{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Archive for August, 2018

10 Quick & Easy Playroom Organization Tips

 

download (12).png

Is your playroom the one room in the house you skip when giving your friends “the tour”? Do you have a closet you haven’t opened in literal years for fear of the inevitable avalanche of headless Barbies and puzzles with one piece missing? Are you used to finding infant teething toys in your 6-year-old’s playroom? Have you accidentally taught your kids some curse words because you stepped on yet another pile of Legos barefoot? Fear not! It is possible to have a clean, organized playroom that you *gasp* actually enjoy spending time in with your kids. Wait, does that mean the kids will play happily while you… get an actual break? I think it does. We’ve got 10 quick and easy tips for creating an inviting, creative and tidy playroom that will guarantee it becomes the favorite room in the house. Now, if only this worked for the bathroom…

1. Keep it off the floor

Playrooms are a space for playing, learning and creating — none of which can be accomplished if there’s only a little bit of floor space available. Instead of subtracting space by covering the floor with bins and bookshelves, try wall-mounted storage, like these shelves with bins from Ikea.

Trofast wall shelves

Trofast shelves, $51.99 at Ikea

2. Bookshelves are pointless

Most playrooms have a traditional bookshelf with all the books crammed onto the shelf. But in that, all the child can see is the spine of the book, which unsurprisingly doesn’t inspire them to read. In a survey conducted by Scholastic, 91 percent of children say their favorite books are the ones they’ve picked out themselves, and 90 percent say they are more likely to finish reading a book they have picked out themselves. 

So use cheap picture ledges like these to display books on. Voilà! A library wall where you can actually see the books covers, therefore making it more likely your child will actually want to read them.

Picture ledge

White book ledge, $25 at Crate & Barrel

3. Create a designated spacer for each activity

Instead of having your playroom be a room where organization comes to die, try to create a specific designated space for each activity that together make a cohesive play area. Paint a wall with chalkboard paint for an art corner. Keep a stack of comfy pillows or beanbags by a wall-mounted bookshelf for a fun reading nook. By designating areas for each activity, it also makes it easier for your child to recognize each area, so when you say, “Let’s clean up the art corner!” you won’t get a blank stare as they try to figure out if the sticker covered couch or the jar of lidless markers under the stairs is the “art corner.”

4. Rotate toys

At the beginning of every month, or every couple of months, look around the playroom and see what toys just haven’t been played with very much recently. Take a bin, put those toys in it, and put it away. At the end of the month, bring those toys out again and put the un-played-with toys from that month in the bin. Repeat. You’ll be shocked at how excited your kids get when you pull out their old toys they haven’t seen in a while — it’s like they’re brand-new toys! If you bring them out of storage and your kids aren’t that excited, it’s time for those toys to be donated. This might seem a little tricky (who can remember to take a vitamin every day, let alone swap out bins of toys), but have no fear — set an alarm on your phone to remind you.

5. Double duty

Nothing in a playroom should serve only one function. There are countless ways to double up on an item’s functionality. Use storage boxes that double as seating, use a hanging pocket organizer to house both art supplies and small items that would get lost in bigger bins. Lastly, use picture-hanging wire and some clothespins to display your child’s handiwork (which conveniently doubles as a means of drying their painted works of art without taking up table space or floor space with a drying rack.)

6. Keep it open

It’s tempting to keep everything in bins out of sight, but “out of sight, out of mind” is a saying for a reason. If you keep everything hidden away, it’s not very inviting for your child, and isn’t the point of a playroom to, well, play? On storing all those markers, crayons and pencils, interior design guru Emily Henderson tells SheKnows, “…the original packaging tends to get damaged pretty quickly and can make it tricky for little fingers to pull out pencils and crayons. Storing art supplies out in the open can create a more inviting creative space, but the containers will help keep the space organized yet fun.” 

7. Stick ’em up

Is your child one of those kids who leaves toys strewn all over the floor for weeks because they’re “not through playing with them?” Well, now your carpet won’t be covered in cars. Make a part of one playroom wall magnetic with a magnetic board like this one from Amazon. It doubles as a dry-erase board, so you can draw roads, maps, etc., on it for your child’s cars to traverse. And if they insist you don’t move a thing, the cars will stick to the board for the maximum play with minimum cleanup.

