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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 DailyHiit.com.

“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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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!

Songs

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.

Games

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.

Printables

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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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 BoardVitals.com, 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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Must-Have Self-Help Books for the Busy Mom

mustbookAs a busy mom, it’s no secret that you may need some inspiration, a pick-me up or even some tips and resources on parenting children of any age from time to time.

The self-help book market offers a variety of these tips coupled with a touch of inspiration to get you motivated, moving and encouraged. Whether you read them on a tablet, your phone or from a hardback print edition, check out these suggestions that are specially designed to help busy moms.

Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink

For a real-life account of how a woman with a loving husband, supporting boss and three healthy kids was unable to manage the demands of having a career and a family, pick up Katrina Alcorn’s book Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink.

The book details Alcorn’s journey through depression, anxiety and insomnia, followed by medication, meditation and therapy. After realizing that many women who are struggling to do it all crash and burn, she launched her very own self-help book to offer readers a vision for a healthier and more productive way to live and work as a busy mom.

May Cause Miracles: A 40-Day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited Happiness

If radical change and unlimited happiness is what you seek, then Gabrielle Bernstein’s book May Cause Miracles: A 40-Day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited Happiness can help you achieve that goal.

Offering readers a 40-day transformation plan to gain the confidence and abilities to work miracles, the book offers plans for allowing gratitude and forgiveness into your life while releasing fear and learning to love unconditionally. The end result? A life filled with abundance, acceptance, appreciation and happiness, according to Bernstein.

Lists for Life: The Essential Guide to Getting Organized and Tackling Tough To-dos

When you’re running to and from dance lessons, sporting activities and parent-teacher meetings on a daily basis, it’s likely you need a little help organizing all of these tasks. Author Rory Tahari’s book Lists for Life: The Essential Guide to Getting Organized and Tackling Tough To-dos may be just what you need.

We all cope with the “I’m forgetting something” feeling, so why not be proactive and find out ways to get organized? To prevent readers from becoming overwhelmed by responsibilities and endless to-do lists, Lists for Life breaks down everyday tasks into manageable steps. The book features more than 100 lists for life that will help you successfully manage any aspect of your life, including parenting, financial planning, home improvements, traveling, moving and even funeral planning.

Be That Mom

If inspirational reading with a touch of instruction is what you crave in a self-help book, then Be That Mom: Ignite Your Passion, Organize Your Life and Embrace Your Family by Tina O’Connor is an ideal one to pick up. Designed for moms of any age, O’Connor’s book focuses on how busy moms can relax and enjoy their time more through communication, discipline strategies and learning how to love yourself more.

Be That Mom offers readers tips for getting organized, feeling more relaxed and happy and most of all, adding fun into your family life to counteract the stress of the day-to-day routine.

Stocks, Bonds and Soccer Moms

The juggling act of motherhood is never easy, whether you are a working mother or a stay-at-home mom. Moms want to give their all to everything they do, but it is not always possible to be a superhero, a mother, and a wife, too. For those juggling motherhood, marriage and perhaps a career, Michelle Perry Higgins’ book Stocks, Bonds and Soccer Moms may offer the tips you need to find personal time and reduce stress.

This self-help book allows the reader to look inside to find a sense of balance, contentedness and fulfillment with a seven-step strategy. Learn how to set boundaries, let go of perfectionism and take control of your sleep, finances and parenting.

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Shared Space: How to Make a Shared Bedroom Arrangement Work for your Children

sharedbedroomAlthough it may not be ideal to have children share a bedroom, many times, space demands the need for bunking them together.

It can be tricky when your children crave privacy or bicker back and forth, but with some creative decorating ideas and activities to keep them engaged and invested in the process, a shared space can work well for your little ones.

A Joint Effort

If it’s time to move your children into a room together, it’s important to keep both children engaged and involved in the decorating decisions, says Barbara Green, interior designer with Sensibly Chic Designs for Life. “Let them choose colors, design styles and patterns,” she says. “I prefer to use the technique of ‘color-blocking’ when decorating a shared room, where each child’s wall is a different color. That way, each child gets to incorporate their own selections into the rooms.”

Establish boundaries within the room by personalizing each side of the bedroom with lettering, says Green. “Lettering is very popular now, so I would specify each child’s name on their section of the room,” she says. “I would use the other child’s color as an accent color on his or her sibling’s side and vice versa.”

Your children may also want to choose a theme for the room’s décor. From dinosaurs and cowboys to princesses and sports, the key to a successful shared room environment is to make sure the children come to a consensus on how it will be decorated.

Even though decorating may be a joint effort, to ensure privacy you will need to find ways to allow for privacy. The room can even be divided easily with a track installed in the ceiling so curtains can hang down – similar to those used in hospitals and doctor’s offices. “The curtains can be drawn closed when the children each want their private time or kept open when they are feeling more social,” says Green.

