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This Trick for Getting Kids to Do Their Chores Just Blew Our Mind

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Some parents pay kids to do chores. Some wouldn’t dream of paying them. After all, helping out around the house is as non-negotiable as brushing their teeth—and no one gets paid for that. Some families weave table clearing and toy pickup into the fabric of daily routines. Others prioritize homework and getting to bed early, so they choose to just live with Magna-Tiles strewn across the living room rug. But no matter what your stance on chores, everyone can agree that kids suck at them—at least when they’re little.

This, it turns out, is something we must get over ASAP, if we want to raise competent, capable adults. Here’s why:

“Sure, toddlers may want to help, but let’s face reality here,” writes NPR’s Michaeleen Doucleff. “They can be clumsy, destructive and even enraging. Their involvement in chores often slows things down or makes a mess. For this reason, many parents…rebuff a toddler’s offer to help.” Some of us have even been known to stick kids in front of a screen so we can do dishes or a load of laundry. This is the mother lode of missed opportunity. Even if kids pour half a bottle of detergent into the dishwasher, even they drench you while watering the garden, even if you have to scream into a terribly folded towel, you need to let them help.

The moms who understand this see the momentary frustration “as an investment,” writes Doucleff. “Encourage the messy, incompetent toddler who really wants to do the dishes now, and over time, he’ll turn into the competent seven-year-old who still wants to help.” She quotes University of New Hampshire education professor Andrew Coppens, who says: “Early opportunities to collaborate with parents likely sets off a developmental trajectory that leads to children voluntarily helping and pitching in at home.”

Stick them in front of Netflix so you can wash glitter glue off the dog and you’ll be de-glittering things on your own for the next decade. Warns Doucleff: “If you tell a child enough times, ‘No, you’re not involved in this chore,’ eventually they will believe you.”

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

17 Genius Shortcuts to Help You Save Time While Cooking

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Real Simple readers reveal how they make mealtime less of a chore each day.

I live by the words “It’s never too early to start prepping dinner.” Whenever I have a few minutes during the day or on the weekend, I do something for dinner ahead of time, whether it’s chopping an onion, throwing together a quick salad, or making pasta or quinoa. —Emily Smith, Greenville, South Carolina

I use what I have in the kitchen and create meals that are loosely based on a recipe, or no recipe at all. —?@paulajsheldon

Make sure the tools, pots, and food items you use the most are the most accessible items on every surface and in every cabinet and drawer. While you’re at it, put everything you haven’t used in a year up high. —?Liora Seltzer, New York City

Keep your staple ingredients on hand at all times. Fresh herbs, good olive oil, lemon, Parmesan, capers—if the pantry is stocked with versatile and quality ingredients, you are guaranteed a good meal every night of the week. —Tig Filson, Cumberland, Maine

While I’m cooking, I keep a “garbage bowl” on the counter (for veggie scraps, wrappers, egg shells, etc.) to cut down on trips to the trash can. I put everything in something that’s already dirty, like an empty spinach container or gently used Tupperware, so I’m not adding to the dirty-dish pile. —Ariana Lake, Stephentown, New York

Rotisserie chicken. I take it home and repackage it: It’s ready when I need to make quiche, chicken soup, chicken salad, you name it. It saves so much time and is easy and economical! —?Amy Tooley Radachi, Dayton, Ohio

I have my two teenagers each cook one night a week. They have to include a vegetable, and dinner can’t be takeout. During the school year, it’s typically some variation of pasta or tacos. But it doesn’t matter—I get to come home to a fully cooked meal. —Janet Kinard, Atlanta

Meal delivery services. It’s the new date night! —Katherine Mooney, Sedona, Arizona

I always fill the sink with hot soapy water for cleaning as I go. I can wash and reuse utensils, and when I’m done, the kitchen doesn’t have to be cleaned. —Helen Bouslaugh, Woodland, California

While prepping meals, we chop extra onions, garlic, or tomatoes and store them in small, lidded containers. For the next few days, we can use them for omelets and garnishes without having to prep again. —Tina Hom Chen, Redding, Connecticut

I married a man who loves to cook. —Megan Waite, Fredericksburg, Virginia

I use two Instant Pots: one for the main or meat dish and the other for the side or dessert. They cook quickly, and clean- up is a snap. —Chris Stephens, Luttrell, Tennessee

