September 27th, 2017

Money Mistakes That Can Mess Up Your Marriage

Money Mistakes That Can Mess Up Your Marriage

Dealing with financial issues can be one of the most difficult things you do in a marriage. It’s common to have different financial priorities. They aren’t always easy to talk about. Money problems are often cited in divorces. Financial issues have to be discussed in a relationship, yet it’s a topic many would as soon avoid. That’s why there are so many money mistakes that can mess up your marriage.

Not Discussing Debts

Many families have debts to deal with, from paying off college loans to credit card debts to your mortgage. Paying on these debts can take up a major chunk of your income, and limit the things you can do. Failing to discuss what this means to your finances and your marriage is one of the easiest money mistakes to make.

This can be especially difficult when dealing with debt that one spouse held before the marriage. Sometimes there’s disagreement on whose responsibility it is, or if the responsibility is shared. There may be resentment that one person’s debt is making finances difficult for the entire family.

When you marry, everything about that person comes with it. That includes debts. It’s important to know what debts are being brought into the marriage before it happens, and more important to deal well with them during the marriage. No blaming the other person for them, especially if the debts paid for a college degree that helped them into a better job. You need to be partners in handling debts, regardless of how they happened.

Of course, if debts are due to the poor spending habits of one spouse, that’s another discussion. And it’s important. Spending too much is one of those money mistakes that makes problems worse.

Not Making A Budget

Having a budget can cut down arguments over finances. They are often difficult to agree upon. It’s vital to sit down and take a look at your expenses and what you can afford to spend on non-necessities.

Once you know where you have to spend money and what it comes out to, you can consider the places each of you would like to spend money. Some couples give each person a monthly allowance. Some have a price limit after which they need to check with their partner for approval. As a couple, you need to decide what works for you together. How much freedom you can give each person in spending will depend on how much extra room you have in your budget.

Do your best to have room for savings toward retirement, big purchases and vacations, as well as for emergencies. This may not be possible if your budget is tight, but it’s a huge help when you can manage it. There are a lot of ways to save money, just make sure that they’re worth it.

Not Sticking To A Budget

If one or both partners fails to stick to a budget, having a budget has very little benefit. Poor spending habits can increase credit card debt, which gets expensive fast.

If one or both partners in a relationship constantly ignores the budget, you’ll have problems. It will be much like you have no budget at all. Knowing what you can afford to spend and keeping to those limits is a huge help in avoiding financial stress in your relationship.

Paying Too Much Attention To Income Differences

It’s rare that a couple brings equal incomes to the family. Sometimes they let this be a point of contention. The higher income spouse may argue that they should have more personal spending money because they earn more. The one who earns less or nothing at all may find it difficult to speak up when he or she needs more money for something.

The vital thing to remember is that both partners bring different things to the family. The spouse who earns less may work just as many hours as the one who earns more. One might be a stay at home mom or dad, and that’s their contribution to the family.

Some jobs may require spending more in terms of wardrobe or other things. In most ways, however, both spouses should have equal opportunities to spend money on themselves. The money either person earns should belong to the family more than to that person. Who earns the most shouldn’t be an issue.

Failing To Assign Responsibility For Bills

Even with the auto pay option most bills have these days, couples should know who is going to pay which bill, and when it is due. This helps you to avoid unpaid bills.

The simplest thing to do is have a joint account for all household bills. This includes rent or mortgage, utilities and other necessities for the family. Many couples choose to have separate accounts for personal spending if they can afford it. Having shared bills paid from the joint account makes it easier to be certain that the money is available for those bills. If times are tight, money from individual accounts may have to go to the shared account to help out. Keeping on top of regular bills is far more important than having fun money.

Some bills you still have to remember to pay on time. I just had to send in the registration payment for my husband’s car, for example. I handle most of the bills that aren’t on auto pay here because my husband and I both know I’m more likely to remember them.

Failing To Compromise

You aren’t always going to agree with each other right away. Sometimes you will have to compromise on financial issues. Don’t make this too difficult, so long as the compromise requested is reasonable for your financial situation. Talk to each other about why you see things differently. Most times you should be able to come to an agreement that works.

Failing To Work As A Team: One Of The Biggest Money Mistakes

If you’re in a marriage or other long term relationship, you need to work as a team toward your short and long term financial goals. Talk out your disagreements about money. Plan for your financial future.

