Category: Parenting

5 Creative Ways to Save For Your Children’s Future

Saving for Your Children's Future

Raising children can be expensive, and the costs add up even more as they grow older. Whether it be the rising cost of college, funding extracurricular activities, or paying for sentimental moments like prom, class trips, and more, it can be intimidating to think about paying for their future endeavors.

However, no matter what your financial situation is, it’s possible to strategically save up and plan ahead for your children. Here are five creative ways to start.

1. Use a 529 College Savings Plan

If your biggest concern about your children’s future is paying for college, you should consider opening up a 529 College Savings Plan. This is a smart decision to save for the cost of college as this account is designed specifically for higher education.

This plan is beneficial as it usually has low fees, and any gains and withdrawals are exempt from federal income tax as long as they’re spent on qualified educational expenses. Friends and family can also contribute to these accounts, which can help relieve pressure to save for your children’s college by yourself. Instead of having people buy your children toys or other items they might grow out of, it might be a better use of their money to contribute to this account for birthdays or holidays.

Another great feature of a 529 plan is that you can easily change the account’s beneficiaries, which is especially helpful if you have multiple children. This way, in case one child gets a full ride to college or decides not to attend college at all, you can dedicate the money toward someone else. If you’re unsure your children want to go to college, some of these accounts also allow you to use this money for private K-12 schools as well. Keep in mind that 529 plans function on a state level rather than a federal level, so some benefits may vary based on what state’s plan you choose.

2. Tap Into Your Home Equity

If you’re a homeowner, you can take advantage of your home equity to save for your children’s future. This is a resource some homeowners might not realize they can financially benefit from, and it can be a budget-friendly way to fund different goals or projects.

With this type of loan, you’re able to borrow against how much equity you have in your home, so it’s important to make sure you’ve paid off a decent amount on your house before you pursue this option. This loan is ideal for saving and paying for your children’s future as there are no restrictions on what you can use the money for—you can save for your children’s college tuition, save for a pricey class trip, or even support a new hobby they want to take up.

Additionally, you’ll receive the payment in one lump sum with fixed interest rates, so you don’t have to wait to start saving and planning ahead. Just make sure to adjust your budget to account for monthly payments as your home acts as collateral for this loan.

3. Open a Children’s Savings Account

Just because you’re the parent doesn’t mean you have to do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to saving. Encourage your children to also contribute money toward their futures by starting a children’s savings account.

Parents co-own the account, so this is a safe and effective way to promote financial wellness among your children early on and can help teach them to save their money rather than spend it. For instance, if your children earn money from a lemonade stand or other activities, motivate them to allot some of that money for their savings. You can also put a portion of their allowance or any monetary gifts in this account to help them save up quickly.

4. Start a Side Hustle

If your current budget doesn’t give you much room to save money for your children, starting a side hustle might be worth it for some extra cash.

Think about any hobbies you already enjoy doing and try to monetize them so your side hustle doesn’t feel like a burden. You could sell homemade art, crafts, or offer a service like home cleaning or dog walking. The options are endless, so choose something you’re passionate about.

Another popular side hustle idea is purchasing a rental property for passive income. This can give you a significant amount of money to save for your children’s future, and after your kids grow up, you can use the profit for other expenses or goals. If you really want to plan ahead, you can buy a home where your child is attending college and use this property as their college housing. The rent from their friends and roommates can cover your mortgage payment, and you can save money from campus housing.

Depending on your side hustle, you can also get your children involved to give them the opportunity to contribute to their future expenses. This can serve as a fun, bonding experience and can be a useful opportunity to teach them more about money and running a business.

5. Sell Unused Items

Children grow up faster than you realize, which also means they grow out of a lot of things you buy them. As their hobbies, interests, and needs change, try to capitalize on unused items rather than letting them go to waste.

Instead of donating or throwing these items away, try to sell them to make some extra money you can reinvest into your children’s future. For instance, if your kids have played baseball for years and now want to try lacrosse, sell their old equipment and use that money to buy the new materials they’ll need.

