“Open When…” Cards and Gifts

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It’s hard to believe it’s almost been a year since I put these cards and gifts together for my daughter who was beginning her freshman year at Florida State. When the packing had started and I began putting this together, I was a wreck. I’m happy to announce that I held it together at drop off (although tears were definitely shed!) and we made it through year 1; it was a success for all!

Here is what I put in the cards/packages-
-You need a distraction- a Rubics cube
-You need a taste of home- her favorite cereal from Trader Joe’s
-You need to connect with people and have fun- Cards Against Humanity
-You’re hungry- pizza gift card
-You need a pick-me-up- fuzzy slippers, nail polish, a face mask
-You need some sunshine- $20 cash
-You need a hug- Starbucks gift card (what can’t coffee fix?)
-You miss your sisters- silly sibling pics
-You need to know how much I love you- note and picture of family

I hid these in her step stool but you could easily put them in a drawer or anywhere else!

 

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“SO EXTRA” Care Packages

Nothing can take the place of your child being home with you and there is no doubt the first year of college has some rough patches for all involved. One way to make yourself happy is by continuing to do special things for your child who is away and one of those is putting together CARE PACKAGES.

My schedule for the first year was listed below with some of the things I included. For the holidays, I try to stop by the dollar store to pick up cheap, fun seasonal items. Otherwise, I find all my stuff at Target and Trader Joes! I wish I would have taken pictures of all my boxes but I just thought to do that for the last two. I typically used wrapping paper on the inside flaps of the boxes to make them look pretty. My schedule went like this-

September– All things FALL. I went a bit overboard and bought anything with the word “pumpkin” or “spice” in the description

October– Halloween Themed Items- cobwebs, paper plates and napkins, Halloween Oreos, and candy

November– Holidays. I sent a pre-lit small tree, decorations in her school’s colors, and countdown board for their door, tinsel to hang, tons of holiday snacks, and lots of gelt to share with friends 🙂 I also included a new mascara and toothbrush which I did every three months!

January– Winter. I found a great soup mug with soup inside it, warm fuzzy socks, and some Emergencee to fight off any winter colds

February– Valentines Day. Lots of  heart decorations and Valentines candy. We also sent a Sheri’s Berries gift of chocolate covered berries on actual Valentine’s Day ❤

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March– Easter. For Easter, I created an Egg Hunt in a Box for her and her roommate. I filled the eggs with candy, lip gloss, nail polish, and some cash. I also did a separate basket for her with the usual items and some special spring treats.

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April– Birthday Box. This was the first birthday I wasn’t with my first baby 😦 Yes, it was difficult and I missed her like crazy so I put my energy toward making it special for her in whatever way I could. I choose 19 pictures, one from every year, and decorated the box. Inside, I included cards, her favorite treats, a new top, and balloons filled with confetti and cash (I used a water bottle to put the confetti and cash in before blowing them up). We also had an adorable cupcake bouquet (sent by Christina’s Cakes) delivered to her that morning.

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In addition to boxes, there are many other great things to send your child to show you’re thinking about them. Here are a few ideas-

Sheri’s Berries
Edible Arrangements
Target Beauty Boxes (they come out with a new one each month)
-Advent Calendars for the holidays (Target has ones with socks and another one with makeup that’s perfect for college kids)
-Pizza from a local pizza place
Insomnia Cookies (most universities have a location close by)
Wicked Good Cupcakes
Hangry Kits from Amazon
Treats From Around the World

Finally, I have a few deliveries that are specific to Tallahassee (where my daughter goes to school- GO, NOLES!)-

Christina’s Cakes
Tallahassee Balloons
Dipped.co
Lucy and Leo’s Cupcakes
Tasty Pastry
Nothing but Bundt Cakes

I’ve already warned her not to expect quite the same degree of “extra-ness” next year although who knows if I’ll be able to help myself!

