Saturday, September 21, 2013

Repost: Six Ways to Discipline Children -- That Work!

What's the best way to discipline children? Get tips from the pros by reading this WebMD feature by Joanne Baker.


It’s hard to deny the importance of discipline. "Discipline has to do with civilizing your child so they can live in society," says psychiatrist Michael Brody, MD. Yet many kids repeatedly test their parents’ limits. When it comes to disciplining children, there is no quick fix and no magic bullet.
If you, like many parents, have tried to discipline kids who don’t want to listen, this article is for you. WebMD asked parenting experts for tips on how to discipline kids without being a drill sergeant, or a pushover.
Discipline Tip # 1: Reward Good Behavior
When punishment is the centerpiece of discipline, parents tend to overlook their children’s best behaviors. "You’ll get a lot further with positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement," says Mason Turner, MD, chief of psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center. Rewarding good deeds targets behaviors you want to develop in your child, not things he shouldn’t be doing.
This doesn’t mean you should give your child a pound of chocolate every time he picks up a paperclip. "There are grades of positive reinforcement," says Turner. "There’s saying ‘good job. I’m really glad you did that,’ when your child cleans his room." And there are times when your child does something extraordinary that may warrant a larger reward.
Discipline Tip # 2: Be Clear About Rules
If your rules are vague, or discussed only when one has been broken, your child will have a hard time following them. "It’s up to the parent to make clear what’s expected of the child and what isn’t," says Brody, who chairs the Media Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Be sure to explain the rules of the house when you can speak clearly and your child is not too upset to listen.
James Sears, MD, a pediatrician in Southern California, suggests practicing discipline when it works for you. For instance, when you have 30 minutes to spare, interrupt your child’s game and tell her you need help with something. If she helps, great, do a quick and easy chore together and let her go back to her game. If she throws a tantrum, you have time to deal with it. "If you do that every once in a while, your child will understand that when Mommy says I need to put my toys away, I need to do it," says Sears.
Discipline Tip # 3: Neutralize Arguments
How do you deal with a child who wants to argue into submission? Steer clear of no-win arguments.
Instead, "go brain dead," advises Jim Fay, co-author of Parenting with Love and Logic.For instance, if your child says, "This isn’t fair," say, "I know." If your child says, "All of my friends get to have this," say, "I know." Or you can use the phrase, "And what did I say?" to enforce rules you have already discussed with your child. Sometimes the less you say, the more clear your point becomes.

Discipline Tip # 4: Buy Yourself Time
You may have read that children need to experience the consequences of their actions as soon as possible. And maybe you’ve heard that parents should be calm as they discipline children. In reality, you may not be able keep your cool and react right away.
"Buy yourself time to calm down before you deal with the situation," suggests Fay. You can tell your child, "Wow, bad decision. I need some time to figure out what I’m going to do about that." When your emotions are in check, express empathy for your child first, then deliver the consequences. Empathy gives your child room to connect his behavior to the outcome. "You don’t have to get angry at kids, you don’t have to yell. Just allow it to become their problem," says Fay.
Discipline Tip # 5: Be Consistent About Rules
Sometimes sticking to the rules is as challenging for parents as it is for kids. Sears sees too many parents turn the other cheek when their kids talk back or otherwise act out. "Parents just are not consistent in enforcing rules," he tells WebMD. Not enforcing your own rules puts everything you say into question. "If kids don’t know what to expect from their parents, they never really know what the rules are."
You may want to back down for fear of ruining your child’s fun. Keep in mind that kids benefit from limits. Rules and structure give children the security of knowing their parents are watching out for them. As kids get older, you can take a more flexible approach. Around the ages of 9 and 12, kids should get "a little leeway to test out the rules," says Brody. "But always be very careful about safety."
Discipline Tip # 6: Model Good Behavior
Like it or not, your children are watching you. You can dole out as much advice as you want, but your personal conduct makes a more lasting impression than your words. "The number one way human beings learn is through imitation and copy," says Fay. If you want your child to be honest, make sure you practice honesty. If you want your child to be polite, let her see your best manners, at home and in public.
The fact is, raising disciplined children is not easy. Despite your best efforts, there will always be good days and bad days. For evidence, look to the experts we interviewed for this article. Even after years of working with families, all four shared stories of their own children’s meltdowns or misbehavior. "As a parent, you’re constantly pushing your own limits. It’s the toughest but the greatest job I’ve ever had," says Turner.


