Topics
Sports
Has bullying become our new normal?Many parents and educators have anecdotal evidence that bullying has been on the rise, and experts point to disturbing statistics: More than one out of every five students say they’ve been bullied, according to 2016 data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. But here’s a ray of light: Five out of five students can become “upstanders,” kids who take action when they see bullying happening. Most parents want to raise kids who would never... more
Throwing a gathering any time soon? This crowd-pleasing recipe — courtesy of our Nana & Mama writers — is easy to double, and it’s kid friendly, too.Nana’s Homemade Mac and CheeseIngredients ½ pound elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained6 tablespoons butter, divided3 tablespoons flour1 tablespoon dry mustard3 cups milk½ cup yellow... more
Teenagers need family. They may not say it. In fact, their outward actions seem to defy this. Their eyes are always on their phones. They hide in their rooms, binge-watching Netflix, while still texting in five group chats at once. Sometimes, I think I’m really having a good conversation with them and I realize they didn’t hear my last verbal... more
Summer is fading into a collage of memories. Looking back, I’m truly grateful for the special moments I was able to create and for the experiences I had with my family. Though my kids are older now (6, 8, 10 and 12), it seems like just yesterday I was trudging through the thickness of my early years of parenting. (Leaving behind the days of... more
Oh, how we love The Bazillions!The Minneapolis-based kindie-rock band has been getting families’ toes tapping since 2010 with guitar-driven tunes and pitch-perfect harmonies with a touch of twang. (Do they remind anyone else of the Barenaked Ladies?) And now they’ve put out their fourth studio album, Rock-n-Roll Yearbook, just in time to get... more
When we asked Minneapolis mamas, “Do you bribe your kids for certain behaviors?” — the confessions flowed like red wine on a Mama’s Night Out. The answer was a resounding yes! with all sorts of bribery booty involved, ranging from single M&Ms — given out one at time — to straight-up cash. You’ll find no judgment here. We’ve all... more
Junior year for my first born is finally done. Honestly, I think they should’ve given us parents a ceremony, something with certificates of completion and small speeches. I realize that, in generations past, a boy of 16 would practically be an adult. Sixteen-year-olds of yore had to prove their manhood/womanhood in dramatic ways. They... more
Wondering which backpack to get for your kid’s preschool or kindergarten debut? We recommend you skip the Minions and Princess Poppy rucksacks — and opt for one of these awesome options, chosen for their long-term durability, comfort/ergonomics and enduring designs (guaranteed to outlast your child’s latest cartoon-character obsession). ... more
Do you ever wonder how preschool teachers get 18 children (or more) from their classrooms to the playground, when you struggle to get your one child out the door in the morning? Wonder no more: Local teachers-turned-authors Deb Ellsworth and Tina Charney are letting you in on the tricks of the trade.Their new book, Your Amazing Preschooler:... more
It’s zucchini season! Also known as summer squash, these green or yellow fruits are available at farmers markets now. Celebrate the season by turning them, skin and all, into kid-friendly tots — a great side for breakfast or dinner.Zucchini totsIngredientsOil or cooking spray1 1/2 zucchini 1 large egg, beaten1/4 medium onion, minced1/4 cup... more
If your kids are little and your budget is tight, the idea of traveling may seem like a joke: How can your family afford Disney World when you can barely scrape together enough to cover daycare and a holiday trip to visit your in-laws? And what’s so romantic about taking kids in diapers on the road, anyway?I feel you.But travel is important — not... more
Getting kids to play outside should be easy. But sometimes — in this age of nature-deficit disorder/screen-time and a strictly enforced culture of helicopter parenting — it seems like it’s never been more difficult.However, I’m here to tell you: Our kids really, really want it — water, dirt, air and mud, lots of mud — yes, even the... more
Welcome to our Special Needs Issue!I’m so excited to be bringing you a magazine with this new, important theme.Although we try to address special needs in every issue of Minnesota Parent — typically in our On Behavior department as well as throughout the magazine — I felt we needed to step up our game. And, boy, did we learn a lot in putting... more
