The end of summer vacation is fast approaching and it is time to get ready for the kids to head back to school. However, preparing for the upcoming school year can be stressful for your whole family. The tips below will help you remain stress-free as your family gets ready for the new school year.
- Who’s riding the bus? – If your children will be taking the bus, visit their bus stop head of time and determine the best walking route to the bus stop as well as go over who will be walking them to bus stop and who will be there to meet them when they get off the bus in the afternoon. If you’ll be driving your kids to school, determine the best travel route before the first day of school. Additionally, if you’ll be heading to work after dropping your kids off, it would be a good idea to plan your entire route from home, to school, to work and back again.
- Backpacks and belongings. – Before school starts, designate a space in your home for the children to store backpacks, school IDs, jackets, etc., when they get home from school each day. If they place their belongings in the designated space, everything will be easy to find in the morning.
- Establish a routine. – Having a predictable routine works well for kids. They know what is expected of them and what will happen next. Establish a routine for everyone in your family from waking up, to eating breakfast, getting dressed and heading out the door. With a predictable morning schedule, your kids will remain stress-free. If that are stress-free, chances are you will be too.
- Make time for breakfast. – We know breakfast is good for us, so make time to eat something before you head out the door. Breakfast staves off hunger, provides energy and improves mood. If the kids are energetic and in a good mood, they’ll be ready to start their days. Make sure you eat breakfast as well.
- Shop strategically. – There is no need to run out and buy 5-10 new outfits for each child before school starts. Instead, determine what each child has outgrown and replace those items or fill in the gaps with clothing each child will need. This will prevent overbuying and keep your budget in check. Additionally, only purchase school supplies on the list that is provided by the teacher/school. There is no sense in spending money on unnecessary supplies.
- Get sleep. – You cannot expect your children to stay focused at school (or you at work) without proper sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Establish bedtimes for each child and stick to them. With proper sleep, your entire family will be well rested and ready for the next day.
If you have spent any time around older folks, you may have heard of a radio show from way back in the day called Fibber McGee and Molly. Fibber had a hall closet that he stored everything in and when the door was opened an avalanche of items fell out. Anyone who lives with a minimal amount of storage space can certainly sympathize with this situation. Just where can you go with all of your stuff? This two-car garage plan that is right up your alley or maybe just behind the house. Not only is there space to house two autos and a workbench for all those projects that you can’t do without one, there is a loft with 485 square feet of storage. Organize all of that extra clutter that has nowhere else to go. If you miss Fibber’s closet, don’t worry, there’s one included with this garage loft plan right next to the workbench.
Summertime drought conditions can cause havoc for your lawn, garden, trees, and other landscaping. Below are a few tips to help beat the heat and keep your green spaces looking vibrant, healthy and strong:
- Plants: An easy way to protect plants in dry conditions is to use mulch around them. Experts suggest using three to four inches of organic mulch around plants to lock in moisture and prevent water loss due to evaporation. Mulch also prevents soil compaction, reduces soil temperature, and prevents weeds that use up valuable water.
- Lawn: The more compact your soil is the more water will be lost from evaporation. It is a good idea to aerate your lawn from time to time and water the lawn slowly with some type of sprinkler system or a simple lawn and garden sprinkler.
- Trees: Your tress should be your top priority. When in good health, they create a shaded canopy over your lawn keeping it cooler and less “thirsty” for water. Experts suggest drilling several holes in the soil around the base of the tree. The holes should be at least 24 inches deep. Fill them with compost. This will help water penetrate the ground more easily and reach the tree’s roots more efficiently.
- Bugs & Pests: Keep an eye on your lawn and other vegetation for bugs and other pests that might find their ways into your lawn, garden, etc., in search of food during drought conditions. Contact a local exterminator or seek professional advice from a lawn and garden center about killing or removing these pests.
- Conserve Water: Water your plants and lawn early in the morning when you’ll lose less water to evaporation. Make your own rain barrel and collect roof water from downspouts. Use this water before you turn on the hose. Also, water your lawn slowly using a sprinkler, allowing the water to soak into the ground. This will prevent water from sitting on top of the soil where it will simply evaporate.
