What is a prepaid funeral plan?

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You might find it difficult or a touch grim to think about planning for your funeral – let alone paying for it in advance. But with death as one of the very few certainties in life, there is every reason to plan for just how you want to be remembered. Just as importantly, perhaps, you and your loved ones are likely to spend considerably less money when making the arrangements you have chosen.

Making and paying for those arrangements in advance is the essence of prepaid funeral plans, so let’s see how one works – you might find the economic arguments compelling.

The cost of a funeral

According to information published by insurers Sun Life on the 14th of September 2016, the average cost of dying in the UK at the moment is £8,802 – this includes the cost of the funeral itself, your send-off (flowers, gravestone, venue for a wake or reception) and the administration of probate.

This increase represents more than 16 times the rate of inflation, explains Sun Life, with the cost of the basic funeral alone having risen by 5% since the last time the company conducted a survey of costs in 2015.

Beating inflation

The way to beating at least part of those costs is to freeze what you need to pay for the funeral itself. That is the idea behind a prepaid funeral plan.

You make the arrangements you want to be respected, but pay for them in advance, at today’s prices, rather than those which are likely to have escalated considerably when the time eventually comes. The sooner you make the arrangements for a prepaid funeral plan, in other words, the greater the savings are likely to be.

Funeral directors’ plans

You might be wondering what is so novel about prepaid funeral plans – after all many funeral directors offer the chance to pay for their services in advance and, so, help you stave off their increased prices in future.

How safe is that money you might have paid over, though? What if the firm goes out of business before your time comes? There is a risk that you might seriously lose out.

Prepaid funeral plans

With a prepaid funeral plan from a national provider, however, you may be certain of your money being safe until it is needed to pay your chosen funeral director – especially when that national provider is also a registered member of the Funeral Planning Authority (the industry’s self-regulator).

In that case, whatever you pay is kept safely and securely, either in a trust created specifically for that purpose, or applied to the purchase of a whole of life insurance policy, which pays out the guaranteed insured cash benefit to your designated beneficiaries whenever you die.

If your chosen funeral director does go out of business during the interim, your funeral plan provider is typically able to divert the relevant funds to another firm in your area.

In this way, a prepaid funeral plan may give you the reassurance and confidence of knowing whatever amount you have paid remains protected, yet serves to help ward off the financially painful effects of inflation.

Marriage Advice from Celebrity Couples

Collaboration with Max Black

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Private lives of rich and famous are extremely exposed, so we often hear about scandals, disputes, outrageous statements, and of course – rumors about new couples that emerged or the hottest news about luxurious celebrity weddings. Hollywood is filled with short term marriages and sometimes – love is put aside in favor of publicity. But what about those stars who tied the knot and have been married for years, even decades? There must be some secret to their success since they managed to resist the pressures of living in the public eye: it’s not that easy to protect your private love life from nosy paparazzi and fans. You surely can learn a few things from them: here are the best pieces of marriage advices to treasure.

Respect and reciprocity are crucial

In order to nurture a healthy relationship, you have to fully respect your spouse and accept them without holding back. As the star of Grey’s Anatomy Patrick Dempsey says – you mustn’t strive to change the other person according to your own desires. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West had to put an effort to accepting each other: as Kanye said – his wife lets him say a lot of things most wives wouldn’t allow; but also – Kanye tolerates Kim’s daring photos and open sexuality on social media.

 Spicing your sex life

The most common thing that happens when you’re married for a long time is monotony. The spark gets lost and you’re left with a person you care about, although you feel no passion. Many couples reach a boredom rot, while their sex life becomes a routine or they stop having sex completely. The boring bedroom syndrome is real, but don’t wave your white flag just yet. Learn a thing of two from Beyonce and Jay Z: although they’ve been through some rocky paths, they’ve been married for over eight years now. A couple of years ago, they were caught buying sex toys in the amount of $6000! Victoria and David Beckham are also known for playing in the bedroom, while Hugh Jackman decided to buy sex toys in Australia to experiment a bit while on vacation: what’s stopping you from spicing things up? There’s no shame in having a bit fun!