If one partner makes a mistake and goes off budget, talk about what happened and how to avoid the same problem in the future. Don’t keep dragging it up forever once the problem has been resolved. Reminding someone that they’ve caused the family financial distress isn’t productive for long. It’s certainly not productive if their habits have since improved and your budget is in good shape again.

Don’t let money mistakes mess up your marriage without trying to talk them out. You can make things work if both spouses are willing.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

September 25th, 2017

Quick Blog Tasks For When You Know You’re Going To Be Interrupted

Quick Blog Tasks For When You Know You're Going To Be Interrupted

One of the hardest things about blogging or running any home business is finding the time to do it all. There’s always something you should be doing, whether for your business, your family, your home, or maybe even a regular job. When you need to keep up with the needs of your blog, it’s helpful to know which quick blog tasks you can do when you know you’re going to be interrupted.

Doing these quick blog tasks won’t replace the larger and more time consuming things you need to do to run a successful blog. They are, however, also important to your success as a blogger.

Most of these tasks should be easy to do in 15-30 minutes. They’re also easy to drop in the middle if you have to.

Post On Social Media

Whether you schedule your social media posts or share them as soon as you create them, it only takes a short time.

I recommend using a tool such as Hootsuite to schedule your social media posts. Using a scheduling tool allows you to plan out your social media posts at any time, and share them at better times.

I also keep a spreadsheet of social media posts of varying types. Hootsuite allows you to bulk import posts into your schedule, so having posts ready for scheduling is a huge help.

Don’t just plan to share blog posts. Share quotes and ask questions too. Post tidbits about your day. Be a person as well as a business.

Remember the social side of social media. Sometimes when you have only a little time for social media, try being social. Reply to someone else’s post. Post in a Facebook group relevant to your niche, whether you ask a question or answer someone else’s. Post links to your blog if relevant and permitted by the group.

Look For Guest Posting Opportunities

Guest posting on high quality, relevant blogs can bring your blog significant traffic. The keys here are high quality and relevant.

A relevant blog doesn’t have to be in your exact niche. You only need reasonable overlap between your audiences. If you blog about recipes on your blog, for example, you might write a post about meal planning for a parenting blog.

High quality is the other concern. If the other blog is nothing but guest posts with little apparent concern for quality, you will probably do your blog more harm than good by guest posting there. Be picky. Go for the good websites.

If you don’t have time to craft a pitch, bookmark or follow the blog so that you can come back to it later. It never hurts to spend some time reading a blog you’re hoping will accept your guest post.

Comment On Other Blogs

Commenting on other blogs is a quick way to build links to your website and to bring your blog to the attention of your fellow bloggers. You may even get the attention of their audience if your comments are sufficiently interesting.

“Great post!” is never a sufficient comment on someone else’s blog. Some bloggers won’t allow those through at all. You need to make comments that contribute to the discussion and show that you are knowledgeable about the subject, or that you can ask intriguing questions when you don’t know enough. Be a real person when you comment, not a marketing automaton.

Brainstorm

How often have you had trouble coming up with blog post ideas when you have time to write? It’s a common problem.

Brainstorming ideas when you don’t have time to develop them is a big help. I keep a file of post ideas to go through. Some I will later decide aren’t worthwhile, but that’s not something you should worry about while brainstorming. Just come up with ideas. Worry about quality when it’s time to write.

There are several ways to get ideas. You can do some reading on other sites in your niche. You can check what’s happening on social media in your niche. You can do keyword research and see if any new keywords spark an idea. You can read through your old posts and see if you can expand on an idea in one of them.

Ideas are everywhere. You just have to find them. This is one of my favorite quick blog tasks because there are so many possibilities.

Keyword Research

Keyword research can be a part of brainstorming, as I mentioned above, but is also its own activity. It’s helpful to know keywords you should consider using on your blog even when you aren’t ready to connect them to actual post ideas yet.

Outline A Blog Post

Once you have a blog post idea and keywords ready to use, you can outline the basics of a post with relative ease. Note the topics you want to cover, choose your subheadings and note any resources you want to link to.

This will make it much faster to write your posts once you have the time.

