How to Make Your Baby Sleep Peacefully at Night

From first time parents to the highly experienced ones, we all can agree that the hardest task is to put a baby to sleep. Lullabies and coos, swaddling and swinging, you try everything and anything to make him/her sleep and before you know it, it’s time for baby to wake up. Babies can sleep for 16 – 17 hours in a day, but they have a tiny stomach and needs to be fed and changed every 2 – 3 hours which explains their maddeningly short bursts of sleep around the clock. For parents, that means like having a job working the graveyard shift.

While it can be tough in the beginning, developing good baby habits early on can really help in the long run. Most babies can be sleep trained at 4 months and some can even sleep through the night by 6 months, but if you don’t work towards developing a good sleeping pattern for your baby, you might end up craving for a good night’s sleep for a whole year.

Help Teach Your Baby the Difference between Day And Night

Perhaps the most important thing in sleep training your baby is to make him learn that day time is for play and nighttime is for sleeping. Just as it is with adults, brightness and light triggers the baby’s “Go” button. On the other hand, darkness triggers the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin in the brain. Keeping this basic principle in mind, here are few tips to make your baby’s days bright and chirpy and his nights dark and peaceful, so he can soon learn to distinguish between night and day.

  • When the baby wakes up in the morning, freshen him up by washing him and changing his clothes so he knows that it’s the start of the day. Make sure the baby’s room is well lit or choose a room where there’s plenty of sunlight coming in or better yet take your baby outside. After your baby is a few weeks old, you can make outdoor walks a part of your daily routine and your baby will love it.
  • Play and interact with him during the day and limit night time play. Keep him busy with his toys during the day. Even if your baby is fully awake during night, try not to interact with him much.
  • It’s good to have background noises during the day, like music, television or even the whirling sound of the washing machine and make sure the surroundings are peaceful and calm during the night.
  • Keep the lights dim during the night and if the baby wakes up don’t turn on the lights or shift him to a brightly lit room, instead try to put him back to sleep in the dark. Turning on the lights even for a little time will fully alert the baby and ruin your plans of going back to bed.
  • Avoid getting into the habit of changing your baby’s diaper when he wakes up otherwise he will be fully up and alert. Use high quality, extra absorbent diapers which can last through the night and change only if it is too soiled or the baby has pooped.


Put Your Baby to Bed When He’s Sleepy but Awake

Rocking, nursing and giving your baby a bottle to bed are all bad habits which create dependency. This can become a problem during normal night awakenings, because the baby would find it difficult to nod off to sleep by himself and will ask for the same experience. Parenting experts suggest that it’s best to place your baby into his crib when he’s drowsy and just before he nods off. You can make him drowsy by swinging in your arms or by nursing, whatever works, but then put him in his bed as soon as he is about to sleep. Babies who drift off on their own are more likely to learn to soothe themselves to sleep. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby, mastering the timing for this technique will really pay off when your baby reaches 6 months of age and is ready to sleep through the night.

Make Daytime Sleep a Priority

Parenting experts often remark that ‘sleep begets sleep” and it’s true for babies. The better rested they are, the more sleep comes easily. Most parents think that if they keep the baby awake during the day, the baby will be so tired by night that he will fall asleep instantly. Well that’s one bad idea which almost always backfires because the baby gets too tired and exhausted to fall asleep. This also affects his quality of sleep and can result in the baby waking up multiple times during the night. So encourage daytime naps for a peaceful night sleep.

Hope you will find these tips helpful, but the important thing to keep in mind is that consistency and persistence on your part are really important to develop a good sleep routine for your baby. Also, make sure everyone else who cares for the baby, your partner, grandparents, caretakers etc. are all on the same page about sleep training methods.

How To Talk To Kids About Absentee Parents

Absentee parents: Single mother with child
Ideally, we would like to think of a child’s home as having two active parents who share responsibilities of caring for their child and enjoy playing with and nurturing their child. Unfortunately, nowadays especially, this is not the case, and often single parent households are the norm. Sometimes, a child even has a completely absentee parent, such as the case with my son.

