The New Year is almost upon us, and you know what that means—it’s time to set for your kids to set their New Year’s resolutions! However, setting a New Year’s resolution and keeping a New Year’s resolution are two different stories. We all have those moments where we told ourselves we’d start working out on January 1st, and by February 1st, our treadmills have collected dust.
So, how can you help your kids to be more successful with their resolutions? Here are a few tips:
Research has shown that the more specific your goals are, the more likely you are to achieve them. If your child wants to be more active, simply stating their goal as “exercise more” won’t cut it. Instead, encourage your child to be specific about their goals. For example, instead of saying “exercise more,” they could say, “I will play soccer every other day for 30 minutes.”
Break a big goal up into smaller chunks
Big goals, while ambitious, can be intimidating. Even if your child wants to play soccer every other day for 30 minutes, going from playing no soccer to a lot is difficult. Start small and work your way up. So, you can have the over-arching resolution be to play soccer every other day for 30 minutes, have your child start January by playing soccer once a week, and working their way up each month.
Set a reward
Your kids will feel motivated to complete their resolutions on January 1st, but they’ll feel much different on February 1st. To stay motivated, set a reward for meeting their New Year’s resolution. If you’re breaking your big goal up into smaller chunks, have a small reward for each stage and then a big reward for the end of the year.
At The Zoo Factory, we hope everyone manages to create and stick to their New Year’s resolution in 2021! And what better reward for a year of hard work than a lovable, stuffable animal? Take a look through our inventory to get started!
The holiday season may be a bit different this year, but there are some things you can always count on. Specifically, buying lots of presents for your kids and family members in the last few weeks of the year. While we love getting the perfect gifts for the people we love, our bank accounts say otherwise.
With a holiday budget, you can get those perfect gifts without breaking the bank. Here’s how to get started:
Project your income
To understand how many gifts you can buy, you first need to know how much money you’ll have on-hand. Calculate your total net income (your income after taxes) until the last possible date you can buy presents. Then, subtract all of your necessary expenses. This should include your rent or mortgage payment, food expenses, utilities, gas, and other monthly necessities. The amount you have left is the amount you can spend on your gifts.
Make a list and check it twice
Next, it’s time to make a list. Start by listing out everyone you’re buying a present for. Then, take a look at the projected income you calculated earlier to see how much you can spend on each person. The amount you spend on an individual will depend on your relationship with that individual. For example, you’ll likely spend less money on your mother-in-law than you would on your kids.
Look out for sales, coupons, and rebates
The holiday season is full of sales, so use this to your advantage! Keep an eye on your potential present to see if the price drops anytime during the holiday season. Additionally, be sure to check other sites and stores to see if they have lower prices. You can use one of the many Chrome extensions that automatically search for sales and coupons to make this process easier.
Keep track of your expenses
As you start buying presents, keep track of how much you’re spending. Take the list you created earlier and subtract the expense from the total budgeted amount you have for each individual. For example, if you’re setting aside $50 for your husband, and then you buy a gift for him that costs $25, subtract the 25 from the 50. You can save the extra 25 for another gift, you can spend that extra on someone else, or you can save it for later.
Are you looking for the perfect holiday present for your kids or loved ones? Then take a look at some of our stuffable animals here at The Zoo Factory!
Let’s face it. A playroom can get really messy. Toys will be strewn about the floor, and all of those shelves and baskets you bought for organization will remain empty. However, there are ways to keep your playroom clean and organized. Here are a few tips to get started:
Donate old toys
The first step in reducing mess is reducing how many items can create a mess. If there are toys that your child doesn’t play with anymore, donate them to local organizations to free up space in your playroom. Just make sure that your child agrees to donate their old toys. If they’re having trouble giving some away, talk it over and emphasize that the toys are going to a good home.
Put sentimental toys in long-term storage
There will be some toys that you and your child simply don’t want to give away, even if they don’t play with them anymore. After all, many of us still have our childhood stuffed animals tucked away somewhere. For these toys, consider placing them in long-term storage to keep them safe but out of the way. You can store them in air-tight bins, or you could display them in a freestanding case.
Encourage your child to clean up
It’s much easier to keep your playroom clean if you’re not the only one cleaning it. Encourage your child to clean up after themselves every time they take out their toys. You can do this by turning cleaning into a game. Set a timer and see if they can clean up the room before the timer goes off. If they do, offer a reward. This can be anything from a piece of candy to their choice of a movie.
Make it easy to clean
If it’s not easy to clean up your playroom, then neither you nor your child will clean it. Instead, you need a quick and simple system that works for both of you. Set up baskets around the room so that all you have to do is pick up the toys and drop them in. We recommend using multiple baskets, one for each type of toy, so that things stay organized.
Do you have your own tricks for cleaning up your child’s playroom? Then leave a comment below or contact us today!
