Family * Travel * Food

Dec 19, 2019

6 Ways to Connect with Your Teen

The teenage years can be a difficult time for parents to connect with their children, who are experiencing greater independence and relying more on relationships outside the home.
If it seems difficult to connect with your teen, take heart: these 6 tips will help you create the conditions on your end for a supportive relationship. 
Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash
1). Be Attentive to Their Mental Health
Life as a teen is filled with new challenges. Interpersonal relationships become more complex than they were before, and with puberty comes romantic attraction and all its attendant hopes and heartbreaks.

Additionally, many teens are far more conscious of their appearance and their status relative to their peers. With all of these pressures, it is easy enough to see how teens often struggle with depression and anxiety.

For parents, the challenge is often a matter of trying to connect and make a difference. It can be emotionally difficult for parents, not least because so many of us remember what it was like to be a teen and long to impart the wisdom gained from all the years we have lived since then.

It’s important to be attentive to your teen’s mental health with a genuine desire to listen and acknowledge their feelings.

You may find it easy to see the cognitive and emotional mistakes your teen is making, but it is important to listen and take their problems seriously. The heartbreak of being rejected by a crush, for example, may be emotionally painful to your teen in part because it is a new experience. Take the time to listen to them, and understand they are probably feeling insecure about how worthy they are of being loved.

Give your teen enough space to feel grief or process, but not so much space that they become isolated and shut away. Pay attention to any talk or behaviors that may point toward self-harm. If need be, consider taking your teen to a professional mental health therapist for teen anxiety treatment or counseling for depression.

2). Encourage Socialization at Home
Being a teenager is a time for young people to stretch their wings and achieve more independence than they had as younger children. Their friends and peer groups start to displace the family as the main sources of social activity. They also discover romance and dating – and, after a certain age, driving.

For many parents, this can be a fraught, difficult time, as they get used to their teens becoming more grownup. However, this is precisely why it is such a good idea to encourage socialization in the home.

Turn your home into a welcoming, inviting place where your teen and their friends can come over and hang out after school or on weekends. Invite your teen’s friends over for dinner, and maybe put on a game night on the weekend.
Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels
3). Family Dinners
In addition to inviting your teen’s friends over, you can establish family dinner time as a way to promote togetherness for the whole family. Your teen doesn’t have to be present every evening, particularly if they have work or dinner at one of their friends’ homes, but try to insist that they participate some of the time.

Family dinner times can be a good opportunity for everyone to reconnect, relax, and share experiences. Your teen may not always want to be present, but try to gently but firmly insist that they be present some of the time.

4). Make Time for Them One-On-One
Family dinners are a wonderful way to connect with everyone, but particularly if you have a larger family it may also be a good idea to schedule some one-on-one time with your teen.
Whether you do lunch, dinner, or an evening hike at a nearby park or other area, try spending some time with your teen and encouraging them to talk about whatever is on their minds. Ask them how their friends are doing, how they like their classes, and talk about anything else that seems relevant – their interests, hobbies, things that are going on with them.

5). Take Interest in Their Activities and Hobbies 
It’s also a good idea to encourage your teen to be active, to get involved in healthy activities like athletics, fitness activities, and various hobbies.

Take an active interest in your teen’s activities and encourage them to keep going even and especially when the going gets difficult – as it always does in any worthwhile endeavor.
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels
6). Help Them Plan for the Future 
We’ve talked before about getting your teen to talk about college goals, and this speaks to one of the more important ways you can help your teen: take the time and effort to help them plan for their future.

Whether or not college is in your teen’s future, make sure you spend time with them helping them to work through the all-important questions about their future career and life goals. They’ll thank you later.


Conclusion
Relationships are a two-way street, and that becomes ever more true of the parent-child relationship during the teenage years. While you can’t control how your teenager responds to your efforts, these 6 strategies should help you create the best possible conditions for encouraging rapport. 

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Dec 11, 2019

Six Simple and Easy Ways to Save More Money

Did you know that almost one-third of people didn’t save any money in the last twelve months because they had no spare money to actually put into a savings account? Saving money is something that most of us want to do, but when it feels like all your earnings are quickly disappearing on monthly expenses, you’re not in a good place. The good news is that there are several money-saving methods that you may want to try that can be changed to suit various budgets. And, don’t forget that even saving small amounts can add up to more than you realize.
Photo by Lukas from Pexels

The 1-cent saving challenge:

You might have already heard about a $1 per week saving challenge - the idea is that over the fifty-two weeks of the year, you boost the amount that you save each week by just one dollar. So, you save $1 in week one, $2 in week two, and so on. This can be a great way to save, but since you have to save more as the year goes on, it’s not suitable for all budgets. So, here’s an alternative - the 1c savings challenge. Rather than saving $1 per week, save just 1 cent a day and increase it by 1 cent as the days go on. If you stick to the plan for the full year, you’ll end up with over $650, and the most you’ll have to save in one go is just $3.65.
Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

Get a money box or piggy bank:

A piggy bank is a tried-and-tested money-saving technique. You might have had one as a child, so why not carry this on as an adult! You could use a jar instead of a proper piggy bank, or if you’re tempted to dip into your savings you can get jars and money tins that you need to open with a tin opener or even smash open quite cheaply in pound shops. Over time, you can save more than you realize from just popping your loose change into a jar.