Absentee parents can occur for any of a number of reasons, from the parent simply choosing not to be involved to such things as drugs, violence, and imprisonment, and even including the death of one parent. However, one way or another, the situation is that one parent is not involved.

I have been in this situation twice myself, first with my own father who chose to be an absentee parent, not even in the delivery room when I was born, and now my own ex husband who was present for about the first year and a half of my son’s life, but is not now and has not been for four years.

There are a number of ways to deal with absentee parents, and how you choose to do so will vary drastically based on your personal preference, the reason the other parent is not involved, the age of your child, both at present and at the time they last saw the other parent, and a lot of other factors. However, let’s use the above examples to discuss some options.

Absentee Parents Reason 1: Parent’s Choice

As I wrote in a previous post about maintaining relationships with in-laws after divorce, my own son’s biological father has chosen not to be a part of our lives. In our case, the situation is almost easier than it might be for other kids, because my son was still a baby, just barely entering toddlerhood, when his father became an absentee parent. He wasn’t even really old enough to remember him.

In this case, you can choose from a few options, but the most popular ones would either be not discussing the absentee parent at all or speaking of them frequently to keep the child’s memories of them active. Since my son was so young when last he saw his biological father, I have chosen the former, for the most part. He has asked where his dad is, and has been told that he chose to leave, but he doesn’t need to know anything further at this point. . I will discuss the situation with him, in terms he will understand, if and only if he asks and when he is old enough and mature enough to understand.

For now, he is used to having a single parent household, and that is perfectly normal to him. However, we do have someone special in our lives that he sees as a dad now, and they are building a very strong relationship, which is amazing. If your child wasn’t old enough to remember their absentee parent, telling them as little as possible and only what is necessary may be the way to go.

In my situation, my mom did something very similar. My biological father was an absentee parent, and my first stepdad was the person I initially saw as a father figure, even though they were not together for a very long time and he’s been in and out of my life. When I was a teenager, my mom told me about my biological father. She did not badmouth him or anything, just told me that he had never been there.

It is always extremely important, no matter which choice you make, never to talk down about the other parent to your child. You can be honest with them, especially as they get older, and give them the information they need to know, but allow them to make their own decisions based on fact, rather than jading them with insults.

However, if your child does have memories of their absentee parent, they may be experiencing a number of feelings at their absense. They may be missing the parent, feel betrayed that they left, feel responsible as if it was their fault, and a variety of other things. In this case, it may be a good idea to discuss their feelings and remind them of the fun and fond memories that they have. Always make sure your child knows that you are their to support them.

Absentee Parents Reason 2: Drugs, Violence, or Imprisonment

Person in Jail: Absentee parents
Drugs, violence, and imprisonment are all very strong reasons why a child might have an absentee parent. They are also very questionable actions which at best should not happen with kids involved, but in all honesty shouldn’t happen at all, and a parent in this situation would probably be relieved to have the one doing this out of the picture.

However, again be sure not to insult the other parent when talking about them. You can tell your child that they did a bad thing, and why it is bad, so that they understand, learn from, and ideally don’t make the same mistakes, but that is no different from my grandmother, who was a very heavy smoker, warning me against smoking. In that case, you are simply trying to keep your child from making the same mistakes.

Depending on the severity of the crime, addiction, or other similar case, you may want to consider limited, supervised visitations, but if the actions were extremely severe, they may even warrant obtaining a restraining order and petitioning for revokation of visitation rights. Still, if you have to take this avenue, it is advisable not to bring your children, especially young ones, to these hearings, and to do your best not to cloud their judgment of the absentee parent. They may even one day wish to have a relationship with that parent, and unless they are extremely dangerous at the time, it is important to support their decision, rather than to stifle them.

