June 20th, 2017

A Reminder About Water Safety

A Reminder About Water Safety

It’s summer, kids are out of school, and lots of people are looking to cool off in the water, whether it’s in their own pool, a community pool, lake, the ocean, or whatever.

I’d just like to take a moment to remind everyone to keep things safe for your family in and around the water. We had a minor scare ourselves a few years ago, and the only reason it was minor is because I was paying attention when my youngest fell into my inlaws pool. Still really scary, even though I had her out of the water almost as fast as she fell into it.

Our situation was kind of classic. I was following her as she kicked a ball around the pool. Not right along the edge, but the yard isn’t so big that she could kick the ball well away from it, so I was keeping a sharp eye on the activity. When the ball went straight into the pool on one kick, she ran after it without hesitation and fell in.

My husband, in the shallow end of the pool, did not hear the splash as our daughter fell in. He did hear my scream, and swam over just in case I didn’t get her right away, and was able to help comfort the both of us as I held a rather terrified little girl. She was only under water for a moment because I had been right there watching her.

Still, I think about how easily things could have gone wrong. One of the other kids could have distracted me at the wrong moment, completely innocently. I had scolded my oldest for splashing water at me just minutes before, in fact, telling her I was not to be distracted from watching her younger sister.

This accident had quite an impact on my youngest. She had been excessively bold around the pool before she fell in. Immediately after, she wouldn’t go near the pool without an escort, which honestly was a good thing. I had often said that she needed more watching than my older kids, and after this accident, many family members finally agreed with me.

It took years for her to get over the fear of water she had from this fall. Her first swim lessons were a Mommy & Me type, and she screamed so much they almost kicked us out of the class because she was scaring the other kids.

Her first classes alone the following year went only a little better. She still didn’t want to put her face in the water at all, and really didn’t want to be in class. I kept her in classes because friends and family members do have pools, making them a necessity for her safety.

These days, she doesn’t swim as well as her siblings did at the same age, but she does swim. We don’t have the same amount of pool access we did back when she had her accident – my inlaws have moved into a smaller house that doesn’t have a pool.

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

One of the big things to remember is that drowning doesn’t look like drowning. It’s much quieter than movies would have you think.

We also had a close call with my oldest once, a competent swimmer at the time. I noticed she was in distress and alerted my husband, who was right by her. He thought she was fine until I yelled at him, and then he helped her out. She had gotten a cramp in her side and just couldn’t move almost at all. He was upset that she hadn’t called out until I explained to him why she couldn’t. She was in tears, but otherwise fine afterward, and took a break from swimming until she felt better later in the day. No big deal in the end, but if I hadn’t noticed and hadn’t read an article on what drowning looks like fairly recently before that, it could have been bad.

Keep Your Family Safe Around the Pool or Other Bodies of Water

PoolSafety.gov says that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4. That’s awful, and so many drownings and other submersion accidents can be avoided if an adult is paying attention.

The usual advice is to have an adult watching the kids in the pool at all times, and that’s an excellent idea. I would add that having one adult paying attention to each younger swimmer or child too young to swim well probably wouldn’t hurt either. I can watch all three of my kids swimming, now that they can all swim, but it was difficult to watch all of them back when my youngest couldn’t swim on her own.

PoolSafety.gov has some other simple pool safety measures you should consider if you have a pool in your yard. It’s vital that kids who live in a home with a pool learn to swim, for example. I enroll my kids at least once every summer in swimming lessons as soon as they’re old enough, and continue until they’ve gone through all the levels. It’s not a guarantee that they won’t drown, but since they have both friends and relatives who have backyard pools, it’s a basic safety measure I consider very much worth adding to my summer budget.

If possible, also consider having a separate fence around the pool, so young children cannot easily get into the pool even if they’re in the yard. A pool fence is not a guarantee kids won’t sneak into the pool area, but it slows them down. A pool alarm may also be a good idea. In general, anything you can do to keep the kids away from the pool without adults, or to alert adults if anyone goes into it, is a good idea. Just don’t trust any solution entirely, as kids are sneaky sometimes.

I feel so fortunate that our accident was so minor. My daughter was scared, not hurt, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

June 19th, 2017

100 Simple Work At Home Tips

100 simple work at home tips

Working at home always sounds great, but it comes with its own challenges. Managing work, family life, household management and self care all in one location isn’t as easy as it seems. Here are some tips to help you work at home more effectively.

Office Setup

1. A door you can closeYes, that's my office door

If you’re serious about being productive while working at home, a home office with a door you can close is best. Sure, you may be able to take your laptop anywhere, but that’s not always the best plan.

2. Ergonomics

An ergonomic home office setup will be a big help in the long run. Repetitive stress injuries are common for people who work a lot of hours on computers, but you can cut down on them with a good setup.

3. Protect your data

Make sure you’re protecting your data when you work at home. Have good antivirus protection, a firewall, and consider backing up your data offsite. There are many reputable services out there such as Acronis or Carbonite to backup your files. Make sure this is something you’re allowed to do with your data if you work for someone else, of course.

4. Be comfortable with the technology you use

When you work at home, it’s best if you’re comfortable with all the technology you use. Learn how to troubleshoot your computer and handle common issues. Maybe even learn to switch out basic parts – I recently had to replace a fan on my kids’ computer. It was easy, 4 screws and a plug. Take a class if it will help you be more comfortable.

