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Archive for December, 2018

How to Turn Washing Dishes Into a Stress-Relieving Activity

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When done a particular way, washing dishes can reduce stress and boost your mood.

Let’s be real, doing chores isn’t exactly a blast. Cleaning, vacuuming, and scrubbing the dreaded toilet may not sound pleasant, but as it turns out, at least one thing on your to-do list could be good for your mental health. So long as it’s done right.

In one small study, researchers at Florida State University had 51 student participants wash dishes. No, this wasn’t just a way to get the kids to do some housework, but rather a way to understand how mindfulness affects everyday tasks.

Half of the participants were asked to wash the dishes after reading a short descriptive dishwashing passage. The other half were asked to perform the task after reading a passage on mindfulness. The mindfulness passage read in part:

“While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes. This means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly. Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers concluded that participants who washed dishes in a more mindful way increased their feelings of inspiration by 25 percent and lowered their nervousness levels by 27 percent. Conversely, the group that simply washed the dishes didn’t gain any benefit from completing the task.

“It appears that an everyday activity approached with intentionality and awareness may enhance the state of mindfulness,” the study concludes.

“I was particularly interested in how the mundane activities in life could be used to promote a mindful state and, thus, increased overall sense of well-being,” Adam Hanley, a doctoral candidate in FSU College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology program the study’s author, shared in a statement.

So, how can you turn your dishwashing into a mental break? Do as the participants did by focusing on the good things involved in the task like the sweet smell of the soap, the warmth of the water on your hands, and the feel of the dishes passing through the water. Then, just stay present in these moments and take them as a glorious few minutes to be quiet with yourself. Who knows? You may start liking your chores after all.

 

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

Turn off the tech early so kids get a great night’s sleep

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CHILDREN’S tech obsession can be hard enough for parents to deal with during the day – but new evidence suggests they should be concerned about the effect it’s having on kids at night too.

Research shows that the 40% of children aged between six and 11 years who use mobile phones, laptops or tablets in the hours before bedtime are getting around 20 minutes less sleep a night than kids who don’t use tech in the run-up to bedtime. So children who use tech before bed every night could end up with a sleep debt of around 121 hours a year.

The research, led by cognitive developmental psychologist Dr Anna Weighall from the University of Sheffield, in conjunction with the University of Leeds and Silentnight, questioned 1,000 parents, and also found that on average, children slept 60 minutes less if technology devices were in the room, compared to those who slept in a tech-free zone.

“Technology can benefit our lives in so many ways,” says Dr Weighall, “but parents need to be aware of the negative impact it can have on children when it comes to sleep.

“The presence of tablets and phones in a child’s bedroom, even if they’re switched off, can leave them feeling unsettled.

“A 20-minute sleep debt may not seem a lot, but if you look at it over a year, or even throughout their childhood years, you begin to see the significant impact of a tech-filled bedtime routine. Having clear rules about the use of technology close to bedtime is a small change that has the potential to make a really big difference to our children’s daily lives.”

When light levels drop in the evening, our circadian timer switches on and stimulates the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, but the use of tech before bed disrupts this natural process, explains Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, Silentnight’s sleep expert.

Dr Ramlakhan says screens on phones and tablets emit blue light which suppresses the production of melatonin and stimulates production of the chemical dopamine, which makes us feel alert.

“By establishing a regular sleep routine, without mobiles or tablets, children will sleep better, perform better at school, and be happier and healthier as a result,” she stresses.

“Concentration and the ability to learn can be severely affected by lack of sleep, so I urge children and parents to put down technology at least 90 minutes before bedtime.”

The research also showed one in 10 parents feel unable to ensure their child gets the sleep they need. However, child sleep specialist Andrea Grace has these tips to help school-age children get a good night’s sleep: TEN LITTLE STEPS TO THE LAND OF NOD SCREENS OFF. Turn all screens off at least half an hour before bath time and don’t have TVs or computers in the bedroom.

ROUTINE IS VITAL. A consistent bedtime routine will help your child feel safe, and ready to sleep, although Andrea warns that parents with more than one child must be organised.

EARLY HOMEWORK. Try to get homework done well before bedtime. It’s nice to have quiet time together before bed, chatting or reading.

NO STIMULANTS. Avoid fizzy drinks, chocolate or other foods containing stimulants. Encourage your child to have a nourishing evening meal which is rich in carbohydrate and protein.

GIVE THEM A COMFY BED. Make sure your child’s bed and mattress are comfortable, and they have the right amount of bedding for the room temperature.