One simple thing you can do to make your house safer for your teens

You would have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the opioid crisis here in the US. In addition to opioids, teens have been known to get into prescription drugs (and even over-the-counter drugs such as Nyquil and cough syrups) looking for a free, easy high.

Its very easy to overlook these articles and bypass these stories, thinking “my kid would never…” but rest assured that many parents of those kids thought the exact same thing.

So today I urge you to do one simple thing to make your house safer for your teens-

Lock up your prescription medicine and any potentially dangerous over-the-counter medicines in a safe.

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It’s easier than you think. I ordered my medicine safe on Amazon for under $40. My husband, who is not particularly handy, installed it in minutes. I wouldn’t describe this particular safe as heavy-duty but we don’t have many prescription drugs in our home so this fits our needs. There are many more larger, more substantial safes on the market. Find one that fits the needs of your home and order it today.

This is a no-brainer. I hope and pray that it will never by “my kid” or “your kid” but it is always someone’s kid so lets take that extra step of precaution to keep them safe.

*This post may include affiliate links which means if you chose to buy something I mention, please do so using the links above. There is no additional cost to you and it’s a nice way to say thank you and help offset this Mom’s addiction to Amazon Prime*

Juuling Basics- A MUST READ for anyone who has a child in middle/high school

I find myself envying my parents more and more these days when it comes to raising teenagers. Gone are the days when your child would come home and you could give them the once over- pull them close and give them a good sniff- and detect if they’ve been smoking cigarettes or pot. E- cigarettes, AKA vaping, AKA Juuling, has taken smoking to a whole new level.

The Basics (taken from E-cigarettes and vaping: Everything you need to know)

  • E-cigarettes are battery operated inhalers that consist of a rechargeable battery, a cartridge called a cartomizer and an LED that lights up at the end when you puff on the device.
  • Vaping is defined as the act of inhaling water vapor through a personal vaporizer or electronic cigarette. When users draw on the device, the battery heats the liquid, which is then atomized into an inhalable vapor.
  • Juul is a specific, very popular type of vaporizer.

So in essence when you hear about “Juuling”, you are hearing about vaping and e-cigarettes.

 

What You Need To Know

What it looks like…

 

 

 

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A Juul looks just like a USB drive and could very easily be overlooked or mistaken for something else. They also sell skin decal wraps in the most popular brands.

What it smells like…

The vapor from Juul smells super, super sweet. I’m talking toothache sweet. If your child is Juuling, you may be able to pick up the fruity scent on them. They come in flavors such as creme brulee, mango, and fruit medley. Kids are Juuling in school (bathrooms, cafeterias, even in the classrooms! because there is no scent of smoke and the vapor disappears in an instant.

Why it’s dangerous…

Kids are under the very wrong impression that juuling is not dangerous. While it’s true, e-cigarettes and Juul do not have tobacco, they do have nicotine. In fact, one juul pod has as much nicotine as an entire pack of traditional cigarettes.

Another danger is the possibility of something called popcorn lung. Diacetyl (which is found in Juul) is a buttery flavored chemical. “When inhaled, diacetyl causes bronchiolitis obliterans – more commonly referred to as “popcorn lung” – a scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs resulting in the thickening and narrowing of the airways. While the name “popcorn lung” may not sound like a threat, it’s a serious lung disease that causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, similar to the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” (taken from Popcorn Lung: A Dangerous Risk of Flavored E-Cigarettes)

It’s also important to note that these devices can be modified to use THC oil. A quick search on youtube and your child will know how to if he/she has the desire.

 

The most dangerous thing of all, in my opinion, is that the same kids who think cigarettes are disgusting think juuling is cool. It literally checks all the boxes- it looks “cool”, it smells good, it tastes good and it charges like all of their other devices. Boys, especially, are very into doing tricks with the vapor and even have instagram accounts set up to document it all.

What’s a parent to do?

Stay informed. Talk to your kids- A LOT. Do spot checks on their phones (when you check their phones, make sure to check their pictures and screenshots) and every now and again, give a quick look in their rooms/backpacks. Make sure they know how dangerous juuling is and that it is addictive. Good luck- we all need it!