5. Declutter

Clutter may easily build up in your home office if you don’t keep it under control. It may be easier at times to allow the clutter to build up, but in the long run, you need to keep the clutter down. If you catch the clutter building, take some time and declutter.

6. Plan your space

What kind of space do you need to work? Is it just your computer or will you need to store other supplies? Give yourself enough room to work comfortably and effectively. Don’t focus on what others say works for them – make it your own.

standing desk in office

7. Consider a sit-stand or treadmill desk

One of the big problems of working at home is how easy it is to be sedentary. A sit-stand desk or treadmill desk may help you be a little more active physically while you work. Make sure you can work comfortably when using your desk. A treadmill desk, for example, can make it harder to do some things.

8. Childproof your home office

If you have kids in your home, you want your home office fairly childproof, not just for the protection of your kids, but for the protection of your work. Cover outlets, make sure your kids can’t play with all the pretty buttons, and control noise levels from outside your home office if necessary.

9. Set up a safe space for younger kids

If you have young children who really can’t be kept out of your work space, set up a safe area for them. For very young babies, this could be a Pack ‘n Play. Toddlers may need a space set up for them. You could block off just your desk area in the room so that your chair doesn’t roll over any little fingers. Remember that this may impact your ability to claim a home office deduction.

10. Have a work computer

A separate work computer is required for some work at home jobs, and it’s a generally good idea for anyone. A work computer allows you to keep your work files safely separate from more casual computer use. Especially make sure your work computer is not for use by children. It’s both amazing and horrifying what they can do with a few taps on the keyboard when they’re tiny. What they can do when they’re older might be even worse.

11. Have a work phone number

Don’t take work or business calls on your home phone number if at all possible. It sounds better if you know to answer your phone as a professional rather than just saying “hello.” It’s easy to set up a free VOIP number with Google. Put the app on your cell phone and you won’t have any extra costs, unless receiving calls impacts your data plan.

Family/Home

12. Get help

Get the help you need to work at home. Ask your spouse to keep the kids busy. See if family or friends can care for the kids for a while. Send the kids to daycare or hire a mother’s helper. How much help you will need is up to you and your particular work and family situation – some don’t need any help with the kids, others need professional childcare.

13. Don’t feel guilty

Many work at home parents feel guilty for working when their kids might need them.Try not to worry about it. You probably see more of your kids than if you worked outside the home, and odds are that your family needs the money you bring in.

14. Plan family time

Make family time a part of your daily and weekly schedule. It’s easy to let your work creep into family time when you work at home. Do your best to prevent this when you have planned family time.

15. Make plans for when kids are sick

It’s not easy to work at home when the kids are sick. Plan ahead so you can deal with sick children as they happen.

16. Balance work and family time

Think about what your work needs from you and what your family needs from you. Somewhere there’s a balance that takes both into consideration. Do your best to keep it all balance.

17. Have activities in mind to keep the kids busy

If you want the kids to keep themselves busy, plan some activities for them and have supplies ready. The easier it is for them to have fun, the less they’ll bother you about being bored. I posted 30 ideas for keeping kids busy over the summer some time back, and that’s a small sampling of ideas you could use. Consider the ages and interests of your kids when you plan.

18. Talk to your family about the support you need

Talk to your kids and your spouse about how they can support you when you work at home. They need to understand how important your work time is. Come to an agreement about the things you most need from your family.

This includes how the kids behave while you work, when it’s okay to interrupt you, and how your work space is treated when you aren’t working.

19. Take time for your marriage

Your marriage is important. Don’t let working at home take too much time from your marriage. Your work at home success won’t feel as good if your marriage has trouble due to it.

20. Have everyone pitch in on household chores

You aren’t the only one who can handle chores around the house. Get the kids and your spouse to help at appropriate levels. Working at home doesn’t make all household chores your job too. A chore chart or chore sticks are helpful for children.

21. Plan meals

Don’t wait until it’s almost dinner time to figure out what you’re going to feed your family if you’re the one who’s going to make dinner. Plan meals out at least well enough that you know when you need to start cooking and won’t have to worry about whether you have all the ingredients.

22. Crockpots are wonderful

If you know you’re going to have one of those days where you can’t pay attention to when it’s time to make dinner, use the crockpot. You can start the meal much earlier in the day, and pay almost no attention to it all day.

23. Learn to say no

Just because you’re working at home doesn’t mean you have time to do everything around the house, take care of other people’s kids, etc. If someone wants you to do something that will make it harder for you to work, don’t agree to do it when you can’t spare the time.

24. Recognize what your kids are capable of

When you’re home all the time, it’s easy to do too much for your kids. You might be amazed at what they can do if you encourage them. Pick an appropriate age for them to walk to school without you if you live close enough, for example, or teach older kids to make dinner. You get more work time and they build valuable life skills.

25. Be prepared for school breaks

Kids in school make being productive at home so much easier… until school goes on break. Plan ahead for school vacations and such so they don’t entirely ruin your productivity. Think about activities the kids can do on their own, friends they can play with, family they can visit and of course things you can do as a family when you aren’t working.

