Archive for Newsletter – Page 3

6 Non-Toy Gift Ideas Children Will Love

There are so many wonderful and thoughtful alternatives to buying yet one more train, one more puzzle, one more video game, one more doll, one more of anything.

Are you ready to try giving a nontraditional gift, but you’re worried of breaking the mold? Don’t worry. Children can learn to appreciate non-toy gifts and the gift of your time. You simply have to decide to try, and then show them how fun these non-toy gifts truly are.

Not sure what sort of out-of-the-box things you should consider doing or getting? Ask parents what they prefer for their kids. I’m betting they will be thrilled and relieved that you ask for their input before you buy your next gift. Think of how appreciative and excited they’ll be that you want to help them avoid more toy clutter!

If you are the parent, consider sending an email to your parents, siblings and others who generously give to your children. Provide alternate ideas to help them make other choices. They likely just assume toys are the one and only option.

With it already being October, send your email soon to have the biggest impact on slowing the influx of toys during gift giving season.

6 Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Children

  1. Memberships. The Science Museum, Children’s Museum, YMCA or fitness club, zoo, local water park.
  2. Classes and Camps. Swimming, dancing, martial arts, cooking, art, horseback riding, skiing, golfing, soccer, football, basketball, tennis, volleyball and other athletic interests, along with music, singing and theater.
  3. Events. Tickets for concerts, plays, sporting events, movies. Pay attention to what kids are talking about and interested in to get ideas for events they’d love to attend.
  4. Activities or “dates”. Bowling, skating, skiing, golfing or mini-golfing, swimming or a day at the water park, a trip to the movies, a visit to the library, or an outing to get ice cream.
  5. Gift cards. Restaurants, malls (let the older kids pick out what they want), coffee, cupcakes/bakery, gas, manicures, pedicures, haircuts.
  6. Subscriptions. Highlights, National Geographic Kids, Sports Illustrated Kids, American Girl, Ranger Rick. There are magazines for all ages and interests. Give a gift that encourages reading and satisfies children’s love of receiving mail.

Oh, and one more thought. Remember that there are children in your community who don’t have an abundance of toys. Teaching your children how to be generous with others is a gift in itself. Help them be generous by donating their old toys to others.

Which of these non-toy gift ideas speaks to you? What other ideas can you think of? Leave a comment below to share your suggestions.

Get Your Kids Out The Door With Ease

4 Tricks to a less stressful school day morning

School season has officially arrived, and with it comes the inevitable get-the-kids-off-to-school morning craziness. Why does it have to be so stressful?

It doesn’t—in fact, with a few simple tricks, you can set you and your kids up for a less harried, more peaceful morning.

If your mornings are chaotic, follow these get-organized tips to ensure out-the-door ease.

• Prepare the night before. Make mornings flow smoothly by getting everything ready each evening. Have school bags packed and placed by the door and tomorrow’s outfits laid out. Pack the non-perishable parts of the lunches, so you can simply pop in a sandwich in the morning. Set the breakfast table.

• Create morning routine checklists. Compile a list of daily to-do’s for your kids to complete (make bed, comb hair, brush teeth, etc.), and post it on the fridge or bathroom mirror. Likewise, create an “out-the-door” list of items they need to take to school, and post it on or near the exit door. You might include things like homework, lunch, snacks, library books, instruments, and gym shoes.

• Organize your kids’ arrival. Declare a proper destination for backpacks and school gear in the entryway, install hooks at a kid-friendly height, and have your children put bags there as they arrive home.

• Implement an after school organizing ritual. Teach your kids to empty out their backpacks as soon as they walk in the door. Immediately bring homework to their designated study spot, place papers that need parental review in a designated basket or tray, and put lunch containers in the kitchen. Encourage them to place coats, shoes, and hats in a designated spot to avoid frantic morning searches.

So now I want to know:

What are your best out-the-door strategies that keep your mornings crazy-free?

© 2014 Articles on Demand™

My Secret to Stress-Free School Shopping

You’ll never guess what my secret to school shopping with preteens and teenagers is: Give them control of the money!

Yes, you read that right. Give them control of their allotted money AND the responsibility for what THEY decide to buy.

As with most families, we had a budget for school clothes. When my kids were younger, shopping was relatively easy. However, when they were old enough to want brand name clothes (but not old enough to have a job to support their changing tastes), it became more of a challenge.

One year I decided to try an experiment.

Each of them was given the same amount of money with total control of what they purchased. The money wasn’t for bigger ticket items like coats, shoes or athletic gear. Instead it was meant to pay for jeans, shorts, t-shirts, hoodies, etc.

The first time one of them asked, “Mom, can I have this?” and I said, “Sure, it’s your money,” I felt the freedom of letting them choose. They felt the freedom too, but also the responsibility of choosing.

Their awareness of quality versus quantity, and a want versus a need skyrocketed. Is this white t-shirt with an almost invisible logo for $XX that much better than the white t-shirt at a different store for $X? They figured it out.

Our shopping turned into a discussion of the pros and cons of one item versus another. The process was stress-free and didn’t include any whining, convincing or hassle.  My kids felt proud of their choices and actually had FUN!

I’m curious, what have YOU implemented to make school shopping fun? Leave a comment below to share your FUN shopping secrets.

What You Tolerate Takes Its Toll

What do a boss who’s always yelling at you, your partner’s over-spending habits, a cluttered house or office, tight shoulders, and a ho-hum (or bad) relationship have in common?

They’re all tolerations, those little or big things we put up with-often without realizing it-that zap our energy and drain our life force.