Showing affection every day

In long-term relationships, people get used to having that special someone by their side, but they forget to show just how important that person is to them. You need to show affection on a daily basis. When asked about her secret to a lasting marriage, Julia Roberts simply replied: “Probably kissing.” Another great tip comes from the musician Luke Bryan: he said he gives his wife foot massages before bed – how cute! Take another piece of advice from Tony Goldwyn, too: he loves making Sunday waffles for his wife and to prepare her yummy meals. You have to try a bit to make it work, right?

Open communication is everything

So many married couples fall into a rut, so eventually – they stop having meaningful conversations. In the worst case scenario, spouses stop communicating completely, so they may resent each other, but don’t talk it out. This can lead to worse problems, such as cheating or even divorce. However, celebrity couples such as Emily Blunt and John Krasinski underlined the importance of talking to each other and being forever generous. Neil Patrick Harris and his other half, David Burtka, are on the same page with one thing: you cannot have a great marriage if you stay quiet. Conflicts can be healthy as they push your relationship forward.

Make a decision to be there – in sickness and in health

American singer Faith Hill made a really great point about the essence of a strong marriage. There are no secrets to it. You simply have to decide every day you’re going to be there for the person you love, through ups and downs, and try to laugh as much as you can, while cherishing each other.

Cherish and respect your partner. The bottom line is this: love evolves and you have to put a bit of effort to it.

Become a master of entertaining kids

Some people just have that knack of entertaining groups of kids. They know how to talk to them, can predict what they’ll find entertaining and can get down on the carpet and play with them without inhibition. If you’re not one of these people you’ll no doubt be impressed, and also mildly confused. How DO they do that? It’s no mean feat to be able to walk into a room full of four year olds and start telling a story, including doing the voices as easily as they can walk into a room full of adolescents and not embarrass themselves by talking about a teenage sensation whose star waned not more than twenty minutes ago.

If you’re not one of these people blessed with a natural child affinity, it’s possible to learn how to bluff it. And here’s how.

It’s all about preparation. If you’re facing a situation where you’ll be dealing with children, babysitting nephews or nieces, attending a wedding where kids will be in attendance, doesn’t matter. The key is preparation. First of all, learn a story you can tell them. Not one of the standard skits but one they won’t have heard before. If you can do the voices and go on a freestyle riff, so much the better. And make it scary. Kids love that stuff.

If the kids aren’t in the mood for listening, you could come prepared by looking for entertaining toys and gadgets from the likes of Toddlers Stuff. Be sure to read their product reviews.

If all else fails, you could do worse than encouraging them to play a new game. One with simple rules that doesn’t take any preparation or need any kit beyond what you’ll find around the room.

Rumplestiltskin

Choose a hider and give them a napkin. The rest of the group leave the room and the hider hides the napkin somewhere with just a corner showing. The seekers have to find the napkin somewhere in the room, but they’re not allowed to touch anything. Once you see the napkin, you say “Rumplestiltskin” but don’t let on where you saw it. Once everyone has said Rumplestiltskin, the first person to see the napkin is the hider for the next round.

Who Said What Now?

This game is completely pointless but it passes time. It’s a mash-up of word association and Chinese Whispers. Sit the kids in a circle, and have to first one whisper a word to the child next to them, that child then has to whisper the first word that they think of to the next child. After each round ask the children to tell you what they said to get a unique insight into the workings of their minds.

Ming Mang Mong

Again, sit in a circle. Pick someone to start. They point at someone and say ‘Ming’. Ming must now point at someone and say ‘Mang’. Mang points to someone and says ‘Mong’. It doesn’t sound hard but it gets faster and faster. If anyone says the wrong name they’re out, but they are allowed to try to distract the players who are left. Utter chaos ensues.

Smile For Me

Tell one of the children “Honey, if you really loved me, you’d give me a smile!” They have to say “Honey, I love you, but I just can’t give you a smile!” without smiling. If they say it without smiling do whatever it takes to make them smile or laugh. Once they crack, it’s their go to tell someone “Honey, if you really loved me, you’d give me a smile!”

Wanna Buy a Donkey?

One child has to be the Donkey. You also need a Salesman. The rest of the kids sit in a circle around the donkey and salesman and the salesman selects a potential buyer. The salesman asks “Wanna buy a donkey?” Of course the child doesn’t and says so. So the salesman starts in with the pitch. They say something like “But this donkey can stand on its hands and bark like a dog!” Naturally the donkey has to do what the salesman says it can and when the prospective buyer laughs, they become the donkey and the donkey becomes the salesman.