For many of us, the coronavirus has derailed many of our holiday plans. All of those big dinners and fancy Christmas parties are now taking a back seat as we strive to protect our family’s health. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean the holidays are completely ruined. There are still ways to celebrate with your immediate family and to let your kids have fun as well.
Have a video chat with other family members
We may not be able to spend time together in person, but we can spend time together virtually. Schedule a video chat with friends and family members outside of your household to spend quality time together this holiday season. You can even do this on Christmas Day as you’re opening each other’s presents.
Bake Christmas cookies with the kids
Who doesn’t love Christmas cookies? Not only will you have a tasty treat, but baking Christmas cookies is also a great bonding moment with your kids. Put on their favorite holiday movie and get to work baking their favorite Christmas cookies.
Do outdoor activities together
Socializing outdoors is much safer than socializing indoors. While you should still be social distancing with individuals outside of your household, there are still plenty of safe, outdoor activities you can do. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Cut down a Christmas tree
Drive or walk around with your kids to look at your neighborhood’s holiday decorations
Go ice skating
Build a snowman in your yard
Have a snowball fight
Hang up your outdoor decorations
Here at The Zoo Factory, we want everyone to have a happy and safe holiday season this year. For more holiday tips, read through our blog today!
During any other year, you spend Black Friday perusing store shelves and hunting for the best deals. But with a global pandemic, things are bound to change. You still want to get your loved ones that perfect gift, but you don’t want to put yourself in harm’s way as a result.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to navigate Black Friday shopping during COVID-19 safely. Here’s how:
Don’t shop only on Black Friday
Ten years ago, Black Friday was the only day to get a great deal. That’s not the case anymore. Thanksgiving week is full of sales for Brown Thursday, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Many stores are also extending their Black Friday deals, allowing shoppers to avoid the crowds.
Do curbside pickup
Do you want your gifts as soon as possible but don’t want to brave going into a store? Then opt for curbside pickup. Many stores such as Target and Lowe’s offer curbside pickup for their customers. Some local businesses are offering it as well. This may be the ideal choice for your holiday shopping, as many are expecting shipping delays from now through December.
Shop online…but early
No one says that you have to go to the store to shop. You can do much of your holiday shopping from the comfort of your own home. However, if you plan to shop online, do it early. As we said before, shipping delays are expected for the holiday season. If you want to get your gifts in time, start buying them now.
Ship items directly to the recipient, not your home
If you buy your items online, don’t ship it to your home. Instead, ship the items directly to the intended recipient. This will reduce the risk of getting lost or delayed in the weeks leading up to Christmas or Hanukkah. Some stores will also gift wrap your item, though this will cost you extra.
To get started on your holiday shopping, check out some of our stuffable animal kits here at The Zoo Factory. We will ship your items in a quick and timely fashion, ensuring they get to their intended destination before the holiday season ends.
From babies to full-grown adults, we all enjoy playtime. But did you know that there are actual, tangible benefits that come from playtime, too? Critical thinking skills, language skills, and mental health all improve from added playtime. It’s why many therapists have turned to play therapy to help treat their patients. Here’s what you need to know:
What is play therapy?
Play therapy looks a lot like regular playtime, and that’s because it is. It gives your child free, safe space to play in whatever way they want, all under the supervision of a therapist. There are no rules or limitations, so your child can express themselves how they please.
What are the benefits?
Children don’t have the same emotional knowledge as adults (of course, some of us are still working on this). While they can’t express themselves in words, they can express themselves with actions. Playing with their favorite toys can be a useful emotional outlet for kids, and the science proves it.
Up to 71% of children who have participated in play therapy see a positive change in their mental health. Here’s how:
Reduced stress and anxiety
Greater levels of empathy
Improved social skills
Greater ability to express and experience their emotions
Greater ability to cope with those emotions in a healthy manner
When is it used?
Play therapy is helpful when a child is struggling with trauma or mental health issues. Even so, it’s not for everyone. Talk to a license therapist first to see if play therapy is helpful for your child.
Stuffed animals can be a source of comfort for any child. Look through our website to see the many stuffable animals we have available today.
Traditional Halloween parties are a thing of the past, thanks to the coronavirus. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean our kids can’t have any fun this Halloween. There are still safe ways to hold a Halloween party for your kids and their friends, even if you have to resort to a virtual party rather than an in-person one.
Here are just a couple of ways you can throw your kids a great Halloween party this year:
Outdoor costume party
An outdoor costume party will allow you to invite people over while still staying socially distant, weather permitting, of course. Have guests dress up in their favorite costumes and hold a contest for the party’s best costume. Winners can receive extra prizes, and everyone can go home with a goodie bag or party pack. Just make sure that everyone who comes is wearing a cloth mask, not a costume one, as costume masks are thin and provide very little protection (thankfully, there are ways that guests can match their cloth masks to their costumes).
