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College Dorm Essentials and Quarantine ‘Go Bag’ Packing List

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, sending a child off to college and shopping for dorm essentials is a little different this year for parents of first time freshmen and upperclassen too.

Although a lot of universities have decided to be “online only” this fall semester, a lot of institutions are still having in-person and hybrid online and in person classes. My son’s school in upstate New York is one.  His college, along with others that have decided to welcome students to campus this year are telling parents and students to pack light and to bring just enough stuff to stay for 2-3 weeks in case there is an outbreak and they  have to shut it all down right after classes start.

As a recent New York Times article noted, “[p]arents are discovering that, regardless of what guidelines are posted, policies are changing with new data and little notice almost daily.”

Yikes!

It’s not just about packing lighter than normal, it’s also changing the landscape of the college experience.

Schools are converting triples and quads into double and single occupancy rooms to decrease the density and crowding of dormitories. The move in process is also changing. At my son’s school, they are only allowing one person to accompany a student at move in day. This decision means, the entire extended family that planned to accompany us to send him off to college will have to simply wait in the car.

He had to take a COVID-19 test and quarantine for 14 days in advance of arriving on campus, subject himself to New York state contact tracers and conduct daily health check ins with his school’s app! Oy vey!!

These big changes also mean we parents now have to update, edit and toss aside those 200+ item college dorm shopping checklists we all researched, pinned and downloaded.

Likewise, readers of this blog can go ahead and ignore my tips for creating a lavish dorm room. You won’t be needing all that this year. You can go to Dormify if  you insist on making it super cozy and on getting accent elements but don’t get carried away with the matching window treatments, room accents, plush pillows, throw rugs and string lights.

So as far as the packing list goes, it’s safe to keep the usual must-have items on there: casual clothes, a interview, job fair or class presentation outfit, workout gear, PJs, fall and winter outerwear wear along with an umbrella.

However, there is no need to purchase and schlep along school supplies like binders, printer paper, pens and clip boards when your  kid can get that stuff at the local Walmart or Target after she moves in. I’d say skip the bed risers to make room under the bed to store supplies needed for an entire school year. Just get plastic collapsible storage bags and be done with it.

Also, I think to save space and time, there is no need to purchase a mini vacuum cleaner, broom and a bunch of cleaning supplies, and I say this not because your kid won’t clean, but this year, you can expect the college will have extra cleaning supplies on hand and will have a housekeeping staff on hand to do a thorough sweep through more regularly than before.

A bottle of disinfectant and paper towels or a reusable rag for dusting will do…oh and snacks. You can never send too much snacks!

This year, you have other things to focus on like COVID-specific essentials like Vitamins,  disposable disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers and UV light air purifier. There is evidence that copper and silver reduces the life span of viruses and while most copper-infused gloves are not touch screen compatible, the GliderGloves Copper Infused Touch Screen Gloves are and are only $14.99 a pair! It can’t hurt and you never know!

Personally, to prepare to pack the car, I edited and adjusted the old college dorm checklists I’ve downloaded from Facebook parenting groups to just include the bare essentials and a Covid-19 quarantine essentials “Go” bag.

That’s the bag that has all a kid would need to be holed up in a hotel, a friend or family’s house for up to 14 days in case the college student tests positive for the coronavirus and needs to go to the hospital and later quarantine somewhere on campus or nearby, in case they are exposed to a roomate, suite mate, floormate or lab partner who contracts the disease and need to do a 14 day quarantine because of that exposure.

The other scenario is that the school decides to go shut down altogether and you cannot collect your child in time and need to arrange for him to stay at a hotel or some other transition housing until you can make arrangements to bring them home.

Here is an abbreviated list of what should be on  this year’s Covid era dorm packing list:

LAPTOP

In lieu of a full desktop that some kids haul to campus, consider investing in a laptop which is more portable solution like this renewed Apple Macbook  Air with 128 gigs of ram at Amazon. My son is a computer science major and insists on taking the two monitor system he built in the 11ths grade so we are traveling with that, but most people will not need to go that route.

 

ANTIMICROBIAL DESK PAD

Because we are in a season of trying to mininize germs and knowing that computer keyboards and mouse controllers are a common source for accumulating germs, an antimicrobial desk pad like this Artistic Rhinolin II Self-healing desk pad, available at Amazon may be a good thing to have.  I also found a less expensive one at Walmart.

 

PORTABLE AIR PURIFIER WITH UV LIGHT

There is some evidence that UVC light kills viruses, there is a thinking out there among some moms that it cannot hurt to invest in an air purifier that kills germs with UVC light  and  has that capability. I found a pluggable portable one that sanitizes, purifies and cleanses germs from the air for $39.99 made by Germ Guardian which has GREAT REVIEWS from asthmatics and others who’ve used this product! That’s a good size and price for a small room!

BLUETOOH SPEAKER

A mini pill sound box is not just good for listening to music but also for connecting a phone or mobile device to it while listening or watching a class. Your student can multitask and get dressed for the morning, do some light cleaning or fold laundry without having to be at the desk watching. The Beats mini portable speaker is $126 on Amazon.  A much less expensive bluetooth speaker is the DOSS for just $27.99 which produces top quality sound and gets decent reviews.