 

 

Teaching kids about their environment

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As the inheritors of our planet, kids have the biggest stake of all in preserving local and global habitats. They tend to respond better to playful, absorbing learning methods rather than lecture-style teaching, so making planet-friendly choices part of your life can have a huge impact!

Here are a few simple yet absorbing ways to teach them about their environment; from waste prevention to global warming for kids.

Get stuck in

Kids tend to learn most about the environment by interacting with it, so get out to your local park or woodland and enjoy those muddy puddles! Activities like spotting woodlice, birds or bats (best tried at twilight) make for a great day out, along with simple sensory experiences like the feel of different bark on the trees. Bring along a magnifying glass so that they can investigate up close for themselves.

While you’re outdoors, you can talk about what you’re seeing: robins are especially curious animals, for example, while ants can lift 20 times their own bodyweight. Then, they can draw or write a story about what they remember once you get home. Going on a local nature walk lead by someone who’s devoted their life to studying wildlife is another hugely enlightening option, and not just for kids!

Reuse, recycle

Learning the basics of waste prevention can start at a very young age. Ever noticed how kids are often more excited by playing with a cardboard box than the toy inside? Encourage this love of creative play by saving (clean) food and drink containers, loo rolls and even old scraps of curtain or carpet. These materials can be transformed again and again into spaceships, ancient tombs, jungles; their imagination is the limit! Ask older kids to help you sort through anything they don’t use for the recycling, giving them an idea of how recycling works practically.

Planting edible plants and herbs in the back garden is another easy (and delicious) way to prevent waste and bring food to the table with zero air miles and no packaging! To nurture their fledgling plants, challenge kids to collect scraps like vegetable peelings and coffee grounds to make a compost heap, which will miraculously convert kitchen waste to spongy soil!

Open discussion

Although a frequently contested topic, NASA’s latest figures show temperatures rising and arctic ice decreasing by 13.4% each decade, impacting habitats across the world. Most kids will have heard about global warming from one source or another, but they could be confused about what it actually is.

Talk the issue through with them, with the help of a global warming for kids guide or just your own knowledge. When it comes to talking through global warming for kids, it can help to focus on positive actions like deciding to walk or cycle more often. You may even want to involve them in big discussions about your own lifestyle choices, whether you’re thinking of buying a greener car or taking a train rather than a plane for your next holiday

5 Ways to Increase Your Family’s Bond Without Electronics

image1Our hectic lifestyles have caused families to drift apart. The need to increase the family bond continues to grow. Even when families are in the same room, the chances are that they are interacting with electronic devices instead of each other. Today’s technologies have improved our lives but are contributing to the downfall of the family units. With this being so finding ways to bond is very important. There are numerous ways of trying to accomplish this. The following are five ways to work on increasing the family bond without electronics.

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  1. Exercising Together. Whether the family goes to the gym or works out together at home, exercise can increase the family bond. Each family member can set individual goals or family goals can be set. The process of working together to reach those goals helps to tighten that family bond. The family is showing each other support.
  1. A Weekly Help Sessions. Scheduling a day to sit together and talk about individual and family problems is therapeutic and bonding for the family. The problems can be homework, chores, individual problems, or family issues. Working together strengthens the bonds and teaches that the individuals that they can depend on the family when in need.
  1. Car rides. A simple car ride can be fun and bonding. There are several things that can be done during a car ride to make it fun, educational and challenging. The family can come up with a list of different things to look for on the ride. For example one time they can drive around looking for purple vehicles. Another time looking for a particular style of architecture. The family can have contest on who can find the most of these items.
  1. Taking family walks can improve the family’s health and their bond. Having a set day and time period will help teach responsibility as well. These walk can be time to chit chat, talk about issues, or just have fun looking at what is around.
  1. Date Night. With kids or without a scheduled date night it very bonding. It is a scheduled time period that the family know that no matter how busy life is that the family will get to spend time together. This time can be spent talking about life events going on. Planning activities, discussing chores planning trips or just relaxing and eating a quiet dinner together.