Steelmaster magnetic board with dry-erase pad, pen and magnets, $29.19 at Amazon

8. Give everything a place

This is a simple enough tip that you (more so than your child) will find hard to follow. Take everything off a shelf. See how much stuff you’ve shoved into such a small storage space? Things stacked on top of each other, bins on top of bins — each shelf is most likely packed. Put three things back, and only three. By limiting the number of items on each shelf, you’re allowing each item to have its own space with plenty of space between each toy, which allows your child to really focus on what’s available. 

9. Get down

The thing about a playroom is that it’s meant for tiny people. You might not realize it, but we’re willing to bet there are a few bins you’ve unknowingly placed out of your child’s reach. Or a chair that’s just a little too daunting for your little one to climb up in comfortably. Sit down on the floor and look around the playroom from your child’s perspective. Make sure things are accessible to them and they are comfortable in the space. Foster independence — if they don’t like getting messy, keep a container of baby wipes next to the paints so they can clean themselves up without your help. If they insist on reading the books on the shelf that is just out of their reach, keep a stool nearby. Get down on their level and see what changes you can make.

10. Don’t expect perfection 

It’s not going to happen. The caps aren’t going back on the right color marker every time, there will be days that, despite your best efforts, it looks like an artistic, tower-building hurricane ripped through the playroom. You have too much going on in your life to stress out about one room in your house. These tips may be helpful, but might also seem overwhelming. Don’t panic. Choose what works for you and your family. Start small. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.

 

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

9 Investment Tips for Parents Who Are Setting Up a College Fund

download (11).png

We’d all love to remain in denial where our kids are concerned. We have so much time left. They’ll be my baby forever. They’ll never move away. The hard reality, though, is that we’ve got 18 years from the moment they enter this world until they are technically considered adults themselves. So we wouldn’t find it one bit surprising if you were already looking into setting up a college fund for your progeny’s future education. In fact, we’d say it’s a smart move. 

When your child is born, you are flooded with so many feel-good endorphins that the only things on your brain are cute little baby toes and that sweet squishy baby nose. Then you wake up one morning and that tiny bundle is waddling into kindergarten with an oversize backpack, and it hits you: college. Before you know it, your child will be trading times tables for an undergraduate course load. And then it hits you that a college education doesn’t usually come cheap. 

If the mere thought of your baby decorating their dorm and pledging a sorority or fraternity makes you want to break out in hives, just breathe. To help lighten your load, we tapped three investment experts to weigh in on tips for parents who are ready to set up a college fund. Here’s what they had to say. 

1. Start a 529 college savings plan ASAP

“A 529 college savings plan is the best way of saving for college because 529 plans provide tax and financial aid advantages over other college savings options,” Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and VP of research at Savingforcollege.com, tells SheKnows. Kantrowitz recommends investing after-tax dollars into a 529 plan, noting that earnings accumulated on a tax-deferred basis are totally tax-free if used to pay for qualified education expenses, and the money in a 529 plan is treated favorably by financial aid formulas. 

Plus, there may be additional tax perks. “Almost three dozen states offer income tax deductions for contributions to the state’s 529 plan. So, you should consider your state’s 529 plan(s). You should also consider the 529 plans of states with low fees — under 1 percent — since minimizing costs is the key to maximizing net returns,” says Kantrowitz.

2. Think incrementally

College Aid Planners‘ Joe Orsolini likens college savings to a marathon. “You can’t go out and think you are going to complete 26.2 miles without a little practice. You have to build up, run around the block, do a 5K, etc.,” he tells SheKnows, suggesting that parents should start saving in small amounts and increase the amount over time when feasible. 

“Saving for college is a lot easier in smaller pieces,” Orsolini advises. “Ultimately, you are going to write checks. Do you want to write a lot of small ones along the way or a big one when college starts? Slow and steady wins the race when saving for college.” 

3. There’s no such thing as too soon

We’ve already established that college is expensive, right? And that if you don’t save a little along the way, you’ll wind up staring down a possibly prohibitive lump sum. For these reasons, Student Debt Warriors founder and editor Tim Stobierski stresses that there’s no time like the present to start saving. 

