Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

18, Aug

 

Kids Storage 1

If getting your child to clean their room is a constant struggle, it may be time to set them up for success. Too often kids’ rooms become activity catch-alls: part bedroom, part den, part playroom and part library. Keeping all of those tasks neat and contained is a challenge – especially when you’re four feet tall or under.

Smart parents take time to bring in child-sized solutions that can make cleaning a room easier. Here are ten tips for helping your child’s keep their room tidy:

1. Include them in the organizing process. It’s tempting to rush in and take care of it, but getting your child’s input on furnishings and where things go is important. If they have a say, they’re much more likely to keep up with it.

2. Get rid of extras. Make sure everything that is in your child’s room needs to be there. For example, store out of season clothing and neglected toys in bins in the basement or attic.

3. Create zones. Organize your child’s room with a designated area for sleeping, studying and playing. Then add storage items that can accommodate the items needed for those tasks. Place a bookshelf near a beanbag chair for reading, for example, or include basket or bins for storing toys.

4. Set a limit. Keep things fresh by keeping toys to a minimum. Decide on a number of items that is manageable and rotate out the toys so they play with them more.

Kids First Bed 2

5. Reclaim wasted space. Maximize storage capacity by looking up and down. Choose a bed with storage drawers built in the base – perfect for storing clothing as well as toys. And hang pocket organizers on closet doors to hold small items such as socks or stuffed animals.

6. Display special items. Have a space where your child can keep treasures, such as trophies, awards, artwork and vacation souvenirs. A shelf or bulletin board will keep these things neat and contained.

7. Think small. Consider your child’s size when you bring in storage items. For young children, keeping shelves low will encourage them to put things away. Make sure closet rods are multi-level, helping your child get ready in the morning.

 Kids Storage 3

8. Label where things go. Help your child know where things belong by making it clear. You can use words, pictures or a combination of both.

9. Color code for siblings. If children share a room, consider assigning each a different color. Then use bins and hangers in those colors for their toys and clothing.

10. Schedule in regular maintenance. Make cleaning up a habit by creating a routine. For example, create a rule that beds must be made before breakfast. Or wind down every day with a 15-minute tidy-up session before bedtime. Set a timer and it will feel like a game.

When kids make picking up their rooms a habit, the whole house will feel more organized!

14, Aug

Nearly 10 million Americans work from home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and as technology makes it easier and easier to be remote, that number is expected to grow. If you’re among this trend-setting group, you can set the stage for work and get more done by taking the time to design a proper workspace.

 

Whether you log in fulltime hours or simply manage household affairs, here are seven ways to work efficiently – and in style – from your home sweet home (office):

 

1. Claim a space. If you haven’t done so already, choose a spot in your home that can be used exclusively for work. A formal home office or spare bedroom is ideal – a spot on the sofa with a laptop is not. Look for an area where you can place a desk and storage system –you can even if you convert a closet if need be.

 

Modena White Desk

 

2. Choose a work surface. Every home office needs a desk or work surface. From a sleek writing desk to a larger executive set, the amount of space you have will dictate which style is best for you. If you have the room, consider an L-shaped desk that will offer room for your screens as well as a surface for writing.

 

3. Clear out distractions. Home offices sometimes need to double duty as a guest room or den, but you’ll want to get rid of anything that might steal your attention. This includes everything from clutter to media components, such as a television – you want your space to be focused on work. If your job requires you to watch videos, however, the TV can stay; if you’re tempted to watch Judge Judy, it should go.

 

4. Personalize your room. Just as you would place a picture of your loved ones on your desk at an outside office, personalize the area so it is welcoming to you. Choose a paint color that makes you happy, hang art on the wall, and consider furniture beyond a desk and chair. For example, a loveseat or accent chair might make sense if you do a lot of reading at work and want a comfortable place to sit.

 

5. Incorporate good lighting. No matter what kind of work you do, you’ll want to do it in a room that is well lit. This means including an assortment of lighting. Overhead lights are a good place to start. Then add task lights at your desk or workstations, as well as accent lights that will help create an inviting atmosphere.

 

filing cabinet

 

6. Find a place for paperwork. No matter how much of your work is digital, you’ll most likely have papers you need to keep and reference. If your desk doesn’t have adequate drawer space, include filing cabinets or bookcases that can handle the excess. You’ll find several options that look like furniture, which will help keep your room from looking like an office supply store.