Think your kid is Juuling? Pick up a nicotine test kit.

 

College Move-In- What You Need To Know

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The decision has been made! Wahooooooooo!                So now what?!

I can’t believe it’s been six months since my oldest decided where she was going to go to school. It both feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago, which speaks to how busy the last few months have been. Here you’ll find some tips on what to do as soon as the big decision has been made, the best way to tackle move-in for out-of-state parents and some great dorm extras.

First things first, do these 3 things RIGHT AWAY!

  • Pay deposit for school AND housing ASAP if you haven’t done so already (I suggest paying the housing deposit on your child’s top two as soon as they get in)
  • Book hotel and flights (if necessary) for move-in and Parents’ Weekend. Hotels in college towns book quickly and prices go through the roof!
  • Join the university’s parent groups on Facebook. They are a tremendous resource.

The Prep

For us, shopping before hand wasn’t an option since we were flying to Tallahassee from Connecticut. This caused me great deal of stress in the months leading up to move-in because I couldn’t wrap my head around how this would work, logistically speaking. After countless hours planning and organizing, here is what worked for us.

First, we did something called a “pack and hold” at our local Bed, Bath and Beyond and chose the pick up location to be a store close to her school. We waited until their college event because they offer you a 20% off your entire order coupon which can be used again and again until October 1st (as you can imagine, that was a God send!). The great thing is you can add anything and everything to your list and then, when you go to pick up, you can decide what you still wanted and what you no longer needed (you pay when you pick up).

When we flew down, my daughter packed in three large duffles. She brought a lot of clothes and shoes and a handful of personal items. We also had a few things that we had picked up for the dorm because either they didn’t have at Bed, Bath and Beyond or she just really liked it (I also hid away her “Open when…” cards and gifts in a small storage ottoman). She did not bring any toiletries because we planned on buying everything there. We also placed a large order to DormCo for their desk hutch, a mini-refrigerator shelf and some other random things. I set this up to be delivered to the UPS store on campus and then paid a small fee to have them deliver it directly to the dorm.

 

We arrived in Tallahassee the day before move-in. After checking into our hotel, we picked up everything at BBB and then did a major Target run for everything that was still on our list. The car was packed and we were exhausted after a day of travel and lots and lots of shopping. We washed all her bed sheets and blankets in the hotel so they would be ready to put on the bed the next day.

The Day is Finally Here 🙂 😦

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Unfortunately, my daughter got stuck in the oldest and smallest dorm on campus. In order to make the best of the situation, I watched many “dorm tours” of her particular dorm on youtube to see how kids had it set up (just go to youtube and type in the name of the college and the particular dorm and it most likely will pop right up). This was a life saver!

When we entered the room, we knew exactly what to expect and how we planned on arranging the beds. I had ordered a carpet from the school so it was waiting in the room for us. My husband started to arrange the beds and put together stuff and I put on my gloves and started cleaning the bathroom.

There were a few things we didn’t expect and that we forgot so an additional Target run and BBB run were necessary- plan on that.

With a lot of time spent online (if you’re not familiar with Pinterest, now is a good time to check it out) and some hard work and $$, we managed to turn a very small, blahhh room into something cozy, comfortable, and perfect for our girl.

 

 

Dorm Extras

You can easily find a million lists of the necessities to pack for college so I’m only going to mention the “extras” that I thought were really helpful or just very nice 🙂

 

Tapestries (Urban Outfitters has a ton to chose from) and lights are also a must these days. Since her closet did not have doors (WTH?), we used a pole and a shower curtain and it worked great.

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Finally, this “snack hack” using an over-the-door shoe organizer was a big hit from the moment it was filled 🙂 (this is the pic she sent me today- I’m loving that they keep it filled!)

I won’t even begin to get into the emotional aspect of move-in day- that’s another post for another day!

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Parenting in the Age of Social Media

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Social Media. For me personally, and I’m guessing many others, I have a love/hate relationship with it.