Reselling items has become popular and there are several online apps and websites created specifically for this. You might even find some gently used items you can buy for your kids at a discounted price. If online platforms aren’t for you, you can also try selling directly to consignment stores or even holding a garage sale.  Sell used college books that may be in the house from older family members that have finished college.

Saving for your children’s future can seem daunting, but there are effective ways to plan ahead and afford their dreams. Seek creative ways to invest and save your money, and you’ll be financially prepared to face future expenses.

12 Outdoor Activities to Do With Your Kids

Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids

Encouraging your kids to venture outside and breathe in fresh air is super important for their mental development and emotional well being. Every child should enjoy frolicking in the great outdoors or taking part in a fun outdoor activity – especially if it’s a gorgeously sunny day.

However, getting them outdoors in the first place is easier said than done. Isolation at home has made us all far too comfortable staying indoors and turning to electronics or screens for entertainment. But enough is enough!

It’s time to plan some outdoor activities for your kids and find some fun and excitement in new creative ways. Whether it’s an outdoor activity in your own backyard or a special family outing, here’s 12 activity ideas you can try.

Outside the home…

1. Climb a treetop course

Climbing along a treetop adventure course like those you find at places like The Adventure Park is a fantastic form of outdoor exercise for children. What’s more, it’s an exciting day out for the entire family! With exhilarating zip lines and challenging rope climbs, a treetop adventure course is a perfect idea for a fun-packed day that gets the smiles beaming and adrenaline pumping.

2. Learn and play at the zoo

Visiting the local zoo is a staple family day out that all kids will enjoy. Discovering diverse species and learning about nature will spark their curiosity and help them learn about the all-important struggles of conservation and animal welfare. A lot of zoos hold special events too, so choose a date that offers fun opportunities for playtime! Pack a delicious picnic full of treats and goodies to enjoy at lunchtime too.

3. Seek thrills at an amusement park

Depending on the age and height of your child, an amusement park offers tonnes of family laughs and thrills to make a day truly unforgettable. Whether it’s a ride on a spooky ghost train, a splashdown on a log flume or a spin on a carousel, an amusement park has something to entertain everyone. Plus, roller coasters are an opportunity for us big kids to scream and play too.

4. Play in the sand at a beach

If you’re close to a beach and the sun is beaming, head to the shore for a spontaneous day of frolicking on the sand. Find the perfect spot and settle down for a day of relaxing in the sun. It’s also a great opportunity to teach beach safety to ensure it’s always a safe outing.  Remember the bucket and spade to build sandcastles and take a bathing suit for the kids to splash in the waves. There’s always room for a well-deserved ice cream too.

5. Clean the neighborhood

You might be surprised how enthusiastic your child is for helping the community. So why not take them on a spirited walk through the neighborhood to clean up the area and pick up the garbage littering the streets? It’ll teach them about environmental concerns and develop their understanding of having community-minded morals.

6. Explore a historical area

The majority of towns and cities will have some form of history, so make the most of the local culture by exploring any historical sites, landmarks and monuments. You’re never too young to learn about important historical events and figures, so why not reverse time for the day and find appreciation for where we come from and how fortunate we are nowadays?

In the backyard…

7. Find treasure on a scavenger hunt

As an excitable youngster, a scavenger hunt was always one of the most thrilling activities to look forward to. It’s one of the many fun activities a family can do close to home. You can keep them entertained for hours! Best of all, your backyard is the perfect spot for hiding treasure and setting a trail for them to explore. Make it as hard or as easy as you like and choose any special prize for them to find at the end of their hunt.  Scavenger hunts can also be educational.

8. Compete in a water gunfight

This is the ideal option for a beautifully sunny day that requires some cooling off. Get yourself to a local store and buy a selection of water guns for the ultimate afternoon of family fun. You can set up a few carnival-style games or simply start a competitive water gunfight. Just make sure windows and doors are closed as you’re likely to get soaked!

9. Try out a new sport

For an activity that gets the heart racing, try out a new sport in the backyard to see if any new interest is sparked. It’s always important for your child to find a hobby they love, so why not spend a free afternoon dabbling with a fun game of backyard soccer, basketball, or tennis? There’s nothing wrong with a spot of healthy family competition too!

