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For Your Child Starting Off the School Year Struggling to Keep Up, Implement This Method That Worked For My Kid!

Now that we are well into the new school season, some parents may notice that their child may be having a tough time adjusting and may have started the school year on the wrong foot. He or she might have failed a few quizzes, missed a few homework assignments or lost points on careless or silly errors like failing to give you a syllabus to sign and return.

The transition from elementary school to middle and high school for many children can be challenging, especially for boys. Also, a lot of children, especially young men, suffer from Executive Functioning Disorder which is exhibited in kids who have tough times keeping their papers organized, lose homework, cannot keep up in class or with notes and just struggle with the organization aspect of being a student. These children are not necessarily developmentally delayed and many can actually handle the coursework if only they could get their act together.

When my now 16-year old was 12-years old, he had a had a difficult time managing his time, classes, deadlines and as a result, his grades suffered for almost two years. It took me awhile but I finally figured out part of the root causes of his struggles: he didn’t have organizational study skills, and later he was actually diagnosed with Executive Functioning Disorder.

He isn’t alone, I am sure, especially for kids entering middle school or high school or who are going from the easier and less challenging school or program; or years in school, to the more advanced schooling, or coursework that requires more independent thinking.

Children go from having one teacher who guides them for all of their subjects to having to deal with multiple teachers and classes, numerous binders, folders, notebooks, papers and assignment books.

From one year to the next, they have syllabuses from different classes all with various project, quiz, exams and other deadlines. Class lectures also are different. They require focus to retain the information being taught where before the class is broken up by activities, gym class, outdoor play and lunch. It made learning less stressful.

In middle school, teachers expect more active class participation. It’s not enough to coast quietly. Same can be said of high school, or some private, elite or competitive schools.

Many school children in this stage need a method to help them keep track of their work and to prioritize their assignments and due dates. To help my son, I searched the internet for resources, tips and advice and came up with a system and came up with a plan that worked!

He went from Cs and Ds to honor student! He entered the honors program in high school, got on the Dean’s list and today is taking multiple Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors courses at his school

I am sharing it here for any other parent who may be dealing with a transitioning child who is also having a tough time meeting their school obligations!

ONE BINDER METHOD

Throw out the multiple notebook method that the school requires and going to go with a one binder method.  Purchase one mega 3 inch three ring binder and purchase 5 thin one-subject spiral notebooks to go in it.

Purchase matching color-coordinator two-pocked three-hole punched folders to accompany each subject that will be placed behind each notebook.

In the left pocket of each folder, he will insert his class syllabus for the year or semester or term. The right pocket will be used to hold loose-leaf assignment sheets and info sheets distributed during class.

The notebook  should used for note taking on one side of the pages only and dated at the upper right hand corner so he can keep track.

The front first page will be a wipe-able laminated monthly calendar that can be reused each month where your kid will input all quizzes, exams and project deadlines for all classes in one space.

The weekly homework sheets should be hole punched and placed behind the monthly calendar. On that weekly homework sheet,  have her jot down homework and other deadlines for each day of the week.

This one binder system should minimize the problem of when your child leaves his  book or notes at school thus meaning he will not have them to use to study over the weekend.

Also, this one binder system eliminates the problem of a child with executive functioning disorder who has a difficult time keeping track of handouts and due dates.

All of the papers will all be stored in one location for easy reference.

Also,  with this one-binder system, your son or daughter will bring home all the work so  you will be able to follow up and double check he or she is staying on track.

OTHER FAMILY ORGANIZATION MATERIALS: This has got to be an entire family effort. For the entire family, for accountability sake and so everyone is tune in to the duties and obligations, and assignments of everyone in the household, use or repurpose the following: 

A Large Central Family Calendar to hang in the kitchen or family room where everyone can see it.

On this large calendar, put important dates including vacations, birthday parties, doctor’s appointments on it but also test, project due dates and quiz dates.

If you have more than one child, like we do, dedicate a different colored marker color for each child and family member so they can easily see what applies to them with a glance.

This large calendar may help your child or children organize in their mind(s) as well as let you know who has what exam coming up or assignment due and when too.

Update it weekly with field trips, school activities, out-of-school sports and activities, dance and music rehearsals etc.

A Storage Bin: Get a bin with multiple compartments that can store paper, notebooks, blank flash cards, pencils, pens, markers, crayons, staples, glue, scissors, compasses, protractors, rulers and all the materials that may be needed for homework or a short project. It takes away the time wasted looking for a sharp pencil that children use as an excuse to procrastinate from starting. Have this storage bin be located in the designated study area or nook in your home.

