Many families move during the summer, so they don’t have to pull kids out of school mid-school year. However, moving with a family is far more than just packing boxes and renting a U-Haul or hiring a mover. Here’s how to organize a seamless move to a new home when you have children.
Start the Countdown – Once you know you are moving, tell your children as soon as possible. It is a lot to process and they need to go through all their feelings. Kids who are moving are worried about making new friends and losing old ones. Telling your children when you are moving may be too abstract for them. Encourage them to create a countdown calendar and have them cross off each day so they have a visual that will help them see when you are moving.
Visit Your New Home – If at all possible, take kids to visit your new home. Take a walk around your new neighborhood to be and check out their new school. It will help them see where they will play, eat, sleep, and live. If you aren’t able to go into your new home, see if you can have a video or photos to share with your children. Zillow is great for this purpose. Very often homes on Zillow have interior photos as well as exterior ones. You can also take pictures during your home inspection.
Contact Your New – and Old – Schools – If you will be moving out of your school district, request a copy of your child’s academic records. Tell the school district that you will be moving and ask if you need to sign any release paperwork for them to transfer any additional records to the new school. Contact the new school district and ask what paperwork they will need to enroll your child. Don’t wait until school is about to begin to contact the new school. Make sure you have easy access to copies of their birth certificates, report cards, immunization records and any other paperwork that will be required. Call the school to see if you can take a tour of the school with your children so they are somewhat familiar with how the school is laid out.
Have Kids “Design” Their New Room – You will want to get your children excited about the move and one way to do this is to have them involved in planning their new bedroom. If you are going to paint their room, ask them what color they would like for their walls. Are there any important action figures or sports idols that they would like to have a poster or two of to hang on their wall? What about furniture? Is it time to upgrade their bed or dressers? Or maybe just changing their comforter and adding some pillows or other decorations will get them super charged for their new space.
Share a Story – When there is a big change about to occur, reading a book about it may ease any fears. They can read about how the characters in the book handle the move and ask you questions. Look for books about the new area if you are moving to a new state or country. What are some fun things to do in that area? Plan to do some of those activities when you arrive. Amazon offers several great kid’s books on moving.
Share the Packing – Before you start packing, take photos of your existing home. This will allow your children to look back on their bedroom and home and remember it when they are feeling sad. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to have them help you. It’s a great life lesson on how to pack and get organized for a move. You may ask them to make the labels for the boxes, so they are feeling a part of the team. Or have them draw on the boxes.
Unpack the Kids First – The first rooms that you need to unpack are your children’s. You will want them to sleep in their own bed and wake up with their clothes unpacked and familiar items around them in their rooms if at all possible. If it isn’t possible that first move in day, by all means, make it a priority to do the very next day. They need to feel settled.
Moving is stressful no matter what age you are, but it can be especially stressful for kids. Making new friends and getting to know a new school and a new neighborhood are tough for young children and teens. By planning ahead and involving your children, regardless of age, in the moving process, you can make them feel more comfortable, and possibly even excited, about this change.
July 4this THE day for fireworks, outdoor barbeques, beach parties, and, after the fireworks, bonfires. All of that exposure to heat, sun, and sparks can result in some serious burns if you’re not careful. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission Fireworks Information Centerreports that approximately 200 people are treated at emergency rooms around July 4th. Avoid the burn by following a few common sense Independence Day – and every day – safety tips.
Wear Sunscreen – Even on a cloudy day, the sun’s UV rays can cause sunburns. Make sure to apply a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater 15 minutes before going outdoors and to liberally reapply throughout the day. If you are swimming, sweating, or getting wet in a balloon toss, make sure to reapply. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen protection to these often-forgotten areas: ears, bottom of feet if laying out in the sun, lips, and if you have skin exposed on your head. Neutrogena’s Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Sprayis great for adults too.
Save Your Eyes, Ears, and Neck – If you are going to a live outdoor firework display, bring earplugs and comfortable, reclining lawn chairs for yourself and your children. Sit close enough so that you can see the display, but far enough back that you aren’t exposed to the blinding light or sound from each launch. The light can potentially damage eyes. Fireworks noise can scare small children and damage hearing. Straining your neck backwards to see a fireworks display can place stress on your spine.