I cannot read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! to my son without welling up with huge, mama-bear tears. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.Except when you don’t.Because, sometimes, you won’t.I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-upsand Hang-ups can happen to... more
Photo by Tracy WalshSplish splashThe Twin Cities has become Splash Pad Central in recent years, including small neighborhood haunts as well as bigger spaces such as the 1-acre splash pad at Valleyfair’s Soak City waterpark in Shakopee.We especially love the Central Park Interactive Fountain in Maple Grove (pictured above) and the Burnsville Lions... more
When it comes to adding another child to your family — and perhaps taking the plunge to go beyond two kids — how do parents decide? Even more important, how do parents make their bigger families work? Forty-eight percent of Americans believe two children is the ideal number of children to have, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center... more
Balsamic vinaigrette is a go-to recipe for many home cooks, but sometimes it can be overpowering and even a bit sour.This five-minute recipe solves that little issue with two secret ingredients (maple syrup and Dijon mustard), dramatically reinventing this go-to dressing for just about any summer salad.Maple-Balsamic VinaigretteIngredients3/4 cup... more
Parents will often go to great lengths to ensure the safety, security, health and wellbeing of their children. But there’s one part of protecting kids that parents often overlook (or simply find unthinkable): “What if something happens to us?” Parents give of themselves — financially, physically, emotionally — to ensure the best for... more
We live in an age where we’re always on the move. And that societal rhythm affects the heightened pace we keep as a family. As a mom, I know I’m the metronome in setting the tempo for our kids — maybe even more so than their dad is. And as you may have heard me mention before, I prefer a normal walking speed as opposed to that... more
Is the term “work-life balance” the ultimate oxymoron of our times? Many of us struggle with the challenge of remaining fully engaged in the all-important work of raising one (or more) decent human beings, while also being a fully dedicated and productive worker. And for those who work from home (which is, face it, all of us at one time... more
Most kids love juice boxes. But if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, they’re not a great choice. Fortunately, mothers Laurie Ambrose from Chanhassen and Lisa Amundson (a dentist from Woodbury) — sisters who collectively have six kids! — have come up with a cool alternative that’s perfect for families.Their new kidsWATER drink boxes... more
Often when we think of rainy days, we picture time spent indoors — reading, building pillow forts and watching movies — desperately concocting ways to ward off boredom and help our kids expel astronomical levels of energy (without entirely wearing us out). But why miss out on all that wet, muddy fun? Rainy days are ripe with opportunity for... more
Soon the school year will be ending, and we’ll be enjoying the warmer weather and the longer days that accompany the approach of the summer solstice. It’s the ideal time to start spending more time outdoors — and to let our children capitalize on their core strength as kids: Playing!I’m a firm believer that all children need to experience a... more
Robbinsdale really is the new, hot place to be.It’s where you can find two of the Twin Cities’ trendiest restaurants — Pig Ate My Pizza and Travail Kitchen & Amusements (not to mention Victory 44, just a stone’s throw to the east in North Minneapolis). In the heart of Birdtown — on a single two-block stretch — you’ll find the... more
It seems like everyone has the travel bug lately. Even parents — a more traditionally tied-down crowd — are doing round-the-world travel. And they’re even bringing their kids, if their many Facebook photos are to be believed.But — as exciting as Iceland sounds and as enticing as Jamaica may be — large-scale travel isn’t right... more
Some of us end up coaching youth sports because we have a passion for the sport of choice. Some of us think it sounds like a really cool way to spend more time with our kid — or we get roped in by a fellow parent. And many us naively check the box that comes up during online registration that says, “Feel free to contact me about volunteer... more
Drowning is a leading cause of death for children with autism, according to the National Autism Association, due to kids’ tendency to wander and seek isolation — often in unsafe environments — when overstimulated by crowds.To combat this high risk, Sonja Brown, six years ago, founded a unique swimming school in Minnetonka — Swim Possible —... more