A Weekly Calendar: Like the monthly calendar, the weekly calendar should be updated each Sunday before the new week with tests, quizzed and other due dates. . Have your kid or kids review your class notes from the previous week to see if you need to add any school activities.

Timer: Use a timer on your smart phone and set it for 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted study, then allow for 5-10 minutes of break to help a child who has a tough time concentrating and working non-stop. You can also purchase a timer just for this purpose.

It’s also great for kids who have or are borderline ADD/ADHD and/or have executive functioning disorder.

Daily To-Do List: Some children need daily reminders of what to do each day and even though you tell them, they forget.

Having a fixed daily schedule up on or near the fridge in the kitchen or other heavily traveled area is a good idea.

Ours include minutiae: Bathe, brush teeth, put on deodorant, dress, brush hair, eat breakfast; and after school and after library: undress, hang up uniforms, dinner, get forms signed, pack backpacks and knapsacks for the next day and leave by door, unpack lunchboxes and dump uneaten stuff and trash, warm milk, reading or practice instrument, quick study, bedtime.

PLAN FOR CREATING BETTER STUDENTS

Now with all the tools in place, here is the plan for creating a better studier and test taker:

Traveling to School

For those who drive their kids to school daily, you can start out with the morning news or music program on as the kids fuss and fight in the back, but getting closer to school, cut it all out and give your kids a pep talk and say a prayer, meditate or a few affirmative words so they are prepared for the day. (depending on your beliefs).

A pep talk I gave recently did the trick to empower my son to be more independent and seek assistance from his teacher on a certain missed task on his own. Score one for mom!

For non-drivers, try to carve out a few moments before the school bus arrives or heading out on your public transportation commute to do the same.

 Encouraging Classroom Focus and Participation Skills

Talk to your child about the importance of being cognitively ready to listen during class. If they have all their assigned work and readings completed before each class, they will be better equipped to participate and pay attention.

I instructed my son to spend the first few moments before class begins to review his notes from the previous day for a refresher and to prepare for what’s next.

Having that information fresh in his head hopefully will encourage him to raise his hand when questions are asked and to participate during oral call and response time.

Take Notes. It is important to take good notes in class.

Taking written notes almost forces a child to concentrate on what the teacher is saying. Notes, of course, also help them prepare for tests and provide clues as to what their teacher thinks is most important for your child to know.

Further, notes will contain information that may not be in  the textbooks.

Here are some notetaking tips to pass on:

Write the date at the top of each page of your notes and number the pages. This will help you to keep your notes in the proper sequence.

  • Keep your notes for each class separate from your notes for other classes. You can use different color tabs to help you do this.
  • Be selective in what you write. On average, the speaking speed of teachers is five to six times faster than is the writing speed of students. Quite simply, do not try to write everything your teacher says.
  • Use abbreviations and symbols to increase your notetaking speed.
  • Don’t be too concerned with spelling and grammar. These notes are for your use and will not be graded.
  • Ask your teacher to repeat something you think you may have missed.
  • As you write points made by your teacher, translate these points into your own words. Doing this will increase your understanding of your notes and your ability to remember the information they contain.
  • If your teacher provides a definition for a word, write that definition in your notes word for word!!!!
  • Write legibly. You will have to read your notes later on.
  • Include in your notes information your teacher writes on the board.
  • Stay especially alert during the last few minutes of the class. Teachers sometime use the last few minutes of a class session to cram in everything they wanted to cover but didn’t.
  • Use Abbreviations

AFTER SCHOOL: HOMEWORK & STUDY

The most important part of getting good grades is completing homework assignments and studying for quizzes and tests.

Establish a Good Study Environment: First, establish a good place for homework and studying: Find a place in the home, a desk in your kid’s room or your room even, in the kitchen or basement that is free from interruptions and distractions.

Get a desk or table big enough for your child to spread out their books, notebooks, pens, crayons and other materials. Have a storage unit for keeping crayons, extra pens, pencils and paper. A good chunk of study time is lost in my home by kids going on searches for a sharpened pencil. It’s part of the distraction that keeps them away from their homework. I am going to update my home office so that each child has his own table and space. It will be a distraction free venue and space for them.

Make sure their chair is comfortable, there is plenty light and the room is not too warm so your child doesn’t get sleepy and not too cold that they are distracted by shivering.

