Many thanks to Julie D., Mom since 1998 (MS’98) for sharing this chilling video created by NAPCAN, an Australia-based organization aimed at preventing child abuse. The video, “Children See, Children Do,” is 60 seconds, is an unbelievable, powerful tool that demonstrates how critical a parent’s ACTIONS are in teaching his/her child. So many times, we find ourselves flustered and reactive, without realizing the impact our actions have on our kids and on those around us. Kudos to NAPCAN for developing this public service campaign, and I hope you’ll consider sharing with your own friends. While some of the examples may seem extreme, the message is clear…
Keeping the house clean & organized is like grabbing spaghetti out of a hot pan and thinking you might actually hold onto a few strands. Especially for Type-A parents like myself who achieve calm and balance when the house is in some kind of order, cleaning seems like an insurmountable hurdle at times.
We’re constantly wondering how the kids can be more involved, and have tried a multitude of systems and chore charts over the years. Let’s just say we make some progress, but that this “chore” is in a constant state of evolution.
I love this guest post from My Job Chart Founder Gregg Murset, where he shares some inside knowledge on when and how we can get the kids on board. I wanted to share a great line from Gregg’s description of why he developed My Job Chart: “Currently there are numerous studies saying the same thing — kids may not know how to work, kids spend too much watching TV and playing video games, and kids don’t understand the basic fundamentals of managing money. Now My Job Chart can help reverse these trends by parents and kids working together to turn teachable moments into productive work and smart money decisions.”
When and How to Start Chores
By Gregg Murset
You Can Feel It … Most parents get “the feeling” when their children are capable of learning something new or taking on a task. It’s no different with picking up responsibilities around the house. Don’t ignore your gut and begin recognizing that your kids can be a get help to you.
Start Them Young … The basic rule is – if your children are old enough to take toys out to play, then they are old enough to put them away. The same goes with most other things around the house, even clothes, dishes, video games or items used out at the pool.
It’s Your Call … Don’t let so-called experts put an age range on particular jobs your kids could be doing. While it might not make sense to someone living in big city why a 10-year old would ever run lawnmower, in America’s heartland, it’s not uncommon for a 10-year old handling equipment on the farm. If you know they can complete harder chores safely, maybe you should let them try. It’s your call.
Understand Why It’s Important To Have Kids Do Chores & Receive Rewards … Using chores & rewards to teach our kids about responsibility, accountability and money has been around for decades. It’s easy, effective and can change as your child grows. Kids need structure and providing them with a daily routine or responsibilities, only help them later in life.
Be Consistent … When it comes to kids doing chores around the house, often there is only one thing stopping the kids – parents. Whether it’s because we get busy and forgot, get tried of nagging or just find it quicker to do it ourselves, parents are often the reason kids stop doing chores. Parents need to be consistent, demanding and set proper expectations when it comes to chores.
Be Fair … Kids understand right and wrong or fair and unfair. Separate the chores evenly or rotate them so the worst chores aren’t always with one child. If you are rewarding your children for jobs well done, don’t be afraid to compensate one child more than another if the chores they handle are more difficult or are less attractive.
Don’t Let Other Things Get In The Way … Dance practice, music lessons, football games, baseball practice and homework are just a few things your child has on their plate each day. As a parent, teach your child from an early age how to manage time and set priorities, by doing all these things plus the daily chores. There are life lessons in everything, don’t drop off things around the house because outside activities make life busy. We certainly can’t do that as adults, can we?
Stress Saving & Sharing … If you provide a reward for your kids, make sure to stress saving and sharing. Everyone knows how to spend … it’s like breathing … you just do it. Saving and sharing takes practice, a plan and often some research. In the long run, however, your kids will see the benefits and continue to do these things as adults. It’s like riding a bike – learn it early in life and you can always do it again later. Learn it later in life and it’s more difficult.
About the Guest Author
Gregg Murset, CFP, is Founder & CEO of My Job Chart, and the father of six kids. His company tagline, “where kids, work and reward click,” describes the apps he has developed to help families increase accountability, responsibility, and problem solving.
Photo provided by My Job Chart showing Gregg’s own kids in action!
