The power of a gratitude list
Count your blessings when the going gets tough.
Making lists for groceries or household to-dos can help you be more organized, but how about creating a list that can lift your spirits? A gratitude list will serve as a cheerful reminder of all those things—large and small—that you're grateful for.
Choose a small notebook or journal that fits easily in your purse or pocket, or simply use the memo function or a list app on your mobile phone, and add to your list whenever inspiration strikes. Open it the next time you're feeling blue, overwhelmed or in need of a pick-me-up—and this reminder of all the things you have to be thankful for can lift your mood.
Your list may even inspire you to spread your gratitude by reminding the people in your life how much the little things they do mean to you. Putting your appreciation in writing can have powerful effects. Just try it.
Bring the drive-in home
With a little advance planning, you can re-create the old-fashioned fun of watching a movie under the stars.
For just a small investment, you can rent a DVD projector and screen (or simply hang a white sheet against the side of your house or garage). Then spread some blankets on the lawn and invite your family, friends and neighbors to watch their silver-screen favorites.
Don't forget the snacks. Make a few batches of popcorn for your eager guests and pass it out in easy-to-fill Ziploc® Brand Expandable Bottom Storage Bags
that stand upright for effortless snacking. Hand out an assortment of popcorn toppings (like grated cheese, cinnamon sugar and garlic salt) in individual, easy-to-stack Ziploc® Brand Containers with the Smart Snap® Seal
If mosquitoes threaten to spoil the mood, set out plenty of disposable OFF! Botanicals™ Towelettes. These individually wrapped wipes are convenient and feel great on—not stick or greasy. They are specially formulated to effectively repel mosquitoes, black flies, gnats and no-see-ums for up to 2 hours.
The only thing left to do: decide between a romantic comedy and a crowd-pleasing action movie.
4 ideas for spring time family fun
Welcome spring with fun activities for the whole family.
If being cooped up inside all winter has left your family a little stir- crazy, we have four fun tips to help you cure your cabin fever and experience the beauty of spring.
1.Make a difference.
Volunteering is a great way to help the community while having fun as a family. Look for activities that will get everyone outside like a local charity walk or park beautification project. Visit volunteermatch.org
to search for ways to make a difference with almost 80,000 organizations across the country.
2.Plant a family garden.
Foster a love of gardening and help teach your kids responsibility by giving them each a small patch of land or container that they’re in charge of growing. Pick easy-to-grow flowers like marigolds or fast-growing veggies like carrots and radishes so they won’t get discouraged. Or, go for a sweet treat like strawberries or cherry tomatoes that they’ll love eating fresh from the garden all summer long.
To experience the beauty of spring in action, head to a local forest preserve and let the kids invite a pal along. Hike the trails, pick flowers, see who can spot the most animals and insects, or just have fun with a game of catch. And don’t forget to bring along some Ziploc® Brand bags
for collecting leaves, flowers, small rocks and any other treasures you might find.
4.Plan future fun.
If spring hasn’t sprung in your part of the country yet, cure your family’s cabin fever by coming up with fun activities to do when the weather improves. From cruising local bike trails to taking a day trip to a nearby town, let every family member take a role in planning, researching and dreaming up fun things to do.
Create a homework motivation station
Give your children an easier way to get down to business with a learning space of their own.
Kitchens and bedrooms can be distracting places to study. An out-of-the-way hallway or a corner of your home office can be repurposed for homework. Start with privacy by bordering the edge of an inexpensive table with a tri-fold display board, available at office stores. If you have room, add a yard-sale armchair to create a cozy reading nook.
Once your child’s station is set up, help him focus:
- Break tasks into short periods with a timer that signals breaks
- Drop cell phones and gaming devices into a basket until work is done
- Set up a two-pocket folder for each class—left pocket for pending assignments and right for completed work
- Keep track of deadlines with a small dry-erase board
Even if your child is using your old computer, keep the monitor screen looking as good as new with Windex® Electronics Wipes
. And remember, your support and praise are always the best motivation.
Inner-child summer camp
Take some time this summer just to feel like a kid again.
From wriggling your bare toes in the fresh-cut grass to re-reading childhood favorites during a thunderstorm, it’s thrilling to act like a kid for a little while in the summertime.