Go to the library if you don’t have such a place.

Make a routine out of it. My kids and I go after school each day. If your child is in an after-school program, usually, they have time for uninterrupted homework doing. That works too. Make sure there is no TV or music or video games being played by other children during study time at home.

If possible, and I encourage this, have a no TV or video games policy during the school week to discourage distraction or them rushing to complete homework just so they can play before bedtime. The quality of their work will show.

Encourage Frequent Breaks – A lot of children find it difficult to focus or study for extended periods of time without doodling, goofing off, picking up a comic book or doing something else instead of their homework. No problem. Breaks are great to reduce stress, allow time for the brain to process learning, and good for transition. Work them into the schedule. Set a timer for 15 -20 minutes of uninterrupted work, then 5 minutes of break time.

During the break, the student can get up, stretch, grab an apple or snack, flip through a fun book, go for a walk around the library, check out their social media accounts, then when the timer is up, get back to work for another 15-20 minutes.

To Study for Tests: Rewrite your class notes:

The best way to be certain that your class notes are complete and accurate is to review them in the evening while the information that was covered in class is still fresh in the mind.

During down times, after homework is complete, middle school and high school kids should rewrite their notes, correcting any errors, filling in any gaps, and adding additional information as appropriate.

Rewriting class notes also provide an opportunity to improve their organization and to make them neater, thereby making their notes easier to study from. Further, rewriting  class notes reinforces the information so that they will remember it better.

Here are more tips for rewriting class notes

Use Flash Card: Flash cards are a powerful tool that can help your child remember information such as the meanings of vocabulary words, mathematical formulas, history facts, and the correct spelling of words.

Tips for Remembering can also come from mnemonics, Acronymic sentences, Loci strategies,  and Pegwords.

Make an outline from notes of just the main ideas.

Make a timeline of important dates or the order of event.

Test Taking Tips: And here are some test taking tips to pass along

  1. Read the instructions carefully. Never assume you will know what they will say! Ask the teacher if you are unsure about anything.
  2. Read the entire test through before starting. Notice the point value of each section. This will help you to pace yourself.
  3. Answer the easiest questions first, then the ones with the highest point value. You don’t want to spend 20 minutes trying to figure out a two-point problem!
  4. Keep busy! If you get stuck on a question, come back to it later. The answer might come to you while you are working on another part of the test.
  5. If you aren’t sure how to answer a question fully, try to answer at least part of it. You might get partial credit.
  6. Need to guess on a multiple-choice test? First, eliminate the answers that you know are wrong. Then take a guess. Because your first guess is most likely to be correct, you shouldn’t go back and change an answer later unless you are certain you were wrong.
  7. On an essay test, take a moment to plan your writing. First, jot down the important points you want to make. Then number these points in the order you will cover them.
  8. Keep it neat! If your teacher can’t read your writing, you might lose points.
  9. Don’t waste time doing things for which you will not receive credit, such as rewriting test questions, though I suggest including some elements of the question in your answer for organization and to show the teacher you are responding to the actual question. Also, doing this will guide your answer. Be thorough and add the word “because” or “therefore” after each answer to force you to elaborate and expand so your answer is comprehensive.
  10. Leave time at the end to look over your work. Did you answer every question? Did you proofread for errors? It is easy to make careless mistakes while taking a test.

Encourage Task Lists – I am a compulsive list-maker and they keep me sane and my brain organized. Consider getting into the habit yourself or encouraging your kids to as well.

After creating this blog post, I sat down with my son and went over it and had  him help me prepare the organization sections and review the links herein. I hope it is helpful for you too!

Good luck!  And come back here and comment to let me know if you used this how it worked out for you!

Sources: http://www.how-to-study.com/Infoplease; and Learning Commons

15 Ways You Can Build a Calming Nursery for Your Baby

When you learn of a brand new bundle of joy’s impending arrival, one of your first thoughts may be of the nursery you’d like to create for him. After you’ve adjusted to the idea of bringing a new life into the family, you’ll be faced with a staggering array of decisions that make life in the months before your baby’s arrival quite hectic. Creating a calm, soothing oasis from the frenetic pace of the world can help you and your baby find some serenity. These tips can help you create the peaceful space you’ve envisioned and to perfect it before your baby arrives.

1. Color is Everything – The color of the walls and accents in any room set the mood. If you’re shooting for a more tranquil, serene space, it’s best to choose colors that promote those feelings. Bold and energetic colors like bright orange or red may not be conducive to rest, while pale blues and greens can have the desired calming effect.