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and while this anti-bullying book is written for kids, there are some timeless lessons that aren’t restricted to kids. In fact, I just finished a post for my PR Firm website for today’s 2nd Annual Snark Free Day that talks about workplace bullying, so the topic spans from the playground to the boardroom.
Thanks to Bli Marston Dugi, M-PAC, author of “The Principle Gang,” a book series on anti-bullying for kids aged 4-11, for this guest post. Dugi says that school is stressful enough without worrying about “that mean kid,” and that according to the National Education Agency, 160,000 students stay home from school everyday due to bullying.
He shares some powerful ways that parents can be part of the solution by being present, setting good examples, and being brave themselves. Here’s his story…
It is paramount for parents to take an active role in their child’s education. Take part in regular conversations pertaining to school at home and interact as much as possible on school campuses. This active role is the first step parents can take to bully proof their children.
A parental presence is the number one deterrent for childhood bullies. Bullies prefer to be sneaky most of the time. It is very easy for parents and teachers to identify the kid that is mean to everyone, but it is very difficult to identify the kid that is quietly mean to just one person. This “quietly mean” child can be the one who causes the most damage. Psychological abuse in the form of damaging words can leave life-long scars that far surpass any physical abuse that one may encounter. If your child has a “best friend” but still seems to be withdrawn or unhappy, evaluate this friendship immediately. Ask what games are being played at school. Ask your child whom they are sitting with at lunch. Ask more than “how was your day?” When you ask more, you decrease the chances of having the “it was fine” or the one answer “good” become another day that a potential problem was ignored.
Mean parents raise mean children. As parents, you need to be aware of those “mean parents” that you may encounter. It is a no-brainer that behavior is modeled, so the unfortunate result is the development of mean kids. Don’t spend every day of the school year in the pick-up or drop-off line. Walk your child into school once a week to reinforce a parental presence. Make it a priority to attend a school-sponsored field trip, and attend at least 2 class parties throughout the year. By engaging in conversation with other parents and teachers, parents make themselves “available” to discuss any problems that may be occurring. During this interaction, be on the look out for those mean parents that seem to have a bad attitude every time you encounter them and guide your child’s choice of friends accordingly.
Don’t be afraid to shake up your social circle. Parents have to be able to openly discuss the difficult issues that arise with each other without taking offense. Children are not emotionally mature enough to always act appropriately, but parents should be. Undoubtedly, problems can and will arise between children of the same social circle that need to be addressed by parents. The key is to deal with these problems directly with the parent whose child is involved and leave out the uninvolved families. Often times, parents are quick to complain to a third party, as they are worried about upsetting their “social circle”. Parents must stand together or a greater degree of division will occur between the children.
There are very important tips to share with children to keep them from either becoming a bully or becoming the victim of a bully. These critical messages are very simple and should be reinforced throughout the school year.\
1. DON’T BE MEAN.
Kids need to be able to RECOGNIZE what “mean” is: hurtful words, pushing/shoving/kicking, alienation, exclusion, facial reactions, etc…
2. TELL YOUR TEACHER.
Once a child recognizes this type of behavior, he/she needs to be given the okay to REPORT this behavior to a parent/teacher/counselor/principal, etc. Stop labeling children as “tattle-tales”. Tattle –tales save lives.
3. BE A FRIEND.
After an incident has been reported, it is now time to REACT. A child needs to know that the nicer they are to all children, the less chance they have of being bullied. Encourage your child to be the one that reaches out to the child who has no friends.
There are No Bullies Allowed in The Principle Gang, a six-book series that teaches kids (ages 4-11) three anti-bullying principles: 1) Don’t be mean, 2) Tell your teacher, and 3) Be a friend. Questions at the end of each book encourage kids and parents/caregivers to engage in thought-provoking conversations about family, friendship, community and fairness. Book 1, Don’t Judge a Lizard by His Scales, released in August, and Book 2, Wizard Lizard Rides the Subway, releases this month.
Dr. Dan and Bli Dugi have a combined 50 years experience as a physician and physician assistant team. With The Principle Gang series, they have created a way to connect with young children outside of the exam room. They live in Cuero, Texas, with their daughter, Emmy. Find them online at The Principle Gang.
