Articles


Equipping that first room can be a challenge

By Tammy DiDomenico

Many college freshmen are living away from home for the first time, and they’re often sharing a room with another student. Deciding what to bring and how to make that new living space feel like home can be challenging.

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Nine ways to ease your holiday season

By Laura Livingston Snyder

When I think about the perfect holiday, it’s casual and involves fuzzy socks and pajamas, not pantyhose and Spanx. If you’re like me, then an important part of enjoying your season is figuring out how to maximize your fun and minimize your hassle. So consider these ideas for keeping your spirits high and your sanity intact throughout the month of December.

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Important learning takes place outside school

By Michael Gilbert

What do you really want for your children? I have asked hundreds of parents that question over the years, and the answers have been consistent. What they want is for their kids to be happy, caring, independent, respectful and responsible. Parents hope their children discover their passion, their purpose and their creativity. And they worry how their children will be able to navigate the social world of their peers.

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A scavenger hunt can be super summer fun

By Laura Livingston Snyder

We’re into the dog days of summer and my kids are running out of new things to keep them busy. Here’s a productive activity for one child or a whole group that will encourage exploration and discovery, as well as work their brains: a scavenger hunt!

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Halloween is the perfect occasion for a party

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Does the prospect of Halloween strike fear into your heart? Don’t be afraid; be prepared—to have fun.

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Buying stuff is about more than the stuff

By Eileen Gilligan

I love to shop. There, I said it. I especially enjoy it when I have something to look for. Even with a family of four, at times no one needs anything, thank goodness. So if I want to shop, I need to cast my net wider, and this adds another level to the fun.

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Adding household members helps kids grow in compassion and responsibility

By Eileen Gilligan

For Jill Doerger, the contribution made by her family’s dog comes down to one thing: love. “The unconditional love that he gives the whole family. He expects nothing from us except his food,” she says of the Baldwinsville family’s 5-year-old Labradoodle, Remy.

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Calculate when to give a kid a mobile

By Eileen Gilligan

At the end of fifth grade, my son MacIntyre informed me that he and maybe two other kids in his grade did not have cell phones. A few weeks later at a parents’ meeting for children moving to middle school, I chatted with the mother of one of his friends. She mentioned how her son wanted a cell phone. “Oh, he’s the other child without a phone!” I remarked.

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An academic adviser tells students how to get comfortable on campus

By Eileen Gilligan

Besides being a writer, I’m also a journalism professor at SUNY Oswego, and I work as an academic adviser to freshmen. For students leaving for their first year of college, and their parents, I’ve put together a list of my favorite, time-tested tips.

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Must birthday parties mean goodie bags, presents and more?

By Eileen Gilligan

My husband thinks parents are constantly escalating in providing ever-more-elaborate birthday-party favors, and he calls for détente.

 

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A dress—or tux—doesn’t have to cost a lot

By Eileen Gilligan

I love to shop and hunt for bargains. It takes time, but it also can pay off in a big way, especially with a big purchase. Prom dresses these days certainly fall into the category of big purchase. But they don’t have to.

 

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Find small chunks of time to make a big difference

By Eileen Gilligan

Like most of us, I don’t need one more thing to do. I prefer to spend my time eating dessert, drinking coffee and reading—or watching Law & Order reruns. And, of course, hanging out with my kids. Except for the last and most important one, opportunities for doing all my favorite things get squeezed to the side for more of the “have-tos.”

 

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Change comes when family members move, divorce or die

By Eileen Gilligan

Traditions can be one of our favorite parts of holidays: going to Grandma’s house for Christmas Eve, eating turkey at Uncle Charlie’s house and banging pots and pans at midnight on New Year’s outside with neighbors. When a major life change interrupts those traditions, families adjust, although it’s not always easy.

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Make seasonal purchases thoughtful—not wasteful

By Eileen Gilligan

I asked my kids how we could reduce our consumption this Halloween season. They said: Buy bigger candy bars to give out. Then we wouldn’t have to buy as many candy bars; it would also mean fewer, but bigger, leftovers. (That wasn’t really what I had in mind, but consider the source.)

 

 

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New kindergartners need TLC, and sleep

By Eileen Gilligan

As the youngest of four children, I couldn’t wait to go to school. I wanted to be like my older siblings, of course, and jump into the fun and adventures I heard them discuss. But my mother said I had to wait until I was 5. So I waited.

 

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Avoid kids’ footwear freakout, if possible

By Eileen Gilligan

Pencils, notebooks, backpacks—I can handle shopping for those at back-to-school time. But new shoes? It’s never easy. At least once kids can talk, they can tell you that the shoes are too tight. But then they can also complain about the color or ugly style.

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Encouraging instrument practice, avoiding sour notes

By Eileen Gilligan

Getting children to practice their musical instruments seems as difficult as getting them to try a new vegetable. In my experience, they want to play an instrument, they just don’t want to practice with the instrument.

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Getting kids to wash, brush and dress

By Eileen Gilligan

When our children are babies, we’re in charge of everything. We decide what to feed them, when to bathe them, what they should wear and whether a large bow would look good in their scraps of hair.

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Kids learn to give by seeing their parents do it

By Eileen Gilligan

At this major gift-giving time of year, it’s difficult to get children to think about anything else except the new toys, bicycles and Wii games they may soon receive. But this emphasis on giving actually offers an excellent opportunity to encourage your kids to think about others.

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Balance limits and fantasy for a fun Halloween

By Eileen Gilligan

Halloween may seem like just one day a year, but for children and many of its grown-up fans, the holiday’s spirit runs through much of the calendar. In my house the discussion of what to be for Halloween is never closed—that is, until the costumes for this year have been bought, borrowed or somehow cobbled together.

