Start Early: Tweens Developing a Skincare Routine

9/16/16

Take a stroll down your local store's beauty aisle and you will see a multitude of products promising to remove dirt and oil, with the end result being a clean face.

All are probably great products (I’ve used a few of them in my day) but none are targeted to a specific group of 9 to 12-year-olds known as tweens.

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By this age range, kids should have a skincare routine. No, not just one where they splash a few drops of water on their face and call it a day. A skincare routine with products actually designed for them, made without harsh chemicals. A routine that is easy to follow, laying the foundation for good hygiene habits as they continue to develop into adults.

So, when Tween Girl started to notice a change in her skin, it was perfect timing to start her on a skincare routine. There was only one roadblock though: which products should she use? I knew that she needed products that would work but that would also be kind to her skin.

A simple Google search brought up Ottilie & LuLu, natural skincare products designed for tweens.

Shocker! Who knew?!? I certainly didn't but I was very happy to see that there exists a company that serves this market. Think about it, for the first time in their lives, tweens must learn to be consistent in caring for their skin and need products made without any harsh chemicals. A part of Ottilie & LuLu's welcome statement says: "...formulas are filled with anti-oxidants, botanicals and vitamins."

Sounds great, right?

Ottilie & LuLu are so awesome that they sent Tween Girl the Healthy Beauty set to become a part of her daily skincare routine.

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Tween Girl and I were both excited, even more so once the package arrived in the cutest little colorful tote (yes, cute packaging excites us!).

That very night, Tween Girl started using the Morning & Night Gel Cleanser.

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It only took a couple of drops of the gel cleanser to get a nice lather, which gave off a calming scent. Once Tween Girl rinsed, she mentioned that her face felt clean and soft.

The next morning, she cleansed her face once more with the gel cleanser and followed up with the Everyday Facial Moisturizer & Sunscreen.

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With tweens, they think that more is better, so I had to keep reminding her that it only takes a few drops to do the job. With the moisturizer and sunscreen, one drop is actually best. Any more than that will cause the need for more minutes of rubbing it onto the face. If it's not rubbed in, it will reappear once your tween starts to sweat, mostly near the hairline.

Once she learned how to use the proper amount, she gave the moisturizer a thumbs up because it didn't dry her skin like some of the previous moisturizers she had used.

I like having the sunscreen "built in" with the moisturizer because moms don't have to worry about reminding her tweens to apply it.

Her game plan to avoid pimples and blemishes (yes, it's possible!) is to continue cleansing her skin daily, drinking plenty of water, and not overindulging in sugary foods/drinks (cookies, candy, soda). If we need help in the pimple/blemish area, Ottilie & LuLu has us covered because our gift set included a Spot Blemish Treatment.

After a couple of weeks of using the products, Tween Girl has had few complaints, which is good considering that complaining is something tweens are good at. Of course, I have to remind her to wash both day and night, again that's pretty typical when raising a tween.

I would rather spend time reminding her to develop a good skincare routine now instead of her battling skins issues down the road. It's great knowing that there are products that will help parents instill good skincare habits into their tweens, laying the foundation for when they grow into adults.

At what age did you start taking care of your skin?

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received sample products for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. 

101 Things To Do Before Your Daughter Starts Her Period

9/6/16

So, she has entered double digits. The big 1-0!

With such power of being an official tween, comes great responsibility.

To help my tween on the road through puberty, I've been dropping little hints to make sure she is mindful of her changing body and how to care for it.

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Maybe there aren't 101 things that you really need to talk to your daughter about before she starts her period (or perhaps there are) but here are some key things to help lay the foundation:

Have the "talk", bite-sized versions

Tween Girl is at the onset of this whole puberty thing. It's been pretty hard to have conversations with her about puberty without the mention of sex (eek, I said it!). The decision to discuss sex is totally up to the parent but realize that your child will hear it elsewhere, be it the internet or from their friends. Don't you want them to hear a version closer to the truth than from anywhere else? Yes, it's a touchy subject but take a deep breath and prepare before launching into who has what and where it goes. You may be surprised at how much they know, so these types of topics are best handled in bites. You really want this to be a conversation where the two of you are asking each other questions and answering each other, this is not a lecture. Lectures are uptight and one sided. This is definitely a topic where you want to be honest and open with your tween.