Nothing’s more refreshing than dashing through a sprinkler on a hot afternoon! If you don’t dash as you used to, enjoy an exhilarating outdoor soak by installing an inexpensive outdoor shower.
Tie-dyeing old white tablecloths or sheets creates great picnic-table covers. Toss in a Shout® Color Catcher®
sheet when you launder them to keep the dyes from running.
While you may be too grown up to reach for the sky from a swing, you can watch the clouds and, after the sun sets, count stars from a swaying hammock or a chair on your deck or patio.
Under the stars.
No need to travel or hike far away when you can set up a tent in your own backyard and enjoy a quick getaway. Plus, your real bed is close if you feel a little homesick.
Make dad king of the castle
Give the man of the house a day to remember.
Make him a stately throne at the table by slipping a pillowcase over the back of his chair and placing a throw pillow on the seat. Break out the craft supplies to make paper or foil crowns and cone-shaped princess hats fit for the royal court. Embellish them with glitter, rhinestones, sequins and ribbon streamers.
The queen and the court can work together to prepare the king’s favorite meal
. Set the table, making it as majestic and elaborate as possible. Use trays, candelabras, and goblets to toast the king.
After the meal, it's time for entertainment! If you’re the “court jester” of the family, recite a funny poem. A musician? Play or sing him a song. Making dad king for a day will create lasting family memories
—much more than any necktie ever could.
Create a spring gallery
Brighten your home with photos of the first signs of spring.
Don't wait for spring—instead, go out and capture it. ''Gather your family together to make a list of potential spring finds to photograph," suggests Carol Endler Sterbenz, lifestyle expert and co-author of Pottery Barn Storage & Display
. Then grab the digital camera and start nature hunting.
"Use the zoom function to get beautiful close-ups without disturbing your subjects," says Sterbenz. "The colorful patterns on a butterfly’s wings, water droplets shaken off a puddle-bathing robin or the velvet texture of a daffodil petal will give your photos the most impact." Then frame and display the prints together on a wall or mantle for a revitalizing daily reminder that spring is on its way.
Grow your gallery throughout the season by making it a weekly family get-together. And when the remnants of winter keep you inside, try a Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil in Hawaiian Breeze®
near your photo collection—it will remind you of your spring outings every time you walk by.
Take a Leap-Day Break
If you find yourself wishing there were more days in the month, you’re in luck.
This year’s leap day (February 29, 2008) means there’s one extra day to schedule some refreshing “me” time.
“You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others,” says Laura DuPriest, author of the book, Natural Beauty: Pamper Yourself with Salon Secrets at Home
. “To give ourselves the energy to give, we have to take a little break.”
DuPriest’s book offers ways to refuel with easy, inexpensive at-home spa treatments. One of her favorite moisturizing face masks is simply made of mashed avocado or banana—spread it on thinly, and rinse it off after 10 minutes. If a skin-soothing bath sounds more tempting, stir powdered dried milk into warm (not hot) water or add in oatmeal that you’ve ground to a powder in the food processor. Just set a Glade® Jar Candle
on a nearby shelf or countertop, and you’ve created a soothing at-home oasis for your extra day.
Whether it’s at-home spa treatments, reading a book on the sofa, or inviting some friends over for lunch, make the most of your leap day break…after all, the next one is four years away!
Reawaken your inner artist
Now’s the time to make a little “me” time with a new art project.
Jump right in.
A good place to start might be in a local coffee shop, writing whatever comes to mind. Nature lovers who also draw can discover the visual delights of their own backyard…maybe sitting quietly outside to concentrate. If that appeals to you, be sure to enjoy personal mosquito protection you don’t spray on with OFF!® Clip-On™ Mosquito Repellent
Create a project.
Don't know where to start? Flip through magazines for inspiration. Or pick a theme like shooting photos in black-and-white for a day, illustrating a scene from a favorite book or painting everyday objects. Try writing a children's story or creating a special spot in the garden.
Lose the inner critic.
Don't let it beat up your inner artist; making art is for your enjoyment. The point is the fun in doing, and there isn’t a right or wrong way—just your
way—to create something that pleases you.