 COFFEE MAKER

My kid doesn’t drink coffee but I heard great things about the Keurig K mini coffee machine which can be enivronmentally friendly if you opt to used the reusable filter and purchase coffee grounds! It’s a good price at $78 and comes with great reviews. Alternatively, for a cheaper and definitely eco friendly option, you can get a mini Mr. Coffee for just a little over $25!

 

POWER STRIP

 

You can never have too many power outlets so a power strip which is also a surge protector is a must have. We got a double pack at a steal for just $4.99 at Ikea!  Also, because of COVID , he may spend more time in his room than the computer lab.

 

Although the students in my kid’s school say they did not use the printer they took to college in previous years, this year may be different with reduced hours or with students wanting to limit their time spent in buildings and spaces that are not their rooms. Therefore, it may be worth it to invest in a small printer to print out paper assignments, or project elements. I have a printer graveyard but the one that has been the best to us is the Canon PIXMA MG-2522. The ink cartridge replacement is significantly cheaper than for HP and other brands. It’s a little loud but you get tons of ink jobs before it runs out and I predict your child will not need to replace ink all semester but if she does, you can sign up for the cartridge replacement plan which itself is really reasonable.

CLIP ON FAN

 

If your college student will be rooming with another person, it is inevitable that there will be some disagreements on the room temperature. If ever your kid gets too hot, hagging his/her own portable mini fan like this one.

 

CLIP ON DESK LAMP

Similar to a small fan, a small light is needed for those nights when the roomate is napping or sleeping but your college kid still has an exam to study for. I got my son a clippable desk lamp that can be easily moved from his desk to a post on the bed. It was at Target for just $7!

FLOOR LAMP

Although I would think a floor lamp would be overkill, I like lots of light. Heavy illumination brightens my mood, gets me in the mindset to work and keeps me alert. And I believe there is research to back up the fact that plenty of light energizes in addition to makes it easier to see what’s on a computer screen or inside a text book when working on a desk with a desk lamp.

I plan to pick up this one above from Walmart.

UNDER BED STORAGE UNITS

In lieu of hard collapsible storage container that take up room, this year, opt instead for plastic underbed storage containers that are pliable and are maneuverable in a crowded mini van or SUV and takes up less space. Also, this year, skip the bed risers and stuff pliable plastic containers under the bed. The Onlyeasy foldable storage container comes in packs of 2.

SHEETS SET

Send two sets of sheets: one that can be used while the other is in the laundry bag. I went with recommendations from blogger Sophia Lee and purchased the Mellani Bed Sheets  on Amazon.com.

MATTRESS TOPPER
Mattress topper dorm essentials list

My son’s school needs a specific kind of protectors that meets a very high California consumer board anti-flammable standard. One brand that works is sold at Target but is always sold out there so we lucked out and got one from Walmart.

COMFORTER

A plush and cozy comforter is a must have for having a full rest before class. I lucked out and got a steal on a nice comfy reversible grey Brookside Downs comforer at Overstock.com.

BLANKET

Blanket College Dorm Essential Packing List

For studying in the student lounge at the desk on chilly evenings, a blanket or throw is in order. This is also a good cover option for warmer months when a comforter may be too much coverage. We got a very soft one at Ikea this past weekend. They have other styles and materials and this one in other colors like pink and other feminine colors.

PILLOWS
Back Pillow College Dorm Essentials Packing

Any standard pillow would do but in addition a back rest pillow is a must to lean up against those concrete dorm walls or while in the study lounge propped up against a wall or sofa. We picked up the Therapedic back rest at Bed Bath and Beyond which is a bit pricey  considering there are a lot of much much cheaper ones out there, but if you get it online after signing up for their newsletter, you can get it 20% off!

COMMAND STRIPS

For hanging up photos, white boards, mirrors and other heavy vanity items, the Command strips are a plus. A lot of dorms forbid hammering in nails so if you get a 7 pack of the command strips, you should be good to go! They’re about $5 at my local Target or if you don’t want to go into a store, order this pack of 7.

HANGERS

Hangers College Dorm Essentials Packing List

I got two sets of wooden hangers for  at  Ikea  in packs of 8 and plan to pick up a couple packs of plastic ones at the Dollar Tree or Target.

DORM ROOM SLIPPERS

My son has always wanted a more manly pair of slippers so it was wonderful to see these Dockers slippers on sale at our local Sears for only $20.99.  I saw Joe Boxer brand had some for young women at $19.99 too while I was in there! think I will get the Lavish Touch brand set of 4 towels at Sears for $21.99.



 

laundry detergent

This year, college kids may be in a position of having to be hospitalized, God forbid, and have a medical directive, also, some may need a passport or social security card for getting an on or off campus job to satisfy employer verification process. Further, even though a lot of us use digital form of currency, in an emergency, having actual cash may be necessary. A small safe like this one disguised as a book is the best.

TOWEL SET

BATHROOM TOWELS COLLEGE DORM ESSENTIALS PACKING LIST

We have not yet gotten our towels but I think I will get the set I saw at Sears when I was there picking up casual clothing for the kids. These are the softest around.