Nervous? Yeah, I know. Here are some resources that I am currently using to help with having conversations about sex:

Sex Ed Rescue - a great site that empowers parents to feel comfortable and knowledgeable when engaging their kids in talks about sex. 

Hey, Sigmund - another great resource that takes a look from the psychology perspective.

Casually discuss bodies

Tweens don't necessarily like discussing their bodies with their parents, so tread lightly. From time to time, they may mention hair growing in places where it's never grown before. Take your opportunities as they come, don't be pushy. Once the opportunity presents itself, use yourself as an example. What did you do when you were her age? How did it make you feel once your breasts started to grow or when you started growing armpit hair? The key here is to let your tween know that what's happening to them is normal.

It's important for them to know the correct name for the parts of the female reproductive system and how each part functions. Knowing your own body should not be viewed as taboo or nasty, it's your body! Girls should be encouraged to learn their own bodies.

Explain the menstrual cycle

No worries, you'll have to explain again...and again until she has time to get used to it. Most pediatricians say that once a girls' breast buds start to appear, her menstrual cycle should start a year later. It also depends on the age a girl's mother was when she started her cycle. Either way, start talking about it before it shows up! Here's a lifesaver, one that my tween and I stumbled upon and it caught our attention and sparked an hour-long conversation: The Period Blog.

Visit the feminine hygiene aisle at your local stores

Don't make it awkward by specifically going to the store to visit the tampon aisle. This visit could occur on one of your normal Target runs. Just casually stroll over to that aisle and point out a few things, like the maxi pads or tampons. You are sure to get questions about how they look, what to do with them, what's the difference between the two or even your daughter asking you which ones do you use. You will be ready to...


Explain what pads and tampons are once you are at home

Which will she prefer? Explain how to use each item. Again, The Period Blog provides great information and even pics (yes, pics, calm down). 

Be sure to explain that the tampon will need to be inserted into her vagina, the pictures come in handy here.  If she hasn't hit the floor by then, keep the conversation going by suggesting that she use the pads with wings to protect her underwear. In my opinion, tampons should be reserved for when a girl is a bit older. Hopefully, by then she will know her body and be used to monitoring her cycle. 

Make sure she already has a hygiene routine in place

Tweens bodies have started to change, which results in body odors and/or facial irritations. As parents, we must make sure that they have the necessities for a daily/nightly routine, which includes soaps for bathing, lotion for their bodies, facial cleanser and a moisturizer. Tween Girl and I have recently found a great product designed for tweens, which we will share in an upcoming post. 


Explain why she must use the hygiene products

Getting in the habit of good hygiene sets the stage for when her period starts. She will need to be sure to keep her body clean. In your conversations, mention that having a menstrual cycle may mean having an odor. There may be instances where her period stains her clothing or when she will need to change her pad. It's nothing to be embarrassed by but it's important to have certain items to stay as fresh as possible. Of course, it will take time for her to ease out of any embarrassment, if there is any, and become skilled in using hygiene products to stay fresh during her menstrual cycle.

In order to keep the "stay fresh" theme alive in Tween Girl's mind now, we decided to...

Put together a "refresh" kit for her to carry in her backpack 

A refresh kit is a bag/pouch that holds extra maxi pads, clean underwear, at least two ibuprofen, lotion, and wipes. It can be kept in her backpack or purse and ready for when she needs it. Let her know that her "refresh" bag will need new items added once she starts her period - spare underwear, pads, ibuprofen.

Tween Girl and I recently put together a "refresh" kit for her to keep in her backpack, look for the details in an upcoming post.

Keep her yearly physicals

Sometimes kids need to hear certain things from other people aside from their parents. Yearly physicals can be a time when your daughter can ask the doctor any questions about her changing body. The pediatrician can provide great insight to when your daughter will start her cycle.