 

7. Maintain a clean-up routine. Once you’ve organized your space, do the work to maintain it. Every evening before you quit work, take a few minutes to put away papers. On Fridays, take out the trash and to run the vacuum cleaner so that everything is fresh and ready when you come back on Monday. And reserve your office space for office activities. If kids bring toys in, remove them at the end of the day. Do a visual sweep each day, and you’ll stay organized.

10, Aug

Getting kids to bed can feel like herding cats. Set yourself up for success by following these three tips from the National Sleep Foundation:

Start in the morning. People who make their bed in the morning are 19% more likely to get a good night’s sleep every night, according to the NSF. While it’s not clear why, we’re guessing there is a connection between feeling good about where you sleep and your tendency to sleep through the night. Teach your child to make their bed when they get up in the morning.

Pay attention to texture. Select soft linens and pajamas. Three-quarters of us claim that comfortable sheets and bedding are important to a good night’s rest. Since kids tend to kick off their covers at night, dress yours in pajamas made of breathable fabrics that keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Provide the right bedtime snack. Think about what you offer your child to eat or drink before bed. Foods containing tryptophan – the amino acid that is a building block of the sleep-related chemical serotonin – could encourage drowsiness. Turkey is a well-known source, but so are eggs, chicken, fish, and nuts. Another good bedtime snack is a light carbohydrate, such as whole -wheat crackers with a small amount of peanut butter, or cereal with milk. But avoid fatty, fried or spicy foods before bedtime that will upset the stomach and can interfere with sleep.

8, Aug

Tucking your child into bed at night is supposed to be a special and calm moment, but it can often turn into a struggle when kids don’t want to go to sleep. Instead of dreading bedtime, follow these three steps for setting the right moment.

Set a bedtime routine. An early bedtime is important for kids – between 7 and 8 p.m. works best for most, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Since kids thrive on structure, creating a bedtime routine can take away the stress. Start 15 to 30 minutes before their actual bedtime by turning off the television and playing relaxing music. You might even dim the lights and talk softer. The most important part of your bedtime routine is that it’s consistent.

Create the ideal sleeping environment. If your child’s room is filled with too much excitement, it could be physically hard for them to fall asleep. Keep things calm, quiet and soft. A nightlight can provide just enough illumination to make your child feel safe. Soft fabrics for pillows and comforters can also be soothing.

Remove electronics. Limit screen time before bedtime, which can activate your child’s brain. Also keep technology, such as televisions, computers and video games, out of your child’s room. The light these gadgets emit mimics daylight and tricks the brain into thinking it needs to stay awake.

3, Aug
Photo credit: Pinterest / Sugarbeecrafts.com

Photo credit: Pinterest / Sugarbeecrafts.com

In the final stretch of summer, bedtimes are usually pushed back and relaxed, giving parents the opportunity to have some nighttime fun with the family. Here are three fun games to play outdoors when the sun goes down:

Glow Stick Ring Toss: Get a package of glow stick necklaces and dig out the ring toss game. Put one lit necklace around the base, and then have fun seeing how many rings you can toss on the post.

 Flashlight Tag: The person who is “it” has a flashlight. The other players hide. To tag someone, the person who is “it” must shine the light on the player and call their name. The tagged player becomes “it.”

 Ghost in the Graveyard: The “ghost” hides while the remaining players stay at the base slowly chanting, “one o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock,” etc. until they reach “midnight!” when it’s time to search for the ghost. The first player to spot the ghost yells, “ghost in the graveyard,” and all of the players must run back to base before being tagged by the ghost. The player tagged is the next ghost.

1, Aug

Summer Fun Themes

Author: Art Van
Photo credit: Pinterest / MothersNiche.com

Photo credit: Pinterest / MothersNiche.com

What are you going to do with the last month of your child’s summer vacation? A mom’s secret weapon is a plan. We love this great idea from MothersNiche.com; create a theme for each day of the week!

·       “Make Something Monday” could include crafts or cooking.

·       “Try Something Tuesday” could be a fun science experiment or a new hobby.

·       “Wander Somewhere Wednesday” could be a fieldtrip to the zoo or a hike around the neighborhood.

·       “Thoughtful Thursday” can be a day for reading, chatting or volunteering.