Every time we tolerate something, we deplete the energy we could be using to make desired changes or to simply enjoy our life. It’s like living with a low-grade fever or pain that somehow dulls our experience and zaps our full vitality.

Ugh. He’s late again! Zap!

It irritates me that she leaves stuff in “my” space. Zap!

I can’t stand it when people text or check email during a meal. Zap!

It bugs me when people look at their computers instead of me when I’m talking. Zap!

Needless tolerations can bleed you dry and make it difficult for you to function effectively. Sometimes we are too soft and too nice when it comes to the things we tolerate. You can’t live a happy, fulfilling life if you’re spending all your energy tolerating things that shouldn’t be tolerated.

It’s time to put your foot down.

To start eliminating whatever you’re tolerating, you must do some inner digging to find the source of the problem. At the root of our tolerations are a variety of limiting beliefs that immobilize us.

Consider these common examples:

“That’s just the way it is.”
“I’m not worth it.”
“Don’t rock the boat-play it safe.”
“Don’t complain or be too demanding.”
“I don’t have enough time/money/support.”

There are countless limiting beliefs, yet they all serve to dampen our life force and keep us playing small. And, boy, are they exhausting!

If you want to feel better about yourself, to make changes that will bring you greater peace of mind and happiness, you must commit to evaluating and eliminating the tolerations standing in your way.

Here are some ideas on how to do that:

Appraise. Make an honest appraisal of what you are tolerating in each of the areas of your life:

  • home environment
  • health
  • work
  • money
  • relationships

Write down everything that annoys you or that you feel you are putting up with. You will likely come up with more than 100 of these tolerations!

Evaluate. Examine each underlying limiting belief that has kept you putting up with these things. You may be so close to some of these beliefs that you can’t fully recognize them for what they are.

Appreciate. Take an honest look at what you are getting out of keeping things as they are. There is always some kind of payoff for whatever is going on in your life. Who in your life-or what part of you-does not want things to change? Appreciate that person or part, and look for ways for it to be a win-win for all concerned.

Choose. Based on your values and goals, you get to choose. What will you say “no” to? “Yes?” Make sure the yes’s really excite you and that the no’s are clear. Commit to making them real!

Plan. With the support of friends, family or a professional, develop a strategy for eliminating these tolerations. You don’t have to do it alone-in fact, it’s useful and helpful to partner up or create a support team of encouraging, loving people.

As you eliminate tolerations, you will:

Feel the joy of making the decision to let things go.Car_Sunset
Make room for more positive things to enter your life.
Experience an increase in your vitality and a greater sense of empowerment.

And best of all? YOU will be in the driver’s seat of your life…and won’t that be a beautiful and worthwhile ride!

The Ultimate Act of Self-Care: Clearing Clutter

When the mountain of paperwork and other clutter on her desk and kitchen table approached Mt. Everest proportions, Cindy would “organize” by sweeping it all into paper bags and boxes that she stashed in closets and under her bed.

Jim didn’t even bother stashing his clutter. The obstacle course from his front door to the rest of the house meant friends and others generally just didn’t come over, and he grew increasingly isolated.

Kathy kept her house pretty clutter-free, but her garage was loaded top to bottom with boxes of things she hadn’t used or read in years, including a box marked “RIP” filled with “mementos” of her divorce 20 years earlier.

Fortunately, all three individuals managed to regain control of the clutter in their lives by enlisting help. Doing so also allowed them to learn and understand what drove their clutter habit.

Clearing away physical clutter often has the unexpected effect of also clearing away emotional clutter – fears, thoughts or judgments that may be holding us back from our heart’s desire.

In fact, organizing your life is one of the kindest acts of self-care there is.

Think about it: When we are organized, we spend less time looking for things, set a good example for our children, reduce overwhelm, do more with less time, make better use of our talents and skills, increase our self-confidence, feel more in control and make more/spend less money. We also have more time for relaxation.

There is no shortage of ideas and books on how to organize. Julie Morgenstern, in her book Organizing from the Inside Out, takes the “how to” a step further. She suggests that to arrive at any kind of a sustainable system, we need to understand and work with or around our psychological obstacles to a clutter-free environment.

Do you see yourself in any of these obstacles?

  • Need for accumulation. People who need to keep a lot of everything around them may be filled with anxiety and dread at the idea of getting rid of things. They often have multiple collections.
  • Unclear goals and priorities. Organizing is about defining what’s important and setting up a system to reflect that.
    Fear of success/fear of failure. Disorganization may be a convenient way to hold back.
  • Need to retreat. Clutter can be a protective shield to keep others at a safe distance.
  • Fear of losing creativity. A common myth is that creative, “right-brained” people need to work in chaos to produce high-quality work. Just an excuse!
  • Need for distraction. Clutter can provide a convenient excuse to avoid uncomfortable issues or unwanted tasks.
  • Sentimental attachment. Infusing objects with personality, emotions and meaning (“That vase will be sad if I throw it out.”) usually results in living with an enormous amount of clutter.
  • Need for perfection. Often, people won’t deal with clutter until they have the time to do it perfectly. Translation: It will never get done.

The next time you find yourself surrounded by clutter, take a moment to reflect. See if you can spot any of these psychological obstacles that may be contributing to your disorganization. Use this awareness to gently nudge yourself forward to make some changes.

If you’d like help with uncovering and addressing your obstacles, please reach out to me. I will guide you in a gentle, non-judgmental way so that you can start to enjoy living in your home again.