How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike

How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike

Seems simple right? We all went through it. But it’s been a long time since you sat on that seat feeling awkward and being afraid you’re just going to topple over. It really is a weird thing when you think about it. Sitting there suspended on two wheels, the only thing keeping you balanced is the fact that you are moving. Besides having to worry about your balance now you have to worry about where you are going and if you can stop in time. So it’s good to put yourself in their shoes for a bit. It will help you have patience. And bbiking with kidselieve me it’s worth it. There’s nothing I enjoy better than looking back at my daughter’s beaming face as we ride through the streets of NYC, central park or out in the country together. She’s so darn proud of herself.teaching your kids to bike

So what do you need to do to get your child on the bike and eventually out on a biking adventure with you? If you live in a major city there are programs galore geared toward helping kids bike. Check out your local town’s website for information. But to do it yourself, here’s how to get started.

1) The Bike

Go to a bike shop and have her fitted for the bike. She should be able to stand comfortably over the seat. Hold onto the handle bars and let her sit on the bike. Her legs should be able to extend but not stretch. Make sure the seat is not just too low or high. If it’s not the seat, then the bike is either too big or too small. Don’t get a bigger bike hoping she’ll grow into it. You’ll just have a miserable kid who tosses it down in frustration. Better to pay a little less or get a used bike to start with then try to get one with room to grow.

2) The Bike Gear

Helmets, get one that fits her head. Many helmets have adjusters in the back. That will give you a little room to grow. Get one that is sturdy, is from a reliable manufacturer and be ready to replace it every few years. Once it’s taken a few hard hits, it’s time to get it replaced. Keep it from sitting out in the sunlight as well as it can damage the material. Never put it in the back window of your car

3) Forget the Training Wheels

They just teach kids bad behavior and they use them like a crutch. Better to take the pedals off and lower the seat. Let them scoot around on it in an open area. It will be much easier to get the hang of it. Let them focus on balancing and turning. No need to pedal just yet.

4) Scoot Around

When they’ve gotten used to the feeling of scooting around on the bike and can balance, put the pedals back on and adjust the seat to accommodate for the pedals.  Let them try it in a flat, wide area. No hills please.

5) Practice Turning

Make nice wide loops (that’s why I said to find a big wide area). Let them go in and out of circles. Keep them big and then go smaller and smaller, then change to turn the other way.

6) Learn to Stop

Once they are comfortable with the pedals they need to learn to stop. Teach them to step on the petal to break or use whatever breaking system the bike has. Most importantly remind them to be ready to put their feet down as the bike comes to a stop.

7) Take it Slow

Keep going around in your wide flat area until they feel super comfortable. Next it will be good to branch out to a quiet road. A rails to trail type bike path makes the perfect place for kids to practice.

8) Don’t Push Them

Remember, it’s about getting them out there and experiencing it for the firs time. If they hate it or feel pressured, you’ll be hard pressed to get them back out there. So be realistic about what they can do the first few times out. Don’t worry, I promise they’ll be ready for those longer jaunts in no time.

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Places To Travel: Salem Witches and Halloween Fun

Places to Go for Family Fun: Salem Massachusetts

Salem Massachusetts is one of the oldest seaports in America, and infamous for what happened to twenty innocent people back in 1692. These people, puritans, became victims of mass hHalloween in Salem Mass , Places to Travel with Kidsysteria known as the Salem Witch Trials and it’s been chronicled in the famous book by Arthur Miller, The Crucible.

 

Salem During Halloween

One of the beHaunted Happenings in Salem, Places to Go with The Kids for Travel Adventurest times to visit Salem is during the month of October, during it’s Haunted Happenings season.

Haunted Happenings in Salem, Places to Go for Family Fun on Halloween

Over 250,000 people come to visit and be a part of the grand parade, fireworks, masquerade balls, live music, haunted houses and chilling theater.

Check out the fun show at the Gallows Hill Theater

Even spookier is the Psychic Fair and Festival of the Dead. 