Absentee Parent Reason 3: Death

Death is a very unfortunate and very permanent way to lose a parent. It can come in a number of ways. The mother may die during the birth, either parent may be in a car accident, they could be the victim of a murder, and countless other causes.

A close friend of mine even recently died of unknown cause, suddenly overnight in her sleep, and she had three children, one in high school and two in elementary. The oldest child found her, and while I’ve never experienced this, I imagine that could have been pretty traumatizing.

However, in the case of a parent dying, there is typically not any animosity between the parents, except in certain situations, and death has a finality to it that the other causes do not have. In this case, it is important to keep all pictures, videos, recordings, and other mementos of the deceased parent and be sure to share them with your kids regularly. Talk about the other parent as much as you can and keep the child’s memories alive. Encourage them to mourn, but also encourage them to share stories.

Even if the child is too young to remember the other parent when they die, make a point to keep them in the child’s life. This way, the child knows that they did have a second parent, and understands why that parent is no longer around. If they are a baby, it may be a few years before they get a handle on exactly what death means, but absolutely do not shield them from the truth. If it helps, read about my experience discussing death with my son. It may give you some ideas of how to tackle this topic with your child.

Always remember that while the first two examples are within a person’s control, death is usually not, and the deceased parent does not choose to be an absentee parent. That is unfortunately a side effect of losing a parent to death, however, and warrants extra understanding and sensitivity to a child’s needs.

Keep memories of absentee parents from death alive with representations like my son's school bus for his great grandmother.
Be sure to remind them that you love them every day, and that their parent who has died loves them too. Encourage them to use their imagination and creativity to keep that person in their lives if it helps. My son still draws school buses and puts his great grandmother’s name on them to keep her memory alive, since she drove a school bus for many years. This is a great way to honor the memory of relatives who have died and keep them around long after death.

What other tips do you have for talking to a child about an absentee parent? If you are a single parent, how do you discuss these things with your child? Share your thoughts with all of us by leaving a comment below.

How to Find The Best Unique Kids Gifts Ideas

Christmas Ornaments
With Christmas approaching, families are scrambling to find cool and unique kids gifts that their children will love and cherish. The question is, how do you go about doing that exactly? New and seasoned parents alike sometimes have a hard time finding the best kids gifts ideas, so here are a few pointers to help guide you in the right direction.

1. Entertainment Value

The best kids gifts, whether they are toys, costumes, pillows for forts, or anything else, are those that are sure to be a lot of fun. After all, if a gift is no fun, a child’s interest in it will fizzle out and the gift will be a complete bust. To avoid this eventuality, look for kids gifts ideas that are sure to be a hit in the entertainment department, and the next tip isn’t a bad way to do just that either.

2. Child’s Interests

Kids Gifts Ideas DJ Play Mat
When you’re shopping for gifts with the best entertainment value, remember that good entertaining kids gifts ideas are ones that are based on a child’s personal interests. For example, if your child loves music, you might want to get them a DJ Play Mat, which will keep them entertained for hours. If they like sports, balls, trading cards, and tabletop sports games would be perfect gifts for kids.

3. Educational Value

Educational products make great kids gifts ideas, especially when it’s not so obvious that they’re educational to the child. Games like Twister, which teach colors, right and left, and listening and following directions skills are a lot of fun for kids and have a lot of educational value as well. Board games like Monopoly teach counting, both the dots on the dice and counting out money, teach kids to pay attention so they don’t miss out on rent from their properties, promote strategic thinking, and encourage turn-based play, which are all important and valuable skills.

4. Promotes Social Interaction

Speaking of turn-based play, gifts that promote social interaction, like family games, sports, or water toys like water guns and water balloons are great for doing just that. Some of these are turn-based and others are simply activities that are best done in a group, but one way or another, social interaction is an important quality in a good kids gift.

