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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

10 Ways to Play Your Way Through Spring Cleaning

Photo by Ryan Harvey (Flickr)

Spring cleaning improves your life and your health. Are your kids excited to help you clean? If only! Don't toss away the hope for help just yet; it's possible to make cleaning fun! Yes, I said fun! Give spring cleaning a playful twist, and your whole family will move and laugh while airing out your house and prepping it for summer.

1. Turn Up the Music

Music energizes and moves us, reports The Sport Journal. That's why you'll want to unleash some of your favorite cheery, zippy tunes on high volume as you clean! The beat will keep your kids energized, and they'll have fun singing along. To mix things up a bit without losing the fun factor, switch tasks every 20 minutes or break for a dance fest after every third song.

2. Make it a Family Competition

There's nothing like a competition to give chores a fierce, heart-pounding edge! Create teams, compete individually, or pit boys against girls. Set up a scoreboard and see who can clean the most rooms, finish the most tasks on a list, or gather the most recycables first. The winning team chooses the evening meal, family movie, or a fun activity to enjoy as a reward for working hard.

3. Skate While Dusting

Dust bunnies trigger medical problems like allergies and asthma reports the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Catch all those pesky puff rabbits by equipping your energetic little ones with dusting mitts on their hands and feet. Send them scurrying all over the house; they'll wrangle the dust into submission while playing and moving!

4. Play I Spy

How often do your kids ignore the misplaced objects all over the floor? Play I Spy, and your kids will miraculously see all kinds of objects. Challenge them to find expired foods, broken pencils, or objects that start with each letter in their first names. In no time, your floor will be able to breathe again, and your children won't even realize they're cleaning. There are endless variations of this game to try!

5. Put on a Fashion Show

Cleaning closets and dressers is an essential part of the spring cleaning routine. Turn this chore into a awe-inspiring and creativity-sparking activity while supporting local charities by putting on a fashion show! You and your budding fashionistas can model clothes and family judges will vote, giving everyone an opportunity to have a little fun while reducing clutter.

6. Goods for Doing Good

Do your kids hoard their belongings? Pay them a quarter for every gently used toy, garment, collectible, or book they donate to charity. If you'd rather not provide money, try offering a few minutes of screen time or credit towards a new toy they've been hankering for.

7. Take Active Breaks

When you plop down after a vigorous bout of cleaning, it can be a struggle to get back into the groove. Maintain momentum and keep moving during breaks. Dance around the house, walk the dog, or play a quick basketball game instead of sitting. You'll get more cleaning done, burn more calories, and create a culture of movement in your family!

8. Treasure Hunt

Hide small treasures and clues in various places around the house, such as at the bottom of laundry baskets and in cluttered closets. Your kids will be eager to uncover these surprises as they tidy up and dig out the goodies.

9. Beat the Timer

Start your mean, green cleaning engines! Set a timer, and the whole family can race each other and the clock to see how many toys they can pick up or whether they can dust all the living room furniture before the timer beeps. The winner can choose the next break-time activity.

10. Celebrate When It's Over

Now that your spring cleaning tasks are completed, celebrate! Take a walk, watch a movie, or go out for dinner. Your kids are more likely to participate actively if they are eager for a promised reward after a job well done!

This spring, transform the dreaded annual cleaning ritual into a playful, supercharged experience for the whole family! Your kids will enjoy the activities, and you can all work together to give your house the deep cleaning it needs.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, March 23, 2015

7 Ways to Nurture the Budding Entrepreneur Within Your Child

Photo by Steven Depolo (Flickr)

You might be able not imagine your kid wheeling and dealing with business bigwigs just yet, but there are kid entrepreneurs all over the world. At the age of nine, Neha Gupta started crafting and selling wine charms to help orphans; since this humble start, her nonprofit Empower Orphans has raised over one million dollars in 10 years! Even if your child doesn't launch a business, the innovative mindset that entrepreneurs develop can help your kids in all aspects of life. Here are 7 tips encourage independent thought:

1. Don't Force It!

Being an entrepreneur builds confidence, boosts creative thinking, and enhances leadership skills. Your kids don't need to actually start a business to enjoy these traits, though. To plant the seeds of originality and courage to explore uncharted territories, let your child be wholesomely themselves. If they express interest in a certain hobby, do what you can do help them experiment with it.

2. Use Playtime to Cultivate Interests

As adults, we thrive most in a job that is fueled by our passions. The same holds true for your child. Do they love to swim? Perhaps they could test their fins in the heroic waters of lifeguarding. A child who enjoys drawing could tutor fellow aspiring artists at a studio. What about your athletic child? Introduce them to coaching. Just be careful not to push them into taking these steps; if it turns into work, it may lose the uplifting spark that play naturally offers.

3. Cultivate Financial Literacy

Help your kids realize the fulfillment of earning. At our home, we have a special chore chart that offers monetary and non-monetary awards upon each completed task. In addition to an allowance, this builds financial responsibility and a sense of the real world. You can also encourage small business ideas such as mowing lawns, lemonade stands, and making trinkets! There's a colorful range of fun ways to earn and grow.

