De-Clutter Your Home

Hoarders, look away! De-cluttering can be life changing but could lead to fits of separation anxiety for those, like me, who are attached to their pretty things.  But approaching my 40th house move and inhabiting tiny little kennel-sized apartment I have de-cluttering down to a fine art – without compromising my personal style.

The best way to keep a handle on things is to tidy up every day.  This way clutter doesn’t have much chance of accumulating all over the house.  My personal golden rule to keeping clutter from invading my space is to handle an item only once.  This means if you took it off the line; fold it right then and there before placing it in the laundry basket.  You will not have an unsightly pile of unfolded laundry to dig through and folding items like sweats and t-shirts as they come off the line often eliminates the need to iron!

Get recycling bins and use them!  Once you are done with a newspaper or magazine place directly into recycling, don’t leave it on the dining room table – the same goes for mail and school notices.  Be strict with your children about where they may play with their toys and what your clean-up rules are.  This teaches them to always clear things away when they are done.

Be creative with displaying momentos, collectables and keepsakes.  Group pretty picture frames in a wall gallery stead of on the mantelpiece.  Use that special quilt or beautiful rug as a wall hanging.  Decide on a theme and stick to it, packing everything that does not relate to the theme into storage, or better yet donate or sell it!  Go through your kids’ rooms and ask them to help you to pick toys that can be donated to a charity.

Make sure everything has a place where it should be stored and insist that everyone in the house puts things where they should be. If everyone in the home does their part, your home should be tidy and clean before you know it. 

 http://www.today.com/slideshow/today/ghoulishly-grand-carved-pumpkins-39421834

When Should You Worry About A Fever?

Fevers can indicate when your child is unwell, but they are also completely natural and will occur from time to time without any serious consequence. So how do you know which is which?

 Our normal body temperature is 98.6 F. The temperature that indicates a raised fever is 100.4 F. Fever can be the result of recent immunizations in babies and also overdressing as babies are don’t regulate their body temperature until they are around 24 months old. Low grade fevers lasting for less than five days are pretty normal in growing children and you shouldn’t worry about this if their behavior is normal and their appetite hasn’t changed. Studies suggest that our immune systems work better when we have a fever.

 So when should you worry? If your little one is younger than four months, a fever is often the first response to an infection or illness. Get in touch with your doctor if your child’s fever lasts longer than five days. If your child’s behavior is different from how they usually act, if they’re not going to the toilet regularly or when your baby is not wetting more than three diapers per day, there could be a risk of dehydration. If you’re concerned, if your Mommy instinct is telling you there is something seriously wrong with your child, trust your gut and phone your doctor.

 The most important thing is to stay calm, the last thing you want to do is panic and make your child scared. Take their temperature regularly and use child-friendly ibuprofen and if the symptoms persist, call your doctor to be safe. It is best to keep your child at home when they are running a fever, they will want to rest and sleep. Once your child’s temperature has been stable for longer than 24 hours and their behavior is back to normal, they can go back to school.

The First Day Of School

The first day of school is often a nerve wrecking experience for both parents and children.  While adjusting to a new environment, routine and people could be a bit ‘scary’, taking this step is necessary part of preparing a child for life and it is a wonderful opportunity for them to spread their wings.

Do You Have Everything?

Making sure your child has everything she needs will eliminate a lot of anxiety. Schools normally supply a list of stationery and other school supplies needed.  Take this list seriously. Kids become anxious when their friends unpack everything the teacher asks for and they are missing some items.

Mark Everything

Mark your child’s possessions with their name and as much other detail as you can fit onto that item.  While it sounds obvious to mark items so that they can be returned to your child, it also helps your child to identify their belongings and to learn how to take care of them.

Home Time

Make sure your child understands who will be collecting them from school.   Give as much detail as you can.  If your child travels by bus ask a friend’s older child to walk your child to the school bus after school.