Leave The Fireworks to a Professional – Lots of safety tips for this category! Leave the firework display to a trained professional. Don’t bring fireworks into your state if it is illegal. Never leave children alone with sparklers. Even if you think the sparklers are out, dip them in water to ensure they are. Fireworks are beautiful to view. Not so much fun if you are attempting to create your own. So many things can go wrong. For more information, check out the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) fireworks safety page, including their fun, informational video.
Establish a Safety Perimeter – Honestly, there is nothing better than having any kind of food grilled. If you are grilling and have children in the area, please establish a parameter around the grill that children are not allowed. Even after a grill has been turned off, the coals and grill can remain hot for a while. To be extra safe, it is not a bad idea to have a fire extinguisher nearby. These same rules apply for fire pits. Never leave a child unattended while toasting marshmallows as they can easily trip and fall near the fire.
Stock Up on Ice – In the summer, ice is great to have around to keep our beverages cold. Ice can also come in handy as a first-aid tool. If someone sprains a body part or if someone burns themselves, ice will be a great go to item to help triage the injury.
Designate a Driver – It stands to reason that just like any other day, do not get behind the wheel of a car if you are not sober. July 4thhas the most road fatalities. If you have been drinking, have someone else drive. Even if you are sober, be alert of your surroundings and make sure everyone is using a seat belt and that your child seat is properly installed.
Enjoy the celebrations this 4thof July. It is a great day to celebrate not only with friends and family but to celebrate the independence of our country. This year marks the 243th anniversary of the publication of the Declaration of Independence of the USA from Great Britain.
You’ve just gotten engaged. Now the fun part begins! Planning your big day. By this time next year, you and your fiancé will either be exhausted or ready to elope to Vegas. Here’s how to organize yourself for a fantastic wedding from that first “Yes” to ensure your day is all you – not your mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, the man on the moon – want it to be.
Get The Legal Stuff Out of the Way – Getting married is more than a big party. Decide what kind of wedding you want, and what will legally be required. Do you need a blood test? Do you have to apply for a marriage license? Is there a waiting period? If you’re having a civil ceremony, do you need to make an appointment? Figuring out all the legal aspects of getting married before you start planning the ceremony will help you set a realistic budget.
Having a Religious Ceremony? Check In With Your Place of Worship – If you are getting married in a place of worship, or having your marriage witnessed by a member of a particular religion’s clergy, check with your local place of worship to determine what their requirements are. For example, the Roman Catholic Church requires couples getting married by a priest to attend Pre Cana classes. The Catholic Church also requires anyone previously married to have a formal annulment before they can get married again. Knowing what the requirements of your religion are in advance will save you time and stress later.
Set Dates – Choose a date for your wedding, and work backward to determine when you will have to apply for a marriage license, how far in advance you have to complete any required religious pre-wedding requirements, how far in advance vendors such as a DJ, reception hall, florist, etc. have to be booked, and when the final deposit on all of these things are due. Put these dates into an electronic calendar with a reminder of at least 2 days before each. That way you won’t forget, and you won’t be caught financially unprepared when payments are due.
Set a Budget – Just like any other event, set a budget for the entire event, as if you were paying for it yourself. This saves the uncomfortable conversation with parents about what they are willing to pay for. If anyone volunteers to pay for a specific item: flowers, DJ, reception, dress, etc., treat that money as “found”. Once the item is booked, put the money you would have spent towards something extra you wanted but couldn’t afford, or your honeymoon.
Decide Where The Money Is Going – Once you’ve established your overall budget, decide what is most important to you in order of most importance to least importance. Do you want a killer dress, or a killer DJ? Is the wedding cake a priority, or having an open bar? Write down what is most important to you, research the average amount that item costs, and put that amount down next to the item, adjusting up or down to meet your overall budget.
Set Up a Spreadsheet – Excel is a great way to track different aspects of your wedding. You can even include images, and links to files on individual worksheets. Set up different tabs in your master spreadsheet for the budget, venue ideas, list of bridal shower gifts and wedding gifts for sending thank you’s, timeline or checklist, play list, specific photos you want taken, honeymoon, guest list, and anything else that will keep you sane in planning your wedding. Having it all written down rather than just in your head will help you sleep at night and you can share it with others that are involved in your special day.