BATHROOM CADDY

My son has indicated that he would prefer not to use a shower caddy so, we got hin the Kusoofa Shower Caddy tote  at Amazon.com because it got great reviews from travelers, gym goers and others.

SHOWER SHOES/FLIP FLOPS

shower shoes college dorm essentials packinglist

shower slippers college dorm essentials packing list

 An old pair of rubber flip flops or beach slipper syour kid already has will probably be enough to use for shower shoes. These are shoes you wear when using a community shower as they have in dormatories. If your child will be in a suite or apartment with a dedicated bath for just the unit habitants, this may not be necessessary. Walmart sells a good lwo cost pair that gets great reviews for just $7.49! 

 

WATER PURIFIER

WATER PURIFIER COLLEGE DORM ESSENTIALS PACKING LIST

Save money on purchasing bottle water by getting a water purifier jug so your coed can just filler up out of the tap and put this in this in the fridge. A BPA-Free Brita Water filter goes for $34.99 on Amazon but you can find other brands for less at other big box retail stores.

PLASTIC DINNER SET

plastic plates cultery

A set of hard plastic bowls, plates, cups and cutlery is in order considering that your kid may be spending more time in his or her room consuming food than inside the dining halls especially if your child is immunodeficient and is being extra cautious about being inside enclosed places where it is easier to contract the novel coronavirus. These are pretty cheap and in fact, Target has each piece for $.78 cents right now. If you want to get an entire matching set, 12 piece Cambridge dinner set sells on Amazon and is a Prime recommended product!

PRESCRIPTIONS
PILL BOX COLLEGE ESSENTIALS PACKING LIST
PILL BOX college dorm essentials packing list

Whether your child has prescriptions or just takes over the counter allergy medicines, vitamins and other pills for common ailments, get these all pre-ordered in bulk and with insurance to save the hassle of transfering orders to a local pharmacy at your child’s college.  I make my kid fill up his in  Sunday-Saturday pill box us older folks use to keep track of all of our medicines. It’s not too embarrasing because it can stay in the dorm and they only get to be embarrassed by their roomate. This tool is great for travel and to be added to the quaranting Go bag!  I purchased the Apex twice a day pill box from Walmart! 

 

LAUNDRY BAG

laundry bag college dorm essentials packing list

Again, Ikea to the rescue! I considered getting a collapsible laundry bag or basket and then saw mention of a laundry backpack in a parenting book. I saw one promoted on Amazon for $15 but then at Ikea spotted a backpack that is 8 gallons and would work!

 

LAUNDRY SHEETS OR PODS
laundry detergent sheets college dorm essentials packing list
laundry detergent


Instead of heavy bottles, the wisdom from current college students is to go with the pods or detergent sheets. A popular brand is Breezeo and 48 sheets sell for under $9 on Amazon. They are light and easier to carry and store. Your kid just pops a sheet on top of a  load and can go!

DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS PACKING LIST HERE!

It’s a different world out there and this year, a pre-packed bag is needed that can be picked up in a hurry in case a kid tests positive and cannot return to the dorm, he can simply tell his or her roomate to grab the grey Nike bag in the closet, for example. This bag is a headache saver.

Here is what needs to go in that bag:

DUFFEL BAG

Start with a large duffel bag or backpack that is big enough to hold a few bulky items like clothes, a towel and a toiletries kit. I purchased an extra IKEA backpack that I got for him to use as  laundry bag but in another color for the go bag.

FIRST AID KIT

A lot of parents say these kits are rarely if ever used but just like at home, they are a great thing to have and add a feeling of security knowing one is in the room. You don’t have to get a large one like this one at Amazon  because you can probably get a smaller kit at a brick and mortar store like Target or Walmart for less.

I would suggest taking out the excess first aid items and replacing small bottle of cold, cough and flu medicine, fever reducer, elderberry throat longezes and cough drops, Vick’s vapor rub,  a small thermometer.

PULSE OXIMETER

pulse ox

Sadly, if your case does get the novel coronavirus, she may need to take her blood oxygen level and so a portable pulse oximeter is a good purchase to put in the bag for safety and security sake. The Zacurate Pro has the most positive user reviews on Amazon compared to other brands on the market so I will be putting my trust in other consumers here and hope for the best.

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS

waterproof clasp envelope

Important documents (e.g., driver’s license or government ID, health insurance card or copy, social security card) – Keep these in a platic waterproof envelope or plastic envelope with a clasp like this one that you can get on Amazon for $8.70 for a pack of 3.

Face masks – 7-10 face masks, a mix of cloth and paper ones will do. We just ordered a set of  N95 replicas for $16.95 in a pack of 5 from Amazon and a pack of 50 masks we picked up from our local Target but which is also available on Amazon for $18.99.

Portable charger – Portable charge bank like this one at Amazon for $12.99

2 pill boxes -For prescriptions, pre-fill two weeks worth of medicine, vitamins and OTC drugs. See Above.

