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.  

 

 

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.

 

Hibernation Nation!

Ah, winter. The frigid temps, the icy roads, the post-holiday malaise—all fantastic reasons to stay home. But if you fear the cabin fever that comes with too many days spent indoors, these ideas will keep you busy all season long (or at least through the next snowstorm).

Binge watch a TV series. Between white-knuckle thrillers, charming period dramas and coming-of-age comedies, the small screen is really good right now. Take advantage—and turn it into a social affair—by inviting your neighbors over for a TV marathon. Provide blankets and comfort food (caramel corn drizzled with dark chocolate, anyone?).

Serve breakfast for dinner. Prepare everyone’s favorite a.m. meal, but have them do their part too: Each family member must come to the table dressed in their wackiest sleepwear. (Extra bacon for the zaniest PJs!)

Get your craft on. Pull out the glitter glue and construction paper and let your kids create. Make a snowman out of an old cereal box, or help your kids learn about reading temperatures and then make a thermometer out of Popsicle sticks, toothpicks, and glue.

Tackle a project you’ve been putting off. Hey, you’ve got all afternoon! Why not start that jigsaw puzzle that’s been sitting in the box for months (and months!), or pick up your knitting needles and begin that hat you’ve been meaning to make? Or simply grab a blanket and a hot mug of something, and curl up with the book you’ve been trying to read for months.

Embrace the Big Chill

The temps have dipped below freezing, and suddenly staying indoors seems way more inviting than going for a run or suiting up the family for a day of sledding. But don’t duck out on your plans just because the thermometer dropped. Follow these guidelines so you can brave the chill without turning into a Popsicle.

Layer up for outdoor exercise. Three layers on your upper body is the magic number. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, which draws sweat away from your skin and helps regulate your body temperature. (There are many synthetic fabrics that offer this, including some wool-containing sports fabrics—look for wicking claims on hangtags when you shop.) Add a warm mid-layer (wool or synthetic fleece) for insulation, and then, especially if it’s raining or snowing, a windproof top layer (a waterproof shell), which will keep you dry and allow excess heat to escape.

Don’t forget your head, hands, and feet. In cold temps, your blood flow is concentrated to your body’s core, leaving your hands and feet vulnerable to chills. Invest in gloves and socks made from a wicking fabric, which will keep hands and feet dry and hold in heat. Buy a pair of wind blocking mittens for especially frigid days, and top it all off with a hat that covers your ears.

Be sure snow gear is waterproof. This is especially true for kids, who’ll spend most of their day in direct contact with the cold, wet stuff. A fill like down will get soaked when wet and when that happens, you get cold. Helpful: Buy coats and snow pants with waterproof shells and do the same with gloves or mittens.

Launder appropriately. Winter weather gear—especially waterproof fabric—doesn’t need to be washed after every wear, unless it gets really dirty (or your little one didn’t make it to the potty in time). When you do launder them, use a specialized detergent that will remove dirt and sweat. Dry according to the fabric label.

Don’t forget year-round rules. You may not feel as thirsty during the winter months as you do in warmer temperatures, but whether you’re jogging 10 miles solo or taking the kids sledding, make sure to imbibe regularly to avoid dehydration. Stick to room temperature H2O and carry an insulated water bottle. And don’t pass up on sunscreen—snow reflects the sun’s rays, making you susceptible to burns even if you feel cold.