Back to School Tips

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Summer has not been a great time for our sleep schedule. Late nights at friends' homes, ice cream treats at 9 pm on vacations...well you get the picture. With a 9 am start date looming we need to get our act together before preschool begins. I looked to my expert Courtney Graham at for some help. She said, "Be consistent in bedtime as well as wake-up time." Hmmm. We need to work on that. She continues, "Creating good sleep routines by having your child get up at about the same time everyday (within 30 minutes) will help in creating a good sleeper and a happy preschooler."

Courtney is a sleep consultant and writes the blog She lives in So. California with her husband and three children who have given her plenty of practice at sleep training. Courtney advises that preschoolers need 10.5 to 13 hours of sleep per night, in addition to a 1 to 3 hour nap during the day.

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Ok, I've got my sleep plan down. What else is on the list? Labeling all my daughter's gear. Her preschool teacher said she'll need back up clothes and to be sure all her outerwear is clearly identfiable. Hello Mabel's Labels. I'm opting for the personalized Ultimate Back-to-School Combo. Pick one of four new color combinations (True Blue, Juicy Citrus, Tickled Pink or Pack in Black). These labels last thru dishwasher, microwave and wash. Here's what you get: 40 Skinny-Minis (for books, lunch bags, etc.), 50 Tag-Mates (clothing), 16 Shoe Labels, 2 Bag Tags (loop onto backpacks and lunch totes). The BTS pack is available for a limited time only, until September 30, 2008. $39

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And finally, I asked Alison Rhodes aka "The Safety Mom" for some Back to School safety tips. She picked the trip to the mall as her topic.

"While a trip to the mall is a great way to keep kids occupied on a rainy day, it also can be stressful trying to keep track of them in crowded stores. And any mom whose lost track of her child, even for just a minute, knows what a horrific feeling it is. While the majority of the time you will find your child in a matter of seconds, there are those instances where absolute panic sets in and your child is indeed lost. The most important thing is to stay calm but immediately find a store clerk and notify him or her that your child is lost.

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It'??s important to discuss with your child what she should do in the event that she becomes lost. Repetition is helpful as children won'??t always remember these things. Make it a habit as soon as you park the car at the mall to get their attention and review '??the rules.'?

'??Find a mommy if you get lost'? '?? Remind them to immediately call you, preferably using your full name rather than '??mommy.'? More than likely you'??re just around the corner or down the aisle but if you don'??t respond tell them to look for a mommy with children to help them find you. It'??s safer to have your child select someone to ask for help rather than someone approaching them.

'??Never leave the store where you become lost'? '?? Reassure them that you will never leave the store where you were separated until you find them. They should not go outside of the store with anyone or by themselves assuming you went back to the car.

'??What'??s your name, home phone number and mommy'??s cell phone number?'? '?? Be sure that your child can repeat his or her first and last name as well as your home number, but equally important, a cell phone number since you will actually be in the store when he or she gets lost

'??Don'??t let anyone take you out of the store'? '?? Children usually recognize adults as persons of authority and assume they must listen to them. Teach them that they have the right and should say no if an adult is making them feel uncomfortable or asking them to do something they don'??t feel is right. If someone, including a store employee, tries to take them out of the store teach them to scream as loudly as possible '??You'??re not my mommy or daddy! Help, police!'? Encourage them to kick, hit and bite if the person does not let go of them.

'??What'??s the code word?'? '?? Decide on a code word that the entire family remembers. A predator could convince a child that he is going to take him or her to mommy who is outside of the store. If the child knows that everyone must use the code word it will make the child resist.

The great majority of the time, a child is lost for only a few minutes but parents need to be vigilant. Children can become distracted easily, but with calm and consistent reminders, your shopping expedition should be a little more stress free."

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