Friday, February 8, 2019

How to Establish a Daily Routine to Become Your Best Self

A routine can help you stay on track throughout your day but it can do so much more than that. It can reduce stress by not helping you not to frantically try to remember everything you need to get done and keep your sleep schedule regular. Additionally, it can help you keep goals in mind such as slotting in gym time or remembering to eat a healthy lunch every day.

Setting a routine can seem a little daunting at first, though. Luckily, it isn’t as hard as you might think to use a daily routine to help you become your best self.

Make a List

Before you put a plan into action, there has to be a plan in place. Take a few minutes one day and start to write down what you want to get done during your day or even your week.

For instance, what do you need to do each morning before you go to work? How many times a week do you want to hit the gym? What tasks are necessary to complete daily at work?

Once you have these questions in place, you’ll have an idea of what needs to be worked into the daily routine. If you already have a daily routine that you are trying to improve upon, follow a similar path. What parts of the routine work? Which parts need to be changed?

When creating your routine, start with set tasks. For example, your work hours should be noted before you try to come up with a time that you can use for tasks that aren’t on a set schedule.

Don’t be afraid to get detailed when listing what you need to do either. If you want to make sure you remember to wash your face each morning or make some tea before you go to bed, put this on your list of items to schedule.

Start with Your Mornings

For a successful day, it’s important that you start off on the right foot. In other words, you probably aren’t going to have a good day if you’re jumping out of bed and running out of the door first thing.
Instead, start your schedule by planning your mornings. Give yourself plenty of time to wake up and complete your morning ritual before you have to head to work.

To plan this, think of all the things you want to do in the morning and how long that will take. This will help you to plan on when to set your alarm. It will help a lot if you start the habit of not snoozing your alarm several times and make sure you do your routine in order. You might want to get up at 6 then brush your teeth and then put on a pot of coffee every morning until it becomes a habit.

Next, Midday and Late Afternoon

During the week at least, much of your midday is probably spent at work. This means that you probably already have a general routine set up. When you get to work you might check your email and work on spreadsheets while the afternoon is reserved for meetings.

The biggest part that you’ll want to make sure you don’t skip lunch. Even if you can’t get out of the office, bring along a healthy packed lunch that will keep you going throughout the day.

When you get off work in the late afternoon or early evening, you can schedule in goals such as an hour at the gym before you head home.


Your evenings should be dedicated to preparation and winding down. After you have dinner, it helps your mornings to complete tasks such as choosing your clothes for the next day or packing a lunch.

It’s also a good idea to schedule when you are going to go to sleep just as you schedule when to wake up. This ensures that you get the proper amount of sleep each night. The general suggestion is that you try to get around 7 hours of sleep a night. Remember to schedule in a little extra time because you probably aren’t going to fall asleep the minute you lay down.

Plan the Weekends

On the weekends, it’s okay to let yourself sleep in and schedule a lighter routine. However, if you simply allow yourself to sleep the whole weekend away, you’ll be behind on things you need to do and it will be difficult to transition back into the week.

The weekend is also a great time to schedule errands that are hard to fit into your work week. Sundays are a great time to do your weekly grocery shopping and meal prepping.

Give Yourself Some Extra Time

This is a dual point. First of all, try to schedule in some time for yourself. Maybe you want a half an hour to read before you go to bed or time to meditate or do yoga in the morning. If you only schedule in work and errands, you are likely to get burned out.

You’ll also want to be sure that you schedule in a little more time than you need for certain tasks. There will be mornings that you sleep an extra few minutes or weekends when the line at the grocery store seems monumental. By scheduling extra time, you are ensuring that these kinks in your day don’t ruin your whole routine.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How to Foster Children's Creativity with Arts&Crafts

Creativity is highly valued throughout our entire life, it is the ability to find hidden patterns, make connections, perceive the world in new ways, generate solutions and “think outside the box.” Creativity is beyond being the next Master of Arts; it is also being highly skilled in managing your personal and professional life. However, contrary to many believers, this is not a magical gift some people are just born with. Creativity can be learned and sharpened like any other skill.

Why you should incentive your child’s creativity

The early years of a child are the best moment to praise and encourage creativity. Young children have not yet been surrounded by rules, laws and so on. Their mind is innocent, genuine and free of any judgments. Magic tales are real, and everything is possible during this age.

Why is art so important

Crafts and arts not just increase creativity as well it helps to develop motor, social, mental and emotional skills. A simple crayon drawing can teach counting pieces and colors, experiment different materials, and if properly encouraged can even boost confidence. A child who feels free to experiment and make mistakes may be more skillful while analyzing and solving problems.

How to inspire creativity with crafts and arts

Kids need some time far from tablets, video games, and commercial toys. This is important to the child have time to have other types of experiences, learn what they like or don’t, being free to make mistakes and have a sense of control.