Meet the Teacher

This is an opportunity for you to build a healthy rapport with a person that will play a significant role in your child’s life.  Ask them about their methods of disciplining, whether they need help with fund raising etc.  Commit to helping them.  Take time in the initial meeting to explain any health or school related issues pertaining to your child.  Keep them informed of any changes at home – new siblings, moving house, divorce, death etc. -which may influence your child’s behavior

 

When it comes down to it, your child has since the day they were born taken a cue about how to feel about something based on your reaction.  Be positive and excited.  Make sure you have everything you need and be emotionally prepared that this day might be harder on you than it is on your child!

America’s Best Beaches

Summer beach vacations are some of the best times you’ll have with your family. Almost everyone I know has been on at least one beach holiday trip with their family with great memories and funny stories. So which beaches are the best in the US?

 We start off in San Diego at Coronado Central Beach. Great for families with its almost constant sunshine and warm water, there’s also a tidal pool filled with all manner of creatures from the sea. The beach is non-smoking too. 

 Heading towards Massachusetts is the Coast Guard Beach along the Cape Cod National ShoreYou can get information on free family entertainment at the Salt Pond Visitors Center and learn how to surf on the gorgeous shore. Staying in Massachusetts is the historical Martha’s Vineyard where we find the locally known Moshup Beach. This small beach is far up the Eastern side of the island and is perfect for those wanting to be away from the crowds.

Next up is Clearwater Beach in Florida- famous for its sandy beaches and clear blue water. There are so many activities to keep you busy here such as dolphin watching, beach volleyball, sunbathing and para-sailing. 

 East Hampton in New York is home to Main Beach and is an annual getaway destination for the city’s elite. The charming town is home to pristine white beaches and delicious lobster rolls, you may even spot a celebrity there.

Santa Cruz Beach in California is where you’ll find one of the greatest seaside parks along the Beach Boardwalk. There is loads of family-orientated fun on offer from rides to music events in the summer. North Beach in Wisconsin is on the shores of the stunning Lake Michigan. Geared for family entertainment with pirate ships and rope swings at Kids Cove, you can also rent a kayak or volleyball net for some family fun.

 

The Top US Cities For Families

The United States is so great and vast and there are so many options in terms of vacation time with your family. The age of your children will more than likely be the deciding factor on where you choose to go.

 For those of us with slighter older kids, New York City is a great vacation destination. The city has Broadway shows such as Annie and The Lion King not to mention all the wonderful museums. You can take a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and even ride an elevator to the very top of the Empire State Building to get an incredible view of the city.

 The Exploratorium in San Francisco is the perfect place for your budding little scientist- everything inside is meant to be played with and explored, from looking through microscopes to dissecting teddy bears. There is also Fisherman’s Wharf where you can see river otters and let’s not forget the majestic Golden Gate Bridge.

 Chicago is another top destination for family travel. Gorgeous beaches along Lake Michigan, which is so big it looks like an ocean!  There’s the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum that offers eight different kinds of shows. The North Park Village Nature Center is a beautiful escape into nature in the middle of the city, it even has ponds and a waterfall. If your family is outdoorsy then Miami should be on your vacation route.

 With its beautiful coastline and sandy beaches, Miami is a hub of water and ocean sports. Be sure to pay a visit to the Everglades Alligator Farm and Miami Seaquarium while you’re in town. Another fantastic water centered stop is Hawaii and all of its islands. There are so many beautiful beaches and volcanic pits to visit that you’ll hardly have any time to squeeze in trips to all the Ocean Centers and animal sanctuaries.

Fight Flu Naturally

Sneezing, coughing, sore muscles, headaches and sore throats … yes, it’s the flu! If you’re anything like me, you’ll prefer to treat the flu and all if its symptoms in the most natural way possible, especially if you’re treating your kids’ flu.

 It’s important to blow your nose regularly instead of sniffing back any mucous, always wash your hands after doing this to avoid spreading the flu germs elsewhere. Rest, rest rest! Doing any kind of activity increases your heart rate which redirects your energy away from your immune system, which is fighting the flu. Take a hot and steamy bath or shower- the steam helps to moisturize your sinuses and open up blocked airways. Add an extra pillow when you’re sleeping or lying down to help drain your sinuses of mucous.

