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Reclaim More You Time: Finding the Time to Relax When You Have Kids

Did you know that the average mum has just 17 minutes to herself per day? No wonder we feel tired, frazzled and exhausted. When it comes to raising kids, they are a blessing. But, any mother will agree that they wish they had a little more ‘me’ time. There are some great ways that you can relax. You don’t have to ship the kids off to granny and granddads. Well, of course, you can if you have them close by. But, if you want to maximise some more ‘you’ time, there are some great things you can do in the home.

You don’t have to feel guilty about focussing on you every once in a while. Rather, think of it like this: a happy, stress-free mum has happy, confident kids.

  1.    Create the Spa Experience at Home

Creating a home spa experience doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Every parent in the world knows that taking a bath alone is a forgotten dream. Suddenly, you are sitting on bath toys and rubber ducks. But, make sure that you take the time to have a bubble bath. Once the kids are in bed, run a hot bath; add bubbles, oils and bath fizzers. Light candles. Sit in the dark. Listen to music. Apply a face pack and soothing eye treatments. Scentsy products have a broad range of products to create an alluring home spa experience. You don’t have to do this every night. But, making sure that you set aside a couple of nights per week for a relaxing bath is an excellent way to de-stress and feels good in the process.

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  1.    Leave the Chores, Just For Today

Will the world end if you don’t vacuum the floor? Unlikely! School runs, making lunches and doing a raft of tasks can take its toll on anyone. You don’t have to be Cinderella every day. Pick a day in the week where you omit chores from your routine. Use the time to go to lunch. Catch a movie. Paint your nails. Head to the spa. Sleep! Whatever you want to do, use that time for you. You’ll be happier and more positive, as a result. Plus, the kids will pick up on your jubilant vibes. Ultimately, it will make them more content too.

  1.    Get the Hubby to Pitch In

Let’s face it; our partners can be blind to what we do. Make sure that they are aware of what you do around the home, as well as raising kids. But, don’t be a mummy martyr. Simply ask him to pitch in and do his bit. Even if it’s reading the kids their bedtime story, or giving them a bath. That gives you an extra hour to do what you want. Plus, your partner gets to spend quality time with the children too. Everyone is a winner.

  1.    Exercise

Exercise is a great way to beat stress and feel good. Okay, hitting the gym may not be the most relaxing experience in the world. But, you can feel good by doing so. So, take a walk or jog around the block. Use the time to clear your mind.

 

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How To Get Your Kids Interested

Having kids can be great fun, especially when they get into their own hobbies and interests. All they want to do is show you what they can do and please you with it. Sometimes it may seem like an obsession, but kids can get so engrossed and focused with what they are doing, that usually it is harmless. There are plenty of things they may get interested in. And the hobbies they choose can be so wide and varied. The most important thing is to try to be interested as well so you can both delight in what gives your children pleasure.

Kids interests really can vary widely. Some may be into sports while others get a kick out of gardening. Learning a musical instrument can provide hours of enjoyment every day, while other kids prefer to sit and read about dinosaurs. Whatever your children are interested in, there are usually lots of things you can buy or do to help keep their passion alive and inspire them further.

Some children are late bloomers and seem not to have any passions or interests. They may happily sit in front of the TV or read a book but are never bothered when it is time to stop. To help inspire them, you can try to introduce them to the sorts of things some of their friends are interested in. For example, you could visit http://www.magicnevin.com/ or another retailer to find some magic trick sets to interest them. If you think sports may be of more interest, book them into their local kid’s football club.

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Thanks to Flickr for this photo

If one of their friends is learning the guitar at school, it doesn’t cost much to buy a small instrument to see if the two of them could work together on their learning. There are plenty of other musical instruments out there they could be interested in, so take an afternoon to wander around a musical instrument megastore. Some children can be naturally gifted artists. Sit down for an afternoon with some paper and colouring pencils and try to draw a vase with flowers or arrangement of their favourite toys. You can give your child plenty of tips and hints, and gauge whether they are interested in doing this again.

Other children like to solve puzzles. There are online puzzles you can download as apps for free, or you can pick up puzzles to do by hand at your local toy store. Perhaps your child is interested in cooking. It is never too young to get involved. Toddlers can pour in prepared ingredients and shout out when the scales are at the right point. Older children may be interested in following and amending recipes from your preferred cookbook. Some children are great animal lovers. If you don’t have a pet already, maybe you could take the whole family to the local pet store or rehoming centre to see if having a pet is right for you. Looking after an animal teaches valuable life lessons and can provide a much-loved companion for your children.