Create an Electronic or Old School Hard Copy Folder – Creating a central location for final contracts, tear sheets for any ideas you think you may want to incorporate in your wedding, bridal dresses you like, flower ideas, party favors, bridesmaid/groomsmen gift ideas and clothes, honeymoon ideas, and basically any idea or final plans that will keep you organized and provide a go to ‘bible’ for reference. Using Google Docs, Evernote, or iCloud will allow you easy access no matter where you are rather than dragging around a paper binder/folder.
Get a Custom Website and Email Addy – Let’s face it, most communication is done through email. If you create a special email address for just your wedding, it will eliminate important email ending up in either your work or personal email and perhaps getting overlooked. To stay really organized, create folders for each category for your wedding so your inbox isn’t so overwhelming.
When you decide to get married, you’ve already done the most important part of planning a wedding: you’ve made a commitment to spend the rest of your life with your best friend. The actual wedding is just a celebration of that commitment. These tips will make your wedding planning less stressful and more enjoyable so you can have the day you envision.
Father’s Day is this coming weekend. Here are several “off the beaten path” ways of honoring Dad or the father figure in your life, be it Dad, Dad-in-Law, your grown up son with his own children, your brother, Grandad, or even the Mom who is both mother and father to you.
Surprise Dad with a Meal – Surprise Dad with a take-out meal from Dad’s favorite restaurant. How wonderful to be able to spend time with Dad in the comfort of Dad’s home without the distraction of the other customers and interruptions from waitstaff? The added bonus is that it will be just the two of you, no distractions.
Do Something Dad Loves Together – Do you know Dad’s hobby or an activity that he enjoys? Does he like playing golf, going to the movies or live theater? Share that special activity with him. It could be a hike, bike ride, walk, or going to a sporting event together.
Drink Bouquet – What is your Dad’s go to drink? It is cold brewed coffee, beer, wine, or a specific soda that Dad loves? Be creative and purchase Dad’s favorite beverage and create a bouquet from these drinks. Buy a bucket to put the drinks in and decorate it so it is unique for that special Dad in your life.
Make a Custom Card or Collage – Skip the greeting card store and create a card or collage for Dad. Let your creativity take over and make it unique to your relationship. Presenting him with a homemade verses store bought card will show how much you really care.
Remember, showing appreciation for the father in your life doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or be fancy. The best way to show appreciation for Dad is by doing something from the heart. Comment on what you have done in the past for Father’s Day or what you are planning on giving your Dad this year.
Summer is here. The sun is out well past 7:00 p.m., the local pool is already open on weekends, and the temperatures are starting to climb. Stocking up on the necessities for summer now will save you time when you are wanting to enjoy the lazy days to come. Here are a few items that you may want to have on hand.
Bottled Water– Keep water in the car at all times for unexpected walks or whenever you or your children get thirsty on the road or to grab as you are embarking on your adventures at the pools, beach, or park.
Sunblock– Even on cloudy days, you need lots of sunblock in the summer. Make sure you have some in the house and in your car. Don’t forget a facial sunscreen. If you wear foundation, buy a brand with a high SPF. Lip balm also comes with SPF so be sure to look for that when shopping.
First Aid Kit– Keep a first aid kit in your car. Stock it with the usual items, such as Band-Aids, antiseptic ointment, and antibiotic ointment. Be sure to include aloe vera gel and sunburn ointment as well for those occasional sunburns.
Sunglasses– Keeping your eyes protected for the stronger summer sun is just as important to keep your eyes safe from the sun. If you can’t wear sunglasses, make sure you wear a brimmed hat to shade your eyes from the sun.
Bug Spray– Nothing ruins being outside, in my opinion, then being bugged by bugs (pun intended). I seem to attract every bug in the area when I am outside, and it makes me crazy. Keeping bug repellant in your home and car will make your outings more tolerable. Some essential oils are a great alternative to buying over the counter bug sprays.
Just like they taught us in scouts, always be prepared. What are some other must haves you keep handy in summer?