I’ve accepted that I’m in a season of life when I need to spend a little bit more money to buy the prechopped produce. My prep work is minimal, and I can spend time with my son and husband instead! —Kristin Jones, Turner, Montana

I’ve learned to turn leftovers into something completely different. Meatloaf becomes taco meat; chili becomes tamale pie. The trick is to add fresh elements and stay within the same flavor family. —?Mary Pielenz Hampton, Bozeman, Montana

Whoever gets off work first has to cook dinner. The kids clean up afterward. This works well for our family because my husband and I work various shifts throughout the week. —Brandy Biswell, Puyallup, Washington

I do the shopping and the prep, and my spouse executes the meal! —Caitlin Zinsser, Oak Park, Illinois

I order groceries online and pick them up at my local store. —Nancy Harris, Mansfield, Texas

 

This article was written by Real Simple Staff from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Life-Changing Magic of Organizing Your Organizational Supplies

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Raid the Container Store again? Us too. Here, humor writer Julie Vick imagines the absurd ways she would repurpose the boxes, bins, and everything else she buys.

Did you visit the Container Store and accidentally buy one of everything? Do you have an organizing project you’ve been meaning to get to for 10 years? Us too! That’s why we put together these transcendent ideas for repurposing your mountain of organizational supplies.

Mason Jars

You’ve probably got a supply of these for projects like baking unicorn cakes or creating jewelry storage jars by dipping them in 24-karat gold. To organize your collection, first sort them by size and color. Then procure an enormous mason jar and arrange the smaller jars inside to construct a stylish statue—perhaps of a robin’s nest or Marie Kondo.

Plastic Bins

Haven’t had time to organize your children’s craft supplies into bins of items like “glitter that will be in your carpet forever”? No problem! Just use the bins to build your kids a play area shaped like the Colosseum. The first kid to knock it over has to sort the Lego pile.

Pegboard

That pegboard will someday be a wonderful way to organize all the pots and pans. Until then, turn it into a game of Plinko. The bottom “prize” slots could be fun activities, like scrubbing the bathroom grout or finally converting the Plinko board into the Julia Child–style pots-and-pans organizer you have always visualized.

Cute Tiny Boxes

Did you buy several boxes thinking they would be perfect to hold some things, but you didn’t know what those things would be yet? Just arrange them on a shelf in your bathroom. Your guests won’t know they’re empty, and they’ll be impressed with your organizational skills, which is the whole point of organizing anyway.

Cereal Boxes

What should you do with the empty cereal boxes you’ve held on to in hopes of one day giving them new lives as beautiful drawer organizers? Set them up in a pyramid to make a knock- down game. You’ll be surprised by how invigorating it can be to throw something.

Still-in-the-Box Shelving

If you haven’t had the chance to put together the bookcase you bought to achieve the #shelfies of your dreams on Instagram, don’t fret! Paint the box the same color as your living room wall, sketch a seascape on it, and store it directly on the wall.

Hooks

Those extra hooks that are supposed to be for designing vertical organizational systems throughout your home can, in fact, help you save money on a gym membership. Simply attach the hooks to your ceiling for a unique, upside-down rock-climbing space.

Canvas Storage Bins

Do you have a stockpile of canvas totes you picked up when they were on sale last year, figuring you would use them somewhere? Now you can! Stuff them with other tote bags and the scarves you have been stress-knitting, then set up a nap area on a closet floor. You’ll probably need to rest after all this organizing.

 

This article was written by Julie Vick from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Everything You Need to Know About Giving Your Kid an Allowance

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Experts answer all the common questions parents have about giving an allowance, including when to start and how much to give.

When do you start giving your child an allowance?
Wait until you feel your child is mature enough to grasp the concepts of saving and spending, most likely around age 4.

How much do you give?
Some experts recommend giving $1 monthly for every year old (e.g., $5 a month for a 5-year-old), but only if it makes financial sense for your family. Otherwise, decide on your annual allowance budget per child, then figure out the frequency. Consistency is key.

How should you give the allowance?
Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled, popularized the three-jar approach, in which kids split up allowance into pools: one for spending, one for saving, one for giving. It’s a good starter path for younger children. But older kids have cash flow issues just like grown-ups, says Joline Godfrey, author of Raising Financially Fit Kids—maybe one month they have multiple friends’ birthdays. Consider giving a lump sum for, say, six months to cover expenses you’ve decided are their responsibility. Encourage them to budget it with saving and giving in mind too.

