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Top 3 Things You Can Do to Connect with Your Inner Child

mother with small daughter blowing to dandelion

Much of our life is waiting for the next thing. When we were little, we dreamt about growing up and all the cool things that come with it; whether it was getting to drive a car or deciding if you want to have ice cream for breakfast. For many of us, that continues into adulthood. Somewhere in that, we got so excited for growing up we forget what it’s like to live in the moment.

Many of us look back on our childhood days and wish we can go back, and ironically that’s typically the time that we were wishing we could grow up from. While it might not be possible to call off work to go play on the playground, there are a lot of things you can do to help connect with your inner child.

Treat Yourself

Often, people feel silly buying something they might deem “childish”. But these things can be incredibly fulfilling to buy and play with! A great way to connect with your inner child is to have a day where you unabashedly do things that feel natural. Start your day with sugar cereal, re-watch some of your favorite cartoons, and get yourself a stuffed animal that reminds you of one you had when you were little. Also, if you have kids, this is a great activity to include them on. Plus, you can simultaneously teach them about your childhood while connecting with theirs. Take the opportunity to show them your favorite toy from when you were little, and then grant them the opportunity to tell you about their favorite toy!

Play

Play! It doesn’t matter what, just start. You could play kickball, you could play dolls, or you can play an old board game. The sky is the limit, and if you have kids, you can ask them what their favorite games to play are. You can go to the park, make a fort, or you can play dress up with their toys and them.  Not only does playing get our bodies moving, but it also gets our minds moving. Get silly, get messy, get to playing!

Live in the Moment

It’s easy to stick to schedules that make sense for us, and it’s easy to lose track of things that are important to us. But rather than forcing ourselves to get home, clean up, make dinner, clean up from that… Take a break. Take an extra 10 minutes before starting dinner to play make believe with the kids. You can also take that time to yourself to do some creative journaling or let out any bad emotions from the day. Dinner will still be there when you’re done. So much of our lives is waiting on the next thing to happen, and it’s important to just slow down and live in the moment; to experience life for all it has to offer.

At the Zoo Factory, we have a plethora of adorable pals to choose from, including cute clothing! Browse our selection, and we’re sure you will find something that speaks to your inner child. Treat yourself, or your loved ones, to a fluffy friend today!

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How to Prepare Your Child for a Trip

Mother helping to put on the seat belt for child

With the school year winding down, many of us are starting to think about our summer vacations. Trips are always exciting for every member of the family. However, it can be stressful to leave home, especially if this is the first trip your child has ever gone on. Here, we list some ideas to help prepare your child for your next trip:

Let the kids help plan

To help your child get excited for the trip, let them in on the planning. Knowing that they had a say in what you do will make the trip even more appealing. Sit down with them and go through some ideas together. Not everything they suggest will be do-able, but just doing one or two of their ideas will be enough to excited them!

Make it familiar

Some kids get anxious when leaving home because they’re heading for unfamiliar territory—literally! To help reduce any nerves, educate your child about where you’re going. Show them pictures of the hotel, the city you’ll be staying in, as well as any other destinations you may visit.

Create a list

It’s important that your child brings everything they need with them. However, expecting them to remember everything themselves is asking a bit much. Start creating a list of items at least a week prior to when you leave. This way, they can add items to the list as they remember them and then check them off once they start packing.

Bring a comfort item

As excited as your kid may be, it’s normal for them to feel a bit nervous when leaving home. Bring a comfort item with them can help ease some of their anxieties. A blanket, toy, or stuffed animal will always do the trick. Plus, you can then take cute photos of their stuffed animals at different locations throughout your trip!

For more tips and tricks on how to prepare for your summer vacation, read through our blog today!

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How to Prevent Your Dog from Chewing on Your Stuffed Animals

dog sniffing stuffed animal

Many dogs love stuffed animals. They’ll cuddle up with them, sleep with them, and take them everywhere they go. Others, however, only see your stuffed animals as chew toys. So, what can you do if your dog keeps chewing up your and your child’s stuffed animal collection? Here are some tips to get started:

Separate your dog’s toys from your own

Provide a box or bin where the dog’s toys are located. Introduce this area to your dog and show them how to retrieve toys from there only. This will help your dog learn which toys and theirs and which are off-limits. Be sure to also make a positive association with the location of the dog’s toys. Throw a couple of treats in the box when the dog retrieves a toy or when he picks one up to put back.

Teach Your Dog Commands

If it hasn’t already been established, teach your dog the “leave it” or “drop it” command. Doing so will prevent further damage to your stuffed animals if your dog has their jaws around it. This will not only save you stuffed animals, but socks, slippers and toilet paper as well.

Keep Your Stuffed Animals Out of Reach

The best way to keep your dog from chewing up your stuffed animals is to keep them out of reach. A storage container with a locking lid is the best way to protect your stuffed animals. However, you can also place them up on a shelf or in a closed closet.

