Oh What Fun We Have – Easy and Free to Low Cost Summer Break Ideas

Summer break has been here for about a month or so now, the kids and I are no where near ready to kill each other. I have been enjoying the Summer break quite a bit, sure the lack in routine can occasionally be a bit of a challenge for my son Aj, but overall things are going awesome! As a Mom who has been a penny pincher for as long as she can remember, I wanted to share some tips on how our family has a blast without spending any money, or maybe just a little tiny bit of money some days … I know you can do this too!

Having Summer Break fun Without Breaking the Bank

I am a huge advocate for being happy within, I truly believe if you are not happy within your own self that no one around you will be happy either. That is where Summer Break comes into play, I see every day how happy I truly am because of how happy my children are in response to my deep inner happiness. We love spending quality time together, and they trust me to work a couple hours every day from home because once my work is done, the day is OURS.

Happily Blended Summer Break Fun

Some Things that the Kids and I enjoy Doing During Summer Break Are:

  • Sitting on the deck chatting about whatever or telling funny stories to each other.
  • Taking a trip to Walmart or some other local store and having a look around, it’s always fun to check out new toys.
  • Take a scenic ride somewhere; one day we hopped in the vehicle and drove 2 hours to the ocean.
  • Make blanket forts, play with musical instruments, dress up, pick berries, or play with the ever huge collection of toys in house.

Summer Break Fun

The best part of our summer break days is that we just laugh and laugh and laugh. We are a lively bunch together, and more often than not, you can hear music playing in our home while we do chores together as a means to ensure we are doing our part to keep our household running smoothly. We laugh together, we do chores together, we are family.

What are you doing this Summer break with your family that simply makes you SMILE?

My Theory Regarding Chores for Kids

When my kids were super young we had a chore chart up on the fridge, I created it and it worked awesome. At some point it was magnetic and at other points it was simply a tally mark system. Each child had set chores, for the boys brushing teeth was even one of those chores to encourage good teeth brushing habits. The tally mark would represent a penny or nickle, whatever it was back then. Each child could lose a tally mark though, if they misbehaved or didn’t follow rules at some point. It was a wonderful system that worked well when the kids were not in school. Now that my three children are in school and with the sharing of parenting between two households, it’s not so easy to utilize the same methods. Here is why my kids really only have tasks during the Summer break season.

I believe that the school year is a time to focus all your efforts on school work, each of my children get A and B grades, this past year my oldest actually got straight A’s all year. They are good students. They also have to live between my home and their Dad’s home, each having different visitation schedules. To me, having to keep up with chores while going between households and keeping up good grades isn’t worth adding a daily chore list to. While I still will ask my children to help around the house, as I believe a strong family bond is created when we all work together to ensure our household is up kept, they don’t have a real chore list during the school season. This has worked for us very well.

Chores for Kids Living in Co Parenting World

My kids are never over scheduled nor over worked during the school year because I allow them the time to focus on school versus a huge list of chores. I believe this is a worthy thing, their school is their job. Being part of the family is their job too, when you have a huge list of school work plus chores plus fun time, it creates this hectic environment and can put kids backwards; they will fall behind in some part of that huge list of to-do’s. I wish to encourage my kids to excel and find a balance, reality is a chore list during the school year will not help them balance because it’s near impossible for them to get all of that done while getting school work done. It doesn’t work.

When summer break hits, the kids are asked to do more around the home. My oldest is asked to handle the dog in the morning while I do my morning shift on Moms.com. The younger two are expected to pick up after their own self; such as dishes in sink after eating, trash thrown away and toys picked up if moving onto another toy. I am not consistent with this at all times, because I am still working on this balance of having all three gone all school year in school, but overall if I ask they do whatever it is that is asked upon them. Summer break to me, is a time to spend with family outings, bonding time and also keeping up with household chores and yard work. We all do our part to keep the family running smoothly and efficiently.

