Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Family Planning: Getting Organized & Getting Out The Door!

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end and another school year is around the corner! If you are like most parents, there are so many overwhelming details to remember- it’s no wonder those first few weeks feel so hectic. What we have found from working with many clients who have kids, is that the AM rush is largely in part to poor planning.

In this blog, we will give you some ideas, tips and resources for getting out the door more quickly & efficiently. The key is to incorporate one (or several) of these action items into your daily routine, be patient and flexible. Remember, what works for one family, might not work for another. Be prepared to have open lines of communication with your family during this "trial & error" period, be honest about what is working/not working, and willing to adjust accordingly. And above all, remember to have fun with your family planning! The goal is for everyone to be less stressed, not more stressed.

An easy way to jump start a school week, is to let your kids pick out their clothes the night before. Now before you think, “are you crazy lady?” take a breath and remember that you want for your kids to become self sufficient little people. Giving them the chance to pick out their clothes is not only fun for them, but it will also mark something off of your to-do list. If you want, you can even have them look up the weather on The Weather Channel to make sure they pick out clothes that are appropriate for the weather that week. This will also help them remember to pack their rain boots, raincoats and umbrellas if they will need them. They can also help out, by packing up their backpacks (after homework is done) and placing them near the door so they can grab them and go in the morning!

Getting your kids invested in healthy eating can be tricky sometimes, but if you make them part of that process, you might be surprised at how quickly they will jump on the bandwagon! Having your kids pack their own lunches is a great way to save time, money & energy. It also teaches them how to make better food choices on their own and will help them establish healthy eating habits for the future! A great first step to starting this initiative in your house is to print & post the good ol' Food Pyramid on the fridge for your kids to reference. This will help give them guidance as they learn how to pack a lunch with a healthy punch! In addition to the pyramid, there are a ton of other great resources & educational food games online for kids to utilize. Here are a few worth checking out, Kids Health and MyPyramid.gov.

The next thing we recommend is that you invest in some dishwasher safe, multi-purpose lunch containers like Fresh N Fit containers! They save space, have lots of compartments, come with built in ice packs, and are better for the environment than using plastic baggies. Also, you will want to give up the paper bags for some sturdy & washable lunch bags or boxes for your family. We like these cool ones by Built. They are made of neoprene (wet suit material), stain resistant, and can be thrown in the washer and hung to dry for easy clean up.
Bonus Tips: You can save time by packing lunches the night before or by creating a "lunch duty" rotation that each member of your family helps out with on certain days. Also, you can save time by having anyone who uses the "last of something" write down that item on the grocery list for you to pick up.

Whether you spend a few minutes or a few hours before the month starts, updating your Family Calendar will help you in more ways than one. Remember getting everyone’s input can help both of you plan, prepare and conquer the busiest of days!

Does it make sense for everyone to have their own calendar or for your family to share a master calendar? Would you prefer to handwrite it on a large desk or wall calendar, or on an erasable marker board? Would it be easier to create and print one from your computer each month?

Add important things like soccer practice, PTA meetings, birthday parties, play dates, doctor’s appointments and more! This is helpful for the entire family to be able to view- not just Mom! Post it on the fridge or in another “family space” so everyone can always know what is going on. This will help the entire family plan and prepare accordingly. Remember the saying “2 heads are better than one?” The more people that know about something, the better! This will also help your kid’s value, respect and appreciate all that parents have to remember and keep up with…

If during your calendar planning, you realize you have double booked a day, or need to make some changes based on car pooling, holidays, etc, sit down together and make necessary changes. This keeps everyone “in the know” of days that may be busier and require more of their time and patience! It will also help teach your kids about prioritizing and compromising. Good lessons for them to learn anyways!

This is a fun way for grown ups or kids to add fun stuff to the calendar, like Family Nights Out, Rest & Relaxation Days for Mom, Special Treat Nights, Family Contests & Prizes and more! This also will help your kids learn about time management.

It’s tough sometimes, but sticking to a calendar can help both you and your family eliminate stress, create a routine and create a little harmony in your household!

Stay tuned to this blog for more advice on how to get your life, your family and everything else more organized and less stressful.... 4 Chicks & A List

Monday, July 13, 2009

Going Green Tip #1-- Power

For the months of July & August we are running a few Going Green Promotions. As a part of those promotions we wanted to offer tips and tricks to help make your home run more efficient and green!

Please check us out at our website http://www.4chicksandalist.com/

Here's the great thing about cutting your home's power use: You don't have to do much of anything. Sure, you should remember to turn off lights and keep the fridge door closed. But you can make a huge impact simply by using the energy-efficient products companies are scrambling to make. Incandescent bulbs will be hard to find in a few years, and non-Energy-Star-rated appliances are an even rarer breed. The key is knowing what to replace and when.

Key Numbers:

$1,900 -Average Home's Annual Energy Cost

16,290 Pounds -Average Annual Carbon Output for the Power used in a Two-Person Home

Where's The Waste? 5 Biggest Users

The Office

  • The Department of Energy estimates that 75 percent of the power used by electronics and appliances is drawn while they're off. Turn off the power strip when you're done for the day.

The Living Room

  • Even LCD and plasma flat-screens draw between 35 and 300 watts and account for 4 percent of the country's household energy use. Power them down when you're not actually watching.

The Oven

  • Electric ovens use about 440 watts; electric ranges, 536 watts. Avoid opening the door, which can drop the temperature by 25 degrees. Also, skip preheating unless the recipe specifically calls for it.


  • A standalone freezer in a warm garage has to work extra-hard to stay cool. Move it to the basement. If you're buying new, opt for a chest model, which is 10 to 25 percent more efficient than an upright.

The Pool

  • Swimming-pool pumps are one of the biggest energy users in the home, costing as much as $240 a year to operate. Cut the filtration time to six hours or less a day.

The Lingo:

Six Technical Terms Explained

  • Kilowatt-hour: The basic unit for measuring your power usage. For example, a 100-watt light bulb left on for one hour would draw 0.1 kilowatt-hour.
  • Energy Star: A government agency that certifies everything from lab-tested appliances to homes as being more energy-efficient than average.
  • Energyguide Label: The FTC requires home appliances to sport one of these, listing estimates of the product's energy efficiency and that of similar models.
  • Tiered Rates: A utility may charge one rate up to a fixed kilowatt-hour and a different rate for additional usage to discourage consumption.
  • Phantom Load: The energy that many appliances and gadgets continue to draw when they're off. It's only a few watts per device, but it adds up.
  • Lumen: A measure of brightness. A 100-watt incandescent puts out 1,500 to 1,700 lumens--The same as a 23-watt CFL.