Real Life Solutions

Subscribe

Archive for August, 2009

Why Your Family Needs a Budget

August 31, 2009 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

If you haven’t been much of a budgeter in the past now might be the perfect time to stop and think about putting one into place. The economy is in a pretty rough place right now with people losing jobs and being laid off left and right. It’s time to sit down and take a look at the income you have coming in and the money you have going out.

It’s sound simple enough (knowing what you have coming in versus what you are paying out) but so many people don’t pay attention or their spouse handles the bills so they again are still unaware. As stated above the economy is in a bad place right now so you need to know what’s going on financially.

Another reason to set up a monthly budget is because if you feel like there’s never enough money and you are always struggling to make ends meet but would like to be able to splurge every once in awhile and treat your kids to something.

It’s also a good idea to start teaching your children about money and budgeting. I can say from personal experience of growing up with never being taught about budgeting and the importance of saving that it eventually cost me lots of debt and headache! Get your kids on board as soon as they are old enough to understand the concept of what you are doing.

Mom’s Talk eBooks has a great guide, Guide to Family Budgeting that is filled with information on why your family needs a budget (aside from the reasons listed above), analyzing your finances and changing your thinking, planning your budget and how to do more with your money. You will also find tips that will help you show your children how to save and manage their money as well.

To grab your copy of Mom’s Talk eBooks Guide to Family Budgeting click here.

Common Drugs Explained

August 28, 2009 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

Parents hope their teens will steer clear of taking drugs. For some teens, however, steering clear is not an option any longer because they’re hooked. If you’re concerned about the possibility of your teens taking them, here are the most common drugs explained, so you know what you’re up against should your child or teen choose to use drugs.

Marijuana

Marijuana, from the cannabis plant, is the most frequently used drug among teens and some adults. Some users consider it to be the perfect drug because it has similar effects to depressants, hallucinogens, and stimulants. Because marijuana is fairly easy to obtain, most law enforcement people consider it to be a gateway into more serious drugs.

Use of marijuana by pregnant teens will harm a developing fetus. In the short term, marijuana increases heart rate, body temperature, and appetite. It can also cause drowsiness. Long-term abuse, however, can result in respiratory problems, lung damage, and cancer as well as memory loss and an inability to concentrate.

Methamphetamines

The second most common drug used by teens is methamphetamines which can be smoked, inhaled, eaten, or injected by users. It is easily available across the country, relatively cheap, and produces a high which teen users find desirable.

Methamphetamines speed up the central nervous system, increase metabolism, and make the user more alert so they require less sleep. Those abusing methamphetamines will lose weight, experience shortness of breath, develop severe depression, paranoid delusions, and may become suicidal. They may also develop hepatitis, cirrhosis, and cancer of the liver as well as respiratory and cardiac arrest.

Ecstasy

This drug is used mostly by those at dance clubs; now it’s being marketed to children by applying the drug to cartoon character stamps and selling them cheaply. It is a stimulant along the lines of methamphetamines. Those using this drug risk brain damage even after they come down from the high. The drug stimulates the brain, increases activity, and makes the user more alert. You may notice them grinding the jaws together, developing hallucinations, and sweating profusely. Because it is possible to develop a tolerance for it, it is very possible to overdose on this drug.

LSD

You may not think LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) is as popular among teens as it was in the 60s and 70s. However, that isn’t true. It is a derivative of ergot, a fungus that grows on grains such as rye. It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless; it is often sold on postage stamps, capsules, or on sugar cubes. Those using LSD will have higher body temperature, increased heart and blood pressure, loss of appetite, and sleeplessness. They may also develop hallucinations based on real or unreal images. LSD is highly addictive but tolerance develops with continued use. When stopping LSD, it is possible for the user to have flashbacks up to a year or more after their last hit. LSD users risk convulsions, coma, heart and lung failure, and possibly death.