 

Sideline-screaming parents score own-goal in kids sports

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by  chipgriffin 

Sport is a great way for kids to learn team-building skills, improve their confidence, demonstrate leadership qualities and make new friends.

But there’s an invidious movement that’s threatening to undermine everything that’s brilliant about youth sports; it’s time to blow the whistle on parents who holler from the sidelines.

Shouting out instructions to your kid is distracting and counter-productive. And jeering at the other side is just plain rude. Some parents even yell abuse at the referee if the game is not going their way.

Now some clubs are imposing silent sidelines where adults and supporters are told to keep chat to a minimum. In Australia, The Greater Brisbane Junior Rugby League has even warned parents that if they misbehave, their child will be eliminated from the match.

We all get a bit over zealous when we’ve got a vested interest. Of course you’ll be screaming the odds if things aren’t going your way in the football betting or if the team you’ve supported all your life is playing below par. And it stands to reason that you’ll want your child’s team to come out on top, too.

But kids sports aren’t just about winning or losing. As well as learning how to play the game, youngsters are picking up valuable life skills like communication, quick-thinking and sportsmanship.

The principle of good sideline behaviour is to allow kids to get on with the game. They make their own tactical decisions, can hear themselves shout to one another and can concentrate on their next play without the distraction of a constant stream of noise.

Parents who shout instructions from the sidelines simply confuse the players, particularly if they are getting a different direction from their coach.

Here are some basic rules of sideline etiquette that will help make sure you don’t fall foul of the coach.

Always be supportive and never gripe about another player in front of parents. If you don’t think  one child is fast enough or you’re wondering why another kid even made it on the team, keep your thoughts to yourself.

Never complain about the coaches in front of other parents. If you’ve got a genuine issue, arrange to see him or her in private, away from the pitch.

Parents on the other side and players on the other team are not the enemy. Don’t shout abuse at them. It’s just not classy.

Keep your mouth shut over all decisions made by the referee. Don’t teach your kids that when things don’t go their way, they can blame the ref. And don’t go the other way either. You may think you’re being supportive when you shout “good call!” but you’re just being patronising; particularly if the call is in your team’s favour.

Walking up and down the sidelines shouting directions at your child can be excruciatingly embarrassing and unnerving, not to mention unnecessary. If you fancy having a say, embark on some coaching training and get yourself a job.

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Dogs Vs. Cats: The Ultimate Question

It is the age-old question. Are cats or dogs the better family pet? Some people will swear that the only pet you will ever need is a dog. Others will argue that cats are the superior species, and one which will make your home whole. What do you think? When it comes to choosing a pet for your family, there are loads of things that you need to consider. The first thing you need to decide, though, is what type of animal you want. Usually, it comes down to a choice of two species; dogs or cats.

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Pros of getting a cat

Let’s first look at the cat-lovers’ argument. They say that cats are independent and loving. You don’t have to take a cat for walks or play too many games with it. No, a cat is quite happy for you to feed it, and then leave it alone. Despite what some people think, kittens can be extremely loving when you treat them well. Many cats like to sleep on their owners beds and curl up next to them in the night. Cats tend to get on well with children regardless of their breed.

Cons of getting a cat

Some people will argue that cats are cold. It is true that felines tend to have an aloof nature. Some people think that this is because they don’t like people all that much. That might well be true. Cats also tend to destroy furniture. If you have a luxury sofa in your home, a cat will take great pleasure in ripping it to pieces. You will have to buy special protective things to cover your sofa and soft furnishings. Cats also love sitting on things. When you are on your laptop, they will come and sit on your keyboard. That can be a massive pain, especially when you are working.

Pros of getting a dog

So, let’s talk about dogs. The saying goes that dogs are a man’s best friend. To an extent that it right. Dogs are naturally loyal creatures. When you raise a dog, you will find that they always stay by your side. Most dogs tend to be friendly towards children and there is a puppy to suit any household. Just look at Little Puppies Online to see how many various breeds of dog you can get. That means that you will find it easy to find a puppy that fits your family lifestyle. Also, taking a dog out for walks will mean that you are fit and healthy.

Cons of getting a dog

If you don’t have the time for a dog, you will have some serious problems. Puppies are great companions, but they need a load of attention. If you leave a dog at home all day long, it is likely to start destroying things in your home. Dogs crave constant entertainment and attention. If you can’t give them the attention they need, they will begin to be naughty. When puppies misbehave, it takes an awful lot of time to train them. If you and your family have a busy lifestyle, you might find it is all too much for you.

