Out with Mommy

For anyone who loves snow sports but dreads hauling equipment to the slopes, Northstar Resort on Lake Tahoe’s California side has thankfully perfected the concept of the ski-in-ski-out resort.

Beginners Luck

The Village at Northstar has just about everything a family needs on a ski vacation, from shops like North Face and Burton to family friendly restaurants like Rubicon Pizza Company, and of course Starbucks. Kids can enjoy complimentary s’mores every afternoon around 3:30 at the resort’s many fire pits around the Village, and play on a huge mound of snow in the middle of the Village, located near Ambassador Toys, seller of snowball makers and launchers. Crafty kids can make ceramic souvenirs at the Village Pottery shop, or they can fill a bag of candy at the Euro Sweet shop.

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Snowboard learners at Northstar can attend the world’s only Burton Academy, branded by the famed snowboard and apparel line and featuring a Burton-certified faculty. The resort also has an XS terrain park, designed for learners, and for the more experienced riders, there’s an awesome half pipe. The Adventure, Guiding and Learning Center boasts about 200 instructors and offers a variety of lessons: private, group, kids, adult, beginner to expert, snowshoe and Nordic, and even 4Her sessions with four women learners and a female coach.

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Well Equipped

The Northstar demo shop offers a service that delivers ski and snowboard gear to your accommodations where specialists make sure you are correctly fitted. The service then has the equipment waiting at their shop at the base of the mountain, and they will even carry gear out to the edge of the slope for you. For those who rent the old-school route, Northstar provides free shuttles to the lifts from resort rental facilities.

 

Snow Days

If the kids don’t ski, the resort has other options, such as Minors’ Camp for ages 3 to 6 which will entertain little ones with crafts and activities. At 3 pm the Village offers free ice skating, with skate rentals available. There is also tubing at mid mountain for $35 per hour.

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Lounge Around

The Summit Deck and Grill at the top of Mt. Pluto and The Zephyr Lodge at mid mountain sport spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The lodges all serve typical self-service lunch including hamburgers and chili, along with some surprises like Asian fusion noodle dishes.

The finest dining in the Village is at Manzanita at the Ritz-Carlton at mid mountain. Besides dinner and lunch, they serve a hearty brunch that includes pancakes, French toast, and stick-to-your-ribs favorites like chipped beef gravy, as well as trays of cured meats.

Stay a While

Hotels, private homes, townhomes and studio condos can be leased online, such as the residences at One Village Place at the Village at Northstar. These luxury condos offer one-, two- and three-bedroom units designed for the vacationing family. Amenities include a gourmet kitchen, washer and dryer, bunk beds for kids, walkout balconies, a gas fireplace in a large living room for lounging après ski.

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Winning Tickets

Lift tickets can be purchased and reloaded online to save the hassle of waiting in line at the cashier window. Lift tickets from Northstar can also be used at Northstar’s sister resorts Heavenly and Kirkwood. Online prices are around $102 for a one-day pass for adults and $61 for kids, although there are many group deals and multi-day discounts.

Down and Out

Northstar is a well-oiled machine when it comes to keeping the masses moving with 20 ski lifts. Northstar’s season goes from mid-November to mid-April. Northstar usually has plenty of snow thanks to their snowmaking system, the largest in North Tahoe, covering 70 open trails of the resort’s 97 runs, along with seven terrain parks,. For ski conditions and more information, go to http://www.northstarcalifornia.com/

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Planning a trip to Disneyland or Disneyworld?  Disney resorts are known as the happiest places on earth, but it can turn into the most miserable place on earth if you do not plan your trip properly.  Make the most of your family’s Disney vacation with these tips to de-stress your visit and maximize your time at the resort.

 

Take Two, or More

 

It’s not just because Disney wants to sell more tickets that they tell you that you need at least two days at the park. While not every family can afford a week-long Disney vacation, at least two days is needed to experience even a short list of main attractions. If visiting Disneyland, park hopper tickets which allows visitors admission to both California Adventure and Disneyland resort over two days is the best deal. Look for online deals for discounted tickets at local grocery stores.