Ingrid Callot gives sound advice on motherhood through her Twitter account.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Repost: Tips for Cleaning House with Young Children in Tow

Involving kids in doing household chores is a challenge that every parent faces. Learn some tips on how to make your kids interested in helping you with chores by reading this article by Christie Burnett.


I am a big believer in involving young children in household chores (that are suitable to their level of development) as I believe that these early experience can help to instill positive habits for healthy living for many years to come. And toddlers and preschoolers make fabulously willing cleaning helpers when you make the cleaning experience fun!

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Here are four ways to make cleaning time fun…

  1. Make it a game: Adding a playful element like seeing who can match the greatest number of sock pairs or having a race to see who finishes their respective packing away chore quickest, helps to make cleaning and packing away interesting and engaging for young children.
  2. Give your child fun tools to use: We have a cabinet with long glass shelves which Immy loves to dust. She carefully removes all of the photos and other trinkets displayed and then comes her favourite part of the task – spraying water on the shelves with a small spray bottle! She then wipes the shelves clean with a cleaning cloth. The simple act of giving her a spray bottle of water makes the task great fun. I know other children who love the novelty of using the vacuum like a grown up, or sweeping the floor with a short handled broom.
  3. Add music or singing to your cleaning tasks: Turn up the volume on some catchy music or sing a simple song like, “This is the way we mop the floor, mop the floor, mop the floor,” which can be adapted to almost any cleaning task.
  4. Use a timer: Set an old fashioned kitchen timer for three minutes and set a simple cleaning challenge for your preschooler.

What sorts of tasks can young children do?
I think children from the age of two can be involved in any of the following tasks, with varying levels of assistance and supervision depending upon their age;

  • Dusting
  • Putting dirty laundry into a hamper
  • Folding laundry: Folding small items like tea towels, matching socks or even finding separating all of their own underwear from a big pile helps to reduce the time you need to spend with the laundry.
  • Putting away laundry: Make it easy for your child to put away their own clothes by making it clear which drawer is for which type of item of clothing and not having too many clothes in each drawer.
  • Unpacking the dishwasher
  • Tidying up toys: Separating toys into their own containers and labeling the containers can make packing away toys easier for young children.
  • Sweeping up mess: Spending a little time teaching your child how to use a dustpan and brush now can save lots of time in the days to come.
  • Cleaning up spills: Keep a basket or drawer in the kitchen (which is easy for your child to access independently) for cleaning cloths that can be used for wiping up drink spills. A small spray bottle of water kept nearby might be useful as well.
  • Setting and clearing the table: At three years of age, Immy has been setting our table for some months now. And older toddlers and preschoolers can help to clear the table of dishes and condiments as well.
  • Cleaning in the bathroom: Wiping down sinks and counters, scrubbing the ring around the bath and cleaning the shower screen are all tasks which young children can help with.
Some final advice for keeping your child engaged and involved in household cleaning tasks are;
  • Be consistent about your expectation that they will help.
  • Work alongside them. Children are more likely to be involved if you are too.
  • Keep tasks as independent as possible for your child and resist the urge to do over what they have done (yes, you may have to let go of standards just a little!)
  • Rotate chores to keep it interesting.


    Get more tips on parenting and home-making from this Ingrid Callot Facebook page.

Friday, September 13, 2013

September: A glorious time to do gardening

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Every year when September comes along, I sometimes feel my interest for gardening declining a bit since I am inclined to think that the growing season is just close by. However, right after summer is a very crucial time to do backyard gardening to ensure a bountiful garden in the year ahead. September is a great time to plan, purchase seeds and materials, and plant for next spring's garden. Plus, the sunny weather can inspire homeowners to do all sorts of gardening. In my own home garden, for instance, I expand it with a different kind of plant every now and then. Here are some plants that I found to be perfect for home gardening this time of the year:


I agree with this BBC article that planting native hedges makes a unique garden feature. Hedges not only produce a varied range of berries and flowers, but they also attract birds and insects into the garden.

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Spring bulbs

Spring bulbs, like daffordils, tulips, and crocuses, are best planted in autumn. This article from The Telegraph provides some tips for planting bulbs.


Yahoo! Voices suggests planting broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, English peas, and potatoes in September or October, and you can expect a harvest in about two weeks.