Conclusion

If you are unsure about which pet will suit your home, you should talk things over with your family. Both cats and dogs make brilliant household pets. If you don’t have a lot of time, you should consider getting a kitten. If you and your family live an active lifestyle, a puppy will adore joining you on your many adventures. Before you do anything, you need to take the time to think about your way of life. Choose a pet that suits your activities so that it is happy in your home.

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Tips for making sure your kids get a good night’s sleep

Good sleep is essential to your child’s development and wellbeing. When a child does not get the rest they need, it can result in a variety of behavioural and academic problems. Lack of sleep can mean lower test scores and increased irritability toward family and peers. Here are some tips for making sure your child gets the best night of sleep possible.

Avoid foods and beverages containing caffeine and/or sugar

Many studies conclude that food and drink containing sugar or caffeine can lead to restlessness and sleep loss. If your child is allowed to consume these types of food, try to not allow them too close to bedtime. Even some adults find that anything containing caffeine or sugar past dinnertime is enough to disrupt their sleep; children are even more greatly affected.

Decrease light pollution

Urban environments can have a lot of outside lights that make night-time a lot less dark than nature intended. This can have a very negative effect on the quality and soundness of sleep. The human body is naturally inclined to sleep through the darkest parts of the day. When we are exposed to too much light during these critical times, our body never gets true rest. Scientists call our deepest sleep REM. When you don’t sleep deeply you never reach this state of being. Thick curtains can reduce the effect of light pollution; however, modern window shutters are even better because they can reduce even more light.

Temperature

It can be hard to fall asleep in a room that is too hot or too cold. A child must be comfortable in order to get the best night’s rest. Many homes are kept too warm for a restful night of sleep. Pay attention to see if your child sweats too much at night and adjust your thermostat accordingly.

A consistent bedtime

Children can benefit from a consistent bedtime. This is usually increased as the child gets older and naturally needs less sleep to be rested and feeling their best.

Limit electronics

Encouraging your child to do activities that don’t involve video games, computers, television, etc., might seem like a hard thing to do, but it can do a lot to improve the quality of their sleep. Starting at least an hour before bedtime, encourage music, books, story time, etc.

Consider allergens

With more people than ever experiencing the discomfort of allergies, it is important to consider how this can affect sleep. If your child sounds congested or fidgets a lot, they might be experiencing allergic reactions to pyjamas or dust mites. Many doctors recommend that children sleep in cotton rather than synthetic fabrics since it allows for better heating and cooling during the night.

Better sleep equals success

Helping your child get a better night’s sleep can yield incredible results in their behaviour, academic life, relationships and physical health. Although getting them used to a good sleep routine might be challenging at first, they will soon become used to it.

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Three Easy Ways to Save Money Around the House

Saving money is one of the most challenging aspects of budgeting. From the daily expenses like groceries and bills to any unexpected expenses like hospital bills or home repairs, it often feels like more money is being spent rather than saved. Even though it feels as if you have cut back everywhere you possibly can, there might be some easy ways to save you have not yet considered.

Here are three easy ways to start saving cash in your own home:

1. Utilities

As a necessity, you cannot exactly cancel all utilities. Paying for electricity, water, and gas is something you have to do in order to survive. However, there are easy ways you can cut back on the amount of utilities you use. For example, look to use your air conditioner and heater sparingly. If you have to use them, try to turn them on during off peak hours, as it is less expensive to run them during those hours.

When it comes to other utility expenses, such as Internet, cable, cell phone, home phone, etc., try to find a company that will bundle these expenses into one reasonable package. For instance, if you order Vonage in Texas, you can combine both your home phone and Internet into one bundle, which may very well be less expensive than your current Internet and home phone bills.

Lastly, do not be afraid to call your utility companies and ask them for a discounted service. While many might be quick to say no, there is no harm in asking, especially if one is willing to negotiate.

2. Use What You Have

Be creative with what you have inside of your home. This idea extends from groceries to organization techniques. Instead of constantly shopping for new grocery items, check the pantry to see what you have—then use it. If it continues to sit unused, not only is it wasted money you already spent, it will also eventually expire so that you can’t use it.

Instead of paying for beauty products, make them on your own. With a few household products like baking soda, lemon juice, vitamin E oil, and shampoo you can create your own moisturizers, blemish products, and even cleaning products.

If you are looking to redecorate or reorganize, repurpose old items into new ones. Old office supply boxes can work wonders as bathroom and closet organizers while outdated decor often needs a new coat of paint to breathe new life into it.

