Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

5 Good Reasons to Declutter, Plus a Decluttering Challenge

I’m happy to introduce Amy Harke-Moore, who wrote this post for us today! She also guest posted around Christmas last year, with this very wise post.  Today, she has some great advice for reasons to declutter.  Plus, she is hosting a declutter challenge on her blog. Details following this motivating post!

Unless you’ve been living sequestered in an ancient mountain village and currently go by the name of Brother Paul, you can probably relate to having too much stuff. It’s a modern dilemma, to be sure, and for some of us our collection of material goods has reached the scary point. Where do you even start? Much easier to shut the door and forget about it, right? But I propose a different idea.  Instead of letting the overwhelm paralyze you, take courage. Here are five good reasons to motivate you to declutter.

  • Feel lighter. Don’t underestimate this! I had always heard this from the decluttering crowd, but it wasn’t until I actually took a challenge and got rid of over five hundred items in two weeks that I really understand the truth of the statement. I felt like I’d just lost twenty-five pounds on a crash diet. I probably did lose that much weight—just not off my person. Every item you own, however small, carries some burden, responsibility, or weight to it. Lessening your load can be life-changing!
  • Sell your items for quick cash. If you’re like me, you have clothes you bought and never wore and gifts you never took out of the box. Why not take those barely—if at all—used items and turn them into a profit? Have an old movie collection? Sell it on Craig’s List. Toys your children have outgrown and no longer care about? Take them to the consignment store. Or hold an old-fashioned garage sale. Just be careful you don’t spend the money on more stuff.
  • Give your items away to charity. Want to feel even better about getting rid of stuff? Take a box of items to Good Will or to a church with a donation center or one of those boxes you see in parking lots where you can drop off quality used items. You’ll have the satisfaction of helping others who might have been through a traumatic event like a house fire or losing a job.
  • Eliminate things to dust, clean, wash, and store. You can’t dust what you don’t have. You don’t have to find places for items you no longer own. The fewer things you have to take care of, the more time you free up from cleaning, storing, and worrying about those possessions. And the wide open space will make you feel like you have room to breathe.
  • Make room for what really matters. So maybe the spare bedroom has become the catchall place, but you’ve dreamed of having an art studio. Or maybe you’d like a dedicated place to work out. Decluttering can get you back in touch with your passion. You’re using the space in an uplifting, positive way instead of storing items that, in many cases, are no longer useful to you. You’re investing in something that brings you joy or challenges you rather than stuff.

So there you have it. Five good reasons to declutter. Are you motivated yet? Join me for a 7-day decluttering challenge running September 24 – 30 at A Rural Girl Writes. You just might get rid of a few things and have fun in the process!   Click here to find out more and join!  Margo says: “I just did and am ready to tackle my basement!”

Also, while you are here,  don’t forget to enter the photo caption contest and win prizes! It’s fun! It’s easy. It goes until September 30, 2018. 

 

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Photo Caption Contest

If you want to join the photo caption contest, it’s super easy! All you have to do is create a caption for this photo of the bear below, and type it in the comments below (along with your email address) by September 30, 2018 11:59pm CDT! (PLEASE NOTE: Your email address will not show up in the comment if you use the form below. Your name shows up, but your email only goes to me. If you have any questions, please let me know. It’s not necessary to put your email address in the actual comment! Thanks!)

There will be at least 3 winners. First place gets his/her choice between a  $5.00 Amazon Gift Card, one of my books (print and signed–if you live in the contiguous 48 states of the U.S. or an e-copy of Caught Between Two Curses if not), or a  25% OFF coupon for Editor 911 services.  Second and third place winners will have the choice between the remaining prizes after the first place winner chooses. The judges are myself and my daughter. We are looking for clever and/or funny. You may enter more than one time! Please put separate entries in separate comments, and have fun! Any questions, please email me at margo@wow-womenonwriting (dot) com.

