August 23rd, 2016

How to Teach a Reluctant Child to Cook


How to Teach a Reluctant Child to Cook

Some kids start out early loving to cook. My kids, not so much. While they all went through the “mommy’s helper” phase when they were little, they all lost interest in cooking and meal preparation early on. They have all been very reluctant to learn how to cook.

The solution, fortunately, has not been too difficult, although none are enthusiastic about the job most days. These are some of the steps I took to bring my kids from reluctant to cooperative and occasionally enthusiastic cooks.

Set Up a Schedule

Pick a day of the week that your child will help out with at least one meal. With three kids, this means I get help in the kitchen quite often. They know which day is theirs, and that if there’s a particular recipe they want to make, they need to tell me in time for grocery shopping. If I don’t know what they’d like to make, I may not have the ingredients on hand.

Start With Favorite Meals

What do your kids like to eat? Teach them to make their favorite homemade meals first. There’s a reason why all of my kids have helped make homemade pizza.

Don’t feel bad about allowing them to use premade ingredients. If you aren’t comfortable making homemade pizza crust, for example, buy a crust from the store. We have also used meatballs from Costco and other shortcuts in recipes.

Cooking doesn’t have to be dinner, although it has usually been the most convenient for us. If your child wants to make breakfast or lunch and there’s time for that, go for it.

Don’t Forget Desserts

If there’s one thing kids love to make, it’s dessert. Allow them to sometimes pick a dessert to make along with dinner. I don’t allow dessert to be the only thing they make that day, but it can be a part of the meal.

The great part about making dessert is that many of them can be made early, or even need to be made early. Many desserts need to cool before they can be eaten, which makes it easier to prepare the dinner that goes with the dessert.

Plan Fun Meal Days

The week that school started, I told each of my kids that their meal that week would be either “eat dessert first” or “breakfast for dinner.” They got to pick which one. They were also allowed to suggest their own ideas for a fun dinner, but to my complete lack of surprise, none did. Only one wanted to make breakfast for dinner – the others wanted dessert first on their nights.

My son was the one who chose to make breakfast for dinner, and he got a lesson on how complicated it can be to make a big meal where everything has to be warm at the same time. We made chocolate pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and fruit salad. Naturally, we started with the fruit salad, as that could just sit in the fridge until dinner. Making the rest took quite a bit of effort on both our parts to keep up. We both had fun, of course.

Be Flexible

I’m very flexible with my kids and cooking, especially during the school year. If they have too much homework or they’re just exhausted, they’re excused from helping. There’s time enough for them to learn about the occasional monotony of cooking a meal when they’re older and it has to be done every day no matter how they feel. If they learn to enjoy cooking when they’re younger, the monotony shouldn’t be as bad when they’re older. I hope.

Why Should You Teach Your Kids to Cook?

If you’re getting a lot of resistance from your kids about cooking, there may be times when you wonder why you should bother, especially with young children. Aside from the fact that they will need the skill as adults, there are excellent reasons to teach your children to cook.

1. They will understand food better.

Cooking is how kids learn about what goes into making a healthy meal, and what food looks like before you combine the ingredients to make a meal. There was that show a few years ago where children had trouble recognizing common vegetables. Getting them involved in food preparation (and including vegetables in your everyday diet) will help ensure that they know about a wide range of foods.

2. They will be more confident.

When my kids started cooking, they were very nervous about the heat from the stove and oven. They’re still cautious, but they get more comfortable every time, as they learn that it’s not that hard to deal with the heat and not get burned. The exception is my youngest, as she’s still small enough that it’s hard to reach things on the stove, never mind the oven.

It’s also important that kids get comfortable using knives. When their movements have been more tentative with knives, they have been at greater risk of hurting themselves, as they haven’t held things safely for fear of the blade. As they gain confidence and knowledge, they’re safer. That goes for a lot of things in life.

3. Kids are more likely to eat what they cook.

This is a real help if you have a picky eater. While it’s easier to start with foods they love, as your kids get more comfortable you can start challenging them a little. You can have them cook things that aren’t favorites, try new recipes or unfamiliar ingredients and get creative in the kitchen together. The pride of accomplishment can make kids more willing to eat things they might not have been willing to try otherwise.

4. It eventually takes stress off you.

Teaching kids to cook is not always fun. Sometimes it’s just a pain. But in the long run, as they get old enough to cook without your direct supervision, it makes your life easier. You don’t have to cook when you’re tired from a hard day – you can have one of the kids handle it. You might even save some money by not needing to eat out so often.

