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50 Ways to Help Children Learn Math in a Fun Way

mathhwMath is a difficult subject to tackle for many children; however, it’s a necessary one to learn. Because it’s a subject where new concepts continually build on old ones, it’s essential to find a way to help students who are struggling grasp each idea before moving onto the next. If you have a student who is having a hard time grasping different math concepts, these 50 articles and their various methods may be able to help – and your child may end up having some fun, too!


In the same way that the alphabet song has helped countless kids learn their letters, there are a plethora of math songs that can help kids learn their numbers and different math concepts. These 10 blogs have math songs your kids will love singing.

  • Teach the kids a song about place values with the help of Math Story. You’ll also find tons of other math-related songs here.
  • Help your kids learn how to add and subtract fractions. Harcourt School has a song to help kids remember how to work with fractions.
  • Learn to figure out volume in a 3D shape using the song from Have Fun Teaching. The site has several math songs, including the song called the Volume Song.
  • Young learners can use this subtraction song to learn simple ideas. Starfall shares a song and funny video that helps kids understand subtraction.
  • Songs can also help kids grasp more complicated concepts. Play this song about the Pythagorean Theorem from Sing About Science.
  • Use this rap song to help kids find the perimeter of a shape. Intelli-Tunes sells all sorts of math songs in MP3 format, including this one about shape perimeters.
  • Play this song about the quadratic formula to help older kids remember it. Calculus Help provides several songs that help students learn upper level math concepts.
  • Help kids learn how to multiply numbers with songs from Flocabulary. Each number has its own song.
  • Mrs. Schlueck’s Website has song lyrics set to familiar songs to help with skip counting and measurements. Try teaching these songs to your kids.
  • Kids start dealing with negative numbers in Algebra, which can quickly get confusing. Play them this quick song from Teaching Channel and they may get the problems right.

Outdoor Activities

Kinesthetic learners need to move around as they learn to learn effectively. Unsure of how to incorporate movement into math? These 10 articles show you how to get your kids actively involved in solving math problems.

  • Work on addition and subtraction by cutting up some inexpensive pool noodles and slipping them onto some rope tied in your backyard. The kids can slide the noodle chunks back and forth to add and subtract, as explained on Happy Hooligans.
  • Test your theories on volume using various containers and a pitcher of water. This method is explained on Crayon Freckles.
  • There are many fun ways to work on counting and number recognition with little ones, including filling up numbered balloons with water and having fun outside. And Next Comes explains the process she used.
  • Get out the sidewalk chalk and form a board on the ground to practice math facts with the kids. Enchanted Homeschooling Mom shares how she changed the board for different levels of math.
  • Take a basketball out to the court and have the kids shoot some hoops. eHow explains how to use basketball to teach kids about fractions and percentages.
  • You can create a math snail using chalk and the directions on The Homeschool Den. Your child can learn to identify, add, subtract and multiply numbers using this technique.
  • To make math more fun, try to tie in math questions with outdoor activities. I Can Teach My Child creates cards with math problems. When the child answers the question on the card he has to find the number written outside and then ‘capture’ it with a hula hoop and spray it with a spray bottle until the number disappears.
  • Kids use number lines and grids in various math applications, so increase the fun by drawing a huge axis outside and let the kids be the points. Math and Movement explain how to use this exercise for math learning.
  • Skip the paper and pencil and instead use outdoor chalk to solve math problems. Runde’s Room shares how her class made acute and obtuse angles outside.
  • Sometimes all that’s needed to understand a difficult problem is a change in perspective. Geometry Playground encourages kids to get outside and walk around to understand shapes and more.


Playing games turns study time into fun time for kids. To spice up problem solving, use the ideas in these 10 entries; they’re full of games your kids and their friends can play together.

  • Addition Bingo. Wash Math describes the rules of this game, which entails kids making a Bingo board with random numbers written on the grid. Then the teacher reads off flash card problems that the kids have to answer. If they have the solution’s number on their board, they get to mark it off.
  • Four Strikes and You’re Out. This teacher created game works well with pairs or groups. Read the details for how to play on Math Solutions.
  • Game Show. Inside Mathematics explains how to play this game and what the kids will learn as they play.
  • The Game of Pig. Scholastic has a few ideas for math practice, including this game of Pig.
  • Number Neighborhood. NCTM explains games that practice higher level math concepts for kids in grades 6 through 8.
  • Jump Rope Math. By using a simple jump rope, index cards and clothes pins your kids can practice any level of math. Follow the directions on CLOCC.
  • Snake. This game can be played with a group using dice. Take a look at Guided Math to find the directions.
  • What’s My Number? Help the kids practice mental math by playing this game. Directions for how to play can be found on Teaching Ideas.
  • Saved by the Bell. Just like a game show, each team steps up to their bell and prepares to be the first to sound the bell when they have the right answer to the question asked. More details about set up and rules can be found on Education World.
  • Adder Ladders. Learn with Math Games has a printable game board that kids can use to learn addition and subtraction.


Sometimes the best way to learn is by completing printable worksheets. Get your kids solving problems by printing out the sheets found on these 10 sites.

  • Checker Math Game. Learn with Math Games has printable worksheets for several different math games, including checkers.
  • Try a Reverse Cryptogram. Kid Zone has a printable puzzle that will help your child think outside the box when it comes to math.
  • Monkey Trouble. There is a cost for the printable on this site, which was designed by Teachers Pay Teachers to help kindergarteners and first graders.
  • Converting fractions flap book. 4mulafun has a printable that helps kids turn fractions into decimals or percentages.
  • Heads and Tails Game. Math Wire explains how to collect the data of penny flips and then use them to play the game on the printable snake board.
  • Learning the hundreds. Primary Junction has several free printables to help your child practice and learn his hundreds.
  • Fun picture addition worksheets. Young children can make more sense out addition and subtraction when pictures are used instead of just numbers. Print the picture worksheets from Have Fun Teaching to help younger students practice their addition and subtraction.
  • Practice spatial relationships. School Express offers thousands of printable math worksheets for kids to use.
  • Use this worksheet to work on estimating. Teach-Nology offers free downloadable worksheets for students at various math levels.
  • Try an interesting math puzzle. Wuzzles and Puzzles have printable puzzle sheets that your student can utilize.

Online Games

If you’re still struggling for ways to engage your kids in math, you may want to try out some of these online math games. Take a look at these 10 sites for different math games for your kids to play.

  • Number Drop. Kids Numbers has a bunch of math games for kids, including this one where they have to solve math problems before time runs out.
  • Work on estimating angles by playing the online game called Alien Angles. This game and many more can be found on Math Playground.
  • If your kids like fish and bubbles, you may want them to try this bubble math game. Sheppard Software features a game with addition and subtraction problems where the players have to pop the right answer.
  • Even young children can enjoy playing online with games like the Curious George game. PBS Kids explains this fruit counting game that gives your child a chance to practice counting under the pressure of time.   
  • Play in the math arcade when you go to Fun Brain. Games like Bumble Numbers, where you fly a bee to capture numbers and drop them into the correct flower equation, can help kids learn simple addition and subtraction
  • Games on Mr. Nussbaum work on various levels of math. Your kids can play games like Defeat the Math Monster to work on multiplication facts. 
  • Let the kids practice their multiplication by playing Crazy Cone. Multiplication has a bunch of games that help kids of various skill levels practice math in a fun way.
  • Encourage your kids to practice spacial recognition. Count the 3D Blocks helps kids understand dimensions and can be found on Math is Fun.
  • Hyper Blast is a great game for practicing math facts. Math Blaster has several different games to help kids of different proficiency levels.
  • Get practice on memory and math in the same game. Let the kids play Math Memory Division from A Plus Math to practice memorization skills.  
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The Best Things You Can Eat

healthyfoodsWhen in a rush, it’s tempting and convenient to grab a sweet snack, sugar-filled packaged product or even a piece of candy in an attempt to tide you over until the next meal. However, these empty calories not only pack on the pounds, but also spike your blood sugar and rob you of much-needed energy to care for your little ones.

The best things you can eat may be just as convenient as those sweet and salty snacks, however, just without all the extra processing and preservatives.

Building Blocks to a Healthy Heart

According to Dr. Kriston Kent, a preventative medicine physician in Naples, Florida and owner of The Kent Center for Life, heart healthy foods play a key role in a well-balanced diet. “The goal, to have a healthy heart, starts with the best building blocks,” she says. “These building blocks do in fact come from foods that provide the best nutrients to build and sustain a healthy heart.”

According to Kent, the following heart-healthy foods can be incorporated into your diet – as snacks or meals:

  • Beans: All kinds and colors provide a large array of crucial vitamins, minerals and soluble fiber.
  • Nuts: All kinds of nuts are heart healthy, with different nuts providing specific complementary benefits.
  • Vegetables: A colorful array of vegetables provides incredibly powerful phytonutrients that constantly protect the heart. Vegetables that are particularly beneficial include leafy greens vegetables like spinach and Kale, bright orange vegetables like carrots and Sweet potatoes, and acorn squash, broccoli, asparagus, and red bell peppers.
  • Fruits: A wide variety of fruits also packs powerful phytonutrients for heart health. Great examples include: tomatoes, blueberries, cantaloupe, papaya, concord grapes and even red wine.
  • Salmon and flaxseed: Both provide important omega-3 fatty acids that are both anti-inflammatory and heart healthy. Flaxseed also provides fiber and phytonutrients.
  • Oatmeal: Provides critical vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids as well as soluble fiber.
  • Tea: Packed with more heart healthy phytonutrients, especially the green variety.
  • Dark chocolate: Powerful nutrients reside in dark chocolate. But beware, it should not be alkalinized and should contain at least 70% cocoa.

It is equally important to avoid other “building blocks” to maintain a strong and healthy heart, says Kent. “Most notably, avoid processed foods and foods with animal fat,” she says. “The foods promote inflammation and atherosclerosis, which destroys the heart from the inside out.”