These four common drugs are by no means the only ones your teen may be introduced to. While these common drugs have been explained for you, you’ll want to take a proactive stance with your teens. Tell them you don’t want them to take drugs and explain the health risks of using drugs. Remember, your teen is influenced by you as well as their peers. It’s time to learn all you can and then discuss with your teen the seriousness of taking or abusing these or any other drugs.

Ten Skills For Better Learners and Better Grades

August 26, 2009 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Children No Comments →

Set goals.
Teach your children to set goals and how to create a plan to achieve them.  Regardless of your children’s ability and track in school, encourage your children to set goals.  For example, a student that struggled last year can set goals to achieve a certain grade in his or her hardest classes.  A child that excels in school can strive to achieve all A’s and become a member of a team or club.  Goals don’t have to be huge, the point is to teach your child to set them and then develop a plan to achieve them.  It is a skill that they will benefit from for the rest of their lives.  They’ll gain confidence in themselves and their goals and dreams will grow.

Make studying a priority.  
In order for your child to realize how important studying is, you can structure study/homework time into every day.  Establish study time for kids, no matter their ages. Elementary-aged kids typically need 30-60 minutes per night.  Middle school children need 60-90 minutes, and high school students, generally require about two hours.

 

Demonstrate that study hours are a priority by maintaining them despite interruptions or special circumstances and make it easy to stick to by providing a study location for each child.  This can be a bedroom or a kitchen table.  Choose a location that will be relatively free of distractions, and if your children study in a secluded area, don’t feel badly about checking up on them to make sure they’re sticking to task.   

Be a homework detective.
Being a homework detective is a tricky job and it requires good communication between you, your child, and your child’s teachers.  It means knowing what is required of your child each day.  This knowledge enables you to make sure that he is allowing enough time to accomplish his required tasks and that he is developing good habits and study skills and is learning what he is required to learn. 

Don’t help!
Unless they really need it.  Helping your children with their homework creates dependency and takes away their responsibility.  And never give in to the temptation to do their work for them because you want it to be done correctly.  Your child needs to learn for himself. 

 

Consider alternatives. 
Some learning challenges require alternative and creative solutions.  Don’t dismiss a solution simply because you’ve never heard of it or because you’re uncomfortable with it.  Always look for a fresh idea and encourage your children to do so.  For example, if your child struggles during math, consider what time math class is.  Is the inability to focus due to an inadequate breakfast or too many snacks at lunch? 

Put the computer and television in a central location. 
Placing the television and computer in a main room means that it is less likely that your child will waste time.  Both can be great tools for learning but left to our own devices, they are easy places to get sidetracked.  Additionally, by placing them in a main room, it enables you to monitor the appropriateness of the program, game, or web site.

Read.
I know we’ve mentioned this a few times; it’s that important!  A child that reads when he or she is young will read for life and expand his knowledge, imagination, and joy for learning.  
Reading doesn’t have to be a struggle. You can make it fun by taking turns reading with your child and making sure that your child is reading books that are appropriate for his age level. 

Be involved. 
Regardless of the age of your children, it is important to be involved in their educations.  It demonstrates to them that you care, it keeps you involved in and aware of what’s going on in their lives, and it keeps the education system on track. 

Teach kids to take risks.
This does not mean doing things that will endanger health or safety.  This means encouraging your children to step out of comfortable habits and take on new adventures.  This can mean something as small as trying a new food to learning a new skill or traveling to a foreign country.  Taking risks expands your child’s mind and raises their self-confidence.  Don’t forget to make it okay to fail.  Your children will be more willing to take on challenges if they have the freedom to fail as well as the opportunity to succeed.

Be a good role model. 
Remember the phrase, do as I say and not as I do?  Well, it doesn’t work.  If you want your children to develop good habits, you have to demonstrate good habits.  If you want them to be healthy, eat healthy.  If you want them to exercise, then you must exercise.  If you want them to have good manners, then show good manners.  If you want them to be good students, then demonstrate what it means to be a good student.  Your children look up to you.  Be something that makes them proud and shows them all that they can be, and more!

