Accelerate Your Holiday Gift List with Adventure
Nearly everyone on your gift list may need a little revving up this year. Bringing a smile or much-needed dose of adventure is an easy way to leave a lasting impression this holiday season – especially with these gift ideas.
Whether that hard-to-buy-for person on your list is already a rider or it’s on his or her to-do list, Harley-Davidson has something for nearly everyone.
Elevate Work-from-Home Wardrobes
Working from home doesn’t mean you can’t dress for adventure. Hoodies and sweatshirts can keep your loved ones looking cool and comfortable, no matter how long their next video conference call might last. With a variety of color and style options for men and women, you can find the right fit for basically everyone on your list.
Inspire the Next Generation of Riders
The thrill of riding can be felt at any age, especially for kids on your list looking for a new activity. Options like the IRONe12 and IRONe16 electric bikes are tools for learning hand-eye coordination and developing riding skills while having fun. Kids will learn to push, balance and coast in non-powered mode before graduating to the powered mode, where they’ll learn to use the throttle and brake. These bikes can provide a one-of-a-kind learning experience and spark a lifetime love for riding on two wheels.
Connect with the Inner Child
Give the gift of building something unique with a present like the LEGO® Creator Expert Harley-Davidson Fat Boy® Building Sets. This set showcases the beauty of a real-life motorcycle and provides an immersive building experience that can make people of all ages feel like kids again.
Adventure in Style
Few things beat a warm, durable and fashionably versatile motorcycle jacket. Whether your loved one enjoys a more rugged look to pair with outdoor adventures or is a style trend-setter who likes to stand out from the crowd, a leather motorcycle jacket is a must-have for almost any wardrobe.
Give the Gift of Riding
For the person in your life you haven’t seen in a while, reconnect and give the gift of an experience that can be appreciated for years to come with the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy New Rider Course. This course will help you and any thrill-seeker in your life learn to ride with confidence on two wheels after just one weekend.
This holiday season, Harley-Davidson is giving away 500 Riding Academy passes. All you have to do is share your favorite personal Harley-Davidson motorcycle photo on Instagram or Twitter, tag the friend or family member in your life you want to learn to ride with and use #GiftOfRiding and #Giveaway.
Find more holiday gift-giving inspiration at H-D.com/Holiday.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Sensible Solutions for Holiday Gifting
Practically every year there’s at least one person on your holiday gift list that seems to have it all. One way to think outside the box is to sift through wants and needs to find something that can truly be put to use on an almost daily basis.
For example, tools, binoculars, vacuum cleaners, knife sharpeners and security solutions can serve as practical gifts that give your recipient a functional piece of equipment for daily life. These types of presents show your thoughtfulness and can provide your loved one a frequent reminder of the relationship you share each time the gift is used.
Find additional holiday gift ideas for everyone on your list at eLivingtoday.com.
An Eye-Catching Gift
If you’ve got someone on your holiday gift list that enjoys pursuits such as sports, concerts, nature viewing or stargazing, help bring the action closer with a gift like the Bushnell Powerview 2 binocular. An evolution from the popular line, the versatile, general-use binoculars deliver clear views in multiple sizes and magnifications. The binoculars feature an aircraft grade, aluminum alloy chassis built for durability, and high-quality, soft-touch black rubber armor and brushed metal texture finishes provide eye-catching exterior design, easy handling and a confident grip. For more information, visit bushnell.com.
A Cut Above the Rest
This holiday season, get the chef or outdoorsman in your life a gift that keeps on giving, such as the Wicked Edge Go knife sharpener. Made from high-quality materials, it’s easy to use for both new and experienced knife sharpeners. It offers guided angle control, can sharpen a variety of knife types and makes cutting more efficient while increasing the longevity of your knives. Find more at wickededgeusa.com.
Cleanliness On the Go
Give the gift of cleaner living spaces anywhere and everywhere with the ultra-portable Raycop GO vacuum, which uses UVC light technology to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria and viruses along with dust mites. It’s less than 2 pounds, easy to assemble and stores in four pieces, making it simple to take in the car, to the office or on vacation. It can even sanitize phones, handbags or luggage, and the battery lasts 30 minutes without recharging. Visit raycop.com for more information.
The Gift That Protects
If you’re looking to secure connected toys and devices received this holiday season, consider internet security products that allow you to protect your family. With advanced protection for all your devices, ESET’s Smart Security Premium solution helps protect against identity theft with the latest malware detection, online banking, password security and smart home support. Find more security solutions at eset.com/us.