I love being able to keep up with friends and family all over the world and I love the wealth of information I gain from Facebook groups and by following topics of interest on Instagram. I love connecting with my kids on Snapchat and seeing snipets of their days.

I hate how it takes “keeping up with the Joneses” to an entirely new level and how we only see the highlight reels of everyone’s lives (for the most part). I hate how exclusion is now very much in our faces and how we thrive off of likes and comments on posts.

Regardless of how we feel, here we are. It’s 2017 and parenting through the age of social media is tough and it sometimes feels as though it’s impossible to keep up. Here are the basics as of September 2017; I’m sure I will need to update this again soon.

Social Media Accounts

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The big two- Instagram and Snapchat

If you have a tween or teen, you need to have these two accounts. There are various opinions regarding how much you should get involved in your child’s social media life (more on that to come) but I feel strongly that at the very least you need to have these apps so you know how they work.

Instagram– an app/site where you can post pictures. This, like many apps and websites, has evolved and will continue to evolve both in the features of the site AND how the kids use it. Today, I will be focusing on how 13-16 year olds tend to use these sites.

It is not uncommon for middle schoolers and high schoolers to have THOUSANDS of followers. Where kids used to post pics all the time, that has changed (they use snapchat for that now) and Insta is now more like a digital photo album- only the best, usually heavily filtered and edited, pictures get posted. The caption is very important and usually very clever (although most kids find these online so they aren’t even their own). When a picture is posted, the amount of likes and comments are watched like a hawk and if they aren’t getting the number of likes they expect, the picture may come down. It is very common for friends to comment multiple times to show their love. “Tagging” friends in pictures can be a very big deal. Friends expect tags even if they’re not in the picture and the position of the tag is also very important (many kids layer tags upon tags so you only see the top ones, hence being able to give many friends the tag but only the best friends’ names will show). I’m guessing at this moment you’re thinking this sounds stupid and complicated AND IT IS but this is a very, very big deal in a middle schooler’s life so if you want to stay in touch with what your child’s going through, you must keep up. Being left out of a picture by not getting a tag is equivalent to getting snubbed- it’s subtle but it sends a big message. Girls will then ask for a tag and the girl who left the tag off now has the power. (If you haven’t read Queen Bees and Wannabes you absolutely must). She can either be nice and say she forgot and add the tag or further complicate the situation and ignore the asker completely (read more about girls and social media here)

To further complicate your life, many kids also have a “Finsta”, which stands for “Fake Insta”. This is a more “fun” page where they will post funny, silly, random pictures to be viewed by only a select group of friends. These finstas have also been know to be used for bullying since most parents don’t know anything about them.

Snapchat a site where you can share quick pics that disappear within 24 hours. There is no “wall” or even a page like FB or Insta that you can go to to see your child’s account. The closest thing to that is on the main page where you can see peoples’ “stories”.

I’ll do a quick breakdown to explain how it’s used—

  • I take a picture. I can send it to an individual person or post on my story for all my friends to see (or both).
  • If I send you a picture everyday and you send me one back everyday, after 3 days we will have a “streak”. The more we communicate with each other, the longer the streak, thus highlighting our level of friendship. As you can see, streaks are very important (no one wants to lose a streak!).
  • Important things that I want everyone to see (pics or videos from a party, fun outing or plans with friends), I post on your story, much like I’d post on FB or Insta, except these will disappear after 24 hours.
  • Filters are fun.
  • If I open a picture, I am supposed to send one back right way, otherwise I “boxed” that person (this is a key difference between how older people and younger people use Snapchat- my college aged kid couldn’t care less about “boxing” but it’s important to my 14 year old). Kids will snap back pictures of the ground or other things that don’t even show anything just to “snapback”. This is strange to me but seems to make sense to middle schoolers.

An important note about Snapchat- kids these days are not texting much anymore; instead, they use Snapchat to message each other. It’s just like texting except it disappears, just like the pictures.