Following these handy tips will help keep your lawn and landscaping healthy, green and strong through summertime drought conditions.
Now that you are an experienced boater, you will most likely enjoy sharing that enthusiasm with your family or friends. Whether taking along children or pets, below are some boating safety tips to protect you and your loved ones, including your furry friends.
- Provide Shade – Both animals and little ones will need refuge from the sun. If your boat has a cabin you’re set. If not, you will have to provide some shade for them. Try a small pop-up tent or umbrella.
- Protect Feet – The surfaces of boats can get very hot in the sun. Dogs absorb that heat through the pads on their feet. Cool down the surface before letting your pet on board or provide something for him to walk on like a piece of carpet. Children can also be more sensitive to that heat than adults, so don’t forget some comfy shoes for them.
- Drinking Water – Of course you will want to keep plenty of fresh water available for all of your guests, but don’t forget to provide it for the pets too. The motion of the boat may make it difficult to keep a water bowl full, so check it often.
- Potty – Before you board, walk your dog so he can relieve himself. Depending on the amenities of your boat, it may be a good idea to get everyone relief before taking off.
- Short Trips – To get both children and pets used to the movement of the boat, make the first few trips short or make frequent stops at shore for short rests.
- Life Jackets – Not all dogs can swim and some dogs tire easily, so you may want to provide them with a life jacket. Let them get used to it by taking them for a test run in the water before boarding the boat. To be effective, life jackets need to fit correctly. They should fit snugly and for children, have a crotch strap and also a collar to keep them face up in the water. Choose bright colors for visibility. You may want to attach a whistle and instruct them on sounding it in emergency situations.
- Learn to Swim – Knowing how to swim is important for water safety, but it is not a substitute for wearing life jackets in the boat. Teach your children that swimming in open water is different than in a pool. There are underwater hazards and there can be undertows even in still water. No diving, as you cannot be sure of the depth. Most recreational areas have designated areas for swimming for safety purposes.
- Rules – Specify the rules like no running and keeping hands and feet in the boat before embarking. Older children can benefit from a boating safety course.
- First Aid – For peace of mind in protecting your family, take a first aid course that includes CPR training. Don’t forget that the effects of hypothermia can occur more quickly for the young ones.
- Carbon Monoxide Alarm – Just like in your home, this can be a life saver on a motorized vessel.
- Alcohol – Coping with the pets and kids in the enclosed environment of a boat all day may drive you to drink, but be smart and wait until you are on dry ground.
Hurricane season begins in June and lasts to the end of November. If you live in a coastal area, of course you will want to prepare ahead of time. Below are eight hints and tips to help you prepare:
- Plan – Create a plan for your household and review it with all of its members. Include a place away from home where everyone can meet if they cannot get home. Also, designate a contact away from your immediate area that everyone can call in case of emergency. Keep hard copies of emergency numbers in case cell phone batteries fail.
- Emergency Kit – Put together an emergency kit in a waterproof container and keep it in a handy place. Include items like a battery operated radio, first aid kit, water, non-perishable foods and flashlights.
- Utilities – Know the procedures for shutting down electric, gas, water, etc. Prevent damage from sewers and septic systems with a backflow device.
- Stormproof – Consider reinforcing roof trusses, garage door openings and other vulnerable areas. You may want to install storm shutters. If you board up windows and other openings, have your supplies ready to go. Secure outdoor items. Keep the trees near the house trimmed and consider replacing landscaping gravel and rocks with softer items like bark or mulch.
- Evacuation Route – Review the safest and most direct route to your community shelter should you have to evacuate. Plan to avoid dangerous areas like dams or levees and know alternate routes should yours be blocked.
- Pets – Collars and chips should include your current contact information. Have leashes and carrying cases ready in case of evacuation.
- Check Information – You may be able to sign up with your local government for emergency alerts via phone or email. Make a record of important phone numbers to call for assistance. Don’t forget to have your insurance information handy just in case.
- Cash – When disasters hit and power is out for prolonged periods, cash is king. ATMs don’t work, businesses may not be able to process credit cards for a while and banks may be damaged or closed. Plan ahead and have a reasonable amount of cash available.