Get the Job Done
Help the handyperson in your life finish the job quicker with the Milwaukee M12 Drill and Driver Kit from Ace Hardware, the only tool in its class with an all-metal locking chuck. Its compact, lightweight and durable design delivers comfort and efficiency along with an onboard LED light and fuel gauge to help increase productivity and avoid interruptions. Find more information and holiday gift ideas at acehardware.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Get Ready to Gift
Holiday presents for every person (and pet) on your holiday list
With a variety of personalities and interests likely on your holiday shopping list, finding the perfect gift for everyone can be a daunting task. Rather than spending countless hours browsing online or walking up and down store aisles, consider this array of gift ideas that can put you on the path toward successful shopping during a holiday season sure to be unlike any before it.
With more people spending time at home, gifts that can keep the house clean, showcase team spirit or provide a simple way to pass the time can be hits. Of course, you can also ship a tasty meal directly to a loved one’s door or give that four-legged family member an extra special treat.
Find more holiday gift-giving inspiration at eLivingtoday.com.
A Tasteful Holiday Gift
Give the gift of flavor this holiday season with a full spread of Omaha Steaks favorites in one collection. Loaded with double-trimmed, famously fork-tender Butcher’s Cut filet mignons, tender and crispy bacon-wrapped filet mignons, flavor-packed burgers, classic boneless pork chops, juicy boneless chicken breasts, gourmet jumbo franks, all-beef meatballs, a savory side and dessert, it’s a memorable and delicious gift everyone can enjoy. Find more flavorful holiday gift ideas at omahasteaks.com.
The No. 1 Gift Pick
Give the sports fan in your life an authentic piece of collectible memorabilia to showcase his or her team spirit, such as this Patrick Mahomes Super Bowl LIV MVP Dynasty Banner from Winning Streak Sports – The #1 Premium Licensed Product in Sports. Created to commemorate some of the greatest teams, schools and players, these limited-edition high stich count banners, which are available framed or unframed, are made from 100% wool blend felt with iron-safe backing and include a hanging cord for easy display. Find more upscale, gift-worthy sports memorabilia at winningstreaksports.com.
A Riveting Read
Provide the bookworm in your life with a true thriller like “Pilate’s Cross” by J. Alexander Greenwood, a murder mystery based on a true story. A sleepy college town in the middle of nowhere is just the fresh start John Pilate needs, but he didn’t count on uncovering a deadly conspiracy. In over his head, Pilate risks it all to get to the truth in this tale exploding with action, crisp dialogue and quirky twists. Visit amazon.com to find the book.
Count Down to the Holidays with Your Pet
Add more happiness to your pet’s holiday season with an option like this Merry & Bright Holiday Deck The Howls with Cookies Advent Calendar Dog Treat, which is available at PetSmart. Your dog has been good all year, so don’t forget to include him or her in the holiday countdown with an advent calendar of his or her own. Find more holiday gift ideas for your pets at petsmart.com.
Give the Gift of Time
Gifting your family a vacuum-and-mop-in-one like the DEEBOT T8 allows you to enjoy the holidays and leave the cleaning to the robot. It provides hands-free cleaning and removes 99.26% of bacteria with its patented OZMO Mopping System. With no pre-cleaning needed and a runtime of more than three hours, it also detects obstacles with accuracy to avoid collisions and getting stuck. Learn more at ecovacs.com/us.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Creative, Colorful Christmas Ideas for Kids
Picking out the perfect presents for kids this holiday doesn’t limit your search to simply including gifts with screens or the hottest tech gadgets.
Although the amount of options in store and on virtual shelves for kids can be somewhat overwhelming, gifts fostering imaginative play and creativity never go out of style. Even if it seems your children already have pretty much everything, getting back to the basics with crafty gifts like paint and art sets, color and wash collectibles, science kits or customizable DIY projects encourage children to express their creativity and explore their inner-artists.
Consider these activities that can spark imagination and allow kids of all ages to create colorful memories this holiday season. Find more at Crayola.com.
Custom Craft Creations
Give the kids creative freedom with an option like Crayola’s Maker series, which allows them to create custom paper and markers for arts and crafts time at home or school projects. The Marker Maker comes with 16 makeable markers along with a color mixing guide and customizable labels for each one. The Paper Maker includes an instruction booklet, paper-making pulp to make 20 sheets of 5-by-8-inch paper, a stir and smoothing tool and a pressure plate. Both kits make it fun and easy to craft DIY cards, decor, notes and other projects.