Virtual Halloween party
If the weather turns sour, or you don’t feel comfortable inviting people over, you can always opt for a virtual party instead. Have your kids and their guests dress up in costumes, and be sure to send Halloween party kits for everyone to enjoy. These party kits can have candy, games, and even stuffed animals with corresponding Halloween costumes. At the end, put on a spooky, kid-appropriate Halloween movie that everyone loves!
Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard
Instead of a traditional Halloween costume party, you can always spend some time at a pumpkin patch or apple orchard instead. Many patches and orchards have Halloween celebrations of their own, encouraging guests to come in their best costumes. Go with a small group of trusted friends or family members, wear your masks, and use hand sanitizer before and after touching any of the pumpkins or apples.
Halloween may feel a bit different this year, but we can still have plenty of fun. If you’re throwing a Halloween party this year, see how a party kit and costumes from The Zoo Factory can liven up the experience.
The coronavirus has put a stop to many of our annual holiday traditions. Is Halloween among them? While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled trick-or-treating a high-risk activity, that doesn’t mean all is lost for All Hallows’ Eve. Read on to learn more:
How to safely trick-or-treat in 2020
Traditional trick-or-treating where children go door-to-door with no masks on is highly discouraged this year. You could not only run the risk of your children contracting the coronavirus, but they could spread it to family members or neighbors as well. A trunk-or-treat event (where people hand out treats from their cars) is also considered high-risk.
Yet, there are a few ways to go trick-or-treating safely this year. Here’s how:
Check with your local government: Some localities are banning trick-or-treating this year. Before sending your kids out for the night, check to make sure your town or city isn’t one of them.
Wear a cloth mask as part of the costume: Masks decrease transmission rates, so keep them on at all times. Just beware, a traditional costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.
Bring hand sanitizer: Use it every time you interact with someone or something else.
Stay 6 feet away: Whether you’re outside or inside, stay 6 feet away from others at all times. When approaching a house, have your neighbor set the candy on the porch or sidewalk, then let your kids walk up to get it.
Alternatives to trick-or-treating
If you live in an area that has canceled trick-or-treating for the year, or if you don’t feel comfortable letting your children out, there are other ways to celebrate Halloween.
Carve pumpkins and decorate the house with Halloween decorations
Do a Halloween scavenger hunt around your house or backyard
Have a virtual Halloween costume party or contest (and don’t forget to let your stuffed animals join in on the fun!)
We always want to keep our kids healthy throughout the school year, but with the coronavirus, it has become more important now than ever before. Schools have always been a prime place for children to pick up germs and illnesses, so it’s necessary to take extra precautions before your kids get onto the school bus. Here are a few ways to get started:
Keep them up to date on their vaccines
While the coronavirus is still a major concern, that doesn’t mean you should forget about the other infectious disease that your child could come into contact with. During the early fall months, take your child to their pediatrician to get them up to date on their vaccines, including their annual flu shot.
Make sure they wear their mask
For most school districts, wearing a mask is required when attending class. If you have younger children, make sure they understand the importance of wearing their masks throughout the day. Additionally, give your child two masks to hold onto just in case they lose the one they’re wearing.
Teach them proper hand washing techniques
Regularly washing your hands is just as important as wearing a mask. When your kids head off to school, they should go knowing how to properly wash their hands. You can follow the CDC’s guidelines for how and when to wash your hands here.
Keep an eye on their stress levels
During such stressful times, it can be easy for our kids to feel overly anxious. Not only does this compromise their mental health, but it can compromise their physical health as well. Indeed, anxiety and stress can actually weaken our immune system, leaving us more susceptible to diseases. Keep an eye out for common signs of stress to make sure your kids don’t get too anxious throughout the school year.
We live in stressful times, and our children aren’t immune to this. However, it can be difficult, as parents, to recognize when our children are stressed out. Many children don’t have the proper words to express what they need or what’s bothering them, so it can be easy for parents to overlook their child’s stress.
It’s important, then, for parents to recognize the common signs of stress in children so they can get to the bottom of what’s going on.
Behavioral signs of stress
Children often display their stress and anxiety when they start acting out. Moodiness, aggression, even clinginess are all key behavioral signs of stress. This can happen at home, but it can also happen at school (especially if the source of stress is school). Teachers might complain that your child is getting into trouble or not paying attention in class. They might also start skipping school, withdrawing from their friends or family, and the like. If this starts happening with your child, try to get to the bottom of it before exacting a punishment.
Physical signs of stress
In addition to behavioral signs, there are also a few physical signs. Some of these include the following:
If your child is showing any of the above signs or symptoms, it’s important to try and find out why. Try talking with your child to see what it is that’s bothering them and what you can do to help. Once you know the reason, you can create a plan of action to try alleviating some of their stress. It’s also a good idea to teach your child better ways to manage their stress. This can be done through counseling or through regular mindfulness practices.