Most of these activities can be done for little to no cost. Activities such as eating out and going to a gym are going to cost the family some money. The activities themselves may be free of electronics but the internet can save the family money on the activities that do cost them. For example, those families that live in Boston they can go to websites such as Groupon.com and get discounts for various gyms in Boston. No matter what activity or activities the family chooses to do, their time together will provide them with quality memories to bond over throughout their lives.

How Your Newborn Can Enjoy Country Life Too

There are lots of hazards for small children and babies when you live in the country. You might have an open fire. A fire guard can prevent small children from reaching into the fire, but it won’t stop the smoke from wafting into the room. Smokey rooms can make it difficult for newborns to breathe well, especially if they are more sensitive to it. Country living is often colder too. And there tend to be more animals around. So how can your newborn be safe enough to enjoy country life?

Just a few precautions can reduce any risks substantially. Start with the fire. As your baby starts to drift off to sleep, simply lay him down in a room that is not as smokey. Some extra air circulating in the room could be enough from an open window. Usually, the smoke will only bother a child if he already has a cough or sensitivity.

In colder climates or at cooler times of the year, add an extra blanket and a newborn bonnet to keep your baby warm enough. As he starts to move more, he will be able to keep warm in his own way. We all tend to get used to temperatures fairly quickly. Avoid scarves and other clothing that could get too tight.

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Thanks to Maena for the photo

If you handle pets or other animals, be sure to wash and cleanse your hands thoroughly afterwards. This should be repeated if you have changed your baby’s diaper. To avoid nosy pets disturbing or harming the baby, keep them away from the room your baby is in. It’s important to introduce the baby to your pets, but this isn’t necessary for outdoor animals.

Now you have taken some precautions, it’s time for your baby to make the most of his environment. Country life gives you plenty of opportunities to explore landscapes that city-born children don’t have. Go for long walks together. If you have a harness, this may be easier to carry your baby. It’s also a really great way to bond and spend quality time together.

You can also enjoy park walks if you have a good pushchair. And with pushchair raincovers, you can enjoy the great outdoors whatever the weather. It’s good for your baby to experience the sights and smells of the environment. Watching the animals can be quite intriguing for your little one too. Don’t encourage animals to come over to you while you have your baby with you, though.

While you are out and about, talk to your little one about the things you can see and the sounds you hear. It helps build up your baby’s vocabulary and understanding of the world around her. Pack a change bag, some boiled water for you both, and plenty of baby wipes for when you are out. You may also want some travel hand cleanser. Tissues are handy for a runny nose too!

Life can be so different in the country for a new baby. Of course, the experience of lots of different environments and noises is good for a developing child. Enjoy yours with your new baby.

Is an eco-friendly home a perfect fit for your family?

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At varying points, we’ll all wish we could contribute more towards saving the planet. Whether it’s being more mindful of our energy usage, installing solar panels, walking to work, or recycling, there are numerous ways that you can become the eco-warrior you’ve always wanted to be. Have you ever considered building your family an eco-friendly home, though?

Key features for your eco-friendly home

Solar panels are an excellent way of creating energy for your home without harming the environment – plus unused electricity can be sold back to the energy board for a profit. A water storage system is also a great idea; trap and use rainwater, reuse your home’s own water supply, and turn water into an energy supply. If you’re worried about keeping your home warm in the winter, or cool in the summer, think about your walls – insulation in your attic and walls will greatly reduce energy bills, save the environment, and keep you comfortable, while walls that store and convert thermal energy into power will form an integral part of future eco homes.

What are the pros and cons of creating an eco-friendly home for your family? For starters, you’ll be helping to save the environment by reducing your carbon footprint, saving a bundle on your energy bills, and creating a safe and happy home for your family, as well as enabling you to become a part of the future of home ownership. On the flip side, creating and building your own property can be incredibly stressful, forcing you to overcome planning issues, logistical nightmares, and architectural errors along the way. In addition, the task of building a house, especially to such exact specifications, can be hugely costly. If you’re still up for the challenge, though, read on.

Planning and building an eco-friendly house

Eco-friendly homes are incredibly fashionable at the moment, and inspiration can be found everywhere. Take a look at the types of building material being used in properties around you; insulated materials, specialist glazing and steel are all commonly used, and you’ll notice large windows to make the most of natural light, as well as solar panels to harness the sun’s rays. Furnishing your home needn’t be an end to the eco-friendliness of your new pad; upcycled, or vintage, furniture, items made from recycled goods, and those sourced responsibly, will make your new house a home.