Hand sanitizers – A couple travel size containers and/or a large pump

Disinfectant Wipes – Inside a resealable package that is soft and pliable and can easily fit in a bag

Reusable Water Bottle – A water bottle with a filter would be plum. A Hydro Cell is $23.99

2 weeks worth of clothes – Think casual clothes, tee shirts, sweatshirt and shirt pants, maybe 3 outfits that can be recylce and don’t forget undergarments

Towels – A full set in case the one your kid has used in the morning is still hanging up to dry and they need a fresh one just for the go bag

TOILETRIES KIT

These travel kits can be purchased in drug stores, on Amazon pre-packaged or  you can create your own kit. This men’s bag is just $17.99 and includes everything in it. a A women’s version is a dollar less. 

Umbrella – a smaller portable umbrella is good to be put in the go bag.

Headphones – A separate less expensive back up pair of headphones should have at home or on hand as back up can go in the bag.

Non Eletronic Entertainment – Coloring book, Soduku, magazine, novel or some other non electronic thing to distract or pass time.

DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS PACKING LIST HERE!

Don’t overpack.

What not to bring tips curated from Winds of Change:

• Decide about the “nice to haves” once you’ve lived there a while. Maybe you’ll realize it would good to have an area rug, a full-length mirror, or a closet organizer. But you don’t have to know everything ahead of time. Get settled in first.

• Avoid bringing hard-sided suitcases. They can be difficult to store and create clutter. Instead, opt for duffel bags or collapsible storage bags (and don’t forget under-the-bed storage).

• You don’t need a year’s worth of toiletries — they take up space too. Pack enough for a couple of weeks, then restock.

• Know how you’ll get stuff you don’t pack. Research nearby stores. Consider ordering items online and having them delivered. (Back-to-school merchandise often goes on sale after September). Budget to make a few purchases once you have your bearings.

• Have secure, clean, and cashless ways to pay for things. This means at least two options, whether credit or debit cards (which can be pre-paid), wallet apps, gift cards, or vouchers.

That’s it! Good luck and God speed to all of our children as we are indeed all in this together! Stay safe!

4 Ways New Moms Can Bond With Their Newborns

When your first baby is born, you’re probably a bit nervous about bonding. Breastfeeding is one of the more obvious bonding experiences that comes to mind, but if you’re having difficulty with it, you might feel like a failure and even wonder if you’ll ever bond with your child.

It’s hard to look at this brand-new little person and imagine that not long from now, they’re going to be covering you in kisses and calling you Mommy!

The good news is, you’ll soon find that their universe revolves around you and that they love you very much, but here’s some tips for some fun activities you can do with your baby/toddler to strengthen that bond even more.

SKIN-TO-SKIN CONTACT

We all love cuddles, right? Of course, so does your baby! In particular, the feeling of your warm skin against theirs is very soothing and pleasant for a baby. This unfamiliar new world that they are in can feel pretty scary sometimes, and a nice relaxing skin-to-skin cuddle with mommy is a great way to calm them down when they’re frightened or upset.

Skin-to-skin cuddling of your baby also has benefits you may not have been aware of. According to the International Breastfeeding Centre, skin-to-skin contact helps to stabilize the baby’s body temperature, heart and breathing rates, and immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth will colonize the baby with the same bacteria as the mother, which is believed to prevent allergies.

READING TO YOUR BABY

You can start reading to a baby straightaway! It might feel a little bit silly to be reading to a newborn, but your baby has been listening to your voice while in the womb for a while now and already finds it soothing. It’s easier to get into the reading habit now than when they’re a 4-year old racing around the house, so start reading now for great rewards later.

The experience of reading has so much to teach babies: the tactile sensation of the pages, the sounds of the words, the visuals of the pictures, etc.

Reading to your child benefits their language development, as they get used to the sounds and words. It also helps the baby to learn about the things they will see in their daily life. Make sure you point to the pictures while you’re reading the story, i.e. if there’s a train in the story, point to the train as you say the word “train”.

You’d be surprised before they even start to speak how many vocabulary words they will have committed to memory this way. But beyond development, this is also a shared experience, and before long they’re going to be following you around the house with board books asking you to read to them!

continue reading

20+ Swimming Season Spirit Gear and Gifts

Photo by Etienne Girardet

I am a Swim mom but this year, because of COVID, my family decided to skip joining the Summer recreational league swim team.

I am certainly going to miss it. love it even though it’s a tough job. Being a swim mom (or dad) involves getting up at the crack of dawn to load the car, pick up your team snack bar contributions, and schlep the family to the pool in time for warm-ups, then spending upwards to 4-5 hours standing up volunteering as a timer, runner or scorekeeper.

To make up for losing a year, I decided to treat myself with a swim mom-related t-shirt or other souvenirs to wear, cherish, and show off. Here is what I have my eye on, mainly from Etsy.

[Note; If you swim parents out there decide to beat me to it to purchase any of these items, I earn a small commission as an Etsy affiliate.]

