Most Desirable Outdoor Kid Equipment

Playtime is the most fun and memorable time of one’s childhood. Outdoor play help improve your child’s emotional and social skills. It is also smart to get to know your child’s character and figure out what measures to take if you discover he or she is a bully. This is because outside play allows the child to express themselves and learn. It also has a considerable impact on the child’s physical development. Owing to the many play equipment, it can be daunting to figuring out the best and most desirable equipment.

Below are a few pieces of equipment that your children will enjoy and benefit the most from.

 

Treehouse

Treehouses are suitable for all ages as it provides a variety of games with different levels and difficulty. They allow the children to be creative and choose their own play experience.  Treehouses with slides enable the children to slide down together. Slides make a considerable part of the excitement and fun of having a treehouse. A treehouse fitted with slides helps improve the gross muscle and coordination of your child.

 

Trampoline

Trampolines are mostly designed for younger kids.  They are very secure with soft rings to prevent the child from falling off the trampoline and hurting themselves.  They have unique and colorful designs to attract kids. Trampolines provide your child with hours of fun and improve their confidence as they learn to trampoline. If you are looking to get a piece of outdoor play equipment, you should consider buying trampolines online or in malls to provide your children with excellent social skills as they play.

 

Swings

Swings are perfect outdoor play equipment.  They improve your kid’s balance and a natural tone.  Moreover, swings are perfect for any age, even adults. The rotary effect is therapeutic and helps manage hyperactivity and aggression. It allows children to play and interact together, improving their social and communication skills. It also enhances equilibrium reactions in kids.

 

Seesaw

Seesaws are perfect for kids above three years. It is fun for kids to move up and down. This allows them to interact with other kids making new friends. The equipment is also secure and won’t injure your child. Seesaw also helps improve communication skills in your child, physical endurance, and balance.

 

Climbers

If your children climb just about anything, this is the perfect equipment for them. Getting a rock-climbing wall is ideal for the whole family. They are vital in developing muscles in young children and strengthening muscles in much bigger kids. They are usually made with safe and robust materials for safety and durability.

 

Sandpit

Children love playing in the sand. Building a castle and modeling is fun and exciting for kids. Sandpits are one of the best outdoor kid’s equipment. The sand is used for tactile processing. It is a great tool to enhance creativity, coordination, and hand functions. However, you have to get ready to wash off the mud from the extremely muddy clothes after playing the session.

 

Conclusion

Having a backyard playground allows the children to run around and burn some calories.  It is excellent for improving muscle and mental capability. If you are building a kid playground, consider buying swings, seesaws, and trampolines online to make the playground exciting and fun.

Children’s Bedtime Routine – Dos and Don’ts

Putting your child to bed can seem traumatizing for many adults. You may feel that your child is a holy terror at bedtime, but sweet at any other time of the day. As parents, we have all been there, and hopefully, this article from BetterCleans will offer some useful tips for when you’re faced with this situation. You want to get your child to bed at a decent time, yet he or she asks for a drink of water, 34 bedtime stories, and says I love you 291 times. The other scenario is that your child kicks, screams, and cries until he or she is exhausted and seems to pass out on his or her own. Neither scenario is helpful. You should stop here and realize that you will NOT be a perfect parent because they do not exist. There are some things that you can do to help your child at bedtime, but each child will respond to things differently.

Dos

The following list contains a few things you can do to establish a working bedtime routine. Sometimes flexibility should be allowed when circumstances arise. However, these suggestions will help your child enjoy the bedtime routine.

Be Consistent

This piece of advice is suitable for children, whether they are going to bed or when establishing dinner routines or wake up routines. Children thrive on consistency. They need to know what to do and when to do it. You can establish this routine in whatever way that you need to do it. If you need to brush their teeth and hair before bed, do that at the same time each night. If you have medicine, vitamins, or other health-related routines before bed, do them at the same time.

Have a Bedtime

We ARE talking about bedtime routines, right? However, parents do not always have an established bedtime. Some children will resist sleep and continue playing until they fall over. Having a bedtime will help children’s internal clock establish itself better. Be sure that your child’s bedtime allows them enough sleep to be happy and functioning the next day. Warn your children when they will need to go to bed earlier due to having an activity the next day.

Let Them Have Input

If your child likes to read a book at bedtime, let them choose the book. If you tell them stories, let them pick the story. Choosing pajamas may seem like a silly thing, but children like to have some control too. Let your child decide what they want and do not want at bedtime. Make reasonable accommodations. A stuffed toy or doll may make them feel better about sleeping alone.

Help Them Feel Safe

A security blanket, doll, or night light may make your child feel much safer and happier going to bed. Help them feel safe in their room by offering one of these things. If your child sometimes gets up at night, place a nightlight in the hall or bathroom to help them navigate. If your child gets up often at night to use the bathroom, you may want to limit their food and drink intake in the evening.

Don’ts

While some parents and children have different needs, the following things should be avoided at bedtime. However, you should keep your child’s individual needs in mind. While most people do not suggest eating or drinking near bedtime, some children have medicines they must take at night and may need a snack to take them with. These suggestions are simply to help establish a routine. You should always do what is best for your child.