With my oldest, she has an iPhone and part of her Summer list this year is to do tasks for me so that my blog stuff doesn’t fall too much behind between my juggling my job at Moms.com and my freelance work. I don’t get any flack, after all my daughter is already a tween blogger with her own two blogs so helping me pays for her $40 a month cell bill while she also learns the “trade of blogging”. It’s a win/win for us both and she feels accomplished knowing she is working for me at some level. I am working on creating her Summer task list now, it will be no more than half hour a day when she is here to complete and I think that’s fair.

I believe that chores, in a blended household, where the children tend to go off to their Dad’s frequently must be balanced well. I want the children to enjoy being here with Mom and enjoy being away with Dad while also maintaining a good family bond and good character. At the age my children are at, the chores during school year are more a means to just upkeep around here, but during the Summer months, they are certainly expected to help more. I think with blended households and co-parenting most families do it all different while other families still try to maintain this normal level of a regular family where the children have a boat load of chores at both households, I don’t see that as fair. I want my children to grow up enjoying their childhood while still teaching them life lessons; they know when Summer time comes they will be expected to help more around the home, but their reward is a lot of fun family time.

Having a balance is important in every area of my life and my kids have become the same way; I believe that is why we are well rounded, well adjusted and adaptable, outgoing people.

How to be More Productive at your Computer

With the whole world at your fingertips it can be difficult to stay on target. Whether you’re working at home or in a crowded office, those deadlines aren’t going anywhere and they need to be done. Time to shake off the old habits and make a new years resolution to become a model worker.

This article is going to show you some tips and tricks to help you knuckle down and get work done. While these pieces of advice might seem daunting at first, a few small changes will grow into positive habits and maybe a few compliments from the boss. So don’t be afraid of the time spent in front of your trusty Lenovo laptop – let’s get some work done.

First of all, it might seem obvious but rid yourself of any distractions. This includes those found online such as time-draining social media sites. Don’t worry about blocking the Internet altogether, there are apps such as Focal Filter that will block some of the biggest distractions for a set time limit. Another way to stay focused is one little word that will keep everything away – no. No to any ‘you’ve got to see this’ emails, no to colleagues dragging you away from your desk and no to anything that has nothing to do with your work. Whilst it might sound pessimistic, make “no” your default at work to remain on task. There’s very rarely anything more important than your current task at hand.

If you happen to have multiple tasks that need to be completed then there’s nothing better than the classic to-do list. Don’t mistake this as an old-fashioned scrap of paper, however. AllThings is a strong set of tools that make listing easy to not only edit and complete but to share, allowing groups of people to work away at the same list. This makes it fantastic for collaborations and group leaders. Another idea is to shift your list onto your smartphone to clear up some monitor real estate. Any.Do is a popular choice in this area, automatically prioritizing entries, synchronizing lists over devices and looking stylish while doing it: a hugely intuitive way of keeping you productive.

Lastly, the bane of many workers day is the humble inbox. Five words can cause a huge disaster later on: “I’ll reply to them later”. Simply designate a certain time when you can catch up on your inbox and organize it – perhaps 10 minutes before or after lunch. Be on the lookout for messages that can be quickly replied to but anything bigger save for your designated slot. If you’re using Gmail then there are some powerful tools that can save you a wealth of time, one of which is Toutapp. It has a wealth of features aimed at supercharging your inbox: the ability to track when sent emails are opened and links clicked, reminders to follow up certain messages, quickly-written email templates and more.

Trying to Get Back on Schedule

I have to laugh at myself because I am often saying how I am not routine driven, that I am a free spirit and not a planner but then things happen to mess up my normal schedule or routine that set me off for a loop, taking me a long time to get back on track. It even goes so far as to make me tense, the shoulders get hard as boulders and my mind is completely frazzled. But I am not routine driven like my middle child, nope nope nope!

I lied. I am.Totally. 100% routine driven.

So when the school had a water pipe burst sending water through my sons school and they had no school for a week? I was home with my sons for a week, full time, trying to figure out how in the heck to work around two boys who were with me 24/7 that week, minus their few hour break with Dad a couple mornings.

Next there was Nemo who dumped us with snow. No school happened one day because of that.

Then there has been a change of schedule for the boys Dad, he is training on days for a couple or few weeks. This means the boys no longer are gone for 1-2 full days a week, but rather 1-2 evenings for just a few short hours a week. This is nuts.