Plan A Blog Series

Some blog post ideas are better off as a series of posts, rather than a single post. Take some time to break down your series ideas into individual post ideas, then follow the outline ideas above.

This can turn from a quick blog task to a highly detailed process, but getting your ideas started shouldn’t take much time at all.

Edit Pending Blog Posts

If you have blog posts written but not posted yet, review them. Use a grammar checker to see if you’ve made any mistakes.

Once you’re certain the post is well written, double check the search engine optimization (SEO) of your post. Is your keyword in your title? Is it in your first paragraph and few times after that? Did you use your keyword in at least one subheading?

Does your blog post have appropriate images for various social media websites? Should you make extras to keep things interesting? Are your keywords in the alt text for your images?

The Yoast SEO plugin is a good choice to help with the basic SEO for your blog post. It will tell you what you’ve missed by its standards.

It’s a good idea to reread blog posts a few days after writing them. I rarely post something I’ve written immediately after finishing it. Editing is easier when it is separated from the original writing process by time.

Update Old Posts

As your posts age, many will become less accurate. Take some time here and there, pick an old post and bring it up to date.

Sometimes it will be worth changing the date and presenting it again as the most recent post on your blog. Other times it may not be. Updating a post can require significant changes if the subject has changed enough. Other times, you might only change the occasional dead link.

It’s very worthwhile to update old posts. It helps control the number of dead links on your site and keeps the information you present more accurate. You can also update the SEO of the posts if it’s not up to standards.

Don’t forget to review the monetization of the post. Are all affiliate links current? Are they still the best products for the post? Can you add links to products you’ve created? Is there anything you can add that makes sense with the content and might add to your income?

You should also look at the images you used. Are they suitable for social media? I know a lot of my old posts have images that are simply terrible for use on Pinterest. You may want to change post images completely or add some new ones to help the post perform better on social media.

Seek Out Stock Images For Blog Posts

I keep a supply of stock images ready for use in my blog posts. It’s much easier to have a ready supply than to have to search for them every time I post. I do a little filing by type of image to make it easy to find the images I want.

You can get free stock images from sites such as Pixabay. I have a longer list of free image sites available as well.

To make these into images for your blog posts, you can use Canva, Adobe Spark, or Gimp. Gimp is my personal favorite, because it’s the most flexible. It can be faster, however, to use Canva or Spark, especially if you haven’t made a lot of blog graphics on your own.

Review Your Email Marketing

How well is your email marketing working for you? Are you getting subscribers? Are they opening your emails and clicking your links? Are you delivering everything you promised? Are they buying the things you offer?

A quick check can reveal any problems your email marketing may be having, but some problems will take a little time to fix. This is a quick blog task you should do regularly so that things won’t get too out of hand.

Review Your Income Sources

Where is your income coming from? Which streams are producing well? Which ones are falling off? What can you do to bring in more income?

Some products will be worth recommending for a time, but become outdated or are no longer offered. These need to be replaced with more current offerings. Others will be worth recommending for a long time, but updates to the product may mean you should change what you say about them.

Monetization can take a lot of time and effort to do well. A review of what’s working and what isn’t can help you find the things that need a little more of your attention. It’s a quick blog task that might mean a lot to your blog’s bottom line.

Seek Out New Income Sources

Look for new products and services that would benefit your readers, and see if they have an affiliate program you can join. This may also help generate post ideas as you consider ways to promote these new sources.

When you blog at home with your kids, interruptions may be inevitable. Having a plan to work on quick blog tasks despite the interruptions can help you remain productive. Save the focused work for those times you know you can keep most or all interruptions at bay.

Can You Think Of More Quick Blog Tasks?

What quick blog tasks do you do when you don’t have a lot of time or you know you’re going to be interrupted? Are there other things you find are okay to work on when you know someone will interrupt your train of thought?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

September 18th, 2017

Simple Strategies to Save On Groceries

Simple Strategies to Save On Groceries

Groceries aren’t the largest expense for most families, but they are one of those areas where you may be able to make changes and save money. This can be significant for many families. Here are some simple strategies you can consider to save on groceries.

Saving money on groceries is rarely the only solution when a family is having financial problems. It’s one place many people can use to be more frugal, however.

