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6 Cheap But Fun Family Ideas

January 29, 2013 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Children, Healthy Living, Just for Fun No Comments →

With the economy suffering, and most people finding it harder than ever to make ends meet, keeping the kids entertained isn’t always easy. Whether your kids are young or well into their teens, they’ll often turn to you for ways to be entertained. If you’re running out of ideas, here are 6 cheap but fun ideas to keep you going.

Family Games: Games are some of the best sources of fun for the whole family. Board games are an excellent example. If you’ve got any board games lying around, get them out and give them a whirl. Games like these encourage interaction between family members and help with bonding, which we often find ourselves doing too little of these days.

Apart from board games, other alternatives include card games (cards are readily available and cheap to get hold of. If you don’t know any good card games, it’s also easy to find the rules for some on the internet) and activities like charades. Family games are great for children of all ages – even teenagers will often take part (with a bit of resistance to begin with!)

Build Camps: For younger kids, something fun to do is building indoor camps. Get some clothes pegs, some strings, and some bed sheets and you can help your kids build their own bedroom camp. Once built, kids will often play in these for hours. Many kids also love to sleep over in their own home-built camp.

Arts And Crafts: This is a classic, but it’s a great option because arts and crafts can be really cheap. Why not go on a walk with your kids and get them to collect interesting sticks, stones, shells, feathers etc. Once home, you can get them to string them together to form hanging ornaments, or use them to decorate home-made picture frames and so on.

Playing Ball: Another classic, ball games are great when the weather is good. Balls are cheap, and generally provide a lot of entertainment, as well as giving kids (including teenagers) a chance to blow off steam, use up energy and get some exercise all at once.

Invite Friends Round: Let your kids invite a few friends over for the day. It’s true that sometimes a group of kids can end up causing a riot, but generally things don’t get out of hand and your kids will always have a lot of fun with a few friends around. The more friends there are, the more easily they come up with their own (usually free) entertainment. It’s a winning solution. And, if you really want to make the most of the opportunity, why not let your kids plan a feast and have their friends each bring something along to eat?

Get Cooking: Some kids will be more resilient to this idea than others, but many kids enjoy cooking once they get started. So why not try and teach your kids a bit about cooking? Make it fun for them in the process and they’ll love it. Pizzas are a great option as kids can decorate them any way they wish with the ingredients you’re using.

Valentine’s Day On a Budget

January 18, 2013 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Just for Fun No Comments →

Nobody wants to scrimp on Valentine’s day and give their partner less than they deserve, but when you just don’t have the money you really don’t have a choice. Many of us are currently experiencing the effects of the poor economy, and even if we have jobs most of us are still keeping our costs down to the bare minimum. But that doesn’t mean Valentine’s day has to be a disappointment. Here are some great tips for ways to celebrate Valentine’s day on a budget.

Make Something: This isn’t just for the creative types, anyone can go for a home made gift – and it doesn’t have to be a load of rubbish! The time and effort that you put into a truly heartfelt homemade gift will definitely go down a storm.

Why not buy a nice book of paper, get some photos printed and make a little picture album? Or you could write a poem on some high quality card and decorate it, or simply draw a picture. Some dismiss ideas like these as stupid, but if you put a bit of time into making the gift, you’ll get good results. Don’t rush it, give yourself a couple of weeks to finish and you’ll have a gift worth giving – and sure to warm your partners heart.

Take A Romantic Walk: Romantic walks are great – they can take you to some nice scenic places, give you a chance to have some meaningful conversation and spend some quality time together – all for free! If you can’t think of a romantic walk to take in your area then ask around and see if anyone can suggest a place that you don’t know about.

Of course, taking a romantic walk is just a stand in for doing anything that’s free. You could visit a local village, fly a kite, go hiking, have a picnic in the park and many other things besides. Any of these things can make for a great romantic Valentine’s date – just use your imagination.