Get the books -

The Care and Keeping of Us - this has become a staple between moms and their girls. I purchased this set because it comes with separate books for moms and their daughters and a journal.


Read the books

There is a difference between having the books and actually reading them. Read the books separately and together. Another reason why I like The Care and Keeping of Us is because it allows us to share reading time together and gives Tween Girl an opportunity to ask me questions if she wants to. Having separate books also gives us the space to go off and read if we'd rather be alone.

Tween Girl started reading The Care and Keeping of You for younger girls when she was around 7. I wanted her to start reading about puberty to help get us where we are today.

Commit to being honest with her

Before the rubber hits the road, settle this within yourself: you will be honest with her about things that will happen to her body over the next few years. Decide on how you will phrase certain things, how you will back off when she doesn't want to talk to you. Realize that you are there to give information, this is not about you controlling her. Put yourself in her shoes, remember what it was like? Yes, you and I turned out ok but let's not deceive ourselves, times are different. I know that every generation takes pride in saying this but c'mon, we didn't have social media. Nuff said!

Seriously, though, not sure how your mom handled you starting your period but mine didn't handle it so well. This is my only shot at creating a strong foundation, so I am choosing honesty.


Know how to de-stress

Even though we've been having our conversations for a while now, I am usually drained at the end of each and every one! A part of me struggles with not wanting to tell her anything, in hopes that she will stay 10 forever. Then reality sets in and I realize that I MUST have these conversations with her before she starts googling it or starts listening to her friends tell her what they heard about starting your period.

So to avoid or lessen being drained after these conversations, make sure that you have ways to take care of your mental needs. Trust me, you will need an outlet.

Whew!

Even though it wasn't quite 101 things to do before your daughter starts her period, it was still quite enough. It may seem overwhelming but it's needed and worth it. Your daughter is off on this journey of puberty, which isn't a one size fits all type of topic. It should be diced into bite-sized conversations repeated over and over again, coming from you, the parent. Having a period is just part of the journey. Strap in, Mama, you're on a road trip!

What do you wish your mom would have told you about having a period?

Your Game Plan to Ace Your Tween's School Open House

8/23/16

New backpacks are getting worn in.

The new shoes are a bit scuffed.

The mounds of paperwork are flowing in, your hand is probably tired from signing your name so much.

Right in the middle of the pile of paperwork is the notice for this year's Open House.

Ok, don't panic. This is a different year, new teacher and you have a new opportunity to get a new game plan for this year's Open House.

This year's open house is extra important to us because this is Tween Girl's last year of elementary school. We want to be aware of things happening in the classroom that may prepare us for middle school next year. Studies show that parental involvement decreases once a child reaches high school. The tween years are already a roller coaster ride, so we want to make sure that we are showing Tween Girl that we will remain an advocate for her when it comes to not only her well-being but her education as well and open house is a great kick off to show her that.

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Now, in the past, you may have treated open houses like an informational where the teacher does all of the talking and tricks you into signing up to volunteer for the Fall Festival. Or a time for you to show up and sign more papers and look at some of the work your child has completed during the first few weeks of school.

But isn't that the purpose of Open House?

Yes and no.

Most teachers will tell you a different side of the purpose of an open house.

In my preparation for Tween Girl's open house, I reached out to a few teachers just to pick their brains about how parents can get the most from open house. Their responses are not shocking or too much to ask. Really just simple and practical things we can ask or discuss, things that we may already know to ask or just have forgotten to do so.

Before the big evening, get your game plan ready of what to ask and what to discuss. Not sure what to talk about? Here are some ideas:

Routines and Rituals

No, this does not involve witchcraft or sorcery. These come in the form of the process for turning in homework, class schedules for things such as gym, art or music, or the types of curriculum that will be used for the year. According to one teacher, teachers love to explain the classroom rituals and routines. This is especially worthy of knowing for us because it gives us a head start on teaching Tween Girl better organizational skills for middle school next year.

