Help Your Teens Earn Money for Prom

Last year the average family earmarked $1,100 to cover prom expenses. This year, get smart: Soften the blow on your wallet by having your teens contribute to the kitty. Read below for money-earning ideas that also teach valuable lessons.

Chores can add up. No question, you can give them a few bucks for routine chores like mowing the lawn or doing the dishes. Or sign them up for laundry duty. 

Think group effort. To help your teen and her besties earn big bucks, encourage them to “crowdsource” their prom fund by taking on larger endeavors with friends. If they like to cook, have them grab a few culinary-minded friends to host a dinner party/fund-raiser for the parents. The parents buy a ticket to the party (say $25–$50) and are treated to a night out with a home-cooked meal (and no cleanup!). If the event goes well, your teens can do it again with a breakfast or dessert theme.

Teach them to market their skills. Is your teen a stellar soccer player or a piano prodigy? Encourage them to approach your friends that have younger children and offer to give the kids after-school lessons for a small fee.

Go old-school. If your town allows it, help your teen and her friends organize a car wash or bake sale in a central location. At the end of the event, the teens can divvy up the earnings or put them toward a collective goal, such as the cost of their prom-night ride or the after-dance festivities. There’s no question—working for their ultimate prom will make the night even more memorable.  

 

 

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

For many, the start of spring is not marked each year by the warming temperatures, the blooming of daffodils and crocuses, or the falling of April showers. No, the start of spring is marked by 30 teams—15 in the American League and 15 in the National League—showing up to play on diamonds in 18 states. Before you head for a game near you, do a little research on park rules so you and your family can enjoy a great day at the ballpark. Use these tips to get started.

Layer up. Spring games can be chilly, especially at night. Dress in layers to ensure that you’re comfortable for the long haul (and nine innings can go LONG!). If you bring clothes in a bag, check the park’s regulations on bag size and the number of bags a guest can carry in.

Bring sunscreen. The early-season sun can be tough on winter skin, though you may not feel it due to cooler temps. Slather waterproof sunscreen on before heading to the game, and carry a bottle to the ballpark to reapply. If you get home and notice sunscreen marks on your clothes, check the garment’s care label for instructions. Rinse the garment in cold water to dilute the stain, then launder in warm water with detergent. Always test a small section of fabric before treating, and follow the basic instructions when hand-washing washable silk or wool.

Pack snacks. Check the stadium’s rules—many allow you to bring in unopened plastic bottles of water or soda and snacks like chips, crackers, or fruit. This provides the opportunity for some healthy snacking, but save room for that ballpark frank. Be ready for spills—stash a stain remover pen in your bag so you’re ready to treat spillage as soon as it happens.

Check out park activities. Taking little tykes to the game? Fill some of the nine innings with activities available at major-league ballparks. Strike up an epic game of Eye Spy, find out where the mascot hangs out during the game for a photo op, or take advantage of park offerings like batting cages, pitching games, playgrounds, and more.

Pack (and Unpack) Smart

 

Clean your suitcases.

 

 

Get your vacation gear off to a great start by swiping away old travel-bag grime with a clean rag and multi-purpose stain remover mixed with warm water. Test a hidden spot for color fastness before cleaning the bag. Allow suitcases to dry completely before packing. 

 

 

Protect against spills.

 

 

Packing shampoos and other liquids in a protective carryall is key to preventing spills. If you don’t have a snazzy toiletry bag, store items in a soft lunch tote—the padded, well-insulated kind. It will protect your toiletries in transit and you can use it to carry food once you’re unpacked. Be sure to tuck a few detergent pods inside so you’re equipped if a wash load or two is needed, and include a stain remover pen, so you’re ready for messes on the run. 

 

 

Unpack right away.

 

 

Yes, we all want to jump right into vacation mode, but do take a few moments to unpack your clothes—and have your family do the same. The alternative is that everyone lives out of their suitcases and in a day or two (especially with kids) you have a pile of half-dirty, half-clean, wrinkled clothes, sending you to the Laundromat ahead of schedule.