Editor’s Note: I am happy to share that I recently accepted a volunteer Board of Directors position with PEP, the Parent Encouragement Program, and am chairing their marketing committee to help their incredible team find new ways to reach even more parents than the 11,000 they’ve served to date. For years, I have been a PEP student and fan and have happily promoted PEP’s value to fellow parents. I’m very excited to be more involved, and look forward to bringing MomTini readers more “tips and tools for the business of motherhood” through my new role at PEP. I’ve always been a firm believer that parenting education is mom & dad’s way to “hit the reset button” and learn new ways to parent and share ways we can connect more closely to our wonderful children.
I joined a teleconference with Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, best-selling author and PEP’s Noted Author Speaker this year. Bryson is co-author (with Dan Siegel) of “No-Drama Discipline: The Whole Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind” and “The Whole-Brain Child: Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture your Child’s Developing Mind.” A researcher, parenting educator, and psychotherapist, Bryson has studied the theory and science of how brains work so that parents can understand how to most effectively work with their kids. In business terms, it’s understanding the mindset of our client. We wouldn’t storm into a boardroom making all kinds of new demands if our team was focused on tomorrow’s presentation. Yet we expect our kids to be “at the ready” for our messages 24/7. I remember growing up myself and advising my siblings to consider “aperture” when asking for things…it’s so much more than the “ask” – it’s how and when you ask for something, and most importantly, as I see in Bryson’s research, the state of mind of your audience.
Here are some highlights from our conversation at the PEP office with Dr. Bryson.
She insists that discipline’s goal is to teach, and that in order to learn, our child’s brain must be in the “receptive state.” By contrast, the “reactive state” isn’t productive to teaching/discipline, and if we insist on forcing communication, it’s like “poking the lizard.” Imagine the interaction, and think twice. So how we get our kids’ brains into this wonderful “receptive state” so we can have a productive dialogue? Bryson recommends that we “connect & redirect.” Calm/soothe our child, and show empathy, and take care of ourselves so we can be more effective. If we’re in the red zone ourselves, we need our own time out, and she says we shouldn’t be afraid to take it. In fact, by telling our kids what we’re doing, we’re modeling healthy conflict resolution.
Bryson also shared a “golden nugget” that has been incredibly successful with her patients: Kneel below your child’s eye level and say, “I’m right here.” She said that towering above a child is threatening and intimidating, and that by shifting our stance physically, we send a message that we’re ready to problem-solve.
She said that any physical discipline (spanking, etc.) has a host of issues, not to mention that research doesn’t show it to be effective. Further, since her perspective is brain development, she added that inflicting pain on a child creates confusion. “Our biological instinct is to go to our caregiver when something hurts. If the parent is the source of that pain, it creates confusion for the child,” she explained.
This is just the tip of the iceberg – she’s got lots to share, and I hope you’ll join me in this valuable chapter of “continuing education for parents.”
For my DC/MD/VA friends, don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear Dr. Bryson speak on how to use what we know about brain development to be more effective parents:
And check out our related post with contest information to win free tickets to Thursday’s event.
Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, 2014 PEP Noted Author Speaker
For my DC/MD/VA friends looking for some parenting inspiration, here’s a chance to earn a pair of FREE tickets ($56 value) to Thursday November 13th’s PEP’s Annual Noted Author Talk. Simply comment to this post or to our Facebook post or to my expanded article on Dr. Bryson, and a winner will be selected at random and announced on October 30. Each year, PEP brings in a headline act, a parenting author who has the same encouraging and positive approach to everyday challenges as PEP, and hundreds of parents leave with new ideas and a fresh perspective to bring home. I had the unique opportunity to meet Dr. Bryson at a recent teleconference (see related post), and I can’t wait to hear more on November 13 and 14. Here’s the “411” on the talk – comment now for your chance to win!
Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, will give a talk for parents about managing strong emotions on Thursday, Nov. 13, 7:30-9 p.m., at Bullis School in Potomac; and a talk about no-drama discipline on Friday, Nov. 14, 9:30-11 a.m., at the Woman’s Club of Chevy Chase. For registration and information, visit PEPparent.org or call 301-929-8824.
*Note – this contest will award tickets for Thursday’s event, “Managing Strong Emotions: Revolutionary Strategies to Connect and Thrive with Your Child, Tween or Teen.” There’s a second event as well Friday morning November 14, “No-Drama Discipline: Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind.”