What are you waiting for? This photo above needs a caption! The winners will be acknowledged in another post at the beginning of October.

While you’re here, don’t miss the chance to:

  1. Sign up for WOW!’s Book Marketing class, which I am teaching and starts September 26. If marketing has eluded you up to this point, this online class will get you going in the right direction–finishing with a marketing plan to put into action.
  2. Plus, my popular Write a Novel With a Writing Coach starts October 5, 2018. This online class is perfect for anyone who needs some feedback on their novel or who needs weekly deadlines.
  3. Over at Editor 911, I also offer packages for writing coach services, book editing, marketing, and picture book writing.  Go here. 

 

 

 

 

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4 Tips To Help You Take Better Care of Your Skin

As I get older, I am, of course, starting to care more about my skin. Isn’t that how it always is? Oh, to be a carefree youth!  What I appreciate about this contributed article are the facts that I never really considered before about taking care of your skin–I especially liked the first point about hard and soft water. Plus, once again, this post shows us that we are what we eat (and drink)! 

Most of us want to have smooth and soft skin no matter what age we are.  You may spend a lot of money on healthcare and beauty products, but you may not have to invest in expensive creams and lotions. The main reason for this is because most of us have the ability to have healthy skin naturally, and these tips can lead to long-lasting results.

Consider your Water

When you wash your face, you will see that soft water doesn’t really remove soap very well. It can leave some residue on your skin, and it can also make it much harder for you to have clear skin. If your water is soft, then you need to use any facial cleansers you have sparingly. A pure soap will actually work better. Hard water, however, doesn’t allow you to lather up as easily, and this can encourage you to use even more cleanser. When you do this, you may find that your skin dries out, and you may even find that it damages your skin. You can help to minimize this damage by using gentle and non-soap-based formulas that are not designed to lather up. It also helps to know the quality of water in your area so that you can make the best decision.

Always Drink Green Tea

If your complexion is blotchy or red, then you may have inflamed skin. If you want to avoid all of this, then green tea is a fantastic option. Green tea can help you to stop the collagen destruction that often leads to wrinkles, and it can even help to cleanse your body of any toxins as well. When you do drink green tea, you have to make sure that you are steeping the tea bag enough in order to get the full benefits.  If you are using a tea bag, seep for about 3 minutes. Any longer than that, and you may find the tea to be bitter. 

Avoid Stress

Easier said than done, right? Stress can take its toll on your body, and this does include your skin. When you are stressed, you may have more acne, and you may even find that you have more cortisol in the body as well. This can make your skin much oilier, and it can even decrease your body’s own natural ability when it comes to fighting off any bacteria as well. If you want to avoid this, then you need to try and limit the stress you are under. If you can do this, then you will most likely see a huge improvement in your skin. If you want some additional help, check out youngevity products.

Your Diet

If your diet is full of fatty foods , then there is a high chance that you are causing yourself way more issues than you need. Fatty foods can make your skin much more prone to oiliness, and that can cause you to have a bad complexion as well. If you want to avoid this, then try and eat a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables.

And don’t forget, no matter what your age, sunscreen is vital for good skin care. Of course, that could be a post all by itself.

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7 Easy Design Tricks Digital Writers Need To Know

I’m very excited to introduce you to Kayleigh Alexandra who wrote this amazing article below about ways to make your digital writing look fantastic and make it easy-to-read. This is a great post for anyone who blogs or who writes for the web. She also included some great links. One of my favorites is in the last section–alternatives to Canva. I use Canva, and I didn’t know there were alternatives! Anyway, I hope you find this useful.

Take it away, Kayleigh! 

Writers usually like to write — the clue is in the name — but the work of a digital writer is a far cry from the tapping-at-a-typewriter demands of yesteryear. It’s great having the option to be a digital nomad, yes, but content for the web (or at least digital publication) requires significantly more polish to meet the demands of readers who are capricious and rich with alternatives.