It’s essential to entrust the building of your home to a firm that understands just how important every detail is to you, as well as a company that is able to source environmentally responsible items. Certified experts such as M1 Building Group are assets to any eco-friendly build. The company, which is owned by Middle Eastern investment holdings firm M1 Group, has recently introduced eco-friendly design into its real estate builds worldwide. If you’ve never considered what may be involved in building your own eco house, M1 Group’s expertise will be invaluable.

Building an eco-friendly home for your family may be one of the most rewarding projects you ever undertake; how else will you ensure that your house is everything that your family needs, as well as helping to save the environment?

Styling Tips for Fine Hair as a Mom

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You’re chasing after the kids, functioning as the family chauffeur and the go-to person for the spouse and kids. Or you hold down a job and come home to the role of chief cook and bottlewasher. Who has time to style her hair?

If you feel like wearing a bag over your head most days, if bad hair days are routine, or if high hair fashion is a rubber band, here’s help. These are salon-tested tips and tricks to make the most of fine, thinning hair for busy moms on the go.

What Makes Hair Fine and Thin?

Many women are born with hair that is naturally fine. Marie Claire Magazine points out its many advantages:

  • manageable
  • versatile
  • holds many shapes

If that doesn’t describe yours, it’s probably due to changes in your naturally fine hair due to:

  • heredity
  • hormones, especially around menopause
  • age
  • too many products, too much coloring, too many permanents

Treat Your Hair with Kindness

What to do with fine, thin hair is one of the most common problems that women bring to their hair stylists. These experts can help you make the most of your delicate locks.

According to the stylists at Philip Pelusi, the first thing a professional will recommend is to use natural, volumizing shampoos and conditioners. These are made with fewer chemicals that can add to the damage that has already affected your hair.

These specialty products can be hard to find at your local grocery or drug store. Most salons carry at least one line that is kind to fine, thin hair. Your stylist can recommend other brands that are available online.

He will also recommend using the 70/30 dry rule, which is guaranteed to add fullness to fine hair. This means taking the time to air dry your hair after shampooing. This can be frustrating for a time-strapped mom, but it is an investment in volume and a full look.

This is simple to do: squeeze the water out of your hair and let it dry naturally. This lets each strand of hair separate and lift, which increases volume.

How to Style Fine Hair

Here are four tips that will help make the most of your fine, thinning hair.

Get a good cut. It is essential to have your stylist cut your hair in a shape that flatters your face and makes the most of the hair you have. She has the training and experience to understand your hair’s particular texture and needs. Let her know what you would like, and she will tell you what is possible. Then work together from there.

Lift the roots. When it comes time to give shape to your newly cleaned hair, your aim is to give lift to each strand of hair right at the roots. This immediately provides an illusion of thicker hair.

Do this by adding a small amount of a volumizing product to your roots. These come in the form of mousses, gels, sprays, or lotions. Don’t use waxes, thick and heavy serums, or molding muds. You want a product that is light.

Change the location of your part. This can be disconcerting when you first look in the mirror, but it has a very practical effect. The switch lifts up hair in a different way than normal, and away from your scalp. This gives the hair on top a more voluminous look.

Use the right brush. Avoid round metal brushes and those with hard plastic bristles. Both can snag and damage strands of hair. Instead, use brushes made of natural boar bristle or those made from nylon, which is very flexible. Another nice feature is a cushioned base.

Busy moms can have full looking, well-shaped hair when they get the right cut and then treat their hair gently. The small investment of time required results in great-looking hair, even when it is thin and fine.

Planning Children’s Birthdays

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Birthday parties are fun for everyone. Whether you decide to have the traditional party at home or go a step further by having the party at a popular kids venue, the choice is yours. However, planning and implementation can be time-consuming, expensive, and arduous if not handled in a savvy manner. With the right approach, steps can be taken to make the planning of the party as stress-free and successful as possible.

Planning

The key to every successful birthday party is timely planning. Believe it or not, the best time to start planning is anywhere from one to three months before the party. This allows time for unexpected incidents to take place without completely upsetting party plans. It also allows some time to fix any of those unexpected incidents that may come up.