Controlling Your Appetite

Appetite control is often one of the biggest challenges when choosing the best things to eat. “Many people struggle with sticking to a healthy diet because they lack the accountability and support system that can help them avoid making unhealthy choices,” says Ray Wu, a physician and founder of Weilos, a weight loss app based in Los Angeles. “While weight loss and obesity are all over in the mainstream media, they are topics with social stigma that are difficult to talk about with family and friends.”

Incorporating the help of a weight loss app can offer you the discretion and support you need to choose healthier food options. “With Weilos, our mission is to create a safe environment for like-minded people to support, motivate and inspire each other to reach their weight loss goals,” says Wu. “We’ve found that regularly posting healthy updates and especially progress photos are extremely effective to motivate yourself with active users losing one to two pounds per week.”

Knowing the foods that don’t do anything for appetite control can also help sway you from picking up that sweet or salty snack. “Foods known as simple carbohydrates are the worst for appetite control because they are relatively high in calories, but do not keep you full for long,” says Wu. “These include foods such as sugary drinks, candy and other junk food, white bread, pasta, and white rice. All of these foods are broken down quickly by your body, which in turn raises blood sugar quickly.”

In addition to expanding your waistline, an over consumption of simple carbohydrates can also lead to diabetes and other cardiovascular problems, says Wu. “Heart healthy foods contain high levels of vitamins and other compounds that studies have shown can prevent heart disease,” he says. “These include antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and K, as well as omega 3 fatty acids that can increase good cholesterol. Across the board, heart healthy foods are high in fiber, which keeps you full longer to avoid sugary and fatty foods.”

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From Struggles to Sweet Dreams: How to Stop the Bedtime Tantrums

sweetdreamsIf every night seems to be a struggle filled with cries of “I’m not tired” and “I can’t sleep,” it’s time to turn those struggles into sweet dreams. Your child is likely to use every possible excuse to get out of that bed and continue playing or cuddling with you on the couch, and who can blame her? Snuggles are important for children.

However, so is rest. Bedtime battles take place in most homes with young children. One more story, one more sip, one more trip to the potty and cries when you leave the room can leave the both of you exhausted and sleepless. “We can’t escape it, but understanding and breaking the code of what your child’s behavior means underneath can smooth out developmental transitions,” says Ava Parnass, child therapist and author of Listen to Me Please! Time-In Not Time-Out.

Why the Struggle?

It’s hard for children to let go of their grown-ups at night, says Parnass. “Each ‘goodnight’ seems like ‘goodbye forever’ at this age,” she says. “We need to put ourselves in their little shoes. They’re still unsure that they’ll wake up and their parent will be there, monsters seem real, and the darkness appears mysterious and frightening.”

As a parent or nanny, it’s important to be a detective to figure out what your child is feeling. Often, what is most helpful is to process the events and feelings of the day with your child, says Parnass.

“By thinking about what your child is saying with his crying and helping him put the feelings into words, bedtimes will become easier,” she says. “A time-out concept of saying ‘go to sleep now or else you won’t play with your friend tomorrow’ or leaving them hysterical in their room may work for the short term, but it doesn’t work in the long run because your child isn’t learning any new skills.”

Unexpressed feelings constantly disguise themselves in your child’s behavior. For example, maybe they missed you during the day or an argument occurred on a play date, says Parnass. “These events can exacerbate normal separation anxiety, intensifying and prolonging the bedtime battles,” she says.

Sleepful Slumber

Bedtime is not the time to get into big conflicts because it’s not conducive to a restful night’s sleep, says Aricia LaFrance, Colorado-based therapist and parenting instructor. “If they fight you on teeth brushing, do that right after dinner and in the morning, but not at bedtime,” she says. “If they hate the tub, you can find some solutions, but bedtime may not be the best time to get into it.”

Instead, stick with soothing, relaxing activities, suggests LaFrance. “Involve the kids in putting together their bedtime routine and their bedroom,” she says. “They pick out their jammies, their pillow, their snuggle buddies at bedtime.”

Music can be a soothing part of a bedtime ritual, as well as meditation or prayer, she says. “The important thing with any bedtime ritual is to keep it fun, relaxing, enjoyable and to make it exclusive to bedtime,” says LaFrance.

Routines, if used consistently, can minimize the bedtime struggles, says Kristen Race, founder of Mindful Life. “The ritual of a healthy routine prepares children’s minds and bodies for sleep,” she says. “When children know what to expect they are much less likely to resist changes and can easily transition from one activity to the next.”

Unpredictability can cause feelings of anxiety and the result is resistance, says Race. “A healthy routine starts at dinner and can include playtime, bathtime, clean-up, snack, books, snuggle time and other soothing activities,” she says. “Limit screen time, too, especially after dinner. Even educational programs can elicit a stress response in your child’s brain, making it more difficult for them to fall asleep easily.”

Once a healthy routine is established, it is easier to enter the routine when busy schedules arise. For example, if you have dinner at a friend’s house and return home late, you might have to jump into the routine in the final steps (such as snuggle time or reading time). “This works fine when your children follow a routine most of the time,” says Race.

Let your child help create the routine, too. “Lay out pictures of the elements you would like to include in the routine, such as playtime, bath, brush teeth, etc. and let them create their own chart for nightly events,” says Race. “And give young children tons of choices. When you give children choices, offer them two options, both of which you will be ok with them choosing, such as ‘would you like to wear the red pajamas or the blue?’”

Primarily, plan ahead and take time to help your child relax through bonding activities that will help not only put them to sleep, but also give them peace of mind. “Taking time each night to connect with your child in this way will play a critical role in the choices they make, goals they achieve and their relationships in general as they grow,” says Race.

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10 Special Skills to Look for in a Nanny

chefnannyWhen embarking on a nanny search, you might feel like the Banks Children, hoping for a magical Mary Poppins to fulfill every longing or weak link you have in your own home. It makes sense that in lieu of your company, you’d want your children to have the best, and that’s something that can certainly be accomplished (though you’ll likely pay a pretty penny for it).

Here are 10 special skills to consider when hiring a new nanny:

Chef Nanny – You might run a tight ship when it comes to culinary matters, feeding your family only organic, finely prepared meals of the highest standard. Or perhaps your idea of kitchen skills might be having the eatery with the best tikka masala on speed dial. Either way, a nanny who can double as a chef might be high on your list of priorities. There’s nothing wrong with having an expectation of high quality food prep for the person you choose to hire – even if it includes preparing an evening meal for the family – as long as that expectation is laid out during the interview and put into a nanny work agreement. You should also be willing to pay your nanny extra for this extra task and it’s important to keep in mind that extra attention to creating a meal is bound to detract some amount of focus from childcare.

Newborn or Night Nanny – Newborns need a special level of vigilance and patience. Finding a nanny who specializes in this sort of care means they have experience in the minutiae of things to look out for regarding health matters and actually enjoy the rewards that stem from caring for these tiny people. Remember when hiring a Night Nanny that the usual wage laws must be followed regardless of the unusual hours they keep.

Artist Nanny – If your child loves art and your attempts at drawing a realistic face come out looking more like a stick figure, you may want to consider finding a nanny who can help further your child’s art skills. Hiring a nanny with a natural love of the arts, or even a background in art, is a great way to let your child connect with someone who harbors a similar passion and will genuinely enjoy and seek out artistic activities for them to do together. In this spirit, you can also match your child’s love of tech with a gadget-savvy nanny, etc.

Multiples Nanny – Multitasking and triage is a key talent of nannies who specialize in multiples. They have also learned the art of “fair” when dealing with numerous personalities, as well as how to manage group entertainment in order to complete their tasks.

Linguist Nanny – Learning a second language is invaluable and studies show the easiest time to learn another language is when kids are very young. Unfortunately, school budgets and new standards don’t allow for the “luxury” of teaching languages early in the academic schedule. Seeking out a bilingual nanny in your preferred second language who has the skills to teach your child is a great way to bridge the gap.

Sports Nanny – Being athletic is not easily faked, so if your hand/eye coordination leaves something to be desired but your child comes alive whenever they are in within the vicinity of a ball, keep this in mind when interviewing. Ask if the nanny has ever played sports in school and note whether they show any enthusiasm at the idea. A halfhearted trip to the park to oversee a child play by himself is very different from an engaged caregiver who looks for opportunities to enthusiastically engage in sports and other physical activities.

Playdate Nanny – If your child’s social life is being affected by being left behind in the current reciprocal playdate culture, discuss the possibility of the nanny overseeing a friend on occasion. Playing afterschool for a few hours is often the norm, since families tend to want their weekends together. Discuss in advance whether this would work – perhaps setting up a standing one-day-a-week afternoon – so the nanny can prepare.

Nanny for Special Needs – Understanding the unique needs of a child on the spectrum or who has special physical or emotional needs requires a higher level of experience and perhaps education. These nannies might be harder to secure since they may stay with families longer than a typical nanny to maintain a sense of stability. Consider this during the interview process to ensure your nanny will be available for the length of employment you are hoping for.

Musical Nanny – If you are tone deaf but have a future Mozart on your hands, or even if you just want to add the benefits of music to your child’s life, consider a Maria von Trapp-type for your new hire. Music majors or those working toward a music education degree will likely have the basics to help out your young performer and will be more than happy to seek out free concerts and performances, or even just play “audience” without tiring.

Mixed Ages Nanny – A nanny who is great with toddlers might not be experienced in relating to tweens and their unique needs. Newborns are a different critter than curious preschool explorers. Take a special look at your nanny’s background with similar age levels if you have a family with mixed age children to ensure she will have a handle on how to vary her expectations and engagement with all the kids so no one feels left out.

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100 Tips for Gardening with Kids

gardeningkidsIt’s important for both kids and adults alike to spend ample time outside each day. One way to get some fresh air and exercise is to grow a garden with the kids. We’ve compiled 100 tips that will help you not only garden with your kids, but learn right along with them.