Stress is everywhere. As we take on more responsibility and grow increasingly connected to each other via smart devices, life becomes increasingly more stressful. in our lives. How we handle stress affects our physical, emotional, and mental health as well as our overall productivity. Here are a few dos and don’ts for managing stress effectively.
List It– When you have so many thoughts swirling in your head, one may never know where to start. Do try to do a mind dump by creating a to do list. As much as I love technology, I still create my to do lists on paper. I love the physical act of being able to cross off the items I get done.
Prioritize– I have a master list and then from there, I create a daily list, based on priorities. I started off years ago with just one on that daily list so I wouldn’t feel awful if it didn’t get done. I gradually added a second task and I never have more than three on my list. You don’t want to stress yourself anymore by not accomplishing tasks. If my day gets out of control, I still feel great that I have done at least one item on that daily list and the others go to the next day.
Just Say No– In today’s work environment, it can be hard to say No to new requests and still be a team player. Likewise, with kids, PTA requests and the like. However, if you don’t have time for something and try to do it anyway you risk making mistakes. Turn down demands of your time that do not directly affect the impact of your office team or the well-being if your kids by saying, ‘I am so flattered that you asked but at this time my plate is full of other priorities’. You do not have to tell them what those priorities are. Just say that simple sentence and move on.
Get Physical– When you have a lot of stress in your body, there is an increase in the level of adrenaline and cortisol. Moving will burn off those levels. Do go for a quick walk even it is around your office or home. If you can go outside and walk and breathe in fresh air, it will clear your mind and when you return, you will feel more energized to get to the task at hand. Some say even doing housework that you have been avoiding is a bonus. Not only are you getting household work done, but you are reducing your level of stress!
Take An Hour– This quote, on the wall of SoVital Fitness in Littleton, really inspired me: “You owe yourself one hour a day of self-maintenance. It can include reading, writing, yoga, exercise, dancing, meditation, painting, or whatever, but you owe it to yourself. One hour, 1/24 of your day. That’s less than 5%. It matters, it really does. Make it count.” Take one hour, every day, for yourself.
Stay Hydrated– Try to drink 68 ounces of water – 8 glasses or 2 liters – a day. This can take the form of water, flavored water, water with lemon juice added, or herbal tea. Staying hydrated helps lubricate your joints, protects your spinal cord, and regulates your temperature. Staying healthy is a great way to reduce stress.
Sleep– We all keep hearing how important sleep is to our overall health. When dealing with stress, sleep is often what keeps awake at night as our mind wanders and churns. Try to unwind for at least an hour before hitting the bed. Take a warm bath, drink some chamomile tea, or read a book to relax your body and mind and make your eyes tired. I diffuse lavender to help me sleep better. Skip the electronics but if you must have a phone near your bed, download the Calm App or do a search on iTunes for “Sleep” and listen to a sleep story or relaxing music.
What are some ways that you deal with stress and find have really helped you? Share here in the comments or post to my Facebook page.
It’s prom season! But how do you ensure your teenager will stay safe while having the best prom/semi-formal ever? Here are a few tips to help your teenager really enjoy their prom.
Make a List– It seems silly to make a list for a prom or school formal or semi-formal, but these days there are so many factors to consider when going to prom, it’s important to make a list of everything that needs to be done in advance. Together with your teenager, make a list of everything your teenager wants/needs for the big night: clothing, promposal, transportation, tickets, flowers, after-prom party, getting their hair cut/done, manicures, etc.
Set a Budget– As with everything else in life, setting a budget before your teenager even gets started on their promposal will save money and, potentially tears. If everyone is on the same page about how much money will be spent on what, you can plan and shop smart.
Go Shopping Together – Take your teen shopping for their prom outfit. Not only is this a great way to spend time with your teenager, but you get to share in the fun of helping them pick out a dress or appropriate suit.
Designate a Driver– Make sure your child has a way to get home after the prom. Get together with the other parents and make a plan for who will pick up the kids that night. If the kids are driving themselves, do not let them leave the house without designating one of them to drive. Remind your teenagers that you won’t be mad if they have a drink and call you for a ride home at 3:00 a.m., but you will be mad if they get hurt because they didn’t do so.