ATTENTION PLEASE! During the preparation for bed, give your child or children your fullest possible attention, and try not to take telephone calls.

“As well as feeling safe, children need to feel loved in order to sleep well,” explains Andrea, “so show your child how important they are by giving your time, even if that time is being shared with siblings.”

 

This article was written by Lisa Salmon from Derby Evening Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 Ways To Pack More Gratitude Into Your Life

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Inspired ways for families to embrace and celebrate the spirit of the season — and beyond.

By Angela Zimmerman

It happens every holiday: You’re so caught up in shopping, traveling, cooking and planning that you forget to focus on the stuff that really counts. From honoring family traditions and treasuring togetherness to practicing compassion and counting your blessings, the real magic far exceeds the chaos that has come to saturate the season.

This year, why not put gratitude on your to-do list? You’ll feel better, your kids will be happier, and it’ll bring you closer together than any toy or trinket.

Gratitude is a unique character strength in that you can actually teach it to your kids — rather than, say, crossing your fingers and hoping they’ll figure it out. It’s a quality that transcends religion, philosophy, culture and ceremony. It has been scientifically proven to boost happiness.

It doesn’t always come naturally, though. Kids can be self-centered — and with the rampant consumerism at every turn of the holiday season, it can be hard for them to look beyond the shiny storefronts and their own wish lists. But by teaching, modeling, reinforcing and nurturing gratitude, you’re giving your kids a gift that will last well beyond the holidays — and hopefully a lifetime.

Try these tips to really drive the messages home.

Create A Grateful Home Environment

Have a discussion with your kids about what gratitude is and what it means to feel grateful. Find natural ways to weave it into your family life, whether it’s pausing before a meal or ending each day with a moment of reflection. Encourage your kids to think about what they’re grateful for every single day, whether it’s the sun in the sky, the fluffy family dog, or participating in the school play.

Ditch The Gadgets

Put the devices down and spend time together as a family around the dinner table. You don’t have to keep the convo positive 100 percent of the time. But even as you discuss current events or something that happened during your kid’s school day, make an effort to find something to be grateful for. You can always just say, “Thank you for sharing.”

Watch TV  And Movies That Inspire Gratitude

Television shows and movies— especially those with relatable characters and easy-to-follow storylines — make a big impact on kids. Use the time together to teach kids the value of being aware of and thankful for the good things in their lives — and the rewards of taking the time to return kindness.

Play, Read And Watch Together 

Co-viewing and co-playing have proven benefits for kids, beyond just being fun and a bonding experience. Kids of all ages can reap the benefits of being read aloud to, and watching TV or movies as a family offers an opportunity to cuddle and share the experience of seeing and hearing the same thing. And, of course, playing video games as a family promotes teamwork, problem-solving and perseverance — all attributes that make for a well-rounded kid. Take advantage of these times to share your values.

Express Yourself 

Say what you’re grateful for — out loud. You can make it a family ritual or privately capture thoughts in a gratitude journal. Daily, weekly, monthly — any amount of time spent acknowledging all the good stuff in life is a super-beneficial habit.  

Give Back 

Serving others instills in kids a sense of pride and appreciation for their blessings. That can be done financially, through volunteer work or social activism and outreach. Check out this list of charitable apps and sites and this list of online resources that help kids do good

Send Thank-you Notes 

Sending cards through snail mail can really make someone’s day, but sending online thank-you cards or an email is also a valuable way of voicing appreciation.

Read Inspiring Stories 

Reflecting on the hardships that people endure can really put things in perspective. Read the acknowledgements section in a book and discuss whom the author thanked and why. Need ideas? Try books about the Holocaust, memoirs, stories about social justice and grief and books that simply inspire kids to be grateful.

Take A Walk Down Memory Lane 

Flipping through scrapbooks (hard-copy or online) or scrolling through social media memories is a fun way to look back at good times with friends and family. A birthday cake by candlelight, pics of last year’s snowstorm, two friends arm in arm … these memories are precious, and sometimes are just the spark of recollection can brighten a dark day.

Focus On The Positive 

Even in the midst of scary news, endless wonderful things are going on every second around the world. Counterbalance some of the sad stuff. Sites like Good News Network and Today’s Good News vertical are good ones to check out.

 

This article was written by Common Sense Media from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Holi…daze.

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Create Calm.

Daze. Do you ever find yourself in a daze during December days? I call in the Holi…daze. I have found myself, dazing out the window…worrying. At times, I have found myself paralyzed.