Prepare A Special Home Cooked Meal: Save yourself on the expense of dining out by preparing an extra special home cooked meal. Ditch those ready meals and regular easy dishes that you make all the time and do some research.

Either pick a recipe from a book that you own, or do a bit of research on the internet – there’s a whole world of great recipes out there waiting to be found. Many of them are even reviewed by people who’ve tested them out for themselves. Not only is this cheaper than eating out, but it’s more meaningful to your partner who will see that you care about them and want to do something nice for them yourself.

Look Out For Deals: Many places offer Valentine’s dining deals. However, sometimes these are more costly than a regular meal. But if you have vouchers for a particular restaurant, or find a 2 for 1 coupon at a nice eatery near you then you can cut your costs significantly. Just keep your eyes open, or even search the web for coupon deals valid at restaurants in your area.

Get Them A Gift You Know They Want: Not all gifts of equal price are of equal value. This means that spending a lot of money on something doesn’t always make it a better gift. Go and buy your partner something they want – it doesn’t have to be useful or boring like a pair of socks, although it can be. But pay attention to what your partner says they need, and buy one of those things if it doesn’t cost too much money. That way you’re guaranteed to please your partner with their present, and you can make the day extra special with a home cooked meal and a nice box of chocolates.

How To Meal Plan With Coupons

November 06, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living, Organization, organizing No Comments →

Meal planning takes much of the guesswork out of cooking. It ensures you know what you’re going to make each day. It also helps you save a bit of money because you’re going to the supermarket with a list. Just buy what’s on the list, nothing else, and you’ll save money. But there’s another way you can save money with meal planning, and that’s by integrating it with couponing.

Step #1 Gather Your Weekly Supermarket Flyers

The first step is to sit down with the weekly sales flyers. This is where you’ll learn that chicken breasts are on sale and blueberries are a buck a pint. Base your initial meal planning on the flyers, because the majority of your meals will be from the produce section and there generally aren’t too many coupons for produce.

Inevitably, once you have an outline for your meals that week, you’ll need to also add some staples to your list. These may be things like yogurt, cereal, and bacon for breakfast on Sunday, crackers for the kids’ lunches and so on. It’s time for the second step.

Step #2 Scour Coupons

Now it’s time to tap into all of your coupon resources. These may be in your newspaper supplements, in your mail box and in magazines. You can also find downloadable and printable coupons online. It’s a great money-saving resource.

Clip or download only the coupons that match items on your list. You’ll ideally find coupons to cover just about every staple on your list and you may find some produce coupons too. Produce coupons are usually for bags of vegetables or salads. Sometimes you can find coupons for eggs and milk too. Clip these!

It’s also a great idea to clip any coupons that you think you might use next time. You can then work next week’s grocery list around the flyers and the coupons you already have. Additionally, don’t forget to clip coupons for household products like paper towels. Sometimes it just makes sense to stock up.

Step #3 Go Shopping

Head to the store and shop from your list. In a perfect world every item on your list will either be on sale or have a coupon, or both. Track your savings. Also track how your weekly meal planning went. Did you have to run to the store mid-week for anything? Make adjustments to your meal planning routine to prevent this from occurring.

Meal planning is a super way to save money and to reduce stress. Add in a smart couponing strategy, and grocery shopping becomes an efficient and budget friendly process.  Check out  Meal Planning Central for a free meal planning report.

To find out how to get organized and put these strategies to use right away, visit: The Definitive Guide to Home Organization for Busy People today and get your life and home organized and clutter free forever!

5 Fast Weight Loss Tips

September 05, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Goals, Healthy Living No Comments →

Are you looking for fast weight loss tips? We all want to look and feel better and with all of those plans that you have coming up it is more important than ever that you look the best that you possibly can. It doesn’t matter if you are planning for a wedding, you have just had a baby, or you are trying to reinvent your entire life, here you will find five fast weight loss tips to get you started.