Fun Things to Plant

The trick to making gardening fun for kids is to find plants that are fun to grow and that grow quickly. These 10 plants are fast growers, so the kids won’t have to wait long to reap the fruit of their labors.

  • Snap Peas. Northwest Edible Life recommends planting a sugar snap pea in your garden for the kids. The seeds come up in only two weeks and in a couple months the kids will be able to start picking and eating them, shell and all.
  • Carrots. These seeds are quick growers that will need thinning. Thinning will give the kids something to do soon after planting the seeds. US News suggests carrots for kids because they are sweet and grow quickly.
  • Strawberries. Instead of seeds, you and the kids will need to plant starter-plants to speed up the process. First the plants will flower and then put on fruit. Strawberry plants are fascinating to watch and delicious to pick when ripe, says Inhabitots.
  • Lettuce. There are many types of lettuce, says BBC, but leaf lettuce is simple to grow and should sprout from seed in about 12 days. You can harvest a little lettuce at a time and it will continue to grow for months depending on where you live.
  • Herbs. You can start the seeds inside or out, according to The Art of Simple. Herbs are another plant that grow quickly and you can harvest a little at a time and grow them all season.
  • Beans. These seeds grow very fast and are considered ‘runner’ beans because they are vines. Green Child Magazine suggests training them to grow up poles in a teepee shape or up a trellis and then let the kids “hunt” for them.
  • Pumpkins. According to Weekend Gardener, pumpkin seeds germinate in about a week and the vine and leaves begin growing quickly along the ground.
  • Cherry Tomatoes. House Logic explains that cherry tomatoes should be started by seed inside or planted as starter plants outside. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for kids because they produce a lot and are simple to harvest.
  • Sunflowers. Organic Growers School suggests growing sunflowers from seed because they are reliable and quick growing, so kids will not become bored as quickly when watching them.
  • Nasturtiums. Home Guides mentions how quickly these flowers bloom from seed and points out that the blooms are edible and can add interest to a salad.

Planning the Garden

Before you begin planting your garden you’ll want to start planning it. Take the ideas found on these 10 blogs to kick off the planning process, then get to growing!

  • Make a poster board plan. Kids Gardening suggests collecting magazines, newspapers and craft supplies to create a garden layout on a poster board.
  • Downloadable plans. If you don’t feel able to create your own garden plan, use the plan for a 6 foot by 6 foot garden from Better Homes and Gardens.
  • Planning for space. Colorado State recommends that you keep in mind the available space you have for a garden or containers and the age of the kids when planning. It may be smarter to do a small area with a few plants for a young child so that they don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Gather seed catalogs. Most seed companies will mail you catalogs for free if you sign up online, according to Playful Learning. Let the kids look through the catalog to get ideas of what to plant.
  • Make a bean hut. If space is limited or you don’t want to commit to a big garden plot, create a combination shade structure for the kids and a bean hut like the one on Paint on the Ceiling.
  • Create paths. Heirloom Gardener shares 10 suggestions for creating a kid-friendly garden plan, such as creating pathways kids can walk on to avoid trampling any plants.
  • Plan your area. The Well Fed Homestead explains how she allows her sons to have their own two foot by nine foot row in her garden. During planning stages she cut a two foot by nine foot piece of butcher paper and used 12 x 12 sheets of paper to plan their plants.
  • Create an alphabet garden. The Micro Gardener explains how you can tie in learning the alphabet with gardening.
  • Use a hula hoop approach. My Kids’ Adventures explains how to use a hula hoop as a spatial guide for planting a salsa or pizza garden.
  • Create a garden wish list. Have each member of the family pick some plants that they want to grow in the garden, then draw up a planting plan, recommends She Knows.

Steps to Get Started Inside

If you begin early enough, you may have time to start some seeds indoors and then move them outside as the weather warms and they begin to grow. Follow the suggestions in these 10 tips to start some seeds inside.

  • Find the average last frost date. Get Rich Slowly recommends figuring out the last average frost date for your area and counting backwards to give the seeds 6 to 7 weeks to grow into seedlings before transplanting them to your outdoor garden.
  • Buy your seeds and starting supplies. Organic Authority provides a list of the items that you will need to get started planting.
  • Determine what medium you want to use for planting. You can buy seed starting mix, use peat pellets or make your own potting mix by mixing together top soil, compost, peat and vermiculite. Vermiculite is the least expensive way to go, says Yahoo Voices Gardening.
  • Create plant labels. As you sow the different seeds you will need to mark what the seeds are using a plant label of some sort. Kids can make labels for each seed using craft sticks, as shown on Family Theme Days.
  • Moisten the potting mix before planting. About Gardening explains how to dampen the potting mix without over wetting it.
  • Cover the containers with plastic wrap. Your Easy Garden suggests putting plastic wrap over the tray once you’ve planted the seeds to create a warm moist environment for the seeds to germinate.
  • Use a mister to water seeds. Mother Earth News explains that as soon as the seeds start to germinate you need to remove the plastic wrap and water the soil with a mister whenever it gets dry to the touch.
  • Go from dark to light. According to Simple Bites, seeds need to germinate in the dark, but after the seeds germinate you need to move them to a sunny spot.
  • Transplant seedling to larger pots. Cleveland suggests transplanting seedlings from the starting tray to their own little pot after the first true leaves appear.
  • Harden off your seedlings. Thrifty Fun explains that once overnight temperatures reach about 50 degrees you can start putting the seedling out for a few hours a day, gradually increasing the time until they are strong enough to be planted in the garden.

 Learn about Compost

Whether you are a new or experienced gardener, you need to understand the importance of compost in your garden. Master gardeners call compost ‘gardener’s gold’ because of how helpful it is in gardening. Learn all about composting and how to do it by reading these 10 posts.

  • Teach the kids what biodegradable means. CVS WMD describes what it means to be biodegradable and how that relates to composting.
  • Learn about greens and browns. eHow has an indoor, kid-friendly demonstration that will help to explain the difference between brown and green matter and how compost needs both to decompose.
  • Why is composting important? The Garden of Oz explains how composting helps the garden and the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Composting do’s and don’ts. Read about the different items that make up browns and greens and which items should never be put into a compost pile according to Green Education Foundation.
  • Water and air are vital for compost. As you are building your compost pile, water each layer and then continue to water the pile to keep it moist. Turning the pile will then incorporate air, causing the pile to ‘cook’. Mother Earth Living explains more about compost piles and a book called Compost Stew by Mary McKenna.
  • Pick a location for your compost pile. NW Bloom suggests finding a place to put your compost tumbler or pile in the yard. It’s also important to designate a place to keep kitchen scraps that will be added to the compost pile.
  • Build a compost bin inexpensively. Kid Pointz shares how to use chicken wire to create a simple, effective compost pile.
  • Pile size is important. According to Family Gardens, you shouldn’t make your pile much bigger than 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep, or a cubic yard.
  • Check into red wiggler worms for composting. This worm can speed up the composting process or can be kept inside to compost kitchen scraps, says Bedford 2020.
  • Use your ‘gardener’s gold’ in the garden. Compost reduces the need for additional fertilizer and helps lessens the need for watering. Natural Resources Defense Council says it also helps eliminates the need for pesticides.

Planting Tips

You’ve bought your plants, you’ve prepared your garden or container and you are ready to plant. But before you start planting, you need to know the requirements for planting different plants. Check out these 10 blogs for different planting tips.

  • Planting in rows. Use two stakes with string between them to ensure that the rows are straight as you plant them. Sunset explains how to use the string as a guide when making furrows to plant the seeds.
  • Planting in mounds. Bring soil from each side of the row and then mound the dirt over the seeds in the middle when planting, recommends Home Guides.
  • Making a hideaway. Vegetable Gardener points out that if you want to make the perfect sunflower hut for your kids you should use the super tall varieties of sunflowers. You can find varieties listed by height on this site.
  • How deep should seeds be planted? Every seed is different when it comes to planting, so it’s best to check the seed packet if you have one or use the tips found on eHow.
  • Testing the soil. According to NCAGR, you should take a soil sample and send it in a couple months before starting your project so you know what you need to do to amend the soil.
  • Amending the soil. Based on soil test results, you will need to add things to your soil to balance the pHl. HGTV Gardens explains different things you can add to change the pH to make it more acidic or more alkaline.
  • Hula hoop planting. Seeds in the Middle tells kids how to plant the plants needed for making salsa, pizza or salads inside of a hula hoop.
  • Starting the garden with seedlings. The Almanac explains how to plant seedlings in a garden.
  • Train the plants to grow up. J Daniel 4’s Mom shares how kids can create a spider web trellis to train a pea or plant so that it climbs upward.
  • Vertical plant to save space. Garden Dad describes in detail how to plant beans by tying three poles together like a teepee over the seeds/plants so that they can grow vertically.

Tending a Garden

Planting is the first step to creating a garden, but the work doesn’t stop there. You will need to actively tend to your garden to keep it alive and thriving. Use these 10 tips to tend your garden with the kids.

  • Kid-sized tools are important. Garden Guides reminds parents that kids can get hurt if they try to use equipment that is too big for them. Find small gloves and tools for kids to use.
  • Let kids dig. Aggie-Horticulture suggests having many different things for the kids to do in the garden so that they don’t get bored. Digging usually holds their attention.
  • Give your child his own garden plot. If you don’t have room to give him his own garden, give him a section of yours, suggests Mother Nature Network.
  • Mulch your seedlings. Katie’s Krops suggests mulching your vegetable garden with hay or straw right after you plant them to protect the plants and keep down the weeds.
  • Let the kids add plants to attract butterflies. Aha! Modern Living suggests getting the kids interested in the garden by letting them have their own space and planting fun plants that attract beautiful butterflies.
  • Be careful when weeding. Kids USA explains that weeds can choke out your plants and steal the nutrients.
  • Model garden tasks for your kids. Kids learn from you, so if you are working in the garden invite them out to watch and help, suggests Garden.
  • Give kids a job. DIY Natural suggests giving each child a job, explaining it, supervising it and approaching it with realistic expectations. This will keep them busy and happy.
  • Only help when needed. Let the kids do what they can and help when needed, recommends Whole Home News.
  • Include familiar things to play with in the dirt. Gardening Know How suggests letting the kids play with large spoons, measuring cups and bowls in the garden.

