MommyMandy l Texas Mom Blog

10 Key Secrets to a Successful Marriage

Keeping a happy, successful marriage is not an easy thing to do. Divorce rates in many countries go over 20, and even 30%, which we can agree is a lot. Divorce affects you, your whole family, and children, so it is worthwhile trying to work on it, and make it successful, and last a long time. Here are some tips on how to do it.

Communicate

Many would say that the most important thing in a marriage is communication, and it is true. Everything starts from there, so learn to express your thoughts and worries to your partner, and talk about your problems, rather than sweep them under the rug, or even worse, fight about them. In many cases, communication is what will keep the two of you from cheating, which is one of the main reasons for divorce. You can also avoid many future fights by simply expressing your feelings, so make it a habit to talk.

Learn to listen

Hearing and listening are not the same thing, so the next time you discuss with your partner, try to actually listen and understand what they are talking about. This goes both ways. Respond to that accordingly, and don’t be selfish in any situation.

Spend time together

When you are in a long marriage, you spend most of your time together. However, we are talking about quality time, when you can dedicate it to each other and reconnect. It can be a dinner, a spa weekend, or even going to the gym together. A good idea is to have a shared activity that you do once a week, so that even if you are having a hectic and busy schedule, you know that you have one day for just the two of you.

And be apart

Just as being together has its benefits, staying apart is good for your relationship as well. You can take the time to be with your friends or family, do whatever makes you feel good. This helps you recharge and go back to your marriage as a fulfilled individual. Soon, you will see how those night outs with girlfriends or his sport or poker night with the boys have their benefits.

Keep the passion alive

Sex is one of the most important parts of a relationship, despite what everybody says. It is completely normal for your sex drive to reduce over time. However, this is something that can be worked on in order to have a good, healthy marriage. Trying new things like adult toys or costumes can make the whole experience more interesting when you need something to spice things up. So, don’t be afraid to get them, and surprise your spouse.

Be affectionate

One of the things that makes us fall in love is all the attention and affection we get from the other person. Don’t let these little gestures disappear because it is so easy to be thoughtful. Buying flowers, chocolates, his favorite beer, or organizing a romantic movie night are details that really do make a difference. Pamper your man with his favorite meal once in a while, or surprise him with a gift or a massage. As for the husbands, you can share chores with your wife, or prepare a relaxing bath after her busy work day.

Never stop trying

A mistake that many couples make after just a few years of marriage is that they stop trying. This means you stop going to the gym, or getting all dressed up. Now, of course, they should see the real you, but you should still try to seduce your spouse. Lift some weights, get some nice lingerie, put on some fancy clothes when going to dinner, and just take care of yourself, which will help your relationship as well.

Don’t try to change them

We all often feel like we have the right to change the other person, and they have to change for us to prove their love. This is a very bad strategy to use. You should try to accept the person you are with, and you should both work with what you got. Find a compromise, because we are sure you can manage it without having to be someone you are not.

Don’t give up

Marriage takes a lot of work. This means that even when things get tough, you should not give up on the first try. Yes, some situations can’t be resolved, but most of them will be a temporary state. You have to both work hard for it to last.

Ask for help

There is no shame in asking for help if you have some problems that you can’t fix on your own. Couples therapy, counseling, or even workshops that will help you reconnect and overcome difficulties are a good option.

It is tough to sustain a healthy, happy marriage, especially today when there are so many other aspects of our lives we have to work on. However, if you truly want it to work, you can try these simple steps, which will most certainly make a difference.

Seasonal Cleaning: How to Declutter Your House in Just One Day

Do you often walk into your home and ask yourself “How did it ever get this way?” Clutter is smart and it creeps up on you, so you often don’t even notice it until it takes over your entire house. While clutter grows slowly, you can purge it very quickly. Here’s how to declutter your house in one day.

Create a donation/sell plan

Check Goodwill or the Salvation Army and see whether they take some stuff you don’t need. Some charities will even come to pick up donations! Make sure to organize donation drop-off as soon as you finish your decluttering—you don’t want to change your mind and keep something you really don’t need. If you’re short on cash, you can organize a yard sale and even earn some money.

Be efficient

Before you start, make sure to come up with a schedule. Each room requires only 30 minutes of decluttering—this will ensure you actually finish everything in one day and not drag out your process. Don’t try to organize your space—just remove clutter and move to the next room.

Gather supplies

It’s important to have all the supplies at hand if you want to have a fast and easy decluttering process. Make sure to stock up on trash bags and boxes for sorting out your items. You might come up with a good color-coding plan so that you know what is trash, what is fit for donation or yard sale and what you want to keep yet relocate. If you know you’ll have a lot of trash, contact rubbish removal professionals that will take your trash off of your hands quickly and efficiently.

Start with your living room

Now it’s time to actually start your decluttering. Tackle all old magazines and newspapers in your living room and throw out all broken toys and decoration. Grab all family members’ personal belongings and relocate them to their private bedrooms. Donate all books, toys and games you don’t use or love particularly.

Dining rooms are usually very cluttered

Dining room tables often become storage for various items, so be extra careful when decluttering your dining room. Trash all old candles, outdated table cloths, old paperwork and other garbage. Anything that isn’t decoration needs to be relocated from the table. Linens and dishes you no longer use can be put on the donate or sell pile.

Tackle clutter in your bathroom

Grab a trash bag and throw away all expired beauty and hygiene products and empty containers of makeup and nail polish. Moldy and broken bath toys and old cleaning supplies can also go. Relocate all excess products like TP, bath and body products and towels and put them in closed storage. Hairstyling tools and various extra towels you no longer want can be donated.

Clean your bedroom

Concentrate on your dressers, bedside tables and floor. Clear and throw out any trash present in your bedroom. Keep and relocate family members’ belongings and donate things you no longer need and love. All clean laundry can be put away, dirty laundry thrown in the hamper and used clothes hanged in the closet.

Don’t tackle your closet

Purging your closet and decluttering your home are not the same tasks, so make sure to go through your clothing some other day. For now, it’s best to focus on open surfaces like tables, dressers and floors. What you can do for your closet is throw away all tags, outdated receipts, shopping bags and unused boxes.