26. Know where to find free wifi

One of the great ways to entertain the kids or give yourself a different work environment is to work someplace else. Keep an eye out for places where the kids can play and you can work. Fast food places may have wifi, but they are loud.

27. Consider hiring a maid

Hiring someone to come in and handle those tedious household cleaning tasks can give you extra hours for work and be well worth the money. You may want to have someone come in weekly or monthly, depending on the work you want done.

money mannequins

Finances/Legal

28. Know what to do if you need money quick

If you need money fast, take a look at quick ways to earn money. Sites such as Amazon Turk or Fiverr won’t usually earn you a lot of money, but they can be quick. Also consider offering your services other places where you can get paid quickly if that’s what you need. eBay is another good choice if you have some stuff around the house to sell when you need quick cash. You may also be able to sell things in a garage sale or local Facebook group.

You’re better off, of course, if you can give yourself some time to build a nice income, but we don’t all have that option. Try to avoid the kind of desperation that leads to people falling for a work at home scam.

29. Save up for taxes

If you’re an independent contractor or run your own business, odds are that you will need to file quarterly taxes at some point. Save up and be prepared so that it’s not a crushing financial blow when the time comes.

30. Know how much you need to earn

You can save money working from home when you think about gas, professional clothes, childcare and such, but if you run your own business or are considered an independent contractor, that taxes thing may change what you need to earn.

31. Keep your business legitimate

Find out what it takes to run your business legally in your area. You should be able to find this out on your city’s website. You may need to register a business name (DBA or FBN), you may need a business license, and you may decide to incorporate. Find out what legal requirements you need to follow in your area.

32. Get appropriate insurance coverage

See about getting a rider on your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance for your home business. You will need to check with your insurer to see what’s available in your state. Separate policies for your home business may also be available.

33. Don’t spend more than you can afford to lose on your home business

Most home businesses don’t cost a lot to run, but if you have a physical inventory or do a lot of advertising (even online), expenses can run up quickly. Sometimes it’s necessary to go a little into debt to get things started, but try not to go so far that it’s hard to recover if things don’t work out. Investing wisely in your home business is a good thing, of course.

34. Separate personal and business finances

It’s not always easy to keep these things separate, but do the best you can. It can be very hard to separate things out later, which is a big disadvantage at tax time. Use a separate credit or debit card for business expenses if you can.

35. Keep business receipts organized

When you spend money on your home business, keep the receipts organized. Given the online nature of many home businesses, you may need to create a file in your email and on your computer for any receipts you receive electronically. Separate them by year so you can find them quickly for tax purposes.

36. Consider hiring a bookkeeper or accountant

There comes a time where you can benefit from the services of a professional bookkeeper or accountant. They may be able to spot tax savings you would have missed. They’ll still need you to keep your information organized enough that they can use it, but they know more about what you can and cannot do financially.

37. Plan for retirement

Saving for retirement is especially important if you work for yourself or if your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan. Put money aside for your retirement. If you’re self employed, you may be able to save a lot.

home office

Working

38. Don’t be afraid to work outside the home too

Sometimes it takes a while to build a big enough work at home income. Sometimes it’s necessary to work outside the home while improving your income earned at home. That’s not a bad thing.

39. Dress for productivity

Dress in whatever way makes you most productive. Some work at home parents prefer to dress professionally, feeling that it gets them in the right frame of mind for working. Others can wear whatever they want. If you can work in jeans and a t-shirt (or even pajamas), there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as it works for you.

40. Sometimes your current job can become a work at home job

If you a have a job outside the home already, and you think it’s something you could do from home, find out if it’s possible. Some companies allow partial or complete telecommute schedules to experienced employees. Others can be talked into it if you present your case well. Give it a try.

41. Don’t pay to show interest in a work at home job

Employers don’t ask you to pay to prove that you’re serious about a work at home job. Don’t trust a company that asks for money with your application. Some few legitimate companies will require that you pay for a background check (such as Arise), but this is something to be viewed with a great deal of caution.

42. Working at home isn’t for everyone

I’ve seen this in my own family – one of my sisters is far, far happier working in an office than she is at home, even though she tried a home based job for a few years. Don’t feel bad if that’s what you feel after a time. We all have our own ways of supporting our families.

43. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is

People fall for all kinds of work at home scams because they don’t recognize this simple truth. If an opportunity looks too amazing, too appealing, utterly irresistible, easy, etc., take a more careful look. Get some good advice from someone not associated with it. There are all too many scams out there for people who desperately want to work at home.

44. Make sure you’re ready to work from home

Working from home isn’t as simple as some people think. Know where you’re going to work, when you’re going to work, and how this is going to work out for your family.

45. Give it time

Not everyone will be successful in working at home right away. Whether you get a work at home job or start a home business, it may take time to be as successful as you’d like. Don’t let frustration stop you.

46. Set your hours and take them seriously

The more regularly you work and the more seriously you take your work hours, the more seriously others will treat your work. This is especially important if you have agreed with your employer to work particular hours. You probably won’t keep working at home long if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do.

47. Take breaks

Just as when you work outside the home, regular breaks are a good idea. They refresh your mind and allow you to move around.

