Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category




It’s that time of year again. Yellow buses abound and children are headed back to the classroom. While this can be an exciting time (for both children and parents), starting a new grade and getting back into an academic state of mind can be taxing. Here are few tips to make the start of the school year a good one:

  • Talk it up! Some kids can’t wait to be back in school with their friends while others bemoan the fact that summer is coming to an end. One way to make your kids excited about going back to school is to talk about it in a positive way. Build excitement about the next grade, new teachers or perhaps a new school. Anticipation goes a long way so give them reasons to be psyched!
  • Get oriented. Attend open houses to meet teachers, any summer play dates or activities that might be scheduled and ask for a tour of the school if your child is a new student. The more your child knows about what his or her school year will look like, the less nervous he or she will be.
  • Stock up on school supplies. Check local papers for sales on back to school supplies and stock up if the deals are good. Odds are, the supplies on the initial list won’t last an entire school year, so grab some extras while prices are low. To give your child a sense of choice and ownership, make picking out school supplies a special event and let him or her pick up one or two inexpensive “extras.”
  • Get back on schedule. A week before school starts, try to get your kids back on a bedtime and wake up schedule. This will make things easier when the alarm sounds on the first day of school.
  • Prep the night before. Take the stress out of the mornings by preparing the night before. Pack backpacks and lunches. Choose an outfit for the following day. These small acts can save a lot of time on frantic mornings.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. In addition to finding out what your child did at school that day and what he or she learned, also ask questions about their friends and relationships. Talk to them about bullying and what to do if they experience it or see it happening to someone else. Let them know that they can come to you or another trusted adult if they have problems.

New Year, Fresh Start
Each new school year is an opportunity to make a fresh start, make new friends and learn new things. Being organized is key to managing the stress of juggling so many different aspects of family life. Now is the time to make a fresh start and make a plan you can stick to!

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Father’s Day is coming up on Sunday, June 19, 2016, and we’ve uncovered some cool ways to show Dad how much he means to you without breaking the bank.

  1. Give the gift of time. If you’re like most families, you’re hustling and bustling trying to get everything crossed off your “to-do” list. This Father’s Day, give Dad something precious — your time. Disconnect from everyday distractions like technology and plan a day that revolves around your favorite guy and what he loves.
  2. Gift a lesson. Most fathers have taught their children plenty of lessons over the years, so why not repay the favor and gift your dad a lesson to a hobby he enjoys or is interested in?
  3. Make his favorite meal. Is there a childhood favorite he loves? A dish at a restaurant he orders every time? Make it even more special by making it from scratch and presenting it to him!
  4. Plan a day of “favorites.” What does your dad like? Make a list and make a day out of it. Watch his favorite movies with him. Play his favorite songs. Go to his favorite places to visit, etc.
  5. Create a short video tribute. Let Dad know how much you care and get it all on film so he can watch it whenever and however many times he wants.
  6. Recreate an experience. Remember that time your dad took you fishing? How about the time he taught you how to build a birdhouse? Whatever your special memory is, try to recreate that moment and tell your father how much it meant to you.
  7. Try a new take on an old favorite. Buy a white or light colored tie, some inexpensive permanent writing utensils or fabric paint from a local craft store and write Dad a message on the tie. He can wear it as a reminder of how much his family loves him and it will be a one-of-a-kind thoughtful gift!

Whatever you decide to do for your special guy, as long as your heart is in it you can’t go wrong. Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers out there!



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Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 8, and it’s the perfect time to show Mom some appreciation. Traditional gifts abound — cut flowers, jewelry, spa day, etc. — but if you’re trying to save money, there are easy and expensive ways you can make her feel special.

Here are five:

  1. Add a personal touch. While it’s always nice for your mother to receive a phone call if you don’t live close by, up the ante and make her a card! Or, even if you go the store bought route, write a thoughtful note inside. Sometimes it’s truly the little things that can brighten someone’s day.
  2. Lighten the load. Whether it’s laundry or mowing the lawn, help Mom free up time by tackling some chores around the house so she doesn’t have to. Even young children can do this one!
  3. Start the day off right. Want to help your mother get off to a bright start? Serve her breakfast in bed! Whether a light continental affair or her guilty pleasures, not having to lift a finger is always a treat!
  4. Plant a reminder. One great way to keep the love flowing well past Mother’s Day is to plant some flowers in your Mother’s yard (with her permission of course!). Whether some bright annuals to last a few months or pretty perennials that will come back each year, love is always in season!
  5. Give her the day off. Sometimes what a Mother needs the most is simply some time to herself to do something that makes her happy. Offer to watch the kids or pets and encourage her to grab some personal R&R — she’ll thank you for it!

However you decide to show your Mom some love on Mother’s Day, she’s sure to appreciate the thought that went into it. Just remember, you don’t have to break the bank to let her know you care.


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Spending a small fortune on Valentine’s Day isn’t going to make the night any more memorable – except when the bill arrives. There are plenty of ways to have a wonderful Valentine’s Day experience without blowing your budget. Here are some ideas:

  1. Go somewhere new. Visit that museum you’ve always been intending to get to but never seem to have the time. Take a boat or scenic train ride. Catch a play or romantic movie you both have been wanting to see. Getting out and doing something new, especially for harried parents, helps your relationship keep going strong.
  2. Whip up something romantic. Fix your sweetheart his or her favorite meal. And even if you’re not known as the most enthusiastic of chefs, Chicken Marsala and Baked Alaska are way easier than they look. Make something that allows you to do most of the prep work ahead of time and finish at the last minute. This is where those Internet cooking channels can come in handy.
  3. Make it a day out. If it’s warm where you are, consider a picnic at your favorite park or at the beach or pool. This is a picnic you’ll want to do up right with an old style wicker basket, champagne, fruits, pickles, delicious sandwiches, veggies with dipping sauce, cake, and good chocolates. Bring along some romantic music and a thick blanket on which to put everything – including yourselves.
  4. Trip the light fantastic. Have a romantic dinner at home, and then head out to dance the night away. If one or both of you aren’t big on dancing, a couple of hours of ballroom dance lessons could be a romantic and new experience. There are Internet specials galore for introductory dance lessons.
  5. Start the day right. The perfect Valentine’s Day starts with the always trusty breakfast in bed. Think how pleased your loved one will be to wake up to the aromas of freshly brewed coffee, warm apple muffins, crispy bacon, and fluffy omelets.



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Suffering from cabin fever? The cold weather doldrums can be hard to shake off without spending a lot of money—but not impossible. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  1. Visit a museum. Most museums offer “free days” when admission is free or a donation. With fewer crowds, winter can be a great time to wander the exhibits.
  2. Go ice skating. Lace up your ice skates or rent a pair for a small fee and head to an ice-skating rink. Even if the day is on the warm side, the ice-making machines will keep the rink frozen for you. Bonus: You’ll get plenty of exercise.
  3. Volunteer. Give others (and yourself) a warm feeling by donating your time to the less fortunate in your community. Sign up with a friend, spouse or the whole family. For example, shop for the elderly who can’t get out in the bitter cold or for those who don’t have reliable transportation.
  4. Attend a free workshop. Is there a home or craft project you’ve always wanted to try but don’t know where to start? Stores like Home Depot, Michael’s and Lowe’s host free workshops for homeowners, classes for specific projects and crafts, and fun activities for kids.
  5. Join a book club. Looking for a good read? Head to your local library and ask about joining a book club. You can get caught up on the latest novel or non-fiction book and make some new friends without spending a dime.


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