Last Updated June 8th, 2018

Summer Night Activities To Make Your Summer Amazing

Summer Night Activities To Make Your Summer Amazing

How difficult is it for you to get your family out and doing things during the summer? It’s just so hot out! You have to worry about sunburn or even heatstroke if the day is hot enough. That’s why I’m so fond of summer night activities.

Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the night. Summer nights are generally warm, and it’s just such a relief after the heat of the day to get outside and do something! Get away from all the devices as a family and go have some fun. But where?

Take a look and see if there are any places in your area that have special summer night activities. Most communities have something going on.

Planning fun family activities for summer nights can even help you be more productive when you work at home during the summer. The promise of something fun to do later can encourage your kids to let your work during the day.

Try The Zoo

Many zoos are open at night during the summer. The animals are very different at night. Nocturnal animals are so much more active! It’s a lot of fun, and no one complains that the sun is too hot on them at night.

We start in the late afternoon when we go to the zoo during the summer. Mostly that’s because it’s always the San Diego Zoo, and it takes so long to see everything there. But it’s also because it’s fun seeing things change as the sun goes down. We have passes, so it’s not like we have to worry about getting out money’s worth for the day.

I strongly recommend getting zoo passes when you have kids. The zoo is a great place to get out with your kids anytime. Try it on a rainy day sometime too.

Backyard Camping

Camp out in your backyard. Many nights it can be more comfortable to sleep outside in the tent than in the house, which is still retaining heat from the day.

Once your kids are old enough, you can consider allowing them to camp in the backyard without you. Kids love that little bit of independence, yet they’re close enough to get you if they need anything. So long as they aren’t noisy enough to bother the neighbors, you don’t have to worry about bedtime when they camp in the backyard.

Don’t be surprised if the kids need to sleep a little during the day after a backyard campout. You know how early the sun comes up during the summer, and they probably tried to stay up late. They’re tired.

camping

Take A Camping Trip

Alternatively, try a one night camping trip at a local campground. Roast marshmallows around the campfire, tell stories and just relax. Don’t forget to leave a little time for a family hike during the day.

Some campgrounds also offer night hikes. You don’t want to hike anywhere you might get lost at night, but clearly defined trails will usually be safe enough so long as you stay on them.

telescope

Stargazing

Go stargazing. Whether you look at the stars from your own backyard or drive out to someplace a little darker, children love to look at the stars.

Help your kids identify the constellations. SkyView is a great app that can help you identify what you’re seeing in the sky. You can also use gadgets such as the Night Sky Navigator to find different stars and constellations.

If you have a telescope, set it up and start looking for interesting objects in the sky. Jupiter and Saturn can be pretty easy to find when they’re up. The moon can be amazing, but very bright through a telescope. Depending on your telescope, you may be able to get a look at nebulas and other interesting things.

If you don’t have a telescope, you can use binoculars to look at the moon. Binoculars aren’t steady enough or strong enough for most other objects, but the moon can be interesting through them.

Another alternative if you don’t have a telescope is to head out to a local planetarium or see if a local amateur astronomers’ club has a night when they do stargazing with the public. You can talk to some very knowledgeable people that way and see things you might not have known to look for.

Don’t forget to look for shooting stars. If you want the best luck, head to a dark place on the night of a meteor shower. The Perseids are most active in August, but they start in late July.

Movies At The Park Or Your Backyard

My kids love that our community does Movies At The Park every summer. It’s a wonderful chance to go to the park, play with some friends and then watch a movie. We get there at least an hour early so we get a good spot on the grass and so the kids can play at the playground.

Movies At The Park is one of my favorite summer playdate ideas. I tell all the moms I know that we will be there most weeks and the kids would love to see their friends to play. No one has to clean their house for company or deal with their house being messed up after. If no one shows up, it’s still a pretty good time.

You can even bring dinner and have a picnic at the park. We do this some of the time, but in the early summer especially, the movies start so late that dinner at home makes as much sense as dinner at the park, and much less trouble at the end of the night.

You can also set up movies in your backyard if you have the equipment. Video projectors can be very reasonably priced, and then you need a light colored, reasonably smooth wall or a white sheet to project the image onto. Some models are less than $100. You can watch the movies of your choice from your collection or subscriptions in your backyard whenever you want this way.

summer concerts

Outdoor Concerts

Many communities not only do movie nights in their parks, they offer outdoor concerts during the summer at night as well. Take a look at your community pages to see what kind of events are available in your area, and which concerts you would like to attend.

Outdoor concerts aren’t at night everywhere, but it’s so nice when they are. It’s much more pleasant to sit and listen when the sun isn’t beating down on you.

sunset

Watch The Sunset

Head out to the best place in your area to watch the sunset. We see them pretty well even in our front yard, but there are better places to watch a sunset. There’s a park in our area that overlooks the entire town that is great for sunsets.

Change up where you watch the sunset occasionally. It can be a part of a family adventure while doing something else to catch a great view of the sunset.

Play With Glow In The Dark Toys

Glow in the dark toys offer so many possibilities for summer night activities. It can all start with those glow in the dark necklaces that kids love and you can often find in the dollar store, but you can do so much more.

