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How to reduce your child’s screen time

With the pandemic keeping our kids mostly out of school and learning from home, many kids are using computers and tablets now more than ever before. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure that you reduce your child’s screen time during the rest of the day. While there’s nothing wrong with video games and YouTube now and then, your kids are still kids and they need to be up and moving around, staying active and healthy.

So how can you reduce your child’s screen time without ruining your little one’s fun? Here are a few tips you can use to help give your kids a much-needed break from their screens.

Encourage playing outside after class

It’s all too easy to switch from using a computer for schoolwork to using a computer for video games and socializing online with friends. However, it’s a good idea to encourage your child to get up and go play outside after they’ve spent the day learning online. The reason for this is because a sedentary lifestyle, especially at a young age, can set your child up for health problems later in life. Playing outside after school lets them unwind from the school day and get their body moving.

Have entertaining games around the house

If your child’s tablet is the most entertaining thing they own, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when they get upset that you take it away. The key here is to make sure that their electronics are only a few of the entertaining things that they have. Figure out what kind of activities your child likes. If they’re a fan of puzzle games on their tablet, they might like building blocks or stacking games. If they like color-by-number apps, try a color-by-number book they can draw in. Multi-player games are also a great way to have fun as a family while taking a break from your phone yourself.

Use screen time strategically

A great way to reduce your child’s screen time is by being strategic with the times you allow it. For instance, people spend an average of 87 minutes a day in their cars. There isn’t much for your child to do when sitting buckled in a vehicle, which makes this time ideal for screen time. They can use their tablet while you drive and then they can put it away once you arrive at your destination and there are other options for fun again.

Just be sure if your child is using their screen time unmonitored that you block off the types of apps and websites they can access. There are 1.8 billion websites operating at the same time every day, and your child can accidentally access sites that could be scary or harmful. Family Link is a great app that takes data storage security seriously and lets your child only access approved websites on Google Chrome and other sites.

It can be tricky to reduce your child’s screen time and it’s important to be realistic about your expectations. However, by following the tips above, you can help your child cut back on their screen time just a little so they can have fun outside of TikTok and YouTube.

Tips for teaching children about home improvement

It’s high time that your kids learn some responsibility for themselves. Pretty soon, they are going to be all grown up and entering adulthood. One way to start is to teach them home improvement skills. There are many benefits to teaching children about home improvement. It teaches them how to save money on repairs. They can learn skills that will help secure employment in the future. Plus, your children will learn a little independence. Here are some ways to help you get started teaching children about home improvement.

Have them help when they can

The best way to teach children about home improvement is by having them do it with you. Some kids learn better with a hands-on approach. Kids up to age 1 0or 11 want to spend time with you. During this period, have them help you with all the things that you do. Whether it’s walking the dog or completing a DIY project around the house, make an effort to include your kids. If you get them involved in the simple tasks, they’ll be more likely to help you with the bigger ones when the time comes. Take kitchen renovations, for example. Homeowners remodel more than 10.2 million kitchens and 14.2 million bathrooms annually. If something needs to be repaired around the house, have your child be your assistant on the task. Start with something small like fixing a sink or painting the cabinets. From there, you can move to teaching them about more complex tasks because you have that relationship with them.

Don’t forget your daughters

It might be tempting to overlook your little girl because of deeply embedded societal expectations or because “she’s just not into that kind of thing,” but doing so is a mistake. We unconsciously create bias when we don’t put in the extra work to educate our girls the same way we educate our boys, especially when it comes to home improvement or construction. It’s important that your little girl also learn basic skills even if she doesn’t show an automatic predilection to picking up a screwdriver. Moreover, she should also know how to do basic safety steps such as finding and resetting the house circuit breaker or turning off the gas. It might be nice that you always do these things because your partner doesn’t, but avoid modeling roles that suggest there are separate male and female tasks. 

Start weekend projects together

Part of parenting involves bonding with a child. How does teaching children about home improvement go with this? You and your kids can work on little projects over the weekend. Take a look around the house. What needs to be repaired? What matters to your child? If there’s a broken drawer in their dresser or their bathroom needs new faucets, make that a priority. Starting a weekend project won’t mean much to your child if the end goal is something they don’t care about. Make an effort to let your kids work on projects that they find fulfilling. Making a project fun will keep your kids interested in completing it. In addition,  find projects where they can make a difference and show off their skills. Even when they are small, if you let them turn the screwdriver a few times, they can always tell your spouse that they fixed the cabinet door. Never underestimate the pride of good workmanship and a job well done. 

Teach them what’s normal in appliances and features

Teaching children about home improvement is a learning experience. Fixing an appliance is just the start. They have to know when it needs to be fixed and what the exact problem is. You need to teach your kids about how things work. Do they know what tools they need to use? What about different parts of an appliance? A refrigerated container has an impressive temperature range. The range stretches -65 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius or -85 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Sit down and take the time to teach them about every part of the appliance and what tools you need to use. The more they learn, the closer they will be to being independent.