Stimulation

An exciting story, cartoon, or song will not usually help your child to sleep better. You should avoid stimulation as much as possible, leading up to the bedtime routine. Children can sing a song, listen to a story, or possibly watch a show, but the last things you do before beginning the bedtime routine should be calming.

Food and Drinks

Avoid sugary or caffeine-laden snacks and drinks in the evening. Juice may be okay for some children, but stimulation should be minimal near the end of the day, as previously noted. Snacks and foods should be as nutritious as possible. An occasional bowl of ice cream might not break your routine, but choosing these things regularly might not be the best idea.

Let Them Run the Show

While you can give your child some choices, do not let them run the bedtime routine. Make sure that your child knows how important a good night’s sleep is and lead them through the routine. Letting them choose a book or stuffed animal to sleep with is fine, but you should not let them push you into extra time, stories, or snacks.

Make the Routine Hard

If the routine has too many steps, your child will not be able to complete them consistently. Make the routine simple and calming. A bath, oral hygiene, and a bedtime story are all that is needed for a bedtime routine. Medicines and other health-related activities can be included.

Final Thoughts

Don’t worry too much about the order of the routine. Yes, your friend may give their child a bath, then brush their teeth, and then tell a story. Some children may want to brush their teeth before a bath. These things are not as important as establishing a consistent routine and avoiding bedtime stimulation. Be careful about staying with your child until they fall asleep. This behavior can create dependence. However, if your child is experiencing anxiety, you can stay for a few nights and ween them away from the back rubs at bedtime. The important thing here is to teach your child the importance of rest and establish a working routine with them. Some nights, you may need to change the routine to meet the needs of the child or family. Do not worry about the night here or there. The important thing is that most nights are on a routine, and the changes are for reasons the child understands. A visit from grandma might change the routine, but an extended visit should not impact the child’s routine for more than one day. A well-rested child is usually a much happier child.

7 Parenting Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Well Through the Night

One of the biggest struggles that all parents, both new and old, experience when they have a baby in the house is the significant lack of sleep. Since the baby is adjusting its sleeping schedule all the time, they can often wake up in the middle of the night. Therefore, a lot of parents would want to prepare for ways on how to avoid this.

If this is something you want to avoid, try applying these seven parenting tips to help your baby sleep well.

Create a Calming Bedtime Routine

Even when your baby is still small, you should start creating a calming bedtime routine, which would give them positive associations with going to sleep. Your calming bedtime routine should be all about quieting things down, slow movements, and anything that would be relaxing. You don’t need to make them fall asleep immediately.

The bedtime routine should have steps all about slowing things down and are the steps leading up to the sleep time and not the actual sleeping time.

Creating a routine will make it easier for your baby to realize when it’s time to fall asleep. You should avoid making too many changes with the method, or it will make it harder for your baby to sleep through the night consistently.

Consider a Pacifier

If your baby has trouble sleeping at night or a little fussy, you might want to consider giving them a pacifier. Some parents have concerns about leaving a pacifier to get their babies through the night. However, giving your baby a pacifier when they sleep has significant benefits outside of letting them fall asleep.

The most significant advantage of letting your baby use a pacifier when sleeping is that it helps reduce their risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. Aside from that, it prevents them from rolling too far to their side.

Before you get your baby too dependent on the pacifier, you should make sure that you have a nursing routine already safe. Wait at least four weeks or so, but each baby is different, so base it on your personal experience.

Don’t Give Up on Swaddling.

Sometimes, your baby can wake up because of their startle-reflex or random jerks throughout the night. To avoid this, you should consider practicing your swaddling techniques. Even if your baby might not like it the first few times, you should still try things out. After all, their preferences can change quickly, especially as you get better with your swaddling techniques.

It would help if you also used other swaddling techniques to change things up. The benefit of a good swaddle is that it keeps your babies feeling secure, and they won’t get startled by their startle-reflex in the middle of the night.

Limit the Length of Daytime Naps

Sometimes, the daytime naps that your baby is taking might be making them too alert in the evenings. If it’s not making them too awake, they might be waking up in the middle of the night because they’re hungry. Therefore, you should limit how long your babies get to nap during the daytime.

At most, you should stick to two-hour intervals of sleep. If they’re exhausted, you can stretch it to two and a half hours. However, once the time is up, you should wake them up gently, entertain them for a bit, or even feed them.

Change Your Baby’s Diaper Strategically

When you change your baby’s Pampers or diapers, you should be strategic with the timing. Otherwise, you risk making your baby more alert and awake than they should be. Since changing their diaper requires you to move them around a lot, it’s going to wake them up, which is why thinking about when to change their diapers is crucial.

The best time to change your baby’s diapers during the evenings would be right before giving them their feeding in the middle of the night. When they wake up in the middle of the night hungry, you should first change their diapers before you feed them again.

Since they’re full again from their night feeding, they’re going to feel sleepier. If you move them around to change their diapers after they feed, it’s like you’re shaking them awake. That’s why you should do it before they feed.

Offer One Last Feeding

When it’s time for you to sleep, you should feed your baby before you go to sleep. Wake them up gently and give them one last feeding and then put them back to sleep, so that they’re less likely to wake up again anytime soon.

Since hunger can often wake them up in the middle of the night, doing a pre-emptive feeding might help avoid them waking up because of that. Keep Things Dark and Quiet at Night

When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, you shouldn’t come into their room loudly, run to them, and turn on the lights. All of these steps will startle them more. Instead, use slow and gentle steps and hush them down and gently. If you want some form of light, night lights are a great option.