Glow in the dark frisbees are fun if you have enough room to throw them. It can be frustrating to lose one on the roof, which is why I always prefer that my kids use them at the park.

You can buy glow in the dark soccer balls, golf balls, basketballs and so much more to make any sports you like more fun at night. Some will use LEDs while others will be true glow in the dark items.

You can even make your own games, such as glow in the dark bowling. It’s super easy to set up at home.

Kids may also enjoy glow in the dark body paint. Most glow in the dark body paint requires the use of a blacklight, which could make an interesting addition to flashlight tag.

Flashlight Tag

Flashlight tag is an easy game to play. It’s much like hide and go seek, as the person who is It must first count to whatever number while the other players hide. They then try to catch other players in the light of a flashlight.

Flashlight tag is best if there’s a reasonably large area for people to hide. You don’t want the space so big that people get really lost, but you also don’t want it so small that there aren’t enough interesting hiding places to make the game a challenge.

Laser Tag

Laser tag is a great game to play at night, and if your kids enjoy it enough you can save a lot of money buying your own set of laser tag equipment rather than going to the arena every time. Make sure you read the reviews to ensure that you get equipment that is worth the cost. Some of the cheap sets don’t last very long.

If you can, give the kids a large area with some hiding spots to make their laser tag game more interesting. It much more fun if you can duck behind something to catch someone else off guard.

The one problem may be that some sets are noisy. Be sure that you don’t play laser tag too late at night if other people in your neighborhood can hear you.

barbecue

Make Dinner Outside

There’s a reason why barbecuing is so popular in the summer – no one wants to heat up their house by cooking indoors if they can help it. Well, that and because most people love barbecued food.

Shishkebabs can be a lot of fun, especially if you have picky eaters. Set up the ingredients so everyone can set up their own shishkebabs with the food they like. Make sure everyone washes their hands after handling raw meats, of course.

Don’t forget dessert when you make dinner outside. Keep those coals warm, and the kids can make traditional desserts such as s’mores, or have a little extra fun making campfire cones.

Picnic Dinner

Just because you made dinner in the house doesn’t mean you have to eat dinner in the house. Grab that food and have a picnic outside. If you choose the right time, the evening breeze feels wonderful.

You don’t have to go anywhere special to have a picnic dinner. Your backyard is good enough. If you’re feeling more ambitious, however, or just need to get away from the house that badly, move the picnic to the park. Having dinner and letting your kids play on the playground is a great way to let them get out that energy at the end of the day. Pay attention to local park rules, of course. Some close at dusk.

Sit Around The Firepit

Even if you don’t cook dinner in the barbecue, you can always set up a firepit to sit around on summer nights. They’re a great place to sit and talk while enjoying the night air, the stars, and maybe some marshmallows.

Make Treats

You don’t have to go outside to have fun. Stay indoors, open all the windows to let in the breeze, and start making cookies! You can let each child pick a recipe or so, depending on how many cookies you want to make.

Ice cream is another fun treat to make, especially if the night is warm. Pick a recipe and start up your ice cream maker. Or be lazy and get ice cream at the store. Either way, make it even more fun for everyone by setting up a topping bar. You probably can’t set up the range of treats the local frozen yogurt place has, but you can make it interesting enough.

Of course, you can always make treats around a campfire too.

Tell Stories

Whether you sit around a fire or you’re sitting around however you like, summer nights are a great time to tell stories. Scary stories are traditional, but you can also read books to your kids or make up something fun.

Make sure you have your kids tell stories too, whether they read a book out loud or make something up all their own. It’s a great way to encourage their creativity over the summer.

Night Swimming

I loved going swimming at night when I was a kid, the rare occasion that I had access to a swimming pool. It’s the perfect way to handle an overly warm summer night.

If you want to make it even more fun, get some glow in the dark pool toys.  The lights look amazing in and on top of the water, and kids love anything glow in the dark.

Catch Fireflies

If you live in an area that has fireflies, odds are that your kids will love catching fireflies. They’re a lot of fun to look at as they fly around, or get a closer look while they’re in a bottle. Let them go when you’re done, of course.

fireworks

Watch Fireworks

In some areas, the only chance you’ll have all summer to watch fireworks is the Fourth of July. In other areas, there may be places that have fireworks often throughout the summer.

If you live near a theme park, for example, some of them shoot off fireworks most summer nights. It can be pretty easy to watch the fireworks from outside the park. It won’t be quite as spectacular as the view in the park, but it can be a good show regardless.

If they’re legal in your area, you can do fireworks on your own, of course. Be sure you use proper safety precautions and watch the children carefully. There’s a risk of injury with any kind of fireworks that you and your family must be aware of. You don’t want to add to the statistics on fireworks injuries or start a fire.

Take A Walk

It may be too hot to take a walk during the day, but that shouldn’t keep you from taking a walk in a safe area at night. Night is the perfect time to take your dog for a walk during the summer – no worries about burnt paws after the sun goes down.

Take appropriate safety precautions of course. Have a flashlight and your cell phone with you, and it’s generally safer and more fun to walk in a group.

Of course, not all your summer activities with your kids have to be done at night. Don’t forget to consider these free or cheap summer activities to make this a great summer for your family.

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.

Last Updated June 4th, 2018

How To Simplify Linking to Affiliate Products In WordPress

How To Simplify Linking to Affiliate Products In WordPress

If you’ve been blogging for long, you’re probably trying to earn money at it. It’s a natural step to take. Blogging takes time, and if you’re serious about it, you’re spending some money on it too. Why not make it a money making venture? Affiliate products are a great place to start, so long as you can simplify linking to affiliate products. This is pretty simple in WordPress.

Note that you may not be allowed to use affiliate links on the free version of WordPress.com. They have a lot of rules you have to follow.

Dealing with ALL the links is one of the challenges of affiliate marketing. You can’t recommend just a few products over and over again – your readers will lose interest. If you don’t simplify linking to affiliate products, you’ll have to log into your affiliate accounts every time you want to add a link or keep a huge spreadsheet of them. Either way, that’s tedious.

There are a few good ways to handle this. The most powerful ways to simplify linking to affiliate products cost money, but that’s worthwhile when it saves you time and effort and makes adding links much more natural.

Why Shorten Your Affiliate Links?

Shortening your affiliate links does more than make them easier to remember. It also makes it easier to change them if the affiliate program changes networks or ends.

I’ve had both happen several times in my time as a blogger. It’s not all that rare for a company that uses ShareASale to move to Commission Junction or vice versa. An independent affiliate program might move to a network, or a company that uses a network might decide to start an independent affiliate program.

If you put your affiliate links in exactly as they were given to you, you have a tedious job ahead of you when these changes happen. You have to find all these links and change them.

If you shortened your affiliate links, you only need to change the redirect. If you’ve linked to multiple products from a program that changes you’ll still need to change all of them, but changing your redirects is far easier than digging through all your posts to make changes.

Which Programs Shouldn’t You Simplify?

I do not recommend shortening all of your affiliate links. In particular, do not shorten or otherwise cloak your links to Amazon.com. They’ll ban you.

Amazon links are already nice and short. They use their amzn.to domain to shorten links for you.

Odds are that you will link to a lot of different products on Amazon over time. Shortening these yourself would not only be against Amazon’s rules – it would give you an absurd number of shortened links to keep track of. It’s far easier to just get the link from Amazon each time.

Free Options To Simplify Linking To Affiliate Products

.htaccess

I’ve used my .htacess file for many years now. It’s fairly simple, although it also requires that I remember what I called each link. Otherwise, I have to go to that file and look up the link.

.htaccess redirects are super simple to write. Open your .htacess file in Notepad or another text editor. The code is:

Redirect permanent /linkname URLofyouraffiliatelink

Change /linkname to whatever you’re calling your link, and URLofyouraffiliatelink to the URL the affiliate program gave you for what you’re linking to.

It may be a good idea to make a spreadsheet of the links you’ve shortened with.htaccess. That’s easier than opening it to see what you’ve got when reusing a link. I would suggest using the link name, affiliate link URL, company and the exact product name you’re linking to.  This should make it easier to find the products you’re looking for. If an affiliate program ends or changes, this will make it easier to figure out which links you need to change.

Many bloggers don’t like messing with their .htaccess files. There is a risk to this method if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can royally mess up your site if you get things badly wrong in .htaccess. I’ve never had a problem, but I can see where mistakes happen. This is why many bloggers prefer to use link shortening plugins.

Free Link Shortening Plugin

Finding good quality link shortening plugins was challenging. Many are no longer updated. This makes them a little risky to use, as there can be compatibility issues.

Easy Affiliate Links – Helps you manage your affiliate links. Gives you the option to cloak them or not. This plugin also gives some statistics, but you will have to buy an add-on if you want better statistics.

Fortunately, many of the paid plugins have free versions, for if you just aren’t ready to pay for all the features. If these free plugins don’t look good enough to you, go for the free version of a paid plugin, and update when you’re ready to spend the money.

Free Auto Linking Plugin

You should be very careful in using auto linking plugins. If you use them excessively to link automatically to other posts on your site, you can incur a penalty with Google. However, they can be extremely helpful in automatically adding affiliate links to your posts, especially if it also add the nofollow attribute.

Auto Affiliate Links – Adds affiliate links automatically. You can set select keywords and links manually if you so choose. This plugin gives the option to add a nofollow attribute and to limit how many affiliates are added to a post.

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Paid Options To Simplify Linking To Affiliate Products

ThirstyAffiliates

Like many WordPress plugins, ThirstyAffiliates has both a free and a paid version. The free version is good enough to get you started, but you get significantly better features in the ThirstyAffiliates Pro add-on.

The free version gives you features such as affiliate link shortening, link categorization, link picker tool, the ability to add “nofollow” to affiliate links, and more. It even tracks which posts and pages you have used affiliate links on. All of these are wonderful features.

The Pro version gets even better. You get advanced statistics reports, for example, which are a huge help if you want to know which products are performing best for you. It also gives you automatic keyword linking, so that even your older posts can have affiliate links added automatically.

If you want your affiliate links to redirect quickly, you want the Pro version of ThirstyAffiliates, so that the links are written into your .htaccess. This is much faster than other kinds of redirects, and as you know, speed is vital online. People aren’t patient with slow redirects.

These are just a few of the features of ThirstyAffiliate. If you want to see the full list, visit the ThirstyAffiliates site.

Pretty Links

Pretty Links Pro has a free version called Shortlinks by Pretty Links. The free version gives you many of the important things, such a few types of redirect, nofollow, and click counting.

The Pro version adds a lot of features, including tracking pixel redirects, conversion reports, auto linking of keywords, and split testing of redirects. There are quite a few more features I haven’t listed here.

It can also add affiliate link disclosures on pages, posts, custom post types and on individual links. I keep a general affiliate disclosure on all pages of my site for simplicity’s sake. Disclosure is important for many reasons, which is why I keep it on all pages. Not only do many affiliate programs require it, laws often do as well.

Remember To Nofollow Affiliate Links

Ultimate Nofollow makes it easy to add rel=”nofollow” to links when appropriate. Nofollow is an important attribute to add to affiliate links. Google expects this. This plugin makes it easy. Some of the link shortening plugins also allow you to add nofollow, so this may not be important for your site if you have this ability already.

If you don’t use a plugin to add nofollow to affiliate links, it’s easy to do manually. Go to the Text tab of your WordPress editor, find the affiliate links, and add rel=”nofollow” that way. That’s how I do it.

You do not need to unfollow other outside links on your site. Links that you’re including because they’re a good resource should not be nofollowed, in my opinion. Nofollow is for links that you were paid to place or links where you might earn money in the future, such as affiliate links. If you trust the resource and no money will ever be involved in the link, leave the nofollow off of it.

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.

Last Updated June 1st, 2018

11 Ways To Prepare To Work At Home Over The Summer

11 Ways To Prepare To Work At Home Over The Summer

School getting out for the summer presents some challenges for work at home parents. Suddenly the kids are home all day and want to do things with you. This makes it really difficult to work sometimes, while still being the mom or dad you want to be. It’s time to make plans and prepare to work at home over the summer so that you can continue to be productive.

1. Review your work routine.

Taking a look at your work routine is an important part of preparing to work at home over the summer. Is it going to work for you with the kids at home? If you’re used to getting all your work done when they’re at school, for example, how will you cope when the kids are home all day? When will be the best time for you to work now? How will you keep up with what needs doing?

Working at home during the summer often takes a bit more flexibility than when the kids are at school. Be prepared and think about what’s about to happen in your daily life.

If necessary, work more when the kids are sleeping. Pick late evening or early morning, whichever you prefer, and focus on work when the kids are in bed. Working when your spouse is home and able to be in charge of the kids can also help. Use daycare if that’s what it takes.

2. Talk to your kids about your work needs.

Hopefully, your kids are used to you working at home if you’ve been doing it a while. Even so, it’s a good idea to remind them that during the summer you still need to work even if they’re on vacation.

If you’re planning set work hours and a set location in the house, let them know about it and explain that they aren’t to bother you unnecessarily when you’re working. Lay down some rules so they know when they can interrupt. They may not get it perfect, being kids and all, but it should help.

This shouldn’t be much of a problem with older kids but can be challenging with younger ones. Your younger children may need more attention than you can afford with your work at home requirements. Consider if daycare is necessary. It can be better for all of you. Do what’s necessary to have a productive work at home day.

3. Encourage age and location appropriate independence.

climbing rocksI’m a big believer in encouraging my kids to do things on their own. When my kids were young, they could play out back on their own. They’re old enough now that they can play out front, ride their bikes around the neighborhood, or even go to the store for a treat on their own. The youngest can’t go to the store yet on her own, but with the prospect of getting some candy or ice cream, it’s easy for her to get a sibling to take her when she wants to go.

These are privileges they’ve earned. They’ve shown they’re capable, and it’s a generally safe neighborhood. They also have rules about how they can play on the computer and know the consequences of breaking the rules.

Children need time to play independently. They do not need their parents participating in everything they do. Participate some of the time, absolutely, that’s just fun, but remember how much fun you had just being a kid with your siblings and friends, and let your kids do likewise. Hopefully without getting into too much trouble. After all, if they’re happily playing you should be able to get some of your own stuff done.

4. Encourage outdoor play.

Summer’s hot, and sometimes it’s hard to get the kids to play outside. They’re too used to air conditioned buildings. But outside play is healthy and should be normal. Think about how much of the summer you spent outside as a child, despite the heat.

I usually push for my kids to go play outside first thing in the morning. The sun’s rays aren’t quite so strong then, it’s cooler, and they have energy. Sunscreen is still a generally good choice.

There are a lot of things you can do to encourage outside play. When my kids were younger, we would walk to the playground in the morning. That got the urge to go there handled at a time of day we all could stand. The walk would also tire them out a little, as it was over a mile and mostly uphill. Funny thing, no matter how tired they were on the walk, they always had plenty of energy for the playground itself.

Make sure you set up a lot of ways for your kids to play outside at home.  If you have a sandbox, make sure you have some great toys for it. A cover is also a good idea to keep any local cats from using it as a litterbox. If you keep your sandbox in a shady area, it can be used for much of the day.

diving

A Slip ‘n Slide, sprinklers, water guns and other water toys also help get kids outside and playing. Most of these won’t cost all that much money. Water play is the perfect way to get kids to outside and play no matter how hot it is. If you have a swimming pool or easy access to one, so much the better.

You may also want to set up a screen time rule for the summer. Have your kids play outside before they can watch TV or use other devices. No heavy buildups of screen time with the promise to go outside “soon” either. No carryovers to the next day. This rule keeps them wanting to play outside earlier in the day, with the promise of being allowed to relax indoors when the day is at its hottest.

One trick my kids tried early on was to each claim screen time separately, and watch the shows someone else had picked. They soon found out that it didn’t matter who picked out the show – if you watch it, the time counts as your screen time.

5. Know where their friends live.

You really want to know where your kids’ friends live, especially the ones who will be home during the day. That way, you can encourage them to all play together at one house or another. Don’t be the parent always sending your kids to someone else’s house; take your turn. Kids with friends over are usually too busy playing with friends to bother you other than for the occasional snack or when an argument breaks out. Hopefully, that’s less often than when your kids are home with just you.

If you’re lucky, your kids will have some friends within walking distance. That’s not something my kids have had often, but it’s such a help when friends have been that close to us.

Of course, the time it takes to drop kids off with a friend can be worth it if you get more work time.

6. Get the kids out of the house without you if possible.

When my kids were younger, we lived close enough to grandparents that we could send the kids off to see them. It was a huge help. These days, I have to come up with other plans.

While we don’t live close enough for daytime visits to grandparents, we sometimes send the kids to spend several days with them. This works pretty well, although the planning is difficult at times.

One alternative is to look at local day camps if that’s in your budget. While these can add up fast, it’s one way to get the kids out, doing something fun and still giving yourself the day to work. The big question is whether it will be worth it financially. Many camps are expensive. Of course, the kids will enjoy the experience as well if you choose the right camp.

As they get older, of course, expect your kids to do things on their own in the local area without you. It’s good practice for when they head out on their own.

7. Have craft projects available.

kids painting

Most kids love to do crafts, so have the materials for their favorites readily available. My youngest loves to paint, for example, so her supplies are often just right there on her table, although the water for rinsing the brush doesn’t stay out too much.

We keep better craft supplies for the older kids, as well as a soldering kit and other challenging activities. The craft supplies you need will depend on age. The older they get, the better quality the paints we get for them.

Make sure your kids understand the safety rules for crafting as necessary. My kids are allowed to use a glue gun, for example, and that gets very hot. They know that they can get burned by it and that if they ever leave it plugged in after use, they will lose all use of it.

Crafting sometimes means allowing them to use a computer, phone or tablet to look up ideas or instructions. So long as that’s what they’re doing, I allow it. Our screen time limits aren’t meant to limit their access to information, after all. They’re meant to limit the time spent sitting, staring at a screen and doing nothing else.

8. Be ready for “I’m bored!”

There are many ways to cope with kids who announce that they’re bored. For the most part, it’s a good idea to tell them to go figure out something to do. This is especially important when you need to work.

Children need to learn to entertain themselves, especially without staring at a screen. If you always give them ideas for what to do, they will keep relying on you for that rather than using their own creativity. The whole point of having a lot of things available to them is so that your kids can find things to do when they’re bored.

But there are times when it’s easier to give them ideas. That doesn’t mean your kids will like your ideas. My own favorite is to suggest a chore that needs doing, as there are always chores that need doing. Kids will usually think of something else they’d rather do, really fast. If not, the chore gets done, and the kid learns to not complain too often about being bored. That said…

9. Have kids do daily chores.

When school’s out, there’s no reason for kids to not help out more around the house. During the school year, chores depend on time left over after homework is done. If homework is heavy, there are fewer kid chores to be done.

During the summer, there’s no such excuse, and kids need to do chores so they can learn to cope with all the things a home needs to be done. Decide what’s age appropriate for your kids.

We have some chores that must be completed on certain days. Dishes are daily, of course. Some of their assignments alternate weekly, so the same person isn’t responsible for the same job all of the time. This keeps away arguments over whose chore list is the hardest. I found that alternating weeks saved arguments over alternating days. It’s amazing how easy it is to lose track of who did what when it changes daily. Change it weekly, and everyone knows who’s on duty. Keep it age appropriate, of course.

My kids get assigned weeks to either help make dinner or make it entirely on their own, depending on skill level. The kid on duty also has to help with the grocery shopping, with the oldest being responsible for planning almost the entire list. They also get to plan one dessert a week, which they really enjoy.

10. Plan.

Solid planning can help make a great summer for your family while still giving you time to work at home.

Start out with the things you absolutely must get done, such as the work time you need. Add in planned family vacations. Then take a look at the most important things you want to add in.

I insist on swimming lessons for my kids until they reach a high enough level, for example. While we don’t have a pool, another family member does, as do some friends. The ability to swim is a safety issue and a major part of water safety. You may have other activities for your kids that you consider a priority.

On the fun side, my youngest loves to go to Movies In The Park, a local event where they show a popular movie at the park one night a week. It’s great fun, and we make plans to meet with friends there so the kids can play before the movie.

Libraries may also have fun activities for the summer. Our local library has reading challenges as well as special events. The kids have been able to meet interesting animals there, watched magic shows and more.

carousel

11. Be spontaneous.

If your work schedule allows it, take the time to be spontaneous. Go to the water park on a really hot day. Play tag with the kids. Accept that invitation from a friend. Make a special treat. Have fun during your workday when possible..

It won’t always be possible to be spontaneous. That’s what happens when you work at home over the summer. You have responsibilities. Take care of those, and make time for fun when you can.

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.

Last Updated May 30th, 2018

How Do Stay At Home Parents Get Back In The Workforce?

How Do Stay At Home Parents Get Back In The Workforce?

When you decided to become a stay at home parent, did you give thought to how you would get back into the workforce? It’s an important consideration for most families. Difficulty in returning to the workforce has always been one of the risks of staying home with the kids. You can’t overlook the challenge when it’s time to get back in the workforce.

Most stay at home parents will eventually return to the workforce. Few parents want to stay home once the kids are in school. Part time, if not full time, employment becomes more appealing at that point, and even more so as the kids grow up. But with months, years, or even more than a decade out of work, how do you get back in the workforce?

How Bad Are The Stats?

I came across a study in the Harvard Business Review that shows just how difficult it can be for stay at home parents to get back into the workforce. The study author, Kate Weisshaar, sent out 3,374 fictitious resumes to real job openings. These represented “three types of job applicants: currently employed applicants with no employment gaps, unemployed applicants, and stay-at-home parent applicants.” The study looked at which groups of resumes received callbacks for interviews or more information.

If you’re a stay at home parent trying to get back in the workplace, the numbers aren’t terribly encouraging. “Stay-at-home parents were about half as likely to get a callback as unemployed parents and only one-third as likely as employed parents.”

Ouch.

The study found that stay at home parents were perceived to be less capable, less reliable, less deserving of a job, and less committed to work. These are the obstacles you’re facing when you decide it’s time to head back to work. What can you do to improve your chances of finding a job after being a stay at home parent?

Keep Up Your Skills

Keeping up your professional skills is especially important if you’re out of the workforce for more than a few months. Some industries change rapidly. If you don’t put in the effort to keep up, it will be much more difficult to resume your career.

You can take courses online or at a local college. Many schools now have online programs available, even if you’re after a new degree.

Other times simply taking a course to update your skills is enough. You can use sites such as Udemy to keep up with many professional skills or learn new ones.

You can also improve your education and target a new career if you like using these resources. A break in employment is an excellent time to consider a career change.

Network Professionally

Networking professionally can be difficult for many stay at home parents. You will be at a very different point in your life than your friends and coworkers who still work outside the home. It will be more difficult to get to industry events and networking events as well.

But professional networking is one of the most important things you can do. One of these connections might be the one that alerts you to a job opening when you’re ready for one.

LinkedIn is a very popular choice to network professionally from home these days. You can start with friends and old coworkers, and increase your contacts with people who work for interesting companies. There are also groups you can join to meet people in similar industries.

Get A Work At Home Job

I’m a huge fan of working at home. My income saved my family financially when my husband was laid off from his job. Without that money coming in, that would have been an even bigger problem than it was.

If you can find a work at home job in your industry, even a part time one, you show that you’re committed to your career and capable of doing the work. You may be able to turn it into a full time job when you’re ready.

Best of all, you aren’t out of work at all. You don’t have the gap that other stay at home parents do when they decide to return to work.

Take some time to prepare your resume for a work at home job hunt. When you want to work at home, you need to show more than just the skills for the job. You must demonstrate that you can work unsupervised. Remote work has some challenges that are very different from working in an office. Depending on their ages, the children alone can make working from home all but impossible without outside help. Be realistic about your needs.

Start A Home Business

Starting a home business is risky, but it can work. Most businesses of any sort fail, but there are many success stories of moms and dads who started a business in their home while raising their kids and turned it into a full time business.

Be picky about your home business, and learn the risks before you start anything. Don’t listen only to the hype from someone trying to recruit you into an opportunity.

Blogging is a popular choice, and it’s easy to start a blog. The hard part is bringing it to a level where it earns enough money. Some people have amazing success with blogs. Others find that theirs never brings in more than a small amount. Blogs are so cheap to run, however, that I consider them worth the risk.

Finding the time to run your home business can be as difficult or even more difficult than finding time for a work at home job. It’s rough when all the accountability is on you. If you don’t work hard, your home business will not bring in the income you need or provide the work experience to show for a future job.

It is a true delight when a home business works out so well that you don’t need to get a job outside the home later. You will still have ups and downs – that’s business for you – but the ability to keep working from home even as the kids get older is a true delight.

Volunteer

Volunteering is another way to keep using your professional skills as a stay at home parent. Look around and find a cause you believe in that can also use your professional skills.

Not everything you can do as a volunteer will do much for your resume. Do your best to find something relevant to what you want to do in your career. I volunteer at a local shelter, helping to socialize the cats and doing assorted chores around the place, but that wouldn’t do much for my resume if I were to write one up. The only thing it would show is a willingness to volunteer and the ability to work with animals. For the careers I would consider, that’s not terribly relevant.

Will These Things Make It Easier To Get Back In The Workforce?

There’s no guarantee that any of these will make it easier to get back in the workforce after you’ve been a stay at home parent. The benefits you gain depend on the kind of work you’re looking for when you no longer want to be a stay at home parent. Lower paying jobs with simpler requirements may be easier to get into than jobs that have higher requirements.

The point of doing all these things is to have something to put on your resume to minimize the gap caused by being a stay at home parent. You can show that you are capable of the work you want to do, and committed to a good career.

Of course, if you have a work at home job or a successful home business, you may not need to find an outside the home job as the kids get older. You might have already found what you want to do to earn 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.

Last Updated May 29th, 2018

How To Find Work At Home Proofreading Jobs And Editing Jobs

How To Find Work At Home Proofreading Jobs And Editing Jobs

Work at home proofreading jobs can sound like a fun and pleasant way to earn money from home, especially if you like to read. But as with any other work at home opportunity, you have to convince an employer to hire you first, by showing that you have the skills they’re after. Becoming a work at home proofreader or editor can take some time.

As with most jobs, at home or elsewhere, having experience helps a lot. You’ll find far more opportunities as a proofreader if you have already worked as a proofreader or editor. Entry level work at home jobs are much harder to find.

What Skills Does A Work At Home Proofreader Need?

If you want to find work at home proofreading jobs, you need a keen eye for finding errors in written work. Your eye for spelling and grammatical errors cannot depend upon automatic checkers – they miss too much.

While a degree in English or Communications may help get into this field, they may not be required. Many editor positions require a Master’s degree or even a PhD, as editing jobs are frequently for academic papers.

What is required is that you enjoy reading and regularly spot errors that others miss. You also need to be familiar with common word processing software. When you work from home, you must also be comfortable with how work is sent to you, which may vary by employer. It also helps to be comfortable troubleshooting your own equipment, so you don’t lose a lot of time waiting for someone to help you with minor problems.

Proofreaders should also be familiar with the popular writing style guides, such as APA, AMA, and Chicago Style. Which one the client prefers will determine which one you follow.

What Equipment Does A Work At Home Proofreader Need?

You will already have most of the equipment you need to work at home as a proofreader. Your computer is an obvious need, as is a good internet connection. A comfortable home office is a help in keeping out the distractions.

You will also need either the physical books or online access to a dictionary, thesaurus, style guides and reference materials. A Dropbox account is often useful for proofreaders as well. Grammarly can be a big help in spotting obvious problems, although it’s not a replacement for what you do as a proofreader.

Which reference materials you need will depend on the kind of proofreading you do. McGraw-Hill’s Proofreading Handbook is a good choice if your focus is on proofreading, but you may want to consider The McGraw-Hill Desk Reference for Editors, Writers, and Proofreaders as well. You may also need one or more style guides, such as The Chicago Manual of Style, depending on the needs of your specialty.

Some proofreaders like to use an iPad and the iAnnotate app for proofreading, and find it a more effective combination than proofreading on a computer. At least, that’s what Caitlin Pyle of Proofread Anywhere recommends. She has a free webinar you can check out to decide if this is for you. I haven’t taken the course myself, so I can’t review it. I’ve seen people love it and people dislike it. Her focus is on legal transcript proofreading.

Editing Vs. Proofreading

The line between editing and proofreading can be a fine one, which is why I have grouped them together here. Proofreading is mostly about correcting errors in grammar, spelling, syntax, and formatting.

Editing jobs may require some extra care with fact checking, as well as the overall quality of the writing. Editors may rearrange information or change the tone of a submission.

Requirements may be somewhat higher for editors than for proofreaders. Experience in a particular field may be required.

Who Hires People For Work At Home Proofreading Jobs?

There are many possible places to look for work at home proofreading jobs. Newspapers, authors, bloggers, graduate students, marketers and more may all need a proofreader at times. These companies all offer remote proofreading jobs. Most will require an editing or proofreading test to demonstrate your skills.

American Journal Experts – Mostly hires independent contractor editors in various fields, but may also have proofreader and translator contractor positions. Work may include editing work by non-native English speakers, so that the research done is clearly communicated.

Cactus Global – Cactus is based in India, and some of the jobs require that you be in India, whether you telecommute or work in their office. Other positions require that you be in Asia or Africa. Worldwide locations may be available, especially in their freelance positions.

Edit 911 – Applicants must have a PhD in a writing-intensive discipline and be a published scholar.

EditFast – EditFast connects freelance editors to jobs. You must pass the EditFast review to be eligible for jobs. They send projects out to the most qualified editors for those projects. EditFast keeps 40% of the total project cost – the rest goes to the editor who does the project. It can help if you have specialized knowledge.

Enago –  Editors must be proficient in English, as some of the submitted work will be from ESL authors. They are seeking at least 5 years of relevant academic copyediting/substantive editing/proofreading experience. Enago also hires freelance peer reviewers and journal experts.

Gramlee – Says they’re always looking for new contractors to add to the team. They link to a Google form for your application.

Hello Essay – Must have a college degree, and a graduate degree is preferred. Must be a native English speaker. You also need evidence of writing and editing experience. Positions can be part or full time.

Kibin – Sometimes has openings for freelance editors and proofreaders. Their main service appears to be editing essays for students.

Kirkus – May have openings for freelance proofreaders and editors for books. They also may offer freelance reviewer positions. Titles may be in English or Spanish.

Life Tips – Life Tips editors edit the content produced by their freelance writers and help clients develop their content strategies for their sites. Benefits are a possibility.

Managed Editing/Wordfirm – Sometimes needs experienced editors. Prefers at least five years of experience, but states that they often hire people with even more experience. These are independent contractor positions.

OneSpace – OneSpace works with freelance editors, writers, data entry, product researchers and transcriptionists. Some work requires that you speak a foreign language or have experience with the subject in a particular country. Payment is daily.

Paper Check – Applicants must be employed by or enrolled in an accredited university in the United States, with at least a 3.6 GPA, or have a graduate degree and at least 5 years of professional editing experience.

Polished Paper – To apply, you upload your resume and take a 35 question editing test. They encourage you to use resources such as MLA, CSE, APA, and Chicago formatting guides to take the test.

Proofread Now – Proofread Now states that they have very high expectations of their proofreaders. They require at least five years of professional proofreading experience and must perform well on a challenging battery of tests.

Proofreading Pal – Applicants must be a current graduate or postgraduate student with at least a 3.5 GPA or have a graduate degree and five years of experience. If they like your initial application, you should hear from them in about 5-10 business days for the next step.

ProofreadingServices.com – This company accepts applications from any country, but you must demonstrate superlative proofreading and editing skills. They state that their pay is above average and hours are flexible.

Pure Content – Pure Content hires freelance editors and writers. You don’t have to speak English, but will only qualify for projects that are in your first language. Editors must complete an editing test, and they prefer some editing experience. They hire all around the world.

Scribbr – This company is based in Amsterdam, and offers freelance academic editor positions. You must be a native English speaker to apply. You can work from anywhere, and they have an exclusive Slack community for editors to discuss issues. They expect some experience as an academic editor.

Scribendi – The telecommute editor/proofreader positions with Scribendi require that you have a relevant college degree and at least three years of editing, writing, document production, or language teaching experience. A graduate degree is preferred. They offer free training to all of their editors.

ServiceScape – ServiceScape is an online marketplace for freelancers looking for editing, translation, graphic design and writing jobs. The company has been around for more than 15 years. They allow you to integrate predefined services, and you can set up custom projects as needed for clients.

Sibia Proofreading – Not always hiring, but requires significant editing experience and knowledge of your field. Sibia mostly offers editing services for academic, scientific, and medical journals and reports.

SmartBrief – Some of their editor positions are telecommuting positions. While positions may state that they are in a particular location, many can be telecommute for the right candidate. Overnight positions may be available as well. Freelance writer positions may also be available.

Student Loan Hero – This company sometimes hires editors to help improve their writers’ content. The company is fully remote and offers benefits.

WordsRU – Requires at least a Master’s degree or equivalent professional experience in any academic discipline, as well as two years of experience editing or proofreading. They especially like experienced editors who can work on weekends.

Wordvice – Wordvice hires freelance editors as well as freelance translators and content writers. Editors must be enrolled in or have completed a graduate program, and have at least two years of editing experience. Editors will edit and proofread academic papers, admissions essays, and other documents.

Other Places To Find Work At Home Proofreading Jobs

You can find proofreading jobs on some of the general freelance boards, such as Upwork or PeoplePerHour, along with any other freelance jobs you may qualify for. Requirements will vary by client, of course. You may have to bid for the jobs. Make sure you charge enough for your time and increase your rates as you gain experience.

You can also set up an offer for proofreading on Fiverr and similar gig sites. Don’t offer too much for $5, and increase your rates when you qualify to charge more.

It may be a good idea to join the Editorial Freelancers Association, as they have a job board. They also offer resources for members to get their business going.

If you want to search for proofreading or editing jobs on your own, you need to use the right keywords. Which ones are best will depend on your specialty.

Proofreader or proofreading are both great keywords if that’s what you’re after. If you have the qualifications to be an academic editor, use that as a keyword.

If you’re interested in legal transcription editing, you can search for scoping or scopist jobs as well as searching for jobs that simply call it legal editing transcription. Be aware that scopists may start with shorthand transcriptions and type out and edit the full document.

Be sure to use the right words to find work at home positions. Remote, virtual, home based, telecommute, freelance, and contract can all help you find jobs.

Beware of scams. If a job listing looks too good to be true, it probably is. I left out some of the companies I found because I didn’t feel right about listing them. Sometimes it was because the pay was too low to be worthwhile for most people, even though reviews show that they pay. I don’t like recommending jobs to people that don’t pay a fair rate.

Be particularly careful if any opportunity asks for money, even if it’s for a membership. Be absolutely certain that any money you spend is reasonable. Check reviews before you spend anything. These jobs won’t usually cost anything, but some resources might cost something.

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.

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