Wrap things up

Once you’re finished with every room in your house, it’s time to grab all your garbage bags and remove them from your home. Donation things can be put into your car and neatly stored in your garage, but make sure to drop them off as soon as possible. Find a home to all your items you decided to keep or place them in temporary storage until you decide where to keep them. It’s important to keep decluttering every few weeks in order to prevent any serious clutter that can’t be handled in one day.

Once you finish your quick declutter, you’ll not only have a much tidier home, but you’ll instantly feel lighter and less stressed. So, continue decluttering your home and might even like it so much to become a minimalist.

How To Get Over Your Fear Of The Dentist

Being scared of the dentist isn’t something that’s rare. In fact, a lot of us will hate the thought of going to the dentist or are perhaps terrified of going. There are some steps that you can take in order to get over the fear and to allow you to have the checks on your teeth that will continue to keep them healthy and in your mouth for longer!

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Know Your Dentist Well

It’s always worth getting to know your dentist more because they’ll be the ones who are responsible for doing the procedures and making sure that you are comfortable during the process. With that in mind, try to find a dentist who fits your criteria, and that will be the person who will keep you calm. If you don’t get on with your dentist or find them to not be as caring about how you feel, then you can always look elsewhere. One of the biggest fears is being with a dentist who you don’t have complete trust in and any horror stories that you’ve heard about or scenarios that you think up in your head, are only going to be made worse if you don’t like your dentist. So find someone who is going to help you feel the safest and secure.

Ask For Sedation

The process of a dental appointment could simply be a quick check over, or you could be having a tooth pulled out. Either way, the fear of going to the dentist can be enough already, without having to go through the actual appointment. There is a possibility to be sleeping while your dental procedure is completed and that’s because dentists may be able to offer you a sedation in order to help you relax. They may also offer you something to numb the pain, and this anesthetic might make you a little woozy. However, it’s always best to clear this with the dentist before your appointment as they’d need to get the necessary forms signed off. When you’re having sedation, you may want to take a moment before getting back onto or in your relevant transport. It might also be a good idea to ask someone to pick you up in order to take you home safely.

Bring A Friend Or Family Member

It’s always nice to have a familiar face when you’re fearful of certain things. So, if you have a friend or family member available, then it’s certainly worth bringing in a friend or family member to wait with you in the waiting room. Your guest may also be able to come into the room with you, and they will be able to give you those comforting words of support that you may be after during it. The waiting part of it might be the most nerve-racking, so it’s always good to have that person you’re close to, there with you to help you take your mind off it. If they’re a good friend or family member, then they will know what to do in order to make you feel as relaxed as possible.

Communicate During The Procedure

Whilst the procedure is happening, it’s a good idea to speak with your dentist, even though it might not be very easy when they’re looking into your mouth. The dentist might tell you to alert them if there’s pain or any discomfort while they’re doing the check or procedure. Don’t suffer in silence, be vocal about how you’re feeling, especially if you need a little break to recover. It’s important to communicate because the dentist and their assistant aren’t going to know what sensitive parts of the teeth that they’re touching and therefore it’s essential you tell them where and when it hurts.

Bring Something To Distract You

Waiting in the waiting room of the dentists can be the most daunting part. So it’s good to keep yourself distracted where you can. That might be by bringing a friend or family member, but if they’re not available, take some entertainment. A few magazines are a good shout or maybe a good book that you’ve been meaning to read. Listening to some music might be a great way of zoning you out of the situation or watching your favorite tv show or movie.

Getting over your fear of the dentist takes time, but if you follow these tips, the experience will be a lot more manageable than it was before. Communicate with your dentist and express your concerns to help with the procedure.

5 Effective Ways to Deal with Chronic Sinus Problems

Sinusitis is an infection that comes with facial pressure, pain, and discomfort, which can leave you glued to your bed for days. Studies have shown that air pollution can be one of the main factors for developing this medical issue. However, people who struggle with asthma and those who have weaker immune systems can suffer from sinusitis too. Fortunately, there are ways to ease the symptoms and treat the infection successfully, and here are a few you should know about. 

Use homemade remedies

When your sinuses are clogged, you need to find a way to drain them. Usually, a mixture of fresh ginger juice with one teaspoon of honey can be very helpful if you take it a few times per day. Garlic juice can also be helpful – you can insert a few drops of it into each nostril, keep your head still for about five minutes, and then sit up and let it drain. It should help unclog your sinuses. Also, you should avoid dairy products such as cheese and ice cream because they can increase mucus production in the sinuses. For the same reason, try not to eat too much chocolate, sugar, and yeast-containing foods. 

Have surgery

Sinusitis can be a big deal not just because it makes it difficult to breathe but also because it can lead to severe headaches and other infections. This is especially common with chronic sinusitis, and in some cases, it can lead to problems with eyes and even the brain, which is why surgery is sometimes necessary. By having rhinoplasty surgery, you can significantly improve the quality of your life, especially if you’ve been suffering from sinusitis for a while. Moreover, it’s important to mention that the surgery is safe and relatively simple, so it shouldn’t take long for you to get back to normal.  

Take antibiotics

Antibiotics can help, but you shouldn’t use them unless your doctor prescribes them. They will do so if they think that the source of your problem is a bacterial infection. The length of the treatment usually depends on the type of infection, whether it is acute or chronic; in some chronic cases, it can take more than two weeks. In this case, you should also take some probiotics, as you might have stomach problems as well. Just keep in mind that antibiotics can’t help you if the cause of your infection is a virus, which is why it’s important to consult your doctor first. 

Steam your face

If your sinusitis is caused by a virus, there isn’t much you can do besides waiting. However, as you’d still have trouble breathing, you can always try steaming your face. The only thing you’d need to do is inhale some steam, which can help ease the pressure and soothe the sinuses. So, put a warm washcloth over your nose and cheeks, or you can make yourself some nice hot tea, put a towel over your head to make a small tent, and inhale the steam while bending over the tea. Ke

ep your eyes closed, breathe deeply, and you’ll feel much better in no time. Plus, you’d have some nice tea to enjoy when it cools down a bit. 