Better Yet, Rent a Limo– Why risk ending a great night by having your teen feel obligated to get in a car with someone that may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Spend the extra money to make sure that they all come home safely. The group can all chip in on that expense.
Teach Them To Be (Mindfully) Social– Remind your teenager that cameras and social media posters are everywhere. What may seem like an innocent moment can be captured, posted on and misinterpreted by social medial. Talk to them about how the Internet is forever and even simple situations can come back to haunt them in their future.
Get In Touch With Other Parents – Most prom attendees will go in groups. If your teen is part of a group, suggest that a list get circulated listing all the attendees, their cell number, their parent’s name, the parent’s cell phone and address. This way if anything happens, you all know how to reach each other.
Don’t Be The “Cool” Parent – Underage drinking is still illegal, even if it occurs in your home. Don’t allow your teen, or others, to drink, even in your house. Allowing teens to drink risks their health and safety, and if you do so before prom, they could not be allowed into the dance. Finally, you are legally responsible if anything happens after that child leaves your home.
Teach And Practice Safety– Remind your teenager that “No means No” and it is perfectly alright to say No and walk away from any situation where they feel uncomfortable for any reason they do. If you have any doubts that your teenager is not where they said they were going to be, don’t hesitate to call, whether that’s another parent, a specific restaurant, or a party venue. Your teenager will get over their embarrassment and you will rest a little easier knowing your child safe.
Prom is an exciting, magical time signifying the end, or the beginning of the end, of an important chapter in person’s life. When your teenager graduates this June or next, they will start a new chapter of their lives. By planning ahead and planning to be safe, their prom night will a wonderful evening now and a great memory later.
Mother’s Day is a time to appreciate your Mom, whether it be your biological mother, your stepmother, the dad who was both mother and father, or the person most like a mom to you. Here are some creative and original ideas to make Mom feel special. Happy Mother’s Day!
Bake It Sweet– Your Mom will love that you made her a dessert like a cake, cookies, or whatever her favorite sweet is rather than buying it from a store. You can make it even more special by the presentation or packaging you use for the treats.
Make Your Card A Gift – Who says you have to buy a Hallmark card in order for it to be special? Making a card for your Mom not only shows your creativity but also your own words will mean so much to her. These days, it is so special to see someone’s handwriting as we just don’t write as much as we used to.
Paint It– Paint a few mason jars to match your Mom’s décor. Fill the jars with flowers and make a lovely center piece in the kitchen or dining room or your Mom’s bedroom. She will think of you whenever she sees these decorative jars. Just Google ‘how to make a painted mason jar’ and you will be on your way.
Go Green – Buy your Mom a simple houseplant, but be creative in the pot you choose. A simple colander makes a great hanging basket for outside. Is your Mom into fresh herbs? That would be a wonderful gift to give her seedlings for her favorite herbs. All spring and summer she will enjoy using fresh herbs and the convenience of having them at her fingertips.
Get Nostalgic– We all have great digital photos. Why not create a slide show of your favorite moments with your Mom and surprise her with these? Set it to some music and she will be in tears before you know it.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. What are some other cleaver gift ideas you have done for your Mom?
Children today have a myriad of electronic devices to keep them engaged and entertained with minimal adult supervision. However, kids must have other activities beyond school, sports/extracurriculars, and homework to engage them. How to get your kids out from behind their electronic devices? Here are a few ways to engage your children with activities they, and the whole family, can enjoy.
Set a Timer – If you’re going to play a game say, “We’ll play for X amount of time and then see how we feel.” If you’re going out, tell your child(ren) “We’re going to the museum for X hours.” Telling kids in advance they will be doing things during a certain time, or for a certain duration, not only reassures them that they will have time for themselves, but also allows them to plan their day. This helps eliminate any potential resistance to doing whatever you have planned.
Play Games – A great strategic board game is more entertaining and challenging to do than just stare at a computer/video screen. A good old fashioned board game can break up the day for all. Check out Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and even Monopoly. Apples to ApplesandLabrynthare great for younger children, or for families with both young children and teenagers who want to have a family game night.