The future with a psychic reading at Salem’s longest-running psychic fair! Hosted by Christian Day, Brian Cain, and the Witches of Salem, The Annual Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo features the Witch City’s most gifted Psychics, each one officially licensed by the city of Salem! Wander an emporium of magical gifts, meet real practicing Witches, and make an appointment with one of Salem’s talented psychic readers as you delve into your destiny!

Besides all the witchy stuff, Salem is also a great place to learn about colonial seaport life.

Salem’s History

Salem also played a major role in American History. Located at the mouth of the Naumkeag river at the site of an ancient Native American village and trading center, Salem was first settled by Europeans in 1626, when a company of fishermen[16] from Cape Ann led by Roger Conant arrived.

During the Revolution, the town became a center for privateering. Although the documentation is incomplete, about 1,700 Letters of Marque, issued on a per-voyage basis, were granted during the American Revolution. Nearly 800 vessels were commissioned as privateers and are credited with capturing or destroying about 600 British ships.[34] During the War of 1812, privateering resumed.

Now, tourism is the backbone of Salem’s economy. Tourism based on the 1692 witch trials dates back to at least the first half of the 20th century, when dry goods merchant Daniel Low sold souvenir spoons with witch images. Such tourism expanded significantly in the 1970s, when the television situation comedy Bewitched filmed several episodes in the city.[134] Witch-related tourism expanded significantly in the 1990s

Visit Dracula’s Bran Castle in Romania

Travel Destinations, Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania

Want to take the kids on a spooky adventure forDracula's Castle in Romania Halloween that they’ll never forget? Haunted houses, ghost tours, hay rides, meh OK. But want to give them something to tell their friends about? How about a visit to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania

That’s right, the big Impaler, himself. Bran castle, one time prison of the infamous Vlad Dracul, is only a few hours from Bucharest, Romania. Truth be told, Bran Stoker took some liberties with the castle and the Prince of Wallachia, modeling his stories on both. But don’t let that dissuade you from a fun, spooky, educational adventure with the kids.

Vlad’s actual castle is nearby in ruins and you can hike to it and take a tour. The beautifully restored, medieval Bran Castle, was once a royal residence, and after many years under Communist rule, is open for tourists to get a taste of the rich culture and history of Romania.

Dracula's castle in TranslyvaniaThe area, rich in natural beauty is a great place to take the kids any time of the year but nothing says Halloween like Autumn in the Carpathian Mountains.

Tickets to enter the castle are about the equivalent of $6, US.

Visit Dracula’s Castle

You can take a one day tour to visit two famous Romanian castles.. Click here for more info on visiting spooky castles of Romania.

Tour Romanian Castles 

Prices are about $69 for adults, $35 for kids.

Surfing Lessons for the Kids (and You) Waikiki Beach, Honolulu Hawaii

Surfing is a great sport for kids. It gets them out in the fresh air, surf and sun, teaches them balance and is something the whole family can do. But you don’t want to take them out into the big surf without being prepared. Waikiki Beach in Honolulu Hawaii is where surfing was invented. There’s a great section of the beach that for all intents and purposes makes for a perfect bunny hill for wave riding. There are non stop lessons going on everywhere you look.  We visited Waikiki to check out the surf and we weren’t disappointed. We got together with friends and took lessons through Big Wave Dave’s Surf Shop. It was a great day of mom and daughter bonding. At one point we even got up on the boards at the same time. That’s something we’ll never forget. Big Wave Dave is where my friend, a Hawaii local takes her kids for lessons and I couldn’t recommend them more. Prices are reasonable and you can get a package of professionally shot photographs (with a long range telephoto lens) to capture the moment. Click here to sign up for surfing lessons   kids learning to surf Hawaii Waikiki Beach

Mount Tremblant in Canada: A Great Family-Friendly Summer Destination

Mt Tremblant HAS Reviews some of the best skiing on the East coast and aside Is located in a beautiful, picturesque enclave skiing.   tremblingIt’s got everything you need for a weekend of fun and relaxation and plenty to do with the kids. In the summertime there are gondola rides, beach and tennis club, sledge racing and mountain biking is aplenty for the older kids. Check it out. 