Minneapolis author Eric Dregni remembers being sent to camp at age 6, kicking and screaming.Now a father of three, a college professor and the dean of the Italian Concordia Language Village, Lago del Bosco, in Hackensack, Dregni has published a humorous memoir about the challenges and rewards of overnight camp. You’re Sending Me Where? Dispatches... more
You’ve finally arrived. You’re the parent of teenagers. You’ve made it through the sleepless nights of babyhood, the tedious making of multiple lunches and snacks every morning. You share your home with somewhat independent creatures that may not keep a tidy bathroom, but show glimmers of their own future adultness. It’s hard not to make... more
Social skills can be hard to master for anyone, and the unwritten rules that prescribe them in our fast-paced culture can be all too easy to miss for some children. Where should I sit in the cafeteria? What do I do when I get into a fight with one of my friends? What happens when no one seems to be interested in the same things I am? ... more
“It’s a ’60s party from a ’60s movie!” yelled a group of YMCA Day Camp Manitou counselors. “See the surfers on their surfboards? Da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na!” Hundreds of day campers — from the “wee backpackers” at age 4 to high schoolers volunteering as junior counselors — echoed back the tune, mimicking a surfing... more
Sailing instructor Madison Hobbs had a clear view of all her beginning sailors, working in teams of three to balance and maneuver their 8-foot training vessels, powered only by the steady winds coming off Lake Calhoun.In one boat, kids chatted excitedly, working to angle their sail just right, trying not to tip over. In another, two boys... more
“You don’t have to play the guitar, you know,” the photographer said to 15-year-old Donovan Mack.Sitting on a tall white box, Mack dangled his feet idly as he plucked notes from the instrument. “I like to,” he said, and the soft melody continued as Will Swanson, also 15, moved around him, snapping his camera, trying to capture different... more
As promised in last month’s issue, Dad’s Night Out (DNO) follows Mom’s Night Out (MNO).I really want to make it clear: You dads need to do this! Though it’s sometimes implied that new fathers inherently have more freedom (you don’t lease your womb to occupants, you don’t breastfeed), you, too, need to remember what it’s like to be autonomous... more
Mothers have a reputation of living their lives for other people. Indeed, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that for me, as a kindergarten teacher-mother of four, I could spend every waking hour doing something productive that involves some sort of service to others, whether that’s cooking family meals, doing laundry,... more
For parents of a child with a disability, it can be a challenge to find a summer camp that’s fun, rewarding and welcoming. “It’s so hard to find activities, especially for girls on the autism spectrum,” one mom told The PACER Center.PACER is out to change that. Every August for the past 14 years, PACER, located in Bloomington, has run its... more
Take a trip back in time to your childhood and think about how you loved to spend your days.Many of us can remember joyful, uninterrupted hours of play — whether it was spent building LEGO creations, constructing a fort in the woods or dreaming up imaginary worlds for our dolls. Flash forward to today’s jam-packed schedules, increased... more
Toddler Mom, the time has come to get out of the house. Wait. Let’s reorganize that thought: Out of the house, without child, showered and off to a destination other than Target, the gym, the indoor playground or work. Though you may have previously dabbled in the tradition of a good old Mom’s Night Out — MNO, as the increasingly acronym... more
Sure, spring is technically “around the corner,” but in Minnesota, our reprieve from the cold usually comes not in March or April, but as late as June!Fortunately, we’ve got the scoop on indoor play spaces for kids in the Twin Cities — including more than two dozen venues — at mnparent.com/indoor.Two new additions to our list include... more
I remember, when I was a new mother, looking desperately to my mama friends for advice.I had one friend who — skipping the fake war stories and humblebrags I’d become accustomed to — bluntly said: “I just want a damn shower.” Please pardon the not-family-friendly language, but the inflection/anger is important here.Indeed, just wanting... more
It’s tempting to hibernate during a frigid Minnesota winter, but your tots have just as much energy to burn now as ever.Making the most of the season, however, requires a bit of creative thinking — not to mention a lot of winter wear. I was reminded of this recently when I helped my young daughters run their very own hot cocoa stand. (Yes,... more