“Start as early as possible, ideally from the day of your child’s birth. Even if you don’t currently have a child, you could open a plan in your own name if you plan to have a child in the future, make contributions and allow the money to grow. Then, once your child is born, you can move the plan to their name and Social Security number,” Stobierski tells SheKnows. 

4. Shoot for saving at least one-third of tuition

So, how much are we talking here? Well, per Kantrowitz, college costs triple over any 17-year period from birth to college enrollment. Therefore, you should shoot for saving about a third of future college costs. 

More: 7 Little Things You Can Do to Send Your Kid to School With Confidence

“Like any major life-cycle expense, the costs will be spread out over time, with a third coming from past income (savings), a third from current income and financial aid and a third from future income (loans),” Kantrowitz explains. “Combine the two rules, and your savings goal should be the full cost of a college education the year the child was born. That’s the equivalent of $250 per month for a child born this year who will be enrolling in an in-state public four-year college, $400 per month for an out-of-state public four-year college and $500 per month for a private four-year college.”

5. Get loved ones involved

Stobierski says a great way to get your college fund to add up even more over time is to think outside the box — or rather boxes, as in gifts. Getting family and friends to pitch in provides a practical opportunity to grow those savings.

“One easy way to do this, especially when the kids are younger: forgo expensive parties and gifts (especially for infants and toddlers) and instead funnel the extra funds to their 529 plan. Though parties are fun, your child most likely won’t remember them; and I’m willing to bet they’d be happier in the future without student loans than they would be now with another toy,” said Stobierski.

6. Make it automatic

As with many things in life, establishing a routine leads to results that are more consistent. In that regard, Orsolini recommends making savings contributions a habit. And the easiest way to do so is by having it done for you. 

“Sign up for a monthly auto-payment plan,” he suggests. Thanks to today’s automated technology, it’s easier than ever to set up monthly transfers from your bank account to go straight into your savings account or 529 plan. 

7. Keep an eye on the market

Of course, what you don’t want to do is play it fast and loose with all the money you’ve saved for your child’s college education — and end up taking a major financial hit when the market dips. 

Cautions Stobierski, “Remember that investing always involves risk. As your child ages and gets closer and closer to graduating from high school, make sure that your 529 plan becomes more conservative to offset the risk of a market decline. It would be really counterproductive to have saved money all of your child’s life just for it to be wiped away right when they need it most.”

8. Plan super-strategically

If you’re just starting to grow your family and you’re a type A when it comes to planning, you might want to consider this particularly interesting tidbit from Kantrowitz: college can actually be more affordable if your children are close in age. 

 

Here’s why. “Financial aid application formulas, such as the one used by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, divide the parent contribution portion of the expected family contribution by the number of children in college at the same time. So, going from one child in college at a time to two children in college at a time is like dividing the parent income in half,” Kantrowitz elaborates.

9. Realize that your college fund may not be necessary

At least not how you thought it would be, that is. “It’s important for parents to realize college isn’t right for every child, and while parents should encourage education, they should not pressure their child to earn a degree,” Stobierski says, adding this could ultimately lead to a child not graduating and yet still being saddled with expensive debt throughout their life. 

This doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t prepare by saving and investing, says Stobierski. If your child decides college isn’t a good fit for them, 529 college savings plan funds can be diverted toward trade or professional school and even transferred to a grandchild or other relative. 

 

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

Five Ways You Can Help Children Cope with Homesickness

twenty20_633d5703-2356-457f-8730-d07b63f9a0d7

When children spend a night away from home at a sleepover or on a family vacation, they may experience feelings of homesickness. Here are five ways to help them cope with these feelings.

 

  1. Talk about being away before your child is away. Some children might not even be aware of how homesickness feels, so it’s a good idea to have a conversation about what homesickness is and how you will be available if your child needs to talk.
  2. Keep the lines of communication open. Your child can keep in touch with you through text messages, phone calls and emails while she is away from home. This provides a comforting connection.
  3. Remind your child that it’s only temporary. A sleepover is only one night; a vacation may only last a week. The time away from home will not last forever, and neither will the homesickness.
  4. Encourage your child to do things that will take his mind off being homesick. Suggest that your child read a story, play a game or play with friends or siblings. Having fun is one of the best ways to cope with homesickness.
  5. Suggest that your child take something comforting along. A favorite stuffed animal, a blanket, a pillow or a familiar item that reminds your child of home can soothe him if he is homesick.