Back to School – Morning Routine

August 24, 2009 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Children No Comments →

Let’s go! Let’s go! Come on … you’re going to miss the bus!  I don’t know where your favorite jeans are; it’s not my responsibility.  What do you mean you still have homework?  Did you brush your teeth yet?  Let’s go!  I’m leaving… NOW!

Oh I hope your mornings don’t sound like that above.  If it does, it’s not too late to turn that ship around.  The key to having a stress free morning routine is to have a smooth bedtime routine.  Remember, a routine is something that is followed regularly, standard procedures.  Without the consistency you will have an uphill battle.

Here are some tips to a stress free morning routine:

• No yelling.  Raising your voice, albeit frustrated, is only going to escalate matters.

• Early to bed, early to rise.  That one is simple.

• Showers and baths should be taken at night.  You think you’ll have time in the morning, but you rarely do.

• Look over all homework for completeness before bed; don’t assume it’s finished.

• Before bed ensure lunches are made, backpack is packed and there are no surprise “Oh I need xxx today!”

• Give singular instructions.  Don’t say, “I want you to finish your homework, eat breakfast, get dressed, comb your hair, brush your teeth and be in the car by 8:15.”  To a child, that sounds like “blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.”  One instruction at a time works wonders.

• Provide instructions once.  If you’re doing this, stop:  “Johnny, it’s time to get dressed.”  Two minutes later, “Johnny, we’re going to be late if you don’t get dressed now.”  Two more minutes later, “Johnny, honey, I told you to get dressed.”  “Johnny, Mommy is going to be late, now go get dressed.”   To a child that sounds like “Oh mom is good for asking about five more times before she really goes ballistic!”  Repeated requests only send the message that junior doesn’t really have to do it now.

• Set consequences and stick to your guns.  If you tell your child the car is leaving at 8:15 sharp, make it happen.  Clearly you can’t leave your child behind, so leaving without her isn’t an option. Tell her you will be leaving whether she is ready or not.  Sending a 10 year old to school with uncombed hair, pajamas and an empty belly might be just the catalyst for change.

You are the parent; you set the tone for the morning routine.  You need to be actively involved in the morning routine.  Follow the steps above and I guarantee ‘joy will come in the morning!’

VA Business

August 21, 2009 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

Why is a Virtual Assistant Business good for a Work at Home Mom?

A Virtual Assistant business can be the perfect way for a mom to stay at home with her kids but feel like she is providing to the family finances. A VA business is often times the easiest way for a mom to become a work at home mom. And I don’t mean easiest as in an easy way to make a buck because it’s going to require a lot of patience, hard work, determination and perseverance. There’s no such thing as a quick buck.

Chances are that if you have been working outside the home in Corporate America in an office setting of some sort, you probably have some skill(s) that you can offer virtually or at least a skill(s) that will be beneficial in starting your own Virtual Assistant business.

Confused by that statement? Let’s look at it a little deeper, for example let’s say you worked as a bookkeeper. Bookkeeping is a highly specialized skill that many people are willing to pay someone to do for them. Many small businesses or work at home moms are in need of bookkeepers and it’s a skill they are willing to pay for to not have to deal with it themselves. This would be the perfect opportunity for you to offer your services as a Virtual Assistant.

Another example could be if you worked as a medical transcriptionist or legal transcriptionist. Again these are specialized skills that can provide you the foot in the door you need to start your own VA business.

What about the mom that hasn’t been working in a long time but is interested in starting her own VA business? The old saying where there’s a will there’s a way comes to mind. There are some basic type skills you can start out offering such as customer service. More than likely you know how to check email, reply to emails, make phone calls, etc. That’s pretty basic stuff and not surprisingly many small business owners outsource this stuff because it’s so time consuming.

Another option would be to look for an internship opportunity so that you can have someone take you under their wing and train in an area of specialty so that you can offer that as a service to your customers.

You’ll need to keep in mind that although a Virtual Assistant business is a great way for a mom to work from home, even possibly one of the easier ways; it’s time consuming and will require a lot of sweat equity on your part. It’s not something you can just throw up a website and expect the money to come rolling in tomorrow. It doesn’t work that way.