 

If your dog has chewed up a few of your stuffed animals, then you’ll need to get new ones to replace them. Here at The Zoo Factory, we have plenty of lovable stuffed animals for you to choose from. Look through our website to get started!

 

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Can You Put Stuffed Animals in the Washing Machine?

mother and child using washing machine

After years of use, our stuffed animals start to look a little dingey. They need to be washed, but you don’t have time to wash your stuffed animals by hand. So, you wonder to yourself: will my stuffed animals be ok in the washing machine?

Turns out—yes! Stuffed animals can be put in the washing machine. However, you’ll need to take the following steps to ensure they don’t get ruined:

Use the gentlest cycle

While stuffed animals can be placed in the washing machine, they still have delicate parts, especially if they have buttons or zippers. You’ll want to put your washing machine on the gentlest cycle you have—Delicate, Hand Wash, or Gentle cycles will all work.

Protect the stuffed animal in a mesh laundry bag

For added protection, place the stuffed animal in a mesh laundry bag or a zippered pillowcase. This will help ensure that nothing tears or falls off your stuffed animal.

You can use regular detergent, but mild detergent is best

Most detergents are safe for stuffed animals. However, if you want to take extra precautions, you can always use a mild detergent with cold water. This is the best option especially for older stuffed animals that may be more delicate.

Don’t put your stuffed animals in the dryer

The washing machine may be safe for your stuffed animals, but the dryer is not. You should always air-dry your stuffed animals on a towel. Then, use a hair dryer to fluff up the fur.

For more tips on how to care for your lovable stuffed animals, read through our blog or contact The Zoo Factory today!

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How to Support Your Child’s Mental Health

father playing with children

As caregivers, we want the best for our kids. We support their academic careers, their ambitions, and their physical health. However, we also need to support their mental health. We live in stressful times, and supporting our children’s mental health is of the utmost importance. Here’s how to get started:

Praise their character

While our children’s accomplishments are important, they’re not the only thing that is important. Their character—how they behave and present themselves—truly shows what kind of person they are. Praising your child’s character will help them build self-confidence and instill good habits.

Don’t hold back your love

We love our kids, but sometimes we struggle to show it during our busy lives. However, showing unconditional love regularly will remind kids that they are cared for and loved. Even if your child makes mistakes, they’ll know they have a family there to love and support them.

Spend quality time together

While our daily lives are busy, it’s important to spend some quality time with our children. Not only does this show them we care, but it can also decrease isolation and loneliness. And it doesn’t haven’t to be a fancy affair. Watch TV with them, take a walk, or help them with their homework.

Have open communication

Your children should feel comfortable to talk to you about anything. Show your child that you’re open to anything by asking them open-ended questions. They may not always answer them, but simply asking the questions will teach them that they can come to you with anything once they feel comfortable.

For more parenting tips and tricks, read through our blog here at The Zoo Factory!

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How to Choose Which Stuffed Animals to Keep

teddy bears and toys

Chances are if you child has one stuffed animal, they have plenty more. Lots of times, this collection of animals can grow out of control, hanging on to every stuffed animal they’ve acquired over the years. You’ll need to cut back, but which ones do you keep and which ones do you donate? Read on to learn more:

More isn’t necessarily better

The only thing unique about having a stuffed animal collection of over 100 is the size. What do you do with all of them? How many are the same stuffed animal, or at least the same animal? Having a variety of stuffed animals will make your collection stand out more. Try and get rid of animals you have duplicates of or ones that are the same animal.

Movie and TV characters

In every collection, it’s always a good idea to have a stuffed animal of your child’s favorite Disney movie character or TV character. Adding a Simba or Sponge Bob Square Pants to the collection will show a pop culture side to your child and even how they become a fan of a movie or character at an early age. Plus, some of these stuffed animals can turn into collectables or even valuables as time goes on.

Sentimental value

A stuffed animal may not look special, but it can be special to your child. You never want to throw away any stuffed animal that has sentimental value. That’s why, when you’re sorting through stuffed animals, make sure you get your child’s input. They’ll know best which animals are special to them.

For more child caring and stuffed animal tips, read through our blog at The Zoo Factory today!

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How to Safely Use a Baby Swing

baby in a baby swing

A baby swing is a great item to have for your little one. It can keep them comfortable and even lull them to sleep. However, misusing a baby swing can become hazardous. To keep your baby safe, follow the tips below:

Read the instruction manual and ensure it has not been recalled

The first step is to make sure that you set up your baby swing correctly. Read through the instruction manual carefully and check that all the parts are included. If you bought the baby swing second-hand, do some research to make sure it hasn’t been recalled.

