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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Goal Setting and Long Life

A target - the symbol for goal setting

I was officially introduced to goal setting for the first time in my life when I was 18. I was doing a course at university, and goal setting was a very small component in it. I never realized how significantly it would impact the rest of my life.

Research published in Psychological Science says that setting goals, at any age, can add years to your life. I like to think of it in the opposite way as well: goals add life to your years. The study followed 6,000 people aged 20 to 75 for 14 years. The researchers where looking at three components:

1. If participants were goal oriented
2. If participants had more positive or negative relationships
3. If participants had more positive or negative feelings

Throughout the study, 569 participants died (about 9%). The researchers found that those who still lived had more goals and better relationships than those who died. The most surprising thing about the study was that it found that this was true for young participants as much as the elderly. Having goals led to better outcomes. Goals were an advantage for people who worked as well as for those who were retired. So goals get added to the formula for long life.

Moving House Made Easy: Food

Healthy food and snacks - better when you are moving than junk

One of the biggest challenges of moving to a new house is managing food. Even after everything else is done, in that last week of the move and your first week in the new place, eating becomes a bit problematic. You cleaned out your old fridge and pantry, so you do not have all of your food, and by the time you assembled the dining table and found your aluminum foil, 3-4 days have passed.

One of the first things I do when I know that we are going to move is try to use up everything in my refrigerator, freezer and pantry. That way, we travel lighter and do not have to throw away too many things. There is something liberating about cleaning out cupboards but it can also be challenging. Why? Because you don’t really get to eat what you want, you eat what have in the house. Luckily, you then pack less on the move and throw away less. It is a perfect opportunity to start new and healthy diet regimes. For all those last things in the refrigerator, I use a cooler with frozen ice in it too keep things cool or give away things from the freezer if I cannot take them with me.

The second thing I do is plan our meals for the last week in the old house, focusing on the last two days when most things are packed. If needed, I schedule meals at a restaurant as a celebration. To make it easier, I think of the house like a hotel: there is hot water in the kettle, so instant noodles are a great solution. There is an oven, so oven ready made food is easy, and there is a microwave so frozen meals are also a great solution. I do the same sort of plan for the first week in the new house.

This post is part 7 of 7 in the series Moving House Made Easy

Handy Family Tips: Road Trip Games

License Plate - makes for great road trip games

Most parents dread taking their kids on long drives. Without some cool road trip games and activities, many children grow restless and fall into the “Are we there yet?” routine, which makes everybody go nuts.

We started having a taste of this ourselves when our eldest, Eden, was four and a half years old. We moved to Arlington, TX, where we spent most weekends touring Texas on long road trips with another family that had a boy a bit younger than Eden. We spent many hours in the car, but we did not seem to have a problem entertaining the kids.

When we lived in Thailand, entertainment in the car was a hot topic. At the time, traffic in Thailand was so bad we could spend up to 3 hours just going to the supermarket or to see friends. Our son, Tsoof, was a baby and we spent many car rides touring up and down Thailand. Typically, it was also hot and humid.

Through the years, we have traveled with our kids through the USA, China, New Zealand (twice), Korea, France and Australia. We traveled up the center of Australia and down the east coast when our youngest, Noff, was one year old, Tsoof was 7 and Eden was 13. The trip took us 6 weeks and we spent many hours in the car. People thought we were crazy. Taking 3 kids in one car on such a long road trip seemed to them like a suicide mission. But it worked well for us.

It all depends on how you spend the time in the car. So what did we do?

This post is part 20 of 20 in the series Handy Family Tips

Moving House Made Easy: Pack a Holiday Suitcase

Suitcase - good to pack when your are moving

When you are moving to a new house, the hardest days are the last few days at the old place and the first few days at the new place. Most of your things are packed, but you still need to manage until you finish unpacking the necessities.

Pack a suitcase for a week

For the move, pack suitcases as if you were going for a one week holiday. I have found this tip to be very useful. The first week in a new house can be very challenging, because otherwise, you start opening boxes to find things and leave them half unpacked. The mess will drive you nuts.

If you treat the new house like a hotel room for a while, you won’t start panicking when you need something, because you’ve already put it aside. Like in any hotel room, the essentials will be there: the beds, the refrigerator, the tables, the chairs. All you need to do is pack the same things you would need if you went to a serviced apartment:

This post is part 6 of 7 in the series Moving House Made Easy

Save Your Marriage: The King and His Servants


Being in a marriage or a close relationship is the secret to a long life. But it requires effort. If you want to save your marriage, it helps to learn about communication.