I love this “I can Fly” tee shirt which is a take off of the Butterfly stroke.  ($24)

 

In this COVID-19 era, people are wearing masks that reflect their personalities, likes and passions so this Swimming Face Mask is perfect. ($19.99)

This Tears of my Swimmers wine cup is great for a mom or a coach or a mom who is also a coach. ($25)

Add this Swim mom pendant to your toggle bracelet ($13.95)

Your swimmer will heartily appreciate this personalized swim print ($10.95)

Get this wooden display plaque to hang all your swimmers’ swimming medals ($36.99)



You can never go wrong with personal swim bag tags ($12.99)

Your swimmer will appreciate being able to send greetings and personal notes with these personalized swim note cars ($2)



For the mom who has a daughter or daughters on the swim team, get this personalized matching mom-daughter tumbler set ($33)

I’m a cap girl so I found this cap with a swimmer inside a heart so adorable! Swim cap- $19.89

Be chic  and rep your kid’s sport with these cute assorted “Swim Mom” graphic t-shirts (starting at $10)

Parents: 4 Tips For Setting Screen Time Limits Pandemic

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

With a summer overshadowed by COVID-19, parents are taking a hard look at how to make the right decisions regarding their kids’ increased reliance on screens— which are helping to maintain a sense of normalcy during this socially-distanced time— while also finding the right balance with other important activities.

TV, streaming platforms, and app downloads have all seen notable in their use since the pandemic started, and children’s television viewing has also skyrocketed as parents across the world are increasingly turning to screens and technology to entertain and engage their kids.

To get further insights into kids’ screen time habits and behaviors during the pandemic, Brainly the world’s largest online learning community for students, parents, and teachers— surveyed 5,000 U.S. students (grades 6th-12th, ages 11-18) on its platform.

Some shocking insights were discovered. Consider this: About 25% of kids spend more than 9 hours every day looking at a screen. That screen time has led to just over 50% of students reporting headaches, soreness, and dry or irritated eyes. Since the pandemic began, students said they are spending at least 50% more time in front of screens daily.

Given the unprecedented situation we are facing which has brought on copious new challenges, the traditional boundaries and limits for screen time need to be reassessed.

So, how can parents handle screen time during the pandemic? Eric Oldfield, Chief Business Officer of Brainly and father of two school-age daughters, has a few tips for parents to consider when deciding the best course of action.

  • Not all screen time is created equal. It’s important for parents to assess how their child is spending their screen time with this in mind. Consuming content to gain information and get creative, as well as collaborating or socializing with their peers, is a great way for kids to maintain connections and continue learning during this unique time. However, time spent playing non-educational video games and watching mindless TV should be more closely monitored. 



  • Designate specific times the entire family unplugs. To avoid battles, it’s best to establish and communicate boundaries before your children start using devices, and sticking to those limits as much as possible. Children, especially younger ones, often crave structure, especially during unpredictable times. It’s still good, for instance, for everyone to eliminate screen use for at least one hour or two before bedtime to avoid impacting sleep cycles. 



  • Make sure screentime consumption is done healthily. Parents may want to consider having their children use blue screen glasses or switching their computer display screen settings to make sure their eyes are protected from harmful blue light. It’s also a good idea to ensure kids don’t sit too close to the screen, get up for a break at least once an hour, and sit with good posture while on the computer for hours on end doing schoolwork. 



  • Come up with a plan that makes sense for your children. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else and are therefore the best person to decide what and how much media use is the right amount. Remember that screens are no longer the enemies of social interaction, learning, and productivity. Rather, they are enabling people around the world to work and learn and communicate with others during this uncertain time.

    The real enemies of healthy development in children are the same as adults: a sedentary lifestyle, social isolation, and distractions from schoolwork and learning. Using screens too much can contribute to all of these problems – but they can also counter them.  

  • The COVID-19 pandemic could last for a long time, so as families create new routines, it’s always best to focus on habits that are practical and sustainable. Above all else, don’t feel guilty about turning to screens more than you used to.

    Recreate These Backyard Living Spaces on a Budget {Ideas}

    lavish Dessert rose outdoor, side porch backyard space


    Now that people are confined to entertaining themselves at home due to global stay home quarantine orders, those with backyards, patios and balconies are designing and decorating these spaces to expand their at home living, play and dining  rooms to the outdoors.

    I was invited to a Facebook group with women who have been mulching, trimming, hedging, hauling and performing tiny miracles to transform their neglected or underutilized back porches and yard space into tiny oasis. I have been thoroughly impressed. Those with large acres of land have more to work with but even if you live in a small space or an apartment, there are options.

    Redecorating your backyard can be as simple as putting up string lights  you can get at Target for $5, dusting off old pillows from the basement and situating them on ignored patio chairs, color coordinating the potted plants, and upgrading your table or investing in an umbrella and solar outdoor lighting. That’s what I did and am currently doing as I am inspired. (see my set up so far in the last photo of this post)

    I sourced 7 backyard living spaces inspirations and found places on line where you can order the same or similar items in these spaces to achieve a similar look and aesthetic. Check them out:

    southwest rustic themed backyard living space idea to recreate

    What I like most about this backyard living set up is the rustic, Southwest Aztec detailing. From the ottomon to the throw rug, every piece of the design elements tie together. The outdoor lighting is a mix of rustic lanterns, candles and string lights.  Wooden benches offer ample room for entertaining family who may come by during a time in your life when you are entertaining intimate family as guests. The potted and planted greenery breath extra serenity into this space. I love it!