Kids can take imaginative, creative play to new places this holiday season with the Scribble Scrubbie Pets Grooming Truck. This life-like environment includes a grooming truck with moving wheels and features a real working spray pump and scrub tub that allow kids to wash and clean the two included pets just like real groomers do. The truck also doubles as an easy-to-pack storage solution for taking the customizable pets on-the-go for later use. After creating a colorful look for their pets using washable markers, kids can simply scrub them clean for a fresh blank canvas to create over and over.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Upgrade Your Home, Downgrade Energy Usage
7 efficient home improvement projects
The best home upgrades not only make spaces more livable and energy-efficient but are also cost-effective. Making energy-efficient improvements is a savvy way to save money on utility bills, curb energy usage and add to the house’s value.
Consider a variety of home improvement projects, both big and small, that can reduce the financial burden of maintaining your home throughout the year and improve energy efficiency.
A cost-effective way to save on heating and cooling bills is adding a layer of insulation in the attic where heat loss is typically greatest due to hot air rising. While many newer homes are adequately insulated, those that are several decades old (or older) may benefit from an upgrade in not only the attic but other common problem areas where air can escape such as basements, crawl spaces, fireplaces and ductwork.
Seal Doors and Windows
Windows and doors are common culprits for energy loss. While a complete replacement of doors and windows can be pricey, adding exterior caulk and weather stripping to fill in gaps where air can escape around these openings can make a noticeable difference for a fraction of the cost and make it cheaper to heat and cool your home.
Skylights are a cost-effective option for transforming any room in the home with natural light while also delivering energy-saving benefits. For example, Sun Tunnel Skylights from Velux can be installed in as little as 90 minutes and funnel natural light from the roof through the attic and into the room below with an aesthetic that resembles recessed lighting. Customizable with six diffuser film styles to complement interior design, the skylights can make a home more energy-efficient by reducing reliance on artificial lighting. An optional daylight controller makes it easy for homeowners to adjust natural light entering a room, and a solar nightlight provides a moon-like guiding light at night. Installed with the solar nightlight, the skylights qualify for a 26% federal tax credit on solar property.
Add Reflective Window Film
When the sun shines through windows, it can heat up the home’s interior quickly and trigger the air conditioner to turn on. Window coverings, such as blackout curtains, can help, but adding low-e reflective window film to your windowpanes, particularly southern-facing ones, can provide an additional shield from the sun’s hot rays and reduce energy costs.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat is an efficient way to control the climate inside your home, and those with smart technology take programming to a whole new level. Today’s smart thermostats not only let homeowners control temperatures from their smart devices while on-the-go but can also learn daily habits and adjust the temperature accordingly with no other manual adjustments necessary. In addition, some utility companies offer incentives like money back at the end of the year for installing a smart thermostat because the energy savings are so substantial.
Because appliances like refrigerators and ovens, among others, are major energy users, investing in more efficient models provides both cost and energy savings. Additionally, homes more than 15 years old could benefit from updates to the air conditioner or heater as systems 15-20 years old or older may be candidates for replacement as they’re inefficient by today’s standards.
Add Ceiling Fans
In comparison to running your air conditioner consistently, the cost of running a ceiling fan (or several) is significantly less. Particularly on days that may not require cooling the entire house completely, fans can provide a gentle breeze and circulate air in the spaces you use most often. Simply adjust the switch to the counterclockwise position to ensure it’s pushing air downward during warmer months.
For more information and home improvement ideas, visit whyskylights.com/livelighter.
Building Children’s Emotional Resilience Amid Uncertainty
For parents facing uncertain school schedules, new ways of working and concerns about the health and safety of their families, life in a pandemic is stressful enough. Add in the potential for children to feel overwhelmed or unable to cope with the unfamiliar and many families feel they are in no-win situations.
Keeping children home can help minimize potential exposure to COVID-19, but limits their contact with friends and teachers. On the other hand, sending kids to a center or school to learn and socialize with others can lead to concerns about exposure to COVID-19.
Parents can breathe easier knowing that child care programs with proper safety practices in place do not spread COVID-19, according to a Yale University study that surveyed 57,000 providers nationwide.
“Families have much to consider when it comes to making a decision about what is best for them,” said Dr. Elanna Yalow, chief academic officer of KinderCare Learning Centers. “Fortunately, their fears quickly turn to relief once they see our health and safety protocols, the success we have had keeping our children and staff safe and how excited their children are to be with friends and classmates. Once you move past the difficult decision, the rewards are profound.”
When it comes to selecting the best option for your family, keep these considerations in mind:
Putting safety first. When considering a center or school, make sure it’s not only following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health department guidelines when it comes to masks and social distancing, but look for additional safety measures such as restricted access to classrooms, health screenings upon entry, handwashing throughout the day and frequent cleaning and sanitizing. Knowing the steps teachers and staff take to keep children safe can help confirm you’re making the best choice for your family.