Now, some enjoy the design element to today’s copywriting, but others find it a significant obstacle that slows their progress and leaves their work looking weak relative to that of comparable writers — something tremendously frustrating to those who’d prefer to be judged by their textual output.

But worry not if you’re in the latter camp: maintaining solid design fundamentals doesn’t need to be so arduous. In this piece, we’re going to cover 7 easy tricks you can start using right away to make your digital writing work much smoother. Here we go!

Draw from your inspirations

Light bulb image credit: Pixabay

As a writer, you’re no doubt used to consuming the written word as fuel for your efforts. You gather up high-quality books, articles, and scripts, then melt them down and use the material to forge something new and different. However, you might not have thought to apply this kind of process to any design elements — you may not have even realized that you do it.

I’m quite certain of this, because I didn’t know when I started writing that I was drawing from my inspirations. The ideas had lingered in my head and jumbled together to the extent that I’d forgotten where they came from; so when I remixed them for my copy, they felt spontaneously drawn from the heavens.

When you find yourself struggling with design elements for your digital writing, do yourself a huge favor and visit some sites that do similar work. How do they structure their pieces? What shapes do they use? See what things you like and dislike; then use that information to reach conclusions about how you can design your content.

Split your content into sections

Start at the start and end at the end — that’s how I wrote to begin with, and it has its advantages, particularly if you like to get into a stream-of-conscious kind of flow. But it doesn’t suit digital writing, for the most part. When you barrel forth with no plan, the text you produce will be lacking, and the design will be incoherent.

Consider the importance of digital writing being digestible. You’re not addressing someone settling down in an armchair to read a novel, after all, but someone probably looking for fast information in a standard format, so they don’t need to put time into parsing anything.

Make this easier by laying out your sections before you get too deep into the writing. Note down where you’ll need headings and subheadings, then establish paragraph themes, and perhaps throw in some elements, such as bullet points or quoted highlights, to mix things up. Splitting your time evenly between sections will ensure that you don’t end up with an opening that’s longer than the rest of the content.

Embrace the space

Negative space is vital for digital content, whether it’s consumed on a mobile device, a laptop, or even an ebook reader. Not only are screens not as comfortable to look at as text on paper, but you also must accommodate for the required interface — the reader can’t physically turn a page, for instance.

If you have a habit of producing dense copy, try going through your first draft and spacing things out. Just split up your paragraphs wherever it makes sense to do so. You might dislike the notion of a one-sentence paragraph or the prospect of having any inconsistency, but long paragraphs are a tough sell in digital formats.

Even in this piece, aimed at writers, I’ve tried to keep the paragraphs under control. Readability isn’t something to be taken lightly!

Answer questions

Question marks image credit: Pixabay

Journalists have long had the five Ws of who, what, when, where, and why. Reducing stories to these essential components allows them to write very quickly while giving the reader what they’re invariably looking for. And though digital writing doesn’t need to stick to that rigid format, it does help greatly to address reader questions as a structuring technique.

If you’re stuck trying to puzzle through a content design, try setting out questions as headings. For an article called “The Beginner’s Guide to Cheese”, for example, you might write down “What is cheese?”, “What types of cheese are there?”, and “Where can I get cheese?” as your opening questions. Having these questions to answer will keep your copy very focused, and leave you with clear segments perfect for piecemeal digital consumption.

Use complementary colors

Even if you don’t believe in the countless color associations designers like to talk about, you can’t deny that color is important for design. Light text against a light background isn’t going to prove very effective, for a start, and using clashing colors throughout your design will likely end up giving the reader a headache and eliminating their interest in reaching the conclusion.

To find some complementary color selections, try sites like Paletton or Coolors — they’ll allow you to pick a color and immediately identify several others that will work well alongside it. Spread those colors throughout your design, and you’ll establish a nice sense of consistency.

Include relevant stock images

We’ve covered the importance of negative space and stylistic features such as bullet points, but you can (and should) also spread things out by including relevant images. Visuals are eye-catching and give the reader brief chances to let their attention slip a little before returning to the relative complexity of the text.