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It’s all About the Date

 

Choose your dates optimally with a crowd predicting site, like IsItPacked, to avoid the busiest days. You can also get a DVD with tips customized for your family’s visit and a personalized planning web page at disneylandvacations.com/parks.  Another great resource is The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, with tips on how to beat the longest lines and maximize your time at the park.

 

Pick Your Attractions

 

In advance of your trip go online and make it a fun family activity to pick out each family member’s number one attraction for each day. Do not set yourself up for failure and disappointment by planning too much. Plan on three major rides, defined by those that offer FASTPASSES, per day. Then choose a few second-tier attractions.  Check height requirements beforehand so there are no meltdowns after standing 45 minutes or longer in the line, only to find out your kid is too short to ride.

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Get Fast Passes

 

Take advantage of FASTPASS tickets that give you a return time so you can come back and wait in shorter lines for major attractions.  For efficiency sake, give all of your admission passes to a designated person in your party so that person can go get FASTPASSES for the next ride on your short list while the rest of the party waits in line for another attraction nearby.  Remember you can only get one FASTPASS at a time, so choose wisely.

Take Breaks

 

Take a Break

 

Don’t forget to build in lunch time and down time and nap time if you have little ones. Missed meals and grumpy kids can quickly turn the Magic Kingdom into the Haunted Mansion. While officially outside food is not allowed in the park usually the gate attendants look the other way when it comes to a small stash of Goldfish crackers and granola bars. Even a juice pouch or two will be overlooked so long as you do not bring any glass into the park. For tired little ones, consider taking in a show or a parade where kids get a break from walking and standing.

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Make a Budget

 

Decide how much money you and the kids are going to spend and then stick to it. Be realistic. Meals snacks souvenirs and games are expensive at any theme park. Budget for at least $15 per meal per child and $20 for adults. For families on a tight budget a good rule is to tell kids that besides lunch and dinner they get one snack, and one game and one souvenir per day. Set limits, like $20 per souvenir, so they don’t beg for the biggest stuffed character in the Disney store. Help kids set their own limits by loading the funds onto a Disney gift card that they can spend anywhere in the park or at Disney stores.

 

Chose a Leader

 

The more people in your party the harder it will be to decide what to do next.  As much as possible have a roadmap of attractions you will visit and in what order, but for those debates that come up, assign a designated tie-breaker, or give each kid a turn to be leader.

 

Stay Close

 

The family that sticks together…can get on each other’s nerves, so keep this in mind when booking accommodations.  Resist the urge to save money and pile everyone in one room.  Check out affordable hotels that are a short drive or shuttle ride from the park.  Many affordable budget hotels offer spacious suites with sofa sleepers in an adjoining sitting room so that parents and kids can spread out, watch their own TVs and have some apart time. Hotels like Embassy Suites also offers a buffet breakfast to get the kids out quickly in the morning and a shuttle service leaving every 30 minutes, which is a far better option than navigating and traversing the morass of parking lots at the park.  Another advantage to a close by accommodations is the option of a mid-day break at the hotel, where everyone rest and rejuvenate to get a second wind for fireworks and other night time attractions.

 

Stay in the Moment

 

Don’t forget you are at Disney park to have fun, not accomplish a mission. Enjoy the time with your family, even while waiting in line. Turn waiting time into an opportunity to nibble snacks, play games, relive the attractions you just experienced, talk to your kids about the fun you are having and know that every moment you are at Disney counts as family time.

 

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After a sleepless night in a chilly tent camping out with my son’s Cub Scout pack, I awoke with a sore throat.  In preparation for cold season, I was prepared.  I had armed my medicine cabinet with something news this year, Nature’s Jeannie All Natural Throat Care Spray.  My hope was that this elixir would be a good alternative to Chloraseptic Sore Throat Spray, which I have used for many years.

As the Nature’s Jeannie is all natural ingredients and intended for kids age 3 and up, I anticipated it being better and safer not only for my son if he got sick buyt myself as well.  The spray  contains nine natural healing ingredients to treat sore, itchy, scratchy, irritated throats. One primary ingredient is apple cider vinegar, which is currently en vouge in the natural health community, touted for health benefits ranging from weight loss to diabetes prevention.