2. Skip the Frilly Bedding – A crib that looks like a magazine layout may create a sense of pride for you, but it can be dangerous for your baby. Making sure that he gets a good night’s sleep without increasing SIDS risks is a parent’s job, so make sure your nursery planning takes American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines into consideration.

3. Don’t Forget the Window TreatmentsBlackout shades can help you keep the sun out of Baby’s eyes while he naps during the day, creating a soothing space. You will want to make sure that you choose window treatments that don’t pose a strangulation risk, as babies can become entangled with cords that are within their reach.

4. Include a Comfy, Adult-Sized Chair – The nursery may be your baby’s room, but you’ll be spending many sleepless nights there as well. A comfortable chair that accommodates a sleepy adult will be a blessing for you, boosting the overall feeling of calm in the room.

5. Make the Most of Nursery Closet Space – Clutter doesn’t promote calmness, so devote some energy to effective closet use. Babies may be tiny people, but their stuff can take up an astounding amount of space!

6. Keep Storage Solutions Simple – The cute tub you’ve found for storing diaper wipes may be a thematic match with the room, but you won’t be soothed for long when you realize it’s too complex to open while holding down a dirty, squirming baby.

7. Choose Functional, Multi-Purpose Furniture – Rather than buying a changing table that serves no other purpose, consider a nice dresser with a safety rail installed and a soft changing mat placed over the top. When your child is out of diapers, it’ll still be a functional piece of furniture.

8. Be Budget-Conscious – The most beautiful, perfectly designed nursery will create nothing but stress if you dramatically exceed your budget in terms of planning. To make sure that Baby’s space isn’t a source of grief for you, keep an eye on your spending.

9. Look Up! – A newborn may not notice, but an older baby spends a significant amount of time on his back, looking at the ceiling. When you paint and decorate the nursery, keep in mind that a stained ceiling in need of painting can cheapen the rest of the room.

10. Choose Safe Paints – Finding the perfect shade of paint is a key aspect of creating a soothing and tranquil nursery, but it’s important to make sure that your wall colors are of the low-VOC variety. Volatile organic compounds can cause respiratory irritation and other health problems, which isn’t an environment you’ll want to bring a baby into.

11. Incorporate Heirloom Pieces – The crib you used as a baby, a rocking chair that came from your partner’s nursery or other heirloom pieces can be perfect ways of adding personal, comforting touches to a nursery. Just be sure that they meet current safety guidelines.

12. Think Outside the Big Box Retailer – There’s nothing wrong with opting for mass-produced accessories, but artsy parents may find that they’re more satisfied with the efforts of independent artists and creators.

13. Look for Pieces That Grow With Your Child – Having a few pieces of furniture that your child can use as he ages will create a sense of routine and comfort for your child, along with a feeling of consistency.

14. Consider Tradition Over Trends – What’s trendy today may be old news tomorrow. Furthermore, fad decorating is known more for being cutting-edge than aesthetically pleasing. A traditional, comforting nursery may be more soothing than a haute baby space.

15. Integrate a White Noise Device – Infants fall into a deep sleep when they hear the sound of the washing machine or the gentle lull of the road beneath the tires for a reason. Replicating these sounds with a white noise device can help your child feel more comfortable and calm in his nursery.

Things to Know about Infant Ear Piercing

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Do you know that infant ear piercing is a medical procedure?

Of course, nowadays it is so common that you can get your baby’s ears pierced at the local mom.

There is much debate among parents as to when is an appropriate age for piercing a child’s ears. Some opt for getting it done as early as infancy, while others prefer either not at all or at a much later date. Doctors don’t cite any medical reason not to pierce, although they do caution that there are some risks involved in doing so. The choice really comes down to when the parent thinks their little girl is ready to take the plunge. Here then are ten tips for deciding what age is best for your baby:

Tugging – Since it is best that the ears not be tampered with, a child should have outgrown any tendency she might display for tugging at her ears. This will avoid the risk of the earring being torn off or getting infected.

Pain – A child with a low pain threshold probably won’t appreciate the added pain in her life that an ear piercing would bring. Painkillers are not typically used since their injection is usually more painful than the piercing itself.

Allergies – You should wait until you’re certain that your child doesn’t exhibit any allergic reactions to metal. In any case, it’s recommended that only 24 k. gold or surgical steel be used.