And while you shouldn’t rely on them for important images (because they’ll make your work look very generic), you should absolutely make use of all the free images available online. Note that I’ve distributed some simple images through this piece. Here’s an additional tip: if you use Google Docs, you don’t even need to visit free resource sites, because you can find and insert copyright-free images directly through going to Insert > Image > Search the web.

Use free design tools

Tools image credit: Pxhere

Tasked with creating something more visually rich like a featured image or an infographic, you may find yourself torn between reaching out to a dedicated (but expensive) designer and spending a lot of time trying to manually cobble something together — but this is a false dichotomy, all thanks to the wonders of online tools.

Canva tends to attract the most plaudits, but there are numerous great pieces of design software to be found and used for free. With drag-and-drop functionality, templates and helpful tutorials everywhere you look, there’s really no reason not to give this trick a try, even (or especially) if you have no design-related knowledge whatsoever.

Well, there you have it: 7 easy tricks to make the design work that comes with most digital writing significantly less stressful. Do a lot of research, use all the resources of the web, and build content simple enough to read on a mobile — not too hard!

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups, a site with a goal of giving through growth hacking. Stop by the blog for news and insight about startups and charities from across the world, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

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Tips For Buying Your Teenagers Their First Car

(contributed post)

It can be a tough thing to accept when you realize that your kid is slowly becoming an adult. One of the biggest milestones, in their eyes, is finally being able to drive. They’ve passed their test, got their license, and given you puppy dog eyes as they begged for a car. Of course, buying your kids their first car is a big deal. There’s a lot to be considered when you buy yourself a new vehicle, so you’re probably going to put in ten times as much thought when it comes to your child (even if they’re no longer a “child”). In this article, we’ll talk about some of the things you might want to consider doing when buying your kid the first car.

Weigh up insurance options.

The first thing to weigh up is the cost of insurance. It differs based on age and experience, so you can’t base this on your own policy; the cost will, most likely, be very different for your teen. They’re a first-time driver, and they’re young. You’re going to have to do some digging to make sure you get a fair quote for them. You might want to check out a site such as cheapautoinsurance.co for a comparison of the most popular auto insurance providers out there. This is a good way to find the cheapest and most suitable policy for your kid.

Suggest an additional driving course.

Even if your teenagers have passed their driving test, you might need a little more reassurance before you buy them a car. After all, driving independently is very different to driving with an instructor sitting in the passenger seat. Obviously, letting your kids drive you around is a good way to get a first-hand perspective and weigh up their abilities. But you could take this one step further, as mentioned previously on this blog, by getting them involved with a program that’ll help reinforce the importance of safe driving.

Essentially, you need to make sure that your teenager appreciates the importance of sitting behind a wheel. Even if they’re driving their friends around, they can’t let distractions get in the way. It’s important that they know not to use their phone or simply that they shouldn’t drive recklessly just to impress their buddies. We’ve all been that age; it’s easy to do silly things, so you really need to make sure your teen knows how to drive responsibly before you even think of buying them a car.

Choose a reliable car.

This goes without saying for anyone buying a car, but it’s particularly important to choose a safe car for a first-time driver. They’re nervous and inexperienced, so they need a vehicle that’ll provide them with protection on the road in the event of an accident, even if it’s a minor bump. Big and heavy cars are well-suited to younger drivers. As explained over at blog.allstate.com, it’s not just that they provide better protection; statistics have shown that teen drivers are less likely to crash heavier cars. And as mentioned over at bankrate.com, you should also think about the safety features that come with a specific car; if the crash test results are good, then it’s worth considering.

This is one of the biggest purchases of their lives, and if you decide that they are not just going to get the “hand-me” down car, then the links above will help you make some important decisions. Even if they do get an older car, they will still need the insurance and safety driving skills. Best of all–good luck. And those of you that have been through this, let us know what other tips you’ve discovered along the way!