48. Keep in contact

If you have an employer or a client, keep in contact with them. Make yourself available to them during your work hours as appropriate. Let them know what your work hours are so that you can keep in contact with them at appropriate times and you can enjoy your family during non-work hours. You shouldn’t feel obligated to be available 24/7 unless that’s specifically a part of the job.

49. Check email on a schedule

Don’t check email throughout the day without a very good reason for doing so. Most days checking email at the beginning and end of your work day will be plenty. Otherwise, checking email can eat up a large chunk of your day without significant benefit.

50. Keep your email organized

I sort my email. I use GMail, and the filters do a great job of sorting things out for me, so I can check the email that interests me at the time and leave the rest for later. It’s wonderful having personal and professional emails separate rather than trying to spot what needs to be handled now versus later.

51. Give yourself an evaluation

Whether you work for someone else or for yourself, give yourself regular evaluations. They’re a great way to check on your progress and see where you could use to make improvements.

52. Set short term and long term goals

Goal setting is a wonderful way to keep things going. Set goals that will help you to make the most of your work. Daily, weekly, monthly, annual, 5 year goals all matter.

53. Learn to work without supervision

Not everyone can manage to work well without supervision. If you want to successfully work at home, you have to. Learn to motivate yourself to get each day’s work done.

54. Make the most of your work at home day

An effective work at home day is a combination of many factors. Sometimes you will have to work when someone else tells you to; other times you can set your own hours. Do your best to have as many factors as possible in your favor when  you work at home.

avoid distractions

55. Learn to ignore distractions

There are tons of work at home distractions you will face daily. Don’t let them keep you from reaching your goals each day. You don’t have to keep the room completely quiet – in fact, some people work better with background music – but choose the sounds around you carefully.

56. Get any training you need

Not all work at home jobs require training. Some require it and expect you to get it on your own, while other employers may handle the costs and scheduling for you.

57. Avoid procrastination

Know what makes you procrastinate. Identify the activities and times that you’re least likely to be productive, and figure out how to deal with them. Give yourself goals and time limits to help you avoid procrastination.

58. Be a good employee

One of the hardest parts about having a work at home job is showing your employer that you’re a great employee. This is especially true if most of your coworkers are at the office while you’re at home. Make sure you communicate regularly and clearly with your employer, track your hours appropriately and stick to your work schedule as best you can.

59. Think about ways to be more productive

If you want to earn a good living from home, productivity matters. Simple things such as planning ahead, giving yourself deadlines and tracking how you spend your time each day can make a big difference in your productivity in the long run.

60. Set up a workflow

A good workflow can help you to plan things out for your common tasks. It will help you to know what has and has not been done on each project you’re working on. This is wonderful when you aren’t sure what to do next – your workflow will have the answer.

61. Know how flexible your hours are

Many people work at home for the flexibility. The only problem is that not all work at home jobs are flexible. Know what times you have flexibility in your work and which times you really, really need to be right there. This isn’t just about employers – some home businesses are best done at certain times of the day too.

62. Blogging isn’t always an easy home business

Blogging is often recommended as an easy home business to start. That’s true, as far as it goes, it’s an inexpensive business to run, but it’s not always easy. Figuring out what to write about, driving traffic to your site, earning money all take work. Be prepared. It’s great when blogging works, but the path for most is long. Don’t blog if you hate to write.

63. Direct sales isn’t for everyone.

Odds are you can find a direct sales/network marketing opportunity you’d enjoy. It may or may not be the right business for you. There are a lot of rules to follow when you join an opportunity. Do your research and make sure you know what you’re getting into, especially the cost of the opportunity and the reputation of the company. Getting in on the ground floor means you’re getting in when the company has yet to prove its stability. That’s not always a bad thing, just an additional risk.

64. Affiliate marketing is easy and difficult

I love affiliate marketing. No inventory, no sales fulfillment, no customer service required (although sometimes people may send you questions). Find the right way to present a product, and the sales will come in. Finding that right way takes time and effort. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s great when it does.

65. Have a plan

Whether you work for someone else or run your own business, have a plan. Plan out how you’ll be productive. Make a business plan if you have a business. It doesn’t have to be all that formal or follow someone else’s suggested formula – just plan things out enough to help yourself work.

66. Don’t keep switching to the latest and greatest opportunity

The people who have the most trouble succeeding at home are the ones who cannot stick to a given project. Focus. Keep working on what you’ve started on, and don’t take on new projects until you know you can afford the time. For businesses, that means you’re either earning a profit or you’ve realized it’s not viable for you. For jobs, that means you know you can keep up with the requirements of that job and take on your new idea. Adding in new projects too quickly makes all of them more likely to fail.

smartphone

67. Make the most of your smartphone

What can you do with your smartphone when you’re out running errands? If you’re going to have some time where you’re just sitting around, such as kids’ sports or other activities, try working on the things you can do on your smartphone.

68. Prioritize

Work on the most important things first. If you have a business, work on the things that need to be done first, especially if you have deadlines to meet or they will bring in money directly. Once the important things are done you can work on the other things that make your business go.

69. Don’t compare yourself with other people working at home

It’s often tempting to compare your progress with others, especially if you have a home business. Your situation is not exactly like the situation of others. Even similar businesses will work in very different ways for different people. Focus on where you’re doing well and where you would like to improve, not on how someone else is doing.