Keep your baby’s room quiet and dark. Some parents invest in a white noise maker, so their babies don’t wake up from every noise.

By applying these seven tips, you avoid the most significant challenge that homes with babies have, which is their babies waking up in the middle of the night. When your baby can sleep well through the night, it will also enable you to sleep well. As a parent, you want to be able to handle your baby and yourself, and sleep is crucial.

Therefore, being proactive in taking care of your sleep as well as your baby’s is essential.

How to Plan the Best Staycation Ever

Every summer, many people put aside their work, daily stresses and responsibilities and escape on a vacation, somewhere far away from reality. It may be a secluded retreat in the mountains, a camping trip with the kids, an arranged tour in another country, an Alaskan cruise, or days relaxing at an exotic beach or resort.

However, with the current pandemic including travel restrictions, along with financial constraints for many, those plans may have to be temporarily shelved. But the desire to escape reality – for just a bit – is very much alive. So, with many people remaining in their homes, how can that off-work journey happen? We have some tips for making the best of the situation and creating cherished vacation memories without ever leaving home. It’s called a staycation.

 

What’s a staycation?

A staycation is, quite simply, a vacation at home. How realistic, how exciting, or how relaxing you make it is up to you. Theme it up for a more authentic “away-from-home” experience.

What makes a great staycation? Well, that depends on what you consider a vacation. Some people want adventure, while others like relaxing with a drink in their hand. Still others use vacation time to unwind by tackling DIY projects such as renovations. So, what would you enjoy doing if you could craft your own staycation? (Which, by the way, you can.)

Commit to it

Once you’ve decided to schedule a staycation – whatever it ends up being – commit to it. Mark it on your calendar. Plan for it. Make concrete plans. If you’re working, ask for those days off of work. Don’t just say you’re going to have a vacation and spend the weekend lounging on the sofa, noshing on Cheetos and surfing the internet, unless a week of rest is the staycation you’ve planned.

Whenever you’re going for vacation in your home, try to unplug so your mind’s not on work and responsibilities. Set your work email to the “out of office” setting and write an auto-reply message. Then, don’t check your work emails unless absolutely necessary. Consider NOT telling your boss that you’re vacationing at home. Turn your cell phone off or on silent, and set a small window of time each day to check for messages.

Skip the news. The idea is to get away from stress, away from reality. Just concentrate on your vacation experience. The news cycle can wait for a week. Really, it can. This is the time to be good to yourself.

Prepare

Prepare for your staycation much like you’d  prep for any other vacation. Create your itinerary. Decide what kind of activities you would like to do each day of your vacation. What kind of staycation would you like? Cultural learning, straight-up fun, pampering, relaxing? Write your vacation goals down, and then make a game plan. Don’t want to cook while on vacation? Gather menus from local restaurants that deliver, and have them on hand. You could even incorporate different restaurants into the theme of your vacation.

Before your official vacation start time, do all the necessary prep work. Complete all chores in advance. Wash the dishes, dust, pay the bills, scrub the toilets, empty the trash. Do the laundry BEFORE your staycation begins. You don’t really want to be sorting and folding while on vacation, do you?

 

Set the Mood for your Staycation

Many people have saved money in anticipation of an annual vacation to pay for things like hotel rooms, meals, plane tickets and a rental car. Why not channel some of those funds into your at-home vacation paradise?

Create your staycation space – really, truly, set up a space that exudes the theme of your vacation. Move the furniture, change the lighting, order pillows, fairy lights or scented candles – whatever your theme is, run with it. Look at magazines or online trip websites for inspiration. Think about the destination you want. Paradise under the palms? Set up a piña colada or margarita station at home. Roll up the rugs and go barefoot like you’re on the beach. Set up a hammock between backyard trees or on your back porch.

Dreaming of a mountain retreat? Set out pine-scented candles and decorate the room with cottage home decor. Plan for any purchases you’ll need for your staycation. Does your week require some relaxing pillows, aromatherapy candles, a tent or hammock?  Dreaming of an overseas vacation? Hit the international foods section of your grocery and stock up on items from that region to set the mood. Planning a spa retreat week? Buy a set of high-thread-count sheets, a couple of luxurious pillows, scented bath salts, essential oils, and a super-soft robe.

To make your staycation ambiance even more realistic, you can make a vacation soundtrack with music that reminds you of that particular place, or perhaps a past favorite vacation that you’d like to recreate. Going to the beach in your mind? Ramp up some Jimmy Buffet music. Missing that trip to Brazil this summer? Make your own compilation of Brazilian favorites including the likes of Roberto Carlos or Anitta. Or, queue up some internet music mixes.

Think about your favorite luxury hotel amenities and try to replicate some of those special touches at your own staycation. Love peppermints or chocolates on your pillows? Do it. How about a fruit basket, or a water pitcher of cold spring water infused with the subtle flavor and inviting look of cut fruit? Make it happen. This is all about helping you feel like you’re somewhere else.