Dollar Stores Can Help Save On Groceries

I love my local dollar store, 99 Only. They have locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. Not everyone will have one available, but they are my absolute favorite dollar store for one simple reason.

Their produce section.

The other dollar stores in my area don’t bother with fresh produce as a general rule. 99 Only not only has fresh produce, some of it is organic. You have to be a little careful when buying it, as some locations aren’t as careful as they should be about freshness. When you get the produce fresh, it’s wonderful, especially considering the price.

For example, the other day I bought a package of yellow, red and green bell peppers. Six of them for $2. Even Aldi doesn’t beat that price in my area. I get much of my fresh produce at 99 Only because I know when they usually put out the fresh stuff, and it’s such a good deal. They carry an excellent range of produce.

bell peppers from dollar store

My bell peppers from the dollar store. There were 6 in the pack, but my kids snagged two before I got around to taking a picture.

They sometimes get amazing deals on other things. Bacon from various companies comes in, and some of it’s very good. They had a shipment of grilled, marinated artichoke hearts come in. I may have gone somewhat overboard on that find (15-20 jars, but they’re at least $5 at the grocery store so I went a little nuts). The kids love it when the granola bars come in, the same brand as we get at the grocery stores the rare times I will buy them. The random deals like these make every trip a hunt to see if there’s something unusually good available that I’ll probably never see there again.

Dollar stores are often good for canned goods and frozen foods. You can also get a lot of stuff for decorating your home around the holidays, dishes, cleaning supplies and more, but that’s not the topic for today. Just check your local dollar store if you’re not familiar with it and see what they carry that is good. There might be some surprises.

If you find a dollar store you like, see if there’s an active Facebook group for it, especially a group local to your region. I learn about things I should keep an eye out for that way. It can be frustrating if I miss something good or if my local store doesn’t get the item, but overall I’ve found this a useful tactic.

Aldi

If you have an Aldi in your area, you probably know that the prices are very good there. The stores are on the small side, so the selection may not be all that special, but there’s generally enough to make a stop there worthwhile. Most people find Aldi an excellent resource to save on groceries.

If you aren’t used to shopping at Aldi, it may feel a little strange. You have to put a quarter into a slot on the cart to separate it from the other carts. You get the quarter back when you put your cart away, so it’s not a big deal, but it catches a lot of people off guard. That said, it’s not at all uncommon at the Aldi by me for people to pass carts off to each other. Sometimes it’s in exchange for the new person’s quarter, but many people don’t care about it.

You also have to bag your own groceries. I live in California, and these days we have to bring our own grocery bags anyhow, but the added step of having to bag your own can be a little surprising. They have a long shelf for people to handle this, and it’s not a big deal at all.

Amazon Prime

Amazon has some pretty good grocery deals, and you’ll get your groceries quickly if you have Amazon Prime. They have a program called Amazon Fresh for fresh foods in some areas, which includes shopping from Whole Foods. You can also check out Prime Pantry, which allows you to fill a box for a flat shipping rate. If the deals are good enough, the shipping rate won’t be a problem.

Know What The Deals Are

If you plan your shopping to take advantage of the weekly deals at your local grocery store, you can save quite a bit. It’s harder to stick to a budget if the ingredients you need are at full price.

Make sure you know if your grocery store does overlapping ads. I shop at Stater Bros, and every Wednesday is a double ad day – the new ad and the old both apply. Guess what day is my big shopping day.

You can also create a pricing spreadsheet very easily. I like online spreadsheets because they’re easier to edit than printed ones. These days it’s no big deal for many people to open it up on their smartphones while shopping. You can also use a spreadsheet to calculate cost per unit, which is a huge help when dealing with different package sizes.

I have the spreadsheet through Google Docs, Google Sheets, and PDF. This way you can use it in whichever way works for you.

Track The Unit Prices

It’s easy to think something is a good deal when it isn’t if you fail to notice how much you’re getting for the money. Different brands may offer different amounts in their packages. Manufacturers may decrease package size to disguise a price increase. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to know unit prices when you want to save on groceries.

Meat can get very tricky. Different cuts of meat will give different numbers of servings, depending on whether or not skin or bones are included and how fatty it is. There are times when getting the bones is an advantage, such as saving the bones from a whole chicken to make chicken soup later. Other times, the bones are just something you throw in the trash after your meal.