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

August 16th, 2016

How to Use the Home With the Kids Online Job Board

Home With the Kids Online Job Board

One of my favorite resources I offer here on Home With the Kids is the work at home/online job board. I share work at home and online job leads there – mostly imported from Indeed, but also jobs employers post, as well as other resources. For both job seekers and employers, it should be quite easy to use.

For Job Seekers

Your use of the Home With the Kids Job Board is completely free. You do not have to create an account or share your resume to use it. You can just pick a category and browse the work at home job leads. Most will have you apply either through Indeed or on the employer’s job site, not here.

If you create an account, you can post your resume, keep track of applications submitted through this job board (but not through Indeed or employers) and bookmark job listings. I review all resumes before approving them – spammers sometimes make accounts and try to get backlinks, and no one wants to see that garbage here.

I can’t promise that any employers will notice your resume here – that’s up to them. Most will get plenty of applicants without seeking you out on their own. You do not need to post a picture of yourself with your resume, although you can. If you’re working at home, how you look shouldn’t be a part of the hiring decision making process. Leaving off the picture is one way to limit the chances that it will matter.

You can use a link to your LinkedIn account rather than a resume for your account. I think it makes a lot of sense to minimize the places you need to update as you get new jobs. I would not depend on a LinkedIn account instead of a resume when you are actually applying for a particular job, however. Make it as easy as possible for potential employers to learn what you have to offer.

You can set your resume to public or private. A private resume will not show when employers search the job board. Your email address, phone number and website (whichever of these you enter) will only show to registered employers in any case.

Take advantage of the formatting tools to make the most of your resume if you do post one. You want to look as professional as possible, and a neatly formatted resume is a part of that.

You can select a category for your resume. I would suggest you pick the category of job you are searching for.

I would also recommend customizing your resume for each job you apply for. Use keywords from the job ad. Many employers have resumes scanned for keywords before a person even looks at the resume. You don’t want to have yours dismissed offhand because you didn’t take the time to customize it.

Have Scams Ever Made It Onto the Job Board?

Sadly (hangs head), I have to say yes, they have. I try to avoid scams, but they can be very hard to spot. I remove them as soon as possible once I know, and review what happened to avoid that mistake again.

Some key features to look for include improbable income promises, too easy work for the money, and email addresses that don’t match the company’s domain name. I’ve seen people try to post jobs here using Gmail, Yandex and other free email services. Those are some of the things that makes me look more carefully. Those are free and too easy to make look like the real thing… aside from the domain name.

You may also know it’s a scam if they try to hard to get your bank account information. Direct deposit is a wonderful convenience real jobs often offer, but it’s not information you should give up lightly. Same goes for your Social Security number. Employers don’t need that until you’re hired.

Charging for a background check is not necessarily a sign of a scam. It does mean you should look even more closely at whether or not the job is legitimate. Some good companies do expect applicants to pay for background checks, but other times it’s just a scam.

I’ve written elsewhere on how to spot work at home scams if you need more information on them.

For Employers

Most features of the Home With the Kids Online Job Board are free for you as well as employees. The only pay option as of this writing (subject to change in the future) is to get a featured listing so that your job stays at the top of the list.

You can refer job seekers to your website or have them fill out an application here, and it will be emailed to you, as well as be available when you sign into the job board.

Jobs must be home based. I will accept jobs with small amounts of travel, but the focus here is on parents who want to work at home.

You can upload a company logo if you like, and the interface allows you to format your job description. You can choose the type of job you are posting – part time, full time, freelance, even internships, although I will only accept paid internships. You can also tell people to visit your company website for job openings. I mostly use this for long term listings where the company may not be hiring all of the time. The Imported from Indeed job type is only for jobs I import from that website, not for employer-created listings.

You can also select a category for your job, so that people looking for that type of work have a better chance of finding it. If you don’t see an appropriate category, select “Other.”

I do not post home business opportunities here, including multi level marketing opportunities. You cannot require a financial investment. If you charge for a background check, I will be looking closely at whether or not I want to include your listing.

If I have any doubts as to whether or not the person posting a job for you company is really who they say they are, I may look for alternative ways to confirm who they are and that the listing is legitimate. This may delay the approval of your listing. I personally review all job postings, whether free or paid, so it may take a while for a job to be approved.

Jobs stay active for 30 days unless you or I take them down sooner. It is possible for me to change how long a job posting stays up. If you need an extension, you can either post the job over again or ask me to change the dates.

I usually tweet out the categories with new jobs daily. Featured jobs will get their own tweet and may get a Facebook post as well.

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

July 13th, 2016

My New Home Office Is Up And Running! SmartDesk Review

My New Home Office Is Up And Running! SmartDesk Review

It took longer than planned, but my home office is finally set up. Things took longer than planned due to a delay of shipment on my desk, but now I’ve got it! It’s so nice finally having a room where I can work and not be surrounded by the kids.

