Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Getting Back On Track With Back To School

It's the most wonderful time of the year.....oh wait, that's not right.  Unless you have spent the entire Summer, everyday with your kids, you might not be happy that the kiddies are going back to school.  Then there is the group of parents who are dancing as the school bus pulls away, taking their loves off for another school year. 

I am somewhere in between.  I LOVE being at home everyday with Mason and Amanda, but on the other hand, Mason is ready for pre-school.  The benefits of pre-school far outweigh Mason being home with me everyday.  This is the first time we will really have to follow a schedule.  I mean, I loosely follow one each day, but we kind of just go with the flow. 

Mason and sleeping have never gone together.  Since he was a baby, he was a cat napper and is still up several times through the night.  So, I know that getting him to bed and having him get enough sleep will be our biggest challenge.  We have a bedtime routine of bath, pj's, brushing teeth, stories, etc.  And we have always tried to stick to it, even through the Summer. Most days we were successful, others we gave in to a later bedtime. So how do we get back on track?

A gradual transition of establishing your child's school routine is probably best.  It will allow for your child to reset their internal clock and in turn, get enough sleep.  Hopefully, this will put off the dreaded bedtime battles that surely ensue.

According to a recent article from Parents.com, most elementary school students need 10 to 11 hours of sleep, while most teenagers need 8 to 9 hours of sleep nightly. Inadequate sleep leads to irritability, impaired focus, and can heighten symptoms of ADD/ADHD
Here's some additional suggestions from Parents.com on how to re establish your child's bedtime routine just in time for school:
  • Begin the transition by setting up a 30-minute routine of pre-bedtime activities.
  • Use a checklist to help your child take ownership of her routine.
  • A good pre-bedtime routine helps a child slow down and prepare for sleep. Plus it helps set the stage for a smooth start in the morning.

Here are some ideas for pre-bedtime activities:
  • Review the next day's agenda
  • Pack the backpack and set it out
  • Set out clothes for the next day
  • Bathe
  • Put on pajamas
  • Do a quiet activity that does not include the computer, video games, or TV.

Transition gradually. Start the pre-bedtime routine 10 to 15 minutes earlier every few nights. It may take two weeks to adjust to going to bed an hour earlier. But consistency is important in establishing the routine, so try to follow the schedule on weekends as well.

Following a transition plan will help prepare your child for a new school year with as little stress as possible -- for the whole family.

Chasing Tiny Feet

Monday, September 3, 2012

Homemade Granite Counter Top Cleaner

I have recently come across some interesting information regarding the chemicals in household products we use everyday.  I will be discussing this in another post.  But, I have been inspired to become more green conscious in my home.  OK, I have all said I am going to do it, but do I ever really? Is it worth the time, hassel, and money? I am here to say it is and it is so easy that I am sorry I never did this before.

Recently, my husband and I remodeled out kitchen. With that remodel came the decision between a granite counter top, another natural stone or formica. In the end, we chose the granite. For us, the benefits of granite out weighed the other natural stones or formica.

On the day of installation, the counter top was so shiny and perfect. Then the reality of keeping it clean set in. I only use a soft cloth with mild dish soap and water as suggested, but I find that it leaves water marks and that drives me crazy! I decided to go to the local hardware store and purchase granite cleaner. On the tune of $9.00 per bottle, decided that I needed to find a better solution to cleaning my counter tops and fast.

I completed my research of what to use and what not to use on granite counter tops. Here is my summary:

Like marble, granite, and most natural stones, using acidic cleaners, citrus based cleansers (such as lemon) or vinegar will dull and etch the counter top. Check. Warm water and mild detergent or alcohol seem to be the best cleansers. Check. Using Windex will take the sealing agent off sooner that it would normally wear. Check. Granite cleaning cloth or chamois are recommended because of the ultra smooth nap, it will make for a streak free finish. Check. If you do not have a chamois or cloth, paper towels will work just fine and leave a streak free finish as well. Check.

Ok, now that I am armed with the proper knowledge and feel like I am back in chemistry class, I was ready to mix the solution. Below is the receipe I liked best:

     1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (you may also use vodka)

     3 drops of dish detergent

     1 cup water

     a few drops of essential oil (to help mask alcohol smell). I used Caramel

Add the ingredients to a spray bottle, gently mix, and you are done!

I tested this new concoction and could not believe how pleased I was with the results. An added bonus I noted was that the counter top was not prone to fingerprint marks after cleaning with this solution. This is so easy, cheap and the greenest way I know how to clean a counter top. You can also use this natural cleanser on appliances. But, most importantly, it is effective. The alcohol will kill bacteria and this is safe to use around children and pets, as long as they do not drink the mixture. So go ahead, save some money AND make a green cleaning product for your home!

Disclaimer: ALWAYS check a small spot for effectiveness before you clean any surface.