The gift of time
Give a meaningful gift of your time with downloadable, personalized coupons.
The holidays can strain our pocketbooks and send stress levels soaring. Escape the mad dash and give something truly special this season: your time.
Give coupons for a candlelight dinner or cleaning support to your spouse. Create a book of coupons for five dog walks or several babysitting hours for your friends or neighbors. And how about coupons for a chore-free weekend or 30 minutes of extra play time for the kids?
Linda Facci, crafting guru and owner of Manhattan-based Facci Designs, suggests adding themed trinkets to the mix: "Wrap your candlelight-dinner coupon in a linen napkin, or attach a dog-biscuit-filled Ziploc® Brand Sandwich Bag
to your dog-walking coupon."Download
* (PDF) and print your coupons on heavy paper and embellish with ribbon or glitter. To create an entire booklet, punch holes in the upper-left-hand corners and attach several coupons with a metal ring or ribbon.
* Adobe® Reader® required
Stack some jacks
Create a tower of pumpkins—one for each member of the family!
To make a family pumpkin tower, start by carving small pumpkins to represent each member of the family, including the family dog or cat. Don’t worry about making an exact likeness advises pumpkin-carving expert Lisa Berberette, aka The Pumpkin Lady®. To suggest who the pumpkin is meant to be, include some telling detail, e.g., big eyebrows or lips, eyeglasses, etc. Then cut holes in the top and bottom, stack ’em on top of each other and secure with toothpicks. Place a tall candle inside the bottom pumpkin so the light shines all the way up—eerie and attention getting!
To make your carved jack-o’-lanterns last longer, coat their cut edges with petroleum jelly. But once a pumpkin starts to smell and decay (usually a couple of days past Halloween), it’s time to dispose of it. Scoop up the remains and add them to the compost heap. If you don’t have a compost heap, place in a large plastic bag, secure tightly and discard.
Start a new friendship tradition
Make seeing your best friends a regular thing with these inspired activities.
Even with social networks, it can be hard to see friends in person as often as you’d like. Turn the interests you share into new traditions and enjoy more frequent friend time!
Hike, bike or hit the gym with a friend, and you’ll stay fit and in touch.
Book or DVD club.
A great way to spark lively conversation and enjoy some tasty nibbles. For Jane Austen reading, try setting the mood with a Glade® Jar Candle
for a spirited pirate movie.
You may see some friends only once a year so make it an event. Dinner with a waterfront or rooftop view is always special.
Take turns hosting your own cooking shows. Imagine the fun you’ll have “starring” in your own kitchens while dishing with your “audience.”
Family pow-wows for perfect parties
When you get family members involved in party prep, everyone will get more out of the event.
Before guests arrive, schedule a quick pow-wow to discuss how you can work together to help the party flow smoothly and make everyone feel welcome.
Let each family member choose how to help from a variety of age-appropriate tasks. For example, adults can greet guests or take drink orders while older children can hang jackets or show guests around. Even young ones can help out by entertaining more bashful cousins.
And make sure everyone knows where you keep these party essentials: Scrubbing Bubbles® Antibacterial Bathroom Wipes
to touch up bathroom surfaces to a beautiful shine and Shout® Wipes
for helping guests quickly remove party stains from clothes.
With everyone in the family on the same page before the party begins and knowing what to do throughout, you’ll all feel a sense of accomplishment, party prep will be stress-free and your get-together will be a success.
A fresh take on spring cleaning
With just a small shift of attitude, that big spring cleaning job could feel like a joy.
Pamela Brunderman of Organized For Life in White Plains, NY, helps her clients look at spring cleaning as an opportunity for making a fresh start by clearing out the clutter in every aspect of their lives. The same approach could also help you to gain back control of your life, your possessions and even your time.
“It helps to focus on the benefits you will receive,” Brunderman says.
A member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, Brunderman tells us that a clear head and reordered surroundings provide an increased sense of control, well-being and energy. So try clearing out things that really no longer serve a purpose or a function for you. That simple act can free the way for something new—maybe even better—to come into your life.
New ways with gift baskets
Try starting with a container that both enhances and becomes part of the gift.