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Why Do I Keep Getting Sucked in by a Narcissist?

In my current novel draft of women’s fiction, one of my characters is a narcissist. One of the things I worry about when/if this book gets published is that readers will have a hard time understanding why my main character continues to have any relationship with this guy. They don’t work together. They don’t share a child. They aren’t related. And yet, she just can’t seem to stop being around him. That’s why I post about narcissists on here sometimes. I do it for two reasons–one, so people who are in relationships with narcissists or who’ve been raised by one, etc. know they are not alone. Two, so readers, who have not had this experience in their lives, can have some understanding of the issues.

Last time, I posted about the silent treatment.  I feel drawn today to write a little bit more about “getting along” with a narcissist and how he or she can draw you in and then make you feel crazy in less than a day. Crazy for doubting them one day. Crazy for trusting them the next. Master Manipulator who’s always changing the rules.

The problem for me has always been that when I hear someone whom I care about say, “You deserve to be happy,” or “I’m always here for you,” or “You were not nice to me,” I think about what those words mean if I say them. When I say to someone “you deserve to be happy,” it means that in spite of how I feel about a situation, if the person is happy, then I will try to put my feelings aside (even if it’s hard) and be happy for them. If I say, “you were not nice to me,” I’m able to pick out the moments when I thought the person was not being nice and explain why these hurt my feelings.

When a narcissist says these statements, they don’t mean the same thing. He doesn’t have the same meaning behind the words. And that’s a problem for me, for most people involved with self-centered people, because we’re sucked in. We want to believe. We hope this time it’s different. And a narcissist is counting on this from us–she’s counting on you feeling this mutual respect and love with these words while it serves her purpose–whatever purpose that is. Sometimes, I’m not sure if narcissists even know what the purpose is. They’re hurting inside. They have deep childhood wounds. The purpose can be to put a band-aid on a gunshot wound, as the saying goes–and you’re the band-aid for a while.

So what do you do? First, don’t beat yourself up. I’m writing this post today after reading about narcissists, going to therapy, being involved with them, writing about them, and I can still get sucked in. It’s very easy.  Second, all you have to do is change ONE thing, one behavior that you normally do and don’t do it.  Your life will start to go in a different direction. Here’s a quote from the YOU ARE A BADASS! calendar:

Because a habit is any behavior you do automatically and repeatedly without really thinking about it, most things we do fall into the habit category because most of us ain’t thinking so much. As we’ve seen, we’re usually in a state of reacting to our subconscious beliefs. Once we become aware and decide to consciously respond instead, we can change habits, which will change our realities. ~Jen Sincero

I’m here to tell you THIS WORKS. The minute you decide to not get mad at the narcissist because he was not there for you, and you decided to call someone else, you started to break a habit. The minute you didn’t spend worrying about why you were getting the silent treatment after she told you that she was happy for you, you’re on your way to a new reality. The minute you try to love this person for whom he is, as a fellow human being, and not as the person you want him to be, you have broken the cycle.

This is not to say that things will be rosy from here on out–especially if you’re married to the narcissist or she is your mother. But most of your life is about your reaction to problems and situations, not what is happening to you. You have more power than you think. You can still choose to love and have good will toward a narcissist from afar–staying true to who you are as a person–and having the life you deserve surrounded by people who won’t drive you crazy.

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How to Prevent Your Credit from Spiraling Out of Control

This is a companion article to “Tips for Making the Right Choices to Become Financially Stable ” , which was published right before this one. This post focuses more on using credit responsibly. I have been preaching for years now that we need more personal finance/credit classes in high school! Anyway, some good tips below in this contributed post. Please add any tips you have in the comments.  

If you are a single parent, chances are that you will need to rely on your own resources to provide for your kids and manage everything yourself. This can be challenging, especially if you have just gone through a divorce or separation, and you have to learn how to manage your own money and do things you never had to. Many people let their money troubles escalate because they simply ignore their commitments. Below you will find a few tips on how to avoid getting into financial trouble.