     RECREATE THIS SPACE

    Christopher Knight Outdoor Acacia Wood and Rustic Metal Bench ($134)

    nuLOOM Kellee Contemporary Wool Area Rug, 5′ x 8′, Black ($99)

    Torched Star Waterproof Outdoor Patio Lights ($17.88)

    JhY Designs Brushed Antique Hanging Lanterns Set ($49)

     

    bird nest egg wicker chair outdoor

    Photo by Subham Majumder from Pexels

    Now the wicker bird next or egg chair is a common item you may see being shown off by the Instagram Martha Stewarts in  your life. This chair is the perfect pod to escape to read a book, for your little one to watch a YouTube video or instructioal video when school starts on her tablet. Working from home? Escape the noise and interruption of distance learners, spouses and your teen and take your call on this thing. Use pillows to tie it in with the color scheme of your outdoor living space.

     RECREATE THIS SPACE

    Christopher Knight Home Indoor/Outdoor Tear Drop Hanging Chair ($219)

    or Get Hampton Bay’s version with the stand at Home Depot for $499
    large outdoor backyard patio living space idea to recreate

    For those amongst us with a larger budget and space to work with, transform a patio or space in the back part of your backyard into a desert oasis. Hire a contractor to instal a brick or stone patio, or intall durable outdoor flooring for a lower cost alternative (though this option may not be sustainable). Purchase a gazebo, panels, and planters.  Frame the space with panel curtains, add patio furniture, pilows, and an outdoor rug and you’ve got your own mini paradise right at home.

    RECREATE THIS SPACE

    iKEA 4-seat conversation set ($785)

    Snowcity Outdoor Waterproof ($19.99 per panel)

    Bed Bath and Beyond Mayne Cape Cod Square Patio Planter ($57.99 each)

    10×10 feet Gazebo ($399)



    medium outdoor living backyard space idea to recreate

    For those of us with less space and a more modest budget, we can use artificial turf, wooden coffee tables and wrought iron dining sets accented with pillows and colorful seasonal plants and have our own little comfortable backyard or patio space to escape to or enjoy a meal at on occassion.

    RECREATE THIS SPACE

    wicker and glass outdoor dining table

    San Simeon Outdoor Wicker Rectangular Dining Table with Tempered Glass Top ($248)

    Hampton Bay Wicker Coffee table ($229)

    small outdoor living space idea

    We cannot forget our townhouse, condo and apartment dwellers! They too have options when it comes to revitalizing underused outdoor spaces. It might be a tighter squeeze but a small dining table and two chair set, with a wicker love seat and just the right small area rug and potted florals are all that are needed to create a nice nook. If there is room, you can certainly invest in a small umbrella to add shading for hot days.

    RECREATE THIS SPACE

    small outdoor living space to recreate

    Ikea’s SALTHOLMEN Table and 2 folding chairs ($79) 

    Hanging Umbrella with base ($118)

    And this is my set up which is a work in progress… teenager not included!

    Copy These Back to School Homeschool Workstation Set Ups

    Back to steal workstation idea 1

    Every year, I share a post on how to set up a homework station where work will get done.[ Read that post here].

    This year, now that more and more school systems across America and the globe have decided to continue distance learning, I think it is time we all step it up a notch and start being more deliberate, intentional and strategic about setting up a home school set up that works.

    I mean no more allowing your grown rug rats to study in the basement or in their rooms where there is a TV and video games there to distract them and keep them unfocused on the daily assignments.

    Also, no more leaving it up to them to schedule their work and break times.

    In real school, their teachers alot for scheduled breaks from instruction and you should too. So, I scoured the Internets and my Pinterest feed and came up with a few  workstations that you can copy and try to replicate this month before school officially launches next month.

    Check them out with affiliate links to sources where you can buy some of the items you’ll see in these dreamy set ups!

     

    If you have a small nook in your home that you can comfortably squeeze in a table and desk, do so because it’s ideal for removing distractions by having your child confined to the equivalent of a pod space so they can focus. I like the idea of a large chalkboard stationed above them that can be used to jot down drills, motivational words like in the above poster or their schedule.

    The rustic cannisters affixed to the wall in this set up are great for housing supplies like pens, pencils, sharpeners, rulers, etc so your child or children have no excuse to leave this space during instructional or homework time.  The closest thing I could find similar to achieve this similar set up were bathroom storage containers on Amazon for like $29.98 otherwise make do with pieces you already have at home.  If you’re handy, hammer a storage bin or affix one to the wall  using 3M command strips.

    RECREATE THIS SPACE

    Buy this Rustic Framed magnetic chalk board, 18″ x 22″ ($38.18)

    For people who live in small spaces and do not have a dedicated space away from distractions, you might want to set up your child’s work station in your dining room or eating area. Why is this a good idea? Because this space is usually an open area so you can keep an eye on them to make sure they are doing their work or watching their zoom or Google classroom instructions.

    Ideally, you have to use a wireless router or have a wired connection if you need to set up a computer, tablet or desktop in this space. But for the most part, sacrificing a corner of your dining room could be a great option.

    RECREATE THIS SPACE

    AmazonBasics Kids Solid Wood Table and 2 Chair Set ($79.99)

     

    It can be tempting to store items away to keep things looking neat but keeping supplies like art supplies- crayons, markers, paints, chalk, etc. in glass jars are great for making sure they are in mind and available to use as an option during instructional breaks in lieu of watching TV or gaming. That was the idea that blogger Tiffany of Raising Lemons had when she arranged her supplies on a shelf in her kitchen like this in this photo from her website. I love it!

