.8848.

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MIMkids Musical Adventures Series

Children ages 6 to 10 can channel their inner rock star at the Musical Instrument Museum’s music education program. Participants will learn about music from a range of cultures and get the change to create their own tunes as well. They will also get to see the MIM’s exhibits with a designated tour guide. The program goes from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and costs $12. Click here for more info.

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Junior Vet Experience at Arizona Animal Welfare League

Students grades eight through 12 will learn how to become a veterinarian during this hands-on event. At this program, kids will learn about dissection. The program runs from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $40. Visit www.aawl.org for more info.

 

Sunday

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Apple Harvest Celebration at Apple Annie’s Orchard

Join Apple Annie’s Orchard for a day of free apple picking! You’ll be able to choose from Red Delicious, Rome Beauty apples, Asian pears and Golden Delicious. The picking begins at 7:30 a.m. and goes until 5 p.m. For more info, click here.

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Bon Voyage! at the i.d.e.a. Museum

It’s time to take a flight around the world through artwork from Japan, Paris, London, Egypt and more. The exhibit goes until Sept. 15, so get your ticket now! Tickets cost $8 and children under one get in free. For more info, visit www.ideamuseum.org or call 480.644.4332.

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Mid-Autumn Chinese Dance Festival at Chandler Center for the Arts

Experience traditional Chinese culture at Chandler Center of the Arts with live music, folk dances and costumes. The event starts at 4 p.m. and costs $15. Visit www.chandlercenter.org or call 480.782.2680 for more info.

 

Celebrity Newborn Photographer’s Tips for Taking Photos

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Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green are one of many celebrity couples who asked Phoenix-based photographer Keri Meyers to capture their newborn’s first stages of life, and you too can have star-quality baby photos here in the Valley.

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In 2008, Keri Meyers’ Newborn Photography was born, and has since gained international recognition from celebrities, photographers and OK! Magazine. Meyers has received first place awards in newborn photography at Best of Western Washington and the Newborn Division for National Association of Professional Child Photographers.

Each year, she travels five to seven times to do celebrity newborn sessions. Other high-profile clients include Donald and Vanessa Trump Jr., and Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Town (Helberg stars in “The Big Bang Theory”). While she has gained a large celebrity following, the majority of her work is done at her Phoenix studio.

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She recently moved to Phoenix from Seattle, Wash., and loves the Arizona sunshine for outdoor sessions. But regardless of the session location, newborns aren’t always ready for a close up, so it’s important to prep both the parents and the baby so the session runs smoothly.

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Here’s her list of what to expect when you’re expecting (a newborn photo session!) :

Preparation:

  • If nursing, avoid spicy foods that might upset baby’s tummy for 24 hours before your session
  • Make sure the baby is awake one to two hours before the shoot so he/she is sleepy when it’s time for the session
  • Put baby in loose-fitting clothes to avoid lines on the skin
  • A pacifier is always good to have handy
  • Because the studio is kept at 85 degrees (to keep your baby warm), she recommends that parents dress in layers in case they get too warm
  • And most importantly, take this time to relax or catch up on work!

During the Shoot:

  • Quiet environment
  • Warm room
  • White noise (so the baby is sleepy)
  • Work slowly and quietly

And after the shoot, no need to worry about how to share the pictures: the full-service boutique offers canvases, frames, albums, and prints in addition to the digital files.

For more information about Keri Meyers Photography, visit kerimeyersphotography.com.

 

10 Things To Do This Weekend in Phoenix: Family Edition

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This weekend is all about new cultures, delicious foods and fantastic performances across the Valley. Whether you are in the mood to experience childhood classics such as “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Three Little Pigs,” or learn more about the Native American and Brazilian cultures, there is something to do for guests of all ages. Come check out our top 10 picks for how to spend your weekend.

 

Friday

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Free First Fridays at the Children’s Museum

This weekend will be the first Friday of September, and you know what that means —free admission to the Children’s Museum from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. This month is Sensational Senses month at the museum, which includes various art projects and even digging for dinosaurs. For more info, go to http://childrensmuseumofphoenix.org.

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Family Fridays at Phoenix Center for the Arts

For those families hoping to experience First Fridays while also entertaining their kids, Family Fridays offers adult supervision at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. While you browse through art galleries and munch on food truck food, your children will create their own art pieces to take home. The cost for drop-off is $15, and also requires a permission slip. Drop-off is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in room 202. To register, go here.

 

Saturday

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“The Three Little Pigs” Puppet Show

A memorable story for an audience of all ages, “The Three Little Pigs” takes you on a ride with three pig brothers and a big, bad wolf. This classic story will be told with the help of puppets at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. Ticket prices range from $7 to $10, and show times are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through September 14. For more information, call 602.262.2050 or go to http://azpuppets.org/.

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We Are! Arizona’s First People

For Arizona families, We Are! Arizona’s First People at the Heard Museum is a perfect way to spend your weekend. Through the end of the year, this interactive gallery educates guests on the history of 21 Arizona tribal communities. Your family will leave better understanding Native American traditions and languages. Ticket prices range from $18 to $7.50, and the museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, go here.

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Fifth Annual Brazilian Day

You’re never too old to try new things! For the families who love opening their eyes to new cultures, the Fifth Annual Brazilian Day festival on Saturday is set to be filled with music, dance, food and more. Take your family to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to celebrate Brazil’s Independence Day and experience their delicious food, martial arts performances and overall infectious energy. General admission tickets are $12, but kiddos 10 and under get in for $5. The event runs from noon to 6 p.m., so you will have plenty of time to absorb the Brazilian culture. Check here for more info.

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Food Truck Caravan

If you enjoy food and music, then pack your family into the car and head on over to Food Truck Caravan on Saturday. The event will feature up to 15 of the Valley’s finest food truck options as well as live music under the stars. Bring your own chairs or utilize the picnic tables to mingle with other hungry families. Food prices vary. Food trucks are located at 5th Avenue and Goldwater from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. For more information, go to http://www.experiencescottsdale.com/event/food-truck-caravan/.

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Arizona State University Novelist Jessica Hickam Book Reading

If your teenager is an aspiring novelist or loves to divulge in young adult books, then you’ll want to take them to see ASU novelist, Jessica Hickam, who wrote her first young adult series while attending college. Speak with Jessica about your own goals or listen to how she found success at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe at 7 p.m. She will even be signing copies of her book and reading a special passage. For more info, go here.

 

Sunday

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Butterfly Wonderland Grandparent’s Day

Celebrate all that grandma and grandpa have done for you by taking them to Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale on Sunday. Not only will you get to experience America’s largest Butterfly Pavilion, but there will also be free professional family photographs to capture the moment on this day only. The Wonderland is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $20 for adults to $10 for children. Seniors get in for about $18. Check here for more info.

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Children’s Museum of Phoenix Celebrates Grandparents Day

Treat your grandparents to a day of fun at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix on Sunday. In addition to the current exhibits that focus on stimulating your senses, guests will also get to create their very own Grandparent’s Day card using cupcake liners, crafts and a wild imagination. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. General admission rates apply. Grandparents get in for free! For more information, go to http://childrensmuseumofphoenix.org.

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Childsplay Presents “Charlotte’s Web”

One of the most popular stories among children, “Charlotte’s Web” narrates the unexpected friendship between a pig and a spider. Join Tempe Center for the Arts for their opening night of this beloved play with a couple of new twists. Tickets are $12, show starts at 4 p.m. Check here for more info.

 
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