If your budget and storage space allow, stock up when prices are especially good according to your tracking.

Remember Your Coupons

There are a lot of ways to get coupons now. You can use the traditional clipped out coupons. There are websites such as Coupons.com, SmartSource.com and Redplum.com where you can download coupons. Some apps are available that will give you money back on your purchases. Here are some to consider:

Ibotta (my referral code may give us both a bonus!)
Checkout51: iTunes, Google Play
Shopmium: iTunes, Google Play
Mobisave: iTunes, Google Play
Receipt Hog: iTunes, Google Play
SavingStar: iTunes, Google Play
BerryCart: iTunes, Google Play

You may also want to check out store-specific apps such as Target’s Cartwheel app (iTunes, Google Play). You select from the available deals before you go shopping, or as you shop. When you check out, the cashier scans your code off your phone.

Another good option is Walmart Savings Catcher in the Walmart app (iTunes, Google Play). Scan your Walmart receipt after shopping. The Savings Catcher will seek out lower prices on your purchases. It will add price differences to a gift card for you.

Many of these can be used together, or rather, have no effect on each other. Sometimes you will find an item that has more than one discount available. That can really help you save on groceries.

Take Advantage Of Loyalty Programs

Many grocery stores have loyalty programs. While it’s a bit of a pain to have to keep their card with your or give them your phone number, you can save quite a bit of money with these. Many of the deals stores offer are only valid if you are a part of their loyalty program.

The Keyring app can make it easier to keep track of your loyalty cards by storing them on your phone for you.

Don’t Shop Hungry

This is old advice, but still very good. If you’re hungry, you’ll probably spend more at the grocery store. Have something to eat before you go to the store.

Skip The Aisles You Don’t Need

If you don’t need anything from a particular aisle, skip it. You don’t need to check every aisle. It’s especially helpful to skip the aisles that have nothing other than relatively unhealthy snacks and drinks, such as the chips, soda and candy aisles. They’re all a lot less tempting if you don’t look right at them.

Buy Store Brands

For many foods, brand name doesn’t make a significant difference anywhere except on the price tag. When the store brand is cheaper and just as good, it makes sense to buy the store brand.

Don’t Go To Too Many Stores

Going from store to store to store can cut down on your savings because you’ll spend them on gas without realizing it. Figure out which store or stores have most of the best prices, and use those as your regular stops. Keep an eye on the ads for the others, and know when a run to a different store will be worth the money.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

September 11th, 2017

12 Blogging Myths You Can Ignore

12 Blogging Myths You Can Ignore
Blogging is one of the easiest home businesses to start, but that ease comes with a lot of myths. Some make blogging sound easier than it is, others make it out to be more difficult. For the most part, you’re better off ignoring the blogging myths and working on your blog in your own way.

Blogging Is Easy Money

The people to treat blogging as easy money for anyone who tries it drives me up the wall. It’s not realistic for most people, especially within the first few months. It can take months to get a small income from a blog, never mind a full time income.

Yes, some people make amazing money with their blogs, far better than they could from a typical job. They aren’t most people. Odds are that you will have to work long and hard to make a full time income from blogging.

It’s a great goal. Go for it. Just don’t assume you’ve failed if it doesn’t happen in your first few months or even you first couple years.

You Must Blog Every Day

People hear that posting more is the way to get more traffic, which means more opportunities to earn money. It sounds reasonable.

It really isn’t.

For the long term, quality matters far more than quantity. Post high quality whenever you can (although there is a place for quick posts). Give each post the time it needs to be a good post.

Being the most recent post for a couple of days can help a post get more traction on social media. It doesn’t get buried too fast for your followers to notice it. You get more time to promote it. All around, it’s often better to give it a day or two (three? four?) between blog posts.

You Must Be An Excellent Writer

Start reading blogs, and you may realize that many bloggers aren’t particularly good writers. While you should be able to avoid the worst mistakes in your writing, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Some of those imperfections give your posts their style.

This blogging myth doesn’t mean you can be a terrible writer, of course. Your readers need to understand what you write and enjoy reading it. That allows for a more relaxed writing style than you might think.

Always Stick To Your Niche

Having a niche is a big part of success for most bloggers. It helps readers know what to expect from you, which makes them more likely to subscribe or otherwise follow your blog.