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to make sure that your body has enough water.  When your body lacks water, it will affect the way that you eat, the energy that you have, and your overall weight. The first thing you should do every morning is drink a bottle of water with a little bit of lemon. This is one of the best weight loss tips that you will find. Just a simple bottle of water with lemon first thing in the morning will support your body’s natural detoxification process and it will help to flush your system before you start your day of eating.

If you are looking for fast weight loss tips, it is essential that you understand the power of doing cardio workouts. These workouts don’t have to be hard, just a simple brisk walk in the morning will be enough to raise your heart rate and get your blood pumping. When this happens, you will discover that you have more energy and more mental clarity. As you start to lose weight, try to add two more brisk 10 minute walks to your day. For instance, you could walk in the morning, at lunch, and after dinner. Out of any weight loss tips that you find, this one will give you better results than you could have ever dreamed of.

You also want to remember to plan everything. When people are looking for weight loss tips to help them lose weight, sometimes they get so focused on the end result that they forget about the steps they need to take to get there. The result is that they never reach their weight loss goals and they walk away feeling frustrated. Don’t let this happen to you. You should be planning your meals, when you are going to make them, and what you are going to eat at certain times. In addition, you also need to plan your exercise routine, and which weight loss tips you want to try that week. If you don’t have a plan for these things, you are setting yourself up for failure.

The best thing that you can do when you are trying to lose weight is to keep a journal for everything. A journal is the best way to know if your weight loss tips are working and if you are succeeding in your weight loss goals. In addition, a journal will let you know which foods you like and which foods you do not care for. Over time, you will be able to look at your journal and see just how far you have come.

None of these weight loss tips will help you though If you don’t reward yourself. You need to make sure that you reward yourself often. Obviously, rewarding yourself with unhealthy food is not going to help you reach your overall weight loss goals. But if you reward yourself with things like new clothes, a new gadget, or a trip you will find that you are more inspired to keep going. The more weight you lose, the bigger your reward. For instance, when you lose 5 pounds, you get a new book, when you lose 15 pounds, you get a new outfit, and when you lose 50 pounds, you get to go on vacation. Make sure that your rewards increase over time and make sure that you reward yourself as much as you possibly can.

Remember, weight loss tips are great, but changing your lifestyle is hard. When you are used to living a certain way, making the choice to live in a different way is a struggle. As long as you make these simple changes and reward yourself often you will not only change your body, you will change your life.

For more free information on weight loss — Click here

Ways to Keep Your Marriage Exciting

July 23, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Pamper Yourself No Comments →

There comes a point in nearly all marriages where one or both parties feel they need to liven things up.   There are a few ways to keep your marriage exciting and that is what this post is all about.  While it’s impossible to travel back in time to the heady days when you first met, you can build on the richness and depth you’ve developed over the years to bring about a new kind of excitement.

Here are some ways to keep your marriage exciting

Dare to Be Different

You don’t have to share interests to get along. In fact, successfully married couples point out that having different interests – at least some different interests – has helped them grow closer. If your spouse is into something that you admire but are not particularly good at or interested in, you can still respect him/her and support the interest.

Also, spending some time by yourself or with people besides your spouse can be good for your relationship. Absence may indeed make the heart grow fonder – take a break from each other regularly and pursue those different interests.

Now, Find Something to Do Together

If possible, find something new to do together. This will be more like “neutral territory,” without expectations built on past experience. If you’re both doing something for the first time – taking a dancing class, for instance, or doing an exercise routine together – there is a shared awkwardness that can actually bring you closer. And neither one of you is trying to show or tell the other one what to do.

Speaking of Exercise…

Sources say that it really can breathe new life into a marriage if one or both spouses takes up regular exercise. In fact, enrolling in a gym membership together could be a way to do this as a joint activity.  This is another one of the great ways to keep your marriage exciting. Or, just taking up exercise yourself can be helpful. It’s said that your physical relationship is enhanced when you’re in shape, which makes sense – exercise tends to give you more energy and better muscle tone.