 Eating 100% fruit juice popsicles is a great way of staying hydrated and getting some vital nutrients in your system; they are also pretty soothing for a sore throat. Chilled 100% vegetable juice is also soothing on the throat and is packed with vitamins. Add garlic to any meal you eat while you’ve got the flu, it has been shown to have antibacterial qualities and helps to increase respiratory function. Ginger is another flu superfood and helps with stomach aches and nausea. Make a tea from grated ginger, garlic and natural honey and fresh lemon slices for added vitamin C.

 Up your intake of fresh vegetables by making a pot of vegetable or chicken soup and add as many veggies, herbs and spices as you wish to. Eating fruits high in vitamin C such as berries, citrus fruits and tomatoes will help keep you hydrated and full of nutrients.

 If you’re finding it particularly difficult to eat solid foods, try meal replacement shakes to ensure that your body gets all the nutrition it needs to get you back to being healthy.

Soothing Your Newborn

For nine months most of us wait in anticipation forthat first cry, the first sign that your baby is healthy and breathing.  But the first cry is just one of many months of crying to come.  Unable to express distress or discomfort, nature designed babies to alert you to their needs by being very vocal about it!

Over-tired parents and screaming babies will lead to some frustration and concern.  But take heart, this is completely normal!  If baby is still not settled after you have done the obvious checks – wet diaper, hungry, tired or just in need of a cuddle then attempt these tried and trusted methods to sooth your little one:

 

Swaddling

Swaddling is a technique you may have been taught in your pre-natal class- and it works!  By wrapping your baby tightly with her arms and legs secured in a blanket you are recreating her most familiar environment; the snugness of the womb which has been her home for the past nine months.  It also limits the chance of baby being woken by her natural Moro Reflex. This startle reflex causes baby to splay her arms and legs trying to ‘catch’ something to hold onto when they experience loss of support.  You know how awful it is to wake up from a dream where you dreamt you were falling!

 

Rock-A- By-Baby

During his time in the womb baby moved with you as you went through your day.  He got used to the motion when you walked, bent over and so on.  By rocking your swaddled baby he experiences the same secure feeling he had in utero.  Babies find this calming – just as you do when you fall asleep in the car!

 

Keep it Calm

Fussiness is sometimes due to over-stimulation.  Too many people cooing and ooo-ing in your face would make you cry too, as would lots of handling, bright lights, loud noises and too much stimulation.  Remove all those external stimuli and spend time just cuddling your little bundle.

If the crying persist and is particularly high pitched I suggest seeing a doctor.  While it might be nothing to be concerned about you would feel happier and calmer if the doctor has looked him over. Trust your instincts!

America’s Best Theme Parks

The USA is home to some of the best theme parks across the world, there are nearly 100 scattered all across the country so we’ve done some research into the best of them.

 We start off in Ohio at Cedar Point, which is the second oldest theme park in the USThis park is the roller coaster capital of the world with 17 electrifying roller coasters you can ride in all day long. There are also water rides, thrill rides, family rides and kids rides so you can bring the whole family for some adrenaline inducing fun.

 Next up is the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Texas. This park has been voted the best water park in the US for 13 years, so you know it’s good! The park features an uphill water coaster ride (yes, uphill) as one of its 40 water rides and there’s even a beach to play volleyball and surf.

 Let’s not forget Disneyland Resort in California, where all your fairytale dreams come to life. You can go on an Indiana Jones style adventure, check out Tarzan’s tree house and see all your favorite Disney characters brought to life. Staying in California, our next stop is at Universal Studios where you can be a part of your favorite television show by going on themed rides at one of the oldest and most famous of Hollywood movie studios.