3. Freeze More

One of the best ways to save money is to use the freezer. Most perishable food items can be frozen, which means when expensive items go on sale, you can buy in bulk and put them into the freezer. Freezer meals can save up to hundreds on groceries each month, as groceries are often the biggest waste of money if they cannot be used before they go bad.

These three techniques can help you save more monthly, which can help you establish a stronger, more secure budget.

Image Source: www.shutterstock.com

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How To Beat Those Parenting Blues

As a Mom with young kids, there are times when you just need a bit of space or a breather. It’s not their fault they are so demanding. Until we have our own, we never realised how excessive some of our demands on poor mom really were. But our moms did what we are doing – taking a break. Five minutes out of the room to get our heads back on straight is exactly what we sometimes need.

What do you do in those five minutes? Of course, you need to keep one eye and one ear on the kids, so exactly what can be achieved? Some moms hide out in the bathroom. They take off their makeup then reapply, give their hair a good brush and smile their biggest smile. Others hide under their duvet and have a quick emotional outburst! There is no right or wrong way to deal with a tough day in parenting, but deal with it we must. Away from the kids, we can curse, cry, punch a pillow and freshen ourselves up.

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Image sourced from Flickr.com

Sometimes it’s not just the face and emotions that are showing signs of a difficult time. More often than not, our brains just need to switch gear to overcome those moments of tension or despair. Try playing a game on the internet for five minutes. Of course, wondering what the red logo is in logo quiz may take longer than five minutes! Just turning off mommy mode for five minutes can be incredibly refreshing and may just save your sanity!

When you have finally tucked the last kid into bed for the night, it can be all too easy just to sink into the sofa with a glass of wine and watch pointless TV programmes all evening. The evenings, as short as they may be, are yours – all yours. Even if you are exhausted and it’s only two hours until you need to be tucked up, utilize that time. If you like music, practice your instrument. If you love Yoga, get the exercise mat unrolled. This is your time for doing your things. Take at least one hour every day for you. It will give you something to look forward to every morning and something to smile about every evening.

For those of you crying in protest about never having the time, ask yourself why you don’t have the time. Prioritizing time for you is not illegal just because you are a mommy. You are you as well as mommy. After 14 hours of being mommy, 1 hour of being you cannot possibly be frowned upon. If you can’t fit in all the cooking, cleaning and laundry on top of your one hour a day, outsource. Get an ironing service to pick up your laundry, or hire a cleaner twice a week. You deserve it, and you’ve earned it. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is for moms to lose their own identities, especially when they are on their own. Use your hour for something different every day, and enrich your life.

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Horse Riding Lessons for Your Kids: What You Need to Know

Horse riding can be an amazing hobby for children, but some parents worry that it can be too much too soon. Won’t it overwhelm them? Aren’t they too young to be riding a horse? This all depends on your individual child and their attitude towards pets in general. If your child seems happy enough to help out with chores when it comes to pets at home, they’ll more than likely love looking after their horse. If you have to coax them into doing something similar, they’ll probably be the same with a horse. Providing a child can willingly help you with a horse, they are old enough to try riding. Some parents wait until their child is around 12 years old, so they are a stronger presence on a horse. This is totally your choice.

Horse riding is a great hobby to choose for your children, as it teaches them skills for life. Introducing a horse to your child while they’re young will be one of the best things you do for them, and one of their greatest memories. Some benefits of this include:

  • They’ll gain confidence from learning to ride.
  • They’ll improve their social skills.
  • They’ll develop co-ordination and balance early on.
  • It gives them a positive reason to stay active.
  • They’ll love horses for life and reap the rewards at different stages.
  • They’ll become responsible and learn the importance of being responsible.

Not only all of that, but they’ll get to explore the great outdoors with their four legged friend. Horse riding improves a person’s sense of well being, and is a wonderful form of stress relief. This is a great gift to give your child! There really isn’t anything more rewarding than riding a horse outdoors.

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How to Find a School

If you’ve decided that this is definitely for your child, you’ll need to find the right school. Some schools require a child to be at least 5 years old when riding, as they need a lot of attention. Look at the curriculum of a school to make sure the activities are suited to your child, as all schools will vary.

Starting to Ride

When your child starts to ride, they’ll learn the basics first. These include:

  • Signals to control the horse, like steering and stopping.
  • How to hold the reigns.
  • How to walk and trot.
  • How to sit on the horse.
  • How to get on and off the horse.

Caring for the horse is also a big part of this hobby, so that will be incorporated into their lessons too. They’ll learn all about grooming, tacking, and even different saddle brands. Please don’t think of this as a waste of time; they need to know it if they’ll ever get their own horse!