Round your bank account balance down:

Rounding down the balance in your bank account is an easy way to save some money here and there. Log into your bank account online daily or weekly and round the money down, then transfer the money into a different savings account. For example, if you have $251.45 in your account, you’d transfer $1.45, leaving you with $250. Although there might not always be a lot of money to round down, it also comes with the added bonus of encouraging you to keep a watchful eye on your bank balance.

Use cashback sites:

Did you know that you can get money just for spending on websites that you were going to use anyway? Cashback sites and apps like TopCashBack or Quidco are a great method of saving money on the things that you were already going to buy, especially when it comes to essentials like switching utilities, broadband or insurance. Whenever you need to buy something online, take some time to visit a cashback site first and search for the site that you need. If it’s listed, visiting through the cashback site instead of going directly could earn you some money.

Consolidate your debts:

Using a loan to consolidate your debts is a great way to spend less on repaying credit, if you’re struggling to pay them off otherwise. Taking out a personal loan that provides you with enough money to pay off everything else that you owe often means that you can save money as you’ll switch to having just one easy to manage monthly payment rather than several. If you only have one debt to pay off at the moment, then consider using any money that you save using the above methods to put towards the debt and get it paid off faster.

Use cash more often:

Finally, getting into the habit of spending cash rather than using your debit or credit card can be a great way to help you get a better handle on your expenditures. Make sure that you have enough money in your bank account to cover monthly expenses like your rent and bills and take out cash at the beginning of the week or month for everything else. Having the cash there will make it easier for you to not go over your budget - you could even sort the cash into different envelopes for different things like food, socializing, etc.

Did you find these tips helpful? Let us know in the comments.
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Dec 8, 2019

Create A Family Photo Wall With CanvasDiscount [Giveaway]

Do you ever look around your home and think about the things you have been meaning to do for a long time? One of those things for me is to get some pictures, art or really anything up on my bare walls. We have lived in our home for almost 2 decades and still have so many bare walls. We tend to have more minimalist taste when it comes to decorating our home, but I do love displaying family photos.

I have been wanting to have a family gallery-style wall, and finally started it this year. I still have a little way to go, but feel like it is coming along pretty well so far. We have pictures that have been taken over the years that are very much worthy of being displayed. One of my favorite styles of photos is canvas prints. I really do love the look of a photo that almost looks like a painting when it is printed on a canvas. I knew I need to add a couple more family photos so I used CanvasDiscount.com to order exactly what I needed.

CanvasDiscount.com offers a huge variety of sizes and styles of canvas prints to fit your budget. Since I had tighter areas that I needed canvas prints for, I went with a vertical prints in sizes 12" x 16". They were the perfect size, and the prices were so good at just $25 each. The website is user-friendly, and I was able to upload my photos and create my whole order from start to finish in about 10 minutes. It does help a lot when you already know which photos you want to use. Check out these gorgeous canvas prints we had made.

The quality is excellent, and the colors are rich and vibrant. Also, the shipping time was super fast. Right now, you can get up to 5 FREE MIXPIX® plates from CanvasDiscount.com just by going through this link: http://bit.ly/momfiles. I absolutely love the idea of an entire collage of canvas prints on a wall. Speaking of which, look at how nice our two canvas prints look with the existing photos we have on the wall above our couch. All I need to do now is add some decorative signs and plaques to finish it off. By the way, canvas prints make nice gifts for the holidays!




Be sure to stay connect to CanvasDiscount.com for product updates and discount on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Giveaway

Our friends at Canvasdiscount.com are providing a $50 code to their site for one Mom Files reader to win. Enter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and ends on December 19, 2019. Must follow rules in Rafflecopter. One winner will be chosen randomly. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

Thank you so much CanvasDiscount.com for providing us with a code for complimentary canvas prints. All opinions are our own. 
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Dec 4, 2019

Ways To Unplug And Go Outdoors

The world is more connected than ever before, for better or worse. Although the Internet and improved telecommunications technology allow us to be in contact with almost anyone around the globe immediately, this can be useful and harmful. A recent study revealed that Americans spend up to 10 hours a day staring at screens watching television and surfing the Internet. While there are loads of benefits that come with our current dependence on technology, it also puts us in danger of missing some helpful experiences.

Even if we’re watching our DVRs from a park bench or scrolling through social media feeds poolside, we miss something when we make technology the primary focus of our lives. Too much screen usage means we’re most prone to sitting for too long, and probably indoors. There’s something to be said about the benefits of fresh air and sunlight, not to mention good old-fashioned exercise. That’s why it’s important to remember to unplug ourselves from technology often and get some face time with the real world.
Photo by Devon Janse van Rensburg on Unsplash
The perks of unplugging are numerous, especially if you spend that time outdoors. Studies have found that frequent exposure to social media can intensify feelings of depression and anxiety, not to mention the health issues that arise when we waste too much time sitting and consuming electronic media. Spending all your time indoors gawking at your screens also opens you to a lot of recycled air and artificial lighting, neither of which benefits you in terms of health.