5. Stimulates Their Mind

Mazes, riddles, word games, trivia games, and just about anything that makes a child think are great ways to stimulate their minds and make great ideas for kids gifts. They increase brain power and can be a ton of fun. The more challenging, the better, provided it’s not out of the child’s ability range.

6. Encourages creativity

Kids Gifts Ideas Shadow Puppets Set
Toys that encourage creativity also make some of the best kids gifts ideas, by encouraging them to use their imagination. Toys like’s Shadow Puppet Set do just that, allowing children to take the lead and create their own stories and skits entirely from their imaginations.

7. Lasts For Years

We want our kids to have the very best, but we aren’t made of money, and can’t all afford to get kids new sets of toys whenever they lose interest, outgrow them, break them, etc. That’s why strong and sturdy toys that keep a child’s attention and appeal to a variety of age ranges make the best kids gifts ideas. These toys have the potential to last for years, even surviving the rough and tumble wear and tear that children will put them through. Be sure to buy your kids gifts that will grow with them so you get the most bang for your buck.

Without a doubt, there are a lot of excellent qualitys to look for in the best kids gifts ideas, and not every gift will meet all of these criteria, but if you can get at least three of them in one item, you’re doing pretty well. With the benefit of the internet nowadays, it’s easier than ever to search online for great kids gifts. Don’t forget about physical stores though. Sometimes you can find some really cool items there. Make sure to shop around, and even if you find something at a physical store, check online and be sure you are getting the best deal. The same or very similar item may be available online for a better price or with a better guarantee.

Can you think of any additional characteristics of good kids gifts ideas? What is the most unique, durable, or engaging gift you have ever given a child? What is the most unique, durable, or engaging gift you ever received as a child? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

This post was sponsored by Check them out for some awesome kids gifts ideas, and gifts for the whole family.

A Useful Guide to Raising Athletic and Coordinated Kids

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Children do what children see. As a parent, you’re their biggest role model and you can highly influence the way they’re growing up, and even some of their likes and dislikes. You are the one to provide an opportunity as well as the necessary encouragement to take that opportunity. Devastating poll results show that the number of obese kids is rapidly growing. By putting some effort into purposeful playtime with your kids, you’ll not only raise an athletic and well-coordinated child that is healthy and happy, but you’ll also allow them to transfer their love of physical activity and structured games to their peers later on.

Get moving with babies

It’s never too early to start with some structured play in order to improve your child’s coordination and freedom of movement. Even if your child is still a baby, make sure to organize meaningful playtime in order to encourage the child’s ability to crawl, sit up and move around better. In that respect, baby walkers can only hinder proper muscle and coordination development. Instead, make sure to allow your child to spend as much time as possible on the ground (on some comfortable and relatively soft base laid on the ground). That way, kids can learn how to crawl and sit up faster, and with plush toys and yourself as a goal, they will be eager to move in order to reach that goal. Consequently, this will lead to better coordinated movements.
kid crawling

Inspire toddlers to move

As they grow up, children will definitely spend a lot of time running around, jumping, climbing, etc. If you want to improve their athleticism, it’s important to allow them to do all these things without reprimanding them for their hyperactivity. Of course, make sure to check whether their surroundings are safe. Moreover, if you want to promote good balance and movement coordination, introduce some new games casually. For example, playing with balloons is great for improving eye-hand coordination, since balloons are a lot lighter than a ball, and kids will have to adjust their moves in order to catch a balloon properly. This will also improve their balance. Letting them play and walk on a soft surface such as a bed also improves balance while various ball games can help a lot with their agility in general as well as improve eye-hand-leg coordination at the same time.
smiling kid

Make it fun for preschoolers

During preschool years, it’s important to show and explain the kids what sports activities there are to choose from and encourage them to engage in physical activity that will not only make them physically fit and their muscles stronger, but that will be fun for them to take part in. In that respect, team sports are perfect. For example, soccer is really beneficial for both athleticism and the eye-hand-leg coordination of movements. If you don’t want to sign up your kids for local teams just yet, you can make the whole soccer experience very enjoyable for them with adequate soccer equipment, family members and their friends playing the game in your backyard or nearby park.
girl playing football

If you keep the kids interested in games and sports that boost athleticism, the proper coordination of movement and balance, they will soon become so accustomed to it that they’ll consider these activities a usual part of daily life. What’s more, by finding physical activity amusing, they’ll find it easier to take up a certain sport as they hit the school age, which will also provide them with a great way to make friends and improve their social development together with physical and motor ones.