9 Real Working Moms Reveal How They Got Their Back-to-School Routine Down Pat

download (10).png

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

Read and learn from these seasoned pros.

As summer winds down, many working moms are thinking (fantasizing?) about school starting in just a few weeks (or today, if you live in some parts of the country).

As exciting as a new school year can be, the change in routine from lazy summer days to tightly-packed schedules can lead to more than a few tears—and I’m not even talking about the kids.

We asked real working moms to share their ingenious tips for making the transition back to school as smooth as possible. Here’s what they suggest:

Keep the same routine, no matter the season.

Some parents relax the rules in the summer. Not Ann Holman, who is in the Navy and lives in Jacksonville, FL. “I keep the same bedtime every day (even weekends), the same Internet/video game rules (only on the weekend), and the same diet (we don’t do random snacks at home),” she says. Consistency makes for an easier back-to-school adjustment, she says.

Streamline school-supply shopping.

 

school supplies

 

Buying in bulk is your friend.

iStock

When it comes to back-to-school, some things are worth paying a little extra for. “If your school has the school supply packs that you can pre-order, it is worth every penny,” says Annette Fontaine, an engineer from Austin, TX. Many other moms we surveyed echoed this tip.

Practice your new routine in advance

 

mom daughter school

 

And head off meltdowns.

iStock

As we all know, young kids can be finicky about their routines—a seemingly minor change can totally throw them off. This is especially true for that most emotionally fraught of rituals: the morning drop-off. Elyssa Morrison, an advertising executive in Hillsborough, NJ, makes things easier for her kids with this trick:

“My husband is a teacher and is always gone before I wake up,” she explains. “He helps out a lot when he’s home over the summer, but about a week before he goes back, I take it back over. I get myself up, get the kids up, do breakfast, and most importantly, do the daycare drop-offs. I find that this helps my kids get adjusted to Daddy not being there in the morning.”

Outsmart the brown bag.

 

kids lunch box

 

Go for a washable container—with compartments—instead.

iStock

There is perhaps no task working moms dread more than packing school lunches. (Or is it just me?)

Rachel Margolin, who lives in New York City, runs a consulting and publishing business with her husband and co-authored Balancepreneur, a book on work-life balance, says the key to easier lunches is in the container: “I got a set of Tupperware with three sections,” she says. “It makes packing a healthy lunch very easy, and there isn’t a bunch of Tupperware for your kid to try to keep organized at lunch, or for you to have to wash at the end of the day. And I think kids for some reason are more likely to eat the veggies out of the three-section Tupperware than to open a separate veggie cup.” (I plan to test out this theory ASAP.)

Shop early and often.

 

back to school shopping

 

You never know when you’ll catch a good sale.

iStock

When a new school year looms on the horizon, it’s not just pencils and notebooks working moms need to shop for. There are tons of other odds and ends to buy, often in different stores. An early start to shopping reduces the risk your child shows up on day one without a much-needed item.

“My daughter starts kindergarten August 1,” says Beth Newberry Gurney, a grant project manager from Shelbyville, KY, “so [in July] I ordered a backpack and lunchbox for her from Lands’ End and shoes for her from Amazon. I stopped by Staples on my way to work for supplies and put the rest on our Kroger ClickList.”

Prep the kids for early wake-ups.

 

early wake up kid

 

Rise and shine, kiddos.

iStock

If you’re not one of those aforementioned parents who keeps summer and school-year routines the same, you may be faced with the daunting task of getting your kids up earlier for school. (I don’t have first-hand experience with this yet, but I hear this is a particularly unpleasant chore with teenagers.)

Here’s how Grace Barbarino, a teacher from New York City, tackles the problem: “Since I’m a teacher, I go to work two days before my kids start,” she says. “They start getting used to the early wake-up times then. I wake them, dress them and get breakfast ready. By the time their first day rolls around, they are better adjusted to the wake-up time.”

Get everything on the calendar ASAP.

 

calendar

 

If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.

iStock

This scenario probably sounds familiar to many working moms: You schedule an important meeting at work, only to realize it conflicts with a “Professional Development Day” (i.e. day off) at your child’s school.