Minnesota Parent is giving away a FREE Winter Family Fun vacation for a family of four at Lutsen Mountains (valued at more than $500).This prize package includes 2 nights lodging, 2 days of lift tickets and 2 days of ski rentals for a family of four, all coinciding with the Family Fun Nights at the Summit Chalet, featuring magic... more
Winter is coming. Are you curling up into a fetal position with your favorite Slanket yet?Well, maybe you could skip the cabin fever this year. What if you could embrace winter by getting into skiing, snowboarding or even just tubing as a family? Check out more than a dozen winter-fun destinations in Minnesota at skiandboardmn.com, which... more
Parenting can be infinitely frustrating. It’s a grind that can suck the life out of even the most playful of parents.How can you bring back some of that magic?The answer, according to two Minneapolis moms, may be improv parentings classes, play days and camps. Improv Parenting is the brainchild of mother-of-three Keren Gudeman, an educator... more
Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track Set$44.99 | ages 4 and upFew kids in our toy test could resist this mesmerizing set — a new-and-improved version of an older model from Hot Wheels. Even the veteran parents in the group agreed this toy would definitely be worth the space commitment — and the price. A single central booster (which uses 4D... more
Q: My daughter has started playing hockey. What do I need to know to keep her from ending up in the ER?A: In the State of Hockey, it almost seems as if some children are born with hockey sticks in their hands and skates on their feet. Fortunately, organized youth hockey programs have made safety a priority and have taken a number of steps to... more
Lil’ Kickers — a year-round children’s soccer program focused on child development — has come to the Twin Cities.Founded in Seattle in 1999, Lil’ Kickers has grown into national franchise with more than 100 locations in 28 states.It’s been popular in Chicago for more than 10 years and is now expanding north with two Minneapolis locations —... more
Do your kids like to play in the dirt? Build tree forts? Climb cliffs and careen through tunnels?If you’re nodding your head YES right now, you need to plan a trip to the newly updated Tamarack Nature Center, about 20 minutes north of St. Paul.Operated by Ramsey County Parks and Recreation, the center is located in a 320-acre preserve within Bald... more
Mosquito bites are the worst!Fortunately, we’ve found a new way to ease kids’ irritation and discomfort: Oilogic’s Bug Bites & Itches Essential Oil Roll-On is made with a blend of lavender, tea tree, lemon, citronella, spearmint and chamomile oils.It’s fragrant, soothing and safe for... more
Happy summer, Minnesota families!If you’re looking for things to do with your kids in the Twin Cities, you’ve come to the right place!This month’s issue — our annual Beat the Heat edition — includes 2 inclusive parks designed for all abilities, 4 family day trips reinvented, 13 shady places for babies, 14 fun splash pads, 19 summer bucket-list... more
Many parents know all too well the answer they’ll get if they ask their child what he or she did on any given day: “Nothing.” But after a day at a Revolutionary Sports summer camp, that answer might get a bit more interesting.It might go something like: “Soccer, basketball, cricket, Frisbee, lacrosse, handball AND tennis!” At... more
On a bulletin board mounted to the wall above my computer I’ve hung a large desk calendar that acts as our family command center, perpetually organizing our fast-paced life with four young children.The oversized squares that encapsulate each date are chock-full with activities, meetings, schedules and reminders. Indeed, our family schedule is... more
We had that nice, long, warm fall. Remember? Shorts and T-shirts in November! So it feels a bit, well, complainy, to complain about the cold now. But it is cold! I don’t like it. When that jerk Jack Frost is out prowling the neighborhood, many of us feel tempted to set up camp in front of the TV or on the sofa with a book. But, deep down, all... more
There are few things as magical as experiencing falling snow through a child’s eyes — and Minnesota winters (usually) give us many opportunities to enjoy plenty of snowflakes. And that’s a good thing: It’s important for families to get outside and remain active during winter months. The more active kids are, the healthier they’ll be.Winter... more