Work – Caring for a baby is a lot of work under the simplest of circumstances. You may not care to add another layer of car on top of your other parental duties by having to clean and look after ear piercings as well. Decide whether you’re up to the added work and are willing to submit the baby to unnecessary risk of infection.

Fidgeting – Younger children can be more unpredictable and may not be able to sit still long enough for an ear piercing. Determine whether, or when, your child will be able to resist fidgeting while the work is being done.

Consuming – One of the risks involved with ear piercings at a very early age is the possibility that an earring can be pulled off and ingested. Infants or toddlers who are prone to tugging at their ears would not make good candidates for early piercings.

Expectations – Ask the parents of children who have had their ears pierced to share their experiences and recommendations. Find out what to expect before getting the piercings done.

Activities – Ask yourself if your child’s typical activities are compatible with ear piercings. That is, is it something that can become a hazard during playtime? Does your daughter show any interest in ear piercing or other feminine trappings?

Doctor – Ask your family doctor/pediatrician what s/he recommends as far as an appropriate age. Also, your doctor may also be able to recommend where to have the piercings done, and many will do ear piercings themselves.

Grow up – There’s always this suggestion to alleviate all doubts and concerns: Let your child grow up and decide for herself whether she even wants her ears pierced, and when she’d like to have them pierced. – You should wait until you’re certain that your child doesn’t exhibit any allergic reactions to metal. In any case, it’s recommended that only 24 k. gold or surgical steel be used.

Here are Tips to Help Make Your Neighborhood Safe

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Gone are the days of knocking on a neighbor’s door to borrow a cup of sugar, or the neighborhood kids playing together every night until sundown. With folks being busier than ever and technology keeping families inside more, many of today’s neighborhoods just don’t have that close-knit fabric that neighborhoods of yesteryear once had.

Experts say that one consequence of not having close relationships with your neighbors is the safety of your neighborhood as a whole. According to safewise.com, the U.S. has more burglaries than any place on the map, with one break-in happening every 15 seconds.

Pretty startling numbers.

However, there are steps families can take to help ensure their neighborhood — and homes — stay as safe as possible by teaming up with neighbors.

Stay informed

The FBI reports that 60 percent of burglars get into homes by way of force. Shockingly, though, 30 percent do so through a window or door that is not locked. Needless to say, it is important that your doors stay locked as much as possible, even when you are home. It’s also a good idea to close your windows and blinds at night (after all, you don’t want to outright show potential burglars what is inside your home). Further, well-kept yards have been shown to deter crime and offer fewer places for burglars to hide during a break-in.

Get personal

If you don’t already know your neighbors, you may want to begin introducing yourself and building a relationship with them. It is helpful for neighbors to be aware of one another’s general schedules (e.g., if they work during the day or at night) and if there are any children or elderly folks that may need extra looking out. Simply being aware of who your neighbors are and what their normal activity is can help you spot any suspicious activity.

Further, it’s smart to share contact information, particularly for when someone goes out of town. You never know when you may need to be notified of something that is happening. You may even wish to take getting to know your neighbors a step further by organizing a get together, such as a block party. This can help build camaraderie and help folks feel more comfortable spending time outside in the neighborhood, which can further deter burglars.

Get connected

Staying connected virtually with your neighbors is also essential in today’s tech-forward world. During the 2014 earthquake in San Francisco, neighbors and local agencies heavily relied on social channels to share information and communicate about safety tips, damage and more.

You might consider starting a Facebook group for your neighbors in order to privately share updates on everyday happenings, events like parties and garage sales, as well as any safety and security info. Be sure to keep the commentary open and updated, and be sure to remember your non-Facebook neighbors, as well, when sharing information. Additionally, private social networks like Nextdoor offer another platform for staying on top of the happenings in your neighborhood.

Stay secure

Studies have shown that most burglars check out whether a home has an alarm system prior to invading it. In fact, convicted burglars have even admitted that they avoid homes with security measures in place, and flee target houses if an alarm goes off.

Suffice it to say, it is vital to take steps to secure your home by investing in a tried-and-true security camera system. A security camera with key features like high definition picture quality and a rugged build to withstand any weather and potential vandalism is the best bet.

The bottom line is this: A closer-knit neighborhood is a safer neighborhood. By joining forces with your neighbors, you can work as a team to prevent crimes from happening on your block.