I expected the throat spray to be similar to the other chemical numbing sprays I have used in the past, and so I was got a big surprise when I flushed my tonsils with the Yumberry flavor and immediately felt a sharp stinging sensation. I attempted to follow the instructions which said to let it sit in the throat for 20 seconds, but wimp that I am. I lasted about five seconds before I had to spit, partly due to the intense tingling and partly due to the sharp flavor.

The directions also said to repeat it this procedure up to five times per day as necessary, preferably after meals and before going to sleep. I thought I might get used to the flavor and sensation, and I tried again a few hours later, and again could not make it to 20 seconds.

The flavor reminded me a lot of the numbing agent that dentists apply with a Q-tip right before they give you a shot of Novacaine in the gum. The spray had a little of the same effect of numbing, but it was not as long lasting as Chloraseptic and similar sprays I have used in the past.

I gave a closer read of the ingredients, and it was obvious why I felt the stinging sensation when this formula hit my raw tonsils. It contains Himalayan salt, and cayenne pepper, among other purported healing ingredients, such as buckwheat honey, licorice root, cloves, origanum vulgare, cherry extract, and the aforementioned apple cider vinegar.

It seems these are all great ingredients used for anti-inflammatory, germ-fighting, irritation-soothing and antioxidant properties. The Yumberry also has a soothing effect and adds a berry-like pleasing flavor, especially appealing to children. While all of these ingredients seem fantastic on paper, when they hit my throat, any beneficial effect they might have had was offset by my immediate reaction because of the stinging and pungent taste and my instinct to quickly spit it out.

The same company that makes the throat spray also makes Gargle Away, an “advanced throat care” product to soothe sore throats, which contains seven natural healing ingredients, many of which are the same ingredients as in the spray. Once again, when I introduced to this product to my sore throat, the immediate effect was a stinging and burning sensation. The only time I can recall a similar feeling is when I eat food seasoned with Old Bay spice. I thought it ironic that my mouth and lips feeling like they were on fire did indeed distract me from the pain in my throat!

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Despite my initial reaction to these products, I’m going to keep trying it for the duration of my sore throat, because while the sensations are very unexpected from a product made to treat a sensitive, irritated throat, it might just be the course of treatment my throat needs to kill the germs and help speed up my recovery and healing.

For anyone looking for a product that is different than all the others, and that does not contain a list of unpronounceable ingredients, this may be a good alternative. If nothing else, it is nothing like anything else you have tried before, and since nothing else I am aware of has ever cured a cold or done anything but temporarily relieve symptoms anyway, this certainly can’t hurt, well maybe for a few seconds it will.

A note from Nature’s Jeannie:  

Thanks for giving Gargle Away a try (sorry about the sore throat, of course!), but remember, this is an all-natural remedy, so the sensation you’re describing isn’t due to toxic chemicals — our ingredients (*specifically, the oregano and cayenne) are reducing bacteria and loosening mucus. They’re doing the job!

Certainly, our fans have described the “kick” you experienced — but many, many Gargle Away users rave about its effectiveness. Professional singers, announcers, voice actors, and just plain folks have found Gargle Away a terrific alternative to other throat care products made with alcohol and chemicals.

(We’re also confident our new Throat Spray for Children also will win over many parents who find it works as advertised: to relieve inflammation and mucus, and reduce the bacteria that causes sore throats.)

We suggest you continue treatment by giving that sore throat the treatment — with Gargle Away!

 

 

 

No matter what the calendar says, it’s still hotter than August outside.  Until the thermometer gets the word that Autumn is on the way, drink up, stock up and gear up to beat the heat with these Indian summer essentials.

Nothing’s cooler than a well-dressed pool

Dress up your pool with fashionable floaties that will be a conversation piece at your next pool party.  Airhead, the trendsetters in floats and watersports products, features a stylish new line of brightly colored SunComfort products made from soft-to-the-touch EcoCell foam, a durable material that does not require inflation. The line includes the SunComfort Lounge ($109), a tri-fold lounger that is just as comfortable on land as on water and folds to store easily; the SunComfort Saddle ($29.99) that immerses its rider in the water and features a convenient carry handle; and the SunComfort Noodle, a noodle in a fun flat design, perfect for wrapping around the body to hang out in the water.