 

Self-Care Weekend

How about a pampering week, helping you release all the stress that’s built up this year? Consider a self-care “getaway” with a spa day, a YouTube yoga session, or a self-manicure. Start a journal of self-discovery. Draw a warm bubble bath, adding some calming essential oils like lavender or chamomile. Slip into the welcoming suds as you relax your mind and body. Soft music and candles invite you to soak away the stress. Then, wrap yourself up in the soft hug of a luxurious robe. This vacation is all about being good to yourself.

Retail Therapy Weekend

If you have money saved up that you won’t spend on a vacation this summer and miss shopping, you may want to arrange a retail therapy staycation. Curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and start online shopping. You could budget what you had already set aside for your anticipated actual vacation, and spend some of that money, or just “window-shop” and dream from the comfort of your favorite recliner.

Plan Future Vacations

You can’t travel much right now, but the future is wide open. You’ve been staring at your walls for quite a while now, longing to escape. Why not start that escape, at least in your mind? Begin planning your post-pandemic road trip (or plane trip). There’s no time like the present to ponder where you’d like to visit – start with the continent or country, and narrow it down from there. Search online for destinations, hotels and fun activities. Jot them down and start planning for next year.

Look online for interesting destinations and then start searching for places you can stay, like at hotels or bed and breakfast inns. What kind of activities can you participate in while there? Take notes, plan your budget, and work out the details so when it’s time to fly the pandemic coop, you’ll have all your ducks in a row for your next adventure.

Cook a fancy dinner

The internet is filled with how-to-cook videos. Zero in on one and cook that meal and impress your spouse or family. See if you can find fanciful foods that fit into the theme of your staycation. Or, ask your family to pamper you and cook (including doing the dishes.). You can also sign up for delivered meal preparation kits. These kits arrive at your doorstep with all of the ingredients, already prepped, along with step-by-step directions. You’ll feel like a professional chef in no time.

Chill

You may be someone who just needs to chill for a vacation. Vacations don’t always have to be about excitement and activity. Sometimes, you just need peace and quiet to de-stress from life.

Create your zen vacation in a quiet place of your home – make it off limits to the children (perhaps you have someone who can take care of them). Then, unplug your clocks or put them in the closet so you can’t see them. Turn off your phone, put on earphones (if there’s house noise you can’t block out) and just…chill.

 

Fun for the Whole Family

If you’re quarantining with your family and yearning for a vacation, build a staycation with a family-friendly theme or activities. Although you have been in each other’s space for months, there are ways you can spend quality, vacation-esque time as a family and build beautiful bonds.

Camping out

Go camping for your staycation – for a night, a week, or somewhere in between – you choose. Set up a tent in the backyard, complete with sleeping bags and camp lights. Don’t forget the mosquito repellent or citronella candles. Pack up snacks in bags for a more authentic experience, and string lights in the trees or at the top of the tent for some extra ambiance.

Snag a couple of bags of ice from the store and fill a cooler with food and drinks to keep with the campout theme. Cook your meals on a grill, or have a fire pit if regulations allow. Roast marshmallows or craft s’mores. Tell stories around the fire. Stay up too late and laugh too much.

If your idea of camping is closer to glamping, or you don’t have a backyard, then move things indoors. Set up a tent or have your kids create a tent by hanging sheets and other fabrics in clever ways. Unleash your children’s creativity with tent-making – they know how to make the best tents and forts. Set up your indoor camping ambiance with flashlights and flameless candles for light sources. Eat from paper plates and make s’mores in the microwave. Search for a campfire video to play on your TV.

Have a family costume night or a themed party during your staycation. Challenge your kids to dress up as their favorite movie character, singer, or superhero, using clothes, props and supplies already in your home.

Love watching movies? Build a staycation around that. Have a themed movie marathon. Each family member picks a movie that you all watch, or you could categorize movies, like comedies, animation, action or another genre. Don’t forget the popcorn. Plan ahead and surprise your “movie audience” with their favorite movie theater candy and sodas.

Music or Karaoke Party

Use some of the money you would have spent on lodging, meals, attraction fees and more – and buy a karaoke machine. You may find your family singing until they’re all hoarse and falling down in laughter. Learn a new song on an instrument you play, and hold a “recital” in your living room. If more than one member of your family plays an instrument, work on a performance together.

Virtual Travel and Games

You could also spend the summer vacation money on virtual reality headsets. This marvelous technology is a fantastic way to virtually leave your house and go on vacations together, using 3D travel apps. Want to walk the streets of Paris? Climb mountains in the Himalayas? You’re only a VR headset away.

Backyard Water Game Day

Beat the summer heat on your staycation with a day of water games in your backyard. Ask your kids to plan games and gather the necessary accessories like water hoses, kiddie pools, sprinklers, soaking guns, water slides, water balloons (be sure to pick up the broken balloon pieces) and plenty of sunblock. You can go all out renting an inflatable water play set, or you can keep it budget-friendly. Bring on the popsicles and laughter.

 

Night in for the Parents

Parents may just need a vacation from their kids. Try to set up a cozy, romantic room or patio area for your loved one. Group candles around your backyard. Flameless candles4 are great and there’s no fire hazard. Set up a hammock or pillows or some other way to relax. Chill a bottle of wine, soda or whatever happens to be your favorite beverage. Make up a cheese tray. It can be fancy, or it can be laid-back. Pour a bag of chips into a bowl if that’s your style. Set some mood music, relax and kick back.