Back to School: 8 Tips for Dealing With Separation Anxiety

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Few things tug at a parent’s heartstrings like the cries and pleas of a child in the throes of a separation anxiety attack; still, they are a normal (if distressing) part of childhood development. With proper coping strategies and plenty of love, the worst of your child’s anxieties can be managed until he’s older, at which point most children tend to outgrow their fears of being separated from a parent or familiar adult.
Managing your child’s separation anxiety and helping her to cope with the necessary but painful routine of parting is a matter of being patient, for the most part. Keeping your composure and maintaining a grip on your patience is absolutely necessary in order for you to successfully employ other management techniques.
  1. Establish a Goodbye Ritual – Sharing a special goodbye ritual with your little one is both comforting and reassuring to her, letting her know that staying at school, daycare, or under the care of a nanny is a new part of her routine. Because structure and repetition are so important to young children, establishing a ritual that accompanies every separation can help normalize that separation, making it less stressful for her over time.
  2. Stay Calm – Kids react to the emotional state of a parent or loved one, so allowing yourself to become overly emotional or anxious in her presence is likely to only exacerbate the anxiety and fear that she’s already feeling. Maintain your composure as best you can, saving the emotional moments for a time when you’re out of her sight.
  3. Don’t Hover or Linger – While it might seem that your hysterical child will never calm down after you leave, childcare providers will almost always reassure you that their emotional state will improve dramatically once you’re gone. Lingering around and hovering over her will only prolong the process, stretching out both her suffering and your own.
  4. Speak with Caregivers and Teachers – Experienced childcare providers and preschool or kindergarten teachers are well-versed in reassuring both hysterical children and their concerned parents, so don’t hesitate to speak with them about how your child is adjusting. When normal separation anxiety is particularly difficult for a child to shake, or persists after a significant adjustment period, these people are your best allies in combating your little one’s fears and helping her learn to cope with separation in a calm, healthy way.
  5. Resist the Temptation to Sneak Away – It can be very tempting to wait until your child is distracted and slip quietly from the room, but this may not be the most productive method of dealing with her separation anxiety. Looking up to find you inexplicably gone, without any sort of a goodbye, can lead to a panic that she’s been abandoned or, at the very least, to feel that she can’t always trust that you’ll be where you should be.
  6. Communicate With Your Child – You can help prepare your child for preschool, kindergarten, or childcare by talking about the upcoming change, practicing separation on a small scale, and answering any questions that she has. These methods can be very effective in preventing the worst of her anxiety before it starts, and maintaining that open line of communication as she adjusts to her new environment and has new experiences is vital.
  7. Be Firm and Consistent – Don’t waver or bring your child home after a particularly bad outburst, as it sends the message that a tantrum will yield the desired result of either leaving daycare or school with you or sending your nanny home, rather than being separated. Focus on maintaining a firm but gentle demeanor, and a strong grip on your resolve.
  8. Know When Separation Anxiety Indicates Something More Serious – While separation anxiety is a very natural, normal part of growing up for many children, there are times when it could indicate something more serious. If a previously happy, well-adjusted child begins to regress and show signs of anxiety again, or if existing anxiety is severe and does not lessen with time, you should contact your pediatrician or medical provider for advice.

 

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Eco- Friday: 3 Steps to a Greener, Healthier Home

 

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It’s easy being green. Follow these three steps to a greener and healthier home.

1. Prevent Pests

Pests are a nuisance and a hazard to human health in many cases. Cockroaches, for example, can trigger or worsen allergies and asthma. Mosquitoes are known carriers of disease like Zika and West Nile. Rodents can contaminate food and spread disease. Termites can eat away at the wood in your home’s structure.

There are hundreds of pests that can make your home unsafe. However, there are simple measures you can take to keep pests from making your home their home. Keep a clean and tidy home to eliminate food sources that attract many of these pests. Prevent moisture in the bathroom, kitchen and yard, too. Seal up access points such as cracks and crevices in your house’s foundation to keep pests like rodents out, keeping your family safe.

Even pests that are not known carriers of disease, like bed bugs, can still cause chaos in your home. And they aren’t just limited to hotels, either. Families can pick up these pests in any public space, from daycare and school to the gym and airport. Their bites can cause serious redness, itchiness and swelling, a nightmare for parents with small kids. To keep your family and home free of bed bugs, always wash your linens in hot water and dry them on the hottest setting when returning from trips and avoid purchasing items like furniture second-hand. This is especially important for families living in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, as these places fall within Orkin’s report of the top bed bug cities.