70. Grow your skills

The right skills make working at home much easier. Learn more about things that can help you do your work more effectively. But…

71. Don’t get stuck in the learning trap

For almost any kind of work at home opportunity there’s a ton of information available. Learning about different things you can do to make the most of your home business doesn’t do you any good if you never take action. When you learn something new that sounds like it would help your business, apply it. If you don’t have the time to apply a new tactic, file it away until you can use it. Don’t even bother reading up on it until you’re ready to use it. You can bookmark useful pages for future reference. Don’t be surprised if you never come back to many of these seemingly wonderful ideas because you don’t have the time for them.

Remember that doing is far more important to your success than learning. You can know all about how someone else succeeded, but unless you’re working toward your own success, that doesn’t mean a thing.

72. Find a mentor

A mentor can help you make great progress toward success. Their inspiration can help you better deal with the challenges you face in your work. If you admire someone, just ask. They might say no, they might set a fee, or they might agree to work with you.

Don’t get mad if they ask for a fee. Remember that you’re after someone else’s valuable time, knowledge and experience. Some can give that away, but others can’t.

email

73. Set up template responses for common email questions

If people tend to email you about your business, odds are many of the questions are more or less the same. Set up templates to save you time in responding to these emails. You can customize them as necessary, but the template will give you the basic information you need to respond.

74. Don’t multitask

Multitasking is not as efficient as most people think. You’ll generally do much better if you focus on one thing at a time. This won’t always be possible – if you have small children you may have to watch them as you work, and older kids may come up for help with homework, but avoid multitasking when you can.

75. Don’t be a perfectionist

I’ve seen too many people never get started with a home business because they want everything to be perfect before they launch. Make it good, but don’t expect perfection. You can improve as you go.

76. Keep working when you don’t feel like it

There will be days that you don’t feel like working. That doesn’t matter. Push on through, just like you would if you were working for someone else.

77. Pay attention to your natural schedule

When are you most productive? Least? Do what you can to schedule your work around the times that you’re usually the most productive.

78. Hire an assistant when you need one

As your home business grows, it makes sense to hire a virtual assistant to handle the details that don’t need your personal attention. It’s easier to be productive with the things that earn money for you if someone else is handling the other stuff. Don’t spend more than you can afford, but remember that the point of hiring someone else is to make it easier for you to earn still more money or to have more free time.

79. Keep up your resume

It doesn’t matter if you think you’re going to work at home forever or have your own business forever, keep up your resume. Sometimes plans change, and it’s easier to keep track of your experience as you go. The skills you gain working at home can be highly valuable in other areas.

80. Use the right tools

There are wonderful tools out there to make working at home easier. Tools such as Hootsuite make managing your social media presence much easier. Spending a little money on a tool can help you to work much more efficiently.

81. Try podcasting

Do you have a lot to say about your home business? Try recording a podcast. Not everyone will want to read the information you’re trying to share, and a podcast can be highly effective at getting to a new audience.

82. Don’t be afraid of video

I’m still working on this one myself. Video can be a wonderful way to present your home business to the world. You don’t have to sit and talk to the camera – you can use software to record what’s on your computer monitor as you talk.

social media cloud

Networking and Social Media

83. Keep the personal and the professional separate when possible

Do your professional contacts really need to know what’s going on with your family or how much fun you had on vacation? Don’t overshare personal things on your professional networks. Facebook, for example, allows you to control who sees what you post. If you keep friends and professional contacts on separate lists, you won’t have to explain embarrassing items to your professional contacts.

84. Use social media to find opportunities

Social media is a good source for professional contacts and opportunities. You can use it to find contracting opportunities or regular jobs.

85. Don’t let networking take over your work day

Networking, online or off, can take a big chunk out of your day if you let it. Keep it at an appropriate level. There are more things you need to work on.

86. Social media success doesn’t equal business success

You may have thousands of followers on various social media sites, but that doesn’t mean your online business is a success. Focus on what brings in income, not on your popularity when you use social media.

87. Participate in groups

Participate in group activities relevant to your work when you can, online and offline. LinkedIn group discussions, Facebook groups, Chamber of Commerce meetings in your area… they’re all opportunities to network and demonstrate your skills to build your home business.

88. Promote others

Don’t limit your social media to tooting your own horn. Promote the work of others, especially when it’s relevant to your audience or shows someone using one of your products.

89. Be active

Don’t join any social media site or professional organization if you can’t be active in it. The more active you are, the more benefit you will see and the more authority you will have. Just being a name on the site won’t do you much good at all. You have to be interesting, and that means being active.

90. Use social media buttons on your online content

Make it easy for people to share any content you put online by including appropriate social media buttons. People are more likely to share if you make it easy for them to do so.

You don’t have to put a button out for every social media site out there. Include the big ones, especially if you have a big audience on that site. Include any relevant smaller social media sites. Too many choices won’t encourage people to spread the word on more sites; it will just make things more confusing.

exercising

For You

91. Exercise

Don’t sit in your home office all day every day. Get out and exercise. Take stretching breaks at appropriate intervals during the day. You’ll feel better and be more productive.