The social and emotional benefits to returning to school or child care. According to a ParentsTogether study, nearly half of parents surveyed said their child is struggling with mental health or behavioral problems because of the pandemic. Children typically thrive with social stimulation and outlets for strong emotions, two things that are challenging for many families to offer right now. School can provide children with a safe place to continue their social, emotional and academic development, enhanced by the opportunity for social interaction with people outside of their immediate families.
“When COVID first started, my sweet, carefree child was upset and frustrated with life,” said Kristine Hall, a parent of an 8-year-old who attends KinderCare. “As we prepared for third grade, it became clear we needed an ally in navigating this new abnormal. After enrolling in a KinderCare center, Connor now has friends to talk about and activities and crafts to show me. He feels normal again.”
Making the transition easier. “Routines can be comforting to children,” Dr. Yalow said. “Just think about how excited they are to rejoin their friends and teachers after a typical summer break. We have seen that enthusiasm magnified this year as children have returned to our programs.”
Once children settle into a more typical routine, parents can feel a sense of relief seeing them engaged in learning and interacting with their peers and teachers.
When it comes to sending your child to school or a child care program during the pandemic, every family has to make the decision that feels best for it. When you’re ready, there are safe and engaging programs available for your child.
For more information about customized learning programs for infants through grades K-6, visit kindercare.com
Ultimate Upgrades, Practical Home Upgrades to Improve Function and Ambiance
Homeowners tackling interior upgrades often focus their attention on two of the most-used rooms the in the house: the kitchen and bathroom. Tailoring these rooms to your personal preferences may enhance your enjoyment of the space, but most experts recommend thinking long term for the biggest return on your investment.
If a kitchen or bathroom renovation is in your future, take a holistic approach that considers how the space will be used now and in the future.
As the hub of activity for many households, the kitchen is a space that commands efficient, functional design. Aside from the practical issue of losing access to the space while it’s under construction, there’s another important challenge for homeowners to consider when tackling a kitchen remodel: for maximum return on your investment, avoid making choices that are too trendy or personal.
Design trends come and go, so while a contemporary update is almost always a good idea, many design experts recommend sticking with classic looks and styles that have broad appeal, especially for big ticket (and big price tag) elements like cabinetry. Save your flair for aspects like the backsplash tile or wall color, which can be relatively easily changed by a new owner or even yourself when you want a refresh down the road.
Another area to give special attention is the overall ambiance of the room, which is largely influenced by the light from natural and electric sources. For a room that needs brightening, skylights are a smart option because they free up wall space for more storage and cabinets while adding abundant natural light.
However, natural light from above isn’t the only advantage of adding skylights. Some models, such as a Velux solar-powered, fresh-air skylight, can be opened with a remote control to bring fresh air inside, which helps keep the kitchen fresh and rids indoor air of pollutants from daily activities like cooking and cleaning.
Skylights can be ordered with light-filtering or room-darkening blinds, which give homeowners maximum control over the exact amount of light they want. Plus, solar-powered blinds come in over 75 colors and patterns for customizable design options that allow you to truly make the space your own.
Be sure to ask whether the line you’re considering qualifies for a federal tax credit. Solar-powered skylights and blinds are eligible for a 26% federal tax credit on product and installation if purchased and installed by the end of 2020. The credit decreases to 22% in 2021.
A Better Bathroom
In the bathroom, modern upgrades are also a smart investment. However, many experts actually recommend thinking not just about what’s in vogue right now but considering needs far into the future.
Universal design is especially relevant in the bathroom, where simple adjustments can provide added accessibility as you age, and these updates can flow seamlessly into the design. This means considering a vanity with a raised counter height and a taller toilet base, which can add stylish enjoyment no matter your age. Other features like a zero-entry shower deliver high-demand design and safety simultaneously.
Outside of accessibility-oriented updates, upgrading your fixtures, fresh paint and contemporary tile can go a long way toward transforming a bathroom. If you find your space is still in need of a boost, a skylight may be the answer. Natural light can be that last touch to bring your space from just OK to perfect, and skylights in the bathroom allow homeowners to maximize their natural light without losing any privacy.
In a space like the bathroom, where ventilation is a top concern, a choice like Velux No Leak Solar-Powered “Fresh Air” Skylights provide natural light as well as fresh air ventilation to make the environment healthier. They help rid indoor air of bacteria, volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide.
Explore more design ideas to enhance your kitchen and bathroom spaces at whyskylights.com.
Smart Climate Control
Fresh air ventilation is one way homeowners can promote better indoor air quality, especially in rooms like kitchens and bathrooms which are especially vulnerable to poor air circulation.