Should you link allowance with chores?
In a word, no. Most experts agree that tasks like making the bed and clearing the table should be expected, not rewarded. Kids might earn money for “bonus chores” that go above and beyond the norm, like babysitting or helping with a big yard project.

What about with grades?
Nope. “An allowance is a tool for practicing financial skills—not a salary,” says Godfrey.

 

This article was written by Kathleen Murray Harris from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

16 Allergy-Friendly Treats that Are Totally Safe to Take to School

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Whether you’re revving up to dominate the class bake sale or just looking for something sweet to slip into your kid’s lunch box, here are 19 nut-free options that are safe to take to school. Bring on the cupcakes, cookies and hand pies (and don’t forget to save some for the baker).

 

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Hand Pies

Finally, a toaster pastry that tastes as good as it looks. Plus, they’re egg-free.

Get the recipe

Well Plated

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Whip up this whole-grain, egg-free dessert in one bowl.

Get the recipe

Super Healthy Kids

Healthy and Fun Yogurt Snacks

Playtime meets snack time. Gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free if you use coconut or almond-milk yogurt.

Get the recipe

The Busy Baker

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookie Bars

Way faster than rolling out cookie dough balls.

Get the recipe

Paper& Stitch

Homemade Cereal Cannolis

Shh, these start with pre-bought shells.

Get the recipe

Aww Sam

Colorful Terrarium Pudding Cups

Up the ante on gummy worms.

Get the recipe

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Watercolor Doughnuts

Mom might want to taste test these first.

Get the recipe

Chew Out Loud

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Just the right size for tiny hands.

Get the recipe

Erica’s Sweet Tooth

Mini Banana Pancake Skewers

Cutest-ever morning snack.

Get the recipe

Dessert for Two

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats

The secret ingredient? Strawberry fluff (and no eggs in sight).

Get the recipe

Hello, Wonderful

Easy Apple Fruit Doughnuts

You won’t find eggs or gluten on the ingredient list.

Get the recipe

Thirsty For Tea

Waffle Fortune Cookies

The cutest way to write your kid a note.

Get the recipe

Hungry Rabbit

Rainbow Cookies

They’re our favorite color.

Get the recipe

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Samoa Cupcakes

Best birthday ever.

Get the recipe

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Glazed Doughnut Cookies

So cute, they give the doughnut emoji a run for its money.

Get the recipe

Femme Fraiche

Galaxy Whoopie Pies

They’ll vote your kid class president.

Get the recipe

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The (Proven) Best Activity You Should Be Doing with Your Kids

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

There have been numerous research studies demonstrating that one of the most beneficial activities you can do with your children is consistently eating dinner together. The benefits of eating dinner together as a family are wide-ranging and important.

Eating dinner together helps improve the vocabulary of young children because the children are exposed to a wider and more difficult set of words than in their usual environments. To be fair, the study included all family meals together, not just dinner. It also showed that frequent meals together boosted vocabulary even more than being read to aloud. Young children were exposed to more than 1,000 rare words at meal time, compared to only 143 from parents reading books out loud. As an added benefit, kids with larger vocabularies start reading at an earlier age and with less difficulty than other children. Mealtime talk, especially during dinner:

“often incorporates discussions and explanations of current events, world knowledge, and even abstract general principles…mealtime talk constitutes an opportunity for the problems of everyday life and proposed solutions to be discussed, often in the context of stories.”

Older children also benefit intellectually and emotionally from family dinners. Enjoying regular family dinners is a powerful predictor of high test scores – it’s a better predictor than time spent in school, doing homework, or time playing sports.

Most importantly, it’s also hugely beneficial to the emotional state of adolescents and teenagers. There are a number of studies demonstrating regular family dinners reduce a number of high risk teen behaviors. In one study, entitled Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors, there is a significant reduction in high risk behaviors – alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, sexual intercourse, depression-suicide, antisocial behavior, violence, school problems, binge/purge eating, and excessive weight-loss – all from consistent family dinners. Another study demonstrated a lower rate of depression and suicidal thoughts is associated with regular family dinners.

Aside from the prevention or reduction of negative behaviors, there is a strong association between regular family dinners and good behaviors, such as a strong association with good moods in teenagers, an optimistic outlook of the future.