 

Learning Vacation

Many people love to travel to new locations and learn about culture, architecture, art, languages, food, and more. The opportunity to learn something new during your staycation is limited only by your imagination.

Because of the pandemic, many museums now offer free virtual tours. Spend days in the Louvre, or take an interactive tour of Mark Twain’s house. Visit zoos virtually, or set up Zoom meetings with friends or relatives in different countries so you can practice conversing in a foreign language.

Travel the world for free using your local library card. Libraries have a wealth of e-books available to download from the library’s website onto your own device. Just pick them out and download, prop your feet up and escape into a mystery, thriller, romance, fantasy, or whatever genre you enjoy. Have your favorite beverage and snacks near your reading haven.

Take an online class on cooking, digital art, sewing, or something that intrigues you. This is your staycation. If your goal is to spend more time outdoors, consider starting a new flower or vegetable garden or a compost pile. Set up a rain barrel water collection system, making use of the rainwater rolling off your roof.

You can even make it a learning vacation for your pet. Learn how to teach your pet tricks or a new skill, like sniffing out smells. Or, just chill with your cuddly cat on your lap. For some, that’s a heavenly vacation.

For those who would rather “do” than chill, spend your staycation time learning a new craft. Clear out your schedule and spend that time really digging into whatever it is you want to learn. Use budgeted summer vacation money to order acrylic or oil paints, modeling clay, mosaics or stained glass supplies, whatever strikes your fancy, and learn a new skill you’ll maintain long after your staycation is over.

 

Renovate a Space in your Home

For those who need to be active during vacations, think about a renovation vacation. Since you’ve been home so much the last two months, no doubt you’ve zeroed in on a corner or a room of your house that’s begging for an update or a redo. Repaint the kitchen and add a backsplash or replace the flooring. Update your bedroom, adding new curtains or blinds. Turn that depressing basement into a new game room, guest room or home office. Browse among the DIY articles from professionals for inspiration and guidance.

Whatever your stay-at-home vacation fantasy is, try to make it happen. This pandemic won’t last forever, and the vacation you take this summer, at your own home, may just spark some of the best memories ever. Don’t forget to take photos!

This article was originally posted on Porch.com.

Homeschooling Hacks that Parents and Students Can Use

With social distancing measures and directives still firmly in place for many locales, many parents are contemplating what the upcoming school year looks like as part of the new normal. Thanks to the use of video conferencing technology, distance learning and homeschooling will be the reality for many families at least for the fall. Your child’s physical campus may be your home, which can be a potential source of stress for parents, teachers and students alike. Here are some hacks that can bring some stress-relieving fun to your household or campus.

 

Establishing a Routine

When working from home, it’s important to establish a routine for each weekday morning. Now that your kids are back to school, you need to set a schedule to keep them on track. Make it a fun activity by using art supplies such as colorful markers, crayons and poster boards to create a weekly schedule. Use construction paper or index cards to color-code the schedule based on the days, or the children themselves. You can use your entryway or a mudroom as a kind of homeschooling control center which not only features the schedule, but also assignments and chores to be completed.

 

Prepping Meals

A fun activity might include incorporating meal prep for the week into your Monday routine. This is a great hack for teaching your younger kids how to make their own lunches. Using colorful pens, markers, notebook paper and plastic storage bins, you can organize non-perishable lunch and/or snack items in your pantry and perishable items in your refrigerator. Kids can learn to make healthful choices in putting together their lunches for the week or on a daily basis.

 

Organizing School and Art Supplies

An important consideration for school at home is to make sure there are dedicated spaces for your homeschooling supplies. Save time and avoid procrastination by using a caddy or plastic drawer sets to organize supplies. Crayons, pens, pencils and other writing utensils can be stored in the various compartments in your caddy. Notebooks, construction paper and drawing pads can be organized in a dedicated set of drawers in a designated area so your kids know where to go for supplies, especially when it’s time for homework.

 

Designating Homework Notebooks

A little chalkboard paint or paper on the cover of your children’s notebooks gives them a place to write down their daily assignments to keep track of the textbooks needed for homework. Colorful chalks, including chalk crayons, are great for making note of assignments on these notebook covers. It also provides an opportunity for creative expression as kids can draw their names and other decorative elements on the cover.

With a fall semester that looks less and less like what you and your kids are used to, it’s important to prepare. Getting back into the swing of things will be a challenge, but you can make it fun with a few creative hacks that let students use their creativity, imagination and quality school supplies. Establishing routines, maximizing group activities and designating work areas can help everyone get back into a school state of mind.

Everything You Need to Know About the GMAT

The majority of students who hope to pursue an advanced business degree, such as an MBA, have to take either the GRE or GMAT. While some graduate programs have dropped their standardized testing requirements for applicants altogether, the majority of business schools still ask prospective students to report their scores for one of these exams. In addition, some MBA programs will only accept GMAT scores, not GRE results.

While some MBA hopefuls opt to take the GRE, taking the GMAT will allow you to apply to the widest range of programs. If you confidently have your eyes set on a Master of Business Administration degree, then it’s time to buckle down and start preparing for the GMAT.