Dependent on how you celebrate December and what you choose to put on your ‘to do list’, chaos may be created. I am challenging myself and all of you to choose to create calm. My 2017 mantra is “Create Calm”. I strive for this daily and don’t always succeed-but, I will continue to try and try again, like the “Little Engine that Could” because it finally did, right?

Create Calm. Calm may help our creativity, our circle of trust, our clarity. We are all balancing chaos during December: the holiday gatherings, school activities, shopping, working on year end deadlines, but…we don’t have to make lunches for kids for 2 weeks? That’s cause for decking the halls! I plan for December Days every year and it still hits me hard. So, I’m leaving you with some “how-to’s”. Here are a few tips that I try and follow during this month (hoping they are helpful):

1 . Lists Santa isn’t the only one who needs a list this time of year. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s all good (said in the Pete the Cat-like voice). This is a time of year for fellowship, spending time with family and friends. Every night, I re-write my list of what I WILL do (include breaks, workouts, what you will eat, etc…every detail). In moments of chaotic craziness, this will act as your guide book when the “December Daze” decks you.

  1. Keep it Real. Will you really be able to accomplish all you have listed?

  2. Forgive and Forget. Forgive yourself or having the move a few things to the next day or 2 on your list and the hard part, FORGET ABOUT IT.

  3. Have fun. Focus on Friends & Family. Phones forgotten. The holidays equal fun. The definition of holidays is not to be in your ‘holidaze’. We’ve all witnessed or felt “dashing. dashing”-not through the snow, but through December. By creating calm, let us tattoo the traditions and thoughtfulness from the top of our head to our toes. Traveling through and really practicing playfulness, peace, and presence.

How will you create calm during December? Can you do it? I think you can…

 

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

6 Winter Holiday Traditions from Around the World

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Help your kids get a sense of life in other countries by introducing them to a variety of holiday rituals celebrated around the globe during this time of year.

Here are a few examples to get your crew exploring different cultures—maybe you’ll even create a new family tradition!

Ethiopia: Here, many families celebrate Christmas on January 7—though most people actually refer to the holiday as either Genna or Ganna, after a hockey-like game that is traditionally played on that afternoon.

The Netherlands: Children set out pairs of shoes on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, December 6. In the middle of the night, St. Nick pays a visit, filling the shoes with small treats such as chocolates, candies, and toys.

Italy: Kids write letters to their parents promising good behavior (and apologizing for recent misdeeds), as well as telling them how much they love them. The letters are then placed under Dad’s plate on Christmas Eve; he reads them all aloud once the meal is through.

Mexico: December 28, Day of the Holy Innocents, is celebrated much in the same way as April Fool’s Day. Children—and adults—play innocent pranks. If successful, the trickster gives his victim a candy treat.

Sweden: St. Lucia Day, December 13, is the beginning of the holiday season; one girl in each home dresses as Lucia, patron saint of light, in a white gown and a crown of leaves—and then wakes everyone by bringing a tray of breakfast treats.

Korea: Families celebrate January 1 by making Duk Gook—also spelled Ddeokguk—or rice-cake soup. According to tradition, enjoying a bowlful on New Year’s Day allows everyone to advance a year in age.

Conversation Starters

Use these talking points—provided by the experts at patheos.com, a site dedicated to world religions—to help your kids understand the meaning behind certain traditions.  

Why do people light candles each night of Hanukkah?

“We light them to remind ourselves of an ancient miracle that occurred after invaders of Israel tried to force the Jewish people to practice a different religion. When they refused, the invaders ransacked their temple, destroying almost everything. The Jews pushed them out, then hurried to restore the holy site. The first time they lit the oil lamp, there was only enough oil for one day. Yet to their surprise, it burned for eight days and nights.”

—Rabbi Keith Stern, leader of Temple Beth Avodah, in Newton, Massachusetts

Why does Kwanzaa last for seven days?

“Inspired by many African nations that hold weeklong harvest celebrations, Kwanzaa was created in the U.S. as an African-American holiday. It draws on these traditions in order to connect African Americans to their African heritage. Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a different principle (including unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith) to help us honor our family, community, and culture.”

—Anthea Butler, Ph.D., associate professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia

Why do people exchange Christmas gifts?

“Each year, Christians honor the birth of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago. Shortly after Jesus was born, Magi, often called the wise men, came from the East to Bethlehem and offered the infant gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. As part of the Christmas celebration, we give gifts too—to our friends, family, and the poor and hungry—as a way of remembering the gifts given to Jesus.”