Now that we know how important family mealtimes are for children, what’s the best way to institute this in a household with working mothers or a household where both parents work? The key is to cut down on time spent preparing the meal and cleaning up after the meal is over, in order to maximize the time and quality of the meal.

One of the best ways to save time preparing the meal and cleaning up, and maximizing the time spent actually enjoying dinner with your family, is to look at the large catering platters and party platters from grocery stores. For example, Walmart party tray prices are extremely reasonably priced when looked at on a per-meal basis. A typical party tray will feed my family for 2-3 dinners, and has a wide variety of items so no one gets bored. The cost per person per meal can be as low as $1-2.

The best part is that there is almost no cleanup and no preparation time. This helps create a stress free environment where I can focus on listening to my children and learning about their lives, while sharing stories at dinnertime. On days where I do cook dinner, I usually end up being stuck in the kitchen and missing out on most of the conversation, and at the same time, it takes much longer for me to prepare the food and then cleanup afterwards.

For health conscious mothers, Costco offers similar party platters and has recently become the world’s largest seller of organic foods, prime meats and other high quality food products. I’ve spoken to Costco staff and it’s clear to me that they use the same high quality ingredients in their platters as they sell on their shelves.

Eating family dinners together as frequently as possible is clearly one of the best activities you can do with your children. As a working mother, it’s critical to prioritize and maximize high quality activities with the family. In the case of dinner time, the most important activity isn’t food prep or cleaning, it’s actually sitting down with your children during the meal, chatting with them and listening to them. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to do this is to shop in the catering isles at large grocers.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How Hot Is Too Hot for Your Kids to Play Outside?

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Summer is here, and many of us want to be outside and enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts — especially if we live in a cooler climate. However, it important to remember our children can get very hot in a short amount of time, especially when they run around and play. But how hot is too hot?

To find out, we spoke with some doctors about when it’s too hot for our kids to be outside in the summer months, what we can do to protect them before going out in the warm weather and signs to look for if we think kids might be getting overheated.

It varies depending on your child’s activity level

Activity level plays a huge factor, Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SheKnows. If it’s 100 degrees and your kids are swimming, playing with water toys and in the shade, going outside is perfectly fine if you are keeping a close eye on them. However, If they are running around in direct sunlight, a lot of kids will overheat — even if the temperature is just in the 80s, says Posner.

A good rule of thumb is, “If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your kids,” Dr. S. Daniel Ganjian, a pediatrician at John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SheKnows. 

Pay attention to the heat index

Caitlin Hoff, a health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, says you shouldn’t just pay attention to the temperature on the thermometer. Make sure to keep an eye on the humidity by looking at the heat index factor too. 

“When the heat index is 100 degrees or more (over 90 degrees with 60 percent humidity), heat exhaustion is much more probable without safety measures taken,” Hoff tells SheKnows.

Age does matter

Younger children are more susceptible to heat exhaustion because “they produce less sweat” and “are less likely to feel and understand the dangers of extreme heat,” Hoff says.

Never skimp on water, shade or sunscreen

One of the most important things to remember is to keep your kids out of direct sunlight for long periods of time in the summer. They need shade, plenty of water and sunscreen whenever they are outside, Ganjian says. He also recommends dressing your children in light, long-sleeve clothing and always applying a safe sunscreen on children over 6-moths old (and then reapplying it every two hours and after water play). For babies under 6 months, Ganjian says they should avoid sun exposure all together. 

Warning signs to look for

Posner and Ganjian both say to pay attention to the warning signs of overheating, which include fever, decreased number of wet diapers, cranky behavior or being overly tired. If you notice these symptoms, they suggest a lukewarm bath, plenty of fluids and a call to your pediatrician.

There is a lot to enjoy outdoors during the summer months, but it’s best to take the necessary precautions to make sure you and your family stay safe.

 

This article was written by Katie Smith from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Parents Are Sharing Their Best Hacks For Streamlining Their Morning Routine

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Because nobody wants to be completely stressed out that early.

Between getting yourself ready for work and getting your kids ready for school, mornings can be a real nightmare for parents. But as one mom on Reddit shared, even small shortcuts can help make a world of difference.

In a thread on the r/Parenting board, user sandarthegreat posted her tip for freezing pancakes in advance to make breakfasts simple and easy. The mom also asked other parents to share their best hacks for streamlining their morning routine. “Now that I’m a single parent, I need all the help I can get,” she wrote. “Parents who’ve been here before, what are the tips and tricks you can’t live without? What is something you wish you’d known? What’s one thing that always makes your mornings run smoothly?”