Going outside and staying active, even if it’s simply relaxing in a nature preserve drawing a landscape, can do you a lot of good. You don’t have to become a rough outdoorsy type to get the benefits of the outdoors, either. There are plenty of simple ways you can unplug from technology and benefit from the outdoors. For example, you can take a walk throughout your local park or around your neighborhood. You can take up landscape painting or nature photography to utilize your artistic side while taking in some fresh air. Fishing and bird watching also are great ways to take up a hobby that doesn’t demand being plugged into a wall outlet. Or, taking a boat out onto the water can be relaxing as well as exhilarating.

Putting some limitations on your technology use also can lead to meaningful perks. You could think about trading in your smartphone for a simpler cellphone that is unable to connect to email or the Internet. You might consider putting a limit on your screen time the same way you would restrict your calorie intake on a diet. Reading a book instead of staring at your phone during your commute also can work wonders for your mood as a way to unplug.

As pleasant as it is that we’re all connected these days, it’s also necessary to remember to unplug. If you’re looking for ways to de-stress, the checklist accompanying this post can provide you with some basic tips. Use the unplugging checklist, and you may see some benefits right away in terms of your mood and well-being.



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Nov 19, 2019

Tips When Shopping Around for Childcare

Working outside the home is common in many parts of the country yet doing so may not necessarily be easy for many households. With many single parents, dual-income households, and other circumstances to work around, accommodating the needs of young children can pose a challenge. However, by finding quality childcare to help fill scheduling gaps, these types of families can have more peace of mind knowing that their little ones are taken care of while they are away for work or simply in need of an extra hand. By understanding the type of factors to consider when on the search for childcare options, it can be easier to get a good fit for your lifestyle and budget.
Photo by Gautam Arora on Unsplash

Child’s Age

First and foremost, a child’s age will quickly rule out some options you have available in your community. Many facilities separate children by age to make group activities that are developmentally appropriate and easy to administer and allows children to interact with their peers during instruction and play. This being the case, it’s recommended that you ensure that the facility you choose caters to children that are your child’s age.

The Ratio of Caregivers to Children

While licensed facilities will need to abide by both federal and state laws, it is good to be aware of the ratio of caregivers to children that a childcare facility has to ensure that your child will get adequate attention for both educational and safety reasons. Additionally, this can give you a good idea of whether or not your prospective caregivers will make the effort to keep current with recommendations set by childcare experts and legislators.

Parent Participation

As the old adage goes, it often takes an entire village to raise children. In a childcare setting, this often means having open communication between educators and parents. This can make it easier to create an optimal environment and consistency for a child that can benefit from learning and overall well-being. It can be helpful to ask about volunteer opportunities, communication methods, and drop-in schedules available for parents who would like to participate more actively.

Waiting List and Enrollment Requirements

Before you allow your heart to get set on a specific childcare option, it’s practical to keep in mind that Little Sunshine's Playhouse and other high-quality facilities may very well have waiting lists of other families who would also like to enroll their children. Before filling out paperwork or researching hours on one childcare option, asking about the waiting list ahead of time can save you time, especially if you have a need for immediate enrollment for a more specific timeline of when you need to have your child start. In addition, it may be recommended that you check any requirements your child must fulfill before even being accepted. For example, immunizations, minimum hours of care that must be paid for are just two common considerations that need to be made as soon as possible.

Photo by Erika Fletcher on Unsplash

Special Needs

If your child has special needs, it is important to check that the childcare options you are considering can provide all the necessary accommodations. For example, children who use wheelchairs or other assistive equipment should be able to easily maneuver around with pathways that are wide enough and ramps that allow access to any elevated areas when necessary. Finding a caregiver that is ADA compliant can be a great start for families with children with special needs. Even something as simple as potty training may be something that families will want to research to ensure that their prospective choices can support whichever stage their child may be in.

Budget

One of the biggest barriers to childcare accessibility is pricing. Some plans for registration fees and other expenses may be easier on the pocketbook for budget-conscious families. For example, some private facilities may be more costly but may also have better features and services that make them worth the investment. In contrast, government programs may be less expensive, but it’s possible that lower rates may result in more crowded spaces or longer waitlists. Some places may require all families to pay the same rate while others may offer special discounts. These discounts can be based on factors such as household income, the number of siblings enrolled in the same program, military status, or memberships.

Type of Facility

It can be very useful to know the different types of childcare facilities that exist so you are aware of all your potential options. Some families may opt to have a private nanny who can supervise children in the family home, provide one-on-one attention to children, and tend to light housekeeping. In contrast, others may prefer the peer socialization opportunities that a larger childcare facility may be able to provide in addition to the convenience of knowing that a team of professionals can tend to children. Additionally, some schools in the community may even offer pre-kindergarten programs that can give young children an earlier start. Although this is a great option, especially for families with an older sibling attending the same school, enrollment opportunities, as well as the length of the school day, may be limited so it’s best to check directly with the schools in your community.
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Nov 8, 2019

Tips to Help you Cut your Tax Bill

If you receive an unexpected tax bill it can potentially bring on a lot of stress. There are a few things you can do to cut your bill legally. However, you might need to put a bit of effort in but it could be worth it.
Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

Adjust your W-4
This is the form that you need to hand to your employer. This form tells them how much tax they need to withhold from each pay check.  If you have a big tax bill looming, you might be able to raise the withholding until the next tax year.  If you received a large refund, you could reduce the withholding. This will mean you’re less likely to be living on less money.