Ice bites

 

Ditch the popsicle stick for LifeIce bite-sized frozen cubes of coconut water and agave along with all-natural fruit flavors that kids and grownups alike will love, alone or plopped into a drink.  The treats come in a ready-to-freeze tray with perfectly portioned squares of yummy flavors like Berry Bite and Green Grind, great for those times when you just want a little sweet treat. $6 for two trays of 48 cubettes.

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Bug off

 

Don’t let pesky insects ruin your evening out on the patio.  Kite Shield natural. Chemical-free mosquito repellent spray is DEET-free with botanical actives that won’t harm people or the planet.  The non-oily formula is pleasant smelling and lasts for up to four hours. A 100ml bottle runs for $20 (including shipping) for a 100ml bottle, available at bit.ly/KiteShieldIndie.

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Mix it up

You won’t have to work up a sweat to mix up a frozen tropical island drink with a refreshing frozen drink with the Velocity Ultra Trio Bender ($149) from Cuisinart.  The workhorse blender does it all for you.  The blender’s smart power and sophisticated electronics minces delicate herbs, whips up smoothies, and even chops ice to a fine powder.  Blend your smoothies right in the two travel cups, put on the lids, and enjoy healthy breakfast on the go.

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Ice cream that’s anything but plain vanilla

 

Your staycation just got better with Choctal, the ice cream made with exotic flavors that will take your taste buds on a world tour.  Experience cacao and vanilla from rainforests all over the world with a multipack of flavors from the Choctál Single-Origin Ice Cream family, including Ghana Chocolate, Kalimantan Chocolate, Costa Rican Chocolate, Dominican Chocolate, or the vanillas: Indonesian Vanilla, Papua New Guinea Vanilla, Madagascar Vanilla and Mexican Vanilla.  Sold at select Target stores and other national grocery stores or online for $11 a pint.

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Shoe in

 

Talk about cool shoes.  Moms will never yell at their kids for getting their shoes wet when they are wearing UNEEK footwear ($39-$65). These strapping shoes are a cross between a sandal and a sports shoe, made with water-repellent nylon cords designed to adapt to the natural form of the wearer’s feet for a custom and comfortable fit and for a cool open- air feeling.  So go ahead, run through the sprinkler!

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Comfort is good

 

Be cool and wear your optimistic attitude on your sleeve, and on your back, with the Life is Good line of optimist apparel. For those fun first days of school, kids can pull the 100-percent cotton Elemental Air Time Crusher T-shirt ($18), and when temperatures drop, they can walk the halls with a positive flair in the Peace Sign Hangout Hoodie ($38).  Mom can spread her happy attitude at the drop off line in her own Oh Happy Day T-shirt ($34). All of the Life is Good apparel is pre-washed for comfort and double-stitched for durability. The best part? Life is Good donates 10% of its annual net profits to help kids in need.

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Sounds great

Take your tunes outside and rock your patio party with the VAVA Voom 20 Series speaker ($79.99). The little log-like speaker blasts high quality sound with two 8W drivers and two passive subwoofers to pump up the base. The IPX5 splash protection lets you take the speaker pool side without worry, and the rechargeable 5200mAh lithium-ion battery with up to 10 hours of play life, and connectivity with Bluetooth, NFC and AUX cable makes the VAVA handy wherever you go.

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Just in case

 

Whether indulging in summer sports or heading off to school, an Otterbox Defender Series ($59.95 for iPhone 6) smartphone case will protect your life line. The cases, made for a variety fo smartphones and tablet devices, features a built-in screen guard to prevent scratches, and the solid hard case will absorb drops and dings.  Plus, with an assortment of designs, you can get a case that stands out in the crowd and expresses your inner selfie.