—Rev. Emile R. “Mike” Boutin Jr., co-pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Walpole, Massachusetts

Start Your Own Family Traditions

1. Capture memories

You’ll probably make videos of the gift-giving frenzy anyway, so why not use your phone or camera to record interviews with your kids too? It’s a great way to document their changes from year to year. Try these questions for your annual “exclusive.”

  • What’s your favorite thing we did together as a family this year?
  • Who are your best friends? What do you like about them?
  • How is school this year? Which subject do you enjoy most and why?
  • What do you daydream about?
  • What’s the nicest thing a friend or someone in the family has done for you this year?

2. Lend a hand all year ’round

Volunteering during the holidays gets kids in the habit of helping those in need, but so many families do it that most charities see a huge surge in donations and participation each December—it’s every other time of the year that they need attention. Get your family to keep up the bighearted action in the off-season by…

  • volunteering one afternoon a month at a food bank. For locations, visit feedingamerica.org.
  • sponsoring an underprivileged child abroad. Check out savethechildren.org to make an ongoing impact on someone’s future.
  • asking a local nursing home’s volunteer coordinator about activities your family can help out with regularly, like craft sessions or reading hour.

 

 

Pause and Reflect

3. Pause and reflect

Give your family a chance to think during the holiday rush: During December, share a half-minute of silence each night at dinner. Tell the kids to focus on whatever they like—something good that happened that they’re grateful for, positive thoughts for a sick friend, a wish for the coming year. These moments together each day will help you feel more calm, connected, and appreciative of what you have the rest of the year too.

4. Steal these reader rituals

A unique tradition teaches kids that they’re part of something special—your family—and binds this holiday to future ones.

“One year, the day before Christmas, I was about to snap. So I threw food in a pack and told my family we were having a picnic. Though confused, they went along with it. We live in a mountain valley, so getting to a secluded spot was easy. The downside: It was so cold that the food froze! Our ‘Doomsday Picnic’ has become a tradition (we go better prepared now!). It’s a time to relax—we love it.” —Lynnette F. Harris; Millville, Utah

“Every year during the holidays our entire family sits down to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It makes us realize that we are not as dysfunctional as we might think!” —Betsy Gravalec; Marietta, Georgia

“To help our kids really understand the holiday, on Christmas morning we throw a birthday party—complete with cake—to celebrate Jesus’s birth. Sometimes the kids seem as excited about the balloons as they are about the gifts!” —Kelly Wilson Mason; Ohio

“Rather than giving gifts to all 17 family members, we each draw a name and then give the money we would have spent on Hanukkah gifts for everyone else as a donation to charity. Before opening presents, we all share what we did with the money to benefit someone less privileged than we are.” —Carol Hochman Dierksen; Orlando, Florida

“Every year, when the first snow falls I make ‘First Day of Snow’ fudge, just like my mom did. You could make it any time, but it just wouldn’t taste the same.” —Kris Wittenberg; Eagle, Colorado

 

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

25 thoughtful gifts for teachers to thank them around the holidays

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The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.


driftaway coffee gifts mother's day
Teachers form the backbone of our educational system. They teach us everything we need to know in and beyond the classroom, and with endless enthusiasm, patience, and compassion along the way.

As the year winds down, it’s only proper to show them some love and appreciation. Teaching any age group — kids, teens, adults — is a difficult job that most of us can only attempt to understand. So, as you say goodbye before winter break, make sure to give your teacher the thanks they deserve. 

They have more than enough mugs in their cabinet by now that you probably shouldn’t default to giving them one, no matter how witty the slogan on it is. Instead, give them one of these 25 thoughtful and useful gifts. If you’re not already one of their favorite students, you surely will be after they receive something from this list.

A fragrant candle

 

Otherland

Gift an Otherland Candle, $36

These sophisticated coconut and soy wax candles come in scents ranging from refreshing Canopy (fig, ivy greens, mint) to rich Chandelier (champagne, saffron, leather). The beautiful look, delightful scents, and personalized matchbox make this candle gifting experience special

A detailed poster of the opening lines from famous novels

 

Pop Chart Lab

Gift the Pop Chart Lab ‘Diagrammatical Dissertation on Opening Lines of Notable Novels’, $30

English and grammar teachers will appreciate this chart diagramming the opening lines from 25 famous works of fiction. After admiring the partitioned, color-coded picto-grammatical representations, they’ll want to read the books all over again. 