Instantly access your guide to starting a VA business.

Easy Crock Pot Recipes

August 19, 2009 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living 1 Comment →

Crock pots, are wonderful tools in any home kitchen. Not only do they allow you to make a wonderful meal, you don’t even have to be present the entire time it’s cooking! You may want to try one of these three easy crock pot recipes if you’ve never used a slow cooker before.

One meal commonly prepared in a crock pot is pot roast. While this meal is often traditionally prepared in a cast iron Dutch oven or in the stove, there’s nothing quite like how moist and tender a slow cooker makes the meat.
Crock Pot – Pot Roast

1 rump roast or shoulder roast
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can water
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
6 small potatoes cut into quarters (red or golden)
1/2 onion, diced (or 1 teaspoon onion powder)
3 cups chopped carrots
3 cups mushrooms, whole or chopped

Begin by removing any large pieces of fat from the roast and put it into a slow cooker set on low. Chop the vegetables so they’re ready when needed. Add the soup, water, herbs, spices, and onions with the roast and let this simmer. When the roast has cooked 3-5 hours, add the rest of the vegetables and allow this to simmer for another 1-2 hours.

Perhaps your family is vegetarian. You can try this easy crock pot recipe for: Vegetarian Chili.

1 – 16 ounce tomato sauce
1 – 32 ounce kidney beans, drained
1 – 16 ounce canned corn
1 onion, chopped
1 crushed clove of garlic
1 sliced green pepper
1 chopped tomato
2 teaspoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of salt

Add all ingredients into the slow cooker and stir them. Put the cover on the slow cooker and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. This will make 6 to 8 servings and is great for leftovers, if you have any.

For those who like dessert with their meals, you can use your slow cooker for that, too. Here’s a recipe for Blueberry Cobbler:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar – divided
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 pinch each salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon of milk
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 cups of blueberries
1/4 cup of water

In a small bowl, combine flour, half of the sugar, baking powder, and spices. Combine eggs, milk, and oil in another small bowl then pour this mixture into the dry ingredients until it’s moistened. Grease the slow cooker on the bottom and sides and then spread the batter on the bottom of the cooker.

On the stove, over medium heat, combine the blueberries, water and the other half of the sugar. Bring this mixture to a boil and then remove it from the heat. Pour the berries into the slow cooker and cook on high for two hours. Turn off the cooker after the two hours, uncover it, and then allow it to set for at least 30 minutes before serving. You may want to serve with vanilla ice cream, home-made or store-bought.

Slow cookers are great for those days you want to have dinner waiting for you due to time constraints, but they’re also good for making dessert. If you try one of these three easy crock pot recipes, you may find the crock pot is one tool you’ll want to have in your kitchen.

Click here for more Easy Crock Pot Recipes!  Your gain 470 Crock Pot Recipes you will find tasty main dishes, side dishes and even deserts that can be prepared in your crock pot.

Become A Ghostwriter

August 17, 2009 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Working From Home No Comments →

As you know, the internet is filled with websites and blogs. Many of these sites and blogs also offer regular newsletters. What do all of these things have in common? They’re filled with written content! And that creates a great home business opportunity for you!

The owners of websites, blogs, and newsletters often hire ghostwriters to create their content. Not many people are naturally gifted writers. Many people would rather hire someone to do this task for them.

As a ghostwriter, you could be asked to write blog posts, articles, small reports and even ebooks. The pay rate will vary depending on the client you are working for and the amount of experience you have.

Generally speaking, a ghostwriter who is just starting out could expect to earn between $8 – $12 for a 450 word article. Once they have a little experience, a ghostwriter could charge between $15 – $20 for the same article.

Ghostwriters can find clients in a variety of ways. Online job boards such as www.craigslist.com. Don’t limit yourself to searching only your particular city or area. Instead, search various cities all over the country. Since this type of work is done via the computer, the person posting the ad probably won’t care where you live.

Websites such as www.elance.com and www.guru.com offer many of these job listings. You can view the postings for free and you are allowed to apply for a small number of jobs. There is a small membership fee to apply for a higher number of jobs.