Container Gardening

If you don’t have a big backyard with room for a garden, try your hand at container gardening instead. These 10 articles will explain how to choose the right items to put into a container, how to choose the right container for your plants and much more.

  • Limit your child’s crop choices when container gardening. A Busy Mommy explains that kids may be tempted to overplant their pot without some guidance.
  • Plant an herb container garden. Herbs are simple to grow, according to The Honest Company, and are perfect for kids.
  • Allow the kids to pick their own containers. Do It Yourself explains that kids want a sense of ownership with their container garden, so let them pick their containers as a first step to achieving this.
  • Choose the right container for the chosen plants. The Greenery says that terra cotta pots breathe, so the soil dries out quickly. This is great for plants that don’t like wet feet, but other plants do better in plastic with a moister soil.
  • Place a layer of pebbles in the bottom of the container. Green Guide for Kids explains the steps to preparing your container for planting.
  • Combine several plants in one container. If you have a large pot, plant several plants in it. Vegetable Gardening Online recommends planting a tomato plant with a border of chives.
  • Choose a sunny spot for your container. Vegetable plants need sun, so Guilford recommends putting vegetable containers in places that get a lot of sunlight.
  • Fill the container to within one inch of the top with potting mix. According to Community Ground Works, a soil-less potting mix works best in containers.
  • Flowers grow well in containers. Hub Pages shares a list of flowers that do well in containers and may involve less tending.
  • Make a list of responsibilities. Scholastic recommends making a task list for all of the things that need to be done with your garden.

Companion Gardening

Companion gardening allows you to control bugs without the use of chemicals, can help plants thrive and can keep wildlife out of your garden. Read these 10 posts to learn more about which plants grow well together and which plants don’t.

  • Plant corn seeds, pole beans and squash together. La Costa Valley Preschool explains that corn stalks give beans something natural to climb on and squash acts as a natural mulch to keep down weeds and hold in moisture.
  • Learn which plants grow well together. One Creative Mommy has created a chart that shows which seeds or plants help each other and which you should not plant together.
  • Find out which plants don’t grow well together. Moms Need to Know explains that sunflowers don’t grow well with other plants because their roots emit a toxin that prevents other plants from growing too close to them.
  • Carrots are simple for kids to grow and can be planted with leeks. According to Kiddie Gardens, carrots are bothered by the carrot fly, so planting leeks or onions near carrots will keep the carrot fly away.
  • Companion planting even has a biblical tie in. Encyclopedia Kids details the origins of companion planting, referencing Leviticus 19:19 where scripture describes nurse crops.
  • Inter-planting is different from companion planting. Edina Patch explains that inter-planting is planting cold and warm weather vegetables in the same area to make the most of your garden space. Companion planting is planting seeds at the same time to benefit the plants in one way or another.
  • The legend of the three sisters. The Three Sisters tell about Iroquois Gardens and how it was believed that a spirit inhabited the maize, the pole bean and the squash and that each sister would protect the other. This is how the idea of companion gardening began.
  • Some companion plants are said to affect flavor. According to About Gardening, there is little scientific proof of this, but it can be a fun experiment to see if it’s true.
  • Plant marigolds around your vegetable garden. The Old Farmer’s Almanac says that farmers have used marigolds for years to keep insects and animals away from vegetables.
  • Grow nasturtiums with your squash. The Free Range Life explains that the nasturtium flower keeps the squash bug away.

Good and Bad Bugs

Instead of using pesticides to keep harmful bugs out of your garden, consider planting things that attract the beneficial bugs. Peruse these 10 sites to find out which bugs are good and which ones are bad when it comes to gardening.

  • Bees are necessary to pollinate plants. Bees are necessary because they pollinate the plants and help the vegetables grow, says Hobby Farms.
  • Aphids are bad. Check out the picture of what a plant suffering with Aphids looks like on EPA. Ladybugs love aphids, so buy and introduce ladybugs to your garden.
  • Butterflies can be both good and bad. If you are trying to attract butterflies to your garden or need pollination to occur, then butterflies are good says Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. However, butterflies lay eggs that turn into caterpillars, which eat the leaves on plants.
  • Hoverflies are good bugs. Oregon State University suggests planting cilantro in your garden to attract hoverflies, which eat aphids and other bad bugs.
  • Damsel bugs are beneficial. These bugs look strange, but they attack and eat destructive Japanese beetles, says Gardens Alive.
  • A Syrphid Fly Larva is a strange looking, good bug. Mother Earth News describes this bug as a sightless little green worm that moves quickly and eats aphids.
  • Dragonflies are beneficial. Real Estate MSN explains that dragonflies eat mosquitos, aphids and other garden pests.
  • Ground beetles eat slugs. Garden Weasel mentions how tempting it is to step on ground beetles when you see them, but they actually do more good than harm in the garden.
  • Ants are good, even if they are annoying. According to Alive, ants can eat bugs as large as caterpillars and should be welcome in your garden. They can bite, though, so be sure to protect your skin with gloves when working in the dirt.
  • Colorado potato bugs are destructive bugs. Mama Knows explains that these bugs can eat entire leaves, leaving only the veins.

Tips for a Successful Gardening Experience

It can be challenging to garden with kids, there’s no doubt about it. However, the benefits that the kids gain far outweigh the negatives. Read through these 10 tips for helpful suggestions to make the gardening experience a successful one.

  • Kids love crops that mature quickly. Earth Easy suggests harvesting radishes because they produce quickly and can be started in cool weather.
  • Don’t worry if the kids don’t do things the way you would. How Does She stresses the importance of getting kids to love the experience and make it their own.
  • Keep a garden journal with your child. Keep a journal that tracks what worked and what didn’t in your garden and encourage your kids to draw pictures of the plants, suggests Lemon Lime Adventures.
  • Let the kids help in the garden, but don’t force them. The Cubicle Chick explains that you don’t want kids to think of gardening as a chore or something they ‘have’ to do. Instead, invite them to help and lead by example.
  • Make a simple watering jug for little gardeners. A Journey to a Dream shares how to create a simple watering jug by using a hot needle to create holes in a milk jug cap.
  • Show a child how seeds germinate. The Artful Child has a bean experiment that allows kids see how stems come out of a bean.
  • Grow strawberries in cement blocks. Check out Pink Country Home to see how simple it is to do this around the edge of your garden.
  • Make a compost sifter for the kids to use. My Backyard Plans explain how simple it is to make a sifter using wood scraps and wire mesh. If you are going to do a compost pile, you may want to have a sifter to filter out the big chunks.
  • Harvest the sunflower seeds with the kids. The Educator’s Spin on It shows a video on how to harvest the sunflower seeds; keep half to feed the birds and half to plant the following year.
  • Let the kids add sound to the garden. Appeal to all senses in your garden by making a wind chime like the one found on Cindy Dyer.
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100 Tips to Help Nannies Set Goals

goalsettingIn every career, having goals is an important part of growing and thriving. As a nanny, whether you’re a career nanny or are only nannying part-time, setting goals is of the utmost importance. From small goals to big goals, short term ones to long term, we’ve compiled a list of websites that will help you achieve all of the goals you set, and maybe even some you didn’t!

Why Should You Set Goals?

Setting goals is the first step to turning your dreams into reality. It’s becomes harder to move forward as a nanny without goals because you haven’t defined what it is you want to accomplish throughout your career. For more reasons why you should set goals, turn to these 10 sites.

  • Goals help you know where you are headed. Positive Thinking Principles explains that goals give you motivation because they define what it is you want to achieve.
  • Achieving goals helps improve your confidence. Goal Setting for Success discusses how setting and reaching goals makes you feel successful and accomplished.
  • Goals turn dreams into accomplishments. Resolutions RTK says unless you turn your dreams into goals with actionable items, you will never accomplish them.
  • Setting goals helps you determine what you want. Michael Wyatt points out that people who don’t set goals wander aimlessly through life and don’t know why they lack fulfillment.
  • Setting goals helps you move forward. Keep Inspiring Me explains the importance of setting a deadline for achieving goals. Having a date to achieve them by helps motivate you to reach them.
  • Without goals you may end up where you don’t want to be. Life Hack urges people to set goals and review them. Otherwise, you may wake up one day and realize you aren’t where you want to be.
  • Make specific goals that mean something to you. Get Level Ten says that you must have an emotional attachment to your goal to be successful.
  • Make goals that are worth the effort. Leaving Work Behind advises you to think about the goals you set and make sure that they are worth the effort required to achieve them.
  • Having goals can help you stop procrastinating. Clint Maun explains that goals give you direction.
  • Try to make your goals big because little ones will not inspire you. Purpose Fairy points out that dreaming big is what drives people to achieve their goals.

Setting Long-Term Goals

Long-term goals are the things you want to achieve a year, five years or even 10 years down the road. When brainstorming your long-term goals, focus on your big dreams and determine which ones you want to pursue. While it’s okay to have multiple long-term goals, you always want to make sure you don’t have so many that the prospect of achieving them becomes overwhelming. For tips on setting long-term goals, check out these 10 posts.