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Annual Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day

Saturday October 3rd, is the official Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day by the International Mountain Bike Association.

According to their websites, the IMBA strives to encourage communities in the U.S.A. and around the world to join together and ride mountain bikes with kids. Join the fun and participate in IMBA’s 12th anniversary of Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. Last year over 15,000 kids and family members participated in 150+ community events in the U.S. Several events were registered in other countries including: Italy, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Malaysia, and Mexico. You, your family or your company are encouraged to join the fun!

The first Saturday in October is the official ride date, designated by the U.S. Congress. While we strive to celebrate Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day on this date, other dates may be acceptable depending on seasonal conditions and other events occurring in your region. Long standing IMBA partner Subaru of America is the presenting sponsor of Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day 2015.

To read more, click the link below.

Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day Events

 

Take the Kids Apple Picking This Fall

It’s always a bit sad to have to say goodbye to summer but the upside to it is that Fall is on it’s way, in all its colorful glory. And one of the fun things about the fall is of course apple picking.  Just about every state has some form of pick your own apple farms.

There’s nothing like getting out in the country with your family and friends and spending the day in the apple orchards. Of course with that often comes sampling homemade doughnuts and apple cider.

Don’t forget there’s also a range of other things to do while you are out there. Puppet shows, baby animal petting zoos, games, hay rides, mini-villages and towns for kids to play in. There’s always something to do at the orchard besides just picking apples.

Here are some tips to make your trip the best it can be.

1) Check the hours of the orchard. Also it’s a good idea to check their websites for updates on when the apples will be ready.

2) Leave the pets at home. There are usually a lot of people and not every facility is pet friendly. It’s best to leave the pup at home.

3) Don’t eat the apples in the fields. The orchards make their money once a year on apple picking and they work hard to make it a great experience for you. Don’t cheat them. Make sure to bring your apples back for weighing, then wash them and chow down.

4) Line up the recipes. You will never be able to eat all the apples that you pick whole. You will of course, pick far more apples than you need, if there are any kids involved in the process. Plan to do some apple pie baking. Apple sauce is a great idea.

5) Make it a tradition. Kids look forward to annual expeditions with you. It’s an adventure your family will always remember.

For the best places to go apple picking, check out this list.

Apple Picking in Any State

Varieties of apples and seasons vary

Places to Apple Pick in New York Area

New York season usually starts after labor day and ends in October. Don’t wait until Halloween, there’s usually not much left on the trees by them.

Picking apples in Massachusetts

September to mid October marks the peak of apple picking season in Massachusetts

Pick your own apples in California

New England doesn’t get to have all the Fall fun, so too do the left coast dwellers. Sept to October is prime season for apple picking.

San Francisco Bay Area

Apple Picking in the Oak Glen Area

Here’s a video that explains how to pick the best, healthiest apples.

Water Safety: What Every Life Guard Wishes You Knew

As a one time 19-year-old lifeguard and now a, er, not so 19-year-old parent, I’d like to give you, my fellow parents, the straight scoop.

what lifeguards wish parents knewEven as a teenager, it amazed me  just how lackadaisical some parents can be about watching their kids around the water. And that’s putting it nicely. So here’s what I wished parents knew from my days of being on the frontlines of water safety:

1) Water can be deadly. It’s no joke. Kids can drown in a very shallow pool of water. Never take your eyes off them, even if they know how to swim (please don’t ever think they are safe because they have cheap, plastic floaties on their arms).

I know you really want to gab with your friends or chill by the waterside and read your book. But sorry, you have a kid with you. There’s a reason we require that small children be accompanied by a guardian. So put the book away. Listen to an audio book on your phone or listen to music instead so you can keep your eyes on your kids.  As for gabbing, you can still do it, just do that weird eyes on the water while talking to your friend thing that parents do. If your friend thinks you are rude for not looking at her while you are talking to her, get new friends.