Fund an FSA
Did you know that when it comes to your personal taxes you can add tax-free dollars to your FSA every single year? If your employer offers you a flexible account you could use it to your advantage. The latest limit is $2,700 and some employers might allow you to carry around $500 over to the next tax year.

Save Money for College
If you would like to save money so your child can go to college, you could potentially reduce your tax bill. Consider making contributions to your 529 plan. You won’t be able to deduct the contributions on the federal income taxes. However, you could deduct them on your state return. This is only the case if you are putting money into your state’s plan.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Record Your Medical Expenses

If you have had dental care or expensive medical treatments, you should keep hold of your receipts. You can deduct any expenses that are 10% or more than the adjusted gross income for that year.  Let’s imagine that your income is $50,000. You would be able to deduct anything beyond the first $500.

Work on Your Timing
There can be a huge difference between doing your taxes on the last day of December and the first day of January. If you think you have an expense looming try to pay it this year rather than the next. So, for example, having that tooth extracted now means you could meet the medical expenses threshold. If you were to wait until next year you could lose out on your deductions.

Donate Your Money
When you donate money to charity those contributions are often times deductible. What’s more, is those donations do not always have to be in cash. If you have donated household items, food, or clothing you could have a lower tax bill. However, you will need to make sure that you got a receipt for your donations and they went to a recognized charity.

It is possible for you to reduce your tax bill, you just have to take some extra steps. By implementing those things, it can lead to you paying less in taxes every year. Follow the above tips and you’re less likely to get an alarming tax bill.

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Oct 7, 2019

New Uses for Old Curtains

Redecorating your home can be expensive. But you don’t always have to go out and buy the newest décor on the market. You can repurpose items you already have - like curtains! Your curtains may be old, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their use. There are many ways to recycle the fabric that once covered your windows. Here are several ideas on how you can come up with new uses for old curtains.

Table accessories: The fabric from old curtains can be repurposed into a tablecloth or runner for any table in your home. The material can also be converted into placemats or decorative napkins that will add flair to any dining room table. Think about the different types of events you’re hosting, whether it’s Thanksgiving dinner or a small cocktail party, and use old curtains that match those vibes.
Photo by Jopofa Bolt on Unsplash
Blankets and pillows: Old curtain fabric can also be used to create throw pillow covers, blankets, or pieces to a quilt. With blankets and pillows, you do want to consider the texture of the curtain. Burlap may not be the best choice for something you want to curl up with, but silk would make for an excellent pillowcase. Make use of these old curtain fabrics to create unique pieces that add comfort to any room in your home.

Headboard: Another option for repurposing your old drapes is to convert them into a headboard. This option is less expensive than purchasing an actual headboard, and it will create a new focal point in your space. Headboards pull a room together, and it’s so simple to DIY one. You can hang one behind your bed as is or upholster a piece of wood.
Photo by Volha Flaxeco on Unsplash
Room dividers: Use old curtains to divide a large living area into two separate spaces. For example, you can split an office space from a living space or create a secluded play area for children apart from your main living room. It’s also a good idea for children who share a bedroom and want extra privacy.

Shower curtain: Old drapes can also be converted into shower curtains. Simply add a plastic lining to protect your repurposed drapes. Shower curtains are an item in the house that can really show off your style and personality, so the more eclectic the pattern, the better. Plus, you’ll have a shower curtain that can’t be found anywhere else and at a much lower price.

Doors: This option provides your home with the privacy of a door, but with a more open and decorative feel. Utilize old curtains to cover a closet space in a hallway, bedroom, bathroom, or any area in your home that you want to be hidden from view.

It doesn’t matter whether your curtains are solid or patterned. Any type of curtain can be repurposed in several ways. When you’re recycling old curtains, think about the color scheme and style of your home so that you’re creating a cohesive vibe throughout the house. Get creative and reinvent your old curtains into new décor for your home!

Many thanks to Piper Classics for this guest post.

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10 Hacks To Choose The Best Destination For Your Next Holiday

If you are a travel buff, you will probably know that exciting feeling about planning your next trip. You may have seen a lot but the bucket list keeps getting longer. It is easy to create a bucket list but hard to order it according to your priorities. Of course, there would be some places that you would want to check out sooner than later.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash
So how do you decide what your next destination is going to be? What are the factors that you should consider while making up your mind about the places to visit first? Though there is no tried and tested way to have the list ordered priority-wise, you can still follow some tips to decide the destination for your next holiday. Here are some hacks that can help you with the decision.

Start by considering your budget

First things first, you should have enough money to finance your vacation. After all, you cannot imagine traveling abroad only with a limited amount in your vacation fund. Have a complete overview of your travel budget and decide whether it can take you to a distant destination or somewhere close by. You need not splurge a fortune on a holiday and end up broke. Rather, choose an economical destination that gives you good time without toppling your budget. And if you are not willing to compromise, wait and save till you have enough for your dream destination.

Be open-minded when you decide

An alternative destination is better than no holiday at all. Rather than being rigid about your choice, be open-minded and explore places that are not as popular as the ones your friends talk about. Haven’t you heard about a place? Don’t you know that it even exists? Google is the best place to explore the most amazing destinations across the globe, all within your budget. Who knows, you may have the best holiday of your life if you are willing to just try and explore. So go ahead!