Best ways to stay in contact

Hopefully, you've filled out the emergency contact sheet (remember that big pile of paperwork your kid brought home on the first day?). If so, you've given the teacher and the school the best way to contact you now you need to know which method is best when contacting him/her. That will either be email, the class website or apps like Edmodo or ClassDojo. This is a great practice to start now before middle school because the teachers' time will become even more limited because of the numerous classes/students they must manage.

Volunteering

Sorry, but I had to include this one. I know, it makes me cringe as well but studies do show that when a parent is active in their child's school, the child is more likely to attend school regularly, earn higher grades and have better social skills. Many parents contribute by being the classroom parent, the chairperson for classroom parties or festivals. There are parents who "volunteer" by sending in classroom supplies (yes, believe it or not, they do run out of glue sticks!) or snacks. Edutopia has some great advice on how working parents can volunteer. My advice here is to be honest about the amount of time you can dedicate to volunteering at the school. Many times, parents who work outside of the home feel guilty because their time is very limited during the day. Let your child's teacher know your work schedule and offer to help in nonconventional ways. Many teachers appreciate this and see that you  are committed to helping.

Ways to enhance learning at home

Ask the teacher if they have any recommendations of websites, books, apps or other ways that you can help your child at home. Again, enhancing learning at home can open the gate to testing the waters with middle school subjects.

No discussions of your child's individual needs

Open house is not the place for each parent to voice concerns about their child's individual needs. Of course, the teacher wants to know these things, just not at open house. This type of discussion is best reserved for a 1:1 conference between the teacher and parent. Keep in mind, the teacher;s time is limited and he/she probably has a script ready for open house because they so much information to cram into such a short amount of time.

The fact that you're showing up for open house speaks volumes to teachers. It's one of the first steps a parent can take to show that they care about their child's learning environment and that they are there to help make sure it's great.

Open house is only one night but don't let that stop you from communicating with the teacher and school year round. After all, you're the parent of a tween. Once they hit middle school, you will be interacting with a multitude of teacher's with varying needs. Open house is one way to get some practice for what's to come.

How do you engage with your child's school and teacher(s)?

Mama "me time" for less with Groupon

8/9/16

**This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

With school back in session, there are moms all over the land in desperate need of some "me time". You know, some time when we can unwind, relax and do some things we enjoy doing without breaking the bank.

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Let Groupon help you out! What are you in the mood for? A new hair cut with a new color? Or a soothing massage? What about a new, energizing nail color with a manicure/pedicure?

There are many sweet deals for Health, Beauty &Wellness Groupons available on Groupon.

In the past, I have struggled with finding a nail salon that offered great service along with an array of nail polish colors (yes, I have walked out of salons that had limited color choices.) Even though I like a good selection of colors,  I'm a low maintenance kinda girl who enjoys a good looking gel manicure/pedicure. By purchasing a Groupon for nail services, I was able to try out different salons for a great low price.

When it comes to events, experiences, goods and services, Groupon has got you covered. Access by the website or download the app to stay in the know of the great deals offered in your area.

So, moms, go pamper yourselves with Groupon's help!

Which Health, Beauty & Wellness Groupon will you purchase to pamper yourself?

A Foolproof Mama Formula for an Organized School Year

8/2/16

There is nothing we can do to stop it.

It starts to creep up on you towards the end of July, especially those of us who live in certain regions.

Retailers start tempting us with all that could be because after all this school year will be different.

Or will it?

Each and every school year, I make vows only to watch them wither away each month.

This year will be different.

Why?

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This year will be different because I have cracked the code, I found the foolproof mama formula for an organized school year.

Before we get into the details, let me tell you how I set myself up for failure each year.

Let's start with the food.

Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I make lofty goals of cooking breakfast and packing healthy lunches each day. Usually, around the two-week mark, I am back to paying for school breakfast and lunch.

After obsessively viewing Pinterest perfect breakfast foods and bento boxed lunches (which I have already purchased 2 new bento boxes), I glance in my Pinterest feed only to see the most gorgeous, braided hairstyles for girls.

Each year I vow to create fantastic hairstyles for Tween Girl each week. Reality quickly sets in and I realize that I cannot braid, which leads me to accept that there are well-trained professionals who want nothing more than to earn a paycheck by doing your child's hair.