2) I am probably a teenager, maybe early twenties, Capish? I know you are thinking, well the lifeguard is getting paid to make sure no harm comes to my child while I’m at the beach. She SHOULD be watching my child. But let me ask you this. Do you know me? Do you really know how responsible I am?

Chances are I’m very responsible but you don’t know that for sure. Even on a good day I might be a little distracted thinking about some guy or girl I’m crushing on, where I’m going to college, that party I’m going to tonight, etc. So you know that innocent creature you gave birth to, nurtured for years, invested in and will invest an immense amount more of your love and time, do you really want to just assume I am watching them like you would? Word to the wise, in your mind, pretend I’m not here and be your own lifeguard.

Keep your eyes on your kids the way you want me to. I’m probably doing everything right, but if I’m not, there’s no second chances. No do-overs. I screw up and miss your child drowning, not only do I have to live with the repercussions but you do too. Be smart and don’t put me to the test.

3) Don’t ask me to watch your child so you can go to the bathroom. Are you kidding me? Do you not see the 50 bobbing heads in the water I can’t take my eyes off of while you have to go pee. You are certainly taking your chances leaving them in the water while I’m watching the other 49 bobbing heads, but now you want me to watch your beachside kids too? And what am I supposed to do if they start misbehaving, or run off? Should I jump down from my chair to chase after them?

Use some commonsense. Don’t ask me to watch your kids. Take them with you to the bathroom, call them out of the water if you have to. Pack em up and take them to the bathhouse, sorry. I know it’s a pain, but if you don’t have another person with you to watch them, it’s what you have to do.

images4) Don’t put things in front of me, including yourself, that can block either my view or my way to the water. I need to be able to jump down as quickly as possible to get to the water and if I trip over your beach chair, it might mean the difference between life and death for a swimmer. One time I had two mothers who were annoyed because there was seaweed floating in the water. They took the time to gather it all up on a water float and then dumped it right in front of my lifeguard chair. One loudly told the other one, “now she’ll have to do something about the seaweed on the water.” I then called my manager and told him what they’d done. I looked at the women and said, “do you think I put the seaweed in the water? Now, what will you do if I have to jump down to save your child and I slip in the seaweed and break my neck instead? My manager came down, removed the seaweed while I watched the water and informed the two Einsteins that if they did that again and put anyone else at risk because of their behavior, they would lose their membership.

5) Keep track of your kids even when they are out of the water. If you lose track of your two year old who may have wandered up to the playground or into the woods, if you come and tell me that you can’t find your child I have to act. I must assume that she is under the water because if she is, she doesn’t have long before she drowns.

I can’t assume she’s just somewhere out of sight where she can breath. So that means I need to call everyone out of the water, call the other guards and systematically search the water. If we can’t see the bottom it will take some time to search. That means everyone has to stay out of the water until we’re finished. So if I’ve pulled everyone out on a 90 degree day to hunt for your child, and it turns out she was in the bathroom, you’re going to be super popular. And by the way, you don’t want her to be under that water where we can’t see the bottom. If she’s there, chances are really not good that she’ll come out of it OK. So don’t take your eyes off your kids.

6) Don’t give me a hard time if I make your kids sit out for a time as punishment for bad behavior. I don’t want to spoil people’s fun. But if your kid is misbehaving it can be distracting and put other kids’ lives in danger. If I pulled them out and make them sit on the beach or pool-side, it’s for a good reason. Take that as your cue to discipline and manage your children so that I don’t have to.

7) Back me up. If I tell your child to stop doing something, make sure they don’t do it again. And don’t you do it either. Don’t argue with me in front of your child. I am an authority figure on the beach and I have to maintain order. There are a lot of people watching. I’m not going to just let it slide because that will mean losing respect from the other beach goers and kids in the water. Even if you think I’m wrong, respect my role.

Talk to me or my manager afterward, but don’t start a confrontation with me while I’m in the chair. I can assure you I’m not going to allow it. I’ll ask you to leave or call security or the police if I have to, and I don’t have time to debate with you. I have people’s kids to keep safe.