Try nasal corticosteroids

These prescription nasal sprays can help reduce the swelling and inflammation, but they can also prevent the infection from happening in sinus openings too. They can help you breathe more easily, and they are usually prescribed if you’ve had issues with nasal polyps that keep returning even after being treated – and the sprays can also help shrink them. Now, you should have no trouble using them for a longer period of time without them being absorbed into your bloodstream. However, keep in mind that they can lead to an addiction if you overuse them, so keep in touch with your doctor. 

Sinusitis can be a frustrating and serious medical condition that can affect your daily routine. So, to deal with it, you can try some of the listed home remedies. Or, if it’s a bit more serious and nothing you can do at home helps, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor. They can help you treat it properly, and you’d feel much better in no time.

8 Tips for Instilling True Gratitude in Your Kids

Parents are supposed to help their kids in many different ways. They need to help their loved ones become independent, satisfied and successful individuals by instilling the right values in them and teaching them some vital skills. One of them is gratitude, which is linked with many physical, social and emotional benefits.

However, you can’t just tell your kids they need to be grateful. If an action they’ve chosen to do is forced or feels like homework, the outcome will not be authentic and the results will not provide the potential benefits that experiencing gratitude offers. That’s why kids’ interests and strengths need to be engaged. How is that done?

Use their strengths

Every parent knows what matters to their kids and what kind of activities make them feel engaged and strong. It’s those strengths that should be a basis for gratitude activities. Kids feel great about connecting with others, helping or entertaining them when the activity in question aligns with what makes them feel good about themselves. That’s why it’s important to know what makes your kid feel strong.

Photo or art project

One of the activities you could do to instil gratitude in your kid is to get involved in a photo or art project in which kids will try to identify the things they are grateful for and find or, even better, create images that depict those things. Once the final product is there, you can talk to the kid and ask them why they’ve chosen those images and how important the notions the images depict are to them. You can revisit the final result some time later to see if there is anything your kid would like to add or remove from the album/presentation.

Use family moments to show what you’re grateful for

Family bonding activities are great for nurturing your parent-child relationship and teaching your kids how to be thankful. Events such as Christmas are perfect, since you get to spend more time with your family, which allows you to do more things together. You can take your kids shopping for decorations and let them pick out a Christmas tree. Follow in the footsteps of many Australian parents, who are trying to celebrate a more sustainable Christmas. An amazing Christmas tree in Australia is often decorated using last-year ornaments, which may have been painted to seem new. Decorating a Christmas tree is a fantastic opportunity to share some wonderful moments, which your kid will cherish forever.

Three good things

One of the most popular activities for instilling gratitude in kids requires you to sit down with your kid and identify and talk about “three good things”. You can write them down and put the notes in a gratitude jar or enter three notes in an app. You may wish to discuss them with your kid after a while and see if they still feel the same about them

Paper chain of gratitude

Another fun activity is to use slips of construction paper and have your kid write down the things they’re grateful for. Staple the slips together in interlocking loops to connect them together. The longer the chain, the more your kid is grateful for and this image will help them realize there are so many things that inspire gratitude in them.

Circle of gratitude

This activity is done in many schools all over the world. Just like students sit in a circle and take turns sharing what they’re grateful for, you can use the same activity with the members of your family. When your kids hear what you’re grateful for, they’ll definitely start thinking about it and most likely learn to appreciate it.

Gratitude party

If you organise a party at your home and invite all those who you feel deserve your gratitude, your kid will see how positive feelings are quickly spread and how people’s mood improves. That should inspire them to recognise the people who deserve their gratitude and your kids will have no problem expressing gratitude directly.

Gratitude writing

Young people who enjoy journaling might find it useful to write letters to someone expressing gratitude, but this activity won’t work if your kid feels forced to do it. Alternatively, your kid could keep a gratitude journal in which they would express their feelings in writing, without a particular recipient in mind.

Society needs to harness the power of gratitude and parents should play their part to help kids develop into moral adults, who will contribute to a world of compassion and care. Still, such a goal can’t be achieved overnight and we need to be both patient and persistent. After all, most worthwhile things require a lot of time and effort and it’s our job, as parents, to make them happen.

How to Choose a Gift for Your BFF

Who doesn’t love getting gifts? We look forward to birthdays and holidays because we know there’ll be some wonderful gifts for us from people who love us, and the excitement doesn’t die as we age. Still, as much as we love getting gifts, so does the next person, and buying them is much more difficult than gracefully (and excitedly) accepting them. If you’re struggling to come up with the right gift for your best friend, don’t despair. We’ve put together a list of wonderful gifts to help you find something perfect for your BFF.

Pay attention to what she likes

You’ve probably gone shopping together a million times already, and you are fairly confident that you know her taste well enough. While you might be able to pick something she will like, why don’t you get her something she wants? When you’re out shopping, try to remember what she notices but doesn’t buy. It can be because she doesn’t have the money or that she plans on going back for it, but if you notice there’s something she particularly likes, you can always go back and get it for her. It will show her that you’re listening and that you’re thoughtful too. 

Give her “an experience”

Why would a gift have to be a “thing”? It’s easy to “give” an experience too, and much more rewarding. Instead of a small trinket, take your BFF to an amusement or a national park, or to the theatre to see a great show. Buy her tickets to see a movie she’s been talking about forever, take her snorkeling or surfing, drag her into a haunted house with you, or to an exotic restaurant so you can both try something new. 

Support her passion

In case your BFF is really passionate about something, it would be great to offer your support and encouragement. If she is fascinated with makeup, you can always buy her quality makeup and makeup remover products. Do a bit of research and try to find the best products for her – you get bonus points if you get her favorite brand too. While you will have to ask about her preferred lipstick color and shade, it’s easy to find and buy mascara online and have it delivered to her directly. In addition to buying great makeup, you should also get quality makeup removers so her skin can stay healthy. 

Take her to see her favorite band

A lot of people have bonded over music, and gigs and concerts hold a special role in their lives. Concert tickets to her favorite band will forever be a great gift idea because it shows you remember what she loves. Even if it’s not a favorite band, you can still get tickets to a concert of a band that marked your friendship or got her through a rough time (music is known to do that). Going to a concert together is a wonderful idea, but if you can’t make it, you can always give her two tickets and encourage her to take someone else – a boyfriend or a sibling. 