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By spending quality time in the garden and planting at this time of year, you can reap the wonders of nature and learn to appreciate home gardening.

I’m Ingrid Callot, and I love planting in my very own little garden at home. You can read up on related topics by following me on Twitter.

Operation crafty: DIY creations out of used materials

Hello! Those of you who have been following me online know that reducing, recycling, and reusing old items is how I celebrate the environment. These three Rs benefit not only Mother Nature but also my family’s savings. As a bonus, I get to be crafty and creative. The following ingenious ideas have inspired me in making something old into something worthwhile again:

Ice cream containers (like those from Breyers® )

Summer might have made you consume more ice cream than you’ve ever imagined – I know I have. And because the hot season is over, you can make good use of those old ice cream containers. They are great for organizing small things, including hardware items, handicraft items, and children’s toys. They can also be used as ribbon or thread organizers. Ice cream containers can also do well in the garden as seed containers or alternative flower pots.

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Milk cartons

You can plant seeds in them after cutting off the top, poking a few holes in the bottom for drainage, and filling with potting soil and vermiculite. A milk carton can also serve as a cooler by placing a glass or bottle of drink inside and filling the carton with water and placing it in the freezer. This is a more creative way of serving cold beverages than just placing them on an ice bucket.

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Wallpaper samples

You can use them as a cabinet or drawer liner to make things slide out more easily while giving your cabinet a richer look. Wallpapers can also be used to design bookmarks, gift boxes, greeting cards, and even recycled jar lids.

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With a little imagination and source of inspiration, getting crafty can turn old things into a piece of art. All these you can do while making Mother Earth smile with gladness.

I’m Ingrid Callot, domesticity queen and lover of everything DIY. You can get more of my ideas on related topics by following this Facebook page.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

REPOST: Readers' Top 10 Gardening Mistakes

We all make mistakes in our home gardens, but take note of these common blunders and learn some tips on how to prevent them to save your plants from imperfection. This RealSimple article has the details.

Digging up flowers instead of weeds. Drowning the tulips. Real Simple readers reveal their growing woes and garden design pros plot out the solutions.

Flower boxes with gloves and shovel - mistake 1
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Mistake 1: Planting a Garden in the Wrong Spot

"Last year we built raised garden beds. They looked beautiful—with fresh mulch all around them and even a new spot watering system. But the mulch around the beds is always soggy—even in hot, dry Colorado." Stacie Perrault Staub Arvada, Colorado

Garden Fix

Good news: You don’t have to tear out the beds entirely, says Ivette Soler, a Los Angeles-based garden designer and writer of The Germinatrix blog. Empty the raised beds (dig out the plants and lay them on a tarp while you work) and spread a four-inch layer of gravel evenly over the underside of the planters to improve the drainage. Then refill the planters with fresh fluffy organic compost.

Mistake 2: Accidentally Pulling Up Flowers Instead of Weeds

"I planted some lovely perennials one summer. The following spring all the flowers sprouted along with some weeds. I pulled the weeds and lovingly tended to the flowers. I even staked a tall lanky plant that I was certain was going to produce a beautiful bloom. Then, one day my neighbor asked me why I had staked a weed. Turns out, I had pulled out the flowers and left the weeds. Oops." Lisa Benter Rich Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada

Garden Fix

Tracking plants can be tough for any gardener, says Andrew Keys, a Boston area landscape designer and writer of the Garden Smackdown blog who cops to mistaking crabgrass for ornamental grass in his own garden. "The most efficient way to mark your plants is to use the nursery tags your plants come with." Another option: Label popsicle sticks and insert them into the ground near your varieties.

Mistake 3: Not Preparing the Soil

"We neglected to prepare our soil last year and, as a result, we ended up with a whole vegetable patch of plants that either never gave fruit or died." Lydia Harris San Angelo, Texas

Garden Fix

Since soil varies dramatically by region, Keys recommends testing your soil annually to find out what type of soil you have and what it needs based on what you want to grow. (You can pick up an inexpensive at-home soil testing kit at the hardware store; watch this video to see how it works.) Then amend the soil as suggested. No matter what, says Soler, it’s a good idea to mix your soil with an equal amount of organic compost. "It’s the best foundation for your garden—it gives your plants the nutrients they need without overloading them with chemical fertilizers which can deplete the microbial activity needed for healthy plant growth."