92. Stretch

Get up once an hour and stretch a little. The Mayo Clinic website has some good stretching videos if you need some ideas.
Neck stretches
Lower back stretches
Forearm stretches

93. Socialize

Don’t be a total work at home hermit. Go have fun with friends. You’re missing out on the socialization that comes naturally with working outside the home; decide how you’re going to get time with others while you work at home. Even taking your laptop and getting in some work time at a coffee shop can help. Otherwise, the isolation of working at home may get to you.

94. Enjoy a hobby

Aside from work and family, what do you like to do? Make time regularly for things you enjoy. It doesn’t matter if it’s reading, watching television, swimming, or whatever. Do something that you enjoy, just for fun.

95. Take a break to eat

You’ll feel much better if you stop working for meals. Meals are a wonderful time to give your mind a break from work. You’ll be more refreshed and productive if you take regular breaks in general.

96. Take a vacation

You shouldn’t work all the time. Once in a while, take a vacation with your family. Leave all your work behind if at all possible. Schedule things around your vacation so you have as few work worries as possible. Hire a virtual assistant if that’s what it takes to keep things running while you refresh yourself.

97. Drink water

Water is usually the best thing you can drink. Keep a bottle of water by you while you work. I use an insulated bottle with a straw so the risk of spilling is minimal and my water stays ice cold.

98. Keep snacking under control

It’s very easy to gain weight when you work at home. Keep healthy snacks that you enjoy more accessible than unhealthy ones, and don’t overdo the snacking.

99. Remember why you work

It’s easy to forget why you work when you work at home. Whether you work because it’s the only way to pay the bills or you work because you find it fulfilling, or some combination or reasons, keep that thought in mind. It makes it easier to keep working even though there’s no one supervising you directly.

100. Don’t try to do everything

It’s easy to overdo it when you work at home. Parenting, housework, work, it can all pile on and leave you exhausted. Get help with things as needed.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

June 15th, 2017

How to Earn Money at Home When You Can’t Find a Work at Home Job

How to Earn Money at Home When You Can't Find a Work at Home Job

Finding a work at home job has never been easy. There are a lot of people out there looking for those jobs, and only so many jobs available. But sometimes you need the money but really can’t get a job outside the home while you wait for a work at home job to come available. It can be a tough situation.

How do you make money until you find more regular work you can do at home?

Garage Sale!

Having a garage sale is one way to declutter and get some money at the same time. You can clean out a lot of things you don’t need anymore with one garage sale.

There are disadvantages of course. It’s kind of a one off. Once the stuff is sold, you don’t have any more to sell to make more money.

You’ll also be fighting off bargain hunters who just want stuff as cheap as they can get it. Figuring out when bargaining is worth it versus sticking to your price isn’t always easy.

Craigslist

If you have less stuff to sell, Craigslist is another good way to go. Some things go very quickly.

You may still have to deal with bargain hunters, but you may also get multiple calls on your listing. With any luck you’ll quickly know if standing firm on your price is going to work.

Try Freelance Writing

Serious freelance writers can earn some good money, but if you just want a little to tide you over until you get whatever kind of work you’re looking for, some basic freelance writing can bring in some money.

I have a list of more than 100 freelance writing gigs, and new listings come up regularly on my online job board.

Tutor

What subjects were you good at in school? Do you think you could find a few students in need of tutoring? There are a number of places that hire online tutors, or you can put up signs at local schools or businesses if they will allow you.

Start a Home Business

Yeah, take a little risk. Or not. You could always go the free route with a Blogger or WordPress.com blog.

Running a blog may or may not make you any significant money, but it will keep you busy and may be good for your resume if you keep your blog relevant to the type of work you’d like to be doing. Show off your knowledge!

You may be able to earn a little from product recommendations with affiliate links. Make sure you have some sort of disclosure about affiliate and other relationships to products mentioned on your blog.

Most bloggers do not earn very much, but it can be worth a try. You can spend money on this if you want to, but if things are that tight, free may be the way to go. But hosting and a domain name aren’t much to spend if you can afford it.

Do Small Jobs on Amazon Turk

Many of these don’t pay so well, but the lower the pay the easier it should be.

Amazon Mechanical Turk is a program through Amazon.com where people ask for small jobs to be done. You complete it, they’re supposed to pay you. Just be sure that you accept the hit before you do the work so that someone else doesn’t beat you to it. It doesn’t matter if the job’s only going to take you a couple of minutes. You don’t want to waste your time and not get paid for something you did just because the opportunity vanished.

Fiverr

Can you think of something you can do quickly that someone will pay $5 for? It has to be quick, since that’s not a lot of money and you get 80% of it. Some people do very well on Fiverr, but for most it’s a side gig at best. Take a wander through the site and see what others have done.

None of these are things that are likely to become your regular source of income. Most people want more. But sometimes even small jobs are just enough to keep you going until things get better. And if you try the home business idea and it takes off, well that would definitely be worth it!

Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.

June 14th, 2017

20 Free Or Cheap Activities For Families During The Summer

When the kids get out of school for the summer, you want to be sure they do more than sit about at home watching one screen or another. The trouble is that things add up really fast if you have to spend much money on them. It’s a big help to know in advance what free and cheap activities are available in your area for your family.

I write various summer activities on our calendar if they take place on a given day or week. This makes it easier to remember what’s coming up. I tell the kids it’s their job to check the calendar and make sure I remember the things they really want to do.