2. Buy Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Despite being marketed as “safe” or “green,” many cleaning products on the market contain harmful chemicals. Keeping a clean home is important to ensuring your family stays healthy. Bacteria and germs are lurking everywhere, from the kitchen to the bathroom. But green-minded experts suggest swapping standard cleaning agents for cleaning supplies that are natural and healthy, such as white vinegar and baking soda.

3. Invest in Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling

Automation is one of the biggest trends in home technology right now. For good reason, too. Not only is automation convenient for homeowners, it is also eco-friendly. Take Nest, for example. This automated, self-learning thermostat controls the heating and cooling when you’re home and when you’re out of the house, ensuring that no energy is wasted. Compatible with your smartphone, this self-learning “smart” thermostat also offers insight into how much energy you are consuming every single day with the Energy Report and every month with the Home Report.

Additionally, Nest’s leaf feature helps you keep the environment in mind when you’re adjusting your heating and cooling. When you change the temp to save energy, a small, green leaf appears on Nest’s display, showing that you are making an eco-conscious decision. Nest also alerts you on your phone when your home may be unsafe. It sends alerts if the temperature is too low, which means pipes could burst, and if your furnace is acting up.

Moms, Do you Do any of these Top 10 Distracting Things While Driving ?

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Most moms know how important it is to multitask, but multitasking while you’re driving is something that should certainly be off limits, no matter how long your to-do list is. While we all know distracted driving is a faux pas, here are the top 12 dangerous things moms have been seen doing while driving.



Distraction #1: Drinking Hot Liquids
Sipping a latte while driving may seem like second nature to you, but it’s really not. With one hand off the wheel you have less control of the vehicle. You also risk spilling hot liquid on yourself, which could cause you to lose control of the vehicle, depending on how you react.



Distraction #2: Eating
Driving takes two hands and when you’re eating, only one is available. In addition to the risk of spilling crumbs on yourself, fiddling with the packaging or wrapping can also be distracting.

Distraction #3: Applying Make-up

It can be tempting to pretty yourself up while you’re driving, but you shouldn’t. Doing so is a huge distraction. Looking in the mirror with one hand on the wheel is a recipe for disaster.

Distraction #4: Grooming

In the same sentiment, tweezing your brows and fixing your hair should also be off limits when driving. Your eyes need to be on the road, not in the mirror.

Distraction #5: Tending to the Kids

Reaching behind the driver’s seat to fish for a dropped teddy bear or a sippy cup is an act that requires strength, endurance and concentration. Pull over if you need to tend to the kids while on the road.

Distraction #6: Texting

Although many states now have no texting laws on the books, people continue to text and drive, which can set the stage for trouble.



Distraction #7: Talking on the Phone

Chatting while driving may seem like a great way to pass the time, but engaging in conversations when driving can be distracting, especially when discussing emotional topics.

Distraction #8: Playing with Electronics

Whether it’s adjusting the volume on the radio or popping a new DVD into the onboard DVD player, the second or two it takes to make the adjustment is enough of a distraction to put you and the children in danger.

Distraction #9: Driving while Drowsy

Being a mom is tiring, no doubt, but dosing off for just a second can put you and your children in a life or death situation. Well-rested drivers are typically better drivers and have better response times when facing obstacles in their paths.



Distraction #10: Zoning Out

Being on autopilot won’t cut it when it comes to driving, especially with the kids. While you may naturally tend to zone out when driving the same route day after day, it’s important to stay focused while on the road.

Distraction #11 Pumping

While it could be argued that as long as you hook up and unhook yourself while the vehicle is at a complete stop, pumping isn’t a distraction, the opposite could also be argued. Having to fiddle with the controls or deal with spilled milk could certainly be a distraction.

Distraction #12 Breast Feeding

Children are supposed to be in car seats for a reason, to protect them. Never mind how distracting it may be trying to manage the wheel and the child, taking a child out of his seat while the vehicle is in motion to nurse him puts you both at risk should an accident occur.  Should the airbag ever deploy, it could be fatal to the child.

 Watch yourself moms.

50 Healthy Habits for Young Women

I saw this on Pinterest by SkinnyMom blog and I thought it was perfect for my readers. Behold 50 Healthy Habits every girl should have, but I’m assuming when she says “girl”, she’s including us older “girls” . ha! :

Perfect!