Get smart with travel bookings

When you are not really sure about fitting your favorite holiday destination in the budget, you can be extra smart with your travel bookings. Choose cheaper flights that take you through a different route. Rather than taking a direct flight, you can catch a connecting flight and save your money. Or why not fly in one that drops you to a city near your destination and take a train or shuttle to reach there? Just find the alternatives, calculate and plan a holiday to your dream destination without breaking the bank.

Find more about the shortlisted destinations

When you are not sure about where you want to go, make a list of the destinations that you would want to consider. Check online to find things to do in your area when you are actually there. Google is the best place to know more about any holiday destination, from the places to visit the ones to eat and shop. Once you have things listed out for each of the chosen destinations, pick the one you like the most.

Safety first

Of course, you need to find about all that the destination has to offer. But ensure that you check the places from the safety perspective as well. Whether you are planning a solo trip or a family holiday, keep safety on the top of your checklist. Search online and you will easily find out statistics about crimes involving tourists in specific parts of the world. Choose a place that is totally safe for travelers.

Understand your objective

Another factor that influences the choice of a holiday destination is the objective of the vacation. Ask yourself why you would want to travel to a specific place, whether it is going to be a short getaway or a long break to relax and unwind. The reason will probably make a difference in the choice of your destination. Similarly, you may want to explore a place with the idea of moving there or starting a business in the future. Another consideration that you may want to bear in mind is whether you would prefer a beach holiday or one to a ski resort.

Solo or with family

Are you planning to travel solo? Do you want an extended vacation with your loved ones? Obviously, the choice of destination will depend on this factor as well. Wellness resorts and adventure trips make the ideal choices for solo trips. On the other hand, you can choose a beach or ski resort if looking for a perfect family vacation. Whatever destination you choose, make sure that it offers all that you want and is safe as well.

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash
Avoid stereotypes

The biggest blunder that travelers make is to stick to the stereotypes while deciding the vacation destinations. Who says that you should visit only New York or Los Angeles when you travel to the US? Why just book for Paris when in France? Every country has some hidden jewels that are less popular but offer much more. Be willing to explore places that you have not heard your friends and colleagues talking about.

Trust your instincts

If a destination seems to beckon you, just trust your instincts and go ahead. When it comes to having a dream holiday, the best advice is to be selfish and choose a destination that you want to explore. If none of your friends or family members like the idea, plan a solo trip because you would not want to miss on a dream destination just because others are not keen to be there.

Don’t be indecisive

Once you have chosen a destination, go ahead and book it right away. Be decisive because indecision will just make you more stressed out and you may miss out on the opportunity to visit a cool destination. Don’t ask for too many suggestions because you may end up being confused and even drop the idea of going for a vacation. Rather go ahead and make your bookings as soon as you lock a destination that you would want to explore for your next vacation.

When you decide the destination for your next trip, do consider these hacks. After all, choosing the right place is surely going to make all the difference!
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Sep 30, 2019

Tips for Decorating This Christmas Season

As the year comes to a close, many people start focusing on the holidays. While it can be a beautiful season, you may also find yourself stressing to get everything done on a limited schedule. One area that tends to frustrate people is decorating. Though it can be fun to invest in decor and display it around your residence, you also need to come up with a plan so you don’t feel like you’re annoyed as you attempt to deck the halls with boughs of holly.

If you need advice on how to improve your decorating process, now is the perfect time to look for help. Explore these tips and see what you can do to get more out of your attempts at decorating.


Start Small

Decorating in some neighborhoods can become something of a healthy competition. One home will put up an elaborate display and other homeowners will try to outdo their neighbors each year. While this can be a fun way to go about creating a beautiful wonderland on your lawn, it can also be a huge point of frustration for you and your family. Instead of opting for a big, complicated display, try to scale back and see what you can accomplish on a smaller scale.

Minimalist decorations are quite popular nowadays. A few strategically placed decorations can create more of a cozy sense of winter magic than a garish display of bright lights and singing Santa Claus inflatables. Sit down before you start putting up and decorations and formulate a plan on how to go about making your home more festive for the holidays. The simpler the plan, the easier it will be for you to get through these tasks without feeling overwhelmed by how much you need to finish.

Artificial Options

Another area where it can be easy to feel stress while decorating is with your Christmas tree. Though you may feel like a natural tree is the best way to go, it can also be a lot of work. Putting up a real tree in your home means you need to go buy one, haul it to your house, put it up, decorate it, and then tend to it in the weeks before and after the holiday. If you want an easier option, then it can be helpful to consider buying an artificial tree from a seller like Balsam Hill.

Balsam Hill trees may be artificial, but they perfectly capture the real deal. Selecting an artificial tree gives you more control over the size and style of your tree, allowing you to maximize the space in your home and find an option that fits perfectly. Decorating an artificial tree is also a lot easier, as you do not need to worry about damaging the branches while hanging your ornaments. Best of all, you don’t need to worry about watering the tree or any of the mess that comes along with caring for a larger living plant.


Make Memories

You may also want to think about making your decorations at home this year. This can be especially fun if you have little ones in the house. Set a night of the week aside for your family to make some decorations together. You’ll be able to create some beautiful wreaths, garlands, and ornaments for the season and make lasting memories all the while. Your little ones will be able to look back on these years with fondness when they remember how much fun it was to make decorations with their parents.