Here’s how Alison Zvolanek, who works in marketing and lives in Dallas, TX, avoids that headache: “I just went through the district and PTA calendars and added all the important dates to my calendar—meet the teacher, parent night, school holidays, early release days, etc.,” she says. (This is going to be the year I actually follow this tip!)

Do everything the night or week before.

 

backpacks by door

 

Then just grab it and go in the morning.

iStock

Lynn Little, a group home manager from Bristol, CT, is the kind of working mom who leaves nothing to chance.

“Use Sunday to plan for your week,” she advises. “Put outfits on hangers separately from the rest of the clothes. Put a bag on the hanger with undies and socks. Pack a week’s worth of lunches. Pack separate bags for each night to have all of your stuff for each activity. Put snacks if needed in the bag ahead of time. If you need something from the fridge for an activity put a label on it in the fridge and clip a note to the bag. At night, have the kids pack their school bags and set them up next to the door.”

Or … just wing it!

 

to do list car

 

A risky but sometimes necessary strategy.

iStock

Stacey Hawes, a boiler operator from Addison, MI, prefers to embrace the chaos: “I just like to go at it unprepared,” she says. “Makes it exciting.”

Here’s hoping for an exciting—or, for those who prefer, unexciting—Back to School 2018!

 

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

I Hate Exercise, so How Do I Get My Kid to Do It?

download.png

If you don’t exercise, it can be hard for your kids to be all that into it either. After all, they imitate you from the practically the moment you bring them home — they learn how to smile, how to talk and how to act from their parents. Unfortunately, as many parents know all too well, they also pick up on our bad habits, which can include a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise. If you’re like me, and not all that into exercising (or have health reasons that limit your ability to exercise), how do you get your kids to pick it up? 

We spoke with a few experts to get some tips on how to get your kids moving this summer and the rest of the year as well. 

Enroll them in sports

One way to get your kids to exercise is to be a little bit sneaky, but we don’t really mean that you need to lie to them. Instead, sign them up for a sport, like soccer, martial arts, gymnastics or basketball, Franklin Antoian, personal trainer and founder iBodyFit, tells SheKnows. 

“Your kid will have fun and get plenty of exercise during practice and games,” he says. In addition to regular bouts of running around, your child will also benefit from learning how to be a good teammate and can develop new friendships.

Get the whole family involved

Also, you don’t need to model actual workout behavior (such as lifting weights or running on a treadmill) to get your child to exercise, he notes. There are tons of family-centered activities that are plenty of fun, and they also have the added benefits of exercise. 

“Go hiking, biking and swimming with your child,” he explains. He says that they’re all fantastic forms of cardio, but you’re having so much fun, you don’t realize you’re getting a good workout. 

Take a walk

Also, consider methods of exercise that aren’t necessarily traditional. “It can be hard to get into a routine of exercising, especially if you do not enjoy the traditional routes of exercising, such as going for a run or going to the gym,” Dr. Alex Tauberg, sports chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SheKnows. 

He explains that exercise can be any activity that gets your heart rate up for at least 20 minutes. Neighborhood walks are an excellent way to get your heart pumping, and kids love going out and about. Walk around for a half hour, and guess what? Both you — and your kids — have exercised. 

Encourage your kids to exercise — the right way

It’s not just a matter of simply telling your kids that exercise is good for you, Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SheKnows. 

For starters, she says it’s vital that parents don’t let on that they hate exercise. Instead, she has a few other recommendations. 

“Encourage them by telling them how proud you are of them when they are exercising,” she explains. “Children are influenced by telling them about the benefits they will gain in their everyday lives. For example, if they exercise, they will be able to run faster and jump higher. They most likely will not be convinced to exercise by telling them that it helps their blood pressures, cholesterol and weight.”

It’s all in how you talk about it

While it’s not quite as easy as directing your kids to get moving while you’re on the couch, getting involved and moving around yourself, if you’re able, will help your child, even if you’re not hitting the weights or going for a run every day. And keep those positive words and encouragements coming, especially if exercise is hard for you due to health problems. Paint exercise in a positive light, and your kids may be keener to try something new. 

 

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

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

download (9).png

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

download (8).png

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

download (7).png

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

_BH_5537.jpg

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

download (6).png

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.