    1 Gallon Anchor Hocking Glass Storage Heritage Hill Jar ($14.99)

     

    Ordinarily I would think that you need to be at a desk and in a chair to concentrate but when reading a book or scrolling a device doing research, it might just be better if your child is  in a comfortable seat and that’s where a big old bean bag chair may come in handy. We used to have a papasan and it was wonderful space for reading a good book. If you have unconventional seating somewhere in your home, drag it out into the work space or grab one online.

    RECREATE THIS SPACE

    Source

    Memory Foam Bean Bag Chair ($72.51)

    Now if you have the space and room for more furnishings, you might want to consider investing in a new multifunctional shelving unit that can accommodate baskets for holding binders, notebooks and other large items and a farm table with a bench. The larger table can allow your young scholar to spread out and situate various supplies, papers, and pens and more across a larger space. Some kids are messy and others just like to see their options sprawled out all over the place. A large farm style table will accomplish this.

    source

    RECREATE THIS SPACE

    Farmhouse table and bench ($199.99)

    TRYING TO CONCEIVE THIS YEAR? DOWNLOAD MY FREE FERTILITY 100 EBOOK

    RECREATE THIS SPACE

    source

    Collapsible Storage Bins ($19.99)

    IKEA Billy Bookshelf ($158)

     

    I think everything on any homeschool or distance learning station needs proper lighting. A nice standing lamp or a good desk lamp that varies in degree of illumination will be perfect. Whether your kid prefers to work in the early morning or the wee hours of the night like my kids do, they will need to be able to read their text and good lighting is part of that.

    Children’s Author’s 10 Tips For Managing Quarantine Life with Kids

     

    RECREATE THIS SPACE

    LED Desk Lamp ($43.99)

    6 Self Care Tips While Working From Home

    In addition to a comfy lounge chair for reading, I think every child should be seated in a comfy office chair if possible that is good for their back.

    You don’t have to get a brand new chair either. I purchased most of our office chairs for our work spaces for five people from second hand online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace. If it is within your budget, you should invest in a good quality chair with solid ergonomics. They’ll be occupying a lot of space at home working so they should be set up properly.

    The 3 Step Guide for Setting Up Your Quarantine Homeschool

    RECREATE THIS SPACE

     

    Ikea Swivel Chair ($149)

    No matter what you do, study your child’s habits from Spring semester and adjust the workstation to suit your child’s learning needs and habits. It can really make a difference as to whether you will have a successful fall semester or not.

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    3 ATHLEIUSURE BOTTOMS YOU CAN AND WORK OUT IN THE ENTIRE QUARANTINE

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    Book Your Pre-College Drop Off Quarantine Stay STAT {Vrb v Airbnb}

    As some colleges and universities start to open up their campuses, many in states like New York managing their COVID cases well are requiring students arriving from hot spot states to quaratine 14 days before the first day of classes.

    The problem is that not all schools have plans to open up their dorms two weeks ahead of the launch of the fall season, leaving parents scrambling for options and places to say.

    My husband and I found ourselves in this peculiar conundrum as our state of Maryland, which had been making steady strides towards flattening the coronavirus new cases curve took a turn in the opposite direction recently.

    I decided to turn to my old stand by resource for booking vacation properites Home Away, now called Vrbo (Vacation rental by owner).  It is similar to Airbnb which was the original distruptor in the vacation accommodations industry, and is now the world’s largest online marketplace for lodgings, with listings growing more than 100% each year, one study found — hurting the hotel market in the process.

    Home-sharing services exploded across the globe over the past decade, as millions of people decided sleeping in a stranger’s bed was a worthwhile price to pay for living like a local in a given city. Airbnb is now the world’s largest online marketplace for lodgings, with listings growing more than 100% each year, one study found — hurting the hotel market in the process.

    Vrbo also has a pretty substantial footprint in America and has been around since 1995. The biggest difference is that all of its 2 million properties in 190 countries are entire homes, meaning, you cannot just rent a room or floor in the home.

    As with Airbnb, Vrbo also lets you book your stay via its app or website. Y0u can filter location, dates, number of guests and get to view an interactive map with a digital push pin showing you on the map the location of the rental property.

    Vrbo also stands out from Airbnb in the fact that you can also do a deeper level of filtering: Travelers can search 25 different types of homes (ranging from apartment to castle), 13 location types (like oceanfront or downtown), safety and accessibility features (like wheelchair accessible and low-allergen environment). You can also filter by neighborhood, rating, features and amenities, nearby activities and more.

    Prices depend on the quality of property, demand and inclue a guest service fee whhc is between 12-13% of thecost of the rental. Because of Covid, all home owners have added in an additional $100 for a deep cleaning fee in between uses. Both services include payment protection, 24/7 customer service, and rebooking assistance for last-minute cancellations.

    Because our entire family will be accompanying us on the journey to college drop off, an entire house rental was a better option to a hotel especially given we will have to house all of our son’s dorm furnishings and supplies for days in advance until his move in date.

    With so many things in flux and in the air because of these uncertain times, it is a great idea to purchase the vacation insurance which is usually under $100 and totally worth it. You never know what will happen day to day.