A smartphone-controlled skylight automation system such as Velux Active with Netatmo can help improve indoor climate from the convenience of your mobile device. It allows homeowners to automate when they open and close their skylights and blinds. The system monitors an online weather station and uses indoor sensors to measure temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels in the home. Based on a homeowner’s settings, the system will automatically open the skylights or extend the blinds as needed to improve air quality and temperature inside the home.
Colorful Kitchen Inspiration
5 impactful, on-trend cabinet stylings
The kitchen is the heart of many homes, and careful planning is a necessity when it comes to redesigning this essential living space. Picking out cabinetry – and a color for those cabinets, in particular – can be a challenging process.
Everything from the style of your cabinets to the amount of natural light your space receives are key factors to consider when choosing an updated hue. While white cabinets are an everlasting choice, and wood-stained cabinetry once held 70% of the market, painted cabinets now account for 70% of sales, signaling a significant shift among homeowners and their preferences.
While there are virtually no limitations when it comes to the paint, stain and glaze options available to complement your overall kitchen design, the current stylings reflected in Wellborn Cabinet’s annual color trends provides an opening to a range of impactful colors, such as grays, blues, blacks and wood tones, and a mixture of these on-trend hues.
A Gray for Every Mood
While gray cabinets have been a popular design choice for several years, much like shades of white, no two grays are exactly alike. Cabinet colors live on a color spectrum that ranges from warm to neutral to dark; warm grays have yellow or brown undertones while cool grays have hushed hues of blue.
Neutral gray, or Ash, is a true black and white mixture of colors. However, many homeowners are opting for warmer or cooler shades instead. For example, light gray cabinets can create a chic, modern motif for homeowners looking to liven up their space while avoiding completely white cabinetry. One of the latest gray trends is a warmer gray that can look almost beige, earning the nickname “greige.” Shades of dark gray – whether painted or stained – are also options for making a luxurious, traditional statement that can span ever-changing color trends.
A Sea of Blue
One of today’s hottest trends in kitchen cabinetry is the use of shades of blue, which provide calming and restful effects and the feeling of harmony and serenity. Pops of blue can be used as an accent color on islands or on either upper or base cabinets. To balance out these dramatic darks, many homeowners are opting to pair a bold color choice like a navy hue – such as Bleu – with neutral to warm whites, such as wool and bone white, to create a crisp, clean look. Gold hardware can be used on navy cabinetry for an upscale and regal look while silver-tone hardware provides a contemporary finishing touch.
While lighter shades of blue, like aqua, are perfect for keeping spaces light and airy, one of the latest colors to emerge is a mid-tone classic blue. A balanced option like Sapphire from Wellborn Cabinet, which is a classic, mid-tone royal blue available in the Premier and Estate Series framed cabinetry, as well as the full-access, frameless Aspire Series, can help create energy and inspiration for dining or cooking.
Mixed Wood Tones
Even with the rise in painted woods, stains are seeing a surge in popularity. The application of stain to natural wood can enhance the character of the cabinetry. Neutral color, dimension, texture and soft luxury can be layered into nearly any space to create a blended balance.
Wood grains typically pair well with whites, grays, blues and brass tones – all of which are popular colors in modern kitchens and other localized entertaining areas such as in-home refreshment areas or bars.
Often overlooked as more of an “accent” color, black has become livable, luxe and inviting with textured woods adding rustic, homely charm. For example, Wellborn Cabinet offers a decorative laminate veneer option in matte black. Edgy but classic, black cabinets can pair perfectly with nearly any design element still in its natural wooden state to create a distinct style that is all your own.
Multi-Tones and Unexpected Pops of Color
While all-white palettes have long reigned supreme in the kitchen for their timelessness and versatility, straying from neutral tones can add an energetic and welcoming feel to nearly any space. Smaller kitchens that once had an all-white look are getting a facelift by adding a burst of bright, bold color on either the upper or base cabinets. Adding colorful retro appliances or using the island as a canvas for an energetic and welcoming pop of color can also make a similar statement and help create a space unique to your style and personality.
Many homeowners are even pairing two or more complementary colors to create two- and three-toned looks. For example, lighter gray, Shale or blue can be used for the upper cabinets with darker shades used below for the base cabinetry, or a neutral hue can be used on the uppers with a contrast color on the bottom. In three-toned kitchens, an additional color or material is introduced to create asymmetry in the palette to help define zones or functions and keep the eye moving.
Find more on-trend kitchen inspiration and color options at Wellborn.com.
Get Your Home Ready for Work and School this Winter
Although preparing your home for winter is a fairly consistent process year-to-year, many homes have seen significantly more use this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. If your home will serve as your office or school throughout the winter months, it’s important to address issues that may have been noticed but tolerable during winters past.