8) I’m not just paid to sit in a chair all day. Don’t be jealous. I know I have an awesome tan and I look good in my lifeguard uniform. I look good probably because I got up this morning and swam or ran or did whatever I’m required to stay in shape in case I have to rescue you. Please understand that I spent all winter training so that I was ready for this job. I’ve got a pocket full of safety certifications. This winter I likely renewed or received a certification in lifeguarding, first aid, water safety, basic life support, and anything else required by your state. And lifeguard training is rigorous. I’ve learned how to drag a guy twice my size out of the water, handle all kinds of emergencies and I’ve swam a lot. Give me some credit. I’m more than just a pretty face twirling a whistle.

9) People don’t yell, “help I’m drowning!’ when they are drowning. They go quiet and keep their mouths shut trying to save that last bit of air. So keep your eyes open especially in the ocean or lake, or anything with an uneven bottom. A kid standing in the water can walk off a ledge and start to struggle in the water. There are countless tales of kids drowning right next to their parents while they chatted away right in the water.

10) If you see someone struggling in the water, let me know. Don’t just head in and be a hero. I am trained to handle the situation and I can handle it likely better than you. For example I know that many drownings turn into double drownings because someone went in to try to save someone.

When someone is drowning they are not in their normal state of mind. They are in survival mode. They will grab you and climb on top of you to get to safety, but instead both of you just go under. They also become very strong. The last thing you want to do is let a drowning person get their hands on you in the water. There are ways to get them out of the water safely, for both of you. So I appreciate you want to help, but if you see something, say something. Please. And by all means, think about taking a water safety class so you too can potentially avert a crisis someday if there’s no lifeguard present.

 

 

Summer Adventure Ideas For Families

Summer Family Fun

Summer of course, is a perfect time, no matter how big your family, to take the kids on an adventure. Here are some ideas on what to do when everyone’s out of school and the weather is great.

1) Take a hike

Yes this is an easy one but it’s often overlooked, or put off because “we can do it tomorrow.” But time goes by fast in the summer, so there’s no time like the present. Check your local area for trails, what parks are around? Pack a lunch. Put some decent hiking shoes on, slather on the sunscreen and bug repellent, print out a map and just go. Don’t forget to check the weather.

2) Go kayaking

The world is filled with lakes, streams and oceans and kayaking is a great way to not only get exercise, but access to things you might normally not be able to from a road or even a hiking trail. Check out your local kayak, sports or outrigger shop to get ideas on where to take the kids.

3) Watersports

There are so many take your pick. Rent a waverunner and put your child on the back. She or he will think you are the coolest parent ever. Rent a sunfish and go sailing. Learning to tack together is a great way to bond and get some rays in.  Kids will love to be able to be in control of a vehicle. That goes for sailboards as well. Renting a boat and doing some waterskiing is also a great way to spend some time on the water. Check out your local boat shops for information on where to rent or take waterski lessons together. For those who don’t just can’t figure out how to get up on skis, well there’s always tubing.

4) Biking

A family that bikes together, gets out and has fun together. Bikes are just the perfect vehicle. Whether it’s a road bike or mountain bike, it’s a faster way to get where you are going and to see the sites. Now more than ever cities are installing bike lanes and really paying attention to their bike loving visitors and citizens. Check your local city or area online and look for bike trail maps.  As for mountain biking it gets your whole family out in the woods, burning up some extra summertime energy that collects when the kids are geeking out on their video games and computers. Just remember the bug spray as Lyme disease is no joke. And neither is getting lost so bring a printed map as back up even if you have a GPS enabled device.

5) Swimming

It’s a great way to beat the heat whether you are at the beach, in a pool or a lake. Just make sure to use common safety practices. Don’t assume the lifeguard is watching your kids. No one will be more diligent about your kids than you. If you are not a strong swimmer, make sure your kids at least are and get them in a water safety program and swimming lessons. And then get yourself in one as well.