Show them through working it out or watching videos

Some kids learn just by watching. Show them how to make repairs around the house. Afterward, have them do it themselves. You don’t have to hover when teaching children about home improvement. Just casually watch and help them out. Sometimes, you don’t really know how to do a DIY task yourself. That’s where videos come in. The internet has become a saving grace to everyone. You can just go on Google and type in different DIY videos. Just sit down with your kid and watch how to do everything step by step. Just make yourself that you pull up videos that are accurate and will actually show you what to do.

Tell them about your process during improvements

Part of parenting involves teaching. Turn your DIY project into a teachable moment. Walk your children through everything you do with every step that you take. Share little nuggets of knowledge and tricks that you have learned over the years. You can even have them do the improvements with you. You might even learn new upgrades to make your home that much better. For instance, you might try modular construction work. Modular construction can reduce energy use during building by almost 67% and reduce energy costs later on for occupants. You can turn a boring upgrade into a learning experience.

Learning independence is critical. Why not start with teaching children about home improvement? If done right, your kids will learn new skills to survive and how to save money on repairs. You might even find a new way to bond with your children.

Need some quality family time? Consider a family camping adventure

This past year has been hard on families, and the time that they did get to spend together was most likely difficult. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine orders, everyone had to postpone or cancel many getaway plans. Because of this, people have been working remotely and children have been “distance-learning” for their school work. Our homes have become the offices and schools we normally visited every day. Why not take some time off for a family camping adventure?

As reported by two-thirds of employers, productivity has increased due to employees working remotely. This isn’t necessarily surprising, since working from home allows for a more comfortable atmosphere, and provides a flexible work schedule rather than the typical nine-to-five daily grind. However, along with the comfort and flexibility that a remote career offers comes the problem of how to separate work from family life.

How about renting an RV for a family camping adventure?

There are around 16,000 publicly or privately owned camping grounds in the country. Planning a trip in an RV is an excellent way to spend time with the family due to the many quarantine restrictions, as long as the place you plan to go is not in lockdown. Renting an RV will open up those 16,000 locations affording you the luxury to choose some family fun. Yet, remember when planning a road trip to practice all COVID-19 protocols. Maintaining social distance, wearing face protection, and using sanitizers on frequently handled items are all extremely important practices.

Have a camp-out in the garden

Because of the pandemic, and restrictions placed on outdoor camping, it might not be possible to go on a real camping trip. Yet, there is another option closer to home. How about planning a family camping adventure in the garden? There are many fun and exciting gardening activities you can plan, such as a garden theatre. This can be fun for the whole family, as you and the children enjoy a family movie in the cozy comfort of your outdoor garden.

Gardening

Having a backyard or garden is all you really need for outdoor activities. That, and an active imagination. Plant some potted plants and teach your children how to maintain a garden. Gardening is full of surprises, so prepare to watch the awe in your children’s eyes as they see their plants growing. Gardening will teach your children responsibility as they realize they are in control of the health, growth, and survival of each little plant they are growing.

Make safe driving a priority

If you book an RV for your road trip, be sure to make safe driving your number one priority. Every year, 3 million people are injured in car accidents on US roads. Careful driving means wearing your seatbelt and ensuring that everyone else does as well. Road trip accidents can be a disastrous occurrence for families if car safety isn’t followed. When going on a road trip with the family, you want to return home with everyone safely. Keep in mind, even when you are having fun and laughing, keep your eyes on the road and drive safely. Car safety can be a game, depending on how playful you want to be about it.

We all need to remember to slow down and take a deep breath. Remember to take a break from it all and do something fun! Even though we are faced with challenging times, we must find a way to still enjoy ourselves. Show the kids that life can still be eventful even in the current circumstances. Rent an RV and take a tour of the city you live in, search out a quiet setting, and go for a family camping adventure at an outdoor camping location, or simply go camping in your own backyard. Whatever you decide, ensure to keep everyone’s enjoyment in mind and leave the “office” behind.

Smart TVs – Understanding the Terminology

If you have walked into a department store recently, chances are that you might be amazed at the selection of televisions on offer. While you might think at first that having a great selection to choose from will make the decision easier, you might find that the opposite is true: the greater the selection of options, the harder the choices you need to make.

Where do I even start? 

Online shopping opens you up to a whole new world of options and information. One of the great benefits of online shopping is that you are not under any extra sensory pressure, and the pop-up banners aimed at upselling to you, can easily be ignored with the click of a button. While it takes some of the stresses of in-store buying out of the equation, it also gives you access to far more options than you would have had in a regular store environment. 

The best place to start is anywhere, as long as you are armed with a lot of research to prevent you from making the wrong choice. The pivotal question to start with, is: What is a Smart-TV, and why do you need or want one? 

Part of modern life

We are finding ourselves at a juncture where most modern homes that fall into the bracket of affordability have some form of Smart TV in their living room, whether an entry-level model, or something more advanced. 

Smart TVs come out with built-in software, with which you can connect the set to the internet, and stream to your heart’s content from a range of prepopulated streaming services, which conveniently come preloaded on most modern TVs. Look out for a model with wi-fi capability, as this will go a long way in clearing clutter like wires and extra peripheral connections, by converting as many as possible to a wireless setup. 