Provocative book title, huh? Thanks to Author Deborah Gilboa, M.D., a family physician, mom of 4, and parenting expert, who developed the “3 R’s of Parenting” to empower parents to raise respectful, responsible, and resilient kids. Her book, Get the Behavior You Want, Without Being the Parent You Hate, will be available Sept. 10, and she’s provided an advance excerpt of some of her wonderful tips for The Lounge…
Gilboa provides some great intel on several different ages and stages…
6 Things Parents Can Stop Doing Today
1. Have a toddler? You can stop trying to fix every problem.
Our toddlers have some stress in their lives! And about half the time we have no idea what the problem is. Instead of driving yourself up a wall trying to guess what’s wrong and solve it, just show your little one a little empathy. Feelings – even stress – help kids change and learn. You don’t have to smooth each obstacle as long as she knows you’re there and you care about her feelings.
2. Have a preschooler? You can stop tripping over toys in your own bedroom.
Your bedroom is your sanctuary. You might invite your kids in, but that doesn’t mean it’s a playroom or second kitchen. Make a couple of museum-like rules for your bedroom, like kids may not:
This will teach your kids that your bedroom is special, and should be treated with respect – just like you.
3. Have a 5-7 year old? You can stop carrying stuff in from the car.
Most of what you bring into your home from your car benefits the whole family. Groceries, packages, bags, even your work stuff, all are necessary for your home to function. Give a call when you’re headed home and let the minions know you have loads for them to carry inside. Yes, they’ll have to stop what they’re doing to help, and that is a great lesson – we all pitch in when there’s work to be done
4. Have a 8-10 year old? You can stop doing the family’s laundry.
What?! Yes! Your 3rd grader can do the laundry.* All of the necessary gross motor skills have been mastered, and this is not a complicated task, just a long and boring one. Did you know there are universities using academic time to teach this skill? Laundry is a great challenge for a child, and a wonderful task to take off your own list so that you can do other things. How do I know that kids this age can handle carrying, sorting, washing, drying and folding? Because I did, and now my kids do. Trust me, you’ll love it!
*Go ahead and keep your delicates out.
5. Have a tween? You can stop waking them up for school.
The skill of setting an alarm clock (and getting up when it rings) takes time to learn. Start now! And make the advantages of doing so really clear: a ride to school instead of walking, or extra time in the evening after homework before bed. Of course, that means walking to school if they oversleep or going to bed early – because obviously if they’re too tired to get up in the morning, they need your help to get extra sleep.
6. Have kids of any age? You can stop trying to make them happy!
Happiness is lovely, and often a part of childhood. It’s also your child’s responsibility. It is not:
I know this sounds crazy. But think about it. Our goal as parents is not to furnish a fleeting sense of satisfaction to our children. Instead, our goal as parents is to raise our kids to find and create their own happiness. What if, instead of asking ourselves “Is my child happy?” we start asking, “Is my child learning and growing?”
About the Author: Parenting expert, Deborah Gilboa, M.D. aka “Doctor G” is a family physician, mom of 4, international speaker, author and TV personality. She developed the “3 R’s of Parenting” to empower parents to raise respectful, responsible, and resilient kids. Her book, Get the Behavior You Want, Without Being the Parent You Hate will be released September 10, 2014 and is available on Amazon.com.
This infographic really caught my eye. Thanks to Tara Heath, journalist, and Teen Safe for sharing this amazing infographic, illustrating how and where our kids are connected, and how we can use this information to stay more connected to our kids.
First, some background from Tara…
Today, 78% of teens own a smartphone and they are attached to it all day long. In a recent survey taken by Bank of America, nearly half of all Americans say they wouldn’t last one day without their smartphones, and that includes teenagers. But the question is – what do these social butterflies occupy their time with on that device of theirs?
The infographic below, provided by Teen Safe, gives us a little peak into the social life of the app-addicted teen. From the moment they wake up to the last thing they look at before falling asleep, smartphones dictate how many teens spend their day. Apps like Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Vine all have a huge teen following and make it easy to stay glued to the screen for hours on end.