Consider these tips from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry to help ensure your home is ready before winter weather strikes.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Beyond proper physical and structural considerations of winter preparations, the increased daily usage of your home naturally increases the importance of indoor air quality. Since windows and doors will likely be closed more often, moisture levels within your home can be significantly affected. Use a humidifier, if necessary, to maintain a relative humidity between 45-50%, which is healthier and can feel more comfortable. It can also keep wooden doors and windows functioning properly and wood furniture and floors looking good.
Get Your Furnace Checked
To keep your furnace from failing when you need it most, get it inspected by a professional before you need to rely on it to heat your home in the dead of winter. If you’re not leaving the house and turning down the thermostat each day, this will be especially important this year. Regular tune-ups can prolong your furnace’s life, help prevent carbon monoxide leaks and ensure your unit is working at maximum efficiency. If a whole-house humidifier is included as part of the heating system, also inspect the humidifier and replace the element, if necessary.
Seal Leaks Around Windows and Doors
Air infiltration is one of the largest culprits of reductions in a home’s efficiency. Small air leaks can add up to significant heat loss and a corresponding increase in energy consumption. If replacing window screens with storm windows and installing a storm door on your house isn’t realistic, increase energy efficiency by sealing gaps around window and door moldings with caulk to help keep heat from escaping. If any pipes or ducts travel through an exterior wall of your home, you can also use caulking and weather-stripping to help block potential entry points for cold air.
Check Your Gutters
Improper drainage away from the home is one of the biggest causes of water leaking into basements and crawlspaces. Gutters and downspouts have the single purpose of routing water away from your home to help prevent damage to your foundation. Once leaves have fallen and before the first snow, ensure your gutters are properly secured and clear of debris. Clogged gutters can lead to improper drainage and potential overflow, ice damming or other water-related issues. Also adjust downspouts so they direct water at least 5 feet from the house to help minimize the possibility of water run-off back toward the foundation.
Prep the Plumbing
When water freezes, it expands. Any residual water in pipes that is exposed to freezing temperatures, including interior lines located in exterior walls or unheated areas, can burst. Start by disconnecting hoses and shutting off exterior faucets, draining any water that remains in them and storing hoses indoors to prevent cracks. Drain any other pipes, valves or in-ground sprinklers that may be exposed to the elements and, for an extra layer of protection, wrap water spigots with covers to prevent damage. Sometimes a simple trick like keeping a cabinet door cracked open to allow warm air into the space can prevent frozen pipes.
Find more expert tips to get your home ready for winter at RemodelingDoneRight.com
Build Heart-Healthy Behaviors for Preschoolers at Home
A pressing concern like a global pandemic can quickly overshadow other important health challenges facing families. One is the issue of childhood obesity, a problem the slower pace of life brought on by COVID-19 could exacerbate.
Numerous cardiovascular and mental health risks are associated with childhood obesity, and many experts expect to see increases in both mental health challenges and obesity as a result of COVID-19.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity impacts 40% of children between the ages of 2-5, increasing their risk for type 2 diabetes, asthma and depression.
Data from a study published in the “Early Childhood Education Journal” from the American Heart Association shows children diagnosed as overweight between 7-13 years old may develop heart disease as early as age 25. However, preventative steps taken in early childhood can help reduce this risk.
Keeping young children healthy while at home during the pandemic requires extra attention to their nutrition, physical activity and screen time. Programs like the American Heart Association’s Healthy Way to Grow, a national, science-based, early childhood technical assistance program, provide educational resources to help communities, educators and caregivers improve practices and policies for obesity prevention.
These tips from the program can help early childhood professionals and caregivers promote best practices into the daily lives of children.
Less than 1% of children have ideal diets, and under 10% have reasonably healthy diets, according to the American Heart Association. On any given day, 27% of 2- and 3-year-olds don’t eat a vegetable; among those who do, fried potatoes, which are high in fat and lower in nutrients, are most common. In fact, data shows kids eat less nutritious foods up to age 19.
Children should consume a variety of foods daily, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairies, lean vegetable or animal protein and fish. At the same time, kids should minimize trans fats, processed meats, refined carbohydrates and sweetened beverages.
Consistently timed meals and pairing new foods with choices they already enjoy are two ways to help form healthier habits. Be aware that healthy choices should apply throughout the day, not only for meals but also snacks and beverages. Eating together as a family provides an opportunity to model healthy eating and encourage children to try new foods. Also make water available and accessible to children throughout the day.
For infants, feeding provides nutrition for their physical and mental growth. Healthy babies usually double their birth weight between 4-5 months of age. Infants and children with congenital heart disease and congestive heart failure or cyanosis (blueness) tend to gain weight slower. An 8-ounce-1-pound gain in a month may be an acceptable weight gain for a baby with a heart defect.