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Tequila Tea

 

When the sun goes down, it’s time to mix up some grown-up refreshment with Sparkling Ice drinks.  Try this recipe for raspberry iced tea that will cool you off and get your end-of-summer party started.  Ingredients:

  • I bottle Sparkling Ice Raspberry Iced Tea
  • 1 fl. oz. Tequila Blanco
  • 1 fl. oz. Mescal
  • 2 fl. oz. Coconut water
  • 3 drops Mole Essence

 

Instructions:

  1. Freeze cubes of the Sparkling Ice Raspberry Iced Tea
  2. Blend frozen cubes with other ingredients for frozen delight
  3. Pour into margarita glass and garnish with single mint leaf

 

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A Special $1 Buttermilk Pancake Short Stack Day on August 23 Punctuates Efforts as IHOP and its Franchisees Aim to Serve One Million Pancakes in One Day to Benefit No Kid Hungry

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If your family loves IHOP for breakfast like mine, you will be happy to know that your next meal of short stack pancakes, until September 25, will not only make your own children happy but will help other children across the nation.

IHOP® restaurants and its franchisees proudly announced today that the Family Dining leader has again joined forces with No Kid Hungry in an effort to end childhood hunger in the U.S. The IHOP + No Kid Hungry campaign, which runs August 1 through September 25, invites IHOP guests and fans to join in the fight by donating to the leading non-profit on their check or through www.IHOP.com.

To amplify efforts, on Tuesday, August 23 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., IHOP restaurants will offer* guests a short stack of their world-famous Buttermilk Pancakes for just $1 with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting No Kid Hungry. The brand and its franchisees have set an ambitious goal: serve one million pancakes in just one day to help every child in America get access to the healthy breakfasts they need to start the day.

For close to six decades, IHOP has been the leader in bringing guests a freshly made breakfast served any time of day, every day ― but at least one in every five children across the U.S. struggles to get the food they need to grow and thrive. No Kid Hungry works to connect our future leaders with a healthy breakfast by delivering food to where kids live, learn and play.

“IHOP and our franchisees are passionate about helping build the overall well-being of the children and families in communities everywhere, including addressing the critical issue of hunger in the United States,” said Kirk Thompson, senior vice president, marketing for IHOP and Marketing Advisory Board Member for the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry platform. “Together with No Kid Hungry, we can enable the more than 16 million children across America who struggle with hunger to start each and every day with the strength that comes from eating a good breakfast.”

IHOP restaurants’ efforts will help kick off the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign, which fully launches nationwide in September and unites the restaurant industry around a shared mission of helping end child hunger.

“We’re thrilled to have IHOP back for a second year supporting No Kid Hungry and extending to their guests the mission to end childhood hunger in America,” says Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength. “IHOP’s tremendous goal to serve one million pancakes in one day means that three million more breakfasts will be possible for kids in need. That translates into more kids doing better in class, missing less school, and becoming more likely to graduate high school. That’s a lot of potential in one pancake.”

To learn more about the IHOP + No Kid Hungry campaign and the fight against childhood hunger, including how to donate to the cause, go to participating IHOP restaurants and www.ihop.com starting August 1.

04_kidstabletIf you hate those “reloading” reloading messages when you are streaming your favorite shows, and you worry about what content your kids are accessing online, Amped Wireless has a new solution for your family.

Amped Wireless, the leading manufacturer of high power, long range wireless solutions, is bridging Wi-Fi performance, security and simplicity with the launch of ALLY, a whole-home smart AC1900 Wi-Fi system with MU-MIMO. Available for pre-order August 23, ALLY is designed to deliver an unparalleled Wi-Fi experience for homes of all sizes.

The ALLY Wi-Fi system is the first seamless roaming solution with blazing-fast Wi-Fi speeds, MU-MIMO technology and whole-home coverage with award winning, high power technology. Offering easy setup and a mobile app for on-the-go control, the ALLY and ALLY Plus systems reach up to 15,000 square feet of secure coverage for seamless roaming and uninterrupted streaming.