Get her something symbolic

Is there a person who doesn’t have a ton of silly inside jokes that they share with their BFF? It doesn’t matter if you both live singing wrong lyrics to a popular song, or you refer to each other as mermaids, princesses, or unicorns – these inside jokes are a gold mine for gift ideas. You could print a silly photo of the two of you and put it in a frame that has decorations referring to your inside jokes (a frame with mermaids and glitter all over). A small plush toy that’s a reference to your or her nickname is also a good idea, as is a keyring if you’re hoping to give her something she will use every day. 

Even though you’ve been best friends for a long time, it isn’t always easy to pick the best gift, and every now and then, you need some inspiration in order to make a decision. We hope that the gifts we listed here will help you find something that both you and your BFF will love and that it will solidify your beautiful friendship even further. 

4 Healthy Outdoor Activities to Keep Yourself Fit and Active

We all strive towards a healthy and balanced life. However, it seems that our whole life is a constant struggle to balance out our health, love life, work and our social life, as well as leisure and achieving our inner peace. It is not an easy task, you know it. However, we are constantly driven by that goal of achieving balance and harmony. When it comes to our health, stressful situations often get in the way of our healthy diet and regular exercise. Although these healthy habits actually help us eliminate stress in the long run, it’s much easier to eat a whole pizza and feel better momentarily. Of course, we all know this in theory, but practice comes a bit tougher. Nevertheless, let’s focus on the positive aspect of outdoor activities and what possibilities await us.

Running

This is one of the best possible activities to do outdoors, and it can be done throughout the whole year. If you don’t believe it, just try it. One of the most important things is to learn to control your breathing. If you breathe on your mouth, it’s easier to catch a cold or something worse. This is why learning to breathe properly during running is the best path towards a good yearly running routine. Moreover, one should also be appropriately dressed for running. It’s important to stay warm during the winter, but not to be overdressed so it limits your movement. When one wears heavy clothing or too many layers during the run, it can be somewhat inconvenient. This is why there’s an increasing demand for high-quality men’s compression socks and comfortable running shoes. The socks improve your circulation, and the shoes make running more enjoyable than ever.

Cycling

If you live in an area with nice scenery, cycling should be a fun activity that gives you a chance to breathe fresh air in and admire the amazing sights. However, if there are no nice sceneries in your area, it’s a great opportunity to exit the area and challenge yourself to cycle to the next town or to some nearby interesting locality. You can even create a new tradition of taking field trips every weekend. In addition, if you’re looking to lose weight, cycling is a great activity as it doesn’t put all the body weight on your knees, unlike most other activities, but it spares the knees and allows you to be active for a longer period of time. When the winter comes, it’s a bit less convenient, but it can still be done in proper clothes. Of course, you can also cycle in a gym, but it’s less interesting, and it deprives you of all the fresh air.

Walking

One of the best activities you can do that benefits the human heart is walking. It’s the best cardio and almost anyone can do it. Given that we live in the age of cars, people rarely just walk to work or to their friend’s house, but you can make an effort and try to create a habit of walking at least one hour a day. If you’re having a hard time and you love animals, getting a dog would solve your problems as it would be great to have a loving pet and, at the same time, you’d be taking walks several times a day from that moment on. Of course, this offers you to get to know your city better by changing routes and exploring new areas. 

Swimming

Swimming is also a great activity for people that want to lose weight, gain muscle strength or simply stay in shape. It engages all the muscles in the human body, which is why it’s extremely beneficial. If you are one of the lucky ones and live by the seaside, you’re in for a treat. However, in the unfortunate case that you don’t, there are also rivers and pools, as well as travelling to the seaside. The combination of the sun and the water is great for your skin and your whole body.

Naturally, most of these activities can be done in artificial conditions such as gyms. Of course, that is still fine, but outdoor activities are generally better as they allow you to take all the fresh air in and enjoy the scenery. The dynamic is different and it’s more fun that way.

How to Get Ready for a Last-Minute Trip

Many people dread taking last-minute trips as if this sudden decision would create chaos in their lives and the lives of those around them the moment they take off. But the odds are high that we are all going to take quite a few of such trips, either out of necessity or our own desire. 

In order to alleviate the excess stress and make your unexpected trip more pleasant, you need to use your time wisely and get yourself properly prepared for the travel. Here is a list of last-minute arrangements you should settle before heading off.

Finish all time-sensitive errands

To be prepared to depart carefreely, you should finish all the time-sensitive errands as soon as you decide to travel. The first thing to do is to make your transportation and accommodation arrangements. Depending on how last-minute your plans are, your choices can be limited and every minute can make a difference between getting a flight-ticket and the flight being sold out.

This may also include finishing all the tasks which you should do during business hours, such as exchanging currency, paying bills, paying off your credit card loan, etc. The last thing you need is all the stress from trying to beat the clock before offices close. If there are any clothing items you would like to bring that need you need to wash, make doing laundry a part of this list too.

Check your budget

One of the crucial things you should determine before heading to your unexpected trip is your budget. If you’re traveling out of necessity, the odds that your journey is going to be an expensive one are high. Even if you’ve spotted a great last-minute vacation deal to your bucket-list destination, you may still find yourself short on cash to cover all your expenses. Consider your current budget and make a list of all the costs you may predict during your trips, such as transportation costs, accommodation and meals – all the essentials.

If it is a matter of urgency, or it feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you just don’t want to miss and you don’t have enough cash in your emergency fund or in your savings, you may consider some other options. If you have no luck with borrowing the sum you need from friends or family, you can consider taking payday loans which you will pay off as soon as your regular income lands on your account.