There can be times when stepping out of your niche can be appropriate. Don’t overdo it, but don’t feel awful when you decide it’s appropriate.

SEO Matters Most

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important factor in getting traffic from search engines. It matters. But it’s not the most important thing to consider. The needs and interests of your readers matter most. From there, work on your SEO.

Some posts honestly won’t need much in the way of SEO because they aren’t important to your blog in the long run. When you go off topic, announce a giveaway winner or do anything else where you don’t need to worry about what kind of traffic it gets from search engines, you can skip the SEO.

Use ALL The Social Media

Used correctly, social media is amazing for blog traffic. It’s more ways to get in front of current and new readers. People always have opinions on which social media sites you need to have a presence on.

You’re best off focusing on just a couple social media sites. Which ones depend on the results you’re getting for the time you spend on that site. You can consider Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and many more, but which ones you actively use should be determined by the ones that get the best results.

Traffic Is Everything

Traffic is very important to the success of your blog, but it is not everything. If you’re serious about your blog as a business, the only traffic that matters is the traffic that converts well.

In some niches, a small amount of traffic is all you will ever get. If you can get good engagement with that traffic and convert that into income, that little bit of traffic can be enough.

There’s Too Much Competition

There’s a lot of competition online in pretty much any niche you can think of. It can be overwhelming. Don’t let that scare you off, so long as you can bring a new perspective.

Your perspective doesn’t have to be completely unique, just so long as you make your content interesting.

If You Build It, They Will Come

If you put up a blog and don’t promote it, don’t expect much in the way of traffic. You may get a visitor here and there, but without some effort put into promotion, you won’t see a lot of visitors.

Your Posts Must Be A Certain Length

There are a lot of statistics out there about which posts do best. Longer ones (over 1000 words or some such) have been found to do better on Google. Others will tell you that your posts need to be 300-700 words.

These may not be bad guidelines, but considering them to be rock solid rules is not a good plan. Sometimes what you need to say will take more words. Sometimes it will take less. If you force yourself to stick to a certain number of words, the quality of your posts will suffer.

Using A Free Host Is Fine

Many people start their blogs on a free host. It’s a way to find out if they enjoy blogging and can build a following without spending any money. There’s a certain logic to such a plan, but if you’re serious about running your blog as a business, it’s a bad idea.

The first problem is that many free hosts limit how you can monetize your blog. If you want to be a business, this is huge. Some free hosts will let you monetize in quite a few ways, so this is less of a problem in those cases.

The biggest problem comes when you decide to move to paid hosting. Odds are that you will lose a lot of traffic and followers when this happens. It messes up your indexing in the search engines, and all your old social media links now point to the wrong site. Changing things over is tedious, and a poor use of your time. Hosting is very affordable, as are domain names. Take the chance and spend a little right from the start.

I like Host Gator. I’ve used them for years with very few problems, and decent help when I have had a problem. They’re very affordable.

You Just Need One Viral Post

Most businesses look forward to having a post go viral. It can be a huge boost. If you’ve monetized your blog, it might even be a big money earner.

But a viral post is not the end all, be all of bringing traffic to your website. They’re a help, but in the long run, you need the steady traffic that comes from producing quality posts on your blog regularly more than you need the traffic from viral posts.

There are a lot of things you need to learn to be a successful blogger. Perhaps the biggest is to not fall for the blogging myths. There are so many more important things you should focus your energies on while working toward your goals.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

September 8th, 2017

How to Limit Kids’ Screen Time While You Work at Home

How to Limit Kids' Screen Time While You Work at Home

It’s hard balancing working at home with being a parent. Someone always wants something. Even when school’s in session, kids find ways to need you right when you’re trying to be really productive. And of course, they always want permission to watch TV, use a tablet or a computer. But you can’t let them do that all the time. Kids need limits on their screen time. Sometimes that’s difficult when you’re working at home and screens are the easy way to get them to give you some peace and quiet.

This issue has become both easier and more difficult for me as my kids have gotten older. They’re all old enough now that they can play on their own for quite some time, but the oldest in particular likes to play online games where she can interact with friends whose parents never seem to want to let them just come over.