A portable tea set

 

Nordstrom

Gift the Zens Mobile Moon Portable Tea Set, $49.99

Don’t just give them the tea infuser. Give them the cups and a handy carrying case, too, so they can enjoy a hot cup at work or at home. The glass teapot has an integrated infuser plus two indentations for easy holding, and the tea cups are double-walled and resistant to high temperatures. All the pieces fit snugly in the eye-catching hardshell case so they can take their favorite tea from home to school and beyond. 

A cell phone stand

 

Amazon

Gift the Lamicall Cell Phone Stand, $9.99

The simple, sleek, and durable stand is the perfect way to keep their device upright at just the right angle as they work. While it’s a no-frills gift, it’s undoubtedly practical and useful. 

A fun tape dispenser

 

Amazon

Gift the Otto the Otter Tape Dispenser, $12.29

A cute twist to the traditional, ugly tape dispenser will instantly liven up their desk. 

Summer-themed leather luggage stickers

 

Away

Gift the Away Pool Stickers, $15

Teachers are just as happy as their students to start summer vacation. These carefree, colorful stickers for their luggage set the mood for the sunny summer ahead. 

A small potted plant for their desk

 

The Sill

Gift the Snake Plant Zeylanica, $11

Instead of gifting a flower bouquet, try an indoor plant. It lasts longer and requires less maintenance, but livens up their desk just as well. 

A unique bookend

 

UncommonGoods

Gift the Hero Bookend, $25

Whether they’re used in the classroom or for your teacher’s personal collection, or for lesson planbooks or comic books, these bookends make for a quirky gift. 

Rich chocolate-covered strawberries

 

Shari’s Berries

Gift Shari’s Berries Gourmet Dipped Fancy Strawberries, from $24.99

The top spot in our book for the best chocolate berries goes to Shari’s Berries, whose hand-dipped white, milk, and dark chocolate strawberries have our mouths watering just thinking about them. They’ll arrive chilled with an ice pack so you don’t need to worry about a mess arriving at your teacher’s door. 

A custom rubber stamp

 

Etsy

Gift a Custom Stamp, from $15

Gift the stamp they’ll always reach for first as they check and grade homework. You can get creative by submitting a picture of your teacher’s face or their favorite catchphrase. There are three different mount choices and many more size options. 

A coloring book full of phrases your teacher can relate all too well to

 

Amazon

Gift the Teacher Life: A Snarky Chalkboard Coloring Book, $8.99

There are some situations that only teachers can understand, and this adult coloring book perfectly captures them with humor and cheekiness. The illustrations are single-sided, so they can take the page out and frame it if they so wish. 

A coffee subscription

 

Driftaway Coffee Instagram

Gift a Driftaway Coffee subscription, from $39

Chances are the coffee in the teacher’s lounge isn’t exactly top-notch. Thankfully, Driftaway Coffee’s is, and keeps things interesting by sending new whole bean varieties every month and improving upon the next selection based on their feedback. By the end of the school year, your teacher will have a good idea of the type of coffee they really like. 

A personalized desk sign

 

Etsy

Gift the Personalized Desk Wedge Sign, $19.99-$29.99

The wedge is a solid natural hardwood while the sign is shatter-resistant fogged acrylic glass, allowing it to last through any teacher’s illustrious career. 

Mini hand sanitizers

 

Olika

Gift the Olika Minnie 3-Pack, $19.49

Sister to the original Birdie hand sanitizer that’s trying to disrupt an oft-overlooked industry, the Minnie is the perfect little desktop and handbag companion. Your teacher’s hands are bound to get dirty while interacting with a room full of kids, but this nourishing, non-irritating formula will fix that. 

A personalized notebook, planner, or address book

 

Minted

Gift the Teach From The Heart Notebook, from $16

Give this one to the best teacher you know. You’ll be able to customize the cover design, interior cover, and interior format of the notebook. 

A novelty USB flash drive

 

Amazon

Gift the Classic Volkswagen USB 2.0 Flash Drive, $19.99

The wheels actually move and the headlights flash when they plug the stick into their device. This is one flash drive they’re won’t easily lose. 

A thank you card

 

Etsy

Gift the Donut Teacher Card, $7.29

Sometimes all it takes is a simple note to show your appreciation. Include a thoughtful, hand-written note to thank your teacher for all their hard work this year, and it will go a long way in helping them remember you. 

A pillow massager for their neck and back

 

Amazon

Gift the Zyllion Shiatsu Pillow Massager, $44.95

If you’ve ever caught your teacher looking stressed or tense, you’re probably partially to blame — but you can fix that with this heated at-home massager that feels almost like a professional massage. It has four deep-kneading rotating nodes to relieve aches, knots and muscle tension. 