Check Out a Museum – Are you aware that a lot of libraries offer discount or free museum passes? You do need to sign up ahead of time to make sure the dates you want are available, but it is the best ticket in town. Museums don’t have to be boring. Choose one that you know has exhibits that your kids would enjoy. Nothing is worse than dragging a child through a venue when they don’t want to be there.
Go Swimming – See if there is an indoor water park, like Great Wolf Lodge, in your area. It is great to play in the water when it’s freezing outside. You can pretend it is summer and escape from the reality of colder temperatures outside.
See a Movie – Yes you can go to the movie theater, but you can also go to your local library and take out a movie for free. Check out Redboxwhere you can rent a movie for less than $2 for 24 hours. Can you stream movies to your TV? It is time spent together and you can also have a discussion after the movie to further engage your kids.
Play Outside – For little to no money you can enjoy time outdoors by going for a hike, bike ride, or just a walk around a new part of your town or state. Getting exercise and more importantly fresh air is great for everyone. You can also teach your kids classic outdoor games like Kick the Can, Kickball, and Freeze Tag. These are fun for the whole family.
What are some other activities that you do with your kids to get them out from behind their electronic devices?
Do you hate to empty the dishwasher and put away clean dishes? Are your cupboards and pantry bulging? Does your fridge smell like leftovers? Then it’s time to clean out your cupboards (and fridge). In our busy lives it’s too easy to simply collect more of an item than consolidate it. This goes for everything from kitchen utensils to condiments. Not only that, but over time even the highest quality bakeware, pots, and pans can deteriorate. Here’s how to know when it’s time to clear the clutter out of your kitchen. Working around your kitchen you will also note that dishes, glassware, coffee mugs, small appliances, plastic containers, and other categories in your kitchen can all be examined and edited down to just what you need.
Start Slow and Set a Timer – Setting a timer for just 30 minutes will help get you started. Plan to do only what you can in that 30 minutes and come back to finish the rest 30 minutes at a time each week. Setting time limits is motivational because while 30 minutes over a few weeks isn’t a lot, feeling like you have to devote a whole day to your kitchen will feel like drudgery and get put off.
Donate the Unused Cookbooks – Let’s face it: very few of us really use cookbooks anymore. It’s just as easy to look a recipe up on the internet. Or if you have a few cookbooks that you use, I am sure you are just using one or a few of the recipes in that book. Wouldn’t it be better to copy or write down the recipe and let the cookbooks go? That would free up space in your kitchen, right?
Can the Expired Canned Goods – I think we are all guilty of having a few canned items in our cupboards that are expired. They get pushed to the back of the cabinet or lifestyles and tastes change and you no longer use or need these items in your cabinet. Take some time to pull out your canned goods and look at the expiration dates. Toss what is expired or not needed and make note of what you need to replace.
Ditch the (Ratty) Dish Towels – Are you using what you have? Do some have holes and stains and can be now used as rags? Wouldn’t you appreciate using a fresher looking towel in your kitchen? Go through your stash and keep only what you would use. Donate ones that are in good condition.
Clean Out the Unused Cleansers – Gather them all together and see if there are obvious ones that you never use. If there are multiples of the same product, can the contents be combined to lessen the amount? If you have supplies that have just a little left, put this up front to use up first.
Sort the Utensils – Spatulas, knives, wooden spoons and whisks can multiply before you know it. The result is too many in one drawer and major frustration when looking for what you really want to use. Sort by category and be realistic about what you use.
Toss Out or Recycle Old Bakeware, Pots, & Pans – Again, some of these may be really worn and look gross. Can you minimize the quantity and if there are some really gross items, wouldn’t it be better to replace them, so you feel healthier using them? Pick up inexpensive, high quality replacements on your weekly foray to the discount department stores or the next time Macy’s or Kohl’s has a sale.
Freshen Up the Fridge – Before going on your next grocery shopping errand and when your fridge isn’t stuffed to the gills, take inventory of what is in there. Are there condiments that have expired, or the color is not what it should be? These items tend to linger in our fridges way past date of use because they get lost in the back or on lower shelves and we forget to look at them. At least twice a year, you should do a major clean out of condiments in your fridge.
The kitchen is typically a major hub in a home. By cleaning and decluttering this space, you and your whole family will benefit.