Stressing out about the holidays is an easy way to ruin your season. Find a better way to decorate by opting for simpler solutions and see how much of a difference it can make to your experience.
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Jul 24, 2019

Birthday Gift Ideas For Kids 10 And Under That Aren't Toys

Struggling with birthday gift ideas for kids under 10? We’ve got you covered!

You’d think with having the whole world at our fingertips that finding the perfect birthday gift for our little ones would be a piece of cake. With so many user-friendly apps and online stores with an abundance of toys and gifts to choose from, it’s almost as if you don’t have to put any thought into your shopping at all.

But isn’t that the problem? For consumers, everything is always well within reach or suggested to us via clever marketing. But what about a gift that really means something? A gift that won’t end up at the bottom of the toy box with all the other plastic toys that they own but don’t even play with…? Well, here you’ll find 5 of the most popular gifts for children under 10 years old and none of them are toys.

An Investment In Their Future

Sure, your kids can’t play with a savings accounts – not until they’re older anyway – but investing in their futures and putting something away for them to utilize when they’re older is a wonderful commitment and gesture of love. Check out Golden Eagle Coin for investment pieces as well as somewhere to buy silver bars, gold coins and other items, you can also get the latest information on items that will increase in value over time. Alternatively, speak to your local bank about an IRA or a savings account.


Lessons

Do you have a budding Picasso at home? Or even a mini Serena Williams? If your child has a passion or a hobby, why not help them take it a step further with some lessons in their favorite interest? Not only will it give them more confidence, but it could even take them down a career path when they’re older. In addition, joining things like dance schools, theatre groups or sports teams allows them to experience things like competitions or exhibitions, the value of teamwork, or focusing on tapping into their own creativity. It’s character-building, to say the least.


A Dress-up Box

All children enjoy dressing up as their favorite princess or superhero, but what about something more realistic? Simply go through your wardrobe at home and see if you have any items you can donate. Hats, scarves, trousers, shoes, bags, costume jewelry, dresses, gloves, etc. Or visit your local thrift shop and see what you can find. Let their imagination run wild!

A Charitable Donation

The gift of giving is a wonderful thing, especially to those less fortunate than ourselves. So, incorporating a donation as a gift will teach your children about charity, kindness and it will make them feel good. This could be sponsoring a child in a foreign country, helping to plant more trees, sponsoring an endangered animal or even adopting an animal at a local rescue center.


Time

They say the greatest gift you can give any child is your time. So, take a weekend and dedicate it to some quality time. Let your child decide where they want to go, what they want to do, and make sure you take plenty of photographs to document that time spent together. You can have a photo book made so your child can look back on those fun memories.

Do you have any other gift ideas to add to this list?
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Jul 5, 2019

Display Your Special Memories With Canvas Factory (Giveaway)

Something that I believe many of us have in common is the outrageous amount of photos we have on our phone camera rolls, memory cards and on our computers. I think of all of the vacations, birthdays, graduations, celebrations, and everyday moments we have captured digitally. Our younger daughter graduated last month from the University of South Carolina, and I immediately knew I wanted our family picture with our graduate on a canvas.

I was recently introduced to Canvas Factory. They offer an easy way to upload your photos, even from your social media accounts, and turn them into a beautiful canvas. Your canvas will arrive ready-to-hang on your wall because the canvas is stretched and wrapped around a wooden frame. It's a nice way to display your memories to enjoy for the years to come.

The process of ordering your canvas couldn't be easier. It took me around 7 minutes from start to finish. Thankfully I had already chosen my photo ahead of time, so that helped to speed up the process. You have the choices of canvas size/shape, how you want the "wrap" (the edges that get wrapped around the sides of canvas), and if you want to add any type of color effect. You can check out as a guest or sign up for an account. It's just so easy! Also, they offer amazing sale prices all the time, so make sure you sign up for their email list.

This is what we had made. Isn't it beautiful? The quality is top notch, and the color is rich and vibrant. We are excited to add it to a wall of canvas prints in our living room. I have the biggest smile when I glance over and see this print.






Now that you've seen how easy it is to use Canvas Factory for your canvas prints, it's time to try them out for yourself. One lucky reader will win a code good for a FREE 20"x16" Canvas (40x50cm) or 18x12inch (45x30cm). Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to Canada & U.S. Residents only and ends on July 15, 2019. Must follow rules in Rafflecopter. One winner will be chosen randomly. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

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Mar 19, 2019

Signs of a Medical Emergency in Pets


Just like for humans, accidents and emergencies can occur for family pets. Whether they eat something toxic, experience trauma, or show signs of disease, it is important for pet parents to be prepared. There are many signs that your pet may be experiencing a medical emergency. Pet owners should know these signs to be prepared in case of a medical emergency in their pets.

Common Symptoms

The symptoms of a medical emergency will depend on a variety of things. For example, if your pet was in an accident, it may be obvious that they need immediate medical attention. However, some emergencies might be less obvious.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your pet, you should address it immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Blood in urine or feces 
  • Unconsciousness
  • Eyes appear swollen, red, or cloudy
  • Slow or rapid heartbeat 
  • Sudden blindness
  • Collapse
  • Hives or facial swelling
  • Seizures
  • Signs of heat stroke
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Ingesting toxic substance
  • Constant vomiting
  • Vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 hours
  • Cannot stand or walk
  • Change in body temperature

There are additional reasons your pet may need emergency care. For example, if your pet is pregnant and experiencing complications, you should take them to an emergency hospital. Additionally, your pet should receive immediate medical attention if they experienced an accident or trauma like being hit by a car.