A tote bag

 

BAGGU

Gift the BAGGU Giant Pocket Tote, $20

BAGGU makes great bags and its machine-washable cotton totes are no exception. Help your teacher carry all those lesson plans, tests, and homework papers with this cute yet sturdy tote. 

Gift cards

 

Target

Buy a gift card from: Amazon, Target, Staples

At the end of the day, teachers will always appreciate a gift card, especially if it’s to a store where they can stock up on supplies. 

Comfortable waffle slippers

 

Parachute

Gift the Parachute Waffle Slippers, $29

These cushioned slippers are made with 100% long-staple Turkish cotton for extra absorbency and comfort. Ideal for lounging and relaxing, they’ll bring a feeling of everyday luxury, but without the luxury price tag.  

A smart home device

 

Amazon

Gift the Amazon Echo Dot, $19.99

In and outside the classroom, the small smart home device is endlessly useful. They can play Jeopardy, ask for recipes, listen to the news, turn lights on, play music, reorder products, and more. 

An organizer that looks like a common office supply

 

Urban Outfitters

Gift the Oversized Paper Clip Note Organizer, $12

This oversized paper clip is even more useful than its original form because it can hold and organize multiple pieces of paper, postcards, and photos.

A personalized key ring

 

Leatherology/Instagram

Gift the Leatherology Hotel Keychain, $15

The full grain leather keychain is a perfectly composed accessory that they’ll love to carry, especially if you personalize it (for only $5) with a monogram. 

Beautiful note cubes inspired by an American artist

 

The Met Store

Gift the Louis C. Tiffany Favrile Note Cube Set, $35

Known for his stained glass work, Louis C. Tiffany lends his colorful and delicate designs to these trays, which hold 500 loose paper sheets and 50 color paper clips. 

This article was written by Connie Chen from Business Insider and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to know your kids are contagious (and when to keep them at home)

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No one likes to be sick. As a parent, when you feel terrible, you just wish that the world would stop and you could just curl up on your bed and sleep. Unfortunately, this is not how the world works. Even when you are sick there are things that have to be done.

However, when your kids are sick, you’ll need to decide whether they are contagious or not before sending them off on their way. You don’t want to spread whatever your child has to the entire school.

So how do you know when your child is contagious?

1. Fever

Fever is a sign that your body is still fighting the virus or bacteria. A fever is always a sign of sickness, so if you notice that your child’s temperature is running high, it’s a sign they should stay home today.

2. Runny nose

If their sinuses are draining, they are sick — despite the color of the drainage. “All colds are contagious regardless of mucus color.” says Sara DuMond, MD.

3. Feeling sick

We live in a culture where even if you are feeling sick, you just keep going. When our kids say they feel sick, it can be easy to ignore it and send them on their way.

However, that might not be the best approach. DuMond said, “When your child is feeling his worst (days three through five), he’s most contagious. But symptoms can last for up to two weeks, and he’s contagious as long as he’s sick. Of course, you can’t quarantine him for days. So wash your hands frequently after touching him, and keep him away from other kids during the … peak.”

“In most of us, flu is contagious for about a week. By the time you’re feeling better, you have probably stopped spewing virus particles everywhere,” Dr. Salber says. Therefore, if you are feeling really sick you are probably still contagious.

When should you keep the kids home?

If you suspect your child is contagious you should keep your kids home — it might be inconveinent, it might be unexpected, but it’s the right thing to do.

What to do?

If your child is sick there are a lot of options. You can see if you can work from home, take a sick day yourself or call the grandparents or a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your child. Be sure to call the school and excuse your child’s absence and work on getting their day’s work so they don’t fall behind.

 

This article was written by Christa Cutler from Family Share and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

4 Shortcuts to the Most Impressive Holiday Cookies I’ve Ever Made—And They’re No-Bake

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How does she do it? Cheating of course. My secrets for deceptively fancy holiday cookies.

My Nutella Cones with Hazelnut Praline are the type of easy-to-make, destined-to-impress shortcut cookie recipe this (and every) holiday season needs. They’re inspired by the Nutty Buddy, an ice cream filled, chocolate dipped, peanut sprinkled number. But seeing as it’s December, an ice cream filling isn’t appropriate. So, I swapped the frozen stuff for Nutella, threw in a few other pre-made shortcuts, and came up with the fanciest, easiest cookies I’ve ever made. And they’re no-bake to boot.

Instead of making every part from scratch, I put together a cookie shortcut dream team. The result? A stunning and stunningly simple cookie guaranteed to make you the countess of the cookie swap.