Perhaps the first step in the process should be a discussion with the birthday boy or girl. Get an idea of what he or she may want to do. Decide how many people to invite and consider the entertainment.  Of course, if the party is going to be held in your home, there’s more flexibility in planning. However, if you plan on celebrating at a popular children’s venue, it’s extremely important that you set a date and make reservations. Failure to make reservations early enough could result in a missed opportunity to have the party at your chosen venue.

A Month Before

About a month before the party, before you set the date in stone, make sure that essential guests will be able to attend. This is the time to change dates if it means that an important guest has limited availability. This is also the time to send out invitations and start planning the substance of the party.  What activities are going to be a part of the celebration? Anything planned for the outdoors should have an indoor alternative as a backup, in the event of bad weather. Opening gifts should be left for last, in case time is short. This is one activity that can be skipped if necessary. Last but not least, get that all-important list of supplies you will need for the big day. If anything needs to be ordered, do so now so that there is adequate time to receive it.

The last few weeks should be used to go over the guest list and reach out to any guest who failed to RSVP.  Plan your menu and round up your volunteers. If you are making the cake from scratch, bake it ahead of time and freeze it. The cake can be iced the night before the party. Make last minute safety checks of the areas where the party is supposed to be held, if necessary.

Birthday Venues

If you are having the party at a venue, call to ensure that everything is set to go as planned. Take the time to verify plans so that you know what to expect from the package that you paid for. The wonderful thing about parties that are held at popular children’s venues is that most of the work is already done for you. The parent can sit back and just enjoy the day. Generally, there is a party host to guide the party and custom-fit the celebration to suit your child’s wants and needs.

Whatever you and your birthday boy or girl plan for the big celebration, there are ways to go about the planning that save time and headaches. If the choice is to have the celebration at a popular birthday spot, it eliminates a lot of work. Most venues have party packages that cover everything from food to activities. Little is left to do, allowing kids and parents alike to sit back and enjoy.

Simple Tips to Spend More Time with Your Kids

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We all know that spending quality family time together is important, yet we can all be guilty of not devoting enough one-on-one time to our children. The fact is, there’s no better investment in our children’s future than strong and supportive family relationships, and no amount of money is worth as much as your time, love, and attention. So – from movie nights and mealtimes to tree-climbing and card tricks for kids – here we share a few simple ways to help you and your family reconnect, so you can create lots of happy memories to treasure.

Cook Together

Cooking your evening meal doesn’t need to be such a chore, especially when you’ve got whole family to help. Children respond well to being given responsibilities; planning and preparing your meals together will not only mean that everyone is happy with the dish you’re making, but it’ll also teach them valuable life skills. Assign jobs depending on the age and interests of your children, and don’t be afraid to let them choose their own recipes – they’ll really enjoy having the freedom to experiment with different foods and flavours.

Eat Together

There’s a reason we’ve all heard the phrase, ‘A family that dines together stays together’. Families that sit down and eat together at least five night a week are proven to have stronger relationships and improved emotional intelligence than those who eat separately, meaning a shared family meal should be a priority for every parent. Whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, taking the time to sit down with your children and talk about their day – without distractions – is one of the best ways to relax, reach out, and reconnect with your loved ones.

Play Together

Family time should be fun time, and there’s nothing like a shared hobby or activity to encourage both you to spend time together. Why not swap your normal exercise regime for regular trips to the local swimming pool or leisure centre, or head outside for a scavenger hunts, tree-climbing or a spot of wildlife gardening. A fortnightly family game night is also a great incentive to switch off the TV and settle down to an evening of family favourites such as bingo, charades, card games, and even card tricks for kids. Not only will this give you the opportunity to bond with your children, but learning card tricks for kids or slightly more complex card games will challenge their young brains and promote family togetherness.

Relax Together

Living with children can be exhausting, so it’s all too easy to slump in front of the TV after a long day. However, limiting TV time doesn’t mean you can’t unwind, and you don’t need to put a complete ban on screen-time to prevent it from getting in the way of your relationships. Encourage your children to choose one or two programs to watch each day, making sure your weekends are preserved for spending quality time together as a family. Relaxing together is important; your children need to be able to see you when you’re not rushing around or busy with the day-to-day routine. Friday night movie nights are one great way for you all to sit down together at the end of the working week – let your children help choose the film, pop some popcorn, and turn off mobile phones so you can all relax without distraction.