I work days. I used to work nights, but I just can not seem to have the focus and drive I used to at evening hours. That is why I switched up my routine and work from home schedule to be morning hours! Now, here I am trying to figure out how to juggle my schedule around since school is back in session but the visits with their Dad has changed …

It’s always something around here, but I know I will get through this. I have been working in between the times the kids are in school, in between activity drop offs, in between sleep hours, in between visits. This all adds up to an hour here and an hour there, but at least it’s more than not working at all.

I can not wait for school to be steady again, but voila there is end of February one week long vacation from school coming up, just when the ex gets his second shift schedule back, my kids will be on vacation.

Every day I’m shuffling…

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Four Tips from Hunter Douglas to Save and Simplify For a Festive Holiday Season

This fall and winter, set aside the stress and enjoy all the wonders the season has to offer by whittling down your to-do list and saving where you can while still creating the ideal holiday home. Just in time for the holidays, Hunter Douglas, the leading name in custom window fashions, has launched the Celebrate the Season rebate promotion, so you can enjoy significant savings as you spruce up your décor in preparation for entertaining family and friends. In celebration of the promotion, which has ended, Hunter Douglas shared some tips for me to share with you all.

Simplify by Setting a Theme

Rather than overextending yourself to incorporate every aspect of the holidays into your decor, choose a color scheme that simplifies decorating, creates the largest impact and saves. Whether red and white or blue and silver, incorporate the palette into everything such as floral arrangements, window dressings, lights, ornaments and wreaths. Choose a flexible and timeless combination that blends well with the home to reuse decorations each year in order to conserve expenses.

Create Affordable All-Around Ambiance*

The popular phrase, “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” by author and poet Maya Angelou also holds true for entertaining. Rather than simply focusing on the logistics of sending out invitations and setting the menu, also give some thought to creating a welcoming and warm ambiance. One of the most important ways to achieve this is with lighting – candlelight, holiday lights and window fashions that make the most of natural light as the days grow shorter. Hunter Douglas Silhouette® shadings with the Signature S-Vane(tm) have a patented design that softens harsh sunlight as it enters a home while drawing it deeper into the room. They also offer view-through and protection from UV rays.

Easily Incorporate Childhood Favorites

In colder weather children often spend more time playing inside than out. With a house chock full of family, friends and little ones running around, it is important to offer festive activities for all to enjoy. Assign an adult to supervise and have children help adorn the home with holiday cheer. Set out art supplies to create ornaments, wreaths or even a homemade decorative table runner. With a fun-filled house, also be sure to watch for safety. Window treatment cords can be hazardous, Look for cordless options like the Hunter Douglas LiteRise® lifting system that allows shades or blinds to be raised or lowered with a touch on the bottom rail.

Set Limits and Ask for Help

Just as with choosing a holiday décor theme, narrow down your budget and time allowance and ask for help where you need it most. For budgeting, set per-person limits on gifts and stick to them. Setting a price max will also limit your options on what to purchase and thus make decision-making easier. When entertaining with little time to prepare, assign duties and chores to your spouse, friends or children, ask guests to bring side dishes while you prepare the main course and if you are still stressed with all there is to arrange, rather than feel overwhelmed, turn the household holiday prep work into a party. Invite a friend or two over for a baking, decorating or gift-wrapping social so everyone can cross off items on the to-do list while still having fun.

*Certain window dressings not only warm up the atmosphere, but the temperature as well. Try highly insulating Duette® Architella® shades with their air-trapping honeycomb-within-a-honeycomb construction. They add style to the setting while conserving energy and helping to reduce utility costs. And, they’re the first and only window shades without add-on insulation systems to qualify for Federal Tax Credits for energy-efficient products. These credits are available for 10 percent of the cost of most Duette Architella shades, up to a maximum of $500 in total, when purchased and installed through December 31, 2011, More information on the tax credit is available at hunterdouglas.com/taxcredit.
No matter what your budget or however much you have to do, with these tips it is easier than ever to save time, money and energy while making your home a warm and welcoming retreat for family and friends. More information is available online at www.hunterdouglas.com or toll-free at 1-800-274-2985.

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