Don’t let your baby sleep in the swing

A baby swing can lull your baby to sleep. However, once they’re asleep, be sure to take them out and place them in their crib. Babies should always sleep on a flat surface to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Check the straps and harnesses

If your baby swing reclines at an angle greater than 50 degrees should have shoulder straps to keep your baby safe and in place. Before placing your baby in the swing, double-check the straps and harnesses and ensure the belts are fastened.

Keep babies under four months in the most reclined position

If your child is under four months old, make sure that the swing is set in the most reclined position. This will decrease the chance of SIDs or your baby slumping forward.

Check the weight limit

Your baby’s weight should never exceed the limit of the baby swing. If it does, find a swing that falls inside their weight range.

As your baby sits comfortably in their swing, give them some company with a stuffable animal! Look through our website today to get started!

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The Benefits of Traveling with a Stuffed Animal

stuffed animals sitting in car seat

Traveling to new places can be an exhilarating experience for you and your kids. But from time to time, our kids can get a little homesick. That’s why many of them bring their trusted stuffed animal friend with them for the trip. Acting as a source of comfort, there are many benefits to your child bringing their stuffed animal along for the ride.

It reminds them of home

Many travelers pack a beloved stuffed animal when they go on trips because it reminds them of home when they have to be away. After all, going to a new place can be scary as much as it is exciting. Having their stuffed animal at their side can help your child transition to a new place more easily.

It will help them sleep

The first few nights in a hotel can be difficult for your child. They’re in a new place with different sounds. As such, they could get nervous when going to sleep at night. Their stuffed animal can help protect them and make them feel safe in strange, dark surroundings.

Stuffed animals are part of the family

To some, the stuffed animal is part of the family. When you go on a family vacation or a trip, you don’t leave some of your family behind; you take them all with you. So, why would you leave a beloved stuffed animal behind? Your child’s stuffed animal wants to enjoy the trip as much as they do!

Here at The Zoo Factory, we think every child should bring along their favorite stuffed animal on their next adventure. To find a stuffed animal for your child, look through our website today!

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The Benefits of Giving Your Kids Chores

young girl doing chores

As your child gets older, you want to teach them the importance of responsibility. One key way to do that is to give them chores. Giving your child chores will not only help you around the house, but it will also teach your child vital life lessons. Read on to learn more:

Chores can build self-esteem

Accomplishing a task, especially if it was difficult, is one of the best ways to build your self-esteem. Your child may complain and grumble when they have to do chores, but once they’ve completed the task, they’ll feel a sense of satisfaction. When they see themselves finishing chores, they’ll see they are capable of more than they realize.

It encourages independence

When you ask your child to vacuum the carpet or dust the shelves, you’re teaching them how to take care of themselves once they’re older. Chores foster independence, and this independence will help them when they live on their own in the years ahead.

Chores will become a habit

The more your child does their chores, the more those chores will become a habit. They’ll stop grumbling about cleaning the dishes and instead automatically do it once dinner is done. By establishing these chores as habits, this will help them keep a healthy and clean environment when they’re out on their own.

It teaches cooperation and teamwork

When everyone pitches in to keep the house clean and orderly, your children will learn the importance of cooperation and teamwork. They’ll be less likely to see household chores as a burden but as a way to help out the family.

When your child does their chores, it’s important to show your appreciation and give them a goal to work towards. A stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory can be just that. Look through our website today to get started!

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How to Teach Critical Thinking Skills to Your Children

young boy thinking while working on homework

Talk to any doctor, teacher, or parent, and they’ll all agree about the importance of critical thinking skills. And indeed, critical thinking skills can help kids better understand themselves, people, and the world around them. But how, exactly, do you teach critical thinking skills to your children? Read on to learn more:

Be a role model

Our kids copy what we do. We are their prime role models, so we have to act like it. If we want our kids to become better critical thinkers, modeling critical thinking in our own behavior is a great way to start. You can do so by verbalizing your thinking skills, or in other words, actually thinking through something out loud, in front of your child, can help them learn critical thinking skills.

Teach them how to solve problems

Problem-solving requires critical thinking skills. After all, when you’re faced with an unexpected problem, you need to think creatively and critically to find a solution. When children face problems in their own lives, resist the temptation to solve it for them. Instead, encourage them to find ways to solve their problem themselves, providing support when and if they need it.

Get them to ask questions

Critical thinking is all about questioning the world around us. A person with strong critical thinking skills will question how things are done and wonder if there are better ways to accomplish their goals. Encouraging our children to ask questions will help them to think more critically and independently throughout their lives.

Play with them

Did you know that games can help children learn critical thinking skills? Board games and video games help with strategic and critical thinking, but so too can pretend play. Playing with our kids can teach them valuable lessons and help them find new ways of solving their problems.

Playing with their favorite stuffed animals can help our kids learn critical thinking skills. Look through our shop here at The Zoo Factory to find a new stuffed animal companion for your child!