Giving screen time to the kids is, of course, one of the easiest ways to keep them busy and somewhat quiet while I work, but it’s not ideal. Fortunately, there are good ways to limit kids’ screen time while you work at home. Try a few and see what works for you.

Talk About Screen Time Limits And Set Rules

It’s good to get into the habit of talking about it when you’re going to make a rule change such as limiting screen time. The ages of your children will determine how much they have to say, and you can try to come to a mutually agreeable solution. You can set limits per day or week, and consider ways for kids to earn extra time if you like.

One thing you may have to discuss is how much screen time parents have. Since I work at home, I’ve had to explain why the rules don’t apply the same way to me. I work on my computer, after all. If you aren’t following the rules yourself, be sure to have a fair reason why.

One long standing rule we have is that the kids may not bring screens into their bedrooms – except on sick days when I want them to try to keep their germs to themselves. Keeping screens out of the bedrooms means no one can just sit and stare at a screen for hours without being noticed, and they won’t stay up at night watching stuff.

I don’t count homework time against their allowed screen time. That’s school work, and the older the kids get, the more often the computer is required to get their homework done. They’d be upset if that was the only time they could use the computer, and I would consider that reasonable.

Consider Educational Computer Games And Apps

If you want to give your kids a little more leeway on how long they use screens, find some acceptable computer games or apps for them. My youngest adores The Prodigy Game, an online math game, which is nice because she needs a little extra help with her math.

You may also want to give some leeway if your child is building a skill using the computer or a table. My oldest wants to be an animator, so it’s completely reasonable to allow her extra time to work on that skill, just as it would be for one trying to develop an app or do other work that requires a computer.

Don’t give your kids unlimited time with screen just because it’s an educational game, of course. It’s not unreasonable to allow them some extra time if they can convince you of the value of what they’re doing.

Send them outside

Send Them Outside

Many kids these days seem to really resist playing outside when it’s hot out. I suspect it has to do with air conditioning. Why go outside when inside is soooo comfortable?

I aim to get my kids outside during the more pleasant parts of the day – morning before it really heats up, evening as it cools off. In the heat of the day is more difficult, but a nice sprinkler and a healthy supply of Super Soakers really improves their interest.

Consider also whether your kids are old enough to go to the park on their own or with a group of friends while you work. Whether or not this is possible depends on a lot of factors, but there comes a time when it’s really good for kids to be allowed to do things without direct adult supervision. Once they can do that, you may worry, but you can get things done while they’re gone. You can go along and try working on your laptop or tablet if you like or if the kids are too young to go on their own, but if your kids are old enough to go to the park on their own, you’ll probably be more productive at home.

Classes, Camps, etc.

What do your kids want to learn about or do during their spare time? My kids take swim lessons at least part of each summer, and we look at other classes, soccer camp and so forth. There may be signups at various times, both during the school year and in summer, depending on where you live. While I don’t believe in overscheduling kids (they need down time too!), signing them up for something they really want to do is great for keeping them away from the TV or computer and can give you some work time. If the classes are short, you may be better off bringing some work along on your laptop than driving back and forth for drop off and pick up.

Have activities ready for the kids

Have Activities Ready For the Kids

I keep a variety of craft supplies ready for my kids. My kids went through a phase where they constantly wanted to make things with Perler beads. They print designs off the internet for whatever they want to make, and my oldest is allowed to use the iron to press them.

Pay attention to the kinds of crafts and other activities your kids enjoy so you can keep supplies ready for them. The easier it is for the kids to access the supplies on their own, the more they’ll use them rather than watch TV, and the more they’ll let you work.

Board games are another good choice. Play as a family sometimes, but make sure your kids know how to play some games just with each other. Some games are good for a wide range of ages – mine play Sorry together sometimes, for example.

Be ready to help the kids negotiate when they can’t agree on what to do. One time I persuaded my two older kids to play a game called Greed (what they wanted to do) while taking turns playing Mastermind with my youngest. It worked out pretty well, as everyone was doing something they wanted to do.

There will probably still be times when you’d rather let your kids watch TV or play on a computer or tablet. If you plan alternatives in advance, you won’t have to give in as often. As everyone gets used to relying on screens less and less for daily entertainment, it gets easier all around.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Pinterest Feedly
Home With the Kids on LinkedIn


Disclosure

Print Free Coupons

Ads

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.