Each of these symptoms could mean your pet is suffering from any number of medical conditions. For example, if your pet is unconscious with a slow or rapid pulse, your pet could be suffering from cardiac arrest. They could also have a parasite-related issue, such as heartworm disease. Like humans, the list of potential health issues is never-ending. Seek help immediately, so that a diagnosis can be made, and a treatment plan started.

Although some situations may not be a medical emergency, if your pet has a sudden change in behavior, they may have some underlying medical issues that need to be addressed. In this case, make an appointment with your veterinarian for a check-up soon after your pet shows minor signs that something may be wrong. 

What You Should Do If Your Pet Shows These Symptoms

If you notice that your pet is showing these signs, you should act immediately. Call your veterinarian or a 24-hour veterinary hospital. For pets that have suffered a trauma, you will want to be cautious because they may be aggressive. Approach them slowly and say their name. Use caution when lifting them, making sure to support their neck and back. If your pet is aggressive, call for help.

First Aid Kit

Your pet may need veterinary attention as soon as possible; however, there may be a few first aid techniques that will help stabilize your pet. For instance, if there is significant bleeding, apply pressure to the wound to lessen the bleeding.

Your pet may grab hold of food or another foreign object that they should not have, which can lead to choking. You can try removing the object by gently reaching into your pet’s mouth or throat. If you cannot reach the object, try putting your arms around their belly and pushing firmly up just below the ribcage. This action will act as a modified Heimlich maneuver and should dislodge the object.

If you remove the object but your pet is still unconscious, there are more steps you can take. Check their breathing and heart rate. If they are not breathing, you can perform CPR on your pet. To do this, place your pet on their side and blow into their nostrils while holding the mouth shut. If you don’t feel a heartbeat, you can try chest compressions. You will want to do three quick compressions for every artificial respiratory breath you administer.

Your pet may ingest something toxic such as chocolate or a cleaning product. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435. They will give you instructions for how to proceed based on your pet’s age and breed, what they ingested, and how much they ingested.

24-Hour Emergency Care

When pet parents notice a medical emergency for their furry friends, they should seek help right away. Many veterinarians are only open during business hours. If the incident occurs during these times, call your vet to ask what the next steps should be. They will have insight into your pet’s age, breed, and medical history. Your vet might suggest bringing your pet into their clinic or taking them to an emergency hospital.

Unfortunately, if the incident happens after hours, you must seek emergency care at the closest animal hospital as soon as possible. Serious conditions can progress or worsen quickly, so it is important to take immediate action. Remaining calm will help your pet cooperate and help soothe stress for both of you.

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Mar 5, 2019

Why Is My Hot Tub Water Cloudy?



One of the most common complaints for hot tub owners is cloudy water in the spa. It can be incredibly difficult to determine the exact cause of cloudy spa water because there are so many different things that could be causing the problem. Since determining the cause of the problem can be challenging, preventing cloudy spa water can be difficult. Here are a few possible causes of cloudy water in your hot tub and how you can prevent the issue from occurring.

1. Product Build-Up

We all use a lot of different products on our bodies. Unfortunately, these products aren’t so good for spas. Between the lotion, soap, makeup, and hair products on the average human body, it is no surprise that the water in your hot tub is less than clear. To prevent cloudy water from these types of products, you can rinse off in the shower before you take a dip in the hot tub.

2. Biofilm Growth

Bacteria is bound to happen in warm, moist places if the proper chemical levels aren’t maintained. Hot tubs are known breeding grounds for bacteria, which is why it is so important that you use a sanitizer in the water. Bacteria can build up in the pipes and fittings in the internal system of your hot tub. You probably won’t even know that there is a problem until you start to see your water getting cloudy.

Spa chemicals


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If you haven’t run your hot tub in a while, the biofilm is likely to start building up in the spa. In these cases, you will need to shock the water and add sanitizer into the system. Additionally, you may need to use a treatment that will kill all of the bacteria in the internal system of the spa.

3. Hard Water

Hard water is a problem for many households. While hard water can cause problems all over your home, if you have a hot tub, you are likely to start seeing cloudy water. Hard water contains too much calcium, which can change the appearance of the water in your hot tub. Test your water for calcium hardness, alkalinity, and pH levels. If anything is unbalanced, you can use chemical balancers to help control the levels in the water of your spa. Balanced water is less likely to form scaling or cloudiness.

4. Filter Problems

Dirty hot tub filters.

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Spa filters can be a little tricky. Spa filters need to be clean and installed properly to prevent dirty water from circulating throughout the hot tub. If your spa filter is misaligned, dirty water can slip past the filter and lead to cloudy, dirty, murky water. When you replace your spa filter, make sure that it is positioned properly to keep the water in your hot tub clean.

Keeping spa filters clean is also critical in the maintenance of the water in the hot tub. A dirty hot tub filter doesn’t properly remove all of the bacteria and other gunk that can lead to cloudy water. If your filter is too dirty for cleaning to help, then you will need to replace your hot tub filter altogether. Never run your spa without the filter. A filter can prevent all kinds of problems, including cloudy water.