Mistake 4: Overwatering

"I kill everything. I never know when to water and when not to water. Help!" Kelli Baker New Philadelphia, Ohio

Garden Fix

Overwatering drowns plants roots, causing them to rot; underwatering, on the other hand, can dehydrate it. The no-more-guessing approach is to invest in an irrigation system with a "smart" controller, meaning that it automatically adjusts watering levels based on historical data and moisture sensors, says Rebecca Sweet, who designs gardens in the California bay area and writes the Gossip in the Garden blog. If you can’t afford a system, pay close attention to your soil. When the soil is rock hard, it needs watering. When you can grab a handful, squeeze it together, and form a loose ball, it’s just right. One trick: Plant a so-called indicator plant—one that wilts much more quickly than the others—such as a hydrangea or lettuce. "One look at them on a hot day will tell you whether or not you need to water your plants," says Sweet.

Hanging flowers - mistake 5
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Mistake 5: Planting an Invasive Variety

"We planted a horseradish plant in a corner of our garden and were pleased with the crop we harvested the following season. We pulled it all up, tilled the garden in spring, planted for the season, and there it was—popping up all over the place! I never knew how invasive a plant could be." Cynthia Sadowski Lawless Southington, Connecticut

Garden Fix

Plants like horseradish, English ivy, Mexican feathergrass, and spiderwort are notoriously invasive in gardens and are best grown in containers, says Pam Penick, an Austin, Texas-based garden designer and writer of the blog Digging. If you order seeds from a catalog, look for words like prolific reseeder and vigorous growth, which often indicate invasive tendencies. If you do choose to plant an invasive variety, weed diligently. And consider solarizing: Dampen the soil, spread a black plastic tarp over the weeds you want to kill, and secure the tarp’s edges with rocks. Leave the plastic in place for a few months while the weather is hot. The plastic will heat up the soil and kill off the weeds.

Mistake 6: Not Taking Wildlife Into Account

"My daughter and I planted 200 bulbs in our yard as a secret garden that would bloom in spring. To our horror, the squirrels came at night and feasted on our bulbs. That spring only four lonely daffodils grew and we had some very fat squirrels." Jennifer Goldberg Bellevue, Washington

Garden Fix

There’s a good reason the squirrels left the daffodils alone; daffodils contain poisonous crystals, says Keys. Other rodent-repellant (read: poisonous) bulbs include snowdrops, winter aconite, and fritillaries. Critters from raccoons to deer to the family dog will inevitably try to eat your produce, and the only failsafe way to protect your precious plants is to install a fence around the garden. As for your dog, Penick suggests tossing a few chew toys into the garden to tempt him away from your plants.

Mistake 7: Not Giving Plants Enough Sun

"I planted tomatoes on the east side of my backyard. They bloomed, and then the flowers would fall off. According to friends, tomatoes need the morning sun, which was blocked by my fence. Who knew?" Laura Stites Plano, Texas

Garden Fix

Tomatoes are sun worshipers that thrive in direct sunlight. The plants need a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight, says Soler. Similarly, vegetable plants such as chiles and eggplants and most herbs should be planted in the sunniest part of your yard. Others, like lettuces and peas, can stand to be in shady areas.

Mistake 8: Spreading Too Many Seeds

"I wanted a little pumpkin patch so I planted some seeds. The patch spread all over the yard and my husband had to lift up the vines to mow!" Heidi McCarthy Somers, Connecticut

Garden Fix

Vining plants like pumpkins, cantaloupes, and watermelons can quickly grow to mammoth proportions, says Soler. If you’re set on planting a patch, Keys suggests surfing the Web. “A plant’s Latin name is the key to everything you could ever want to know about it,” he says. “Just Google the Latin name in quotes and the word invasive or aggressive and see what gardeners are saying.” Another resource: PlantFiles from Dave’s Garden, a Wikipedia-like database of user-contributed data.

Mistake 9: Using Too Much Pesticide

"My first year gardening I found a spot that I wanted to use for flowers. Problem? Grass. Solution? Grass killer, which unfortunately made the area free of grass and useless for growing anything else. Whoops." Tashmica Torok Lansing, Michigan

Garden Fix

Chemical herbicides poison the soil and can remain in the dirt for years, says Soler. Instead, get rid of grass and weeds by pouring an earth-friendly mix of equal parts hot water and vinegar over the selected area once a day for a few days until the offending plants turn brown. The vinegar will kill the leaves and most of the plants’ roots, making it easy to pull up the grass.