Only about 20% of kids perform enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. Whether you’re working with children in a childcare setting or at home, look for ways to incorporate lesson plans that offer learning experiences about healthy eating and physical activity, and ensure the daily schedule includes ample active playtime.
The Healthy Way to Grow program recommends all children, including infants, have at least two outdoor active playtimes daily, weather and air quality permitting. Toddlers should engage in 60-90 minutes while 120 minutes of daily active play is recommended for preschoolers. Half the time should be structured and led by a teacher or caregiver while the remaining playtime should be unstructured and up to the child.
Learn more about protecting the health and wellness of children in your home and community at healthywaytogrow.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Ease Into Education
If there’s one constant this year, it’s change. With another school year comes even more change, but you can help your family make a smooth transition with some planning and preparation.
Allow time for adjustments. After months of later bedtimes and laid-back schedules, kids and parents alike need a little time to adjust to a new mindset. Start gradually dialing back bedtime and scheduling time for educational activities and lunchtime a few weeks before school begins. This gives you plenty of time to work out any glitches while avoiding the resistance and disruption that more abrupt changes can bring.
Map out a visual guide. Especially after spending more time at home, having everyone headed in different directions may feel a bit overwhelming. This may be particularly true if your school model requires non-traditional scheduling or if you’re making a return to a more rigorous extracurricular activity schedule. For younger kids and those who learn better by seeing than hearing, a visual representation can help illustrate how schedules will be changing. Color coding by person or activity can help everyone understand who should be where and when.
Make evenings easier. A household with school-age kids is seemingly bustling all the time, but evenings are often especially busy with activities, homework and other commitments competing for attention. Gathering everyone around the table for a meal may be a challenge, so when you do succeed, give yourself permission to shave time where you can. For example, keeping disposable tableware on-hand lets you skip the cleanup on nights you don’t want to do dishes and spend more time assisting with science projects and cheering on athletic teams. Premium options like Chinet Classic White plates are strong enough for the heaviest, messiest meals so you don’t have to worry about spills and leaks.
Set a positive tone. Transitions happen more easily when the destination is exciting and appealing. Help kids get excited about a return to school by talking about what they’re looking forward to and offering reassurance about their concerns. Allow kids to put a personal touch on supplies they’ll be excited to use, such as a new backpack or headphones for online learning. Put simply, model positivity for students to mirror as they head into a new school year.
Spend family time together. At the end of each day, once everyone is done with school and work, make some time for a physical activity the whole family can participate in. Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood to get some fresh air or a game of tag or soccer in the backyard, getting active together can be an easy way to spend time winding down and bonding.
Look for more inspiration to ease your family’s return to learning at MyChinet.com.
Enjoy More Convenient Mornings
How you begin each day sets the tone for the hours that follow. Put yourself on course for a successful, stress-free day by eliminating hassles and introducing some tricks to make each morning as convenient as possible.
Find a routine that works: Numerous parenting experts recommend routines for children, but they’re beneficial for grownups, too. A regular routine takes the guesswork out of what comes next so you can go through the motions of getting ready before your brain is fully engaged. There’s no perfect order for getting things done, just find what works best for your family. With a little trial and error, you can create a system that gives you peace of mind that every box gets checked before the family scatters in different directions each morning.
Wake up prepared: Even the best routines sometimes go awry, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and minimize the impact. Using the evening to ensure each student has everything he or she needs for the next school day eliminates a lot of commotion in the morning. Designate a place for school items, whether it’s a hook or spot by the door for backpacks or a cubby near the home school space. Use the same approach to select and lay out clothes for everyone before bed.
Rev up all your senses: Creating positive energy can be a whole-body experience. Add some upbeat music, throw open the blinds and get that coffee brewing. Signaling to your senses that it’s time to take on a new day can help you shake off any lingering drowsiness and shift into a more productive mode. It’s an approach that is both practical and fun, so you’re setting a positive tone for the whole family.
Take your java on the go: It’s not always realistic to sit and savor your first cup of coffee, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your morning energy burst. Many experts suggest avoiding coffee on an empty stomach, so taking it on the go and using your limited time to grab a bite to eat is a better alternative. Brew your cup and go with an option like the Chinet Comfort Cup insulated hot cup, which has double-layer insulation and an easy fit snap-and-go lid to make taking your coffee on the road (or around the block on a morning walk) convenient and comfortable.
Savvy tips to kick off a new school year
Returning to learning may bring more new experiences this fall than anyone ever imagined. Regardless of the learning environment, there are some tips and supplies that can make it easier on the whole family to restart curriculum.