On our wedding days and during our honeymoon periods, we tend to be very accepting and flexible. Communication flows, even if we say nothing at all. It is the life that begins later, which tests the strength of our relationship. Slowly, day after day, the conversations, experiences together, arguments and stress create holes in our communication.

This can lead to the destruction of the relationship. In a happy relationship, time is a healer. In an unhappy relationship, time is a prison.

Some researchers claim they can listen to a married couple’s conversation and predict the success of their relationship about 90% of the time. 90%! That is a lot! With the couples that come to do my relationship coaching program, I can often tell from the way they talk to each other or about each other if their relationship is still as sweet as honey or whether they are feeling the bitter taste of separation.

This post is part 22 of 22 in the series Save Your Marriage

Moving House Made Easy: Movers

Moving van: the movers are here

Moving house can be a stressful situation. To make your life easier, find trustworthy and reliable movers. Adding unreliable movers to your list of things to deal with will make the move more expensive, not to mention draining emotionally, and you need all the energy you can get to manage such a big transition.

Some professional movers will take advantage of your situation and put pressure on you. To prepare, get 3 quotes for everything. Make sure there is an agreement they cannot get out of.

Some movers (called “removalists” in Australia) will come to your door on the day of the move and say that you have to add more money because you have more furniture than they thought when they gave you a quote. Or a cleaner might say, “Oh, I didn’t realize the carpet was so dirty” and since you are rushed to get it done on the day, you have no choice but to pay the extra before they are willing to start working.

This post is part 5 of 7 in the series Moving House Made Easy

Social Media Reality: Look Up! What Are You Missing?

Mobile phones, the vehicle for social media

Technology and social media have become a significant part of our life. Recently, I learned some valuable lessons about just how they affect us and the opportunities they make us miss.

My 13-year-old daughter, Noff, is the youngest in our family. Lately, she has been struggling with not having a mobile phone to take to school. To her, mobile phones are very cool. Some kids need them to coordinate pick-up times or for safety on the bus.

Unfortunately for her, she does not need it for any of those things. She so much wants to be part of the mobile phone in-crowd that she uses our old phones to play games. She struggles with not being like everyone else and I struggle with my parenting.

I have some beliefs and rules about social media and I know I need to adjust them to suit the times. I have three kids and I cannot apply the same parenting rules regarding media with Noff that I did with my first two.

Moving House Made Easy: The New Place

2 cartoon men moving a house

Moving to a new place is very exciting and a great opportunity to start fresh. A helpful tip to make the move smoother for everyone is to prepare them for what it is going to be like ahead of time.

How to prepare

When we move, we are usually concerned with the change in our basic needs and services. Being used to the old place, it can be hard to imagine what life in the new place is going to be like.

If you can, check out the new place. Checking out the new place ahead of time makes it easier to prepare yourself and your family for the new environment. If you get a chance to do that, take note of the surrounding area as well. This will make it easier for the entire family to prepare emotionally.

Visit those places physically with your kids, if possible, to make sure they have something to look forward to.

This post is part 4 of 7 in the series Moving House Made Easy

Moving House Made Easy: Telling the Kids

Snail with a house on its back saying: we are moving

One major challenge of moving houses is telling the kids about it. Most parents are afraid to do this. They wonder when the right time will be to share the information with the kids and how to do it.

If you have young kids, do not tell them about the move a long time in advance.

Children’s perception of time is not sophisticated enough yet and they will just be anxious. As soon as you tell your kids that the move is on, they begin to deal emotionally by saying goodbye to the people and things around them (this is a coping mechanism we all have to manage). As a result, kids who are about to move away are often not invited to parties. People around them do not invest in their relationships any more.

This happens to adults as well…

This post is part 3 of 7 in the series Moving House Made Easy

Self Esteem Mini Course (20): Boosting Kids’ Self Esteem

Woman looking full of self esteem

Every parent wants their child to have high self esteem. This mini course shares tips that help make that happen. In the last chapter of the mini course I shared 60 sentences parents say that kill kids’ self esteem.

The worst 4 things we, as parents, can do that compromises our kids’ self esteem are:

Telling them they are wrong
Expressing disappointment
Expressing shame
Expressing doubt in the kids’ attempts
Fortunately, we can also say the opposite things, which will boost their self esteem

This post is part 20 of 20 in the series Self Esteem Mini-Course

Ronit Baras

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