New, Very Dangerous Social Media Accounts

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Sarahah– It seems like the awful, anonymous apps just won’t go away. When my oldest was younger, it was askfm. Now it’s Sarahah. The appeal is strong to middle schoolers because it runs on the premise that you can get feedback anonymously. I’m sure I don’t need to explain to you how dangerous this can be and how quickly it turns mean and encourages online bullying. The day I read about it and shared an article on FB warning other parents, I saw a story on my daughter’s snapchat that said, “swipe up” with her Sarahah account info. Aaaahhhhh! I would not have seen this on her phone because it’s not an app but a site and if I hadn’t been on snapchat that day, I would have never known. The struggle is real. (More on Sarahah here)

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Omegle– Just read the description and you’ll know you’ll want your child to stay far, far away but unfortunately they’re using it. Taken from their website- “Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.” Fantastic. Not too much to say about this one except to please speak to your kids about the dangers!

Other Social Media Accounts Worth Mentioning

Houseparty– A group video chat, much like Facetime or Skype except it’s with a group of people. This can be relatively harmless if your child is doing it with friends they know. The only downside is that kids can kick out others or “lock” the Houseparty which can lead to feelings of exclusion.

Musical.ly– Where kids can take video of themselves lip-syncing and dancing and share with “friends”. The premise is cute but make sure to monitor the content AND who’s has access to watch your child dance.

Facebook– not really a thing for the kids these days. My older daughter uses it to read and share articles and for the FB groups. My 14 year old has an account but zero interest

Twitter– More for older teens and adults.

Vine– Not relevant anymore since Snapchat and Instagram now have videos.

Parenting in the Digital Age

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So now that I’ve given you the 411, what should you do? How do we parent in this new, digital age?

I’ve come up with a few ideas that help but I am also the first to say that this could be a full time job and if you have a child who’s into all this, as most are, they will most likely find a way around many of your rules. I’m always looking for more help in this area so if you have any tips that work, please share in the comments section below.

  1. Stay informed and aware. Know the apps your child is using. Use them yourself so you understand how they work. Personally, I believe you should be “friends” and “follow” your child on any site their using. In our house, this is rule- if you’re on a site, I must be able to access it. ***Disclaimer- I have caught my daughter “blocking” me and hiding posts. She is not perfect and does not follow my rules 100% of the time. However, when she is caught, there are consequences and learning opportunities.

       2. Have parental controls set so your child cannot download any app without your                approval. This will allow you to check out new apps before your child uses them.                ***Disclaimer- this doesn’t work on websites.

       3. Have rules in place regarding cell phones (see this post for a great contract)

       4. Have rules in place regarding social media. Listed below is a contract to get                           you started. Modify as needed but don’t be so quick to remove the parts                                 regarding pornography. I know this is a super uncomfortable topic but it is                           soooooo important to have these discussions with ANY CHILD over the age of 10                 (some would say even younger) that has access to the internet (see this post for                   tips about talking to your kids about online porn)

Social Media Contract

1.  I agree to keep my settings at “private” at all times.

2. I agree not to post any pictures of body parts. I will only post pictures of myself or friends if they include our faces. I understand this is not because there is anything wrong or shameful with any parts of my body, but that it is not healthy to sexualize myself to strangers as a young person.

3. I agree not to post sexualized images. This includes kissing of any kind, grabbing body parts or making sexual gestures of any kind. There is nothing wrong with being silly, but the Internet is not a safe place for young kids to be silly in a sexual way.

4. I agree to be respectful of myself and others in the words and images I use. This includes agreeing not to use social media to mock, tease, embarrass, gossip or reveal secrets.

5. I agree for safety not to reveal the specific place I am when I am there. For example, I will not post a picture saying “I am at the pool with a friend and then we are walking home.”

6. I agree to immediately tell an adult family member if I ever receive any threatening or sexual messages or images on any social channel.