Fellow parents then replied with their own smart strategies to minimize the pre-work madness. Here are some of the best pieces of advice from the thread:

Freezing ahead is your friend.

Give your kids more responsibility.

Take a tip from boxers.

Have your kids race against a song.

Defrost breakfast AND lunch.

Plan a “menu” for lunches.

Take care of as much as possible the night before.

Start the week on a high note.

Invest in an Instant Pot.

Skip PJs.

Trick your kids into eating healthier (and quicker).

Meal prep for the whole family.

Have all of the small tasks taken care of.

Get a head start on your kids.

 

This article was written by Joseph Barberio from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How Working Moms Can Ease the Burden of Commuting

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

If you commute to work, you may not realize how much of your time is being eaten up on a daily basis. The average commute in the United States is 25 minutes, which may not seem like much, but factor in the ride home and multiply it by your 5 working days per week—and now you’re spending more than 4 hours a week getting nothing done, when you could be spending that time on your career or spending it with your kids.

Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to maximize the value of this time, helping you achieve your goals as a mother and as a career woman while still getting you to work on time every day.

Making the Most of Your Commute

Upgrade your commute with these important strategies:

Keep your vehicle maintained. If you’re going to be driving for several hours a week, you need to maintain a general service schedule for your vehicle. Keeping your car maintained will ensure you maximize your fuel efficiency, get better performance (especially on days with excessive rain, snow, or other hazardous conditions), and minimize the possibility of breaking down, which can ruin your day (if not your week). If you’re shuttling your kids to daycare or school on top of your commute, this is even more important.

Listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Driving doesn’t have to be a waste of time; you can use this as an opportunity to listen to your favorite parenting podcasts, or listen to an audiobook that can help you in your career. Over the course of a week, you can learn new skills, improve yourself, and be far more entertained by the doldrums of your otherwise boring commute.

Take conference calls (with a hands-free device). If you have a hands-free device, you may be able to take or initiate conference calls. If you have a daily stand-up meeting to keep your coworkers informed and up-to-date, this is the perfect opportunity; you can knock out half an hour of meetings with your half-hour commute, so you can put that half-hour to good use on more productive tasks.

Bike on nice days. As long as the weather is decent, you can bike to work. If you live in a city with bike lanes, you might be able to get to work faster than you could in a car. On top of that, you’ll be getting a workout, so you don’t have to hit the gym after work, and you’ll cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. The only potential problem here is working up a sweat—but if your office has the facilities for it, you can always clean up before the workday.

Consider public transportation. If your city has a functional and accessible public transportation system, consider taking advantage of it. In the long run, it’s going to be cheaper than driving a car, though it may take you a little longer to get to work than usual. The advantage here is that you won’t have to use your hands or pay strict attention while traveling; instead, you can catch up on emails, read, or do other work while commuting.

Start a carpool. For similar benefits to public transportation, consider starting a carpool with any coworkers who live nearby. If you take turns driving to work, each of you will get regular opportunities to knock out your work while commuting. On top of that, you’ll cut back on the wear and tear of your vehicle and reduce your environmental impact.

Eliminating the Commute

Of course, if you wanted a more drastic approach, you could strive to eliminate your commute. If you own your own business, you can try working from home, or setting up a few days of the week as “remote” days. If you work for a company and your role is something that could be managed from home, talk to your supervisors about the productivity and morale benefits of making the position a remote one. Even if you only get one remote day per week, it could free up hours of time over the long run.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Only Cleaning Trick You Need to Know If You Have Children

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There’s a Magnatile between your couch cushions, a rubber ducky under your pillow, a SpaghettiO stained rash guard on your bathroom floor. You definitely have kids (or a really, really messy spouse). Here’s a nifty trick for getting everything back to its rightful home stat.

What you need: A colored tote bag for every room in your house.

What you do: Walk around with all the bags on your arm, picking up items and dropping them into their relevant tote. Magatile? Playroom bag. Rubber ducky? Bathroom bag. Rash guard? Jason’s room bag. Then, once you’ve got everything picked up and sorted, bring the bag to its room and put everything away.

Bonus points: If you can get your kids to actually do this all for you.

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.