 

Test Questions and Format

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the GMAT test-makers, the GMAT acts as a predictor of success in a graduate business program and helps applicants stand out from the pack. The exam “measures your critical thinking and reasoning skills, the two most relevant skills to the world’s top graduate business programs.”

Like the GRE, the GMAT is computer-adaptive, meaning the exam adjusts itself in response to your abilities, and questions become more or less difficult accordingly. The GMAT includes the following test sections, which are individually scored:

 

Analytical Writing AssessmentThis portion of the exam tests your ability to think critically and convey your ideas in writing. You have 30 minutes to answer one question analysis of an argument question—scores for this section range from 0 to 6, with half-point increments.

 

Integrated ReasoningThe Integrated Reasoning section measures your ability to understand and evaluate information represented in different formats. Question types include graphics interpretation, table analysis, multi-source reasoning, and two-part analysis. Test-takers have 30 minutes to answer 12 questions. You can score anywhere from one to eight with one-point increments.

 

QuantitativeIn 62 minutes, you have to answer 31 data sufficiency and problem-solving questions. This section of the test measures your ability to understand data and use reasoning skills to make conclusions based on the given information. You will receive a score from six to 51 with one-point increments.

 

Verbal According to the GMAC, the Verbal Reasoning section “measures your ability to read and understand written material, to evaluate arguments, and to correct written material to conform to standard written English.” You have 65 minutes to complete 36 reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction questions. Scores range from six to 51 with one-point increments.

Unlike the GRE, LSAT, and MCAT, the GMAT allows test-takers to choose the order in which they complete the exam. You can select one of the three following options:

– Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal
– Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
– Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

 

Exam and Application Costs

The cost of taking the GRE varies by country, but in the U.S., you can expect to pay $275 for the exam itself. For each additional score report you order it costs $35.

If you want an enhanced score report, you’ll pay an extra $30. This report can tell you the percentage of questions you answered correctly, rank your performance by question type, identify your strengths and weaknesses, show how you managed your time, and tell you how well you performed on questions based on their difficulty.

 

Recommendations for Test Prep

On average, applicants spend 100 to 120 hours studying for the GMAT over the span of two to three months. Once you choose from the GMAT test dates for 2020, it’s recommended that you create a study calendar. The GMAT test-makers offer a free eight-week study planner that will help you track your progress, develop a strategy to improve your score and create a plan for the day of the exam.

 

Mastering the GMAT

To improve your odds of acceptance into an MBA or other professional program, you’ll want to leverage the GMAT to show off your analytical, reasoning, and writing abilities. While not all schools require you to take the exam, reporting your scores is an opportunity to prove your capabilities. To master the GMAT, give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the exam and even take the exam more than once if you aren’t satisfied with your performance.

7 Home Exterior Updates for Maximum Curb Appeal

When you’re trying to improve your home’s look, you shouldn’t only think about how it looks inside. It would help if you remembered to update and improve upon your curb appeal too.

With the right home exterior updates, you’re going to be able even to enhance the value of your property.

If you’re considering investing more in your home’s curb appeal, there are several updates worth an investment. Try out seven exterior home updates in this article below.

Start with the necessary clean up

Before you do any significant updates and improvements upon your home’s curb appeal, the first step is to clean up your house’s exterior.

Sometimes, people think that they don’t like how the exterior of their home looks, but after a good cleaning, they find that few, if any, change about it at all.

A clean up doesn’t only involve getting rid of dirt. It also includes the essential maintenance of the current things around the outside of your home.

For example, you can trim the bushes and other plants outside your home that are getting a bit out of hand. You can also touch up the pain trimmings around your home. Don’t forget to mow your lawn.

This first step is essential because it’ll show you which aspects of your home need more of an update and which ones are fine.

Revamp your landscape

When people think about improving their curb appeal, their landscaping is the first thing that they believe in developing.

When you neglect your landscaping, it can make your home look older and more worn out. If you don’t trim your greeneries often, they can overgrow, which can add that neglected look to your home.

Aside from the general maintenance of your landscaping, you should consider upgrading it too. If you have the budget for it, you can also spend some money by improving the walkway leading up to the front door.

Replace the exterior finish

When people think of improving their curb appeal, often the first thing that comes to mind is the landscaping.

Although that’s a significant part of how your curb appeal looks, there are also other parts outside your home that could enjoy a revamping.

One such thing would be the exterior finish of your home. There are plenty of ways you can replace or revamp your exterior finish.

For example, house recladding in Auckland is a popular way to improve people’s homes’ surface finish. Not only are you changing the way that your house looks in a significant manner, but you’re also investing in the exterior protection for your home.

There are all sorts of recladding options available for you, so you should weigh each type of recladding material.

Place some outdoor lights

Something as simple as lighting can change how they look and feel of a place will be. When it comes to outdoor lights, your priority is how it makes your house look when it’s nighttime. Thus, you have to be strategic with your placement.

There are all sorts of outdoor lights out there, each with a different purpose, effect, and lighting method. Knowing the exact way that each outdoor lighting fixture works will help you figure out where it’s best to place them.

Besides accentuating your home’s exterior with light and pieces of furniture, you should ensure that your home’s number sign is visible. That way, guests will have an easier time looking for your home if you have a dinner party.

Swap your roof shingles

If you’re looking to make significant upgrades to your curb appeal, you’re going to have a budget. If you’re willing to get a relatively expensive update in your home, you should spend that on your roof shingles.