Built with the digitally-connected family in mind, ALLY features intelligent parental controls that make online parenting feel easy and safe. Through ALLY’s customized user profiles, parents can manage and limit access to selected content, websites or apps. Additionally, parents can monitor and segment a child’s screen time, review an activity log, pause Internet service and even set a curfew schedule for their Internet use.

Parents can also feel at ease knowing that devices on their network are protected by AVG Technologies, the leading provider of software and services to secure devices, data and people. Customers can download the ALLY app and help safeguard devices from malware by activating AVG’s free, built-in web protection and real-time monitoring of network traffic. ALLY’s security features, parental control options and iOS and Android apps are built on Chime, AVG’s smart router platform developed by AVG’s Innovations Labs, an exploratory branch of AVG Technologies.

“Innovation is part of our DNA here at Amped Wireless,” said Jason Owen, Executive Vice President of Networking, Amped Wireless. “We are elated to announce ALLY and our partnership with AVG. By combining Amped Wireless’ award winning high power technology with AVG’s software and security expertise, we’ve created the industry’s best whole-home Wi-Fi solution. The result is a one-of-a-kind system that performs at the highest levels while providing a user experience that is second to none, bringing peace of mind to users as their network and families are protected.”

The partnership establishes ALLY as the only home wireless system that offers web protection that safeguards devices, including tablets, phones, computers and other devices. Additionally, the system alerts users when a new device requests network access, further protecting the network from unwanted parties.

“Gartner predicts the average family house will contain more than 500 smart devices by 2022. As the complexity of the connected home increases, so does the potential risk involved,” says Todd Simpson, Chief Strategy Officer of AVG Technologies. “AVG’s Innovation Labs created Chime to simplify security and router technology for connected families. In time this will be like an antivirus for the home that can stop threats before they reach devices.”

In addition to the advanced software and security, the ALLY hardware is also ahead of the innovation curve. All units are built with next generation 802.11ac, Multi-User MIMO technology. Traditional Wi-Fi systems stream data to just one device at a time, leaving the rest of the devices to wait their turn which results in slower downloads and video buffering. With MU-MIMO, ALLY is able to stream HD content at faster speeds to multiple devices at once, delivering increased speeds for homes with multiple devices. Pair that with Amped Wireless’ award winning High Power Technology and you have unparalleled reliability, coverage and performance. Every smartphone, tablet, computer, TV and more can connect from virtually anywhere in the home or office. It is the solution for a flawless, whole-home, reliable Wi-Fi system.

There are ALLY solutions for both small-medium sized homes, as well as medium-large sized homes, and everything in between. Both ALLY and ALLY Plus products have an estimated delivery of early October. ALLY is priced at $199.99 and ALLY Plus at $379.99. For purchase information and additional details visit ampedwireless.com.

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It’s National Awareness Month March 1-6, and one particular group is probably the most aware of the need for more sleep – single moms.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that women in general get less sleep than men, and single moms fare the worst when it comes to getting the minimum of seven hours of sleep, which is deemed important for good health.

The Sleep Experience Team of sleep specialists at Luxi mattress offers these tips to single moms, and their children, to get more and better sleep.

  • Stick to a regular bedtime and a routine for you and the children.  When children know the cues for bedtime, such as bath time, brushing teeth, story time, etc., their mind and body prepares for sleep, as does yours.
  • Avoid watching TV, checking email and texting late at night, and don’t allow screen time for children for at least one hour before bedtime. Research shows bright lights from screens wake up the brain, and a stimulated child does not go to sleep easily, which also keeps parents up too.
  • Don’t eat late at night, and don’t allow children to eat or drink one to two hours before bedtime. A full stomach or bladder can make for an uncomfortable, restless night and disruptive trips to the bathroom.
  • Make sure you have a mattress that is right for you. Your body changes throughout your lifecycle — before, during and after pregnancy, and likewise your mattress should change.  Consider a mattress that can be adjusted, such as Luxi, which unzips and configures to soft, medium or firm as your needs and preferences change.
  • Once the children are asleep, practice some relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercise, meditation, and calming visualization.

For more tips on better sleep from the Luxi mattress team, go to http://www.luxisleep.com.

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