10. Practice arts and crafts outdoors

Kids are creative and loves arts and crafts, it might be a nice idea to bring their art project outside. This is an even better idea if you don’t want any more unnecessary mess taking over the house. Whether it’s drawing, painting, or sculpting, you can set up an arts and crafts corner in the shade and let them get messy till their heart’s content. Plus, there’s nothing like the sights and sounds of the great outdoors to inspire creativity!

11. Set up an obstacle course

If visiting an outdoor adventure park isn’t an option for you, why not create your very own obstacle course in your backyard? Use a variety of items around the house and make a fun course for them to dip, dive, crawl, and jump their way through. You can even make it competitive by setting a timer and making it a family challenge to see who can complete the course in the fastest time.

12. Camp overnight in the backyard

To extend the fun through the night, camping in the backyard can be a wonderfully exciting activity for your kids. Pitch a tent and make it ultra-cozy with pillows and blankets for a snug night’s sleep. You can even build a campfire beforehand to roast some delicious homemade s’mores as the sun sets. Then as dusk settles, you can watch the stars in the night sky together with a steaming hot chocolate.

Benefits of Scented Squishies For Kids

Scensory Play for Kids

Children learn all about the world by experiencing it with their senses. These senses are the basis of how they react to the rest of the environment and how they interact with new environments and people. By seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and hearing things, they are able to learn and understand things in their own way.

These senses can also trigger emotional reactions and calm children down when something upsets them. There are different methods that children use to learn and because their reactions are mostly under the control of their five senses, certain toys and soft objects have a major role to play in the development of children.

Children who learn by touching and constantly manipulating objects need something that they can easily hold on to all the time. And for some kids who suffer from anxiety and might constantly overthink things, they need something to distract them from these thoughts. Stress balls aren’t so fun for kids to play with, instead, squishes are a better choice. So, next time you go out shopping for kid’s toys, getting them something like this is a great idea.

What is a Squishy ? 

A squishy is a toy that can deform and be bent out of its original shape by putting pressure on it through squeezing, sitting, throwing, etc. But after the pressure has been taken off it, the squishy will return to its original shape and size. There are different types, sizes, shapes, and forms of squishes, unicorn squishies, panda squishies, and even poop squishies.

Squishies can even come in the form of pets, dinosaurs, and other animals and objects. Squishes are manufactured using a special foam compound that reforms after it has been deformed from pressure.  Some squishies come in the form of keyrings which you can easily carry around.

Benefits of Scented Squishies

Scented squishies have a multitude of benefits for kids. They improve their fine motor skills and help them develop better by targeting multiple senses to trigger mental development. These fun sensory toys also have therapeutic results. Some of the best benefits of squishies for your kids are;

Alleviating Stress

Squishies are like stress balls for children. They are soft to squeeze and help to ease the anxiety of a hard day at school or stressful competitive activity. Because they are made from polyurethane, squishies are very soft, their feel brings calm and comfort to the person squeezing it. The scented squishies are emit a certain odor when squeezed by a person. Using both smell and touch, scented squishes help to relieve slow-rising tension in children.

Improving Focus

It helps to focus the attention of smaller children. When certain senses are triggered it can make children focus on the object that is attracting them. The longer they continue to focus on the object the better their focus will be. This can help to increase cognitive development.

Increasing Productivity

Squishes can help to distract children from overworking. This reduces internal tension and helps them to maximize their productivity. By taking small breaks to play with the squishy, a child can focus better because their mind will not be overtaxed. This greatly increases the amount of work that can be done by the child at a given amount of time and also make the work to be less prone to errors.

It makes them happy and excited

Squishies are a great way to make kids happy and excited. They jump for joy while trying to figure out new ways to squeeze, throw and pummel the toy. Children love to find new ways to make a squishy deform and watch it grow back.  These toys tend to bring a lot of fun and satisfaction to kids and scented squishes also have particular smells that can cause kids to laugh and smile.