Q: I’ve heard that kids with asthma should start their medications before school starts in anticipation of cold season. What do you advise?A: Any child with a diagnosis of asthma, especially if the child has frequent or persistent symptoms, should have an asthma action plan. Some children are especially susceptible to wheezing when they catch... more
Running has always been therapeutic for me. I’ve been a runner for more than 20 years — and the lead therapist for the Health Partners Regions Hospital Running Program for the past eight.So when I became pregnant for the first time, I wanted to be able to continue running as much as my body allowed.After a successful delivery, I was ready to... more
My 2-year-old daughter loves playing in water, so I thought signing us up for some parent/child swimming lessons would be a good idea. It's been really great spending time in a warm pool in the middle of winter. I signed us up to take a Parent & Child Class through Bloomington/Richfield Community Education Services. We've had five lessons... more
My oldest daughter was a reluctant camper. Every year, she went because we told her she had to and that she might (one day!) enjoy it. We started trying various overnight camps in first grade. She always packed at the last minute and routinely copped an attitude when we’d near the grounds. Each year we’d hold our breath, hoping she’... more
Talking to kids about health, safety and sometimes even sports doesn’t necessarily come naturally to parents. Thank goodness for creative writers! This month, we’ll help you cover some tricky topics, including personal safety and strategies for starting — and even struggling with — sports (from a precocious little girl’s perspective). Miles... more
One of my favorite parenting activities is attending my kids’ games. Sure, I complain about the busyness of practice schedules. And I don’t always enjoy rushing out the door on a Saturday. But once we start throwing the folding chairs in the car, willing the Keurig to fill our travel cups faster and remembering we didn’t wash the game... more
Ah, to be a Minnesota parent. We white-knuckle it through some of the longest, hardest winters in the country, daydreaming of long days outdoors without fear of frostbite — green spaces galore, bicycle rides with the kids, bucking the confines of our four walls, thick boots and oh-so-many layers. Then we hit July. With stubborn refusal to... more
I learned the hard way, when my kids were little, how quickly fun in the water can turn to danger.My father-in-law and I were seated at the poolside entertaining Elias, then a toddler, while my two older kids took a quick swim before lunch.As 7-year-old Louisa and 5-year-old Sebastian laughed and splashed in the shallow end, joyously demonstrating... more
I grew up a coach’s kid. Our family activities revolved around sports. The majority of my time was spent at a small Iowa gym, and having to shoot 10 free throws in a row before I could come in the house to eat dinner was standard protocol. Even the families we hung out with included other coaches. It was the norm.  It wasn’t until my father,... more
It's spring, and that means (finally!) it’s time to get outside and play! And with all the excitement — and often fast and furious play — kids can get hurt. Bumps and bruises are common, of course, but what should you do when your little one suffers a head injury? Should you be looking for signs of a concussion?Experts in pediatric health and... more
One of the best coaches I ever had as a kid was my older brother, Pete. He spent hours with me on our front lawn in the summer, patiently instructing me on how to position my glove to catch grounders, and how to keep my eye on the ball as I went after his pop-ups. On other occasions he taught me how to throw a football with a spiral, and he helped... more
Q: My kids love sports, but I’m concerned with overloading their schedules. How much is too much? A: Participation in sports can be very good for children and teens. It can promote positive socialization and help them develop skills for working through disputes and disagreements. It also helps them stay busy in positive activities... more
A: The good news is that gone are the days when children were basically forced to do everything right handed — even if they preferred their left hand. Your daughter will likely learn a variety of techniques to help her adjust to many right-handed activities. If you know someone who is left-handed — like your husband — they will be able to... more
My mom took up running when I was in high school. Although she’d never considered herself an athlete—she grew up in the pre-Title IX era, before it was OK for girls to sweat—she got caught up in the running craze of the 1980s, and she tried to recruit me, too.It was not an easy sell. I was a basketball player best known for my free-throw shot;... more