One Person’s Trash is Another Person’s Treasure

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The amount of old bikes, refrigerators and washing machines seem to add to an endless cycle that sees a lot of recyclable materials wasting away in landfills across the country. You don’t have to be a professional to know that these items can be manipulated with relative ease and transformed into something useful. So before you lug those items to the curb, think about what other ways you can use your old things and be proactive. Here are some great DIY ideas that can help you and the environment.  

Washing Machine Ottoman  

I recently purchased a few ottomans to bring my living room together, and ended up spending over $100. During this time, my father had just replaced his washing machine and had already thrown it away. If I’d known about this, I could have saved some money and helped with my community’s recycling efforts. Creating a washing machine ottoman by using the drum of the washing machine as a base is a great way to get more mileage out of your old machine. This will give your home a modern look that only comes from purchasing high end furniture at a steep price. The eyelets around both sides of the rim make it easy to add a soft top and wheels on the bottom as you see fit. You can also control how soft you want your ottoman. Storage is a great benefit of this DIY project. Making the top of the ottoman able to open leaves room for blankets, remote controls or even some toys for the little ones inside your new piece of furniture.

Don’t Throw Away Your Jars

This one is for all the jam, jelly and preserves fans out there. After trying to scoop out that last bit of jam for your sandwich or toast, save the jar. Wash the jar out completely, inside and out, to remove any labels or leftover contents. After the jar is clean, grab one of your favorite pictures and roll it to fit inside the jar (the bottom of your picture should be on the opening side of the jar). Simply flip the jar over.  You now have a fun, inventive picture frame displaying whatever picture you want to be highlighted. Display the frames on shelves and tables for a unique look. You could also use those same jars and fill them with shells to keep that summer look year round.

Concrete Block Gardens  

You know those large concrete blocks that you have just hanging around your backyard? Even when they are placed in a neat stack, it can give off the impression that your garden is a mess. Instead of throwing them away, make them into planters. You can stack, arrange and paint them any way you like! Use wire mesh for the bottom to keep in the soil. Now it is time to plant. Grab any plants of your choice and place them inside the holes of the concrete blocks. Fill with soil to complete your garden. These are great for unused corner spaces and add a stylish look to your existing backyard decor.

There are many ways that we can positively impact our environment. By safely implementing these easy and cost-effective DIY project ideas, you can have any look you desire while using recycled materials.  

Photo courtesy of

Top Unique Christmas Gifts for Kids and Teens

Christmas Tree with lots of Christmas gifts for kids
Christmas time is approaching again, in just over two months, and it’s time to start shopping around for great gift items for your kids. Sometimes they can be difficult to shop for though, but a great, unique and thoughtful gift may be just what you need to put a smile on your child’s face.

Fortunately, Uncommon Goods can help. Their site is packed with some of the most unique, interesting, educational and fun gift ideas you’ll ever find. I’ve chosen some of my personal favorites, gifts that would be great for kids with a variety of interests, but visit the links below yourself to find even more awesome ideas on Christmas gifts for kids.

Christmas Gifts for Boys

The Uncommon Goods collection of gifts for boys includes a variety of awesome toys, many of which would be great for girls too, so whether you’ve got a boy or a girl, have a look at this page for awesome christmas gifts for boys and girls.