Go Play With Friends

I’m putting this one first because this doesn’t happen enough for my kids or many of their friends. They’re so busy with organized activities, that they don’t often get to just go play with friends. Some of the issue for my kids is that none of their friends are in the neighborhood, and there are very few kids in the neighborhood at all.

Don’t plan everything your kids are going to do this summer. Let them make plans with friends or decide to head over to a friend’s house to see if they can play.

Movies In The Park

Many communities do free movies in the park once a week or so during the summer. These are usually free. The city we live in does them on Wednesday nights in the park, and the same movie on Thursday nights at the pool. I prefer the park, as it’s easier to let the kids run around. Check your city’s website to find out what happens in your area. The movies start once it’s dark enough for everyone to see the screen clearly.

You may need to get there early to get a good seat, and you will probably need to bring your own blanket or chairs to sit on. If it gets cool in your area on summer nights after the sun goes down, bring jackets or blankets to keep warm. Younger children may fall asleep if the movies run much past their bedtimes.

I also make sure to post on my kids’ class Facebook page when we’re going to a movie at the park, because it’s a great way to meet up with friends over the summer. Other parents don’t have to promise to go, but the kids have so much fun seeing which friends show up for each movie. They’ll share snacks, play until the movie starts, and snuggle up if it’s cool after the sun sets.

Cheap Movies At The Movie Theater

A lot of movie theaters now run children’s movies during the summer for a low price. They’re generally in the morning, and tickets should be about $1-2. The movie selection varies from fairly recent children’s movies to older selections such as The Wizard of Oz. Check your local theater’s website to see if they have any to offer and for ticket prices.

Summer Concerts

Communities may also do summer concerts in the park. Once again, you should be able to find out about these on your city’s website. As they don’t need to wait for darkness to begin, these may not run as late as movies in the park.

Summer Reading Programs

Many libraries offer summer reading programs to encourage kids and teens to read. They may offer prizes, and there may be special activities and crafts at the library as well. Check with your local library to learn what they offer.

Barnes and Noble offers kids a free book if they read at least eight books and record them in the Reading Journal. The free books the kids can choose from are listed on the journal.

Kids Bowl Free

If there’s a bowling alley in your area, they may participate in the Kids Bowl Free program. Check the website to find out. You will probably need to pay for shoe rental, but kid can have up to two free games a day.

Splash Pads

Many kids love to play in the water on hot summer days. When you don’t have a pool of your own, and the community pool admission adds up too fast, a splash pad can be a fun option. Water shoots up or sprays down on the kids from various items.

Some splash pads are free to use, while others charge admission.

Summer Food Service Program

No Kid Hungry is a program which serves free lunches to kids 18 years and under at approved sites during the summer. There’s no paperwork required – just show up. Any child can use this program, regardless of financial need, although the hope is that kids who get free or reduced lunch at school during the school year can make it to these sites so they continue to get free lunches during the summer.

To find a site, you can visit the program page on the USDA site, or text FOOD to 877877. Check to see what time each location serves lunch.

Local Playgrounds

Are there any playgrounds near you? Your kids may have a lot of fun playing at them. As they get older, encourage them to range more widely so they get more independent, and consider when they’re old enough to go to a park without you. Kids need to develop independence, and this is one way they will enjoy doing so when it’s appropriate for their age and your area.

Ride Bikes

Riding bikes is a great physical activity for the whole family. You can ride around your neighborhood, around local parks, or run quick errands on a bike. Once again, let them ride around on their own when they’re old enough, responsible enough, and you’re comfortable that your area is safe enough.

Go Geocaching

You can use a GPS enabled device, such as your smartphone, to find geocaches in your area or anywhere you go. You share your finds with the geocache community, and can make your own caches.

Free Admission Days At Museums

While admission to many museums can add up quickly, many offer free days, or are even free regularly. The California Science Center, for example, always has free admission, although there is a fee for parking, movies and special events. There’s still a lot to do there for free.

Check the websites of any museums you would like to go to and see when their free days are.

If you have an EBT card, you may be able to find museums in your area which participate in Museums For All, which gives free or discounted admission to families in the EBT program. Fees can currently range from free to $3 for museums participating in this program.

Work On A Skill Or Project

Each of my kids picks a skill or project each summer they want to work on. This gives me something to tell them to do any time I hear the words “I’m bored.” Mostly they want to make videos for YouTube, and I have rules for them about whether they can show faces, use real names, etc. They also have looked at improving artistic skills, learning to solder and much more.

Home Depot Kids Workshops

Home Depot offers workshops for kids to build small projects. The kits change each week and are free. You may be able to register online, but drop ins are usually welcome so long as there are enough kits. Classes are the first Saturday of each month. Parents must remain with their children. They also have workshops for adults, so if you see something you would like to learn, sign up for it.

Summer Code-A-Thon

Tynker offers a Summer Code-A-Thon to kids with free memberships to their site. It’s a 10 week program with a new project every week. Kids get certificates for completing projects, and the top projects each week get a t-shirt. Child accounts must have a connected parent account to participate.

YouthSpark Programs At Microsoft Stores

If there’s a Microsoft store in your area, your kids may be able to participate in free YouthSpark courses. Activities vary by the ages of your children. Parents must remain in the store for the duration of the event – these are not drop off classes.