Hot tub filters should be switched out at least once every 12 to 24 months depending on how often you are using your hot tub and how you normally use the tub. Filters should be cleaned every few weeks with a spa filter cleaner.

5. Low Sanitizer Levels

Sanitizers are necessary to keep the water in your hot tub safe and clean. Chlorine and bromine are commonly used to manage bacteria and fungi that could try to live in your hot tub’s water, causing the water to appear cloudy. Using the right amount of sanitizer can prevent bacteria and fungi from living and breeding in the water of your spa.

Keeping your water clear isn’t always easy, but with these tips, you should be able to keep your water looking pristine for a longer period of time.

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Jan 25, 2019

Futuristic Construction Games for Kids

Kids love building things and there are many futuristic construction games they can play and some can be found on Mini&Maximus. They are very enjoyable and parents can play with them too. These games are also very realistic and 3D. If your child wants to go into construction in the future, then here are some popular ones, all of which involve driving round in a wide range of different vehicles.

Construction Stimulator Pro 2017

Construction Stimulator Pro is a building game and you can handle a wide number of vehicles including bulldozers and cranes. This game is one of the best out there and it gives you a massive opportunity to build a name for yourself in the construction industry.


SimCity BuildIt

In SimCity, you can build your very own dream city. In this game, you can become the mayor which will leave you responsible for countless tasks for building the city. It allows you to solve real-life situations too. You can also connect and compete with other players.

Megapolis

Megapolis is an extremely similar and enjoyable game to SimCity BuildIt. You can build and design things from houses to airports. Build yourself a functional and modern city you can enjoy. Megapolis is a variant of the word megalopolis, this means a large city or urban area.

Skyscraper Construction Sim 3D

Skyscraper Construction is a construction game particularly aimed at skyscraper fans.
You can build your own skyscrapers and drive around in a large variety of vehicles. You can manually hand-design buildings by scripting with corresponding coordination for every object.

Big Machines Stimulator 3D

Big Machines Stimulator is an excellent choice of game if you are into heavy machinery. This game allows you to drive around in a large variety of different vehicles, including cranes and earthmovers.

Bridge Construction Stimulator

The aim of this game is to build safe and strong bridges. These bridges need to be built strong enough for heavy vehicles such as trucks and school buses to drive over. It is fun to play and good if you want to go into building bridges.

City Builder 17 Federal Prison

In this game, you need to build a high-security federal prison. You begin with simple tasks and move up to more complicated ones. As the game player, you are responsible for the different features of the construction process.

All of these games are very fun for kids and will lead them into the construction industry if they are used sharply.
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Top Gift Ideas for Girls Aged 10 Years Old

Ten years old is a preteen age. The kid becomes aware of their image and the surrounding world. They are quite picky, hence finding the right present is difficult. Girly gifts are excellent ideas but having some balance is essential and for more ideas check out StarWalkKids. Make her face light up with a gift that is not only entertaining but improves creativity, reasoning and logic skills. Some suggestions of gift ideas that will help a girl explore their personality include:

1. Origami brainteaser 

An Origami brainteaser has ten puzzles which kids can take as much time as they need to master. There are a variety of outcomes for puzzles such as the Flexi twist and Lotus of the Heart. The puzzles are brainteasers with many bold colors that spur creativity and art. It helps the kid master patience, think logically and overcome a challenge. The kid learns to stick to a project until its completion.

2. Spirograph deluxe design set 

Spirographs assist kids in creating a variety of shapes. The endless designs are fascinating to children. The kit has swirls and geometric patterns that make it easy to create any spiral shape imaginable. Children can learn the art of layering and alternating colors to come up with a transformative piece that they can show off to friends. Spirograph brings to life traditional hands-on art that enhances imagination. Kids can design with their friends hence fostering social relationships.

3. DIY wear friends forever jewelry 

Affirming long-lasting friendship is vital for 10-year old girls. Friendship bracelets are a great physical representation of a bond. The kit comes with looms for making bracelets, embroidery floss of different colors, beads, and a beading needle. The gift is perfect for nourishing social relationships and learning teamwork.

4. Hearth song large super soft plush 

Get your child the Hearth song large super soft plush if they love cuddling toys or are big fans of Dazzle the Unicorn. The plush has hearts, a pink collar, and the mane and tail are also fluffy. It is a perfect travel buddy or a bedtime companion for your kid to stroke and cuddle. It is a durable gift and easy to launder.

5. Color your pillowcase

The child can color and design the pillowcase using washable fabric makers. You can launder the pillowcase due to the washable makers. It encourages creativity; a child can draw their favorite their favorite characters or doodle anything.

6. Fabulous flowers hair accessories

The kit is meant to keep the girls busy making great hair accessories. It has crystals, glitter gel, and rhinestones for decorating the hair accessories. It is the perfect gift for girls with an inclination towards art. It fosters creativity as the kids spend hours creating unique patterns and designs.

7. Melissa and Doug friendship stamp set

It is a unique art and craft kit that encourages children to stamp a variety of pictures and then color. The set has colored pencils for sketching and coloring and pads of washable ink. The game promotes creativity and concept. The kids can use it to make cards and various scenes which enhances the motor ability and coordination skills.

Always pick a gift that enhances the kid’s personality or develops their hobby. Do not forget to include something pink and pretty.

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