Whether your kids will be at home or in the classroom, making education easy is likely a top priority as you plan for the weeks and months ahead. These supplies and ideas can help you get organized and ready to tackle a new school year with confidence.
Find more back-to- school tips and solutions at eLivingtoday.com.
Calculate Your Way to School Success
Whether learning from home or the classroom, Texas Instruments has students covered with new additions to its colorful collection of TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculators. Available in colors like “Rose Curve Gold” and “Measure Mint,” these math and science machines help students grasp important STEM concepts and succeed on exams. The super-sleek graphing calculator can take students from middle school through graduate school, and can even help them learn to code. Find more school solutions at education.ti.com.
Don’t Overlook Organization
Staying organized during school season is a goal for many families, and one of the best ways to do so is with an option like ClosetMaid Mini 6 Cube Organizers, which are refreshed versions of old favorites. Use these organizers, also available in matching offset designs, on flat surfaces or mounted on the wall to store, organize and display any number of small items. Find more solutions for the school year at closetmaid.com.
Make Lunchtime Easy
You can make lunchtime fun, flavorful and easy for your little learner with Sabra Singles, a plant-based snack perfect for kids. Pair with classics like carrots, cucumbers, tortilla chips or pretzels. They’re available in varieties like Classic and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and allow kids to help themselves to make lunchtime a cinch. Find more inspiration at sabra.com.
Better Organization with a Bookshelf
A new school year and the learning it entails calls for plenty of books, which means organization is paramount. Store your student’s books and more, like picture frames, with an option such as the Wide 3-Shelf Ladder Bookshelf from ClosetMaid. These sleek and modern units, available in multiple finish colors and sizes, can be easily assembled and quickly ready for use anywhere in your home. Visit closetmaid.com to find additional organization solutions for this school year.
Enjoy a Delectable, Better-For-You Dessert
A long day of reading, math and more deserves a treat to end the school day on a high note. For a delicious option you can feel good about enjoying and serving to your kids, consider fairlife’s Light Ice Cream, expertly crafted with ultra-filtered milk and natural flavors to deliver a lactose-free treat with a rich, creamy texture and 40% less sugar than traditional ice cream. Find more information at fairlife.com.
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Creating a Stable Back-to-School Routine for Children
If there’s one thing parents know, it’s children thrive on routines. When it seems like everything is changing, routines can create stability.
“When children know what to expect, they don’t feel powerless and out of control,” said Rashelle Chase from KinderCare Learning Centers’ education team. “Children like to plan just as much as adults do. When they know what will happen next, they can set their expectations.”
Routines can also help children regulate their emotions – and avoid meltdowns or outbursts – because their days follow a pattern and are predictable. There’s typically a sense of comfort in knowing what comes next.
Whether your child’s back-to-school routine includes actually going to school or distance learning, consider these tips to help create a sense of stability.
Set a schedule
Talk with your child about his or her school day and how it will be different. Work together to come up with ways you can both ease into the new routine, whether your child is attending school part time, learning at home or going to a childcare center or program. Remember, little things can help create a sense of routine and stability. Even if your child is learning at home and could stay in pajamas all day, something as small as getting dressed in school clothes and brushing teeth before sitting down for lessons can signal it’s time to study.
The things that make school fun – whatever that may be for your child – aren’t at home. However, there are some things you can do at home, like eat a snack while studying or play with toys, that you cannot do at school that make learning more enjoyable. Be sure to build breaks into your child’s day. Knowing there will be something fun after the next lesson can give your child something to look forward to and help him or her settle down to complete the task at hand. Plus, those breaks can be an opportunity for parents to get some work done, too.
Talk with your child and with his or her teachers: Perhaps those 30 minutes of reading don’t have to be done midmorning when your child is restless. Instead, maybe your family could do 30 minutes of reading before bed when your child is calmer.
Talk it out
Nearly everyone is experiencing strong emotions right now whether it’s in reaction to an abnormal start to the school year or other factors that impact daily life. The difference is adults can contextualize a situation and adjust their reactions. Children haven’t yet mastered those skills, so they react based on whatever nugget of information they have.
Home is a safe place for most children, which means they know they can express their feelings freely. That may mean slamming laptops or books down in frustration, yelling or using hurtful words. Your child might be upset because he or she doesn’t understand the schoolwork or might be afraid for safety or the safety of loved ones during these uncertain times. Talk with your child about his or her feelings and work together to find healthy ways to express those emotions, like taking three deep breaths or using a physical activity to vent, instead of keeping those feelings pent-up inside.
Difference and change don’t have to mean chaos and uncertainty. With a bit of thought and a stable routine, parents can help their children have an enjoyable, productive school year. Find more tips for creating stable routines for children at kindercare.com.