Unique Christmas gifts for kids Colorku colored marble Sudoku spinoff brain teaser
Colorku – A unique spin on the classic Sudoku, this fun game doubles as a cool decoration and a challenging brain teaser. Make kids think as they strategically place marbles in the right spaces, without using the same colors in the same row, column, or 3×3 square. This game requires strategy and can challenge kids of any ability level. It would make a great Christmas gift for any kid.
Unique Christmas gifts for kids plush organs educational health toy
Plush Organs – These unique stuffed representations of bodily organs are great for playing doctor,
teaching kids about anatomy and the various body systems and functions, and even making them more comfortable when visiting the doctor. Your little man can litterally hold his heart in his hand. These may trigger some intriguing questions about the human body, so prepare to answer them or to help your child research the answers.
Unique Christmas gifts for kids personalized pirate adventure book
Personalized Pirate Adventure Book – For your child who loves to read and go on adventures to far away places, this cute personalized book will captivate them as they search for hidden treasure. What child wouldn’t enjoy reading a book where the character is modeled after them? Kids often imagine themselves as the characters in a book, so the fact that this is a personalized Christmas gift for kids makes it even more enticing, and enhances their already active imaginations.

Christmas Gifts for Teen Boys

If your boy is a bit older, this collection of awesome unique christmas gifts for teen boys might be just what you are looking for. While older boys aren’t as into toys as the younger ones, Uncommon Goods has lots of interesting options to tantalize your teen too.

Unique Christmas gifts for teen boys Lune light mood lamp
Lune Light – This unique mood lamp is a cool addition to any teenager’s room. Help your kids add color and character to their room while owning an uncommon and cool item that will make them the envy of all their friends.
Unique christmas gifts for teen boys bluetooth droplet speaker
Bluetooth Droplet Speaker – Most teenagers are really into music, so why not let them take it with them on the go? Instead of the old days when I grew up and teens cranked up the boombox in their room, they can take it with them and listen outside or wherever, saving your ears too. Portable music is so much cooler now than being tethered to an outlet.
Unique Christmas gifts for teen boys architectural model and design kit
Architectural Model and Design Kit – For the builder in the family, this kit can keep them
entertained for hours thinking up new and different designs. It may even be the first step toward having a professional architect in the family. Challenging model kits that make your kids really think are definitely a bonus when it comes to shopping for Christmas gifts for teen boys.

Christmas Gifts for Teen Girls

Teen girls are all over the place when it comes to their interests. Some like jewelry, others are into makeup. Sometimes they like crafts and other times they’re into card and board games. Whatever your teenaged daughter’s interests are, you’ll find a wide variety of Christmas gifts for teen girls as well. Here are just a few cool ideas for girls of a variety of interests.

Unique Christmas gifts for teen girls birth month flower necklace
Birth Month Flower Necklace – Did you know that each month is associated with a special flower? If your teenaged daughter enjoys unique jewelry, she’ll love having a necklace made from flowers of her birth month. This is a cool and pretty Christmas gift for teen girls that they’ll enjoy showing off to their friends.
Unique Christmas gifts for teen girls solar photography kit
Solar Photography Kit – This is a truly cool and unique gift, allowing teens to create their own original works of art with ease. You could even get a plain T-shirt and let her decorate it any way she likes. Who wouldn’t love having items that they created and/or decorated themselves?
Unique Christmas gifts for teen girls Awkward Moment card game
Awkward Moment Card Game – If your teen is into fun card games that they can relate to, this game might be right up her alley. Everyone has embarrassing moments, but it might be fun to share what you’d do with friends in a given situation. Responses to this game could get pretty interesting and thoroughly amusing. It is similar to Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, but designed with teen girls in mind, and would make a fun Christmas gift for your teenaged daughter.

The items mentioned above are just a few of many cool, interesting, and different Christmas gifts for kids you can find on Uncommon Goods, so feel free to check out the links and poke around. Chances are you can find lots of awesome Christmas gifts for kids of all ages and interests. The items in this post barely scratch the surface of what’s available. Have fun shopping for the best unique Christmas gifts for your own kids.