Define your child’s space for mess

You can have a room for this, or any area you prefer. Throw an old cloth or newspaper on top of a table and let your child be free to experiment. After the art or craft is done, also encourage them to help you clean the space and tide it up.

Avoid adult direction

Creativity should flourish without adult directions, so try not to be so bossy. Allow them to feel free and autonomous to explore their ideas and put them into practice. Don’t give suggestions as: “Why don’t you draw our family¿” or “why don’t you use more colors?.” Even if the child just draws a single dot in the middle of the paper.

Explore the process

It can be hard to read a kid’s mind by just watching what they are doing. Ask them to articulate the ideas behind the drawing or craft. This will not only help you understand them better, as it will encourage them to practice communication skills.

Supplies should be easy to access

You don’t need a huge budget to do this. Spare a drawer or cabinet accessible for the kids and have some old boxes, crayons, empty paper towel rolls, and paper. Supervise if they need to add scissors and duct tape to the creative process. Also, encourage them to tide it all up afterward.

Encourage different kinds of craft

Creating things with their own hands has a meaningful impact on a child’s emotions. They can feel good about their creation and express themselves through it. Learning how to sew, for example, can provide benefits such as mature their fingers dexterity, learn patience and self-regulation, how to make critical decisions and boost solving problem skills. You can start teaching your kids to sew whenever they feel like it. It is never too early to start, but in this case you will need to have a higher level of supervision and be there all the steps. You can begin sewing small things, maybe some felt projects that require less pointy needles. And it is okay if you need to finish the project for them or just give final touches to it. The important here is for them to have a sense of making efforts, teamwork, and accomplishment. When they get older, chances are they will be able to finish all by themselves and feel good about it too.

Materials to always have on hand

Crafts and arts are not only rainy or snowy days. Have some of these materials available at the house so your kid can jump into action any time. Remember you don’t have to invest in crafting materials all at once. Start slow and check your child preferences. Then, you can decide to pursue more and better quality materials.
    washable paint, paintbrushes
    crayons, colored pencils, scissors, glue, glitter
    plain and colored paper
    felt, fabric, buttons
    ribbon, yarn, string, beads
    drinking straws, egg cartons, cardboard tubes
    magazines, newspapers, catalogs

If you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends and family! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Why I Decided to Become My Mother's Caregiver

No one likes to think about his or her parents getting old. We get used to seeing who brought us to life and raised us as a strong figure, almost superhuman, who will never grow old, fell sick or eventually need our help to the most simple tasks. But, it is nature, and eventually, our parents will need us, as we needed them as a child.

Dementia is a tough collection of symptoms, which unfortunately come as a result of damage to the brain. In elderly people, this tends to accompany Alzheimer’s disease, which was my mother’s case. It is not easy to see someone you love so deeply, succumb to an illness. Especially one that can completely transform your loved one into a stranger. It all started with small memory losses during the day, some confusion while carrying out familiar tasks, such as buying shampoo instead of soap. Then things began to evolve to severe situations, including some wandering and forgetting where she was.

The Difficult Diagnose

Some of my friends used to say their elderly parents were acting like little children. I remember laughing about it, and thinking my mom would never be like that. But turns out I was wrong, and this is something hard to predict. After some problematic episodes, I had to drive her against her will to the doctor and explain what was happening. She was in complete denial, which I could understand with all my heart. Some exams and tests proved what I already knew, my mom was diagnosed with early signs of Alzheimer.

Deciding to Become a Full-Time Caregiver

Family and friends suggested I should hire a caregiver or put her in elderly house care. I studied all the options and my current situation, including finances. I checked some elderly houses, but they were just too far from my home, so I couldn’t visit so often as I’d like. Hiring a home caregiver would also be a little beyond my financial situation, even with my mom’s retirement pension.
And, to be honest, deep down, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my mom into someone else’s responsibility. Mainly because I had the means to take care of her by myself. I had a work that allowed me to work from home, my children had enough age to handle most of their things by themselves, and my house had enough space to accommodate her needs (including a wheelchair). We also would be able to save some money with housing and caregiving, since I could handle most of it by myself.

But even though I had the means and was deeply emotionally involved, it was brutal. My mom had some tough time to get used to the new house, and we had to learn how to cope with the painful Alzheimer. My mom has always had a kind personality, by the disease sometimes would bring the worst of her. We have also made some changes in the house, such as installing alert systems, fall detection mats and having 24h emergency assistance care. I have also put both children on the charge of several things around the house, so I could have time to dedicate my time for her, my career, family and myself.

Not Everyone Can Become A Full-Time Caregiver

This is a challenging and thankless job. You might love your parents as much as you can, but sometimes it is just too much for you to handle by yourself. Contrary to belief, being your parent’s caregiver is not just about love. It is about having time, emotional stability, income and general support.