Then fill the container with inexpensive items that go well together. How about…
Stock it with yard-sale finds for new homeowners—tools, tape measures, assorted nails and levels. Or think beyond its original purpose and fill it with dollar-store art supplies for an ardent crafter, or makeup and nail polish for your favorite preteen.
A food container.
Fill a large Ziploc® Brand Containers with the Smart Snap™ Seal
with dry ingredients for cookies. Add a copy of the recipe, cookie cutters and measuring cups or spoons. If you’d like to keep the ingredients separate, consider first measuring them into individual Ziploc® Brand Sandwich Bags
before placing them into the container.
A big ceramic bowl.
For movie buffs, load the bowl with packaged microwave popcorn, movie candy and a few DVDs (check online auction sites like ebay.com for bargains—we found a new copy of our favorite romantic comedy for just $2.95).
Organize a clothing swap
What could be better than getting a new outfit without spending a cent?
When Carla O'Connor lost 20 pounds, she needed a new wardrobe—and to get rid of the old one. Her solution: host a clothing swap. She invited friends to bring over clothes they no longer wore, and everyone took turns "shopping" for treasures.
O'Connor's swap became an annual tradition. After the birth of her twin daughters, it expanded to include baby clothes. Since kids outgrow clothes so quickly, says O'Connor, "it's nice to know someone else is going to use them."
Make sure everyone knows that the clothes they bring should be clean and free of stains, rips or other damage. Also, arrange to donate any items your guests don't want to a charity or shelter.
Add a little extra fun to your swap—treat your friends to glasses of Super Fruity Sangria
With the money you save by swapping, you'll be able to treat yourself, too. A handbag to go with your "new" wardrobe, perhaps?
Making time for family meals can help your family eat more healthily while enjoying other positive benefits.
“We wish we could all eat together more often” Cathy Hall says. “We fit in what we can, mostly on weekends.” Cathy is a busy working mom in Bedford, NH, who owns a physical therapy clinic and has to plan meals around the activities of her two school-age children. Cathy already knows what recent studies are showing: there are many benefits to having meals together as a family.
But with our hectic lifestyles, that’s often hard to do. Experts say not to beat yourself up about it. Even if you can manage only a few sit-down meals a week, it’s better than none at all. And it doesn’t have to be dinner. Family breakfasts or lunches work too.
How can this help your kids? While every family’s experience will be different, research points to healthier eating, better behavior, improved schoolwork, more communication and less chance of risky behavior as a teen.
One great trick Cathy uses: have the kids help prepare the meal. “They eat much better when they are proud of making it!” she says.
Keep on track with a family calendar
When everyone is busy, a family calendar can help keep you on schedule.
To create your family calendar, buy a monthly calendar with enough space to write in everyone's commitments. (We really like Mom’s Plan-It Plus calendar
.) Choose a central place to hang it, such as in the kitchen or by the door. Assign a different color to each family member and store the colored pens close to the calendar to make it easy for everyone to get into the habit of adding in their obligations.
If your family is tech savvy, consider setting up a shared online calendar that can be accessed from work, school or home computers. Online calendar services are easy to find—just type "shared online calendars" into your favorite search engine. Some services will even send event reminders to your mobile phone.
Whichever method you choose, you'll be able to clearly see where everybody needs to be on any given day. You'll never miss carpooling or soccer practice again!
Cook up an outdoor theme
Make a fun theme the secret ingredient at your next backyard barbecue.
Create your own fun cookout theme or let these ideas fire up your imagination.
A fiery fiesta.
Begin by creating a mood with Mexican tissue flowers
, salsa music and fairy lights. Then let guests customize their own fajitas
with toppings like sour cream, grated cheese and salsa served (then stored) in Ziploc® Brand Containers with the Smart Snap™ Seal
Luau on the lawn.
Bring the taste of the Aloha state to your patio with Hawaiian tuna burgers
. Greet each guest with a crepe paper lei. Cut two yards of two-inch-wide crepe paper and cut 36 inches of thread. Then sew quarter-inch stitches up the center, bunching the paper and twisting it as you go, before tying the ends.
Rise and shine cookout.