There’s no need to worry, because your child will always be given a horse that matches their size, height, and level of ability. They should always feel happy and in control on their first horse. They won’t leave the barn with the horse until the instructor feels that your child has got the hang of things either.

Do your child a favour and introduce them to this amazing hobby!

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Ultimate Guide To Supporting Your Little League

School age kids come with a lot of baggage. It seems there are so many clubs and sports they can participate in these days. If you ever feel like all your money is being spent on kits and equipment for their extracurricular activities, then you are not alone. Having an interest in lots of different pursuits is very healthy for a child, even if it may make us broke in the process!

The reason these things cost so much is not necessarily a case of money grabbing on the parts of the organizers. It does cost a lot of money to run a little league or club, and often the parents need to foot the bill. There is the cost of the venue and the kits, as well as all the equipment they need. The training for the organizers is also very expensive and needs to include child safety and first aid. Then there are the administrative costs like newsletters, websites, and registrations.

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This image from Flickr

Most communities find they need to raise funds to keep their little leagues alive. And it’s not just kids’ sports that are in need of regular influxes of cash. You may find your community will request donations for churches, sports, baseball teams, and more. Sometimes it is appropriate to ask a local business to provide sponsorship. While the parents are great at feeding in regular subscriptions, sometimes a large purchase is required that only sponsorship can cover. The perks of this for the business in question is advertising and PR.

If you are hoping to run a club, group or little league, there are lots of things to consider that go far beyond the initial funding. Working with children requires lots of checks, insurances and certification. Getting all these together can take months. You also need help. Running a children’s group or club alone can leave you vulnerable to problems and is not safe for the kids. If one of them needed to pop to the bathroom or were injured, you would be unable to properly supervise all the others. A second responsible and authorized adult is essential.

There are other ways you can help your community teams and groups that don’t involve great sums of money. Volunteering your time to help out with refreshments, carpooling, and equipment maintenance can all be highly beneficial. As a volunteer, you would not be paid, but you would be relied upon to commit to regularly helping out. This could be easier for you if one of your kids were directly involved too. It may be you have a particular skill set that is highly useful, like needlecraft for repairing kits or food hygiene certification for providing snacks.

It is always nice to give something back to your local community. It is also a good way to network and get to know everyone in the town. Most importantly, it provides enrichment in your life and opportunities for your kids. Without volunteers and generous donations, most kids’ clubs do perish leaving children without those valuable life experiences.

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Planning A Child’s Birthday Party On A Budget

Children get very giddy around their birthdays. Many of them have a number of extravagant ideas of how they want to celebrate. As their parent, you want to make their birthday as special and memorable as you possibly can. But when you are working on a tight budget this can make this very difficult to achieve. As well as this, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on parents these days to throw a unique and elaborate kids party.

Fortunately, there are ways to give your child a wonderful celebration, without breaking the bank. Read on for your guide to planning a child’s birthday on a budget.

Buddy-up

If you have friends or relatives that have a child with a birthday around the same time as your child, hold a joint affair and split all the costs. Not only can this reduce your spending, it also means you’ll have someone to share the responsibilities with.

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Invites

Don’t spend money on hard copy invites, move with the times and use digital invitations. There are many sites that allow you to create and email invites for free. But if you don’t have the time for this, a group text or email to parents is perfectly acceptable.

Venue

Having the party at home can help you reduce your spending significantly. However, if you’d rather not host at home, a free alternative is the park. Obviously this is weather dependant, but in the summer, a picnic in the park with outdoor games could be the perfect affair.

For a winter party, a local soft play center may be an affordable option. This is especially likely if the party is not taking place during peak time (weekends, school holidays etc.). They may also permit you to bring along your own food, saving you more money.

Fancy dress

Fancy dress just sounds like another expense you could do without, but there are ways to deliver this kind of party without spending too much cash. Buying childrens fancy dress online will save you money as you can shop around for the best price. Alternatively, look for items in thrift shops or buy materials and make your own costumes.

Catering

Catering for kids birthday parties needn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Don’t feel pressured to provide lots or to provide an elaborate menu as it’s unlikely to get eaten. A sandwich each, a small selection of party nibbles and some cake will be sufficient. Or, spread the cost by organizing an international potluck affair where everyone brings along a dish from a different country. Bake your own birthday cake to save you money and to add a personal touch.

Decorations

Decorations are not likely to be expensive, unless you go overboard! Balloons are a good addition to a kids party and paper cups and plates are practical items. Look for decoration packs from online stores like Amazon. These tend to be cheap and anything that is not used this time, can be used for the next party.