Keep a Strict Budget

The first thing you will need to do when starting a new life is to look through your current budget and create a new one with your lifestyle in mind. List all your income and outgoings, and make sure that you have money left over for emergencies. A strict budget will mean that you will not splash out on eating out or vacations when you know that you can’t afford the costs and running up your credit cards. This way, you can also save money for emergencies.

Avoid Impulse Shopping

If you would like to make the most out of your money, never go out shopping hungry or without a list. It only takes a couple of minutes to sit down and look through your kitchen storage and fridge to see what you really need. This way, you will buy the things you need and not the ones that you feel like you want at the time. The same applies to clothes shopping; list the things you are missing from your wardrobe and search for deals, instead of looking for inspirations.

Move Your Payment Dates

In case you have credit outstanding, you can get in touch with the companies to move your payment date, so you can ensure that you are not falling behind. If you moved houses or changed jobs, chances are that you might not be able to make the payments on the same date. Instead of trying to juggle money about and stressing, you can solve the problem with one phone call.

Seek Affordable Solutions

It is also crucial that you compare the different credit offers and find out exactly how much they cost each month. Before taking out a personal loan or a credit card, consider short term solutions that will be easier to pay off and generally cheaper. If you have bad credit, you will have to look for bad credit loans with affordable monthly repayments, instead of maxing out all your cards and going into the red.  

Make Extra Payments When You Can

It might also be a good idea to pay off your debt on credit cards as soon as possible. If you would like to become debt-free, you will have to make additional payments, so you can clear your credit faster.

If you want to control your money instead of it controlling your life, make sure that you take charge of your accounts, expenses, and budget–and maybe consider cutting up those credit cards.

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Tips For Making the Right Choices to Become Financially Stable

(contributed post)

Sometimes we need to take the time to make the right choices when it comes to being financially stable. Often life can take over, and we can end up forgetting about different things, or certainly just swiping the debit card and letting our bills be paid each month without another thought. But, then comes the issue, because really we can become trapped by our circumstances and not really aware of how much we are spending, how much we have left in our bank account, or most importantly how better off we could be if we made a few different choices and paid a bit more attention.

Sometimes the opportunity for more income is fixed. You may not be able to earn more than what you do right now, but does that mean you really need to trapped by your circumstances? Are there other things you could do? The answer is yes. Below are some choices you could make and/or some changes to your habits , and you may find that these can make all of the difference when it comes to your financial stability.

Thinking about the future

One of the first things you can do when it comes to making good decisions for your financial stability is take a moment to think about the future. At some stage, we will retire from our jobs, and a regular wage will be no more. Yet many of us don’t really think about what we will do to sustain our current lifestyles. How much money does it take to do all the things we plan to do in retirement, like travel and spend time with the family? This is when making some good choices now can help secure your financial future. Contributing to a pension separate to what you might get from the government is a great way to ensure you can afford things when you hit retirement. Pensions are something that you need to consider heavily before investing. Speaking to a financial advisor can help with that.

If you don’t already have a property or are on the property ladder in some way, then the sooner you do it, the better. This can be a great way to secure your financial future as property prices tend to either stabilize or rise over time, which helps you to develop and increase equity. This also helps as you move on in life and need more space or need to live in different areas. Remember: mortgage rates can change and sometimes you need to remortgage and change your deal to ensure you are getting the best rate.

Looking at what leaves your account right now

It is all well and good thinking about the future; and this is important, but you also need to take the time to ensure that you make the most of your situation as it stands right now. One of the first things you could do would be to check your bank account. Grab your most recent bank statement and start highlighting what comes in and what leaves your account each month. Knowing what debits you have regularly leaving your account will help you to be more in tune with your current financial situation. You may find that taking time to look over these expenses will highlight things you may not even need to spend money on moving forward. Canceling things and actually freeing up money is quite liberating. Knowing what you spend means that you could also take the time to research whether or not you are getting the best possible deals for those monthly bills we have no choice but to pay out for. Energy and insurance providers may not always be giving you the best deal, as often the best rates are saved for new customers. Switching providers can save you a fair bit each month. Regularly checking your deals can really ensure that you only pay what is necessary.