Ignore the “What Ifs”

Marriages can be bogged down with “what ifs.” What if I gain weight, have health problems, get wrinkles, burn dinner, etc.? Will he/she leave me? Successfully married couples say that a key to their success is recognizing that marriage is permanent. So letting go of the “what ifs” – whether fear of being abandoned or looking for a “loophole” if you want out – can greatly enliven your marriage.

Remember How You Used to…

Every spouse has his or her way of finishing the above sentence! While it’s true that you can’t expect your relationship to be like it was when you were dating, you can resurrect some behaviors and characteristics that you may have forgotten about, but that really endeared you to your spouse.  One of my favorite tips for ways to keep your marriage exciting is to ask eachother that question:  “Remember when we used to….”

For example, you might have taken great care to look perfect and have your hair, make-up, and clothes “just so” before going out on a date, but now you don’t take much time on your appearance. Or you might have been in shape and enjoyed being active before you got married, but now you’re a couch potato. Think about those things your spouse really enjoyed about you when you first met, and try getting back into them now and then.

Hopefully you will use one or more of these great ways to keep your marriage exciting!

Low Cost Summer Camp Options

June 25, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Children No Comments →

Most parents and child development experts agree that going to camp is great for kids. They get to participate in new and challenging activities, learn new skills, make new friends and boost their confidence. But all of these wonderful experiences come at a price.  Findid a low cost summer camp option is often hard for parents.

In a poor economy, many parents cannot afford summer camp. No matter how they adjust their budget, they simply cannot find a way to fit summer camp expenses into their budgets. What these parents may not realize is that there are numerous low cost summer camp options available. Even if you can’t scrape up the money to send your child to his top camp choice, you can probably find a suitable alternative that is less expensive and just as fun.

Here are some low cost summer camp options to consider for your child.

- 4-H Camp – Every state in the United States runs an independent 4-H camping program. Since the organization operates as a non-profit, camp fees are generally quite low. The types of 4-H camps offered vary from state to state, but most host a variety of activities that children will enjoy. Some states offer camps for children with special needs as well so if your child has a special need, they too can attend camp. Check with your local 4-H chapter for camp locations, dates and fees.

- YMCA – The YMCA also operates camps throughout the country and at reasonable prices. You will find lots of residential camps that last a week or more on their website, and many local chapters offer day camps as well. YMCA camps include boys’, girls’, co-ed and family programs so there’s something to meet every family’s needs.

- Boys and Girls Clubs of America – Programs offered by the Boys and Girls club vary by location, but they usually include day camps and many other summer activities. Registration fees are low, but additional fees may apply for certain optional activities. Check with your local chapter to see what is available in your area, the dates, fees and locations.

- Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts – Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops usually offer camping opportunities to their members. These camps focus on teaching children new skills and of course, having a great time. The Girl Scout and Boy Scout opportunities may include weekend trips, day camps and residential camps. Membership and registration fees are very reasonable. Check with your local scout troops for details.

- Sports camps – Your child’s school may offer camps for baseball, basketball, soccer and other sports with low registration fees. Some universities also sponsor such sporting programs, and many of these are free to participants. If your child plays sports and they want to enhance their skills, sports camps are a great option for them. Check with your child’s coach or athletic director to find out what sports camps are available in your area.

- Religious camps – Churches often sponsor day and residential summer camp programs for members as well as non-members. These camps are often funded by donations, so registration is cheap or free. Talk to a clergy member or check the local paper to find camps available in your area. These are just a few of the most notable sources for affordable summer camps. Check with your local park service and non-profit organizations in your area for even more options.

While the ideas listed above are good low cost summer camp options options are inexpensive, you may still find yourself short on cash. Here are some more ways you can save money when sending your child to camp.

- Apply for scholarships. They’re not just for college students – scholarships are available to help parents send their children to camp. Some come from the camps themselves, while others are funded by outside organizations. Check online or ask the staff at your camp of choice to find out what’s available.