Enjoy the cool of the morning with a cowboy-style breakfast barbecue. Place a griddle on the grill and make flapjacks and bacon. Tie bandannas with rope for napkins and tuck vases filled with sunflowers into old cowboy boots.
Avoid the sting of spring
As the weather warms, let wasps know they’re not welcome.
In springtime, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets start perusing eaves, porch roofs and window ledges for nesting locations. To keep them from making your house their home, get rid of their nests as soon as you find them.
To kill the population of an existing wasp nest spray in the early morning or wait until early evening when activity is minimal. Always wear layers of protective clothing and don’t carry a flashlight in the evening; it could attract wasps. Spray and thoroughly saturate the nest with Raid® Wasp & Hornet Killer 33
to kill the entire nest population. Stand a safe distance from the nest and not directly underneath. Wait at least 24 hours before removing the nest.
To stop yellow jackets, which nest underground or behind walls, set out a Raid® Disposable Yellow Jacket Trap
on the perimeter of your yard to catch the queen before the population grows.
And, whenever you use an insect control product, please be sure to read the product label for complete directions, precautions and additional information.
Talking about green living
Commit to taking this small step and get the ball rolling for Earth Month.
“Green is about community and about how we share resources,” says Meaghan O’Neill, editor-in-chief of PlanetGreen.com
. “Kids get that pretty fast, even if they don’t understand the technical details.” She suggests offering logical cause-and-effect reasoning on a level they can understand.
Start with the little things—especially for the little ones. “Point out that we don’t waste water when brushing our teeth because it affects the pond nearby, or that we don’t leave trash in the road because an animal might think it’s food,” says O’Neill. Or get everyone involved in an environmental discussion with a project that strengthens your connection to the planet, like a family garden. Sharing a tangible goal you can all be part of can help keep motivations in tact.
However you get the conversation started, once you do, more and more responsible practices will likely become second nature. For you and your family.
What Are Your Family’s Top 10 Meals?
Make an official list for easy menu planning and food shopping.
Every family has them—favorite meals that please all the people all the time. So why not list that to make menu planning easier on yourself?
Just have each family member write down his or her favorites, including full dinner menus, single dishes (entrées, appetizers and sides), and even desserts. Then consolidate into one master list.
Try to make three meals from the list each week, which will please the masses and make weekly planning easier. Plus, you can save money buying all the storable ingredients in bulk. And when you use Ziploc® Fresh Shield® Containers with Snap 'n Seal Lids
, tasty leftovers will stay fresh longer and won't go to waste.
With their favorites in regular rotation, your family may be more enthusiastic about trying new dishes. So experiment…and update the top 10 accordingly.
Making More Time for Friends
Spending quality time with friends is a resolution you can stick to.
Studies from UCLA and Harvard Medical School show that women are happier and less stressed when they hang out with friends. Here are some ideas for finding time in your busy schedule.
Weekly grocery shopping.
Going with a friend will make the time fly by; plus, you can swap tips on recipes and products. And of course, carpooling saves gas and money.
Coordinate morning walks and evening jogs or sign up for a fun class like belly dancing. When snow falls, do your shoveling with a neighbor. You’ll get time to catch up and could burn over 200 calories an hour.
Invite friends over to create meals together that you can later divide up and take home. You’ll spend half the time laughing, and everyone will get a week's worth of dinners out of it. Pack to-go items in leak-resistant Ziploc® Fresh Shield® Twist 'n Loc® Containers
and note which are freezer friendly.
Pocket Change for a Cause
Foster the spirit of generosity with “give-back” jars guests can contribute to.
No one likes to come to a gathering empty handed, but this often means the host ends up with unneeded gifts or an over-abundance of food that will go to waste. This year, consider asking guests to bring something you can put to good use—their loose change.
Set up jars or containers, like Ziploc® Brand Containers with the Smart Snap® Seal
for collections, and label each with the charity, shelter or organization to which you'll be donating. Include some information about each, and decorate the containers with craft paper and ribbon—a great way to get your kids involved.
You can also dedicate one bin to funding an act of kindness, which you can do as a family, like buying gifts for less-fortunate children or planting a neighborhood garden.
Put the jars out for Thanksgiving and keep them through New Year’s Day. Then donate the money and do something special as a family to celebrate your involvement in the true holiday spirit.