7. I agree not to view pornography. I understand that sex is a wonderful and healthy part of an adult life, but that pornography is a different thing than sex, and not healthy for a young person. I understand that I cannot control the images I see once I start looking at a pornography page or video, and those images will never leave my brain, and that can be harmful to my emotional health. I agree that if I accidentally stumble across pornography or a friend shows it to me, I will stop watching.

8. I agree to acknowledge that everything I put online is permanently available, even if it can be immediately deleted or hidden. I understand that people who know technology well can access images and words that have been deleted even if the app tells you otherwise. I understand that even private messages can be copied and pasted somewhere else. I understand that when I am grown and an adult, someone can look my name up and find every single thing I’ve ever put online. This includes bosses, boyfriends, girlfriends, future family and friends, neighbors and co-workers.

9. I agree that when I am having family time, I will put away my devices, including my phone. This goes for the adults as well.

10. I agree that occasionally I will have Internet blackouts. This means that when I am showing signs of needing a tech break—such as lack of reading or creative activities, irritability, constantly pulling out my phone, unable to concentrate and not wanting to participate in family activities or time—my parents might ask that I stay off the Internet and my phone for a day or two.

11. I agree to be done with all tech including phone by 10pm nightly unless I have asked for and received an exception.

12. If I do not follow these agreements, I understand that I will lose my social media privileges for as long as my parents feel it is necessary. I understand that my parents love me more than anything in the world and create these boundaries out of that love.

The Craziness of Bar Mitzvah Year on the North Shore of Long Island

Congratulations, you made it! You survived the insanity that is known as Tennis Ladder Year. There should be a trophy of some sort- you certainly deserve it.

But before you can officially exhale, a nice big envelope arrives in the mail addressed to your child. Bar Mitzvah year is knocking on your door. I’d tell you not to answer but if you live on the North Shore of Long Island, you don’t really have a choice.

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The Basics

  • Some lucky parent back in 4th grade got the job of organizing a list that circulates throughout the grade so you can pick your child’s date three years later
  • There are anywhere from one to three Bar/Bat Mitzvahs (more commonly known as BMs) on any given weekend from May of 6th grade to November of 8th grade
  • Overlapping dates are a tough; there will be some but most parents try to switch dates especially if the kids are in the same friend group
  • Your child will be expected to go to the services of close friends even if they are during school hours (a parent who is going to the service will sign out a group of kids from school and take them to the temple and then bring them back to school)

Getting Ready (A Girl Mom’s Perspective)

If you have a daughter, I am so, so sorry.

You will need to buy more dresses than you could have imagined. Dresses for the services, dresses for day BMs and dresses for night BMs. Need I remind you shopping with a twelve or thirteen year old girl is hell. You will wonder what you did in a past life to deserve this kind of torture. Either they hate the kids department dresses they fit into or you hate the junior department dresses they fit into. There will be tears, yours and hers. You will swear up and down your daughter will not wear four inch heels or skin tight dresses. You most likely will cave at some point from sheer exhaustion.

The same goes for make-up and hair. I mistakingly thought twelve and thirteen year old girls don’t wear much makeup besides maybe some lip gloss or mascara. Silly me. I soon learned that many girls have their makeup and hair professionally done for these parties. Our local salons are filled with Tweens on Fridays and Saturdays getting blowouts for BMs. If you choose to say no to this as I did, be prepared from lots of pouting.

Carpool

Nine times out of ten your Tennis Ladder carpool turns in to your BM carpool. Dates are organized on an app such as Family Wall so parents in the carpool can sign up for dates to drive. When it is your turn to drive, the girls will most likely want to get ready together so most will get dropped off at your house around 5. You should them plan on ordering dinner because most kids don’t eat at the BMs (yes, you read that right- all that amazing food- sigh) You will then drive your carpool to the party and pick up, usually around midnight.