Make a packing list

Your packing list will mostly depend on the length of your stay, as well as the weather conditions at your destination. Make sure to put all the essentials on your list, as packing mishaps can have quite disastrous consequences. Include the following:

  • Personal items. Those are all the necessities you will need for your travel, including your passport if you’re traveling abroad, your tickets, your ID, credit cards, cash, and your driver’s license. If you take any medications, make sure you put them on the list too, as well as some painkillers in case you need them. Consider items that can make your trip more comfortable, such as a travel pillow or a book if you like to read before bed. Include toiletries you will need during your stay, both for your personal hygiene and for grooming.
  • Clothing items. It’s a good idea to plan your outfits for different occasions, so you could bring all the essentials. Make sure you’ve put enough socks and underwear on your list too, pajamas, and some comfortable clothes for more relaxed activities. Check the weather forecast for the days you will spend away in case you need some seasonal clothes too.
  • Technical items. Although it may seem like there is nothing as straightforward as packing your mobile phone charger for a trip, it is the item people forget most frequently. Add it to your list, as well as all other technical items you need to bring, such as your wireless charger, tablet, laptop, flash drive and headphones.
  • Business items. If your sudden trip is business-related, or you plan to do some work while away, add the materials you might need on your list too, such as your business cards, promotional materials, etc.

It is a good idea to start gathering all the items on any clean flat surface, even before you actually start packing them in your suitcase. It will speed up the packing process and prevent you from forgetting something.

Before leaving your home, make sure you’ve double-checked your documentation and money, as well as all other things that you could need immediately or that could affect your travel.

All Aboard! Cruising Family Style

Enjoying the sunset in the middle of the sea with your family doesn’t have to be a scene from a movie, but it can easily turn into reality once you decide on taking your whole family on a cruise of a lifetime. Finding a cruise that’s suitable for children can be a challenge though, but luckily, you are about to find out about the best family-friendly cruises, where it’s best to travel and what there is to do. Buckle up and get prepared for a truly exciting once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Choose a kid-friendly destination

Before you choose the perfect cruise line, think about how you can find the perfect sailing route to follow. If you live in Europe, it would be most obvious to take a cruise through the Mediterranean, which is quite convenient because of the many ports on the way. If you plan on flying to your cruise destination, then it wouldn’t make much sense to spend more time flying than on the cruise ship.

A fairly interesting and exotic idea would be to cruise around the Far East and experience a culture shock once you discover that nothing is as you had imagined. Even if you have to fly for more than a day to get to the nearest Far Eastern port, we can guarantee it’ll be worth the ride. Some other memorable mentions should also be Alaska, Norway and Iceland since they are all known for the mesmerizing beauties of iced waters, fjords and mountains.

Create everlasting memories

Although you would like to keep your kids busy and animated during the cruise so that they don’t get bored, it’s also important to remember why you brought them along in the first place. Spending time as a family should be of the utmost importance, and having fun together is what you will remember for the longest. Just make sure you make some records of your trip so that you can reminisce upon these wonderful memories once the kids are all grown up.

Make sure you are well connected

When it comes to travelling as a family, there’s no way that all of you will want to experience your cruise the same way. Kids will want to play around for the whole day, and parents are probably going to prefer a bit of rest and relaxation. In case you get separated, it’s good to have a plan regarding how you can stay in touch. Some companies offer special SIM cards with discounts and features that provide stress-free communication tailored to specific networks. So, if you’re from Australia and wish to cruise around New Zealand, you can buy a prepaid New Zealand SIM card and avoid all roaming rates. Make sure that you have a way to communicate with your children throughout the whole trip, because you certainly won’t be able to keep an eye on them all the time.

Make your dreams come true 

Your dreams can come true this summer, especially if you live in Australia since there are many cruises  setting off from Singapore to several exciting destinations this year. The newest destination for the Genting Dream cruise ship in Southeast Asia. For those of you who always dreamed of exploring the wonders of Bali, jaunting to Kuala Lumpur or exploring the Gulf of Thailand – know that there are cruises just waiting for you to join. 

This type of trip is especially recommended for fans of luxury and great service. Spacious staterooms with private balconies are just some of the features of these extraordinary cruises. You can even enjoy a part-private party equipped with a 24-hour concierge service and all-inclusive guest privileges. It’s needless to say that the kids will enjoy every minute of this lavish cruise, as well.

Fun for the whole family

Both the parents and the children deserve to have fun while cruising, and since this is a vacation aimed mainly at adults, you should make sure that the kids can be entertained on their own, too. You should be on the lookout for cruises that are recommended for the broad range of activities they offer, as well as for their moderate prices. 

So, what can kids do on such a cruise? There are many programs that the cabin crew organizes for different age groups. For example, you can find indoor playing areas for the youngest passengers, video walls where they can watch their favorite cartoons, jungle gyms and even mini basketball fields. Special activities are organized for the 12-14 age group, and it includes dance floors, TVs and gaming consoles. Teenage passengers can even enjoy a mocktail party or a karaoke night in the fabulous night clubs. As for the adult passengers, some services offer after-hours babysitting so that parents can enjoy some alone time, too.

Even if the whole family has a lot of fun options to choose from, just be sure you spend as much time with your kids as possible. Every memory you make together is going to count.

Helping Our Amazing Planet

Over the past few years, there has been heightened coverage regarding our need to recycle. Homes throughout the US have been given their own recycle bins alongside their usual waste wheelie bins. Moreover, there are a much greater number of signs placed in public areas in order to raise awareness and get people to recycle. More and more people are becoming aware of how important it is to recycle, yet there are still those who do not see the urgency. Of course, recycling is done in order to help protect our precious environment. However, because the damage is not visible at present a lot of people feel they don’t need to do their bit. If this applies to you, then read on to discover why recycling is important and why you should make sure that you help.

A prominent reason why a lot of people do not recycle is that they do not actually know why it is beneficial to the planet we live on. People know that recycling is encouraged, yet they don’t know the full effects of why. The truth is that recycling can help the environment on a number of levels. One of the main reasons it is beneficial is because it utilises a lot less energy. Fewer natural resources are used as well. This is crucial because we need to protect what we have got. Furthermore, you may want to consider the fact that those who recycle are lowering the potential for waste to mount up in the landfills. The points mentioned are all qualities that are very important when it comes to protecting the world we live in. 