Could you bring the cost down of everyday spending?

The next thing you may want to think about would be bringing down the cost of everyday spending. Your food, for example, can be such a big expenditure each week. But often making changes to the way you do things can make the biggest of differences. For example, meal planning and writing a list is proven to save money. A small investment of your time can ensure you only buy what you need. Therefore, only spending on the food that you need as well as helping you to avoid wasting food that you bought and didn’t get round to using. Things, like coupons and discount codes, can also really help you reduce the costs. Applying these simple processes to your everyday spending can really help boost your income.

Is debt strangling your bank balance?

Debt can also be a big outgoing expense you have each month; so if you place some focus on paying it off, you may find that you start to see massive improvement. You could try and see how you get on by focusing on your debts that cost the most in interest, and trying to get them paid off. It could be that a consolidation loan or card would be an ideal way to help give you a plan, but checking your credit history is an ideal place to start. You could read this review about a potential service to try. Debt payments can be a big amount that leaves your account each month; and once it is paid off, you will see a big amount of your income available to use for other things.

Could you use your spare time to boost your disposable income?

Finally, maybe there are ways that you can boost your income–that could be selling unwanted things online on websites like eBay. Or perhaps using your spare time more wisely and filling out online surveys or performing mystery shops. It could be a great way to get more money without any massive infringement on your life.

Do you have any tips you use?

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Tips for Surviving Life as a New Single: From Self-Care to Online Dating

(contributed post)

Life as a newly single person can be rather daunting in today’s society. Every day, lots of people find themselves coming out of relationships and having to navigate the world of singledom once more. It is natural for this to be nerve-wracking, especially if you have spent a long time in a relationship in the past.

However, people make changes to their lives every day, and you can make the right kind of changes right now. When you become single again, it’s the perfect time to think about doing some things (maybe you’ve been neglecting) that make you happy and feel peaceful. There are a lot of things that can change while you’re living a single life, especially if you were married and had children with your ex-spouse. Of course, it is important to deal with these changes, and not ignore them. Here are a few tips for navigating life solo once again.

Single Parenting Will Be a Challenge

There is no denying that being a single parent is a challenge, and you will want to consider ways of easing the burden a little. Having to look after your kids alone can be very tiring and stressful, but routine and organization, along with communication and fun, can help with these daily stressors. Of course, you also realize how hard a divorce will be for your children as well, so reach out to other divorced parents you know for tips and/or even sharing in childcare. Spending time together as a family, just having fun or being silly, can also help your children feel safe and secure in your home.

Self-Care is Essential

So many newly single people don’t take the time to make sure they are looking after themselves effectively. You have to give some time to self-care, and to making sure your physical and mental well-being is a priority. If you were married and splitting up, using divorce mediation , instead of attorneys, can be helpful for your mental well-being, as it can ease the burden of a stressful process. Focus on yourself and how you can improve the way you are moving forward: eating healthy and regular meals, getting enough exercise (family walks?), and sleeping well will also help with self-care. 

Time to Tackle Your Finances

Now that you are single again, your financial priorities may have shifted, and it is time to think about how you can stay on top of your finances. There are plenty of techniques that will allow you to thrive as a single income household, and you can take some time to look at how to implement the ones that work for you and/or your family. Prioritizing your spending is also important, and look at trying to cut costs wherever you possibly can is also helpful.

Back in the Dating Game?

Getting back into the dating game might seem like something that’s on the bottom of your list of interests right now, but you will feel the urge sooner or later. There are plenty of ways you can get back on the dating saddle, and online dating is going to be one of the best ways you can do this. With a lot of different sites to choose from (see the link just above), you may find one that works for you, and you can start setting up some dates.