  • Set a goal that is challenging, but doable. 2 Know Myself explains that making a goal too hard can deter you from achieving it.
  • Brainstorm ideas. Strength of Us recommends brainstorming ideas of what would make you happy in all aspects of your life.
  • Envision your ideal future. HR Web Berkeley suggests thinking about different aspects of your life and envisioning what you would like them to be like.
  • Create financial goals. Capital One explains how to set up financial goals and how to realize your long-term goals.
  • Learn how to keep track of your long-term goals. Coach Amal explains the importance of keeping your goals posted where you can see them.
  • Make sure your long-term goals are feasible. ALC Web Marketing points out that it’s simple to say you want to retire on a beach somewhere, but you need to make sure that you can aactually make that happen.
  • Read how to set a long-term goal. Runner’s World shares how to set a long-term goal and why it’s important to think beyond the next race. The tips in this article aren’t just for runners; they easily transfer to all aspects of life.
  • Create a vision board. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a visual representation of your long-term goals. Greg Beazley explains how to create an online vision board.
  • Make a dream board that you can hang on the wall. Goal Setting Guide gives tips on making a dream board using a cork board, images and more.
  • How long do you want to be a nanny? Go Nannies advises nannies and employers to discuss long-term goals with each other so that you both are able to plan for the future.

Breaking Down Your Broad Goals

Once you’ve set your long-term goals, it’s essential that you then break them down into smaller goals. These short-term goals make achieving your long-term goals much more feasible. They also allow you to celebrate mini-successes as you work towards your long-term goals and keep you motivated. Read more about breaking down long-term goals in these 10 articles.

  • Learn how to create short-term goals. Decisive Minds explains how short-term goals can seem more accessible than long-term ones.
  • Make your goals small enough that they seem achievable. Udemy points out the importance of breaking down your goals until they’re something you can work on right now.
  • Determine what your core values are when deciding on short and long-term career goals. Forbes explains the various ways you can evaluate your career skills and utilize them as you work towards your goals.
  • Figure out the steps that you need to take to reach your long-term goals. No Ordinary Homestead details how to break down big ideas into baby steps.
  • Help your charges set school goals. School Family describes how kids can break down larger goals into smaller ones.
  • Turn steps into short term goals. Breaking down your long-term goal into steps isn’t enough if you don’t turn those steps into short-term goals, explains Career Path 360.
  • If your long-term goal is concrete, you can break it down into action items. Lifehacker explains the importance of making your long-term goals concrete so that you have the ability to break them down into smaller milestones.
  • Learn how to dissect your goals. Self-Learner points out how to look at a long-term goal and figure out how to break it down into smaller pieces.
  • Come up with mini goals. My Personal Best explains the importance of determining how realistic your long-term goals are so you are able to create mini-goals.
  • Make sure your goals are explicit. Virtual Learning Lab has a brief online class that explains the difference between implicit and explicit goals and shares how to break them down once they are explicit.

Learn How to Set Incremental Goals

Incremental goals can be the same as short-term goals, or they can be different. These types of goals define the next step you need to take to reach your long-term goal. If you can step closer and closer to your short-term goals, you are able to celebrate success sooner. These 10 sites explain more about incremental goals.

  • Whittle down your long list to three long-term goals. Harmony from the Inside Out urges you to reduce your brainstormed list of goals down to the three that will make the most difference in your life. Once you’ve done that, reduce those to incremental goals.
  • Set short-term goals that are well-defined, incremental and doable. After you break down your long-term goals into short-term ones you need to make sure that the short-term goals make sense and motivate you, says Fit Day.
  • When setting short-term goals be specific. Company Founder explains that you need to know exactly where you have to be in order to know when you reach your short-term goal.
  • Incremental goals are mini milestones you can celebrate. Everyone needs encouragement and setting incremental goals allows you celebrate your achievements, explains Shape.
  • Incremental goals are even smaller than short-term goals. Toastmasters details that your short term goal may be to lift weights three times a week, but your incremental goal defines how many reps you will do at each weight machine or exercise.
  • Avoid burn-out by making incremental goals. Edutopia explains how common burn out and frustration are when working towards bigger goals, which is why you should add an activity that allows you to see success.  
  • Incremental goals can also mean to move up as you going along. Core Performance describes how you can start with goals that are easy to achieve and then work towards harder goals as you move closer to your long-term goal.
  • Make sure your goals are achievable by determining incremental goals. Titus 2 Homemaker points out that running a marathon may be a smart goal for you if you’re already a runner, but may not be if you are significantly overweight or inactive.
  • Know when incremental goals may be holding you back. Chief Executive says that people often make incremental goals without having a long-term goal that they are working toward. Achieving a small incremental goal doesn’t mean as much if it isn’t attached to something bigger.
  • Make sure that you have to put in effort to reach your incremental goals. Music Clout points out that when you set incremental goals it’s important to make sure you have to put forth effort to achieve the goals you’ve set to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Make a Plan

Every day you should do something that takes you a step closer to your long-term goal. Make a plan to reach your goals and then define what you can be doing daily or weekly to achieve them. The following 10 articles will help you make a plan to achieve your goals.

  • Tricks to staying committed to your goals. Pick the Brain explains the importance of having a plan in place that keeps you on track to achieve your goals, especially after your initial excitement about the goal wears off.
  • Break down tasks. Aggie-Horticulture shows how to break down tasks into daily, weekly and monthly To Do lists.
  • Be flexible when forming your plan. Money US News urges you to make a plan for how to achieve your long term goal, but also stresses to be flexible because you don’t know what the future holds.
  • Come up with a career plan. Many times goals are career-oriented, so use the tips on I Seek to learn how to create a career plan that you can stick with.
  • Learn how to form a MAP. Training Tony Robbins explains how to form a MAP, or Massive Action Plan.
  • A plan can help you determine causes and effects. Business Balls encourages you to use methods that you enjoy when setting up a plan.
  • An action plan can help you determine the benefits of achieving your goal. Kent details how to form an action plan and define the steps needed to reach your goal.
  • If-Then planning can help you reach your goals. 99U encourages you to write down steps with the IF-THEN approach. IF one thing happens THEN you will do something in response.
  • Asking the right questions can help you create an action plan. The Right Questions says that answering why, where and what can help you form a plan.
  • Write down your goal and then make a list. Goals on Track explains that by making a list of things you need to do to reach your goal you can start to determine your action plan.

Stay Motivated

Over time, it can be hard to keep plugging away at a goal, so it’s important to find a way to be excited about your goal every day. You can do this by creating a vision board that you can look at each morning. Know why you want to achieve your goal and keep that in mind as you go about your daily life. Share your goals with other people and let them help you stay motivated. These 10 posts will help you figure out what will keep you motivated as you work towards your goals.

  • Tell your friends or family about your goals. XO Sarah lists 101 ways to stay motivated as you work towards your goals.
  • Stay happy. While it’s impossible to be happy all the time, David Mansaray explains that to be motivated you first have to be happy.
  • Make a list of reasons you want to achieve your goal. Growing in His Glory says that you can stay motivated by reviewing why you wanted to reach a certain goal in the first place.
  • An object in motion tends to stay in motion. Spark People describes how momentum helps you stay motivated, so you need to keep moving toward your goal every day.
  • Be passionate. If you are excited about your goal, you are able to stay motivated. Motivade explains that having a passion is often enough to keep you going.
  • Imagine how you’d feel if you didn’t accomplish your goal. Sometimes you can motivate yourself by avoiding negativity, explains Inspiyr.
  • Have fun. Shine Yahoo encourages you to make reaching your goals fun. You’re more likely to want to continue to work towards something if it’s enjoyable to do.
  • Make sure you have small enough mini-goals. Goal! Your 30 Day Game Plan urges you to break your goal down into short-term goals that allow you to experience success.
  • Avoid making excuses. WPS Pearson expands on the idea of developing self-discipline to stay motivated toward achieving your goals.
  • Make the steps simple. The Change Blog explains that if you are trying to save money, have it automatically transferred into savings each pay period.

Track Your Progress

You will encounter periods of time where you feel like you aren’t making any headway towards reaching your goals, despite the effort you’re putting in to do so. Keeping track of your progress will help you avoid feeling like you haven’t achieved anything. These 10 sites list ways you can track your accomplishments so that you stay motivated.

  • Use Google Calendar to track your progress. According to Dumb Little Man, you can use this program for more than just To Do lists.
  • Get together weekly with a group to discuss progress. Buffer App explains that weekly dinners are one way a notable company holds team members accountable.
  • Try using Joe’s Goals online. You can track as many goals as you want and even share results with friends, explains Joe’s Goals.
  • Use a free service called 42 Goals. This is a daily goal tracking service that you must go on and update every day in order to see a benefit, says 42 Goals.
  • Track more information by buying an online service. Goals on Track has several ways to keep you on track, though it does come with an annual price tag of $68.
  • Microsoft Project is a way to use something you may already have. Office Microsoft explains the steps you need to take to get this program to track projects versus your schedule.
  • Week Plan is a program that lets you track your progress online. Work Awesome points out that this program is based on the concepts from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  • Some online trackers include a coach to help you reach your goals. Mashable recommends Move Mountains to set daily, weekly or monthly goals and create motivators.
  • Write down your goals and check them often. The Latter Day Saints explain that people who write down their goals and refer back to them regularly are more likely to see success than those who don’t.
  • Use a basic calendar to track progress. Don’t Break the Chain is a method of tracking progress used by Jerry Seinfeld where you put a check mark on the calendar every day that you work toward your goal. You don’t want to break the chain of check marks, so you are more likely to keep up with it, says Divine Caroline.

Get Help

You don’t have to work at achieving your goals alone. In fact, having a support system in place can make all the difference when it comes to achieving them. Read these 10 blogs for tips on getting help with your goals.

  • Get a goal buddy. Small Business Info Canada explains how having a goal buddy will keep you accountable.
  • To achieve your goal you need to use your personal network. Institute for Community Inclusion explains what your personal network is.
  • Use an online network of supporters. Zen Habits encourages you to tell people your goals on your blog and update them weekly so that you can get encouragement online.
  • Ask someone you trust. Site Point knows that your motivation may wane, so ask someone you trust to encourage you.
  • Find a mentor. And Then We Saved points out that having a mentor can help you reach goals in specific areas because they have been there before and can help you get there.
  • Tell your friends and family about your goals to enlist their support. Diatribe explains how to be successful with your goals by finding support.
  • Find a support group. Add My Support has links for many different online support groups based on the topic of the goals.
  • Seek those that want to build you up. Family Share advises you to avoid people that want to tear you down and spew negativity in your direction.
  • Get together with other people with the same goals. Lemon Lime Adventures talks about how she links up with other bloggers to compare goals and support each other.
  • Find a coach who can guide your efforts. Top Achievement says having a coach to help you achieve your goals is essential.