What is your favorite item of the ones that I mentioned? If you visited the website, what was your favorite item there? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

This post was sponsored by Uncommon Goods.

Gardening Tips For Moms In Small Spaces

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So you want to start a garden. That’s great! Gardening takes some work, but in the end, you can save money and provide your family with fresh produce or flowers, depending on your preference.

If you’re a first-time gardener, you need to get prepared with the right tools and expectations. Daydreaming of lush flowers lining your windowsills or walkway outside your home, or having bountiful harvests from your veggie garden is great, but you need to be realistic, take action to make it happen, and be willing to learn as you go.

Here are 6 gardening tips to get you started:


  1. Small Is Beautiful
    Of course, you can imagine a big plentiful garden plot with heaps of vegetables to pick and savor, while the flowers are in full bloom spring to fall. It is good to have a goal but it’s also important to start small and manageable. If you try to take on too much land and tend to numerous plants, you won’t do well on any of it.

Instead, opt for a smaller plot and be able to focus on tending a few varieties of plants. This will give you and the plants a real chance to thrive.

Small isn’t boring. A common misconception is that you can’t garden if you have a small home or apartment, and that’s simply not true. You can have lots of fun designing and decorating your little green space.

  1. Good Soil Is a Great Start
    Soil isn’t soil isn’t soil isn’t soil. Not all soils are primed to nourish and foster the growth of your plants. Before you put a single seed or seedling into the ground, ensure your soil is ready. Remember, it’s the foundation that your whole garden is based in and it will dictate how well your flowers, fruits and veggies will grow. Look around your neighborhood and evaluate what is growing naturally. It’s generally a good indicator of what types of plants survive well in your area.

Ensure you’ve got good topsoil. You can do this with compost, and you can use your own or buy some. This will charge the dirt with nutrients essential for the health of vegetation.

There are three main nutrients needed in soil — nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), a trio known as NPK. Plants also require small amounts of iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron and molybdenum. These are trace elements. Other essential nutrients include calcium, magnesium and sulfur. Each of these nutrients has a role to play in plant growth.

  1. Use Hardy Plants
    Not all plants are created equal. Different plants have different strengths and robustness. When you’re first starting a garden, choose to grow plants that are more forgiving of any missteps you might have.

For your floral needs, consider the nearly indestructible lavender, which comes in beautiful purple and blue hues. Also give snapdragons a go, as they have long-lasting blooms and do well in cool and hot temperatures. Many kinds of succulents can withstand dryness and harsher conditions.

For your edible garden, try more forgiving plants, which will allow you to learn about their watering and tending needs without killing them off. There are a number of hardy vegetables and fruits that fit this description, including carrots, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers and tomatoes.  

  1. Only Plant What You’ll Eat
    For your veggie garden, keep yourself in check around the size of your plot, the number of plants you sow and the type of vegetation you opt for by planting only what you’re going to eat.

It can be tempting to try out some weird and rare variety of a vegetable or fruit. These can not only be more challenging to grow, but they also will take up more of your time and resources, such as water. And then, after you’ve grown the plant, you won’t actually harvest and use it —wasting your money, time and energy.  


  1. Don’t Over-Tend
    As a new gardener, you may feel you need to weed and water your plants more than you actually do. Being overzealous can actually smother your garden and not cultivate the produce you’d hoped for.

When you over-water, there is a lack of oxygen available to the plants that results in the roots dying, among other ailments.

  1. Learn From Your Mistakes
    No gardener works their garden perfectly. Gardening is a give and take between the grower and the plants being grown. As you tend to your garden, witness how the fruits, veggies and flowers are doing.

Don’t scold yourself when you make a mistake. Learn from it, watch how your plant responds, and make adjustments where needed. It is quite a creative and meditative practice to garden, as it encourages you to be flexible and adaptable to your greenery’s needs. If you ever have more space to grow your garden, you’ll be able to take these tips and apply them to your new yard space.