Pots of plants - mistake 10
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Mistake 10: Planting Too Close Together

"I planted too many plants in a pot and they grew in odd shapes and weren’t edible. Next year, I’m only planting one plant per pot." Jessica Saunders Dayton, Ohio

Garden Fix

It’s important to follow the planting directions on seed packets and seedlings. But if you choose to plant more aggressively, experiment with layering plants, suggests Soler. Growing shrubby plants such as basil under tall vining plants like tomatoes yields two plants in one space.

Check out this Ingrid Callot Facebook page for more gardening tips.

REPOST: Teach your kids how to save money

Teach your children on how to save money as early as now. This GoodHouskeeping article has the details.

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Money-savvy teens are more likely to turn into financially smart adults. We ask the experts for their lessons on how and what to teach them

Save first, then spend the rest

Paul Roelofse, a certified financial adviser, consumer advocate for the Financial Planning Institute and presenter on Radio 702’s A Word On Personal Finance, offers his advice:

‘I’ve raised two daughters, so I’m no stranger to teen financial issues.’

‘Expose them to the benefits of saving early on so they get to see how rewarding it can be. I gave my daughters an allowance that we all agreed on and out of that they were obliged to save 20%. A negotiated and involved approach to helping them learn how to budget was vital – teens don’t take kindly to dictatorships. We took a hard line when they mismanaged their budgets, so if they blew their money in the first week, they had to tough it out for the rest of the month.’

‘Having a dad as an investment adviser stood them in good stead – their money grew. I invested it in long-term products to ensure the best returns. As they witnessed their money growing they tried to save even more and avoided the instant gratification of spending for the sake of it.’

‘The other important thing is to ensure that teens understand the negative consequences of debt. It’s heartbreaking to see young adults drowning in debt. Another important lesson for teens is to live within their means. If they can’t afford it, credit is not the answer. Saving up is.’

This Ingrid Callot Twitter page shares wisdom on marriage, home life, and more.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

REPOST: 6 Things You're Cleaning Wrong

Find out the six common mistakes that people constantly do when cleaning their homes from this Good House Keeping article

The cleaning habits you've been using for years may not be as efficient as you'd think. Correct these common mistakes and get a better clean with our tips, plus advice from Carolyn Forté, Director of the GHRI Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Department.

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they touch. Never stack items, either, because the water spray won't be able to reach the dishes on top. Place extra-dirty items on the bottom rack facing the center so they're near the spray arm. And if you're using a detergent pod, place it in the dispenser—if tossed in, it'll dissolve too quickly.

2. Shower curtain liner

There’s no need to throw away your shower curtain liner once it's dirty, says Forté. Simply toss it in your washing machine, set to hot water on a gentle cycle, along with some old towels and a dose of bleach to remove any mildew. Hang it up to dry, or put it in the dryer for a minute or two to speed up the process.

3. Carpet and upholstery stains

Your instinct may be to spray cleaner right on the stain, but that can over-wet and damage the carpet or fabric and make it hard to rinse out. Instead, spray a cloth with the cleaner and gently dab the area until the stain is gone. Rinse the same way with a clean cloth dipped in cool water.

4. Windows

Don't make the mistake of cleaning windows on a sunny day—they'll dry too quickly and leave behind streaks. On a cloudy day, start by sweeping the window, frame, and screen with a brush; or, vacuum with the dusting attachment to eliminate dirt and avoid a mud pile-up. While some may suggest using newspaper as a cleaning tool, the GHRI doesn't recommend that since it can be messy. Stick to microfiber cloths for the cleanest clean!

5. Clothes

A common mistake is generously pouring laundry detergent or fabric softener into the machine—excess liquids won’t helping your clothes, appliance, or skin. Always measure carefully and follow the recommendations for the size and/or soil level on the load you are doing (most loads are medium to large), says Forté. If the load is extra-large or dirty, add a little more detergent and/or softener.

6. Electronics

Cell phones, iPods, and other handheld tech devices are bound to get sticky, but it's never a good idea to spray them with a cleaner. A microfiber cloth is best for cleaning LCD screens. Forté suggests using a dry Swiffer cloth to dust them and remove smudges.

Did you enjoy this article? Visit this Ingrid Callot blog site for more related articles on home keeping.