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11 Tips for Working while Pregnant

Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be a confusing one, especially as you try to strike a balance between your job and all of the physical, mental and emotional changes you’re going through. Achieving that balance can be difficult, but with these tips you can navigate your way through pregnancy and work with relative ease.
1. Keep safe snacks at your desk
Arguably one of the most difficult parts of pregnancy is the first trimester. Many women aren’t yet ready to spill the news about their pregnancy to their employers or coworkers, but morning sickness (that often is more aptly “all day sickness”) can tip off coworkers long before you actually break the news. To keep morning sickness at bay, keep bland snacks at your desk that you can snack on throughout the day. You can usually quell nausea with crackers and pretzels, and many women find that continual snacking helps relieve nausea.
2. Tell your employer
Before you break the news to your coworkers make sure to tell your employer, especially if you work in a small company. The last thing you want is for your employer to find out that you’re pregnant through the work gossip grapevine instead of directly from you. Your employer is also likely to be a little more understanding about frequent trips to the bathroom and a slight decrease in productivity if you’re up front and honest about your pregnancy and how your body is responding to it.
3. Be flexible
In today’s fast-paced society, many women feel the need to keep up the same frenetic pace that they maintained pre-pregnancy. Sometimes, however, you need to just slow down a little bit. Don’t be afraid to take a personal day if you’re really struggling one morning and you’re going to spend more time running back and forth to the bathroom than actually working. Try to juggle around your meetings if you know there’s a certain time of the day that’s particularly rough for you. Be flexible as your body adapts to pregnancy.


4. Learn when you need to say no
As much as you may want to, you’re not going to be able to do everything. You’re going to find you have less and less time outside of work to take on extra tasks as you prepare for the arrival of your baby. Learn when you need to say no instead of trying to take on extra projects even though you truly don’t have the time to fully dedicate yourself to them. This is not the time to be continually stressed over projects that you didn’t actually need to agree to do.
5. Listen to your body
Your body is going through a myriad of changes throughout your entire pregnancy. Listen to your body during this time! If you find yourself getting sleepy during the work day, take a short break and walk around. If you’re getting dizzy because you haven’t eaten enough, get a small snack. Hydrate throughout the day. Take mini mental breaks. Cut yourself some slack from time to time.
6. Find ways to stay comfortable throughout the day
As your body changes you’re going to find that you’re less and less comfortable throughout the day, especially if your job requires you to sit or stand a lot. Find ways to make yourself more comfortable. Ditch the four-inch heels in favor of flats, buy maternity clothes that fit instead of trying to squeeze into your pre-pregnancy pants, invest in a seat cushion – anything that can help increase your comfort levels while helping you continue to maintain your work professionalism will be well worth the investment.
7. Plan your doctor’s appointments wisely
Doctor’s appointments are an inevitable part of pregnancy. From regular appointments with your OB to different blood tests, you’re going to find yourself in quite a few waiting rooms during the next nine months. Try to plan your appointments so that they fit into your work day, not detract from them. If possible, locate a doctor close to your workplace. Schedule appointments for early in the morning, after you leave work for the day or over your lunch break, and avoid scheduling them on days that you know are stacked with meetings or conference calls.
8. Review your company’s maternity leave policy and plan accordingly
Every company is different when it comes to maternity leave. Depending on your company’s policy, you could be looking at fully paid leave, unpaid leave, or something in between. You could have six weeks, or you could have 12. Since there is no hard rule regarding maternity leave, it’s important to find out well in advance what your company’s policy is so that you are able to plan accordingly.
9. Figure out what your work plan is post-pregnancy
Are you planning on going back to work full-time after you have your baby, or are you going to stay at home? Will your employer let you work part-time, or even remotely? There is no right or wrong answer for how you handle employment post-pregnancy, only what’s right for you and your family. Once you do figure out what your post-pregnancy employment plans are, discuss them with your employer. Be up front about what you want to do, that way they have time to find a suitable replacement if you aren’t’t planning on coming back, or you can iron out the logistics of working from home, working part-time or easing back into full-time work.
10. Come up with a game plan for when you go on maternity leave
Before you leave the office to go on maternity leave you need to make sure that you have everything in order so that whoever is filling in for you knows exactly what to do. Tie up as many loose ends as possible, delegate work as needed and create detailed lists so that anyone is able to easily pick up where you’ve left off. This will not only make it easier for anyone filling in for you, it will also make it easier once you re-enter the workplace.
11. Start thinking about childcare
For many expecting moms, the thought of securing childcare is very stressful. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. Start doing your research early, including evaluating your options and your budget, and you’ll be well on your way to making the right childcare choice for your family. If you’re considering a nanny, give yourself at least four weeks to conduct your nanny search.

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