There is a lot to think about when you find yourself freshly single once again. Life will go in a different direction to what you might be used to, and it is important to be adaptable. You and your kids are going to be impacted by this, of course, but with planning, thinking smart, and being easy on yourself, you can make this transition work for your family. It’s not impossible! In fact, as Meryl Streep says, “Start by starting.” 

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Tips for Better Sleep for the Whole Family

Thank you to Julia Merrill at BefriendYourDoc.org for this important guest post about getting enough sleep. All parents know how hard this can sometimes be. 

Sleep is an integral part of your family’s health, and the problems sleep deprivation causes go beyond yawning all day and feeling fatigued. Without enough rest at night, the human body is at risk for a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, weight gain, pre-diabetes, and more.

However, some health problems can be prevented with the right tools. For instance, turning on an appropriately sized air purifier in children’s rooms removes allergens from the room to reduce asthma symptoms. And for many adults, the right mattress can make all the difference in the world. However, many of the problems can only be prevented with quality shut-eye.

Your Family’s Best Sleep Routine

First of all, you have to get your family on a constant sleep routine, especially if you have kids. Children thrive on routines, which help eliminate anxiety because children have an idea of what comes next. A steady schedule will also help you save time and feel less stressed, as well. Your family’s particular routine should be personal and based on each individual’s sleep requirements — children of different ages need certain hours (What a great sleep chart at that link!) that vary based on how the body naturally falls asleep and wakes. With that being said, feel free to use these great bedtime rituals to help inspire your own routine.

  • Turn off electronics at least an hour before it’s time for sleep. That means no television, video games, or tablets that can distract little ones from what needs to be done.
  • Dim lights and turn on some soothing classical music. Turn the thermostat down to somewhere between 60 and 68 degrees F, which is the optimal sleep temperature.
  • Have children take a warm bath both to get clean and to slightly raise body temperature. Once they step into their cool room for bedtime, their body temperature dips, which makes them feel drowsy and ready to sleep.
  • Whether or not they take a bath, make washing faces, brushing teeth, and combing hair as a part of their routine.
  • Pick out pajamas and get dressed. Make sure children’s pajamas are comfortable, breathable, and flame-resistant.
  • Little ones who are particularly active may enjoy a bedtime yoga routine that gets all the wiggles out before they hit the sack (you may enjoy this, as well!).
  • Read before bed — it relieves stress, improves cognitive function, and encourages children to grow into more empathetic people.
  • Finally, always say “I love you” before it’s time for light’s out.

Bedtime Tips for Grown-ups

Most children have a pretty easy time getting enough sleep; it’s the grown-ups that most likely suffer from sleep disorders or wake up with aches and pains. Mattresses should be replaced every seven to ten years; but even if yours is younger, it may need a replacement if you wake up with a sore back or limbs. These days, people love the convenience of buying mattresses online. It saves time and the product is shipped right to your door.

If you want to buy a new mattress via the web, make sure you do diligent research, look over reviews, and purchase a model that has exceptional trial, warranty, and return policies in case it is not the right fit. There are various types of mattresses available, including memory foam, gel, pillow top, innerspring, latex, and more. If you are unsure what kind you prefer, go to a local mattress store to get a feel for what each type offers.

Beyond a great mattress, many adults find it helpful to sip a wind-down beverage as soon as kids are asleep. Different types of herbal teas have anti-anxiety benefits and can even help muscles relax. Also consider flavored magnesium drinks that have the same sleep benefits.

A good night’s sleep means a healthy tomorrow for your family. A steady bedtime routine signals to little ones that it is time to rest and instills healthy habits they can carry with them into adulthood. If your own sleep is suffering, a new mattress may be the key to reducing tossing and turning. Furthermore, a soothing bedtime drink such as sleepytime tea or a magnesium supplement may be just what you need to fall asleep quickly.

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