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Get your kids’ back-to-school lists filled

By Eileen Gilligan

Shopping for back-to-school has much in common with doing homework: The sooner you start, the better it will go.

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You have ways of making kids shop with you

By Eileen Gilligan

A mainstay in my daughter’s stuffed animal collection is “Blue Elephant,” so named for the blue “fur” that sticks out around his clothing. Blue Elephant was waiting for her in the crib when she came home from the hospital because our then-16-month-old son had picked it out for her. Well, that wasn’t his intention, but that was the result.

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Dealing with kids’ handouts, homework and art

By Eileen Gilligan

Papers from school arrive nearly every day, and someone’s got to do something with them. But what?

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How to cope with pregnancy nausea

By Eileen Gilligan

Mayonnaise on white bread, doughnuts from the vending machine, and good old saltine crackers: Nearly every mom has a solution, complaint or story to tell about morning sickness.

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Dogs, cats and other pets strengthen family ties

By Eileen Gilligan

My kids and I would like to get a dog. My husband is the holdout—for now. He thinks he’ll end up as the go-to guy for all the “dirty” jobs. The kids have worked out a schedule for walking a dog, using the pooper-scooper and feeding the dog. Our job now is to persuade him they really will do it.

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Yes, you can eat together as a family

By Eileen Gilligan

One thing the experts don’t tell you when you have a child is to start a day planner just for them. As most parents will agree, their children have better social lives than we do; the kids get way more party invitations than we do. As they get older, add in homework assignments and project due dates. Then there may be piano lessons, some religious ed and of course, sports practices.

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Teaching children about jobs and earning a living

By Eileen Gilligan

I’ll never forget what my nephew said about jobs when he was 5 years old. 

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Try some inexpensive ideas to stretch the family’s summertime fun budget

By Eileen Gilligan

Summertime, and the living is easy, as the song goes. Unless you have one to six kids at home, nicely taking turns asking: “Mom! What can we do?” (With more than six kids, who has time to answer?)

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The Mother’s Day conundrum

By Eileen Gilligan

I still remember the joy I felt as Mother’s Day approached the year my son was born. Now I was a mother, too, and wasn’t this the most terrific thing! The next year I didn’t have to think about a Father’s Day gift: We brought our daughter home from the hospital on Father’s Day; she truly was the best gift possible.

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New moms can find ways to care for themselves

By Eileen Gilligan

When I used to ask my eldest sister, a mother of three children born within four years, what she did for her free time, she would always say: “Going to work is your free time. When you get home, that’s when your real job starts. . . and don’t forget to put in a load of wash before you go!”

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Parents of some newborn sons decide to go ‘natural’

By Eileen Gilligan

We parents hear lots of advice about how to raise our children. Breastfeeding good, formula OK. Cloth diapers vs. disposables? To circumcise a newborn boy or not?

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Focus on the people who help your family all year

By Eileen Gillagan

For some, the advent of the holiday season brings dread from the unhappy anticipation of more gifts one feels compelled to buy for family, in-laws, close friends, and then who else?

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By Eileen Gilligan

Messages can flow easily between home and school 

When it comes to getting in touch with my children’s teachers, I tend toward the low tech. I send in a handwritten note or wait for the tried-and-true parent-teacher conference.

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Let children graduate from small thrills to big chills as they grow up

By Eileen Gilligan

Almost as much as anticipating Christmas, my kids look forward to Halloween. And it’s not just because of the candy. (Really.) They like the costumes and the decorations, especially the scary ones.

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Will your child walk, take the bus or get a car ride?

By Eileen Gilligan

Back in the old days, we walked to school, uphill, both ways. But today it seems many more parents drive their children to school. Whatever the method of transportation, each has a culture all its own. And that’s for the parents.



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Keep the whole family in good form

By Eileen Gilligan

A month after we moved to Central New York with our newborn daughter and 18-month-old son in 2001, my husband’s favorite band was scheduled to play at the New York State Fair. (You probably haven’t heard of them; they’re called Brother. From Australia, the band of two brothers and two more guys wear kilts, work boots and T-shirts, and play rock infused with bagpipes. It’s an interesting sound and show.)

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Some pregnant women look for alternatives to the traditional gift-fest

By Eileen Gilligan

I took a blue bead and a clear crystal one from the small wooden box and passed it to the woman on my left.

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Planning your child's next birthday party

By Eileen Gilligan

For some reason I like throwing my kids’ birthday parties—until 30 minutes before the guests arrive. Then, as I scramble to clean the most-seen parts of the house, I start yelling that next time we’re going to “outsource” the party. Four hours later I’m starting to look forward to the next one.

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Children can overcome aversion to dogs with some help

By Eileen Gilligan

When my son was almost 3, he was nipped by a puppy on a leash, which we stopped to admire during a walk in our neighborhood. He remembers it as a bite. Since then dogs have been a concern to him and, by exposure, to his younger sister.

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Scheduling your children’s summer demands a game plan

By Eileen Gilligan

Picking a summer camp for my children is like planning an elaborate vacation that I don’t get to go on: I put in hours reviewing locations, activities, prices, times and applications.

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Families find plenty of ways to celebrate Valentine's Day

By Eileen Gilligan

When I told my daughter who’s 6 (correction, 6½) that I was working on a story about traditions people have for Valentine’s Day, she said that was easy. “You wake up on Valentine’s Day, go to the dining room, and there’s your candy on the table!”

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