It can function learning aids for kids who learn by feeling things

Certain kids learn by touching things and through their sense of touch. By giving them those squishies to constantly manipulate, they tend to grasp what they are learning better and learn faster. Squishes can also help children who are under constant pressure to cope better; this is because they can act as a way to relieve anxiety because of their scents and the way they deform.

How Do You Help a Teenager with Mental Illness?

how to help a teen with mential illness

Parenting is a challenging job and parenting teens is quite tricky. Teenagers face many changes as they approach adulthood and the struggles that come with it. Peer pressure, bullying, body shaming, and negative self-perception all fall under the list of teen issues. As a parent, you want to ensure your teen is mentally, emotionally, and physically active.

A teen can develop similar mental health conditions as an adult, yet their symptoms may be different. Mental illness in adolescents can be difficult for parents to notice. Therefore, many teens who can benefit from teen mental health treatment often don’t receive the help they need.

What are the signs of mental illness in teens? What can parents do to help?   We’ll seek to answer these questions.

What is Mental Illness?

Mental health is defined as the overall mental wellness of a individual and how they think, regulate their feelings and behavior. Mental illness or a mental health condition can be defined as patterns or changes in thinking, feeling, or behaving that result in distress in a person’s ability to function.

In teens, mental health disorders are delays or disruptions in developing age-related thinking, behavior, social skills, or managing emotions. These issues are distressing to teens and can disturb their ability to function at school, home, or other social conditions.

Common Mental Health Disorders in Teens:

Mental health issues in teens or developmental disorders that mental health professionals address can include the following;

  • Anxiety issues

Anxiety disorder in a teen involves feelings of endless fears and worries that disturb their ability to participate in school activities. Parents will notice anxiety when they see social stress, generalized anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

  • Attention- deficit or hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

When comparing most teens of the same age, teens with ADHD have difficulty paying attention, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity.  They experience these issues at the same time in varying degrees.

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder is a sensory condition that appears in early childhood, generally before age three. The severity of ASD’s situation can vary.  A child with this disorder has difficulty interacting and communicating with others.

  • Depression and other mood disorders

Depression is a continued feeling of sadness and loss of interest that upsets an adolescent’s ability to perform and interact with others. Bipolar disorder additionally brings about outrageous emotional episodes, as well as rapid mood swings that can range from from melancholy to overly enthusiastic. The latter might be risky or even dangerous.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is extended emotional stress, nervousness, anxiety, upsetting memories, bad dreams, and problematic behaviors in response to traumatic events. These events may include past or present abuse, violence, and injury.

Read how art therapy has been helping kids transition from negative experiences to positive emotions related to various psychological, developmental and social issues.

Reason Teen Can Develop Mental Health Problems:

Though there can be various reasons and circumstances contributing to a teen’s mental health condition, some of the primary causes can be the following;

  • Hormones

Changes in hormones and brain development can put your teen at risk of mental health problems. Research has shown that when all the parts of the neural system don’t develop at the correct ratio, a teen may experience changes in thinking, mood, and behavior.

  • Environmental issues

Environmental issues can also be a factor that can contribute to a teen’s state of mental health. Any traumatic incidents like the history of any abuse can also increase a teen’s risk.

  • Stress

Stress can be a common factor in bringing on mental illness in teenagers. If your teen is being threatened at school or is a victim of cyberbullying or he or she is undergoing a lot of pressure, they may be more prone to mental health issues.

Warning Signs to Look for Teenage Mental Illness:

Mental illness symptoms can be different in teens, but some common warning signs include these behaviors;

  • Changes in sleeping habits

Your teenager may say they are having trouble sleeping, or they begin taking multiple or daily short naps at school. In the event that your child feels the need to remain in bed the entire day or wants to stay up throughout the night, this can be a warning sign of mental illness advancing in the teens life.

  • Lost interest in regular activities

In the event that your teens wants to withdraw from their favorite activity or indicates they no longer want to hang out with family or friends, then they might be going through a mental issue.

  • A changes in school performance

Mental health conditions frequently lead to dramatic changes in motivation to start or finish school work.  A loss of interest in school overall or a sudden decrease in school grades could very well be an indication of mental issues.