Nevertheless, these are not the only benefits that will be reaped from recycling. It has actually been proved that through recycling global warming can be reduced. Research shows that the amount of carbon release has reduced dramatically because people now recognise the importance of recycling solid waste. You may also want to turn your attention to another area of pollution; water pollution. You will be pleased to know that when dealing with recycled goods the level of water pollution is decreased. And finally, don’t forget to think about the beautiful nature and wildlife that surrounds us today. If people do not recycle, then this natural beauty will only get smaller and smaller. There will be damages to forests, rivers, and alike, and this will make it extremely difficult for animals.

The benefits associated with recycling are vast and it is imperative that you do your bit in order to help the land. You should be aware of the fact that there are lots of different types of materials and products that you can recycle. You can recycle anything from paper and batteries to tin cans to plastic bottles. If you have your own recycling bins then this will be made easy for you. However, if you do not then don’t worry as recycling bins are placed all around towns and cities, with everything from clothes banks outside big supermarkets to small battery deposit boxes in stores being available. You can recycle electronics too. Hearing aids, which you can learn more about, can be taken back to the supplier for recycling. The same goes for computers and such like.

So, don’t be a party popper! Make sure that you do your bit for the environment and start recycling today.

How to Choose Wine for Your Birthday Party

It doesn’t matter whether the party is big or small, as long as you all have a great time together. And what better cause to throw a party, have fun with friends and sip some delicious wine than celebrating your birthday? Not everything has to be perfect when you’re organizing a birthday party, but one thing can and should be – your choice of wine. In the end, every party gets a solid boost when good wine is present, so don’t miss the opportunity to spice things up. But what wine to choose?

Who’s coming?

The first thing you need to consider when looking for the wine to buy is who is going to drink it. What kind of wine drinkers are your guests? If it’s a small group of people you’ll probably be able to satisfy their taste easily. But if there’s a bit larger gathering about to occur, look at the big picture as well. If you know that the majority of your guests are perfectly content with crowd-pleasers, you really don’t have to go the extra mile in order to get the finest wines for the most intricate palates. There are plenty of amazing choices in this case as well. For starters, Muscadet is delicious yet no-fuss white wine that’s equally popular in France and the rest of the world. As we all know, the French know their wines so you can’t go wrong with this choice. Moreover, a selection of reds is also in order, and, in that respect, Beaujolais-Villages, also from France, can make this party come to life pretty quickly. Thanks to the rich wine drinking culture, you can always count on French wines to liven up the party.

Keep your budget in mind

It’s obvious that wines can get really expensive, which is why the next factor you need to consider is precisely your budget. Obviously, if the party is going to be smaller, with just a selected few friends that you know are true wine enthusiasts like yourself, feel free to splurge a little bit. However, if the number of guests is going to include twenty or more people, be aware that the exquisiteness of wine is probably going to get overlooked. In the latter case, you should definitely opt for a variety of wines. Aside from classics, such as New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc and America’s Pinot Noir red, inspire the crowd with a mix of rose, sangria and vermouth as well. This may be the perfect situation to look up to the Australian wine drinking culture. As an important part of the party scene, you can now order wine online. Just take a look at the fine South Coast Winery offers for example, and you can quickly and easily get your hands on the mix of quality wines as well as estimate the price in advance.

Mix the flavors

Wine should never be served alone. This is another thing that you can learn from both French and the Aussies. In order for everyone to enjoy the wine to the fullest, you should consider the best pairings as well. For example, cheese, fruit, nuts and even pickled veggies can add to the amazing taste of already delicious wine – and keep the guests happy. For example, if you’re thinking of pairing the wine with cheese, you should know that Chevre goes best with the mentioned Pinot Noir, but Champagne, Chardonnay and Riesling, too. Parmesan goes great with Prosecco or Nebbiolo while Blue Cheese is a match made in heaven with robust or sweet reds as well as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Of course, if you plan to go all out with some fine meals and appetizers for your birthday party, definitely check the best wine pairings with food to enjoy the celebration to the fullest.

Be it a mid-range crowd-pleaser or a costly delish for an acquired taste, wine is the perfect companion for special occasions – both parties and some quality “me” time. Therefore, take your time deciding and don’t be hesitant to consult your guests if need be to be 100% confident in your choice.

How to Include Your Baby in Your Workout

Next to all the new chores you get once you have a child, from taking care of their hygiene to trying to maintain your own, it can be hard to find the time for your own workout routine. And it gets even harder once you get back to work. So, it’s easy to see why many new moms put their own needs last – but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of organization and creativity, you can do anything you set your mind to, even work out. For example, there are ways to include your baby in your exercise routine – and here’s how. 

Walk whenever you can

Put your baby in the stroller and get walking. If the weather is nice, you can hit the park or simply stroll around your city. Or, you can explore your local mall or supermarket. Additionally, you can also find stroller-based classes, where you can make some new friends who can motivate you and perhaps even give you some advice if it’s your first time being a mom. You can do the same with a large carrier if you don’t want to push the stroller all the way. Just make sure your baby is safe – you can’t exactly jog with them until they gain some neck control, but you can always walk.

Experiment with yoga and Pilates

Both yoga and Pilates can improve your strength and flexibility, and it can be great for the baby as well. Once your bundle of joy is about 4-5 months old, you can try some mat exercises. There are many that target your abs, which might come in handy after pregnancy, and there are also many that can improve your arm strength and make holding your baby much easier. Moreover, you can also sign up for yoga classes for moms and babies and meet some new moms there too.

Try hiking

Hiking in nature is also an option, but there are some things to consider before you opt for this kind of exercise. For starters, keep in mind your baby’s temperament. If they tend to be fussy, you might want to keep the hikes shorter than 30 minutes. Also, if your baby is still young, make sure to use a quality front carrier for the necessary neck support. Having a quality baby carrier, in general, is a must, especially when you’re using it a lot and being active. Also, don’t forget to pack some snacks, drinks, and diapers, and plan your hike in advance. Choose either early morning or late afternoon for your hike, to avoid direct sunlight, and make sure to dress properly for the weather.