 

 

Prevent wrinkles with tissue paper.

 

 

White tissue paper is a terrific anti-wrinkle tool. Just lay your clothes out as flat as you can get them between layers of tissue. Recycle the tissue as packing material for the trip back: Use it to wrap up any breakable souvenirs you buy.

 

 

Hand out the “hampers.”

 

 

Once unpacked, designate bags for laundry, whether it’s one for the family or one for each bedroom. Canvas totes can do double-duty as transport vehicles for sheets, towels, and pillows, and—once unpacked—as hampers. It’s another easy way to avoid the dirty-clean clothes mash-up, and to keep you in vacation mode, not cleaning mode. 

 

For the Love of…Mud!

Thanks to the snowmelt and the arrival of spring showers, the grass and dirt outside have morphed into mud. You might be tempted to steer clear of it or stay inside, but you don’t have to. On the contrary, you can have a great time getting down and dirty with your kids—without worrying about ruining clothes, car mats, sneakers, and more. Here are four ways to embrace the muck and have some fun.

Become mud artists. Head outside and create castles and sculptures with your kids, using mud instead of sand or clay. Or grab some sturdy sticks and draw pictures in the mud. Ready for a new canvas? Simply smooth over the muddy surface with your hands or feet and draw again. Another option: Make whimsical mud prints on butcher paper with your hands and feet.

Become an explorer. Go to a local park or trail and search the mud for insects (or worms and snails) that emerge when the ground turns wet. Bring a magnifying glass and a measuring tape so you can study worms closely and check to see how long they are. You could even have a contest to see who can find the longest worm.

Make mud pies. Remember doing this as a kid? Here’s your chance to walk down memory lane with your young ones. Take small plastic containers outside and use them to make cakes, pies, and cookies with the mud. Find pretty stones, leaves, berries, and other treasures from nature that you can use to decorate them; display your creations in a mud-pie buffet.

Make clean-up a cinch. When you come inside, throw dirty clothes and muddy sneakers in the washer and let a tough stain fighter do the heavy lifting on stains. (Sensitive to dyes or perfumes? Use a booster that is fragrance- and color-free.) To remove muddy footprints from car mats or hall carpets, use a multi-purpose stain remover. This way, you’ll be able to savor your fun-in-the-mud memories without visual reminders of your dirt-filled day.

Snow Day Eats

School may have been canceled yet again, but your kids can learn something new on a snow day: that you’re a master chef. These super-easy (and delicious) snacks will prove it. We promise!

Single-serve mug cake. In a microwave-safe mug or dish, mix ¼ cup flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 egg, a drop of vanilla extract, and a dash of salt. Microwave on high until puffed, about 1.5 to 2 minutes. Serve warm so it’s gooey.

Edible bouquets. Give a plate of fresh veggies eye appeal by creating flower shapes with green or red bell peppers and celery. Slice the peppers into strips and place them in a circle as “petals.” Cut the celery into sticks for the stem. Place a small dish of dressing or dipping sauce in the center of the peppers to complete your “flower.” Or try your own veggie mix and design.

Upgraded PB&Js. Instead of the standard peanut butter and grape jelly on bread, skip the jelly and spread a thin layer of Neufchatel cheese and fresh blueberries over the peanut butter, or forgo the peanuts altogether and opt for sunflower or almond butter.

Snowman pancakes. These will make your kids giggle, for sure. Pour pancake batter onto a preheated griddle in small, medium and large circles that overlap slightly, so the result looks like a snowman. Size it so you can flip it easily, and serve with fresh fruit for the eyes, nose, and mouth.

End the snackfest with laundry duty. Snow play can make for wet, sweaty gear. When they’re done eating, have the kids cart their messy snow pants and thermal underwear—and if they got snack stains on their shirts, those, too—to the laundry room. Launder it all with a detergent that's made to deliver a powerful clean for both colored and dark loads, pancake splotches included.