Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Explain the Unthinkable to Your Kids: Natural Disasters

With the horrendous earthquakes and subsequent tsunami occurring in Japan this week, our children are seeing some pretty horrific images on the television and hearing discussions in the community and in our churches about how we can help the people of Japan. How do you explain such a terrible situation to your young children?

It is important to take into account how old your child is and their developmental stage, because every age is going to have differing levels of comprehension. Even adults struggle with understanding these unthinkable disasters, so can you imagine how a child grapples with such a tragedy? It is important to explain an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, and any other type of natural disaster in a manner in which children can understand. Here are some tips on how to do just that:

- Answer your child’s questions about the natural disaster, but don’t overload them. Too much information will just overwhelm them.

- Try to keep your emotions in check when discussing world disasters with your kids. If you cry or appear upset or angry, this will certainly spill over into how your child views the situation, thus making them feel even unsafe or insecure.

- Talk about what you can do as a family to help the people of the torn or ravaged nation. This is an amazing opportunity to teach your child about charity and the importance of helping others in need. Volunteer together as a family or do something at home to help the people who need it.

- Don’t keep the television on all the time when the news is covering a disaster 24-7. While, as adults, we can get enthralled in gathering information and learning as much as we can about the disasters as it is occurring, this is not healthy for your children. The images and sound bites used on the news are often too graphic and hard for kids to understand.

- Reassure your children they are not in danger and make them feel safe. Yes, the world can be a dangerous and unsafe place, but it is important to make our children feel loved and secure. Talk to your children about all the things your family does to keep yourselves safe from danger and prepared in case of emergency. Although no one knows what will unfold in the future, it is important to make your child feel safe and secure today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

How To Survive Your House Being on the Market with Kids

It’s day three of having our house on the market, and you know what?!?! It’s not so bad! (Again, it’s only been three days. Ask me three weeks from now if I am feeling the same way.)

The reason I think it hasn’t been so bad is we prepared. We cleaned out. We streamlined. And then we cleaned out some more. It has taken several weeks to get to this point, and now I am kicking myself because our house has never looked so good! I am wondering why we didn’t live like this years ago?

Here are some of my tips on how we keep our house “show ready” with two kids and two dogs. Never a dull moment around here!

- Streamline as much as possible. Determine if each household item is used on a daily basis. If it is not, then pack it away. If you do need it on a daily basis, then it should have its own spot. Every time you use this item, put it back in its designated spot. This will make it so much easier on you when someone calls you for a showing and only gives you a 15 minute warning (this happened to us on Saturday, but we were ready!)

- Consolidate bathrooms. We are all using the master bathroom to bathe, brush teeth, etc. This limits the amount of time I have to spend cleaning bathrooms each night. One bathroom is much easier to clean than three. Bathrooms and kitchens, in my opinion, are the most time consuming rooms in a house to clean and both should be spotless during showings.

- Clean and pick up every night. Make it part of your nighttime routine. This will cut down on the “frantic time” in the morning when you are trying to get your kids ready for school.

- Box up toys in bins or boxes and then rotate them in your child's play area every few weeks. The other bins and boxes go in storage. This way, you keep your toys at a minimum for showings, but your kids don’t tire of them because they get to play with "new" toys every few weeks.

- Make a new rule: Before you leave a room, you must all pick it up. Again, why didn’t I enforce this rule years ago?

- If you know you are going to have a showing that day, clean up, get your house set up how you want it, and then go on a family adventure to get yourselves out of the house. It will be less stressful for everyone to just get out of your house then it is to try to not mess up the house all day.

- Prepare your meals ahead of time. Make a lot of meals all at one time once a week and then freeze them. That way, you only really mess up your kitchen once a week. Then, at night, your dinner is already made and all you have to do is pop it in the oven. This will save time in the long run because you don’t have to worry about making your kitchen spotless every night.

Again, this is only day three for me. If anyone out there has any other tips, please leave them in the comments section! I'd love to read them. I’ll check back with you guys in a few weeks and let you know if my attitude towards keeping a clean house while it’s on the market is still this chipper!