Know that Setbacks are Normal

You should always plan for setbacks when setting goals. Doing so will help you be prepared should something happen. After all, it is highly unlikely that your entire goal journey will be without setback. Read these 10 posts to help prepare for any setbacks you may face.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Better Health explains that it’s important to celebrate what you did accomplish, even when you don’t reach your goals on time, and keep plugging away at them.
  • Keep positive messages in your mind. Top 3 Goals urges you to prepare for setbacks by having positive mantras you can use to improve your mood and to surround yourself with positive people.
  • Prepare for setback and learn from them. David Weedmark says that if you are not encountering setbacks then you are not trying anything new.
  • Assess any setbacks that arise and then move on. I Seek points out that everyone is going to encounter setbacks, but it’s how you deal with them that will set you apart from the rest.
  • Stay focused on your goal, not the setback. Expert Beacon reports that those people that succeed are the ones that learn to handle setbacks and then move on.
  • Have a plan in place to deal with setbacks. Setbacks are so common that J 2 Jenkins suggests planning for them and deciding ahead of time how you will handle them when they inevitably happen.
  • Learn from your setbacks and move on. Ask Dr. Susan shares that setbacks are inevitable; when you encounter one, figure out what went wrong and try not to let it happen again.
  • Setbacks are not failures. No path is completely without bumps and no goal journey is without setbacks. It’s important to deal with them and move on instead of throwing in the towel, encourages Worldwide Health.
  • Make sure you know where you’re going and that a setback won’t derail you. Master Your Brand explains that those people who have a clear vision don’t allow a setback to make them stray from their vision, but those without a clear vision wallow in the setback.
  • Don’t be afraid to rethink your goal. If you find you are having too many setbacks, you may need to reassess your goal and make adjustments, advises Psychology Today.

Reward Your Accomplishments

Rewarding your accomplishments, both big and small, is an important part of staying motivated. Determine your rewards ahead of time, that way you have something to look forward to when times get tough. These 10 posts will help you determine how to reward your accomplishments. Dangle a carrot for yourself and you may just reach your goals!

  • Small rewards still motivate. Life Script shares how you don’t have to spend a ton to reward yourself.
  • Reward the smallest steps. Crystal Tatum explains that small rewards may help you get started on a difficult goal. She lists over 100 rewards you can use.
  • Hang a picture of your reward to motivate yourself. Jill Conyers created a vision board that had a picture of her reward right in the middle of it so that every time she wanted to slack off she would think of her reward and keep going.
  • Rewards tie small achievements to joy. Early Riser explains that you connect taking the right steps to something positive when you reward your efforts, which makes it easier to keep moving forward.
  • Make sure that your rewards don’t undo what you achieved. If you are trying to save money, don’t spend money to reward yourself. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t reward yourself by going out to dinner. Action Podcast advises that you reward yourself appropriately.
  • Rewards must be personal to you. What motivates one person may not motivate you. Campfire Chic asked several people how they reward themselves so you can get some ideas of what may motivate you.
  • Your reward must match the accomplishment. If you hate exercising you may want to reward yourself for getting out the door and taking a walk. Just make sure your reward matches your accomplishment, suggests She Inspires.
  • Why are rewards important? Fit Day explains that rewards can motivate you to continue working toward your long-term goal, add fun to the struggle, give you mental strength to hang in there and more.
  • It’s important to set your reward at the same time you set your goal. Transition of Thoughts explains that if the reward is to drive your efforts you have to know what it is ahead of time or it won’t help.
  • Ideas for various non-food rewards. Visalus 4 Your Soul categorizes rewards that you might like when you are trying to think of ways to celebrate reaching a milestone.
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The Fit Factor: How to Keep the Family in Shape

familyexerciseWhen your schedule is packed with homework, music lessons, housework and work responsibilities, it’s not unusual for exercise to be the first thing that falls to the wayside. After all, who has time to work out or go to the gym when caring for children and maintaining a household?

Making fitness a priority for the family, though, can brighten your mood and give you the motivation to live a healthier lifestyle, while simultaneously boosting your energy so you can keep up with the little ones you love the most.

A Simple Start

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to spend hours in the gym to stay fit. In fact, it is possible to lose weight and keep your muscles strong with something as simple as proper breathing techniques. “Because most of us breathe high in the chest – both a habitual and stress response – this causes hormones such as cortisol, which break down our muscles and use sugar as a fuel,” says Marc Lebert with the

“Proper breathing, deep in the belly, creates a hormonal environment that burns fat as a fuel and keeps muscle, which keeps your metabolism,” says Lebert. “Besides, it just feels better.”

Strength training is also a healthy way to get your family fit. “Strength training takes only minutes, and you can get an amazing leg workout in less than four minutes,” says Lebert. Try jump squats for one minute straight and see how quickly the results will show within your physique. “Done right, you will be breathing hard and the legs will be on fire,” he says.

Working the legs is also a much more effective strength training exercise than crunches to get your abs in shape, says Lebert. “If you want great abs, work the legs. Because most people, when they say they want to see their abs, what they really need to do is lower their body fat levels, which comes from hard leg training – not crunches,” he says. “Crunches and other ab exercises will strengthen the abdominal muscles, but will do little to burn the fat over the top of them. It’s far better to work the legs hard.”

Incorporate the Family

Exercise and fitness do not have to be reserved for adults. Get the entire family involved by creating exercises and active games that include the kiddos. Jennifer McCamish, owner of Dancers Shape, a Pilates-based barre fitness studio in Austin, Texas, recommends choosing power packed moves, such as planks, brides and lunges to get moving with your children.

“Create a fun and silly game you two play for 20 minutes together,” suggests McCamish. “For example, play mom is a big crazy monster by using your lunges to chase your little one around the house,” she says. “The princess has to escape by crawling under the bridge x amount of times – otherwise known as mom’s plank or Pilates bridge she is holding while the little one crawls through.”

Making exercise a game will help your children see the fun in getting fit. “Your toddler will love it because at that age, they can’t get enough of repetition and make believe,” says McCamish. “Plus, you will get a great workout in and get the added bonus of spending quality time bonding with your child.”

Turning household chores into fitness fun gets the entire family involved, too. “Kids love to be timed, so try setting a timer to see how quickly, yet efficiently, chores can get done,” says Jessica Matthews, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. “It’s a fun way for you and your kids to race against the clock as you take care of the housework while breaking a sweat in the process.”

Add exercise to the daily routines as a way to stay fit, recommends Matthews. “From doing lunges while vacuuming and mopping to performing squats and calf raises while dusting, there are lots of ways to burn extra calories while cleaning up the house,” she says. “You can also throw on some upbeat music for you and the kids to groove to while tidying up.”

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100 Summer Activities to do with the Kids

waterparkSummer may be highly anticipated by kids, but it’s not unusual to hear cries of boredom within a few weeks of being home. To avoid bored kids with nothing to do, check out these 100 summer activities. They’ll keep your kids busy and entertained all summer long!

Free Activities to Take the Kids To

Take advantage of long summer days by packing them with plenty of fun, free activities. The 10 ideas below are just some of the many things you can do for free with the kids this summer.

  • Head to the museum to get out of the heat. Check your local museums for free admission days. The Denver Art Museum has free admission on the first Saturday of the month.
  • Find a splash pad. Most splash pads are free, so check out your local parks. The one in The City of Kennedale is open May to October.
  • Enjoy an outdoor concert. Many cities have free outdoor concerts during the summer, like the ones found on DC About.
  • Take a walking tour of art sculptures. Depending on where you live, there may be many art sculptures to see, like the free walking tour of sculptures at the Museum at Stanford.
  • Go geocaching. Whether you are staying in town or going on vacation, check out Geocaching online to find a cache and figure out how to locate it.
  • Hunt for shells on the beach. Travel and Leisure lists the top 10 best U.S. shelling beaches.
  • Go to a farmer’s market. See if your city has a farmer’s market to explore and support your local farmers. Check out the list of the best 101 farmer’s markets in America on The Daily Meal.
  • Find a kids free day at the zoo. Check out your local zoo and see if there are certain times or days when admission is free for kids. For instance, The San Diego Zoo offers free admission for the entire month of October.
  • Stories and crafts at the library. Most libraries have story time during the summer months and many also have additional activities for them too, like at Upper Mooreland Library.
  • Free outdoor movies at the park. Look on the community calendar to see if any parks in your area are hosting a free movie series like the one found in Roanoke.

Water Fun

To beat the heat this summer, you’ll need lots of fun water activities planned. Look through these 10 articles for some fun ideas that will keep the kids cool and entertained.

  • Throw water balloons at a chalk target. No Time for Flashcards created an Angry Birds inspired game that uses water balloons with angry bird faces and chalk piggies.
  • Make sponge balls to throw at each other. Cut sponges into fourths and tie them together with dental floss, as explained on One Charming Party.
  • Get a group together for water wars. Play Capture the Beach Ball by following the directions on Kidspot.
  • Learn to swim. According to the CDC, accidental drowning ranks fifth in leading causes for unintentional injuries, so it’s important to give your children swimming lessons. Check out Swim Lessons to find a place near you.
  • Run through the sprinklers. Create a sprinkler for your kids using PVC pipe found at your local hardware store. Directions can be found on Here Comes the Sun.
  • Water gun tag. Fun Family Education recommends water gun tag using one low powered, high capacity super soaker for the kid who is ‘it’ and then when you get squirted you’re out.
  • Melt frozen toys. Take some small toys and freeze them in layers in a container, suggests Mama & Baby Love, then remove the ice from the container and let your child see how long it takes him to get to the frozen toys.
  • Paint with ice cubes. First Palette explains how to mix colored water to create ice cubes that the kids can paint with.
  • Pool ping pong. Take an inexpensive inflatable pool ring and float it in the pool. Dump a bunch of ping pong balls in the pool and let the kids jump in to grab the balls and try to shoot them through the pool ring, suggests Parents.
  • Make your own slip and slide. Inner Child Fun suggests taking a long plastic drop cloth, some garden stakes and some water to a nearby hill to make your own thrilling slip and slide toy.

