April 14, 2008

Spring Cleaning: How to Make It Quicker and Easier

(ARA) – Spring cleaning is one of those things that seem like a really good idea at the time – until you are up to your elbows in grime, surrounded by clutter, and wondering what ever compelled you to start such a gargantuan project in the first place! Long gone are the days when people could devote so much time to the annual rite of spring cleaning. After all, we have busy lives and hectic schedules. How are we supposed to cram in spring cleaning when we can’t even get caught up on the laundry?

Here’s the good news – it can be done. After all, spring is a season that is full of possibilities. So throw open your windows and let the sun shine in because spring cleaning doesn’t have to be another dreaded chore if you keep in mind a few easy tips.

Spread out the work.
Nothing can blow good intentions like insurmountable tasks. It’s important not to bite off more than you can chew when it comes to cleaning the whole house. In other words, don’t clean up the entire house. Divide your home into zones and attack them one at a time. Instead of trying to tear through your entire home in a day, spend a week devoted to one zone of your home, such as the kitchen. After the week is over, move on to the next zone. Spring isn’t in a huge rush. You don’t need to be, either.

Set priorities.
Health and safety come first. Prioritize spring cleaning projects that will make your family and home more comfortable and healthier. For instance, consider replacing any chemical-filled household cleaners with natural, multipurpose cleaners. This could include using half vinegar and half water for cleaning glass or using baking soda and water for an inexpensive and chemical-free way to scrub bathtubs and sinks.

It’s also important to protect against the dust, pollen and dander that can cause poor indoor air quality and aggravate allergies or asthma. Installing a whole-home air filtration system, such as the American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning AccuClean, will eliminate up to 99.98 percent of these airborne particles from the filtered air in your house. It will also help you spend less time cleaning this spring and throughout the year so you can spend more time enjoying your family!

Stay on task.
This tip is probably the most difficult one for any homeowner to stick with, but it’s vital if anything is ever going to be accomplished. Set aside a chunk of time to do some spring cleaning tasks and then keep working. Distractions, of course, are inevitable. But take measures to prevent them as much as possible. Don’t answer the phone, refrain from checking e-mails, or put on a movie for the kids so that you can have at least one or two uninterrupted hours.

Seek help.
Nothing saves time better than increasing your workforce. Pick up the phone and invite some friends over for a spring cleaning party. After all, it’s always more fun to clean up someone else’s home. You provide the food and drinks, and your friends can help you attack a cleaning project. Turning spring cleaning into a friendly project will not only help you get the work done, it will make it fun. Of course, keep in mind your friends will likely ask you to return the favor!

Spring is a time of new beginnings, so begin today to achieve a cleaner, more comfortable home. No matter what your schedule, there is always time to create the home that you desire.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

March 26, 2008

Got Kids? Don’t sweat it. Simplify Your Life.

Take my life, for example: I have a house full of kids, and yet I’ve found ways to streamline my life, to find peace and happiness among the chaos. How is this magic trick accomplished? Nothing magical, actually, but just little things that have simplified my life over the years.

The main magic trick, however: making my family my top priority, and choosing only a small number of priorities in my life. If you have too many things you want to do, or need to do, your life will become complicated. But if you choose just a few things that are important to you, you can eliminate the rest, and simplify your life greatly.

What follows is a list that might seem complicated to some — 25 items! Trust me, I could easily double this list, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Instead of trying to tackle everything on this list at once, choose a few things that appeal to you, and give them a try. Bookmark this page and come back to it from time to time to try out other ideas. Best yet, they might inspire new ideas of your own!

1. Self-sufficiency.

2. One calendar.

3. Toy bins.

Full story: 25 Ways to Simplify Your Life with Kids

March 12, 2008

Is it a bad idea to praise your kids?

For a few decades, it’s been noted that a large percentage of all gifted students (those who score in the top 10 percent on aptitude tests) severely underestimate their own abilities. Those afflicted with this lack of perceived competence adopt lower standards for success and expect less of themselves. They underrate the importance of effort, and they overrate how much help they need from a parent.

When parents praise their children’s intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.

Full story: How Not to Talk to Your Kids

February 18, 2008

Cranky Babies Becoming Stars in First Grade?

Parents of cranky babies take comfort: they can turn out to be star students in Grade 1 if they have a healthy dose of good care, according to new research.

Professors at two U.S. universities analysed data involving 1,364 children, starting at six months, and concluded that infants who cry more, are hard to settle down and do not respond well to new people and situations can develop stronger academic and social skills than babies who are easy to get along with from the start.

“Parents who have these babies who are hard to deal with can become very discouraged,” said lead researcher Anne Dopkins Stright, a psychologist at the University of Indiana.

“The results of this study suggest they should not give up, they should stick with it and their child can do very, very well, in fact better than those easy babies that they probably wish they had.”

Read full story: How good parents can turn cranky babies sweet

January 29, 2008

Common Parenting Mistakes

No parent — indeed, no person — intentionally makes mistakes, but in our innocence as humans, we all make mistakes unintentionally. Here is a short list of some of the more common ones parents make:

* Overexplaining

* Making assumptions

* Passing on constraints

* Child be in charge

Full story: Beware of common parenting mistakes