4. Encourage Goal Setting

If you write a goal down, it is 80 percent more likely to be achieved! If we guide our kids to set goals, it helps build patience and motivation. This skill goes beyond just their ability to establish a business in the future; it will equip your kids with the ability to strive towards the bigdreams they hold.

5. Embrace the Power of Failure

Thomas Edison once said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." The ability to bounce back after failure is essential to success in every aspect of life. Aim to cultivate a healthy respect for failure in your kids. This means being an example yourself by facing falls with a bouyant attitude! The way you speak to your kids and yourself becomes their inner dialogue, so celebrate effort, focus on affirmative words, and highlight the lessons learned from failure.

6. Provide an Honest Review

You are your child's biggest cheerleader. A constructive review of their endeavors is key for making progress. If you approach it proactively, failure can add fuel to their ambitions. Entrepreneur magazine reports that failure teaches a child to work though problems, persevere, and exercise creativity. Start your review by pointing out what works. Then, address any shortcomings and provide some ideas on how to overcome them. It's crucial not to hand-hold too much; a true entrepreneur is willing to venture into uncharted territory and think for themselves!

7. Lead by Example

The Internet, library, and Small Business Administration offer thousands of resources about running a business, yet your child will look to you first. Do you jump to provide reasons why a dream won't work before focusing on the possibility of it? Try to be more mindful of the example you set through your actions and words.

While your child may not be launching a Fortune 500 company just yet, helping them cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit can inspire them in every aspect of their lives. What business ventures have your children explored? We'd love to hear stories!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Thursday, March 12, 2015

It's a Jungle Gym Out There: How 7 Different Animal Species Love to Play

Photo by Taro the Shiba Inu (Flickr)

Kids are giddy and bursting with life as they run, jump, climb, and make believe! If your kids are like my two lively wildflowers, they love to pretend to be animals frolicking about with nary a worry. Truth is, this imaginary play is quite accurate! Many animal species prance, nip, and playfully skirmish as they grow. Why do they play, despite the expended energy and risk? The BBC states that it preps them for adulthood as they learn to socialize and hunt. It also builds muscle and sharpens reflexes. But beyond that, animals love to have fun, just like us. Here are 7 animals that know how to have a good time:

1. Dogs

Have you ever played fetch with a dog or witnessed a joyous tossle petween pups? Dogs love to play! It goes beyond the simple survival instinct to develop hunting and self-defense skills; there are emotions packed into the play signals dogs offer. In fact, scientists believe there may be a moral code exchanged between playful pups. The "play bow" serves as a way to diffuse aggression and invite a jovial exchange of pounces, nips, and chases. The depth of self-expression that dogs possess is one of the many reasons we develop such wonderful bonds with them.

2. Elephants

These massive, intelligent creatures bobble their heads as an invitation to play! They roll in the mud and spray each other with water to keep their hides cool and to protect against bugs. Try to resist smiling as they play with tires! Young elephant calves also love to climb on each other and cuddle.

3. Dolphins

We all know dolphins are wildly intelligent, but did you know they are play entrepreneurs too? Clans of dolphins have been known to invent games and teach them to their young. Highly social and acrobatic, these sea mammals love jumping, chattering, toying with seaweed, blowing bubbles, and chasing each other.

4. Pandas

Do your kids love jungle gyms as much as mine do? So do pandas! These fluffy, oreo-colored mammals climb on almost anything. They love to swing, socialize, and roll. Pandas even enjoy snow days! Animal behaviorialists believe that this baby panda named Bao Bao couldn't resist her "innate urge to play". While she's having fun, she's also learning an instinctive skill she would need in the wild to escape predators.

5. Cats

Cats, whether they're the kings of the jungle or domesticated kittens, spend hours each day playing. They pounce, chase, and run alone or with members of their clowder. These actions help cats practice their survival techniques. While they prefer realistic toys that mimic prey, cats are like kids; they can turn almost any object into a toy!

6. Monkeys

Monkeys are inquisitive, energetic, and impish, especially as they are growing through adolescence. They have fun as they primp and prod each other, helping to maintain hygiene. They also wrestle and chase each other. With all of the antics these creatures pull, it's no wonder you might nickname your kids "little monkeys" whenever they're rambunctious, social, and eager to play.

7. Horses

Rolling in the dirt, chasing butterflies and frolicking with each other are just three fun activities both wild and domesticated horses enjoy. A playing horse is growing physically, mentally, and socially stronger. They play with balls, unleash wild bursts of energy as they gallop, and play-fight to establish dominance. These majestic animals need to move!

Every animal has their own unique flavor of play, including humans. There is one uniting factor, however! Play is more than just fun and games; it builds the skills needed to survive and thrive. It's a jungle out there. Like these animals, make sure to enjoy it with your kids as they grow and learn!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart