August 18th, 2017

Don’t Let Your Work At Home Dreams Stand In The Way Of Your Success

Don't Let Your Work At Home Dreams Stand In The Way Of Your Success

People who want to work at home often have an image in their minds of what it will be like. The flexible hours. Time for family. A good income… maybe even a great one. The reality is rarely that simple. People get frustrated when working at home isn’t like their dreams, and suddenly success is farther away.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to dream. You should know what your ideal work at home day would be like, and have a plan for getting there. What you shouldn’t do is resent that it’s so difficult to get there or let the difficulties stop you.

Break It Down Into Steps

What will it take to get to your work at home dream? Rather than hope to reach it all at once, figure out the path to get there.

Consider the goal of flexible hours, for example.

If you have a work at home job, your hours may well be determined by the company you work for. It’s their needs you have to consider. While they may allow you to set a schedule for yourself, they may also insist that you keep to that schedule, even when things come up. Many work at home jobs are no more flexible than an outside the home job.

What you need to do is figure out how to get to a job or home business that will give you the flexibility you want. Your plans will usually include sticking with the less than ideal job until you can find your way to a better one.

Don’t give up because you don’t have the flexibility you wanted from a work at home job. Don’t give up because you don’t have some other part of what you thought it would mean to work at home. It’s a process. The not so good job may eventually qualify you for a better one. If not, there’s at least some money coming in. Odds are, you need the money far more than you need the flexibility or whatever else.

Reassess Your Dream

Sometimes the reality of working at home isn’t at all what you dreamed about. You may realize that some goals weren’t realistic. Your home business won’t succeed overnight. Your kids aren’t as cooperative as you’d hoped. Does the phone ever stop ringing?

Many of these problems are temporary, but they’re also good wake up calls.

Businesses grow. So do kids. The phone keeps ringing, but you can teach family and friends when it’s okay to call, and most of the rest you can learn to ignore.

What you should look at is where your expectations were unrealistic. You can’t predict how fast your business will grow, no matter how much good advice you get on running it. What works for someone else may or may not work for you.

Sometimes It Comes Crashing Down

Even when things have been going well, sometimes things will come crashing down. Layoffs happen. Your business slips. Someone in your family gets sick. Life throws some new challenge in your way, and now working at home isn’t working the way it used to.

Frustrating though that may be, that can happen even in an outside the home job. It has nothing to do with whether or not you’re meant to work at home or if you’re good at it. Take those lemons life is throwing at you, grab some more ingredients, and make a lemon meringue pie. Don’t give up. Keep working on making it happen your way.

Don’t Give Up

Just because things aren’t working out the way you hoped doesn’t mean you’re a work at home failure. That’s true even if you’re still struggling with the way to make any money at home.

Failure happens when you give up. If you’re still trying, you haven’t failed yet.

The challenge of finding work at home success sometimes involves working outside the home for a time, for example. You might work an outside the home job while building your home business or while trying to find a work at home job.

Maybe It’s Not For You

Sometimes the problem with the work at home dream is that working at home really isn’t for you. It happens. That’s not a bad thing.

Some people need more time around coworkers. More time to talk. More chances to bounce ideas off each other. More chances to show your boss you deserve that promotion.

Finding out that something isn’t for you isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a thing. Now you can move on and figure out what is for you. Your overall goals shouldn’t be completely tied to working in a particular place. They should be about accomplishing the things that mean the most to you.

Regardless of how things go, your work at home dream will change as reality sinks in. It won’t be exactly as you hoped. With luck, it will be better. But even if it changes, you may find it worthwhile.

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.

August 15th, 2017

5 Things Your Family Can Do To Watch The Solar Eclipse

solar eclipse

Many people are excited about the upcoming total solar eclipse. Most of us won’t get to see the total eclipse, but will get to see at least a partial eclipse. Even this can be a lot of fun. These are some things you can do to enjoy the eclipse safely with your family.

Get Solar Eclipse Glasses

You can order solar eclipse glasses from Amazon for your family to use during the eclipse. Make sure you buy glasses that are safe for use during a solar eclipse. Amazon had to recall some glasses because they weren’t certain that they were safe for the eclipse. They decided that they would rather recall the glasses than have people risk their eyesight and permanent damage.

Whatever you do, do not look directly at the eclipse without proper eye protection. The damage can be permanent. If you want more information you can look at the NASA website. They have excellent information on when you can remove your glasses if you are in an area with a total solar eclipse.

If your children are using solar eclipse glasses, make sure they do not peek around the dark lenses to look at the sun. This can damage their eyes. If children cannot be trusted to keep their solar eclipse glasses on, find another way to allow them to enjoy the eclipse, such as watching it online.

Watch The Eclipse Online Or On TV

NASA will be live streaming the eclipse. This will run from noon to 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The Science channel will also broadcast the eclipse. Obviously watching the eclipse on television is completely safe because you will not be exposed to the excessive brightness of the Sun.

Make A Pinhole Camera

You can make a pinhole camera to observe the eclipse as well. The advantage to this is that you will not be facing the Sun directly. There are instructions on the NASA website.

The basic idea is that you poke a hole in one card, then you project the image onto another card. This allows you to see an image of the eclipse without actually looking at the sun. This is a very good idea if you have young children who cannot be trusted with the glasses.

Take Cell Phone Or Camera Pictures

Using your cell phone camera or any other camera can damage the camera if you point it at the eclipse too long. The heat from the Sun can damage components inside the camera. If you want to take pictures, you will need a solar filter for your camera.

Do not expect exceptional pictures with your equipment unless you really know what you are doing. Cell phones can only do so much. The same goes for most cameras. If you have ever tried to take a picture of the Moon, you know how difficult it can be to take a good picture of it with a regular camera. The same goes for a solar eclipse, except you need to protect your camera. If your equipment isn’t up to the task, you will probably get very poor results. It can be fun to try regardless, so long as you protect your camera, eyes, and lenses appropriately.

Take A Look Around

The sun is not the only interesting thing during an eclipse. As things get darker around you, you may notice that birds and animals are reacting as though it is evening. They can be quite confused by this.

We watched a partial eclipse when I was younger, and one of the best parts was seeing how confused the birds and animals were. Things were getting dark quickly, so they acted as though it was night already. Our cats could not understand why we weren’t calling them in for the night and kept wandering around looking at us. They knew something was different, but not what.

It can also be interesting to see which stars you can see during the eclipse. Think of them as what you would see in about 6 months at night, although the visible planets may be different.

Shadows are very interesting during an eclipse. You will note that the shadows around you change shape especially under trees and places where just bits of sunlight break through. It is somewhat like the pinhole camera in that the shape of the eclipse is projected through the leaves.

Take time out of your day to observe the solar eclipse, whether you get the total eclipse or just a partial one. It’s an event that doesn’t come around too often, especially for such a large audience.

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.

August 14th, 2017

Simple Recipes You Can Use To Make School Lunches More Interesting

Simple Recipes You Can Use To Make School Lunches More Interesting

I’ve always preferred to have my kids bring their lunches to school, rather than buy there. It’s easier to cope with food preferences, and we’re good at keeping costs under control. The hardest part is figuring out how to keep lunches interesting yet still simple enough to handle on a busy school morning.

One key tip I’ll tell you right now is to encourage your kids to make their own lunches as much as possible. By middle school, each of my kids has to handle their own lunch every day, and my youngest is welcome to make her own any day she chooses. It encourages independence, although I will still call them out if the lunch isn’t good enough, such as the time my son tried to bring two slices of bread for his. Nothing else, just bread.

I keep basic supplies around for my kids. Bread, tortillas, various cheeses, lunch meats, hard boiled eggs, fruit, and vegetables, for example. We have a stack of containers the kids can pick from, and they have reusable bottles for drinks. I prefer stainless steel drink bottles because they can take a lot of abuse.

Sometimes one of my kids will want milk with their lunch, and that’s not difficult. I freeze milk in ice cube trays, then bag them. Put a few cubes in the bottle with regular milk, and it will keep cold until lunch. How many cubes depends on how hot the day is – you don’t need a lot of frozen milk if the day is going to be cold, but you’ll need a fair number on hot days. Make sure the bottle is cleaned out immediately after school – soured milk is nasty!

I’m really fortunate in that it’s easy to keep some costs under control in my area. We have an awesome dollar store in our area called 99 Only. They’re only in CA, AZ, NV, and TX so far. The things I find there range from “what the heck???” to “I can’t believe this is so cheap!!!” but overall I have a lot of luck there with fresh vegetables, although it helps to know which day they’re delivered. Combine them with a local produce shop that is much cheaper than the grocery store, and I do really well price-wise.

Here are some school lunch ideas I’ve collected from other bloggers. Most look pretty easy to make.

Some of these contain nuts, which can be problematic at many schools. Check with your school to see how they handle food allergy issues. You don’t want your child to feel responsible if someone at their school reacts to their lunch. Kids who have food allergies can have a hard enough time avoiding allergens without others adding to the problem.

Lunches

Healthy Make Ahead Lunches for Back To School!
This has some great ideas to make lunches ahead of time for your kids. It’s a great idea for those days when everyone’s running behind and you just want to get those lunches packed. Your mornings might just get easier.

5 Simple Tips for Making School Lunches Creative and Easy
More tips to make it easier to make school lunches more easily.

“Veggie Faces” No-Bake Vegetable Pizzas and Wraps
These are adorable, although possibly a little difficult to get in most containers and survive until lunch at school. Still, they’re great for getting younger kids involved in preparing lunch, even if it’s turned into a wrap after.

Hungry Hippos (Fun Sandwich Recipe for Kids)
These are adorable, and super easy to change to suit any child’s preferences.

Easy Chicken Greek Salad Wrap Sandwich
Here’s a way to use up that leftover chicken while making a good lunch.

No-Bake Fruit “Pizzas”
Surprise your kids with a lunch on the sweet, yet healthy side.

Zucchini Pizza Bites Recipe (Low Carb, Gluten-Free)
These look nicely portable yet fun.

Air Fryer Simple Grilled American Cheese Sandwich
I have to admit, I never would have thought of using an air fryer to make grilled cheese.

Grilled Cheese
This one has a spicy addition. Best for the child who likes some spice.

Greek Tortellini Salad
You can try different salad dressings to figure out which your child likes best.

Ham & Cheese Horns
These look really easy to make and eat. Lots of kids love ham, so it’s likely to be a hit.

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
Kids love chicken nuggets. You can make up a batch of these and freeze the extras for future lunches.

Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Nuggets 
When you want to make chicken nuggets a little healthier, try using quinoa for the crusting.

Homemade Lunchables with Ham
It’s easy to make lunchables at home, with less plastic waste and better food choices.

2 Back-to-School Recipes Using Tortillas
A quinoa salad wrap and a rainbow veggie rollup. My kids don’t like quinoa on its own, but love it with rice, an option to consider if your kids aren’t sure about quinoa.

Easy Appetizer Pinwheels Recipe (Great for Lunch Wraps Too!)
Whether you serve these as wraps or pinwheels, these are easy to adapt to your child’s tastes.

Shepherd’s Pie Pockets
Good food that’s easy to eat. These are filled with lamb and mashed potatoes.

Sushi Sandwiches
This is a really cute idea. Sushi, but in a form that’s more like a sandwich.

Snacks & Sides

What’s lunch without something a little special in with it. Kids are far more enthusiastic about their lunches if there’s a treat in there too. While store bought granola bars, fruit snacks and cookies are fun to include, there are lots of things you can make at home in advance that your kids might love too.

Easy Chunky Salsa
This looks good if your kids like tacos, taquitos or chips as a part of their lunch.

Crunchy Granola Snack Bites
Personally, I’d use dark chocolate, but then dark chocolate is pretty much my answer for everything. I think these would be a good addition to a lunch, or packed as a snack for kids who still have snack time at school.

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies
If your child loves peanut butter and can bring it to school, they’ll probably love these.

3 Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Kids love cookies. They’ll appreciate having some choices that you can include in their lunches without feeling bad about what you’re feeding them.

Whole Wheat Cheese & Chocolate Snack Rolls
A bit of chocolate will make most kids a lot more excited about their lunch.

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.

August 10th, 2017

Are You Overparenting?

Are You Overparenting?

As parents, it’s tempting to give our kids the best of everything. There are so many activities you can sign your kids up for, sports, academics, and all kinds of interests. It’s nice when you can give your kids the things you wish you had when you were a kid.

This can turn into overparenting.

You’re overparenting when you spend so much time running from kid activity to kid activity that you have no time to do other things. Your kids don’t have time to just be themselves, and it’s hard to get them together with friends, because everyone is always at an activity.

Take a look at what your kids do. Do they have time for themselves or are they always in some sort of formal activity? Think back to your own childhood. Maybe that was how you were raised or maybe you had lots of free time to be yourself.

Free time to themselves is one of the gifts you can give your children. They need to know how to entertain themselves. There is nothing wrong with letting your kids play in the backyard or even in the front yard if they’re old enough and the neighborhood is appropriate.

How Many Activities?

It can be hard deciding how many activities are right for your child. Some of it depends on your family and your routines. If you’re running out of time to just relax as a family, you might have too many activities going on.

This isn’t always a bad thing. Kids in theater, for example, are going to have times where all their free time is eaten up by rehearsals and such. Sports can get intense too. If you can break up those times so that between plays your kids have time to be with friends and just relax, those utterly swamped times can be balanced out somewhat.

During the school year, you need to make sure that kids have enough time for homework and downtime. My kids’ school offers a lot of clubs, even at the elementary level, so I tell them they can sign up for no more than one or two. If one is high demand, I’d suggest sticking with just the one.

I do the same for summer, even though there’s more free time. Some things I insist upon – all my kids have taken swimming lessons until they complete all the levels available locally. It’s not a guarantee of pool safety, but it means they know what they’re doing in a pool.

The number also depends on how many kids you have and how far apart activities are. I love the clubs my kids do at school because that means they just stay late. I don’t have to drive them anywhere for most clubs unless there’s a competition.

If you have to drive all over town for various activities for different kids, you will need to keep more careful control over how many activities you let the sign up for. This isn’t just about kids having fun, it’s about parents not being overwhelmed or exhausted.

But My Kids Love Their Activities!

I would certainly hope your kids love their extracurricular activities! You should sign them up for things they want to learn or do when you can, after considering the time and financial requirements.

There comes a time when parents need to tell their kids “no.” It can be about the money. It can be because you didn’t like the time it took from your day. It can be because your kids complained about not having time for friends the last time you signed them up for the activity.

If they really love the activity and it’s reasonable for your family to allow your kids to do an activity a lot, go for it. So long as you take their needs into consideration along with everyone else’s (including you!), it’s not a completely bad thing to let your kids do an activity even when it makes doing other things difficult. Just be sure everyone is on board with the sacrifice required.girl in dress and mask

Activities have value for kids. They’re fun. They learn things they want to do. If you can afford the time and money, I think signing your kids up for some activities is a very good thing. But they shouldn’t be the only thing your kids do with their spare time. Give them time to get silly on their own.

But They’ll Get Bored!

Yes. Yes, they will. That’s a good thing.

Kids should get bored sometimes. That’s how they learn to cope with boredom. If you’re too concerned about it, you can always tell them to go clean their rooms – my kids get quickly un-bored when I make that suggestion.

Remember that if your kids are used to being entertained by other activities, they won’t be able to come up with their own ideas for something to do so easily. That means when they are between activities, you are a lot more likely to get the “Mom, I’m bored!” complaint. A child who is used to playing games, being creative or even just sitting and reading doesn’t get bored quite as easily. Yes, you will still hear the classic complaint, but your child will be more ready to handle quiet times themselves.

Don’t protect them too much from failure either. Let them suffer consequences as necessary. Kids really aren’t as fragile as many parents think. My oldest daughter used to get so mad at me when I told her to do something herself when she’s insisted that she couldn’t. I’m not talking about tying her shoes… that one takes time and practice, and is often frustrating for all concerned.

I’m talking about days when she wanted me to draw a circle for her because she didn’t think she could, or rather, didn’t want to. The frustration was very good for her. How fast would she learn to draw circles if I did all of them for her? She draws quite a bit more than circles now and wants to be an animator. She still gets frustrated, but that comes more from being her own worst critic, something most of us understand.

Let your children suffer frustration, fail at tasks they are trying to learn. Let them be embarrassed sometimes. Children get over these problems more easily if they are familiar. You know that as an adult you fail sometimes, get frustrated and even get embarrassed. You learned to deal with that as a child. Do your children the same favor. Don’t make their lives too easy or overly managed.

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.

August 7th, 2017

10 Places You Can Work When You Work At Home

10 Places You Can Work When You Work At Home

One of the great things about having a work at home job or a home business is that you might have a lot of flexibility in where you work. It’s not necessarily all at home, depending on the kind of work you do. Sure, if you need a wired phone and internet connection you’ll be limited in where you work, but in many other cases, where you work is up to you. Here are some options.

1. Home Office

A properly set up home office is the best option when you can get it, even if you don’t want to be stuck in it all the time. It’s a place for all your work stuff. If you can close the door for privacy while you work, so much the better.

Your home office should have great internet connectivity, power, a setup you like, a good office chair and desk, and whatever else you need. You don’t have to worry about the space being taken over by someone else. If other people are too noisy, you can tell them you need quiet. They’re family or friends, after all. You can ask them to respect your work hours.

You may be able to take the home office deduction on your taxes if you maintain and use your home office. Check with your tax professional to see if your space qualifies.

Disadvantages

Isolation. If you want to be around other people sometimes, your home office can be very isolating.

If you have kids, it can also be a very frustrating place for them to have you work. They’ll get bored and want your attention, especially if they’re young.

2. Bedroom

Your bedroom is one of the other places to work at home when you need to close a door. It’s not ideal for most people, but it’s a possible solution. Hopefully you have the space to set up a desk and chair, rather than having to sit on the bed to work.

Disadvantages

It’s your bedroom. Some people find it very difficult to use their bedroom as an office. It makes it too easy to think about work when you should be sleeping.

3. Living Room/Elsewhere In The Home

Lots of people who work at home will work in shared spaces around the house, such as the living room. Sometimes you want to be a part of things; other times it’s because you have no better space available. Your productivity may take a hit, but at least you can work.

Disadvantages

It’s very difficult to get away from the noise of everyday life in the home if you’re in the same space as everyone else. It’s distracting.

4. Backyard

You get a beautiful, sunny, but not too hot day, and it will be tempting to work in your backyard. Fresh air, sunshine, and the feeling that you really are living the work at home dream. It’s a nice break from being indoors all the time.

If you have kids, it’s a chance to work where they’re playing. Don’t let them distract you too much, but enjoy the ability to all be together even when you’re earning a living.

Disadvantages

Patio furniture may not be as comfortable as what you have indoors. Your access to power may be limited. How good is the wifi in your yard? Hopefully it’s good enough.

If you have kids, they’re probably going to be noisy out there with you, and want you to join in the fun. Being productive can be a little more difficult.

5. Coffee Shop

Here’s the traditional office away from home office of the home based worker. Coffee shops have long been popular with people who work at home but aren’t limited to working specifically at home.

There are advantages to working at a coffee shop, such as snacks, drinks, and free wifi. Many coffee shops try to be comfortable for remote workers.

Disadvantages

Those snacks probably aren’t all that healthy. You might spend more than you should. The menu looks so good.

Coffee shops can also be noisy, as others come and go, and the employees call out orders. They often have music, which may be too loud for your tastes.

Employees won’t appreciate it if you take up a table for too long, especially if the other tables are all full. Pay attention to the crowds and try not to hog the space if the shop is busy.

6. Fast Food Restaurants

Like coffee shops, many fast food restaurants offer free wifi. So long as you don’t take up a table too long when all the others are full, most don’t mind if you work while enjoying your order.

Go to a fast food restaurant that features a playground if you have kids. They can play; you can work. The air conditioning isn’t too bad at most, so those days when the weather is too hot, cold or damp for them to play outside, you can still give them playtime.

Disadvantages

Fast food restaurants are usually noisy, especially if they have playgrounds. You may also need to fight the urge to get yet another snack as you work, even though the food is rarely all that good for you.

7. Beach

The beach is another of those dream places to work. Out in the sun and sand, it’s almost like a vacation while you work.

Disadvantages

There are no power outlets on the beach. Your internet connection depends on how good service is in the area, and probably depends on your cell phone provider.

Sand gets into everything. If you aren’t careful, that includes your laptop.

You can’t do all of the fun things you can do other times at the beach. You’ll get some sun, but you can’t work all that hard on a tan.

8. Park

The park is a good place to work when you want to get out of the house or if the kids need to get out and run. You’ll get fresh air and you can often find a bench or table to work at. If the park tends to be crowded, bring your own seating, and you’ll be fine.

Disadvantages

No power, and many don’t offer wifi. You have to provide your own internet connection.

Parks can be noisy, even if you go on your own. Kids play, dogs bark, and people walk by all the time. You can’t always find a quiet spot to work.

9. Coworking Space

A coworking space is a good way to get the advantages of a large office while working on your own terms. It should provide everything you need to have a productive day – wifi, phones, desk, printers, copiers and so forth. A good coworking space will have everything you need.

There will also be other people around, which can give you some camaraderie with the other people who use the space. You get people to talk to, so you’re less isolated.

Disadvantages

Cost. If you’re paying for it yourself, a coworking space can be on the pricey side. Some employers pay for coworking spaces for work at home employees if they want one, but it’s not a very common benefit.

10. Library

The library can be a very good place to work. You may not even need to bring your own computer, although if you have any privacy concerns, you probably should. Most libraries offer free wifi. The air conditioning can be pretty good too. Unlike coffee shops, they rarely care how long you stay during business hours, aside from any time limits on library computers.

Libraries may also offer other services, such as copy machines or a fax machine. If you need these services , it’s nice to have them right there.

Disadvantages

Libraries are thought of as being quiet places to work, but that’s not always true. Kids sometimes get noisy in there, as do other patrons.

Library hours can be very limiting. The one in my area, for example, is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you want to work outside those hours, the library isn’t for you.

In general, you should think carefully about where you work outside your home office. It’s nice to get away sometimes, get a little time around other people, but pay attention to what it does to your productivity. It might help, but it might not. Try working other places if your work permits it, but if you’re less productive, it’s probably not the right choice for you. You might be surprised at what works for you.

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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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.