- Volunteer. Some organizations give discounts to campers whose parents agree to volunteer with them, either during camp or otherwise. Ask if this is an option when considering a camp. You might also ask other parents and even your local education PTA if they know of any volunteer options available.

- Consider a day camp. Fees for day camps are almost always cheaper than those for sleep away camps since they do not include room and board. Meal plans may also be optional – if so, consider sending a bag lunch with your child each day. It’s almost always to cheaper to send a lunch than it is to pay for prepared meals.

- Ask about payment options. Most overnight camps allow parents to pay registration fees in installments for easier budgeting. But if you pay in a lump sum or prior to a deadline, you may be eligible for a discount. Some day camps allow parents to pay by the week or month as long as the balance is paid in full before camp is over.   – Ask about discounts for multiple children from the same family. Multi-children discounts can save you a significant amount of money. If this option isn’t offered up front, make sure to inquire about them when you apply to send your children to camp. Some of the most exclusive summer camps cost thousands of dollars per session. Fortunately, there are lots of less expensive options available for families on a tight budget. And since the state of the economy has affected the camps as well, many are willing to work with parents to make camp possible for their children. So before you rule out summer camp this year, take time to look at all of your options.

 

 

Reducing The Amount Of Sugar In Your Diet

June 22, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

There are a whole variety of reasons why you might want to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Not only can it help you lose weight, but it can also reduce your chance of developing diabetes, help stabilize your mood and assist in recovering from a range of other ailments such as eczema.

Cutting sugar out of your diet can seem like a really daunting prospect. It tends to get worse once you start looking into your diet more closely, when you realize just how much sugar you eat! The thought of not being able to eat all of those things can really put you off the idea.

Fortunately, it’s actually not as bad as it seems. Firstly, it’s possible to replace many sugary things which you have to cut out of your diet with similar alternatives. Secondly, it’s worth remembering that you don’t necessarily have to cut out every sugary bit of food from your diet at once.

Here are a few simple suggestions for alternatives to eating your usual sugary foods. After those, we’ll take a look some ways to help overcome the initial challenge of changing your diet, and how to stick with it once you’ve started.

Dried fruit: Most of us have probably tried dried fruit at some point in our lives. The most common dried fruit is probably the raisin. However, there are loads of other dried fruits available too: apricots, mangos, prunes and many more dried fruits can be found in supermarkets and health food stores. Just make sure that they are natural, rather than sweetened dried fruits.

Although fruits are sweet, they contain a different kind of sugar to that found in normal cakes etc. The great thing about dried fruits is that they are really sweet, which makes them great replacements for chocolate, biscuits and other sweet things.

Fresh fruit: Fresh fruit isn’t usually as sweet as dried fruit, but it’s still very sweet.

Fructose-based products: Most jams and sweets are sucrose-based. Sucrose is standard sugar – the kind you bake with and the kind you find in sweets and chocolates (along with other processed sugars which are also bad for you). Fructose is the kind of sugar found in fruit. It’s actually sweeter than sucrose which means you need less of it to achieve the same effect.

Fortunately, it’s possible to find a range of fructose-based products in health-food stores and supermarkets. These use fruit sugar instead of fructose to make cakes, jams and all those other tasty treats that you crave.

Fructose: Not only is it possible to buy fructose-based products, but you can also buy fructose itself. You can use it in place of any other kind of sugar which you would normally use on a daily basis for cooking or sweetening your drinks etc.

While these alternatives will help you to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, you might still find it hard to adjust at first.

It’s also possible that you’d prefer not to have too much fruit sugar in your diet either, which means cutting out almost everything that tastes sweet. Here are a few hints on how you can deal with these issues:

Savory Treats: If weight loss isn’t your primary goal, then it’s possible to eat savory treats that give a similar kind of satisfaction to sweet treats. Things like crisps and chips are good for this. So are cheese, plain yoghurt or various types of nuts. Be creative: there are many savory treats that you can use as an alternative to candy, cakes, chocolate and so on.