Science Experiments

Who doesn’t like a fascinating science experiment? Check out these 10 posts for some fun science projects the kids can do this summer; they’ll be having so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning something too!

  • Make glow in the dark slime. Mix up some slime using glue, borax, water and glow-in-the-dark paint. Instructions found on A Pumpkin and a Princess. 
  • Create your own glowing jar lantern. Wikihow takes you step-by-step through the process of making a lantern that will glow all night. 
  • Determine how to get an egg in a bottle. Learn the trick to sucking an egg into a bottle with matches by reading Weather Wiz Kids.
  • Build your own radio. You can create an AM radio out of a bottle and some other supplies, as shown on Makezine.
  • Make dry ice bubbles. Take soap and water and add a chunk of dry ice to make a big bubble, explains Science Kids. Adults should handle the dry ice with gloves.
  • Play with static electricity. Cool Progeny describes how to take a balloon and some pieces of paper to demonstrate the power of static electricity.
  • Create your own mini hovercraft. The Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay wrote instructions for creating your own mini hovercraft using a CD, a water bottle cap, some glue and a balloon.
  • Learn how water travels into a flower. Steve Spangler Science shows how water travels up a stem using colored water and a carnation.
  • Make your own lava lamp. Science Kids explains how to use colored water and oil in a clear bottle to make the base of a lava lamp. Add a small piece of Alka-Seltzer and the lava will start bubbling to the top.
  • Build a working volcano. Use papier-mâché to create your volcano shape, then paint it after it’s dry. To get the volcano to explode, mix vinegar and baking soda or diet soda and Mentos candy, says How Things Work Science Projects.

Service Projects

Teaching your kids to give back is an important lesson. Make serving others fun for the kids by using one of the 10 ideas on these posts.

  • Create dog toys for SPCA. The Bark Post explains how to use old T-shirts to create a braided chew/tug toy for dogs.
  • Run a lemonade stand for charity. Sunkist shares directions for how to find a charity and build a lemonade stand to raise money for it.
  • Pick up litter at a park. Consider adopting a park or a highway like the people did using IC Gov and regularly pick up the litter to keep it clean.
  • Help a neighbor with yard work. Spread the love this summer by going over and asking your neighbor if you can do anything to help her in the yard, says Reconciled World.
  • Collect used books to donate to a doctor’s office. Kid World Citizen suggests going through your books and donating the ones you have outgrown.
  • Make cards for soldiers. Soldiers get lonely for news from their home country, so why not make some cards and share some news with them? Information for how to do this can be found on Military.
  • Decorate placemats for meals on wheels. Meals on Wheels provides meals for the elderly.
  • Go on a food drive scavenger hunt. Assign points for various items on the list and send a group of kids out in different areas to try to get various food items donated for the food pantry. The group that comes back with the most points wins, says The Source.
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter. Volunteer at an animal shelter to give affection to the animals, clean their cages or pick up the yard, suggests Do Something.
  • Donate used toys to a charity in your area. Check out the list on The Stir to find places to donate your gently used toys.

Paper Crafting

It’s always a good idea to have some craft ideas handy for rainy days or days when you just want to spend some time indoors to beat the heat. Try out these 10 paper projects on days you’re indoors.

  • Create a summer pinwheel. DLTK shares instructions for how to make a pinwheel.
  • Make a scrapbook of your summer vacation. Use the directions on Martha Stewart to make your own scrapbook on a key ring.
  • Fold one thousand origami cranes to make a wish. Follow along with the picture tutorial on Monkey to learn how to fold a paper crane, then start folding so that you can reach 1000!
  • Stamp your own wrapping paper with vegetables. A Subtle Revelry explains how to cut vegetables so you can use them as stamps on wrapping paper.
  • Rubber stamp greeting cards for friends and family. You’ll find simple stamped greeting cards the kids can make on Aunt Annie’s Crafts.
  • Use paper plates to make masks. Enchanted Learning describes how to use two paper plates to make a bunny mask.
  • Take paper lunch sacks and make your own puppets. The kids can make a puppet for every letter in the alphabet by using the patterns found on CBolding.
  • Color coffee filters and create butterflies from them. There are many ways to color paper coffee filters and turn them into butterflies. Take a look at the ideas shared on Hands on as We Grow.
  • Cut out paper chain dolls. The doll shapes are endless, and Kiddley has some examples that you can download to help the kids get started.
  • Make tissue paper flowers to brighten up your room. Learn how to make these simple, colorful flowers by following the directions and pictures on I Heart Nap Time.

Recycled Art Projects

When it comes to getting creative, there’s no need to spend a bunch of money. Instead, find ways to recycle items into new creations. These 10 art projects take yesterday’s trash and turn it into today’s treasure.

  • Take an old, stained white shirt and tie dye it. Rescue a shirt that was destined for the dumpster by tie dying it using the directions found on Dharma Trading Company.
  • Make a robot out of stuff you find in the recycling bin. Born Again Creations explains how to take items from the recycling bin and create a robot from them.
  • Create abstract art using recycled materials. eHow explains how to take broken CD’s and combine them with broken jewelry to make a mosaic for the top of an old shoe box.
  • Use empty cardboard tubes to make wall art. Crafts by Amanda shows how to color and cut cardboard tubes and glue them together to create wall art.
  • Transform scrap wood into a sculpture. Kinder Art suggests picking up some scrap wood from the lumber yard to create a new sculpture.
  • Make a frog from a plastic cup. Fave Crafts details how to create this frog bank from a plastic cup.
  • Put together penguin families using plastic bottles. Spoonful explains what items you will need and how to go about putting it all together.
  • Braid together plastic grocery sacks to make a jump rope. Gather up all of the plastic bags that you have around the house and start braiding them into a jump rope by following the directions on A Childhood List.
  • Create a mural for the wall from bottle caps. Meri Cherry explains how kids collected over ten thousand bottle caps and attached them to a mural.
  • Make some crazy crocodiles with bubble wrap and cardboard. Positively Splendid provides directions for painting and creating unique crocodiles out of recycled materials.

Summer Camps

From soccer to photography, there’s a camp out there to fit every interest. Check out these 10 different camp ideas for the kids this summer.

  • YMCA has summer camps all over the country. YKids in Seattle details their summer camp program, which may be similar to one in your area.
  • Try a camp through the Boys and Girls Club. BGCA has clubs across the country, so try them out this summer.
  • Sign up for an art camp through a local museum. First Center explains what their art camp entails; you may be able to find a similar one in your area.
  • Find a soccer camp in your area. Challenger Sports puts on soccer camps, as do many other groups throughout the country.
  • Maybe baseball would interest your child? USS Sports Camps has camps all over, so you’re sure to find a baseball camp close to you.
  • Let your child sing or play along at music camp. If your child enjoys music, you might try a music camp like the one described on Swallow Hill Music.
  • If you have a budding actor in your home you may want to do drama camp. Nashville’s Children’s Theater offers a drama camp, as do many other cities, so you should have no trouble finding one in your area.
  • How about letting the kids take an online photography course? This camp is online and only costs $36 for the first child and $10 for each additional child. Read more on Jessica Sprague.
  • Get your child’s creative juices flowing by putting them in a scrapbook camp. Cre8 Workshop offers several, but you can also check locally to see if anyone is hosting a camp for kids.
  • Stay cool while letting the kids go to a swim camp this summer. Campus Rec shares how their program is set up; you can also check at your local aquatics center.

Cooking with Kids

Learning to cook is a life skill that all kids need, and these 10 posts include simple, tasty recipes and directions that will help kids learn to cook for themselves and their family.

  • Encourage your kids to make roaring fire cookies. Food provides the instructions for this treat, and there’s no real fire involved. The kids take simple ingredients and make treats that look like a fire.
  • Let the kids put together no-cook kabobs. Betty Crocker shares a recipe for Tomato-Basil Caprese Kabobs that the kids can thread themselves.
  • Kids can whip up their own lunch or snack with these bagel pizzas. Cooking Light has a kid-friendly recipe for bagel pizzas that will fill them up.
  • Have the kids make dinner for everyone. Real Simple shares a recipe for Pinto Bean and Cheese Tacos that is simple enough for kids to make on their own.
  • The kids can whip up dessert for the family by making Peanut Butter Graham Cracker Balls. These treats from Baby Gizmo can be made quickly in the microwave.
  • Instead of pigs in a blanket, let the kids make pigs in ponchos. Rachael Ray Mag provides the recipe and directions for the kids to make up these simple hot dogs.
  • Enjoy some pretzel button snacks. These simple treats by Griffiths Rated are the perfect snack!
  • Pepperoni cheese stick roll-ups are great for a snack or a meal. The kids can separate the crescent roll triangles and fill them with pepperoni and a cheese stick, then roll them up for an adult to bake. Find the recipe at The Girl Who Ate Everything.
  • For a fun, easy snack, try dipped pretzel rods. Our Best Bites explains how to whip up these tasty treats.
  • Let the kids get creative and make peanut butter and jelly sushi. All Recipes shares how to make these simple, unique snacks.

Get Active

You’ll have no problem keeping the kids active with these 10 ideas!