As if that's not enough, I have been working on a morning routine for myself since Tween Girl started kindergarten.

Combine that with being more active at her school and you've got one mama who is in need of a foolproof plan for an organized school year!

Many parents already know what it takes to make a great and organized school year. Just knowing that isn't enough though.

We want to raise kids who take responsibility for, not only their education but also for their own well being. Tweens are still like sponges, watching our every move. I want her to know that it's ok to acknowledge her own imperfections.

So, wanna know my foolproof formula for an organized back to school?

Being honest about my abilities.

That's it.

Nothing to run out and buy. Nothing you can order from Amazon.

It's simple, practical, do-able.

I know what I can handle. So, I may not be able to handle being the room parent but I can send in extra school supplies.

I may not be able to kick off the morning breakfast for teachers because I work outside of the home but I can attend the family fit night event later that evening.

I know what I can handle.

So, this year, I am honest about my abilities on having an organized school year. In that honesty, I want Tween Girl to see that "perfection is the enemy of good" (Voltaire).

This year, I will continue my lofty dreams of making those hot breakfasts and perfect lunches. I will join PTA and still send in classroom donations. I will finally wake up and meditate for 10 minutes each morning. And, I will...keep the hairdresser's phone number on speed dial.

Here's to a productive school year!

What types of vows do you make about the upcoming school year?

What a Tween Likes: FabKids!

7/22/16

I always love when I don't have to put much effort into anything but can reap the good rewards.

This philosophy comes in handy when it comes to raising a tween...especially a tween girl.

As she gets older, buying clothes gets harder and harder and harder...

But I believe I've found a solution...at least for now, with FabKids.


Fab*Kids is a curated boutique for kids. Parents can select clothing pieces to make an outfit, pricing varies unless you become a VIP member. VIP members pay around $30 for an outfit, while non-members pay anywhere from $40 and up. 

Here's why it works:

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We love Fab*Kids because of the customized wardrobes, it helps with eliminating the time spent putting together an outfit. Not only am I saving time but it helps that Tween Girl gets to help pick out the outfits. It's a win - win! 

What's your "go - to" shop to find your must-haves?

**All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. I have not been compensated for this post, nor did I receive samples or product for my review.

What a Tween Likes: Fashion Angel's BeBe's Beats

7/15/16

Doodles, sketches, and beats, oh my!

Those are three things that will occupy a bit of my tween's time!

Fashion Angel's BeBe's Beats is a nice distraction for her.

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I won this product by way of a giveaway. 


Fashion Angels is a brand targeted towards tween girls, with a mission to encourage girls to "believe in themselves, express themselves and be happy with who they are and proud of what they can do".

Those are characteristics that I try to instill in Tween Girl on a daily basis, so I definitely enjoy buying products that will help me on this journey.

We've purchased a few Fashion Angels products in the past, there are still Braidzilla cords all over our house!

This time, though, we actually won a cool product from Fashion Angels' Sunday Funday Facebook Giveaway.

BeBe's Beats is a doodle sketch book that plays music!

There are approximately 80 pages of sheets for tweens to doodle, sketch, jot down music lyrics, space to write about how certain songs make them feel. It really sparks creativity!

As they doodle, tweens can jam (do the kids still say that?) to their favorite jams (ok, I know, overusing this word.).

Fashion-Angels
Thankfully, the music does not blast loudly, the volume is controlled through whichever device used to play the music.

Of course, BeBe's Beats is only a temporary fix to ward off the many requests of having that first cell phone, which we will not be buying until Tween Girl turns 12 (another post for another day). Doesn't help that the top part of the product is rather flimsy, be careful that the speaker portion does not fall off. This didn't bother us, given the regular price of the product.

Tween Girl has enjoyed coloring the pages and writing down her thoughts. I've enjoyed it because it's allowed her to clear her head (yeah, kids need to that, too!) and practice writing.

Thanks, Fashion Angels for continuing to spark creativity in tween girls!

Which song would you blast through the BeBe's Beats speakers?
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