·       And “Fabulous and Fun Friday” could be backyard activities like running through the sprinkler, play dates with friends or trips to the local pool.

Post the plan and get kids excited. It will be a summer to remember!

29, Jun

There’s nothing more American than throwing a Fourth of July backyard barbecue. A summer afternoon gathering with friends and family is a great way to celebrate our country’s independence and the freedom we hold dear. It’s a day to have fun – not stress over details!

 

Red Adirondack White AdirondackBlue Adirondack

 

Enjoy your Fourth of July party by keeping it simple. Here are eight tips for making the most of this patriotic day.

1. Focus on fun not fuss. Choose foods that are easy to prepare, cook and serve. Traditional barbecue fare such as burgers (psst … get the premade patties) and hot dogs seem almost effortless when prepared on the grill. Or prepare foods like ribs or chicken the day before and finish them on the grill. Add simple side dishes like pasta or potato salad, fruit and veggie trays, chips, cookies and brownies, and you’re ready for a crowd.

2. Or make it simpler. While you can provide all of the food, consider throwing a potluck and asking guests to bring a dish to pass. You’ll spread the responsibility and cost, and guests can show off their favorite dishes. Or call the caterer or grab your favorite takeout, like fried chicken or subs. While food is an important part of the day, the emphasis should be on fun.

3. Don’t forget drinks. Provide coolers with a variety of beverages so guests can help themselves. Set out pitcher of lemonade, water, and have plenty of cups. Have Sharpie markers on hand so your friends can write their names on their glasses; this will keep everyone’s drinks straight and eliminate unnecessary waste. Another option is to ask guests to BYOB!

4. Get plenty of seating. Encourage your guests to linger outside by putting out plenty of chairs. Stackable chairs are a great option for events like this. Or ask guests to bring their own. You can also set out blankets and tablecloths that will invite people to sit on the lawn.

5. Decorate! Fourth of July parties have a super easy theme: anything red, white and blue or stars and stripes will turn your back yard from a nature retreat into a patriotic hot spot. Use colorful tablecloths. Hang a flag or swag from the deck. Or string red, white and blue lights from the trees.

6. Plan activities. While gathering with friends is fun, think ahead and plan activities and games to keep kids and adults busy. Play American history trivia or charades. Put out bottles of bubbles or get a beanbag toss game. Set up croquet, or rent a karaoke machine.

7. Think about the weather. July is hot, so you’ll want to provide shade or other ways for guests to cool off. Use a big umbrella over dining tables. Plan your event around the best time of day for your yard and the sun. Or include wet ways for your friends to chill, such as sprinklers, squirt guns or misters. When the sun goes down, it can get chilly. If your party is at night, consider getting a firepit that will take the crisp out of the night, or set out blankets and sweaters.

8. Fireworks! The Fourth of July is time to celebrate America with fanfare, and that means fireworks. If it’s legal in your area, consider purchasing small fireworks to shoot off at dusk. This is an adults-only activity, and you’ll want to follow directions as well as your city ordinance. Or visit a nearby park for your city’s professional display. Here’s a website where you can search for fireworks displays in Michigan.

 

22, Jun

There is something nostalgic and even magical about watching a movie outdoors. Those who grew up in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, will likely remember the old drive-in movie theaters with crackly speakers that hung on car windows and preview reels that featured a dancing concession stand snacks.

It’s easy enough to bring back some of that fun by holding your own drive-in movie night … parked right in your backyard.

 

outdoor movies

First, the technology: you’ll need a DVD projector. If you don’t own one, you can often borrow one from your school or workplace. If that’s not possible, contact companies that rent AV equipment for conferences. You’ll also need a screen, but you can fashion one yourself. Simply hang a white sheet from second story windows or project the movie onto a light flat surface such as a garage door.

Next, choose the movie. Consider campy classics, such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, Beach Blanket Bingo or anything starring Elvis. Or select a fun summer movie, such as Stand By Me, NationalLampoon’s Vacation, The Parent Trap, I Know What You Did Last Summer or Jaws.

Now it’s time to make the popcorn. You can set up a popcorn, by filling a big tub with plain popcorn and offering your guests a selection of gourmet toppings, such as dry ranch dressing mix, parmesan cheese and Italian spices, truffle salt, lemon zest and pepper, or mini M & Ms and crushed toffee. Round out the snacks with bottles of Faygo and boxes of Good ‘n Plenty, Raisinettes and Dots.outdoor chairsFinally, pull up some comfortable outdoor chairs. Midwest evenings can bring a chill to the air, so be sure to have some blankets for snuggling, too.