Get in the pool

Swimming is fun and great for both you and your baby. You’ll love feeling lighter after all those months of feeling heavy, and your baby will enjoy splashing water around them. Plus, exercising in the water with your baby is easy – you can lift them up and lower them back in, you can practice floating, or you can do some simple flexibility exercises. Not to mention that your baby will learn how to swim much faster if you introduce them to the water early, so there’s one more benefit of exercising with your baby in the pool. Just make sure to keep an eye on them at all times, as safety always comes first.

Balance on one leg

Pregnancy can sometimes mess with your balance, so a good exercise to try is standing on one leg while holding your baby. Your ankles might shake at first because your joints will be weaker, but in time, you will get stronger, and your joints will stabilize. Once you master that, you can also try the tree pose – bend the knee of the lifted leg, and bring the sole of the bent leg to the inside of the leg you’re standing on. Then repeat on the other side. In time, this can improve both your balance and strength.

Many new moms struggle with getting in shape after having a baby, and they often stress out over it simply because they can’t find the time to exercise. However, exercising is still possible without leaving your baby behind – all you need is a quality carrier, a bit of creativity, and motivation. So, think about the listed suggestions, and try those that seem the most appealing to you.

How to Make Your Bathroom Kid-Friendly

If you were ever thinking about how having kids will impact your life, now that one is on the way you are finally feeling the full effect of that change. It starts small, you decorate the nursery, in the first few months the baby will be basically in the cradle or in your arms. But as soon as the time comes for them to start exploring their surroundings, it is high time to child-proof your apartment and get everything kid-friendly. But describing each room would take a lot of time and at least a dozen articles, so for this article we will focus only on the bathroom.

Start low and work your way up

The first step is always securing that your kids don’t have access to any dangerous cleaning liquids you keep in the bathroom, so if there is a cabinet with different cleaning products it should be kept under lock and key at all times. The next steps are all other cabinet doors, your child will try at some point to start their climb upwards using open doors etc, so make sure everything is baby proof including the toilet. Until your kids are old enough to use the toilet on their own it is best that you have a baby lock on it so as to avoid rescuing them from it when they fall in. Finally, ensure that your bathroom floors are not slippery, this means that you need to have a bathroom rug that is secured to the tiles otherwise you will have a skating ring after each nightly bath. It is definitely not the safest option, especially if you have a toddler.

Make sure you have enough of everything

First and foremost you need to ensure you have a steady flow of hot water, it is best to hire professionals like the Rapid Hot Water company that will not only provide you with the best and safest equipment but also have it delivered and installed for you. This means that each and every bath time will be a breeze and you won’t have to worry whether or not you will have enough hot water for your child’s needs. Next on the list of necessities are towels, lots and lots of towels, if you think you only need one you are sorely mistaken, at least two or three per evening bath, one will end up on the bathroom floor collecting everything that gets spilled, one is for that first rubdown and the last one for wrap up so that they can warmly be secured to the bedroom.

Finally, get some color in there

Your stylish shabby chic bathroom is a thing of the past, now that you have kids it is all about creating a pleasant environment for them. Now if you are not prepared to do a complete remodel there are a lot of ways that you can actually simply add on some kid-friendly features. Start with some fun stickers that you can put around the bathtub or in the shower, you can even get your kids to help put them on. Next is a fun a colorful shower curtain one with fish usually does the trick. Don’t forget about the toys, every child loves to play with toys while taking a bath. A rubber ducky is a must, of course, but there are a lot of other options you might want to consider that will make your bathroom seem like a small amusement park for your kids.

There you have it some easy to apply and simple advice on how to make your bathroom both kid-proof and kid-friendly, both of these are essential if you want to create a fun and safe environment for your children to grow up in. If you start teaching them that taking a bath is something fun, they can enjoy at an early age you might be able to avoid the smelly teenager phase alltogether. So, all that is left is to get started on the redecoration and/or remodeling so that everything is perfect for when your child starts exploring the bathroom.

Why Make-Believe Play Is So Vital to Early Childhood Development

The value of make-believe play for your children cannot be understated. Here’s how it helps your child develop in the most important years of their life.

Early childhood is a time of rapid development for kids, from physical growth to brain development. By age 5, a child’s brain reaches 90% of its adult size.

That period of rapid physical brain growth goes along with cognitive development. A child’s brain creates over 1 million new neural connections per second in the first few years.

Make-believe play can support those connections and help your child’s overall development in the early years. Pretending to be someone or something else can support physical, cognitive, and emotional development.

On top of all the development it supports, pretend play is simply fun for kids. It’s something most kids love to do, so you can support your child’s development without forcing boring learning activities.

Keep reading to learn specific ways that pretend play supports development in the early childhood years. 

Social Interactions

Kids who play pretend in a group grow their social interactions and learn how to deal with one another. 

They learn that how they treat one another impacts how others treat them back.

It encourages cooperation and helps kids understand that being selfish isn’t well-received by peers. Kids learn to take turns, work together to do something, and listen to each other’s ideas.

They can test out different social roles when they choose who they want to be. This gives kids a greater appreciation for how other people feel and act.

Make-believe play also helps your child become more independent. Kids learn to make decisions for themselves and test out different things in a safe environment. Your child might feel more confident as part of dramatic play.

Processing the World

Playing make-believe lets kids interact with different scenarios and situations in the community and the world as a whole. Kids can practice the skills they need in the real world. They also start building connections and gain a better understanding of those different situations. 

A firehouse playhouse lets kids explore the idea of community helpers from the safety of the backyard. A restaurant setup in your kitchen teaches young kids how to order, use table manners, and act politely at a real restaurant.

It can also help kids process unknown or scary situations. If a child is nervous about going to the dentist or getting shots at the doctor’s office, acting out the scenario can ease those worries and help your child get out those feelings. Pretend play can help kids process difficult life experiences, such as the loss of a family member, a divorce, or someone who is sick.

Dramatic play helps kids develop new understanding and connect what they learn to things they already know. A child who’s never been on a plane but has seen one flying overhead can explore the idea of flying while pretending to be at the airport.

Problem Solving

Pretend play gives kids the chance to be in charge. They make decisions about who plays each role and how that looks. They come up with their own set of rules and guidelines for how they’re going to play and what materials they’re using.