Gifts

  • Regular gifts (averages)- $18 if you are declining, $36 for random friends, $54 for close friends, $72 for camp friends. The check is sent back with the RSVP card. (Remember, 1-3 a weekend for over a year!!!)
  • B’nai Mitzvah – DOUBLE ($36 each kid – two separate checks if kid going, family of 3, $300 each (so yes a total of $600), family of 4, $400 each, family of 5, $500 each, ETC)
  • Family Gifts- Your family was invited- yay! Get your wallet ready- here is what is suggested (don’t shoot the messenger; personally, I give what I can) taken from Lulu & Lattes

-You and your spouse with 1 kid – $318, $354, $372, $400 (depending on level of friendship)

-You and your spouse with 2 kids – $400-$500

-You and your spouse with 3 kids – $500

-4+ kids (good luck, maybe try not to get invited…just kidding) $500+

-Your BFF – $418-518 (with your family)

  • Personalized Gifts- This is where your child makes a personal gift for the BM child. This may be a blanket, pillow or phone case with photos from a site such as Shutterfly or a handmade gift such as a wooden picture frame with pictures glued to it. Guests present these gifts to the BM child on camera so you can see how important making a personal gift can be.
  • Group Gifts- This is where a close friend hosts a group of kids over to work on a group gift for the BM child. Each child brings lots of pics and the host provides snacks. They may decorate a book shelf or a mini-fridge or make a scrapbook***. This is also presented at the BM so, again, getting in on the group gift is important too.

***The Scrapbook- this gift gets it own section. The idea is lovely; the process, not so much. One mother organizes a scrapbook for the BM child. This entails buying scrapbook pages, sending an email to all of the BM child’s friends’ moms, and leaving the pages for pick up outside your door. If you’re the mom in charge, you will need to also send additional reminders to pick up pages and then reminders to drop off pages and then you will need to organize said pages into a book. If your child is asked to make a page, and there can be as many as 3-4 a month, you will then need to pick up the page, upload pictures of your daughter and BM child to the drugstore to be printed, harass your child to complete the page, and then drop it back off.

  • The Jewelry Gift- This is a new one! This is where close friends chip in $50 each to get a special jewelry gift for the BM girl. Gifts include Hermes cuffs, David Yurman rings and replica Van Clef necklaces (that still cost close to $500).
  • Mitzvah Gift- As part of their BM, kids choose a charity, organization, or cause to work with. Sometimes it is volunteering their time, and other times it is raising money or collecting items. You may be asked to contribute towards their Mitzvah gift. If so, a donation of $36 is acceptable. 

The Swag

The swag is the stuff that the dancers throw out to the kids to keep them on the dance floor. Boring swag? The dance floor is likely to remain empty as kids would rather be on their phones. Some examples of good swag this year was Virtual Reality goggles, Fitbits, Beats, Ray Bans, jerseys, Kylie Lip Kits, blankets, sweatpants, and tank tops. Other notable swag this year has been custom air-brushed sneakers, custom air-brushed sweatpants, make-up personalized with the BM girl’s name and a lash bar (where girls could get fake lashes applied…not sure if that counts as swag but the girls certainly loved it!). When the lights go out for the “rave” portion of the night, sunglasses and glow in the dark rings, glasses and hats are passed out.

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Typical BM Socks

Socks play an important role at BMs- they are a must and have come to be expected. Because the girls are wearing heels they really have no business wearing, they can hardly walk, let alone dance. The moment the girls are done taking their pictures, the heels come off and the socks (given as a favor) go on. In lieu of socks this year, kids also received slides, flip flops, fuzzy slippers, and an Ugg-type boot at BMs.

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Typical BM Sweatshirt

The rest of the swag is waiting for the kids when they leave the party, most likely in a personalized bag of some type. 99% of the time it is a sweatshirt. The kids judge these sweatshirts on the softness and the design. It is a huge deal to wear these sweatshirts on the following Monday, so much that the schools have kindly asked on no less than ten occasions for students not wear them since it makes others who were not invited feel bad. Students (and parents) blatantly ignore this suggestion. If you do choose to follow it like I did, your child will be very upset with you because the BM child will likely be upset with them that they did not show up in the swag. Another battle you will fight and most likely lose.