When it comes to the colors, you should be deliberate about the colors of your roof shingles. It’s much better to get darker roof shingles, especially if you need to neutralize your home color.

Consider switching out your windows

Replacing your windows is a step that few people take, but it can update your home’s exterior. When choosing to replace your windows, make sure that you take the entirety of your home’s design in mind.

If you have a period home, you need to make sure that your windows match that theme. Otherwise, it might feel like a mismatch.

Create stylish hardscape

Besides landscapes, you also have the option of improving upon the hardscapes around the exterior of your home.

Your hardscapes are things like the walkways leading up to the front door, the driveway, fountains, etc.

Creating a consistent style between your hardscapes will add a sense of structure to the design of your curb appeal.

Over to You

From the smallest changes to the most significant improvements, updating your home’s exterior can have massive effects on the appeal of your home.

Stick to a theme and think about how each element of your home’s exterior plays into one another.

Next time you find yourself fiending for a change in your home, consider updating your curb appeal with the help of these home exterior upgrades.

The Links Between City Living and Better Health

For years, the prevailing wisdom has been that living in a city is bad for your health. Why would anyone choose to live in a crowded, noisy urban environment when they could stretch out in the suburbs? Although it’s true that the suburban lifestyle is attractive in many ways, it may not be as good for you as you have been led to believe. A recent study conducted by the University of Oxford and the University of Hong Kong found that obesity rates are lower where the population is denser. In addition, people who live in cities socialize more often than those who live in places with lower density.

Based on these findings, the impact of urban living on overall health should be easy to determine. City dwellers typically walk more because everything they need is close to them. This results in lower obesity rates than in suburban and rural areas where sprawl forces most people to drive everywhere. Plus, being surrounded by others means city people spend more time socializing. That can have significant mental health benefits. Overall, this study concludes, living in urban areas isn’t as harmful to one’s well-being as the consensus seems to believe. There are many reasons why humans have chosen to live so close to one another throughout history. Even though technology has made it possible for us to live farther apart, that distance may be damaging to our health. For more details about how living in a city can mean a healthier lifestyle, see the charts on the accompanying guide.

Let Your Hair Do the Talking – Most Popular Hairstyles and Hair Tips for 2020

2020 has been an interesting year mixed with successes, failures, emotions, and so far, absurdities on a global scale. While everyone is grappling with what the year has given us, the masses are still holding on to what the future presents.

And for this piece, instead of looking at health and politics, we’re focusing on something the 2020 woman is concerned about – hair and style.

Despite 2020 not offering many opportunities to slay publicly, hair trends and tips have still cropped up to define what the year should look like for the modern woman. In this piece, we’ll go through the most interesting of these hairstyles and hair tips that will rock the rest of your year. So, read on.

Short Hair Is Getting Popular

With everyone under lockdown, keeping those long locks kempt is becoming quite an issue. Thus, more women are leaning towards short hair.

And even without considering the lockdown, celebrities had already started building a short hair trend as early as the year started. Most notable of them were Karlie Kloss and Kaia Gerber who donned super-chic, super-short hairstyles at the beginning of the year.

However, short hair doesn’t mean that the blade has to cut everything. You can try Bob cuts, which are the more popular short hair alternative. The classic bob is very versatile, sleek, and looks sophisticated.

Embrace Natural Texture

A common 2020 hairstyle theme is texture. More and more women are starting to embrace their natural locks and thus showing off their natural texture in any hairstyle they wear. This means that we’ll be seeing less of over-styled, super-sleek hair.

Instead, hairstyles will be having more natural texture – whether it’s curly or relaxed and tousled. That’s why classic Bob cuts, for instance, are getting popular.

This means that for 2020, heat tools should be used less often. And if you do, they should accentuate your natural texture instead of suppressing it.

Try Deep Waves and Curls

Long hair is still a popular hairstyle in 2020. Specifically, more women are leaning towards deep waves and curls. The main reason for this is, deep waves are easy to make, maintain, and can work even with thin hair complimented with hair extensions.

Deep waves only need hairspray and a wand to make. The wand creates the curls or waves while the hairspray gives the hair some hold. For ladies with thin hair, these deep waves perfectly add volume to your hair. All you have to do is run a brush through your hair once the curls are done.

Bold Roots for Depth

Color creates depth. And for 2020, bold roots are what you need for healthy-looking and voluminous hair. The best part is, this trick requires minimal effort from you.

Bold roots add more interest to your hair color. All you have to do is let your roots grow naturally as they would. The natural bold color of the roots adds the much-needed depth and edge to your hair and hair color.

And since trying this look requires little maintenance, bold roots are great for the year since most salons are not open or operate within restrictions.

Warm Hair Colors

Warm hair colors should be your colors of choice for 2020. That means no more Icy Platinum Blonde dies on your hair. Instead, warm blondes, mahogany spice balayage, and auburn highlights are the new trendy tones.

These colors don’t require much upkeep, which makes them perfect for 2020 where movement is mostly restricted. These colors also grow out nicely if you use techniques like face-framing highlights. Plus, they brighten your looks too.

Alternatively, you can go for solid colors instead of highlights – which ruled most of 2019. These single-process colors also require less maintenance, thus fewer visits to the salon.