Fill Up: When we’re full we usually feel less like eating treats. A simple solution to reducing the craving for sweet things is therefore to eat larger portions of savory meals. Make extra salad, or extra pasta. Just try to make sure you get your fill from the savory food that you eat.

Savory Drinks: A really good way to kill the desire for sweet things is to drink something savory that cleanses your taste buds. A good example of this is chamomile tea, which is very mild tasting and washes flavors out of your mouth. Drinking savory things like this helps quiet the urge for sweet taste sensations.

You can also try drinking things like ginger tea, or liquorice tea. A unique feature of liquorice tea is that, despite containing no sugar, it leaves a sweet aftertaste at the back of your throat. This can help satisfy cravings for sweet flavors.

Keeping to a reduced sugar, or sugar-free, diet can be challenging, but there are lots of ways to help. Sticking with the diet is the real challenge though. It requires both willpower and motivation. Willpower is the hardest part of the equation: it can be very hard to resist strong urges. However, the more you resist, the better you get at controlling your desires. That means that over time, your willpower will improve.

Motivation is something that assists willpower and is also assisted by willpower. The two work together quite closely. Staying motivated requires that you keep in mind at all times why you are cutting sugar out of your diet. If it is for health reasons, such as diabetes, then remember that not only your wellbeing but also your life itself is at stake. You are doing this for yourself, not because someone else says you have to.

Motivation can also be sustained by gradually working your way into the diet. You don’t have to drop all sugary foods at once. You can start by eliminating one or two particular foods – say ice cream or biscuits – and get used to not having them. After a while you can cut out another thing, and another. Take your time.

One more thing worth remembering is that your taste buds themselves can change. After a while of not eating chocolate, biscuits, ice cream and so on, you start to taste the sweetness in other things which are more savory. Even something as plain as bread actually has some sweetness, and this can become satisfying once your taste buds have adjusted.

Cutting sugar from your diet isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s really not the toughest thing in the world either. With the right attitude and knowledge, it’s not only possible but pretty easy to make this change. Just set your mind to it, and remember why you’re doing it in the first place.

For more free information on staying healthy — Click here

Choosing a Summer Camp for Your Child

June 21, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Children, Healthy Living, Mommy Rambles No Comments →

If you’re considering sending your child to summer camp, you’ll find that there is no shortage of camps to choose from. A lack of options is rarely an issue for parents. But choosing a camp that’s right for your child isn’t always easy.

There are lots of things to think about when deciding on a summer camp for your son or daughter. You want to find a place where they will have fun, learn new things and develop social skills. You want them to be safe and in the care of qualified counselors. Budget may also be a concern. Here are some things to think about when looking at your summer camp options.

Traditional or Specialized?

When most of us think of summer camp, we think of programs that offer a variety of activities, many of which take place outdoors. These traditional camps are readily available, but there are also other types of camps to choose from. There are sports camps that can help athletic types improve their game. Academic camps can help keep gifted children’s minds active during the summer or help those who are lagging behind in school catch up. There are also camps that focus on other interests such as drama or horseback riding, as well as camps designed for children with special needs.

Specialized camps are great if they address specific goals you have for your child or cater to their needs. But if you want to expose him or her to a variety of new experiences, a more general summer camp might be a better option. Traditional camps also tend to bring together a more diverse group of campers, allowing for more opportunities to learn from one another and develop social skills.

Does the Camp Have a Good Reputation?

Summer camps are not regulated by the government, so choosing a reputable camp requires some research. Camps accredited by the American Camp Association must meet a long list of stringent requirements regarding health, safety, facilities, staffing and more, so finding an accredited camp is a good starting point. But lack of accreditation isn’t necessarily a red flag, particularly for newer or smaller camps that may not yet have the resources to meet the requirements.