Happy birthday hand washing
Stop germs in their tracks with proper hand-hygiene techniques.
Fifteen seconds, or the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice (quickly), is how long it takes to wash hands properly, says Reneé Watson, manager of infection control and occupational health at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Watson's tips for the cleanest hands are simple: wet your hands, apply soap and scrub all the surfaces (including thumbs, between fingers, fingernails and wrists) for 15 seconds. Rinse with fingertips pointed down and dry with a paper towel, using the towel to shut off water. No water? Watson says alcohol hand sanitizers work as well, although soap and water are a better choice after using the bathroom.
Maximize your hand hygiene skills by tackling frequently touched areas in your house: doorknobs, faucets, toilet handles (and seats), phones, keyboards and light switches.Glade® Tough Odor Solutions Surface Disinfectant & Air Sanitizers
kills 99.9% of germs—including influenza A —on hard, non-porous surfaces. What’s more, the US Environmental Protection Agency believes that products that are effective against influenza A are likely to be effective against the H1N1 virus formerly known as the swine flu.
Now that’s something to sing about!
Making Good Habits Stick
Try these simple techniques to keep your good intentions from fizzling out.
First, figure out how your new habit will work into your current schedule. To start, you might need to commit time on your calendar and set up a reminder system, just as you would for a class or appointment. Online software with features like checklists, journals and email reminders (one example is lifetick.com
) can help you stay on track.
Second, set up a support system of neighbors, friends or family who have a similar goal—and to whom you can report progress. Or try searching online for like-minded folk to support your efforts; meetup.com
, for instance, is a great resource for finding exercise buddies or fellow hobbyists.
Rewarding yourself for progress can also keep you on track, as can keeping a journal or log of your accomplishments. Finally, many experts believe that it takes about three weeks to form a habit, so think positively and stick with it!
Take Five in Your Backyard
A refreshing change of scenery and mood is closer than you think.
Feeling stressed after a long day of work, child care or household chores? You don’t need to go far to get away from it all. Take five minutes of alone time and walk out to your backyard, deck or patio to tune into your five senses.
Breathe in the scent of freshly mown grass or fragrant flowers. Listen to the birds chirping or the breeze blowing. Feel the sun’s warmth on your face and notice the vivid blue sky and puffy white clouds. Take three deep breaths. You’ll feel yourself physically relax and recharge so you can face the rest of your day with a smile.
To keep the good vibes flowing or to brighten your mood anytime, light a Glade® Jar Candle
. Then find a quiet corner, close your eyes and let your mind drift to a warm and sunny place.
Big Outdoor Fun
Take your indoor games out for some oversize fun.
Why huddle around a small game board when it’s nice outside? A little
imagination will help you create wonderful oversize versions of some of your
favorite games—and turn your lawn or park into a play space. Boxes painted with dots become dice. Ropes laid down can mark the path to victory. Poster boards can be painted to make any type of card your game may use. Colored paper plates can easily be transformed into playing pieces for games
like checkers. But for ultimate big backyard fun, you and your kids can become the playing pieces, moving around a board as large as your backyard.
Your big games are sure to be a huge hit and will keep you and your family (and probably the neighbors) outside all summer. Remember to use Raid® Yard Guard® Outdoor Fogger
to keep bugs away from your outdoor fun for up to six hours.
Back to Basics in the Family Kitchen
Learning to make basic foods your kids enjoy can be a fun family activity and a science lesson rolled into one.
Discover how easy it can be to make foods that you ordinarily buy packaged from the grocery store. Many can be made with simple recipes and common household ingredients readily available in your pantry.
Kids will love kneading bread dough
made from yeast, flour, salt and water. Or spend quality time together making delicious ricotta or mozzarella cheese with this easy kit
—and the cheese will be ready to eat in only 30 minutes. Other typically processed foods like ice cream
are also kid friendly and deliciously fun to make at home.
Your kitchen is a valuable classroom for you and your kids, and cooking together is a great way to bond as a family. Together, you’ll gain a new appreciation for where food comes from, while enjoying the wholesome taste of your creations. And remember, making a mess is half the fun, so keep a bottle of Nature's Source® All-Purpose Cleaner
nearby for cleaning up spills.