My desk is a sit-stand SmartDesk from Autonomous. So far I love it. The controls are easy to use and the desk goes up and down smoothly and quietly. There are programmable settings so that I can choose a height for it at the touch of a button. I like the way the desk looks, too.

smartdesk controls

I could wish for some desk drawers, but in my office they aren’t all that necessary – I have a wall of cabinets and drawers in here. Something right at the desk would be nice, but I can always get a file cabinet for that purpose.

standing deskThe desk is stable even though it’s on carpet. My carpet has excellent padding under it, which is nice when I stand. No matter the height I put the desk at, it doesn’t wobble at all. I’ve heard wobble is a problem with some standing desks, but that’s not a problem I have with mine.

Setup was a bit challenging but not all that difficult. The directions were almost entirely in picture form and it was sometimes a little hard to see what to do next. About all you have to do is put the screws in the right place, so it’s not that hard to figure out.. The desk is very heavy, so I had to have my husband help with parts.

The really neat part for me was that I was able to go out and pick up my desk directly from Autonomous. They’re currently located less than 10 miles from me in a town called Mentone. That saved me the shipping fee, which was a nice price break. That wasn’t an actual deciding factor for me in the purchase, as I had already decided on this desk, but it was a wonderful bonus.

I bought the most basic desk, but Autonomous offers some interesting upgrades for those who want more features. One accessory kit offers things such as a speaker, USB charger and wireless charger, while the other offers an AI Personal Assistant, Smart Home Controls and more. The top is real wood – mine is just painted black but you can have white, oak or walnut, or even a bamboo top. The price was only $299, which is much cheaper than other sit-stand desks of similar quality. Some options will increase the price.

My cats aren’t certain what to think of my SmartDesk. They’ve each had a ride on it, which didn’t frighten either very much but I don’t think they liked it either. I’ve put a folded blanket on one corner of the desk so that a cat can nap on my desk without being much in the way – we’ll see if that works or not. As my cats follow me everywhere in the house (I can’t even use the bathroom alone), I wanted to have a spot for them.

I will be adding a monitor to my current setup. I use a laptop right now, and while I can put my SmartDesk into an ergonomic typing position, that leaves the screen lower than is ideal. It should be easy enough to find a monitor and monitor arm to add to my setup. Eventually I’m thinking desktop computer and dual monitors but my husband isn’t yet convinced that I need to upgrade that much. We’re trying to go easy on spending (still getting used to the expenses of home ownership), but it will eventually come to the “this is a business expense, not a personal purchase” point, when I know it will be easier to afford.

My office chair is nice too. Comfortable and a bargain I couldn’t resist – $5 at a garage sale. It was a little dusty but works perfectly and is in great condition now that I’ve cleaned it up.

All in all, I love my new home office setup. I may decide to add a cat door so I can close the door without the cats scratching at it, but otherwise it’s working well.

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.

July 11th, 2016

How to Encourage Your Kids to Reach Their Summer Goals

How to Encourage Your Kids to Reach Their Summer Goals

If your kids are like mine, they talk a lot about the things they’d like to do over the summer. Mine have talked for the past couple summers, for example, about building a hovercraft. It hasn’t happened yet. I decided to see what I could do to encourage them. They also have other things they want to make, learn or do.

The method we’re using is pretty simple. First I had them write out the things they want to get done this summer. I’m not talking family vacation stuff – that was a different conversation. I also don’t mean summer academics for the most part. Helping kids remember the stuff they learned in school has its place, but not in excess. Besides, sometimes the things they want to do will take that place up quite nicely.

My oldest daughter wants to be a better artist, learn to play harp, build that hovercraft, start a YouTube channel reviewing her favorite video games and learn to design apps. My son also wants to build a hovercraft and a go cart, learn to solder electronics and he has already finished building his Meccano Meccanoid. My youngest daughter wants to do a lot of crafts and learn to make doll videos.

Now, if we let this summer go like usual, once every week or two they’d remember a project and maybe work on it. Mostly, however, they’d just play together or on computers whenever I’d let them. Nothing much would actually get done toward their goals.

Here’s How We’re Fixing That

The kids and I looked over their goals and made a weekly schedule for each of them. The schedules for the younger two are very flexible. The schedule for my oldest is more strict, but we planned it that way. She wishes she could have a summer job, but isn’t old enough for one, so the things she wants to do which might make money are scheduled to be like a summer job.