As a parent, you might feel a little bit out of tune Read more
This week’s #MomTatic find is a new book on the comedy and drama of motherhood. Can you imagine if motherhood was this easy…kids complying “because we said so” …. Thought provoking for sure!
Here’s a quick note on a new book that may add some humor to your day, with some thoughtful stories along the way…
“Because I said so.”
It’s the answer that rolls off the tongues of mamas from all over. In Because I Said So: Life In The Mom Zone, veteran mom Annie Oeth tells of the worries, laughter and sheer terror of being a mother.
Trips to the emergency room, college graduations and the dangerous combination of teenagers and fireworks are all fair game in this romp through southern motherhood. Spilling the (jelly)beans on Easter egg hunts, Santa Claus and frogs in mailboxes, Annie Oeth writes of life, love and raising children while hanging on to her sense of humor.
From stories of laughter to tales of tears shed, she remembers her own growing-up years in small-town Mississippi, her parents’ 44-year romance and her own children’s travels on their way to adulthood, crafting stories that will touch hearts and funny bones.
Anyone who’s ever rocked a baby, worried over a teenager or seen family game night degenerate into a knock-down, drag-out can relate to these life lessons, straight from The Mom Zone.
Mamas are tender-hearted, but don’t mistake their kindness for an absence of backbone. In these stories, the love, strength, humor and super powers of mothers are hailed for the wonders that they are. Whether you’re a mama to sons who have an affection for reptiles and bottle rockets or a daughter who thinks you’re wrong just when you’ve figured out your own mother was right, you’ll love yourself, your kids and your life more after this read.
“Because I Said So.”
About the Author:
A lifelong Mississippian, Annie Oeth is a graduate of Mississippi University for Women. She currently works as a features editor for The Clarion-Ledger, the state’s largest daily newspaper. She writes about family and fun and The Mom Zone blog. Annie is the author of Because I Said So: Life in The Mom Zone, which was published in April 2014. She is a solo mom to four, and currently resides in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Connect with Annie on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks to An Apple Per Day‘s Kaitlin Gardner for this guest post on pool safety. So timely given the summer heat and pool season…
Have the pool inspected. Have a professional check out the pool equipment, to make sure it’s all in proper working order. Verify there are no exposed wires in the electrical wiring and outlets. Make sure the decking doesn’t have chipped tiles that could stub a young toe. Does the pump system have a safety vacuum release system? This makes the pump system shut down if there is a blockage on the drain. Here are some resources I found that gave more details:
Install a fence. Make sure it is at least 4 feet high, with a gate and locking mechanism.
Secure pool chemicals. For example, a shed behind it with a lock on it can be used to store pool chemicals. Make sure chemicals aren’t accessible by the children.
Establish pool rules. Discuss safety rules for kids such as only swimming when an adult is supervising, “no running,” and continue to reinforce and even post the rules where kids will see them.
A set of rules for Mom and Dad. The most important rule – no unsupervised swimming – means that kids aren’t allowed to swim unless their parents are with them. But that doesn’t mean a parent is in the backyard, texting friends while the kids are swimming. When an adult is supervising, that should be the only focus. It doesn’t take long for a child to gulp some water, get into a panic, and find themselves in trouble. Take CPR lessons, in case of an emergency.
Swimming lessons for the kids. Research shows that children greatly reduce their chances of drowning, if they have had formal swimming lessons, which can start around age 4.
Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She just started her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.
Despite the fact that I’m in the “camp labeling belongings zone,” with 3 boys, I am constantly finding friends’ clothes here and watching my kids rummage through everyone’s drawers for “that t-shirt” that seems to have vanished. Keeping track of belongings is hardly a summer-only challenge; it’s definitely year-round. I remember growing up and watching my mom iron on labels, and as great as that was, I got a C- in ironing (joke, but probably one of my least favorite things to do).
I found these stick-on labels through Label Daddy, and they are a great invention! You stick them on the clothing label, and they’re easy to apply; easy to read; easily customizable. Label Daddy just made things really EASY! I also reviewed some specialty labels for shoes; trash cans (ours constantly blow down the street!); sports equipment; and more. They’re really great, and pay for themselves if you recover just one item or so. And, since they’re so easy and without safety hazards (bye, bye iron!), kids can get involved in the labeling process as well … why not share the tasks?