Gardening is a very rewarding activity, where you use your own power to prepare, tend and harvest your plot. Although you may be new to the activity, you can become a skilled and successful gardener if you start small and follow the above tips.

6 Ways To Protect Your Child From Dangers In Online VideoGames

Child listening to music on smartphone



When we think about online video gaming dangers, many of us immediately consider the obvious threats of violence, aggressive behaviors, short attention spans, and lack of physical activities. While all of these are valid concerns, parents often overlook unknown dangers lurking behind our sons’ and daughters’ beloved online video games.

It doesn’t matter whether our children are scrolling through social media games, logging on with a computer, or signing into the gaming world with a console, current data shows that 91 percent, or 64 million, of our kids (aged 2 to 17 year old) play video games in some form. The number of gamers has jumped significantly from 78 percent that was reported back in 2009. Many experts contribute this climb in numbers to the introduction of Smartphones, tablets, and handheld gaming systems.

If our sons and daughters are participating any form of online gaming, they are exposed to some real threats. The advent of social media, instant messaging, and modern headsets has enabled our kids to interact with friends and even complete strangers within their favorite games. At first glance this doesn’t appear to be dangerous. Afterall, what’s so bad about chatting with fellow players? However, when we peel back layers of pixelated content, we might find surprising unknown dangers.

Four Common Online Video Gaming Threats:

Online Predators: Unfortunately, many predators are turning to online games to find new victims. Gaming is the perfect hunting ground for innocent victims to make contact with and groom. Often, predators create a fake profile to gain a child’s trust by changing their age, sex, and name. This technique makes it easier to gain trust and build a relationship with a child that can eventually lead to exchanging sexts, videos, or meeting in real life.

Legal Repercussions: During game play it isn’t uncommon to talk “smack” or insult other players. Unfortunately, if a child’s comments are seen as threatening, they can be prosecuted for issuing terroristic threats. Even if it is tied in with the game or play, threats in today’s society are taken seriously.

Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is becoming more rampant among the online video gaming world’s adult free areas with little fear of tracing digital tracks back to the bully. Anonymous games and user id’s offer little protection, because the authorities have the ability and know how to track down players by using cell phones, profiles, and even the address of people who pay the bill.

Addiction: Online games allow our kids to experience a wide array of activities and journeys. However, some people, adults included, become so immersed in the fictional game that they can forget to eat or sleep. Excessive gaming has the potential to disrupt a player’s ability to function and has the potential to turn into an addiction.

Protecting Children From Online Video Game Dangers

Realizing that our daughters’ and sons’ connectivity and gaming habits could be opening them up to online dangers is sobering. To make matters worse, research points out that 70 percent of our children will seek ways to cover their digital activity. So what is a parent to do?

Thankfully, here are six proactive measures we can take to help protect our children while allowing them to be engaged in their favorite games:

Start a conversation about online dangers and social media etiquette. Strive to help kids feel comfortable talking to us about any problem they encounter. In addition, teach children to never meet someone they have only met online.
Implement parental controls and passwords on certain sites or computers. Depending on the age of the child, you can filter access to online games. Make sure your children understand the reasoning behind your concerns.

Children playing on smartphones

Help children set up accounts, profiles, and user names. Far too often, kids use their real names on their gamertags or include their physical location on profiles. Encourage children to use creative names or avatars that don’t give away their age, sex, name, or address.

Keep games and devices in common areas of the home. If a family member can walk in at any given moment, children might make better choices.

Create a technology contract that includes online gaming. As a family, state all expectations and consequences for gaming. This will keep everyone informed and happily playing.

Encourage children to play online games with people they actually know in real life. By sticking with friends, children are less likely to meet predators or strangers with hidden agendas.

What methods does your family use to protect children from online game dangers? What other concerns do you have that you aren’t sure to handle? Feel free to share your thoughts below.