Things You Should Know about Arthritis

What exactly is arthritis?

Arthritis is a disease that results in joints’ inflammation, making it challenging to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. There are almost 100 types of arthritis, the most common ones being rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).

Causes and symptoms of arthritis:

It is essential to recognize the signs of arthritis during the early onset of the disease so that timely treatment can be given. The faster you take treatment, the greater the possibility of living a pain-free life. One of the clearest indicators of arthritis is when you cannot move your joints freely, i.e., your movement is restricted. Even though arthritis is mostly seen in older people over 65 years of age, it doesn’t mean that younger people are immune to this disease. If you find swelling in your joint, it is better to consult a doctor immediately, irrespective of how old you are.

An excess of weight puts stress on the knees while walking or doing any other physical activity. Therefore, overweight or obese people are at a higher risk of arthritis. Also, medical research found arthritis more frequent in women than men. In women, the absence of hormone estrogen after menopause makes the cartilage weaker to protect it from inflammation. Biologically, women’s joints go through more movement than men and have lower joint stability. This results in a higher risk of joint injuries, thus increasing the risk of arthritis in females.

In most cases, the symptoms increase in intensity slowly. However, they could appear overnight too. With redness, stiffness, and swelling as the symptoms of arthritis, they are particularly painful in the morning hours. When it comes to RA, you may also see a loss in appetite and fatigue without reason. If you do not take treatment for RA, it can also lead to joint deformity.

Causes of arthritis

The cartilage that is a flexible connective tissue in our body plays a vital role in providing a protective cushion to our joints. Without that protection cushion between two bones, the bones cause friction against each other, causing immense pain and inflammation. So, naturally, joints become vulnerable to wear and tear when the cartilage tissue breaks down, causing damage as well.

In the case of RA, the immune system attacks a soft tissue named synovium, which creates a fluid for the cartilage enabling smooth functioning of joints. If not provided with timely treatment, it can cause total damage to the joint and cartilage.

Diagnosis and treatment

Indeed, arthritis cannot be cured, but that doesn’t mean treatment cannot help the condition. You can do in such a situation to receive proper treatment aiming at a better quality of life. Many a time, people who experience the above symptoms are clueless on how to go about it. Usually, it would be just wiser to visit a general physician and let him or her direct you to a specialist, if you indeed are suffering from arthritis. While, if your symptoms are severe and painful, it is better to get it confirmed by a rheumatologist. The earlier you start the treatment, the better are the chances of keeping the symptoms under control.

This disease can be diagnosed with imaging scans like X-ray, MRI, or CT to get a clear picture of joints and cartilage conditions. Then, the doctor would determine the kind of arthritis you have, through blood tests such as anti-CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide), RF (rheumatoid factor), and ANA (antinuclear antibody).

The severe pain that comes along with this disease is why arthritis lowers the quality of life. So, if you manage and keep the pain in control, it can be effective in improving the quality of life in arthritis patients. Typically, treatment methods in arthritis provide pain relief to a large extent and strengthen the joints for better functionality.

Treatment

You can choose any of the treatment options available or combine one with the other in consultation with your doctor. Mostly, what works for one person may not work for the other. You can look at any of these options here:

Many high- quality researches has shown that CBD oils can be able to help lessen and control the symptoms of arthritis, for example, relieving the associated inflammatory pain. CBD extract is available as an oil, creams, or gels that patients can easily apply to the skin of the areas affected by arthritis. For a more in-depth understanding of this method, you can read this article.

  • Medication: Drugs are the most effective and used method of treating arthritis. While analgesics like hydrocodone or acetaminophen decrease only pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and salicylates decrease both pain and inflammation. However, salicylates should be taken carefully in combination with blood-thinning medications. One can also take advantage of over the counter drugs available for arthritis.
  • Supporting devices: Icing the joints frequently with ice packs or using heating bags can also help in instant pain relief. Alternatively, doctors also suggest using walkers or walking sticks to keep pressure off joints.
  • Surgery: One of the most effective treatments used by arthritis patients is knee replacement or hip replacement surgery. The total knee replacement surgery is also known as arthroplasty. In this surgery, the arthritic bone is replaced by a prosthetic one.
  • Healthy lifestyle: It is also possible to control arthritis by leading a healthy and active lifestyle. Regular physical therapy can help manage the pain by strengthening the muscles around the joint. A weight loss regime to maintain your weight can reduce the pain. The diet of an arthritis patient should be healthy and contain antioxidants. Foodstuffs like walnuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables should be taken instead of processed foods, dairy products, and junks.
  • Recent studies also point towards the advantages of a gluten-free diet for people with arthritis. In the long run, a healthy lifestyle can slow down the progression of osteoarthritis and keep the intense pain related to it.
  • Physical activity: Exercises like hamstring stretches or any exercise which focuses on quadriceps, hamstring, and glutes can be beneficial for people suffering from osteoarthritis. One of the most comfortable physical activities for arthritis has to be swimming, as it doesn’t pressurize the knees or joints. However, it is necessary to take ample amounts of rest in short intervals as well.

While surgeries and medicines can be quite costly, leading a healthy lifestyle can be a better option in the long run. Arthritis cannot be cured totally, but treatment still can do a lot better when it comes to intense pain and further deterioration of joints.