  • Build your own obstacle course. Use objects you already own, like hula hoops, jump ropes and balls, to get the kids active in their own backyard, suggests Entertainment.
  • Train your dog to do an agility course. It takes a lot of practice to get your dog to do an agility course like they do at the dog shows. Mother Nature Network explains what you need to do to get started. 
  • Do freeze dancing in your living room. All you need is a way to play music and an area to dance in for this one, says Thriving Home.
  • Start a dog walking service. It is fairly simple to start a small business for dog walking, as seen on Gaebler.
  • Go on a treasure hunt. Learn how to plan a treasure hunt that the kids will love by following the directions on My Kids Adventures. 
  • Hike through some nearby woods. Find 10 tips for taking a hike with the kids on Make and Takes.
  • Train for a 5K. You and your child can train for a 5K together by using the training schedule found on Suite.
  • Take ice skating lessons. Check your local ice skating rink to find out about skating lessons like the ones shown on Ice Factory.
  • Create an obstacle course for your bike. Get your kids out riding their bikes by creating a bike obstacle course using the ideas from Walk Bike School.
  • Learn to roller blade/skate. Follow the tips from LiveStrong to learn how to inline skate/roller blade. You can find information on how to work on balance, how to stop and how to turn.

Music Fun

This summer, crank up the tunes! Music can make just about anything more entertaining and helps kids in language development, spatial-temporal skills and can even improve a child’s IQ, according to PBS. Take a look at these 10 ways to incorporate music into your child’s summer.

  • Take music lessons. Learning to play an instrument helps kids improve their cognitive and non-cognitive skills in addition to a slew of other benefits, says Mind Body Green.
  • Make and play your own instruments. Learn how to make your own instruments by watching the video on A2Z Homeschooling.
  • Host your own karaoke night. Rent or borrow a karaoke machine or use a game on the Play Station to host a karaoke night, suggests Weekend Notes. 
  • Sing songs during a car trip. Lil Sugar has a playlist of songs that are perfect for kids and parents to sing together.
  • Learn camp songs to sing during a camping trip. Find different songs and their lyrics on Real Family Camping.
  • Sing and dance to silly songs. All Music has samples of a bunch of silly songs for kids – you may even remember some from your own childhood!
  • Sing and do the motions to funny songs. Ultimate Camp Resource provides the words and explains the motions to some funny songs.
  • Watch some kid-friendly music videos. Melbourne Mum shares 10 music videos for kids.
  • Check out songs from your favorite Disney artist. The kids can sing along with Music Disney, which features songs from Disney artists.
  • Sing along with Frozen while watching the video. USA Today shares that Disney released a practice video with lyrics and a bouncing ball so fans can sing along with the characters.
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Storage Solutions: Organization Tips for the Toy Overload

toyoverloadToy overload is a common occurrence in a household full of little ones. From Legos and tiny figurines to large stuffed animals and games, it can be a challenge to keep a home tidy when there are toys overflowing into every room.

Although it may be a good idea to de-clutter a bit and sort out the toys your children no longer play with, you can also invest in some storage solutions for the must-have items.

A Home for Stuffed Animals

Even though your children may claim to “need” every single Build-a-Bear and stuffed toy that clutters the floor and bed of their bedrooms, it’s unlikely all of those stuffed animals actually need to be left out. Instead, get creative by storing stuffed toys close by but out of sight. Janet Bernstein, owner of Organizers, LLC in Philadelphia, suggests a stuffed animal bean bag chair.

“Purchase a large zippable bean bag without the beans and store a huge number of stuffed animals inside,” she says. “This option gives easy accessibility for kids who still frequently like to play with their collection.”

If your children prefer to keep their stuffed animals in sight but not necessarily within reach, a hanging toy organizer, such as a small hammock that hangs in the top corner of their room, may be an option. “This option is perfect for kids who still want to keep their toys visible but don’t necessarily play with them constantly,” says Bernstein.

A canvas shoe holder that hangs on the back of a bedroom or closet door also allows you to utilize all available space and keeps those tiny stuffed toys off the floor. “This option gets them off the floor and each animal gets their own pouch,” says Bernstein.

Stuffed animals can also be used as functional décor in your child’s bedroom. Bernstein recommends using your child’s favorite stuffed toys as book ends. “Purchase small weights and discretely (when your child isn’t looking) open up several of the toys, insert the weights into their limbs and sew the animals back up,” she says. “The toy becomes both versatile and aesthetic.”

Family Space Storage Options

In an ideal world, your child would keep all of her toys in her room or a designated playroom, but as the nanny or parent, you know all too well that this is not realistic. Children drag toys from one room to the next – from a comfort blanket to their favorite doll. In family spaces, multiuse storage pieces are handy for camouflaging toys, says Krista Fabregas, founder of SmartLiving Companies.

“Accent pieces are generally a good choice because they can be situated in corners and other out of the way areas of a family room,” she says. “Plus, they can be moved around by kids and as needs change.”

Fabregas recommends these great pieces to use as family space storage for toys:

  • Cube size storage ottomans
  • Decorative stacking boxes, baskets and hat boxes to store mid-sized toys and smaller toys such as dolls or action figures
  • Medium to small decorative trunks, single or 1-2 stacked

When using accent pieces as storage, Fabregas warns that removable lids are a safer choice than attached lids. “If parents are using a trunk or storage ottoman with a large heavy lid, they can install a dampener to prevent pinched fingers from the lid slamming,” she says.

Outdoor Toy Storage

From plastic toy rakes to mountain bikes, your child’s prized possessions are not always toys that are kept inside. As the seasons change, it’s likely that toys will begin to spill into your garage and lawn.

To keep the garage and yard tidy, consider crafting toy storage solutions that will encourage your child to clean up as well. As an interior designer and father of three, Kenneth Walter has found that inexpensive, adjustable metal shelves can be an invaluable storage solution in a garage or outdoor area. “They work for almost anything. Certain toys are best put on the shelf itself, such as larger toys, board games, books or art supplies,” he says. “Other things, such as small parts and Barbie pieces, can be put in clear containers with or without covers and stacked on the shelf.”

Instead of parking those bulky bikes in the driveway or letting them take up space on the floor of the garage, Walter recommends hanging mechanisms that can be placed high or low. “Obviously little ones need their bikes hung low or left on the garage floor until they are big and strong enough to do it themselves,” he says. “It’s always best to store ‘like’ things together, such as bike things (air pumps, tools); sports things (balls, bats, spikes, riding gear); and swimming stuff (goggles, fins and boards).”

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Appetizing Appetites: How to Keep Cravings Under Control

cravingsAlthough food is a necessity, it can also become a necessary evil when your cravings get the best of you. We’ve all succumbed to those late night moments when we are craving something sweet or salty and indulge in not just one or two, but an entire box of cookies. Ever wonder why you are still hungry afterwards, despite having consumed several servings of a food?

According to Rea Frey, nutrition specialist and author of Power Vegan: Plant-Fueled Nutrition for Maximum Health and Fitness, we continue to receive hunger cues after binging on these types of food because our bodies need foods that contain actual nutrition, not just empty calories. “Our bodies are smart and will keep signaling that they need food until you ingest some nutritional density – not just processed foods,” she says.

It can be difficult to know when to put down the fork, leave a few bites on the plate or keep shoveling down a meal. Many of us end up eating every last bite when we sit down to a delicious meal, even if we are stuffing ourselves beyond what our bodies really need, or what we even want, says Keri Glassman, New York-based nutritionist.

That’s why it’s important to consume foods that help you feel full and keep those cravings under control. Learning how to decipher between foods that will increase or decrease your cravings is the key to a healthier lifestyle and minimal snacking.

Foods to Avoid

A general rule of thumb is to avoid anything white, says Frey, such as white flour, white rice or white pasta. “If it is white, it is usually processed, lacks nutrients and won’t keep you full,” she says. White flour also spikes insulin levels, which causes you to crash, leaving you hungrier than before.

Sugar is also a culprit when those cravings are in full force. “Besides the sugar in fruit, which should still be ingested somewhat sparingly, processed sugar, which is refined sugar added to foods for sweetness and flavor, is lurking in most processed foods, such as cereals, muffins, juices, cookies and bread,” says Frey. “Sugar doesn’t fill you up, so you can down a huge coke and muffin and be hungry thirty minutes later.”

If you wonder why you can’t just eat one chip, there is a reason. Instead of giving in and tackling the entire bag, ditch the chip to help reduce cravings. “The combination of salt and fat is one few have enough willpower to control, especially if they are hungry,” says Bridget Swinney, registered dietitian, author and founder of the Healthy Food Zone. “Chips aren’t very filling, so it’s easy to eat the whole bag without thinking and still want dinner.”

Alternative Food Choices

Although a wonder food that will stop all cravings doesn’t necessarily exist, there are some foods that will boost your ability to stop the cravings for sweet and salty foods.

Always choose nutrient dense foods, suggests Glassman. “Nutrient density refers to getting the most bang for your buck,” she says. “A handful of jelly beans won’t satisfy because they are little more than sugar – there is no nutritional value. In contrast, if you consumed 100 calories from a small apple and a spoonful of natural peanut butter, you would get fiber, healthy fat and protein – not to mention all of the other vitamins and minerals your body can use.”

Foods rich in fiber may also help you feel full longer, thus reducing your appetite. Opt for a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast instead of crunching on sugar-coated cereal. Oatmeal is full of fiber, folate and omega-3 fats that offer your body and your appetite optimal health.

Andrea Paul, chief medical officer at, recommends cutting calories during the evening hours, when snacking is often at its worst. “The best way to fix this is by eating small amounts of heart-healthy, protein and fiber-rich foods during the day and then to set a time in the evening after which you cannot consume anything other than water, such as 7 or 8 p.m.,” says Paul.

Know When to Stop

The reality is that our bodies count on information from lots of different sources to determine when we should take our last bite, says Glassman. Feeling full is a key sign to stop.

“Whether it is six bites or a plate and a half, try to stop eating when you are satisfied and not when you are stuffed,” she says. “Chew slowly, pause between bites and truly enjoy your meals. That way, you can quit when you’ve had just enough and are only taking in what you really need.”

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