Don’t tell anybody, but these are my secret shortcuts:

The Cone

A simple sugar cone offers the same slightly sweet, cracker-like experience of my first favorite snack, Barnum’s Animal Crackers. They’re just the right texture and not-too-sweet base for what becomes a decadent finished product. I ordered these mini cones from amazon.com (actually, looks like I got the last box!) but you can use a serrated knife to trim the tops off of regular-sized sugar cones. Use the leftover cone bits in place of graham crackers for a delicious press-in crust. (Try it in this sweet potato pie.)

The Creamy Center

Nutella behaves a little like a homemade ganache—a spreadable mixture of chocolate and cream often used to fill truffles or no-bake pies. It holds its shape but stays pliable at room temperature making it the perfect shortcut filling for my (alternate name) Winter BuddiesTM. For extra texture, I folded in a handful of toasted hazelnuts but you could use toasted almonds or salted peanuts if you want. The nutty filberts help balance the sweetness of the Nutella but if you’re a No Nuts Person you can leave them out.

The Crispy Shell

To create the crispy outer shell, I made a homemade version of “Magic Shell”—an easy-to-make combo of chopped chocolate and coconut oil—but you could definitely use the pre-made stuff.

The shell does two things: first, it lines the cones with a water-tight chocolate seal. Without this coating, the cones get soggy as they soak up moisture from the Nutella filling. You can skip it, but the cones will lose their crunch after about 8 hours. Once your cones are filled with the nutty Nutella mixture, you’ll dip the finished bites in more magic shell to contain the gooey interior.

The Sparkle

Crushed hazelnut praline adds a sparkly finish to these otherwise brown on brown treats. I made a homemade praline but you can use store-bought candied nuts (or those rectangular sesame candies) for a similar effect. Or, skip the molten sugar part and top the cones with more chopped nuts. Just be sure to add them while that outer coating of magic shell is slightly tacky so they stick.

And if all this still feels too fancy, tie a big ribbon around your favorite box and call it a (holi)day. For more homemade cookie inspiration, check out some of our favorite cookie recipes here.

 

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

6 questions you should ask your kids every single day

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In today’s digital world it is becoming harder and harder to actually connect with our children. They come home from school to the waiting television and usually end up playing video games on the tablet while watching TV (no judgement, we all do it). We don’t really know our children because none of us really know how to communicate anymore.

The typical daily parental question is, “How was your day?” And the typical response from our kids is “fine,” “good,” “OK” or any other one word response they can come up with without actually thinking. This question is lame. It will always get you a one-word answer and leave you wondering why you even bothered to ask. The key to understanding our children is to trick them into talking by asking questions that cannot be answered with “fine” or “good.”

Here’s some proven suggestions that will give you true insight into your child’s life.

1. What made you laugh today?

The random things that kids find funny are absolutely hilarious. My nieces and nephews tell the worst jokes, but their insane laughter is contagious and we always end up laughing together. You know what they say; families who laugh together, stay together!

2. What made you sad today?

Hopefully the answer to this question is nothing too major and depressing, but kids have emotions too. No one likes to voluntarily share sad things that happen every day and our kids are no different, but children are also inherently honest. When asked point-blank, in a place they feel safe, they will open up. You may have to pry, but it will be worth it.

3. Who did you play with today (note that teenagers prefer the phrase”hang out”)?

As much as it may worry us, our kids’ friends will have a huge impact on who they become, which is why we have to know who they are. This is a subtle way to find out if Susie is still hanging out with bad news Bobbie or if she has found new friends to play hopscotch with during recess. When you know your children’s friends, you don’t have to hope they will stay out of trouble.

4. What made you proud today?

Sometimes we are too preoccupied to fully appreciate the lint collection being shoved in our faces right at dinner time, so give your children this chance to brag a little bit and show off their creations or good deeds for the day. This also creates a killer opportunity to praise your child and to reinforce good behaviors.

5. Who made you smile today?

People are the source of true happiness and true friends will bring that joy to the forefront. The people who make your kids smile on a daily basis are the ones worth keeping around. Those are the true, lifelong friends that will hopefully be in their lives forever.

6. What’s something interesting you learned today?

This is the ultimate show and tell moment for your children. Despite what they may think, our children really are learning new things daily. This question makes them actually stop and think about what they learned and helps them internalize those things by condensing and sharing them with you.