As a ghostwriter, you will not receive credit for your work. The person paying for the article will want to put their own name on it. If you want to receive bylines, you’ll want to look into freelancing.

Again, many websites and blogs will hire freelance writers. You can also find freelance work offline in newspapers and magazines. Freelance writing can be a hard field to break into, so be patient – and prepared to handle rejection!

Smart website owners and bloggers know that words are what makes the internet go ‘round. They are also willing to pay for them! A good writer can make a decent living by creating content for others!

Scheduling For Sanity

August 14, 2009 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

Having a schedule is a fundamental part of time management.  You can imagine your schedule as a road-map.  It provides important information about where you are going and how you can get there. 

Without it, you may take a wrong turn somewhere and find yourself lost.  Once someone is lost, it may take some time before they get back on track, and they usually arrive to their destination a bit later than they would have liked.

When you have a schedule, you can look at it and see what you need to do each day.  You’ll know if you are on track, and if you aren’t, what you need to do to get back on course.

How To Make a Schedule
 
One of the first things to do when making a schedule is to write down all the things you have to do on a piece of paper.  Some people keep separate work and family schedules, and if you decide that would work best for you, you can divvy those tasks up later.  For now, simply write out everything that needs to be done on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. 

Once you have everything written out and in front of you, it’s time to start sorting between the common themes. You can do this by assigning a highlighter color to each theme (such as family, work, daily, monthly, weekly) or by taking out another piece of paper and writing those columns on it, and rewriting all the tasks into the appropriate column.

Now that you have all of your tasks sorted out, try to give a time estimate to each one.  You may even want to time yourself for a week or two on these tasks, as you may be very surprised at how long some things take. 

For instance, you may think it only takes 45 minutes to go to the grocery store, but in reality it could take an hour and 15 minutes.  You may think it only takes 15 minutes to run up to the school and pick up the kids, but may find it actually takes 25 minutes.

In many cases, people underestimate the time it takes to do things, and this is one of the reasons they think they aren’t getting enough done.  By timing yourself, you will get a visual picture of your time.  When you see how long it really takes to accomplish your regular tasks, you will be able to see how many things you can fit into a normal day.  You won’t constantly be trying to push yourself to do more.

Once you have written down your tasks and estimated the time it takes to accomplish them, you can start planning your schedule.  Some people like to have a daily schedule that is very organized with certain tasks assigned to certain times and others prefer to keep a weekly schedule that is more flexible. 

For more in depth tips for time management Click here!

Finding The Time To Relax

August 12, 2009 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Pamper Yourself, Stress Management No Comments →

When you’re a busy mom, the last thing you may be thinking about is taking the time to relax. After all, when there’s more things on your to-do list than hours in the day, who has time to relax, right?

That kind of thinking can be unhealthy. If you have too much on your plate, you can easily become stressed. Stress can lead to anxiety, high blood pressure, and more.

Here are some tips on how to find the time to relax!

* If you keep a daily planner, pencil your relaxation time into your own schedule. It may sound silly, but if you don’t put it on your schedule, you may never get around to actually relaxing!

* If you’re having trouble finding some alone time, get up before everyone else – even it it’s just 15 minutes. You’ll have time to read a few pages of a book, journal, or just relax and enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea without any interruptions.

* Don’t be afraid to delegate some household chores!  Getting your spouse or your kids to take on a chore will free up some of your time. Hey – it’s their house, too. They should be doing some of the cleaning!

* Don’t feel about saying “no.” There are only so many things you can do in a day.

* Get Enough Sleep! Your body needs adequate rest each day. Get into a regular sleeping schedule and make sure you get the amount you need each day. When it’s time to wake up, avoid the snooze button. Sleeping in can throw you off schedule and make going to bed difficult, which will make getting up the next day even harder. It’s a vicious cycle!

* Most importantly, give yourself permission to take some time for yourself. Don’t feel guilty about carving fifteen minutes out of your day for a little bit of relaxation. You deserve it!