Then, it’s time to enjoy. Pass the popcorn, please.

 

 

 

 

19, Jun

The kids are out of school, and it’s time for fun in the sun. Do you have a fun outdoor play space that keeps them busy? A swing set is a great start, but here are five things that will turn your back yard into the neighborhood hot spot.

Pouf Ottoman

1. Kid-Friendly Furnishings

Consider getting some outdoor furniture that is scaled for little ones. A small picnic table or table and chairs set would be a fun addition. Or use several small pouf ottomans that provide soft mobile seating.

2. A “Secret” Hideout

Children love tree houses because they feel like kid-only clubhouses. If that’s not a possibility, what about including a ground-level playhouse? Or maybe a tent that can be put away when not in use?

Pool Toy

3. Water

A pool is ideal, but you can provide lots of other water features. Consider getting a fun sprinkler that kids can splash in. Or how about a slip and slide? You could also have a bucket of squirt guns or water balloons on hand, for some old-fashioned water fights.

4. An Adventure

If you have room in your yard, consider installing a fun item, such as a zip line, tire swing or even a hammock. These items never grow old, and you’ll probably have just as much fun using it as the kids.

Turtle Pot

5. A Garden

Gardening is a great way to teach kids about patience and care. Plus, they’re more likely to try new fruits and vegetables when they grow them themselves. Consider dedicating a corner of your yard to a garden, or plant in fun pots like this cool turtle planter.

What does your summer backyard plan entail? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

 

16, Jun

Filling your home with fancy furniture that will make you cringe when your little one’s hands get dirty is probably not the best way to decorate your house when your children are young. But you don’t want to look like you live in a day-care center, either. Instead, choose a style that durable and decorative – a happy medium for a happy family

Kid-friendly homes can be fashionable if you keep these six things in mind when selecting your furnishings:

Attached Cushions

1. Cushions will become forts. That means you have two choices: Get a sofa with firm cushions that will stand up wear and tear. Or pick a sofa with cushions sewn in so they’re not removable. You can satisfy your child’s imagination by providing other fort-building props, such as portable and stackable cube ottomans or a fabric tee-pee

Leather Upholstery

2. Upholstery will attract spills. Whether it’s sofas, chairs, headboards or ottomans, choose fabric for upholstered pieces that is a durable, such as microfiber or leather.  You can also check the color of the stains on your sofa before choosing a hue for the new one. Something in taupe, gray or tan will hide spills, making them less noticeable. Or pick furnishings with slipcovers that can be thrown in the washing machine to be freshened up.

Kid friendly Rug

3. Rugs camouflage a multitude of mishaps. Just like upholstery, your floors will take a beating be the recipient of a few spills, as well. A rug with a rich pattern will hide just about anything, and it provides cushioning for little ones who might slip on hardwood flooring. Rugs are easy to send to the cleaners. And when kids are grown, rugs are more affordable to replace than wall-to-wall carpeting.

Kid Friendly Table

4. Round corners are your friends. Small children, especially when they’re learning to walk, tend have plenty of trips and falls. Since cocktail and end table corners are at eye-level, you can help prevent bruises and bumps by choosing tables that are round or oval instead of shapes with corners. Upholstered ottomans are a great option for a cocktail table.

Storage Ottoman

5. Kids have lots of stuff. That means it’s smart to incorporate storage to keep clutter at bay, and plenty of options will tie in with your décor. For example, decorative baskets and bins tucked under end tables can be a quick hiding spot for blocks and dolls. Bookshelves can hold reading material as well as board games. And a chest that doubles as a cocktail table can hold blankets, magazines and stuffed animals. Make sure the storage is accessible so kids get things out and put things away.

Kid Loft

6. Kids just want to be kids! While making sure all of your rooms are family-friendly, having a room that is meant for the kids helps minimize the wear and tear on your home. Whether it’s a family room, basement rec room or your child’s bedroom, create a space for kids by filling it with the things he or she loves to do – such as finger paint and cartwheels. When kids have a place of their own, they’re less tempted to get into stuff that’s not theirs.