You may be thinking there is not enough time in the day to sit and ask all of these questions and that’s OK. Tweak these questions to work for you and your family. Ask them all at once or twice a week, ask a couple each day or ask them all every day. If it is hard to talk during family dinner time, then bedtime is the perfect opportunity to review the day. Sit on the side of your child’s bed (even your teenagers) tuck them in and ask these six great questions. Try it in a way that works for you. You will be grateful you did, even if your kids do complain you’re getting repetitive.

 

This article was written by Kelsey Robertson from Family Share and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 fun winter activities for kids

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Wondering how on earth you’re going to entertain the kids all winter now the nights are drawing in and the clocks have gone back?

Then read on!

I don’t know about you but it seems infinitely easier to entertain the kids in summer, when you can throw open the back door and go to the park with the sun on your faces, than it does in winter when you’ve got to wrap them up and really think about where you’re going and for how long for.

It might be tempting to draw the curtains and switch on the telly, but with a bit of lateral thinking it’s actually easier than you think to make the most of the great outdoors in winter.

This year we’re partnering with Simplyhealth and their #MyEveryStep campaign, which is all about the little steps we can take to lead healthier lives, and as autumn turns to winter we’ve come up with 10 fun winter activities for kids to help keep them (and you) entertained as the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer.

10 fun winter activities for kids

1. Make a bird feeder. It doesn’t have to be super complicated – all you need are three things: a cardboard toilet roll tube, peanut butter and bird seed. Spread the peanut butter over the toilet roll tube, roll it in the bird seed several times so it sticks all over, then thread the tube over a branch outside. Birds and wildlife will come flocking and the looks on the faces of your own little birds is priceless.

2. Go puddle jumping. Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you need to stay indoors. Put their wellies on, zip their raincoats up and let them jump in puddles until their heart’s content. Trust me, it will keep them entertained for waaay longer than you think.


winter activities for kids

3. Play conker maths. Collect as many conkers as you can – which is huge fun in itself – then charge them with the task of counting them and sorting them into groups from smallest to biggest. If you’ve got a pair of scales even better – they’ll be at it for hours.

4. Go toadstool hunting. Toadstools start popping up in forests all over the UK as soon as the nights start drawing in, and they really are a sight to behold – whatever your age. We recently went looking for some while taking part in BBC Children in Need’s #HatsOn campaign (see 5 easy ways to raise money for BBC Children in Need) which is all about making the most of the great outdoors and the kids walked much further than they would normally do (without complaining!) in search of the much-coveted red ones.


winter activities for kids

5. Clear up leaves. If you’ve got a garden the chances are you’ve got leaves that need clearing away at this time of year. Turn a chore into an activity the whole family can enjoy by collecting the leaves and jumping in them – this is the stuff memories are made of! It’s a brilliant sensory experience for little ones too.

6. Make a bonfire. Autumn is the perfect time of year to gather your garden waste (don’t forget the leaves!) build a bonfire and watch it snapple and crack. They’ll have as much fun building the fire as they will watching it burn – just make sure there’s a responsible adult on hand at all times (ideally one with eyes in the back of their head).


winter activities for kids

7. Have a winter picnic. Who says picnics are just for summer? If you’ve got a bonfire going, make the most of it by taking hot dogs and flasks of hot chocolate into the garden while you watch it burn. Then when the flames have died down toast marshmallows in the embers (don’t forget to make sure the responsible adult is on hand).

8. Sign up to a beach litter pick. We all know plastic is a huge problem in our seas, and it’s easier than you think to help make a difference. Beach cleaning events, where members of the public volunteer to help pick up litter on beaches, happen all over the UK and are a great chance to breathe in some sea air as well as being lots of fun too. Use the Marine Conservation Society’s postcode finder to find a beach clean nearest to you.


winter activities for kids

9. Go ice skating. The ultimate winter sport, the chances are there’ll be an ice rink in your town or city in time for the festive season. Most offer hold-on penguins or animals for little ones (I find them rather handy too!) and it’s great exercise, focusing on lower body movement and leg muscles.

10. Go stargazing. The good thing about the nights drawing in is that the stars come out earlier. Brush up on your constellations, wrap them up warm and take them outside to point out the different formations. If you’ve got a pair of binoculars even better.


winter activities for kids

Do you have any fun winter activities your kids love at this time of year? I’d love to know what they are!

This post was written in collaboration with Simplyhealth. I’m proud to be supporting their #MyEveryStep campaign, shining a light on the little steps we can all take to leading a healthy life every day. As always all opinions are my own and based on my own honest experience. To find out more about Simplyhealth’s #MyEveryStep campaign follow @SimplyhealthUK on Twitter and Instagram.

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This article was written by crummymummy1 from Confessions of a Crummy Mummy and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.