Looking for Simple Tips, Strategies and Tools for Living a Happier Life in an Often Hectic World? Find  instant  answers here and begin your own Journey to Joy.

16 Back To School Dinner Tips

August 11, 2009 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

Is school really just around the corner? You know what that means – early morning scrambles, after-school tizzies and ragged nerves at dinnertime.

It’s still possible to have pleasant family mealtimes even after school has begun. Check out these back-to-school dinner tips for busy Moms:

1. Have a meal plan.

The most important key to having relaxed family dinners even on school nights is having a meal plan. This will simplify both food shopping and meal preparation, and help you save money to boot.

If you need help, check out Dine Without Whine’s meal and grocery planning service.

2. Try freezer meals.

Cut down on cooking time by cooking large batches and then freezing them for future use.

3. Simplify your schedule.

With school comes extracurricular activities that could have you running – or driving around – like a headless chicken. Keep things to a minimum. Overloading children with too many after-school activities is not good for them. They need downtime too.

4. Get the kids involved in cooking.

Get some help by mobilizing your own troops – your husband and children – as your kitchen helpers. Cooking is an important life skill and now it’s bonding time as well.

5. Have an emergency plan.

No matter how well you plan in advance, something always comes up. Plan for that as well. Always have emergency supplies in the pantry so you can throw together a home-cooked meal at a moment’s notice.

It could be a frozen dinner you prepared during the weekend. Mine is pasta, a can of tomato sauce and whatever vegetables are in the refrigerator.

6. Post your family schedule.

Keep a large calendar on the wall where you can see every family member’s schedule at a glance. It will also help you plan activities around your family dinner times.

7. Set a routine.

Decide on an earlier dinner time, bedtime and wake up time and start following them a few days before school officially begins. This way, everybody’s adjusted when the real thing comes.

8. Stay flexible.

Sometimes you just can’t afford disruptions to your meal times. An occasional missed family dinner is no big deal – when you know you’ll have more throughout the week.

9. Consider school schedules.

Take note of school events and other activities in your family calendar – so you can plan your family dinners with them in mind.

10. Cook once, eat twice.

Every so often, cook a double batch of meals that can easily be transformed into another entree or side dish. For example, roast 2 chickens. Have one for tonight’s dinner. Chop up the other for chicken salad for later in the week.

11. Organize your kitchen.

If you haven’t done so yet, now’s the time to take stock of your kitchen. Make sure the items you use most often are accessible from your food prep area. Replace the tools that are broken, and get those gadgets that will help you get dinner ready faster.

12. Have a special meal.

Make Friday night Teen’s night – which means they plan and prepare the meal. That is, if you have teens or any child old enough to prepare meals. They’ll learn how to cook, you get the night off (from cooking), and everybody has fun. The  only condition is: everybody has to eat what’s prepared.

13. Make it educational.

This idea is for preschool-age kids. Make or buy a special placemat with letter or numbers. Laminate it with Con-Tact paper so it becomes a wipe-off board. Use it only for dinnertimes.

14. More mealtime learning opportunities.

Plan some meals to coincide with specific topics your child is studying in school. For example, on the night after a field trip to a pioneer town, have a pioneer-style meal.

15. Celebrate school successes at dinner.

Celebrate school successes with a special family meal. Prepare the child’s favorite meal and prepare a nice dessert. It’s more important to have a meal that’s relaxed and delicious, than one that tool hours to prepare.

16. Nurture school relationships.

Get to know your children’s closest school friends by inviting them to dinner once in a while.

Follow these tips to make family mealtimes simpler, easier and more fun. For meal planning and grocery shopping help, go to Dine Without Whine.

Your monthly subscription includes a weekly meal plan with recipes for main dishes, side dishes, 2 desserts and 2 brunches.

You’ll also get a weekly grocery shopping list of everything you need to create the recipes. The list is categorized according to grocery sections, so your shopping will be easier and faster.

For a limited time, you can try Dine Without Whine for a penny. Click here to find out how.