Prompting your children to socialize more with each other in a shared bedroom offers many benefits. “One of the problems in society today is that people are too isolated from each other – we retire to our own bedrooms, with our own TVs or we sit in a room full of people, all fixated on our smart phones, perhaps even with earbuds in,” says Green. “If more kids had to share bedrooms, I think it would begin to increase the re-socialization of the human race and would help to improve interpersonal skills and overall personal life satisfaction. It all begins with baby steps, and children cohabitating could be the first step.”

Space Solutions

Ensuring each child has enough space to play, complete homework and sleep in a shared room can be a challenge. Loft beds come in handy when space is tight, says Green. “Each child has what is basically a top bunk and then a living area below for a dresser, desk, chair or whatever furniture pieces are most important to each child,” she says. “Personalization is key, so you do not want to offer a ‘cookie cutter one-size-fits-all’ solution for both kids simply because they have to share a room. Try and keep each side of the room personalized to each child as best you can.”

Bunk beds also save floor space and can be arranged so children have personal space around them, accenting with children’s nightlights to add a personal touch to each space.

If your children’s closet is overflowing, opt for trundle or bunk beds with built in storage drawers, suggests Interior Designer Paige Hudgins. “Anything from toys to hand-me-down clothes can fit in these huge drawers,” she says.

If space is tight, instead of two desks, Hudgins suggests a long table with two chairs side by side. “Use cubbies above the desk or table for storage and use a file cabinet on wheels under the desk,” she says. “Standard closets can be converted into desk spaces, too.”

In the end, it is important that each child feels the space allows for privacy and socialization as well as a décor that reflects their individual personalities and interests. When decorating a shared room, Deborah Lemery of Interior Edge Designs recommends considering the needs of each child and using complimentary color schemes and space saving techniques to bring the room together as a whole.

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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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50 Ways You Can Connect with Your Employers as a Nanny

connectOne of the most critical parts of your job as a nanny is finding a way to connect with your employer. That connection lays the foundation of your relationship and is what the trust you need to have in one another is built upon. Creating that connection starts as early as your cover letter, and continues to build as you interview and ultimately land the job and begin to work together. These 50 posts will help you cultivate a connection that allows you to enjoy continued success throughout your position.

Cover Letter

As with any job, the first contact you have with a potential employer is through your cover letter. A nanny’s cover letter, however, is much more personal than the standard business cover letter. Use these 10 articles to craft the perfect nanny cover letter; doing so will help land you your next interview.

  • Explain why you like being a nanny. 4Nannies explains that families want to know how you ended up being a nanny.
  • Use a sample letter as a starting point. Job Searching provides an actual sample cover letter that you can review and use when you create your own letter.
  • Peruse tips on what to include in your letter. Cover Letter and Resume shares tips on what information is appropriate to include in a cover letter for a nanny position.
  • Format your letter correctly. There is certain information that needs to be included in your cover letter, and Georgia’s Dream Nannies has provided a format you can follow.
  • Focus on making a great first impression. Great Au Pair gives tips for how to use your cover letter to make a solid impression with your future employer.
  • Follow step-by-step instructions for writing your letter. eHow explains how to go about writing your letter by outlining simple to follow instructions.
  • Consider writing a “Dear Family” letter. Almondbury lists the information you should include as an au pair if you are creating a letter to accompany your application. Instead of writing to a specific person, be more general with your qualifications and what you hope to gain from the job.
  • Mention if you were referred to the job by someone. Nanny Resume HQ explains that employers may take more notice of your letter if they know the person who referred you.
  • Learn how to market yourself. Quint Careers recommends taking a look at your experience and skills to figure out how you can transfer them into a potential position.
  • Consider how other aspects of your life could help you as a nanny when you have no nanny experience. Cover Letter Sample shares ideas on how to use life experiences in your cover letter to make up for a lack of job experience.

Interview Well

Interviewing well is essential to landing your next nanny position. During your interview, look for commonalities between you and your potential employer and focus on being yourself instead of conforming to the person you think the family wants. Before you go into your next interview, review these 10 articles to help refine your interviewing skills.

  • Be honest and forthcoming. Babyzone urges nannies to ask as many questions as they answer during an interview to help plan for the future. This will also show employers that you take your job seriously and are in it for the long haul.
  • Make a point to talk to the children if they are present during the interview. It’s important to show potential employers that you really do like kids and know how to interact with them. Voices recommends making eye contact with the kids.
  • Bring a list of your questions. Be sure to ask intelligent questions that show you’re interested in long term work, says Wikihow.
  • Dress appropriately for the interview. Morningside Nannies recommends wearing something that is professional but also allows you to get down on the floor and play with the kids.
  • Prepare to answer frequently asked nanny questions. Best Job Interview provides a list of questions that are typically asked so that you can prepare answers ahead of time.
  • Make sure there are no problems with doing a background check. Most employers will run a background check prior to hiring, so make sure you are prepared per What to Expect.
  • Stay focused on a phone interview. USA Today explains that you shouldn’t attempt to multi-task while on a phone interview. Give it your full attention.
  • Try to avoid common interview mistakes. The Under Cover Recruiter lists five common mistakes that people make during an interview. Make sure that you avoid them when trying to connect with your employer.
  • Make a great first impression. Simply Hired urges nannies to be happy during an interview. This will show that you love what you do.
  • Be confident. Tinies notes how important it is to be confident during an interview. You want to be yourself and be sure of your ability to do the job well.