Sometimes that creates conflict between the kids, which can be a good thing. Kids learn to work through their disagreements when they want to play differently. They may develop negotiation skills by giving in to some of their playmates’ demands in exchange for getting their way on other things.

Make believe play may also present tricky situations that kids have to solve. They may want to pretend they’re construction workers but don’t have any construction props. They can get creative to solve that problem.

Motor Skills Development

Imaginative play keeps kids active, which helps develop motor skills. They develop both gross motor skills and fine motor skills.

Gross motor skills are the larger movements kids make with arms, legs, or their whole body. That includes actions such as jumping, running, or skipping. A child pretending to march in a band or hopping like a bunny is working on gross motor skills. 

Fine motor skills are the smaller movements kids make, often with their hands, such as picking up a toy or transferring something from one hand to the other. Holding a spoon to stir pretend food is an example of fine motor skill development during dramatic play. Picking up coins while playing store or putting clothes on a doll are other examples.

Empathy and Different Perspectives

A child’s empathy develops over time and at different rates depending on experiences. Kids learn how to care about the feelings of others through nurturing, positive relationships with others. Modeling, stories, and play can help develop empathy in kids.

A make-believe game puts your child in someone else’s position, which can improve empathy. Your child might not normally think about what it feels like to a parent, teacher, or baby.

Playing one of those roles forces your child to think about things from a different perspective. Your child might realize being a parent can be frustrating when another child whines, cries, or disobeys while playing pretend.

Regular pretend play helps strengthen empathy even more. That can translate into better interactions during real life.

Language Development

Dramatic play is full of talking, singing, and other verbalization. Young kids may not make perfect sense, but chattering while they play helps develop language skills. 

You may be surprised to hear the words your child has picked up that come out during dramatic play. Kids often mimic things they hear adults and other kids say. They may test those words out while they play pretend.

When they play with other kids or adults, a young child may also learn new words through dramatic play. 

You might tell your child the name for a whisk when you’re pretending to cook in a play kitchen. Your child then learns to associate that word with the tool.

They also learn new ways to use words they already know. While pretending to be a doctor, your child might talk about being sick or using things such as thermometers or stethoscopes in new ways.

Encourage Make-Believe Play

Make-believe play offers a lot more than pure fun for kids. They learn to explore the world, improve relationship skills, and use their imagination. Check out the rest of our blog posts to find even more ways to engage your child in fun play that helps with development.

A Step By Step Guide on How to Get Child Support: A Guide for Single Mommies

If you’re a single mommy with kids, you might not be able to take care of them on your own. The father needs to step in. Here’s how to get child support.

No matter how you slice it, raising your child apart from the other parent can bring about complications. One of the biggest complications that you need to keep in mind is the fact that kids cost a good bit of money. 

When you need to hold the other parent accountable, it’s important to find out how to get child support. Read on to learn how to make this happen. 

1. Establish Paternity First and Foremost

Without question, establishing paternity is the first and most important part of the process. 

Knowing or having an idea of who the father is is one thing, but you need to establish paternity without a shadow of a doubt so that you have legal grounds. You can seek a court-ordered paternity test so that you can verify that the person you are trying to get child support from is actually the father. 

The courts will issue a cheek swab or blood test so that you are able to prove who the father is. 

2. Learn the Laws of Your State

Each state has its own protocols that come with the territory of handling a child support case. You’ll need to learn the ins and outs of things like timetables, the types of forms you need, what burdens of proof you must satisfy, and how the child support amounts are calculated. 

In general, these amounts boil down to a percentage of the income that the other partner brings in, and the amount will be legally ordered. From there, you’ll need to figure out how to enforce the order, since a person can have money taken out by direct debit, or could pay money directly to the other person. 

Each state handles these matters differently, so the more you learn about how it is handled in your state, the easier it would be to get the most out of your filing. 

3. Hire the Assistance of a Child Support Lawyer

Without question, it is important that you look into the help of an attorney that can assist you. 

When you have the assistance of a child support lawyer, you will be better able to move forward with your case. They will assist you in keeping every detail of your case together and will make sure that you are using the strategy that matters the most. Be sure that you find the help of a lawyer that is a protector, but who also does what is best for the family situation and for your kids, rather than just making matters combative. They will be just what you need to move the case forward, to handle every filing, and to make sure that you aren’t missing out on any details. Take the time to look into the help of the best child support attorney that you can find, and ask around for referrals in order to be certain that you have found the right fit.

4. File for Child Support with Your Local Courts

It’s important to fill out your paperwork and make sure that you file your application with the courts. 

Your attorney will assist you so that you are filing the correct forms with the right court, and that you are hitting the appropriate deadlines. Once you have a solid paternity test in hand, you will be able to file a claim for child support with your local family court. 

Be sure that you cover all of the fees that come with the process and that you serve the other parent with the court summons. This way, you will get a court date where you are both required to show up and will be able to prepare for the hearing accordingly. 
You should also take this time to begin having open and honest communications with each other about how you want to parent your child. This is a lifelong commitment, and child support is just a small part of a long journey. 

Come up with some strategies from parenting your child in different households, and make sure that you also have visitation schedules that work for both of you. The amount of child support that you ask for may also depend on how much time and custody you each have. 

Having a peaceful family arrangement is great for your well-being and mental health. 

5. Prepare for a Hearing

Work with your lawyer to make sure that you are prepared for the hearing when it comes along. 

This way, you will be able to profess your case and your right to the money that you are seeking. Your lawyer will work with you to make sure you are prepared and that you have your ducks in a row. 

Be sure that you get plenty of sleep the night before and show up rested, well dressed and professional. 

6. Ensure That the Order Is Followed

Finally, be sure that you do your due diligence and follow up to be sure the order is followed. 

This is something that needs to be monitored on a regular basis. You should work with your lawyer to follow up on child support issues when needed, to be sure that you are always getting the money that you are entitled to, and that you are adjusting amounts whenever necessary. 

Learn How to Get Child Support

If you put these tips to use, you can learn how to get child support on your terms. 
This is a matter of law, so you need to take it seriously, document everything and get the help that you need. 
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