Whether or not a camp is accredited, it’s a good idea to seek out the opinions of those who have experience with the program. This includes parents, campers, counselors and staff. If you don’t know anyone who has first-hand experience with the camp, try asking the staff for references or checking online. And it’s always a good idea to visit the camp in person before making your final decision. There’s just no substitute for meeting with counselors and seeing the facilities and programs for yourself.

Day or Overnight Camp?

Daytime only programs are an increasingly popular summer camp option. They are usually less expensive than overnight camps, and parents don’t have to worry about getting a call to come pick up their homesick child in the middle of the night. But overnight camps still offer certain advantages, such as fostering independence and allowing campers to develop stronger bonds with counselors and fellow campers.

The most important factors in deciding between day or overnight camp are what you and your child are most comfortable with. Generally speaking, younger children tend to do better at day camps. Teens and tweens are often eager to go to overnight camps, and in most cases they do well there.

What Does Your Child Want?

When considering summer camps, it’s important not to forget to ask your child what he or she wants. Many a miserable camp experience could have been avoided by following this simple rule! While your opinions and requirements as a parent are important, it’s also important to make sure your child is ready and willing to participate in the program.

For instance, some parents send their children to sports camps in hopes that they will develop an interest in a particular sport. But if your child doesn’t already have some level of interest, it could backfire. Working out some sort of compromise will make for a much better summer camp experience for everyone involved.

To Camp or not to Camp?

In your quest to find the best summer camp for your child, you may find that none of the options are quite right. Maybe the camps within your budget aren’t a good fit for your child, or perhaps he’s just not ready for camp yet. In cases like these, it may be better to wait until next year than to take a chance on sending him off to the wrong camp.

Summer camp can be one of the most positive and memorable experiences in a young person’s life. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to choose the right camp for your child.

 Grab Some Free Summer Fun Ideas Here

 

Dealing With Summer Camp Anxiety

June 18, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

You’ve decided on a summer camp for your child. Payments and arrangements have been made. The bags are packed, and your child is ready for a fun summer experience. Or is he? Kids are often eager to go off to summer camp. But some are less than thrilled with the idea, and others are determined not to go. If your child is suffering from summer camp anxiety, you’re certainly not alone.

More often than not, children who are anxious about going to summer camp come around once they’re there and do fine. But if you want to make sure your child has the best possible experience, it’s important to address his anxiety ahead of time. Doing so will ensure that he goes into the summer with an open mind and reduce the chances that you’ll encounter a meltdown when it’s time to drop him off.

Signs of Summer Camp Anxiety

Your child might come out and tell you how he’s feeling about summer camp with no prompting. In most cases, however, kids keep such information to themselves unless they are asked. They see their parents going to the trouble of setting everything up and going on about how great it’s going to be, and they don’t want to disappoint them. But there are almost always other signs that something is wrong.

In the weeks before camp, look for changes in your child’s behavior. He may become withdrawn or hard to get along with. You may see an increase or decrease in appetite. He might have nightmares. He could even display physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea or stomach pain. All of these are possible signs of summer camp anxiety.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

If you’re seeing signs of anxiety, the first thing to do is ask your child what’s wrong. It’s best to leave it open-ended at first, even if you suspect that you know what the problem is. It’s possible that it might not be what you think. And even if it is, your child needs the opportunity to get it out in his own words.

If he’s not opening up, then you can try steering the conversation toward camp. Simply bring the subject up in a neutral manner, or ask him how he feels about it. Gauge his response. Even if he says he’s looking forward to it, tone of voice or body language may indicate otherwise. If you feel like he’s telling you what he thinks you want to hear, make it a point to tell him that you’re interested in his true feelings and keep the conversation going. You’ll eventually get to the bottom of it.

Listening is the key to finding out what’s causing the anxiety. If you bring up the subject and let your child do most of the talking, you’ll likely find that he is willing to share his feelings. Once they’re out in the open, you can work on easing any fears.