What is HDMI?

HDMI is a term that you will see on the boxes that many Smart TVs come on, and it is short for “high-definition multimedia interface.” What this really means, is that your TV set will have a digital port for a special cable, which takes over the job of the old audio-visual signal cables from earlier years. You do not even have to worry about connecting audio to audio or video to video – with HDMI, it’s one quick, easy, multipurpose plug!

You do not have to deal with only one, either. While extensions are easily available, it is much easier and far more convenient to buy a model with multiple HDMI ports. This goes a long way in clearing visual clutter. Although you can always extend it later, you will be saving time and even money by getting a model with everything you need right from the get-go. 

If you are still confused, don’t be shy to speak to the in-store salespeople – they are well-trained to help you with any questions you may have, and can quickly help you navigate to the right Smart TV model for you.

How to teach your kids about eco-friendliness

It can be difficult to speak with your kids about climate change and global warming. If you’re wondering how to teach your kids about eco-friendliness and the environment, here are a few easy ways.

Watch movies and shows with environmental themes

One easy way to teach your kids about environmental issues is to use media. In fact, some media has been designed for that very purpose. There are shows, cartoons, and movies designed to teach kids about the environment. They be a great way to teach your kids about eco-friendliness. For example, a movie like Wall-E can show the dramatic possibility of what happens if we continue polluting the planet.

Shop local

One easy way to be more eco-friendly and sustainable is to shop at local small businesses. Considering there are around 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S., you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding stores near you. Small businesses generally have less of an environmental impact than bigger stores because the products are more locally based. Therefore it cuts down on the amount of waste created in the transportation process. You should also try to shop local when it comes to produce for similar reasons. Because of the reduced transportation times, the fruits vegetables will also be a lot fresher. It’s a two-for-one — you get delicious produce and you’re helping the environment.

Save electricity

Being conscious of your electricity use is easier than you might think. To save some electricity, start focusing on things like turning off the lights when you leave a room. In addition, try opening windows instead of using fans and unplugging electronics when you aren’t using them. These small changes are something you can do in your home without any major change. Even if you’re part of the 27% of Americans who rent their homes, you can still do this. Make sure that you’re practicing what you preach. Do your best to do the things that you encourage your kids to do.

Start a garden

Gardening is a great way to teach your kids about eco-friendliness. Although shopping local when it comes to produce is a great way to be more eco-friendly, growing things in your own backyard is even better. If you grow them without using chemical-based fertilizer or pesticides, you’re also not contributing anything toxic to the water table. While you’re working in your garden, you can also talk about reasons why using pesticides and chemical-based fertilizers can be damaging to the environment and why it’s better to use all-natural alternatives.

Be smart about transportation

Although it’s not realistic to completely stop driving places, you can start to make an effort to use your car less when it’s possible. If there’s a restaurant your family wants to go to that’s only a mile away, try walking or riding your bikes there instead of driving. You can also use public transport instead of driving. If you do have to drive somewhere, see if it’s possible to carpool, like if you’re driving your kids to a sporting event or concert. Making the effort to conserve gas and create less of an impact of the environment, even if it’s slightly inconvenient, will teach your kids about eco-friendliness.

Create recycled crafts

If your kids like arts and crafts, you have a great opportunity to teach them about recycling and how beneficial it can be. Before you put out your recyclables for the week, look through them and see if anything can be used in a craft or art project. Pinterest has a lot of projects that can be completed using recycled materials, so if you want to scroll through some ideas you can find some good inspiration on there. One really simple thing is to save up loose papers and newspapers to use as a cover for any table your kids want to paint or color on to protect the table without having to use newer materials to prevent damage. You can also save any paper that has one blank side to use as coloring pages for your kids.

Spend time outside

Spending time enjoying the great outdoors can help your kids understand why it’s important to be environmentally friendly. Whether that means going for a walk in your local park or going on a weekend-long camping trip is up to you, but either way, you’ll be getting out into nature. Creating the connection between the natural world around us and your family’s individual actions may help your kids understand the importance of being eco-friendly even more.

Pick up litter

Picking up litter is something you can any time that you’re outside. Any time that you spend time outside, you can make a small competition for who can find and clean up the most litter. Make sure that you have gloves or hand sanitizer as well as a small bag for garbage on hand before you start picking things up to ensure that you’re being safe while handling the garbage that you find on the ground.

Think about energy conservation

When you’re working on home projects, think about the impact of those projects on the environment and on your home’s energy usage. For example, if you’re resealing a window because there’s a draft, you can talk about the amount of heat loss that drafty windows can cause, which is around 50% of your home’s heat loss. Kids learn by watching what you do, so if you start making an effort to make home improvements that will help make your home greener, they’ll see that it’s something important.

Being eco-friendly is more important now than it ever has been, but teaching our kids to be more eco-friendly can be difficult. That’s why taking small steps towards eco-friendliness is important — you can teach your kids the importance of the actions without scaring them about the larger impacts of climate change.

How do you talk to your kids about the environment? Let us know in the comments below!