    If you’re a parent of a college bound kid, consider these two options for accommodating your family pre-move in this year and do BOOK fast as properties are flying off the market given the demand.

    Search for your stay for FREE on Airbnb

    Or you can search for FREE on Vrbo!

    13 Free Reources to Beat Summer Brain Drain and Keep Your Child Ahead of the Class

    It might be tempting to lie around, post videos to TikTok or watch Netflix all day. Instead high schoolers should use this time to learn a new skill, take an interesting course or prepare for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. Here are 13 free resources for high school students to get ahead while school is out.

    1. Khan Academy

    Khan Academy offers daily schedules for students ages 4-18. The free website also has courses in math, physics, U.S. history, grammar, economics and biology. High school sophomores and juniors can also find free SAT practice questions and tests. Even though the upcoming SAT administrations have been canceled or postponed, students still might want to prepare for this important exam.

    2. edX

    Even though your classes and extracurricular activities have been canceled, it doesn’t mean you should stop learning. EdX is an online platform that offers more than 2,500 courses online for free. Taking an online course is a great way to boost your resume and prove to colleges you can handle challenging material. Take this time to learn a new skill or explore a possible major from institutions like MIT, Harvard, University of California-Berkeley and more.

    3. Coursera

    Coursera is another e-learning platform that allows you to be taught by professors from Ivy League schools and other elite schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford and Duke. All the courses are available for free, and topics available include C++, marketing, engineering and psychology. By taking these advanced courses, you can explore a possible major choice when you go to college.

    4. Quill

    Quill is offering its services for free to anyone affected by school closures. The interactive writing site is perfect for anyone who wants to brush up on their craft before writing their college admissions essays. On Quill, you can gain editing skills by proofreading passages, practicing grammar skills through short activities and advancing your writing.

    5. Duolingo

    The cognitive benefits of learning another language are undeniable. Studies have shown that being bilingual can benefit memoryproblem-solving abilities and even intelligenceDuolingo is a free app that high school students should take advantage of now. Some schools offer limited foreign language options, but through Duolingo, students can learn Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Hindi, Russian and many more. If you want, you can even learn fictional languages like Klingon and High Valyrian.

    6. Codecademy

    While you might not be thinking about the job market just yet, coding is one of the most valuable skills that you can pick up. Codecademy is offering Pro scholarships to students affected by school closures. On the free site, you can choose what to learn, including building websites to analyze data. You’ll learn by doing and can start writing code within a few minutes of joining the site.

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    6 Ways to Stay Healthy During Summer Travel In the COVID Era

    By Durisan

    Summer is here, which normally means it’s time to take a vacation! In the age of the Coronavirus Pandemic, many plans are being changed or curtailed. No matter where you’re going, if you’re not prepared, a potentially amazing holiday can turn out to be the worst.

    Here are our summer health tips to make sure everything goes smoothly and as safely as possible.

    1 Wash your hands regularly

    It might seem obvious, but this is your best and easiest way to stay healthy while you’re traveling. Regular handwashing can help prevent COVID-19 transmission as well as more routine illnesses like diarrhea and respiratory infections. Washing up can also help you avoid bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, which can cause major gastrointestinal issues (or even something worse). You’ll also remove germs left from a sneeze or other factors that can cause colds and other illnesses that can ruin your trip.

    And consider the health and habits of the people around you. Take antibacterial wipes to deal with germy surfaces, such as a gas pump, door handles, or hotel room surfaces.

    2 Eat and drink in moderation

    There’s no shame in indulging when you’re on vacation, but try to keep a balance between occasional splurges and nutritious food. For example, if you’re planning a big dinner, try eating light vegetables during the day.

    Also, try to eat vegetables at least once daily while traveling. Dark, leafy greens are especially a good choice: They can improve your mood and energy.

    To further protect your health, try to eat outdoors whenever possible and avoid smaller, older restaurants. Getting to-go orders is a smart alternative as well and provide the opportunity for a fun family picnic.

    3 Stay hydrated

    It can be challenging to drink enough water when you’re busy enjoying the summer and sightseeing. However, dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue and even serious health problems.

    Here are some useful tips:

    • Bring an empty bottle to the airport and fill it at the terminal.
    • Keep a bottle of water with you everywhere you go — and make sure you bring extra water for any children traveling with you.
    • Download an app to track your water intake and get notifications.

    4 Get enough sleep

    Vacation is a time for both play and rest. If you get less than six hours of sleep per night, even for just a week, you’re more likely to get a common cold than people who sleep more. If your body is thrown off from jet-lag, try taking a melatonin pill on the first night or two in your new environment. This will prepare your body to relax at your new bedtime.

    5 Get some exercise

    Even if you need a relaxing vacation where rest is the only thing you’ve planned, try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Exercising on vacation can help you recover from any stiffness from sleeping in a new bed, and it improves your overall energy level. Consider exercising outdoors and avoiding enclosed gyms and studios. 

    6 Use your sunscreen

    Days spent at the pool or the beach mean more exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and apply it every couple of hours or when you’re sweaty and/or wet. This will reduce your risk for skin cancer. Hats are great extra protection for you and your kids.