Working Together Toward a Solution

Once you’ve established the reasons behind your child’s anxiety, you can address them specifically. A general “Oh, everything will be just fine” simply won’t do. Finding ways for your child to cope with his unique issues works much better.

Instead of making suggestions, try to lead your child to finding his own solutions. If it’s his idea, he’s more likely to feel comfortable with it. You could start by asking him what would make him feel better about the situation. He may have had the answer all along but been hesitant to suggest it. If he’s not sure what would make him feel better, offering some suggestions may be in order.

After Camp Has Begun

Sometimes camp anxiety sets in after camp has already started. In these cases, homesickness is the most likely culprit. If you’re able to talk to your child, ask what you can do to ease his mind. Perhaps you could send something from home, or even send out a postcard with a cheery note each day.

If your child has shown signs of anxiety prior to going to camp, preemptive actions may be in order. Consider sending a care package to arrive a few days after camp has begun as a sign of reassurance. It’s also wise to talk to the counselors about your child’s fears. They may have developed some solutions of their own that could help.

Anxiety can turn what should be a positive summer camp experience into a train wreck. The good news is that summer camp anxiety is, in most cases, easily curable.

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How to Keep Your Coupons Organized

June 11, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Goals, Organization No Comments →

We live in the age of the coupon. Frugal consumers are continuously on the prowl for ways to save money and tighten their purse strings. Finding the perfect coupon in the Sunday paper is like unearthing the Holy Grail. In this day and age, cutting and clipping coupons has become an art form, and attentive and organized shoppers are saving thousands of dollars on their monthly grocery bills. There are newspaper editorials, magazine articles, and even reality television shows that detail the ins and outs of extreme couponing.

You probably consider yourself to be a smart and strategic shopper. You always look for deals and bargains. You preplan the weekly menu by what is on sale at the grocery store. Couponing has always been a weekend warrior hobby, but now you want to take it to the next level. But what do you do? Where do you begin?

Two Ways to Approach Couponing

When it comes to strategic couponing, one thing is for certain: You don’t want your coupon collection to be as cluttered, disorganized and chaotic as your desk was back in college. You need to find a system of organization that works for you. However, before you even begin to organize your coupons, you are going to want to consider what type of couponing approach you are going take. First, are you going to clip only those coupons that you are positive you are going to use? Second, are you going to keep every single coupon you cut until it expires? In other words, the manner in which you organize your collection of coupons will depend, to some degree, on how many coupons you have.

Finding the Right Couponing System

1. If this is your first foray into serious couponing, then the envelope technique is a good place to start. Every envelope represents a different aisle or category in the grocery store. For example, you can have envelopes dedicated to diary products, meat, beauty and hygiene, snacks, and fruits and vegetables. Cut the coupons, put them in the according envelope and then bring the envelopes with you to the grocery store.

2. Depending on how many coupons you use and discard, there may no longer be enough room in your envelope system to hold all your coupons. This might be the time when you graduate to an index file box. Once again, each category and section should be labeled. While envelopes easily fit into your purse on grocery shopping day, now you are going to have to look through the index file box for those coupons you want to use before you go shopping.

3. A three-ring binder is the favorite organizational technique amongst seasoned couponers. Why is that? The binder can hold an enormous amount of coupons. Once you fill its plastic sheets with coupons, separate categories with binder dividers and begin to sort the sections alphabetically, you know you are no longer a weekend hobbyist, but a hardcore super-saver.

Cleaning out Your Coupons

If you are a diligent coupon clipper, getting rid of old coupons every once in awhile is a must. Every six months, spend an hour or two and sort through the entire collection. Toss anything that is expired and throw out any coupons that have an expiration date within the next month if you don’t plan on using it before then.

Additionally, don’t clip every single coupon that you see in the Sunday paper. Only add coupons to your collection that you know you will actually use.

Elli likes to blog about family and work life, home security and safety, and general home improvement tips.  She works in content marketing for YourLocalSecurity.com  (read more about them here).  To learn more about Elli, follow her on  Google+ .