 King’s Island in Ohio is geared towards family entertainment, and it is also one of the most visited theme parks in the US with around 3 million visitors every year! The park has over 80 rides and there’s even a water park. If water parks are your thing then Dells Water Parks in Wisconsin should be one of your stops. There are dozens of water parks both indoor and outdoor and most of them are open all year.

Decorating The Nursery On A Budget

Planning your unborn baby’s nursery is one of the highlights for parents-to-be while preparing for the arrival of their new little bundle.  While a designer nursery can be hugely expensive you could decorate a nursery beautifully and on a budget by putting a bit of thought and some elbow grease into it! Here are some fun, cost effective DIY projects to try:

 

Baby Mobile

Find a book showing you how to fold various origami animals, hearts, stars – whatever takes your fancy!  Buy some pretty paper in your color scheme and make a personalized baby mobile.

Wall Decorations

Upcycle old picture frames by painting the frames in a color of your choice and displaying bright and beautiful wrapping paper or wall paper in it.  Arrange it in an interesting collection on the nursery wall.  Clusters of pastel or white Chinese paper lanterns make a lovely whimsical display and is an interesting way to decorate the ceiling.  Try clouds of spherical white lanterns with an aviation or hot air balloon themed nursery.

Furniture

Re-purpose unused furniture.  A chest of drawers can be painted and serves very well as a compactum. An old easy chair can be useful and beautiful with some improvisation.  If you cannot have it re-upholstered, cover it with a fluffy throw and cushions in the style of the nursery.

Baby Exchange, Thrift Stores and Charity Shops

These suppliers often have a good stock pile of well cared for and sturdy equipment like cribs, baby swings, monitors, sterilizers, even toys.  But be scrupulous when you shop, keeping safety and practicality in mind.  Make sure nothing is painted with lead-based paint or anything that might be harmful to baby.  Check that the cribs trellises are correctly spaced.  Test everything; making sure it is strong, sturdy and check for things like termites.  It is always best to buy a new mattress.  Buy the best you can afford.

If you can, sew or knit a very special and unique collection of teddy bears, animals or dolls to add more of a personal touch to the room.

While a lot of money can be saved being clever and creative and shopping around it remains best to purchase items like car seats, and other equipment specially designed to keep your baby safe, new.

 

Managing Sibling Rivalry

I have two boys and I have not been spared sibling rivalry (as I believe no parent has).  Particularly flammable situations are car and shopping trips, and the shared bedroom does nothing to help the situation. This phenomenon is as old as mankind itself. Cain and Able had a tiff that lead to Able’s demise and in the classic American novel ‘East of Eden’ by John Steinbeck, brothers Cal and Aaron didn’t fare any better. 

 

There are ways to limit the instances and severity of the insanity.  Reading Dr James Dobson’s book on the subject has often kept me from packing my bags and heading to a deserted island – alone! 

While sibling rivalry is natural be on the lookout for signs of danger; constant bickering, anger, violence and disrespect which might harm everyone involved and their future relationships.

Unfortunately just talking to your kids will often fall on deaf ears and this is why it is up to the parent to take decisive action.  Your mettle as judge, jury and prosecutor will be firmly tested.  As Dr Phil McGraw rightly says, kids need parents, they have enough friends. Keep this in mind when you feel unpopular handing out the necessary punishment and discipline.  Consequences for poor behavior should be immediate, decisive and consistent.  A good method is recalling privileges like phone, TV or computer time.  For younger children, a time-out might be more appropriate.

 Make sure your kids know and understand the house rules of how you as parents expect them to treat you, each other, friends and property.  They should also understand the consequences of disrespect and a list of punishments should be made clear to them.

Cry for attention

In some cases poor behaviour is in fact a cry for attention.  Try spending quality one on one time with your child assuring them of your love and respect and see if this alleviates the problem.  I have a special date-day with both my boys but separately. This is a very important day on their calendar as they know they can count on my undivided attention.  Although they are typically angels when their brother isn’t around it is a good opportunity to bond and to be heard without being interrupted.