All of the kids have a lot of completely free time in their schedules, and I consider this part important. They can work on their projects longer than scheduled if they want or cut the time short, especially for the younger ones. All of the kids are often free to do whatever they want, provided it doesn’t involve staring at a screen.

For the younger kids in particular, they’re also allowed to say when they’d really rather just play that day. The point in the schedule isn’t to force the kids to work on something; it’s to make them remember the things they said they want to do. Most times, they’ll want to do it, and they often work on whatever thing for longer than I put into the schedule.

That the scheduled time is on the short side deliberate on my part. I don’t want them feeling that these things they want to do for fun are burdens. There’s lots of completely free time surrounding the scheduled times, so that it’s easy to spend that extra time on a project that is going well.

Boring things such as chores are also listed on the schedule.

So far, this has worked pretty well. My son had been overwhelmed by the thought of assembling his Meccanoid at first, but once he got going on it, he realized it wasn’t that difficult. I ordered a Snowball microphone for my oldest so she can do her video game reviews. With the right software, she can start that soon.

The kids have taken advantage of the schedule’s flexibility. The day after he finished his robot, my son said he didn’t want to do project time; he just wanted to play with the robot. I told him of course he could – playing with what you made is certainly part of that kind of project. Even if he had wanted to do something else I would have been fine with it. It’s good for kids to just be kids during the summer, after all.

I hope that this whole plan will help my kids to plan their own time better. My goal was to add just a little structure to their days without controlling their activities too much. Unstructured time is very important to children – it helps them learn to make their own decisions and be more creative. The schedule we’re using is more of a reminder of what they said they want to do than a demand from me, and I hope that will be a good thing for them.

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 28th, 2016

How to Make Your Work at Home Day More Productive

How to Make Your Work at Home Day More Productive

One of the great challenges of working at home is all the distractions. You sit down at your computer, and the whole internet is available to you. It’s all too easy to start off with something fun rather than something productive. But when you want to have a productive day working at home, you need to do your best to start off right.

Set Your Browser For Productivity

One thing that I have found works for me is to have my browser open up to pages that are productive for me to start on. Right now that’s my work at home job board administration page and a job search page. They aren’t what I need every time I open my browser, but what page is?

Those are the pages where I start my day. If I were to start my day out writing, I would start out in Google Drive, as I do most of my writing there.

The idea here is to make sure that you aren’t starting on a distracting page. Don’t start out on Facebook or any other social media unless you know you will start out working there.

Where’s the Caffeine?!?

If you need coffee to start your day, have your coffeemaker ready to go for the morning, or go get it as soon as possible if you prefer to buy it at Starbucks or some such. Don’t sit about delaying things over something you have every day – get moving.

The same goes for breakfast. Make sure you have the supplies on hand and easy to get together. You don’t have to eat breakfast right away if that’s not your routine – if you get up earlier than the rest of the family, you’re probably waiting for them – but make time for it in there somewhere, and make it convenient to prepare. Or teach the kids to do it once they’re old enough.

Plan for Distractions

You work at home. There are going to be distractions, that’s just the way it is. But you can decide which ones you will allow to distract you.

Kids are generally a distraction, especially when they’re babies. If your work can’t allow you that kind of distraction, have someone available to care for the baby.

As kids get older, you’ll probably need less help with the kids, at least if you don’t need a totally quiet environment in which to work. Teach them age appropriate ways to decide if they can interrupt you or not.

Try not to let basic household chores distract you beyond what you’ve planned for. I do laundry on certain days, and that’s when I know I will be getting up regularly to deal with it. I won’t touch it other days – if someone has an urgent need to get something washed, pretty much everyone here is old enough to handle it themselves. I only handle laundry at all on weekdays because I like our weekends free for family stuff, even when it’s just working around the house.

Sometimes you won’t be able to avoid interruptions. If something has to be repaired around the house you may not be able to decide what the best day is, or have your spouse home to deal with it. But when you have time, try to make sure such interruptions are planned for in your goals for the day.

Close the Door

This is one of the things I love about our new home – I can close my office door. We haven’t had a room that could also be a home office before.

Closing the door when you’re working is a good way to tell kids, spouses and pets to leave you alone as much as possible. Okay, maybe not the pets. At least, my cats consider a closed door more an invitation than a barrier. We’re working on that part with them.

Plan for the Next Day

Plan out your work day the day before. It’s a good way to wind down each work day. It helps you avoid indecision first thing in the morning.

If I have to stop in the middle of something and have a bunch of tabs open in my browser for it, I’ll bookmark the group to make it easier to continue the next day, or just leave the browser open. Bookmarked groups are dated so that I know when I did it if I don’t get back to it right away or forget to delete the group once I’m done.

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

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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 I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.