And…to make it even sweeter, they’re offering MomTini readers a 20% discount off orders! Just enter “MomTini” in the promo code box during the checkout process.
Check them out at LabelDaddy.com
Disclaimer: I received products to facilitate my review, but opinions expressed are all my own.
Whether your kids are in day camp, sleep-away camp, or your family is enjoying some fun at home, here are some ideas and MomTastic summer headlines you may find useful…
Hope you have a GREAT summer!
Love infographics…especially really well-done ones like THIS that are so timely for Mother’s Day. Happify recently published in such an easy to follow and pretty format (ok, fine, I love pink!), survey findings, “What You Should Know about Moms & Happiness.” I totally agree that “motherhood is a defining event” and think their storytelling in this infographic is truly #MomTastic.
Here’s the full story…enjoy!
This is such a great, colorful & yummy Mother’s Day Gift Idea, and came with some fun survey data I wanted to share. Edible Arrangments surveyed moms to help decode their “secret language” about what they really want for Mother’s Day. Here are some highlights:
So, for what “not to buy,” according to the survey:
The top three gifts NOT to get mom, in order, are: drugstore candy, generic bath products or the “same old flower arrangement.” Fifty percent of moms said the number one way to improve Mother’s Day this year is to “surprise me with an unexpected gift.”
I think they’re trying to say that thoughtfulness wins every time…I agree! My son asked me what I wanted, and without hesitation, I told him the homemade cards I’ve received have been my all-time treasures…I’ll be reading from the archives, and hopefully enjoying some new ones while enjoying some yummy fruit thanks to Edible Arrangements this year!
We’ve sent Edible Arrangements to friends for happy (& sad) times, and they’re always a crowd pleaser – it’s like sending a treat and a centerpiece all in one…I’m a fan!
Disclosure: A Mother’s Day Edible Arrangement was provided as compensation for this post. The ideas expressed, however, are all mine!
Happy Mother’s Day! Even though this is a “repeat,” I wanted to share this silly “got milk” photo with my own mom, as I share some ideas and Momspiration for you!
Here’s a roundup of some ideas we’ve shared to help make this holiday #MomTastic!
However you celebrate, I wish you a wonderful, relaxing, MomTastic Mother’s Day with your family!
Thanks to Linda Bailey for this article on how and why you should enroll your kids in local sports. With 3 boys, we’re huge sports fans and the benefits would dominate this entire site – Linda addresses many of the key bonuses below….
Future Development: Enrolling Your Child in Local Sports
Sports can be a great way for children to learn a lot about themselves. So much can be derived from enrolling your child in an activity to promote knowledge and understanding in various situations. While it may be just a game to them, the child may not realize just how much of an impact the activity will have on them physically and mentally. How can sports assist in the future development of your child?
1. Teamwork - Your child will learn the value in teamwork and how it can be translated to virtually any situation in life. Each person has a unique talent that can benefit the greater whole. Discovering what that talent is and understanding how it impacts the team can be greatly rewarding.
2. Physical Fitness - Sporting activities of any kind can help encourage physical fitness. If you’re worried about your child turning in to one of those people that plant themselves on the couch in front of video games all day, then a physical activity could be what he or she needs to stay fit and healthy.
3. Social Interaction - Being part of a team sport throws your child into having social interaction whether he or she wants to or not. Although you should never force your child to play a sport, the social integration and development could be a bonus for future interactions.
4. Self-Discovery - Many children have dreams of becoming a star player on a professional team. Some will emulate their heroes while playing in order to feel like a champion. Without enrolling your child in a local sport, those dreams may never become more than what they are. Give them the chance to discover what they can do and whether or not they want to continue for themselves.
5. Encouragement - By paying for the equipment and the enrollment of any given sport, you are showing your child encouragement to succeed. Participate in as much of this activity as you can, and a bond will form between yourself and your child. You never know what your child can be capable of without encouraging their decisions to discover who they are.
Aside from the fact of the activity being fun for your child, enrolling him or her in local sports can have a ripple effect throughout the child’s life. It will provide memories and knowledge that could travel with them forever.
This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from http://www.housekeeping.org/. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more.