BMs and Social Media

  • Posting a pic of the invitation on Snapchat the day it is received is one of the ways kids show their love for the BM child, usually with a caption like “So sickkkkk! Can’t wait to rage, bestie! LYSMYDEK”
  • Girls will do all sorts of countdowns for their friends (1 month, 1 week) on Instagram by posting a picture of the BM girl with a caption such as “1 week until we rage!”
  • A good Geo Tag on Snapchat is a must
  • Posting the entrance of the BM child on snapchat as their story is very popular and a way for kids show their friendship
  • Girls try to get an alone picture of themselves with the BM girl to post on Instagram the next day

What Makes a Good BM (according to the kids)

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Nope- not a nightclub or a rave, just a typical party my 13 year old attends roughly twice a week

 

In a nutshell, it’s the music, swag, and food at the end of the party.

One of the first decisions, after the date and location, is the entertainment. This includes the DJ, MC, and dancers. They really do set the tone for the party so it’s pretty important to get the right one. Dates are secured at least two years in advance. 

The swag was mentioned above so now lets discuss the food at the end of the party. As people are exiting, there is usually food of some sort set up in the lobby or there are food trucks outside. Shake Shack burgers, McDonalds, pizza or a set up similar to a convenience store or bakery where kids can grad as much candy, donuts, bagels, and muffins that they’d like were popular choices this year. Since the kids didn’t each much earlier, this is when they go crazy. Plus, candy. Need I say, more?

I must also note what makes a BM bad for your child- you attending. When parents are invited and attend, both parents and children will stare at each other, praying that the other is not doing anything embarrassing. It’s OK for parents to dance, but not near the kids (basically kids are on one part of the dance floor or the stage and the adults are on the other). It’s OK for you to take a picture with your child in front of the step and repeat but really, no more. Try not draw attention to yourself- no one wants to be that parent.

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Parents having a little too much fun

Tips and Lessons Learned

  • Decide before the first BM what your carpool will be doing for each other in terms of personal gifts, group gifts, and jewelry. Everyone should agree and be on the same page
  • Decide what you will do for the few girls who are not having a BM (not jewish or taking a trip instead)
  • Order dresses online from Bloomingdales and Nordstroms for your child to try on in the comfort of your home (good selection of dresses for services and great return policies)
  • Respond to RSVPs right away
  • Buy BM cards, crafts from Michaels, and photo paper to have on hand
  • It’s OK to say no to attending, especially when there are multiple BMs on a given weekend. I wish I would have realized this earlier- on a Sunday after 2-3 parties, the kids are EXHAUSTED. 

 

And that, my friends, is the low down on Bar Mitzvah year on the North Shore of Long Island. Hopefully knowing what to expect will make your journey a bit easier. Try to step back from the craziness long enough to appreciate the young man or woman your child is growing into, all dressed up and certainly having way more fun than you are!

Friday Favs

Friday Favs- a spot where I share my favorite products, apps, sites, articles, and moments from the week.

I hope you enjoy!

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I know I’m late to the game with this but I swiped my daughter’s S’well (that she HAD to have and now never uses) and it really is AMAZING! I’m not a big water drinker so my goal has been to fill it in the morning and finish it by dinner. I’ve actually had to refill more often because I’m drinking so much.

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This moment from a new class. What’s sweeter that babies holding hands?!

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I’ve spent way too much time on this FB group this week- you could say I’m slightly obsessed. If you have a child 15 or up, check it out- you won’t be disappointed!

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I’ve loved this free app for a few years but had forgotten about it. Bring that my current workout routine is non-existent, I decided to bring it back it my daily rotation. You can choose which type of workout and set the time and do it anywhere. I started with full body for 10 minutes (no laughing) and I’ve done it everyday while the baby plays next to me 🎉👍🏼🎊

And lastly, tips for dealing with toddler tantrums.

Wishing you all a great weekend 😘