Family Reunion 2.0
Get out the video camera and create a one-of-a-kind family heirloom.
You don’t need to save your video camera for big events or family vacations. Why not use it today to create your own one-of-a-kind memory keeper? Sit down with your family and create a list of topics and questions, then let the camera roll. Answer questions, show off signature dance moves, share a craft or tell family stories, old and new.
Right@Home® member Sheila J. of Hinesville, GA would always videotape her grandmother cooking. "She’d tell us the recipe and the story behind it," says Sheila. "Now we all have a video with some of her best and favorite recipes as a keepsake to pass on to our children."
Camera shy? Professional interviewer Jeanne Finnerty offers these conversation starters. "I begin with ''tell me about…,' then follow up with how, when and why. Asking someone to tell you a joke is also a great way to loosen them up."
Clear your head while you clean
Tackle a repetitive task to unlock some answers.
Next time you can't make a decision, need a clever solution or simply want to get inspired, try dusting the furniture or cleaning the windows. The act of doing a repetitive task can free your mind to wander—and come up with a brilliant solution.
In their book The Breakout Principle
, Herbert Benson, M.D., and William Proctor have found that by doing a simple repetitive mental or physical activity, you can unblock your previous train of thought. By performing a mindless activity, you can become "unstuck"—triggering new insights, increasing your productivity and renewing your creativity.
So when you're stumped, just grab a broom, or some Windex® Original Glass Wipes
and tackle your windows. You could end up feeling less stressed, more relaxed and able to see things more clearly—in more ways than one.
Shoes Off for Cleanliness and Health
Shoes can be dirty business. Learn how to stop tracking unwanted substances into your home.
After a day of running errands, walking into restrooms and strolling through the park or playground, you may have collected an army of grit, grime and germs on the soles of your shoes. All that icky stuff gets a free ride—straight into your home.
Bacteria like E. coli can cling to shoes for long stretches. In fact, 90 to 99 percent of contaminants tracked in get transferred to floors, where they can be transmitted to family members—especially children and pets, who spend their time at floor level.
An effective way to curb indoor pollution is to go shoe free. Simply place a shelf or basket near your entranceway, where family and guests can remove and place their shoes. Stash fun house slippers or socks nearby for a quick, comfy change.
For extra protection, vacuum your floors and mop them regularly with antibacterial floor cleaner.
Give away your to-dos
Flowers and chocolate are always great, but this Mother’s Day, why not ask your family for the best gift of all: taking over everything on your to-do list!
Get started by making your usual list, including every part of your daily routine. Write down morning rituals like making breakfast, tidying bedrooms and cleaning and dusting. Include appointment making, grocery shopping and after-school pick-ups. Add on making dinner and washing up and…whew! It’s clear it takes a mother to take care of a family and home.
When you’re finished, hand your list to your partner and the kids and let it become their list. Now they can take care of you for the day! Depending on age and maturity, supervised kids can do the cleaning, shopping and even the cooking. And their other loving parent can take on pick-ups and deliveries.
You’ll get your well-deserved holiday—and your family will appreciate just how much you do to create an organized and comfortable home life for them!
Giving Back From The Heart
Join the people who’ve found personal and satisfying ways to contribute to their communities.
Wondering how to give back to your community this season? Just find your passion and share it!
When neighborhood kids went wild over the toy truck Mel Hartman carved for his grandson, he decided to enlist the help of fellow Minnesotans, the residents of a senior-citizen home and even inmates at the local penitentiary; 17 years later, his company TLC Toys has hand-crafted over 150,000 toys for local charities.
Sound daunting? Not at all; everyone has something he or she can share with those less fortunate, including time. For example, one community pooled its cooking smarts and backyard grills to barbecue over a thousand turkeys for a Thanksgiving charity. Another family, inspired by their son’s love of sports, donated wrestling gear to an inner-city church; the next year they took disabled kids to a hockey game.
The personal touch is what makes it priceless — and not just for the recipients. For as Hartman, a retired insurance executive and now full-time tiny-toy carver, observes, “Give more than you think you can, and you'll have more to give than you can.“
What’s your favorite holiday activity?