One-on-One Time with the Employer

Most nannies agree that open communication is key to a good nanny/employer relationship. To facilitate this relationship, it’s important to make sure you discuss how things are going with your employer and to avoid just showing up and leaving each day. Peruse these 10 posts for different tips on how you can foster a good relationship with your employer.

  • Meet to discuss job expectations. Park Slope Parents suggests talking about what your job responsibilities are and how your employer expects you to accomplish them to help avoid any confusion.
  • Sit down regularly and talk. Ask Nanny recommends meeting monthly to talk about how things are going and to keep communication lines open.
  • Discuss food preferences. Baby Center points out the importance of talking with your employers about what you eat and if it’s OK for you to make your own meals, especially if you come from different cultural backgrounds.
  • Go out for coffee. Babble suggests employers and nannies go out alone on occasion to talk as adults instead of only talking about the kids.
  • Assure your employer that you are mindful of her privacy. INA explains that because nannies are privy to private information they have a responsibility to keep everything that they see and hear confidential.
  • Define the nanny role. Yahoo Shine points out that having a strong relationship with your nanny can be the difference between keeping her long-term and changing nannies every year.
  • Keep your nanny/employer relationship friendly, but businesslike. Caring Nannies discusses how simple it is to blur the lines between boss and friend when the employee lives with you. When you spend time together, avoid discussing your personal life.
  • Learn and follow the house rules. Superpages explains that knowing and following the house rules shows your employers that you respect them.
  • Follow the expectations set by your employer. Reason for God shares that mutual respect leads to a stronger relationship.
  • Share the exciting moments. NY Nanny urges nannies and employers to exchange information, especially about big moments.

Be Helpful

Going above and beyond in your role shows your employer that you value your job. Putting forth this extra effort can positively impact your employment situation. For ways you can help out, read through these 10 posts.

  • Offer to make a snack or pack some sandwiches. 4 Nanny Taxes suggests offering to pack snacks or sandwiches for everyone on days that you know the family will have practices or events to attend after you leave work.
  • Help out when your employer has guests. It may not be part of your job duties, but helping out when your employer has company is something that they will appreciate, says Nanny Classifieds.
  • Unload the dishwasher without being asked. According to Trusting Connections, little things that you can do to help out will not go unnoticed by your employer.
  • Be willing to stay late without complaint. As long as it doesn’t become a habit, your employer will appreciate your willingness to help out, says DC Urban Moms and Dads.
  • Pick up other areas of the house. To go above and beyond, help out with tasks that are not solely for the kids, recommends Americas Nannies.
  • Bake cookies. Nanny Magazine suggests doing something nice for your employers from time to time, like baking cookies.
  • Start dinner. As a treat for your employer, pick up food from the store and start dinner, like this slow cooker pork recipe from Betty Crocker.
  • Organize the toys. Use the tips on Organized Home to organize toys.
  • Pick up groceries for the family while you’re at the store. If you have a list of items that the family needs, pick up things while you are at the store for the kids. Tips for grocery shopping can be found on Zen Habits.
  • Leave fresh flowers on the table. Having flowers around can be a pick-me-up for your employer. Read about how people respond to receiving flowers on About Flowers.

Give Thoughtful Gifts

Sometimes it’s nice to show your employer you value them as a boss by giving them a small token of appreciation. For thoughtful gift ideas, check out these 10 articles.

  • An iPhone case. This is an inexpensive gift that can show a lot of personality. Check out Business News Daily for some ideas.
  • Buy a tree. Knoji suggests gifting a tree that can be planted on your employer’s birthday.
  • Create a scrapbook of the past year. Making a scrapbook is a thoughtful way to show your employer what the children have been up to over the past year, explains Human Resources.
  • Bake some homemade goodies. Thrifty Fun suggests doing something from the heart.
  • Give them a box of their favorite chocolates. Nannies often know their employers’ likes and dislikes, so use this knowledge to buy them a treat they’ll love. Find suggestions on Fox Business.
  • A personalized name frame collage. Gifts suggest using photos to create a child’s name for a thoughtful, personalized gift.
  • Give your employer something for a hobby. Maybe you know of a hobby that your employer loves, but doesn’t have a lot of time for. Give a gift that will help create some “me” time for your employer by reading through Hub Pages.
  • Make an ornament. I Saw Your Nanny recommends making a present for your employer.
  • Write a nice letter. Answers suggests writing a heartfelt letter explaining how much you appreciate your employer letting you work with their kids.
  • Create an art keepsake. Albelli shows how to take the kids drawings and put them into a book.
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