  • Changes in appetite or weight

Skipping out on meals, hoarding food, and quick weight changes could be a sign of an eating disorder.

  • Extreme agitation

Unusual resentment, unexpected emotional responses such as crying, and high degrees of irritability can be a sign of mental illness.

  • Increased isolation

A strong desire to stay distant from others or being very secretive might be an indication of a problem.

How to Help Teen to Deal with Mental Illness?

 Parents can play a crucial part in supporting their teen’s mental treatment. Here are few vital points that can help a parent to support their teen’s mental health treatment;

  • Take time to research and learn about your teen’s mental illness.
  • Seek family counseling that includes all individuals as partners in the treatment plan.
  • If you do not have a family pet, consider the benefits of animal therapy and which pet may be the most beneficial.
  • Ask your teenager’s mental health professional for counsel on responding to your teen and dealing with their conduct.
  • Take part in parent training programs, particularly those created for parents of teenagers with mental issues.
  • Engage in activities to unwind and have fun with your teen.
  • Study stress management techniques to assist you in responding to situations calmly.
  • Express appreciation for your teens strengths and abilities.

Mental illness is like any other illness.  It takes professional attention to help the person who is mentally ill to improve and manage their health moving forward. Beware of the signs and be ready to learn and provide appropriate solutions.  Get to know your kids and learn how to make them mentally strong for the challenges they will face as they grow.

Got the Winter Blues? Maybe It’s SAD

Have you been feeling down lately? Moody? You can’t seem to concentrate? Want to lay around all the time? You could be SAD. We’re not talking about having the blues; SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  And it’s ok.  You are not abnormal and you are certainly not alone.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a medically-recognized condition.  The symptoms are similar to being depressed. People with SAD can’t concentrate, have less energy, are moody and can have problems sleeping.

Researchers think that SAD is caused by three main factors:

  • Biological clocks. Your body is used to seeing the sun for a certain time and being in the dark for a certain time. Winter means shorter day, which confuses your internal clock.
  • Serotonin levels. Serotonin is a mood booster that your body makes naturally. Sunlight helps your body make serotonin, so when cold weather keeps you inside and out of the sun, you could have very low serotonin levels. This could make you feel sad or tired and even more hungry.
  • Melatonin levels. Your body makes melatonin naturally, but when days get short, your body makes less. This makes it harder to sleep.

SAD is also believed to effect younger people more than older people. That’s why you need to be aware of SAD. When you see a friend is posting dark or depressing messages, maybe he or she is suffering from SAD.

If you are feeling low and find that your mood is effecting your schoolwork or relationships, you should mention this to your parents. You could be suffering from SAD and need to see a medical doctor for help.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Most of the time, SAD is just a natural response to a long stretch of cold and dark days. If it’s an issue with mental illness, seek out resources and help from a professional about your specific issues.  In either case, there are steps you can take to help relieve symptoms.

The first and easiest thing you can do is get more sunlight. Bundle up and walk to school if you can. Or grab some friends for an outdoor game.

Being active is another way to treat SAD. Exercise increases serotonin levels, helping make up for the serotonin you lose during winter. This could be playing basketball in school or following an exercise video online. By getting your exercise outside when the sun is shining, you get twice the benefit.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Talk is cheap”.  But in the case of the winter blues, talk is with more than gold!  The phrase “talk is cheap” is about when people talk about doing something good, but never do it.  What they say doesn’t have real value because it produces no action.  But when you’re feel down, it’s so important to express your feelings.  Talk to your friends and family about it.  Just the act of talking will most certainly make you feel a bit better.  And talking can also bring solutions of fun things to do to help you snap out of the doldrums.

Think about SAD when you check your social media. When you see a friend making posts that sound depressed or moody, pick up your phone and invite him or her out to do something fun.

You aren’t a doctor, but you can still help fight Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Safer Search

What does it take to provide a safer web experience for kids? It takes a combination of tools and resources working together in unison: internet filtering, safe and secure browsing, parental control apps, and education. That is our mission at Safe Search Kids as we work to deliver these four cornerstones of online safety to parents, teachers, and students.