During one of my mom’s lucid moments, we have talked about her situation, the options and what would be the best. We agreed on trying to move her in with me, although she would sometimes forget about it later. But not everyone has the time and means to be a full-time caregiver, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed if you can’t. But if you decide to take care of your parents, as I did, don’t try to do it all alone. While taking care of someone else is easy to get too deep into the daily chores and forget about your own needs. Seek community support, engage your family and siblings, and have a support network for yourself.

I hope my personal experiences might shine some light into your thoughts, and believe me, you are not alone in this journey.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Recognizing Early Signs of Autism and Planning the Right Support

A word like autism can be a scary prospect for parents. However, with approximately 1 in 68 children having an autism diagnosis, it’s important for parents to educate themselves. If you see the early signs in your child, don’t worry, a bit of planning can go a long way.

Defining Autism

The first thing you need to know about autism is what it is. According to the American Psychological Association, autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can be recognized by social communication impairments and repetitive and restrictive patterns concerning behavior, interests, or activities. 

This definition is broad by construction. This is because autism isn’t a singular diagnosis. Rather, the diagnosis is autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In other words, autism exists on a spectrum meaning that individuals with autisms may present very differently from one another.

Autism and Other Problems

Autism can come along with other emotional and behavioral problems that aren’t always at a diagnosable level but are a challenge to an autistic individual all the same. For instance, the same study on autism by the APA noted the following using parent report questionnaires;

     59% of 5-year-olds that place on the spectrum show signs of hyperactivity
     70% of individuals with ASD aged 5 to 17 struggle with emotional problems
     70% of individuals with ASD aged 5 to 17 meet criteria for one psychiatric disorder
     40% of individuals with ASD aged 5 to 17 meet criteria for more than one psychiatric disorder

Individuals with autism are also typically sensitive to sensory input and, as such, sensory overload anxiety is prevalent. While loud noises and bright lights might bother any individual, they will oftentimes affect individuals with ASD with a higher severity. Even smaller sensory inputs such as an itchy tag on a sweater can give someone with ASD severe discomfort and anxiety.

What Are Some of the Signs of Autism?

It’s important for parents to keep an eye out for signs of autism in their children. These include signs of social, cognitive, and communication impairments as well as repetitive behavior patterns. Autism Speaks notes the following as signs of autism;

At 6 months:

     Not many warm and engaging expressions (i.e. big smiles)
     Little to no eye contact.

At 9 months:

     No back-and-forth sounds or responsive expressions

At 12 months:

     Little to no babbling
     Little to no engaging gestures (i.e. waving, pointing, reaching, etc.)
     Little to no response when their name is said or called

At 16 months:

     A lack of one-word phrases used

At 24 months:

     A lack of original two-word phrases (repetition may be present)

There are also a number of signs that might present at any age, such as;

     Lack of eye contact
     Consistent choice of solitude rather than interaction with peers or others
     Trouble understanding others’ emotions
     Delayed development of language or social skills
     Echolalia (repetition of phrases or words)
     Struggle with even minor changes in routines, daily patterns, or surroundings
     A restriction of interests
     Stims (repetitive behaviors such as rocking, spinning, flapping arms, etc.)
     Strong or unusual reactions to sensory input
     Any regression of social or language skills

What Should a Parent Do If They Notice These Signs?

If a parent sees these signs showing up in their young child, they shouldn’t try to make a diagnosis themselves. Instead, they should discuss their concerns with their child’s pediatrician just like any other health issue.

While signs might appear as early as 6 months, most doctors won’t make a diagnosis until the child is at least 18 months to 2 years old.

What Causes Autism?

Right now, there isn’t a factor that can be isolated and pointed out as the cause of ASD. There are signs of a genetic link in autism. It isn’t unheard of or even uncommon for there to be multiple cases of ASD to exist in one family. In fact, if one sibling has ASD, it’s likely that the other one might place on the spectrum as well.

There is a persistent fear in many parents that the vaccinations that children need when they are young might lead to the development of autism. However, this fear is unfounded and even been proved wrong by many scientists.

How Do Parents Plan Going Forward?

After a child is diagnosed, it’s important to come up with a plan to help them have a fulfilling life. In day-to-day life, parents can do things such as communicating with teachers and other guardians as well as developing a routine for their child. There is plenty of research to be found that can help create a guideline and you can tailor these guidelines to your child in particular.

It’s also important to note that the day-to-day plan for your child will probably change over time. Just like any child, they will grow and change over the years and the plan will have to develop with that.

As a parent, there are also certain long-term plans you have to make in the best interest of your child.

First, you will want to consider guardianship which is crucial when your child is young as well as while they transition into adulthood at 18. In addition, though, you will want to name a guardian that can help your child in the case of your passing. If full guardianship isn’t what your adult child needs, having powers of attorney for them might be more appropriate which will allow you to make specific types of decisions for your child such as healthcare or financial decisions.

While it may be a little morbid, it is crucial to plan for your child in the case of your own passing. Choosing a guardian to help your child through this time is a good first step. You may also want to leave a letter of intent as a roadmap for this guardian as well as a will to provide for your child.