Apple Camp

If you have an Apple store in your area, you may be able to sign your kids up for Apple Camp. It’s for ages 8-12, and is three 90 minute sessions. Kids choose their track from what is offered, and spend their time at the camp working on their project.

Use Educational Websites And Learning Games

If you want to work on academics over the summer, make sure it’s fun for your kids. They do forget a lot of what they learn over the summer, making it important to help them use their skills during their break, but this time should be a break.

There are fun sites for kids to keep working on their math skills, for example. My youngest loves The Prodigy Game. It’s a lot more fun for her than the math sites they use through school, although their accounts for those may be available over the summer as well. The basic account for The Prodigy Game is free, but don’t be surprised if your child wants a paid membership to access the extras.

Volunteer

Some places will allow families to volunteer with their children. My kids and I volunteer year round at a local animal shelter, for example. While many animal shelters only allow older kids to volunteer, you may be able to find places you can volunteer with your kids by checking VolunteerMatch.

Be Bored

There’s nothing wrong with kids being bored sometimes. That’s what will help them learn to come up with ideas on their own.

For more ideas, I did 30 Days of Keeping Kids Busy During The Summer a few years ago.

Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.

June 9th, 2017

Help! My Computer Won’t Show The Login Screen!

My laptop computer gave me quite the headache recently. We had a brief power outage while it was plugged and turned on, after which it quit showing me the login screen after going into sleep mode. It would come up just fine if I restarted the machine, but not if I shut it down completely and then turned the computer back on. Suffice it to say, this was a frustrating problem, as I could not even close the laptop without losing the login screen.

This is why you should always be able to do some basic troubleshooting and tech support on your own equipment when you work at home. Usually it will be easier to solve than this problem was. This particular problem was a massive headache.

Backup Your Files

This kind of problem is the point at which you should think about how good your backup files are. When did you last run a backup anyhow? Now would be a very good time.

I have offsite backup, but decided I really should get around to an onsite backup on an external drive. My old external drive has died. I bought a My Passport portable drive off Amazon, and when it arrived, I started the backup right away. I like redundancy in my backups… plus you don’t have to wait for the download to complete over your internet when you have a local backup.

I’ll skip ahead for a moment and note that I never needed the backup files this time after everything I did to fix this, but I didn’t know this at the time. Better safe than sorry. When in doubt, make a backup.

Search Your Exact Problem And Variations

I searched “windows 10 not showing login after sleep” to see what solutions I would come up with. Lots of suggestions. I also searched every possible issue related to it that I noticed as I went along. This gave me lots of paths to explore.

Run Diagnostics

I realized the problem might have something to do with my profile, as I also started getting messages about my account needing something done so that apps could work between other Windows devices I might use. This was a brand new message to me. I clicked the message and it took me to my account, where I tried to find a problem. It wasn’t very helpful at this point.

There are a number of diagnostic programs you can download from Microsoft when you have these kinds of problems. I tried a number of them, including the Update Troubleshooter, the System File Checker, Startup Repair and I think some others, with no solutions.

Check Other Account Profiles On The Computer

If there are other account profiles on the same computer, log into one and see if the problem persists. If there aren’t other account profiles, make one! This can help you figure out if it’s your profile that is corrupt, or if there’s a problem elsewhere. On my computer, existing accounts could go from sleep mode and give a login screen, but when I tried making a new profile for myself, it still had the login screen problem. Joy.

Whimper. Cry. Reinstall Windows 10.

This is what it came down to for me after a lot of searches, diagnostics, booting into safe mode, and frustration. The one good thing about the whole process is that, aside from the login issue, I could still use my laptop, so I could take breaks from diagnosis and do something else when I got tired of it. A fresh perspective helps sometimes.

But I had to use Recovery to reinstall Windows using the Reset this PC option. This is found under Update & security in your Settings. First pick – the option which did the reinstall but retained my files.

This option does not save everything. Your files are safe, but you will have to reinstall most programs and apps yourself. Fortunately, it gives you a list of removed apps in a file it puts on your desktop after the reinstall. Still, it’s painful.

You can imagine my pain when this didn’t work. Not only that, but it was no longer giving me the restart option, although I could login now after shutting the computer down. Throwing the computer out the window wasn’t really an option, but tempting at this point. I really didn’t want the expense right then.

Fortunately, I didn’t give up immediately. I went to my daughter’s class presentation to give myself a mental break and escape the frustration for a little.

Came back home after getting all the kids from school, and decided to try logging into other profiles one last time. Sure enough, other profiles still worked perfectly. Logged back into mine.

It got better! Suddenly I could see the login screen after sleep with no problems at all. This has continued, so something I did finally solved the problem. I’m assuming it relates to the reinstall, although I really don’t know for certain. I’m just absurdly happy to have my laptop working normally again.

Was This A Warning?

I’ve been joking with my husband that all this was actually a warning from my computer to me about my van. Two days after I got all of this resolved, my middle row van window on the driver’s side was down when I came out to my van. Not a break in. It needed a new regulator. On the weekend, when my mechanic couldn’t get one until Monday.

All that has been taken care of now, and I have warned my husband that I will absolutely scream if the house decides to get in on this. I don’t need more Window problems.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.